An engagement party is a joyful occasion that brings friends and family together to celebrate an upcoming wedding. It serves as the perfect opportunity for the engaged couple to share their excitement and begin their journey towards matrimony. However, planning and hosting an engagement party can be overwhelming, leading to common mistakes that can dampen the celebration. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common engagement party mistakes to avoid including some from our favorite vendors, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable event for everyone involved.
1. Failing to Set a Clear Budget
One of the first and most crucial steps when planning an engagement party is establishing a clear budget. Without a budget in place, expenses can quickly spiral out of control. Take the time to determine how much you can comfortably spend on the party and allocate funds accordingly. This will help you make informed decisions regarding the venue, food, decorations, and other aspects of the event, preventing overspending and unnecessary stress.
2. Neglecting the Guest List
When you have a grip on your guest list, you’ll find it easier to make budget decisions. “The cornerstone of your budget is your guest list,” says Shannon Loiacono of Limousines Inc, a prominent limousine company serving Maryland and Washington DC. “If you let it become a moving target, you won’t be able to keep expenses in line for important needs like limousines.”
3. Ignoring The Value of a Timeline
Do not underestimate the value of a timeline,” explains wedding DJ Brendan Lafferty of B-Sharp Entertainment. “While you may want your wedding to have its own ebb and flow, a timeline is essential for your vendors, venue, and caterer in order to produce an amazing reception.”
4. Neglecting to Consult with the Couple
While engagement parties are typically hosted by family or close friends, it is essential to involve the engaged couple in the planning process. Failing to consult with them on their preferences, guest list, or desired ambiance can result in a party that does not align with their vision. Ensure open communication and collaborate with the couple to create an engagement party that truly reflects their personalities and desires.
5. Missing Your Venue’s Plan B
Have your heart set on getting married outdoors?” asks Kathy Gibson of Occasions at Laguna Village, a waterfront wedding venue in Laguna Beach. “Avoid venues that don’t have a Plan B in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.”
6. Forgetting the Overall Purpose
Photography team Shado and Isabelle, owners of Shado of a Rose and two of the trendiest Portland Maine wedding photographers, share this piece of advice. “Time and time again, we see couples drive themselves literally crazy planning a wedding and forgetting the overall purpose is to honor the relationship and the choice to create a union between each other. Although it’s a family affair, it’s about what you want, not about what everyone else expects. We always say, make it about YOU. What feels most important to you!”
7. Inviting Too Many Guests
An engagement party is an intimate gathering meant to celebrate the couple’s engagement. Avoid the temptation to invite a large number of guests, as it can quickly transform into a larger, more expensive event. Keep the guest list limited to close family members, friends, and a few select acquaintances. This will allow for more meaningful interactions and a cozy atmosphere that fosters genuine celebration.
8. Omitting Contingency Plans
Two owners from the famed Bunn DJ Company weighed in from their locations in the Carolinas. “Make sure you work with a DJ who has backup – both in personnel and equipment. Things happen and you want to make sure there’s a plan in place,” says Brandon Alley, owner of the Charlotte wedding DJ division of Bunn.
9. Neglecting Vendor Meals
Jose De Leon, a top bilingual DJ in NJ and owner of LEM Entertainment offers this reminder. “Don’t forget to feed your photographer, videographer, DJ, and Day of Coordinator. “You want peak performance so make sure there’s fuel in the engine.”
10. Overlooking the Party Timeline
Creating a well-thought-out timeline is essential for a smooth and enjoyable engagement party. Failing to plan the order of events can lead to confusion and disorganization. Determine when to serve food, when to make speeches or toasts, and when to engage in activities or games. A well-structured timeline will ensure that the party flows seamlessly, keeping guests entertained and engaged throughout the event.
11. Disregarding Professional Help
Cape Cod officiant Jill Meyer of Write Weddings not only performs weddings, she also helps write wedding vows for couples nationwide. She encourages them to put a great deal of energy into writing their vows. “Unique, heartfelt, authentic wedding vows make a ceremony so much more meaningful, not only for the couple, but for all the guests. Not getting additional professional help to eloquently share those sentiments is a lost opportunity for couples to express their best selves.”
12. Neglecting Dietary Restrictions and Preferences
In today’s diverse society, it is essential to consider the dietary restrictions and preferences of your guests. Failing to accommodate various dietary needs can leave certain attendees feeling excluded or uncomfortable. Take the time to inquire about any dietary restrictions in advance and ensure that there are suitable options available for everyone. This thoughtful gesture will enhance guest satisfaction and create a welcoming environment for all.
13. Not Expanding the Entertainment Offerings
While dancing is a big part of a wedding reception, not all of your guests are going to want to hit the dance floor, explains David Fox, owner of the Charleston wedding DJ division of Bunn. “Keep them entertained with games, a character station, or a photo booth.
14. Waiting to Book
Key West wedding planner Michael Vernon, owner of Conch Concierge Weddings, offers this advice. “Avoid waiting until the last minute to book vendors, especially if you are getting married on a Saturday or during a prime time of the year.”
15. Forgetting to Capture the Memories
An engagement party is a significant milestone in a couple’s journey, and preserving those precious memories is essential. Arrange for a designated photographer or encourage guests to take photos throughout the event. Additionally, consider setting up a photo booth or a backdrop for guests to capture fun and candid moments. These photographs will serve as cherished mementos of the celebration for years to come.
16. Not Allowing Enough Transportation Time
When it comes to planning a day-of schedule, not allowing enough transportation time is a common mistake, says Brittanie Pate of The Elia, a new wedding venue in Wilmington, NC. “Not only do you need to calculate how long it will take to get to the ceremony site but also to the reception if it’s in another location.”
17. Overcommitting Yourself to DIY Projects
Taking on too many decor tasks is a wedding planning trap to avoid. “Beware of DIY overload,” says Aly Heintz Raddatz of Elevated Events, a Chicago event decorating company, which also features DJs and photo booths. “Your time has value, so be mindful of what you want to take on yourself.”
18. Underrating the Value of Wedding Vendors
Don’t be tempted to hire a vendor based just on pricing,” says Heather Laughman, owner of Central PA Wedding Shows and the top producer of wedding shows in Central PA. “Take time to explore your options and understand the value behind the products and services you’re comparing.
19. Not Allowing Ample Time for Mingling
Engagement parties provide an opportunity for both families and friends to mingle and get to know each other. Avoid overscheduling the event or having a rigid itinerary that leaves little time for socializing. Allow for sufficient time for guests to interact, share stories, and connect with one another. Creating a warm and welcoming environment will contribute to a memorable and enjoyable celebration.
20. Not Factoring in the Details
You may not be familiar with all the fees associated with planning a sit down dinner reception and can underestimate costs. “Be sure you understand the difference between a service charge and a gratuity,” offers Gregg Carlyle owner of Millennium Center, an historic wedding venue in Winston-Salem, NC. “A service charge covers a venue or caterer’s fixed costs while a gratuity is for the service.”
Planning an engagement party is an exciting endeavor, but it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can detract from the celebration. By setting a clear budget, involving the engaged couple, carefully managing the guest list, and paying attention to details like dietary preferences and decor, you can create an unforgettable engagement party experience for all. Remember to keep the focus on celebrating the couple’s love and commitment while ensuring a warm and welcoming atmosphere that fosters genuine connections and cherished memories.
Brian Lawrence is a wedding business marketing expert who has helped thousands of clients like Alan Berg and Joe Bunn with consulting, marketing and web design. We’ve partnered with Brian Lawrence to bring this great advice from some of his amazing clients.