To help you get started, we’ve put together the ultimate engagement party checklist. It contains everything you’ll need to craft a unique celebration with maximum fun and minimum stress.
One thing you’ll quickly notice when planning your engagement festivities is the amount of research that’s required. Deciding what kind of engagement party you’ll have, finding the right venue and booking services like caterers and entertainment means a lot of searching, reading and asking questions online.
Avoiding unnecessary tasks is key to making the most efficient use of your time. Our Engagement Planning Checklist keeps you on track by breaking down tasks into a manageable to-do list. We give you questions to ask yourselves at key points in the planning process to help you stay focused and productive.
Before you dive into researching venues, caterers and chap-wearing barmen for hire, have a read through our Top 10 Engagement Planning Tasks. You’ll save yourself hours of research & stress by following the steps below!
1. Decide what engagement events you’ll have
Narrow down your engagement plans by confirming a few fundamentals:
- Will you or your parents host the engagement party?
- Who will pay for it?
- If you’re paying, what’s your budget?
- How big will the event be? Just close family & friends or a whole street affair?
- What do you want your engagement party to be about?
One of your first decisions as a newly engaged couple is agreeing on how many pre-wedding events you’ll have & who’s hosting them. If a "diy foodie affair with a backyard taco bar" is non-negotiable for you but your parents are talking “formal dinner” you may find yourselves having more than one event.
Regardless of what celebrations you decide on, keeping the purpose of your get-together in mind now will make decisions easier down the track. Are you creating an opportunity for your families to connect and get to know each other or is there something else that’s important to you both?
2. Choose your bridal party
If you want your bridal party to attend pre-wedding events, you’ll need to agree on who these special people are sooner rather than later.
Getting them onboard early means you can ask for their help. It also gives you the opportunity to honour them during the festivities or host a special event just for them to share in the excitement together.
There are many ways to ask your bridal party to be a part of your wedding. Get creative and come up with your own ideas. Here’s a few to get you thinking:
- Host a cocktail making competition where a signature winning drink is named in your honour
- Host a dinner party & bury the big question in the dessert
- Organise special one-on-one time with each bridesmaid & groomsman and come prepared with a personalised card or poem. Let them know how much their relationship means to you & explain why you’ve chosen to ask them to be in your crew.
- Organise a beach party & write the big question in the sand
3. Create the guest list
Your budget will determine the size of your guest list. But don’t let this reality rule your plans. Start by naming everyone you’d like to (or need to) invite, and worry about budget limitations afterwards.
Once you’ve created a comprehensive list of names, organise them into an A, B & C list. Your A list will include must-have attendees such as parents, grandparents, family & close friends. The B list are your next most VIP’s and if budget issues arise, it’ll be your C list on the chopping board first.
Once you’ve confirmed your guest list & know how many people you’re inviting, it’s time to find a venue. Remember, not all your invited guests will make it. For this reason, you may like to include in your search, venues that can cater to around 70-80% of your invitees.
4. Choose a venue
The type and theme of your event will help to narrow down your venue options. If you’re hosting an outdoor movie night for example, your choices might be limited to someone’s backyard.
If you’re on the hunt for an event space, use location & venue capacity to filter the most practical options. You can find local event spaces, private dining rooms, destination venues & holiday homes on Wedlockers.
Other options include the family farm (think bonfires & marshmallows), picnic rugs at a local park or beach, an intimate dinner party at home or throw the same dinner party in the local independent movie theatre.
Think outside the box to create lasting memories that you & your posse are still talking about in your 80’s. (And btw, if you find an awesome venue that’s not listed on Wedlockers, please invite them to join. It’s free to create a business listing & your recommendation is much appreciated by our community!)
5. Set date
The ideal time to host an engagement party is 6 to 8 weeks after getting engaged. This gives you enough time to book a venue & organise the event while that newly engaged buzz is still buzzing.
This lead-time also provides your guests with sufficient notice to prioritise you in their calendars. Just make sure your date works for all immediate family members including parents, siblings & grandparents. And if your bridal party are on your A list, you may want to pre-check your proposed date with them too.
Here are a few things to consider when setting the date:
- major sporting games
- superstitious dates of relevance to particular cultures
- limitations of your A list (pregnancy due dates, weddings etc)
- public holidays & long weekends
6. Book engagement shoot
An engagement shoot provides images for your wedding invitations, signage & guest book. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know your wedding photographer. Knowing and trusting your photographer ahead of time, goes a long way to feeling relaxed on your wedding day. Feeling relaxed = gorgeous photos!
Before you start emailing photographers, have a think about what type of experience you’d like on your wedding day. What sort of person do you want to spend the day with? Are they fun & easygoing? Will they need to be great with kids or directing large crowds?
Narrowing down the type of person you want, provides search criteria that you can use to filter the market. There are literally thousands of photographers in Australia & they’re all different, so having basic criteria will guide your search & save you time and headaches!
At Wedlockers, you can filter wedding photographers who have been endorsed with the qualities you’re looking for. Simply log in to access this feature - it’s free.
Now that you’ve narrowed your list, look at images and find a style you like. Do you prefer fashion style shoots or very natural and candid shots? Use the filters to view & compare different types of images. Which photographers make you feel something when you look at their work?
Email your 3 favourite photographers explaining why you’ve chosen to enquire with them. Wedding vendors want customers who will appreciate their effort & work. Show your appreciation up-front and you may earn more flexibility with packages to fit your budget.
Don’t simply ask for a price list!
7. Decide on styling
By now you’ve already chosen a theme or colour palette. If you don’t have time to DIY or can’t envisage the details to execute your styling ideas you may want to hire a stylist or planner.
Stylists know how to bring your vision to life and will offer styling suggestions of their own. Planners save you time by organising the tasks you set for them. Some businesses offer both styling and planning and you can find vendors who do one or both on Wedlockers.
If you’re styling your own events, find inspiration by browsing the work of our listed vendors. Use the search filters to compare images of ‘tablescapes’ etc. Images link directly to local suppliers so you can easily source vendors like florists and hire companies who offer exactly what you’re looking for.
8. Send invitations
Invitations can be emailed, posted or sent via wedding websites & apps. However you choose to deliver your invites, tie the design in with your styling. Incorporate images from your engagement shoot and provide information about gifts, dress code and accommodation if required. There's a wide range of invitation suppliers, graphic artists, painters etc on Wedlockers.
9. Plan menu
What type of event you’re having will influence your catering options. For example, if you’re planning a chefs hat dining experience you might find a set menu will work best. Caterers are ideal for backyard soirees and intimate dinner parties are best served by private chefs. All of these options plus food trucks and bar services are available on Wedlockers.
If you’re catering yourself, make sure you plan well in advance. Searching for obscure ingredients the day before the party is an excellent way to ensure maximum stress!
Create a signature cocktail to welcome your guests and don’t forget to organise a cake. Make sure you have sparkles ready for speeches & toasts and plenty of it!
Always over cater!
10. Set the mood
What kind of ambience do you want to create? Laid back or high energy? How will you achieve that feel? What are the limitations of your venue?
If you’re hosting a private party at your house, all the options are available to you. From hiring an 80’s rock band to organising a DJ or pushing play on your own spotify play list. And those are just the music options.
Other things that set the mood are lighting, decorations & theming, furniture choices, having an MC, games, centrepieces like a photo board of your lives together so far or a novelty food truck or bar service.
If you want to ensure your guests are thoroughly entertained you can hire private event entertainers. On Wedlockers you’ll find bands & dj's, caricature artists, comedians, famous magicians, ice sculptors and all manner of eclectic fun.
Make your engagement party one you’ll never forget!