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5 Ways to Throw an Engagement Party

January 3, 2011


I would love to see an entry/series on planning options for pre-wedding ceremonies, particularly engagement parties! Especially interested in how to make it uniquely different from the wedding as not to take away from the wedding excitement. I’ve seen engagements where the parties were basically mini-weddings–one bride-to-be even said she felt like she was already married after it! Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.  – Roma


It’s the Monday after the end of the holiday season, and if you are in a serious relationship, you may be starting the New Year with a shiny rock on your finger. If not, it’s possible the little box is coming sometime between now and February 14th. A whopping one third of all couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

Many South Asian couples use ‘cookie cutter’ mentalities to plan their engagement parties, which inevitably look almost exactly like their wedding receptions: ballroom, round tables, LED lights, DJ/MC, dance floor, first dance, speeches, and dance performances. The one usual variation is a slightly cheaper centerpiece.

To keep your engagement party uniquely different from your wedding reception, omit the following:

  • Special entrances by the couple and bridal party
  • First dance
  • Cake cutting
  • Too many speeches
  • Dance performances
  • Over the top attire

Traditionally, an engagement party is smaller and less formal than a wedding reception. It’s meant to allow family members and close friends to get to know each other before the big day. Here are a few fun ideas for a uniquely non-reception engagement party:

1) Rooftop Cocktails & Dessert: This idea works really well in an urban setting on a summer evening. Set some high and low tables, scatter a few pictures from your engagement shoot, purchase some nice flower arrangements and vases, light tea candles, order a spread of western and Indian sweets, hire a bartender, setup a cappuccino station, and mingle with an intimate group of family and close friends.

2) Garden Party: Book a venue with a breathtaking outdoor space on a spring afternoon, rent a tent with no walls, hire a live band, setup a dance floor, and have live appetizer stations. Decorate the tent with paper pom-poms, fun lanterns, and plenty of bright flowers.

3) Sunset Cruise: Rent a boat (ex: Pier 61 in NYC), hire a DJ, serve tapas,  and enjoy a gorgeous sunset with your guests before hitting the dance floor.

4) Beach Blast: Rent a venue by the beach; ask guests to come in flip flops; serve tropical drinks, leafy salads, your favorite Goan cuisine, and ice cream; hire a live band, and dance the night away.

…. And if your parents want to throw you an extravagant ballroom engagement, ditch the round tables and create a lounge setting similar to the pictures below:

5) Romantic Lounge: Book a venue at a 5 star hotel, arrange for an indoor pond, carefully place high and low cocktail tables around the pond, rent lounge furniture, and display exquisite flowers arrangements.

Image Courtesy: Rooftop- Style Me Pretty, Beach- Elizabeth Anne Designs, Paper Lanterns & Lounge-,

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Eliza January 3, 2011 at 12:42 pm

These are such great ideas. I love the rooftop idea the most. We’re trying to plan an engagement party, but I totally didn’t want it to be another reception! Looks like a coctail party on the roof may be the way to go.

Shikha January 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

These ideas are great but what about the ceremony? Don’t you need a stage? I think this is why engagement parties end up looking like weddings- there’s always a stage with some priest and the couple.

Roma January 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Great ideas! Thanks for writing this post–very helpful!

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