From casual to formal, here’s how to plan your picture-perfect engagement party

rose gold foil balloons in the word engagement

Firsty, congratulations! You're getting married! After a proposal, there are so many things to think about, but before preparing for the big day itself, an engagement party is a great way to share your exciting news and get your nearest and dearest together to celebrate.

Pinterest trends1 revealed the largest peak in searches for 'engagement party ideas' were in January last year, now is the time to get the ball rolling and start planning for the prelude of the main event.

Whether you're planning an intimate gathering or a lavish affair, party planning expert at Ginger Ray, Jess Martin, shares 10 tips for your celebration, no matter how big or small:

1. Set the scene
"Decorations are a great way to transform any casual setting. Whether it's beautiful engagement balloons, elegant tableware or even photo booth props and games, set the scene to get everybody in the party mood!"

2. BYOB
"For a smaller event like a dinner party, there is no need for outside catering or pricey food orders. For an intimate celebration, ask everybody to bring a dish or a bottle to reduce costs and involve everybody in the preparations."

3. Speeches
"Speeches can be a lovely touch at a small engagement party. It's less awkward at smaller events as everybody should be relatively familiar with each other, plus it is great practice for the big day.

4. Capture memories
"You might not have the budget for a photographer at a smaller engagement party and you don't want guests to have their phones out all evening. You should still make an effort to take as many photos as possible, however, consider polaroids and film cameras. They have become so much more popular in recent years and look gorgeous when you print them out." 5. Consider a unique event "An engagement party doesn't need to be the expected dinner or drinks. Why not go for a picnic or organise an activity as a group like Karaoke, a hike or even combine with another celebration like Valentine's Day or an anniversary."

5 tips for formal engagement parties:
1. Photography
"If you have chosen to throw a big event for your engagement party, then you definitely will want to remember every single part! "Either opt for a professional photographer or delegate this role to a guest to ensure the event is captured from all corners so you can cherish the memories."

2. Order of events
"Think about setting an order of events so that your guests remain entertained throughout the celebration and know what to expect when they arrive. If you have a dinner, speeches or entertainment planned then you can include this. "If you know you have guests travelling from further away then this will be much appreciated so they can plan their trip."

3. Catering
"When planning a larger engagement party, you'll encounter many of the same obstacles as when planning a wedding, notably for catering. "For larger events and venues catering can be expensive and you'll need to check what options are allowed for your specific location. Consider buffets, BBQ's or even food vans rather than a plated meal to save money. "While a paid bar is a huge treat, it's perfectly okay to ask your guests to pay for their own drinks during an engagement party, especially if the venue does not allow you to bring your own drinks."

4. Decorations
"Invest in some decorations for the engagement party that you can reuse at your wedding. If you have already decided on a theme for your wedding, incorporate this into the engagement party too. It looks really sleek to have a cohesive theme that runs throughout all your wedding events."

5. Consider hiring help
"This can be to plan the event, decorate the venue or to ensure the party runs smoothly on the night. A large engagement party can be a big event to host and plan so if your budget allows for it then get a party planner to assist."

To find more decoration inspiration for your engagement party, please visit: https://www.gingerray.co.uk/party/engagement-party

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