Sunday, February 27, 2011

Step 2 - Host an Engagement Party

(9 Months to 24 Months before the Wedding)
You only get one chance at a good first impression and that is true when it comes to meeting your partner's family for the first time.  You can have one big engagement party or have two parties, one on each side, one for the engaged bride first, them one for the engaged groom.  In some cases the families know each other, one engagement party will suffice.

If possible, at each of the parties, try to have the immediate family members over to the other families home.  This includes the parents and could include siblings close in age or younger children that are well behaved.  A close friend is an option too, whether they might be the bridesmaid or best man.  The inviting host can have the event small or large, think of it like a family reunion. It's a time to celebrate to meet the new member of the family.  The host should invite siblings along with their families, their grandparents, close aunts and uncles, cousins and invite the closest friends, people that have been important in the honorees life.

Make sure you don't overdue the amount of invitees for the engagement party, it's not the wedding and you want the event not to be stressful on the parents. After the event, it's the other spouse's turn, just the parents and close brothers and sisters come with a close friend and the other spouse has their turn inviting grandparents, brothers and sisters and their families including children and uncles and aunts, cousins and a hand full of close friends.

The engagement party is recommended to be at the honoree's house but could be at a place nearby.  You really want a picnic/party type of atmosphere. It could be the house, a picnic in a yard, a relative's yard, a restaurant with a private area, a church cafeteria or multi-purpose room, or could even be at a field with a tent area.  You want comfortable surroundings that can handle boisterous excitement.

It is the responsibility and tradition of each of the fathers to propose a toast to the happy couple at the engagement party and to welcome in a new member to their family, the toast serves as the formal announcement of the engagement. Gifts are not required at engagement parties, however many guests do bring gifts and if there are any gifts, make sure thank-you notes gets sent out within a couple of weeks of receiving them.  If you don't have an address, hunt down the address of every gift giver.

If the families have known each other, long before the engagement, it's just as important for the engagement party, it's a celebration and gets the wedding planning off to a good start.  As each couple visits the other's home town (if you have not grown up together).  Take a drive in the area and let the other spouse point out places that are special to him/her, their school, their church, a romantic restaurant, a park that's special, where they excelled in sports, etc.

Right after the engagement party, the couple should get a formal photo done. You want this photo to be serious and/or romantic.  You don't want a zany photo.  You want a good photo that shows you as a couple that is to be used as an engagement announcement.  A photo with plenty of light on the couple in a romantic embrace with a neutral background.  The photo could be taken in a studio or in a beautiful natural setting.  You don't need a lot of photos, a few are just fine, don't let a photographer up-sell you.  If a family member takes this photo for you, make sure the photographs are taken with a high quality camera and check to be sure, the photos came out great.

If the photos are taken by a family member, one trick is to buy a neutral pastel color sheet, make sure the sheet is pressed and tape it spread out against a wall.  You want the photo taken at pretty close range with a sheet background with both looking at the camera, make sure there is bright light focused on the area.  If the photographs are taken outside, make sure it's with a beautiful backdrop and on a nice sunny day.  If the weather doesn't cooperate move the photo-shoot to another day, you have a little time to get engagement photographs together.

Some couples decide on creating a photo montage of their engagement, usually shown at a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower.  Only a few percentage of couples do this, if done by a professional, do this only if money is no object in planning your wedding.   Each couple brings pictures of themselves growing up and tells each side of their life story and they do go around to important places in their life.  You may consider creating this montage on a home computer.  There are some photo capture systems out in the market that can be investigated for putting together a montage, some of the well known packages can be found on and another is that you can check out.

Well that's the story of Hosting an Engagement Party, see you on the other side!

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