When planning an engagement party, there are many options for places to host it and things you can do to make it memorable, but many of these options can cost a lot of money. Here are a few ideas for couples on a budget.
A themed party in your own home
There is an infinite number of dress-up party ideas you could have for your engagement party. Consider choosing a theme that allows you and your partner to dress nicely while still matching the theme. Of course, if silly costumes are more your thing, you can still go for that.
Better yet, find a photo booth hire company to help capture the fun costumes of the night. An engagement party is always set to be a big night for most people, so alcohol, costumes and a photo booth are a winning combination.
When choosing a theme for your at-home engagement party, consider a theme that won’t seem dated or tacky when you look back on photos decades from now. Perhaps you love the show “Stranger Things” but would a dress-up party themed around it still seem culturally relevant 30 years from now? Consider a general 80’s themed party instead. This will also help keep the theme broad enough that everyone can participate. You don’t want people to skip the costume because they didn’t understand the theme or it was too hard.
Another thing to consider when choosing a theme is whether it would inspire anyone to dress controversially. For example, cultural appropriation and can be offensive to people. You may want your engagement party to go viral, but not because someone wore an offensive costume. Perhaps include a note on the invite to keep things tasteful.
Don’t forget to decorate the place to match the theme. Op shops, party hire stores, craft stores and $2 shops can have relatively affordable decorations to match almost any theme.
A dinner party at a classy restaurant
If hosting an engagement party at your home isn’t possible, a nice restaurant with a private room or private floor can be a great option. It takes away the pressure of cooking/catering, cleaning and some of the organising. If you are looking to save some money, you might be able to get a discount by booking the event space on a weeknight.
A sit down dinner with your closest friends and family is a good way to reduce the numbers and keep costs down. You can decide how many people to invite based on venue capacity and cost per head. If the venue has limited space this can make a great excuse for you to use to anyone who asks why they weren’t invited.
If you are particularly frugal you can pick a fancy restaurant, but also ask for everyone to pay for their own food and drinks separately. If you do this, ensure you mention it on the invite and suggest that gifts are not necessary. This should be a fair tradeoff without coming across as cheap.
If you would rather pay for everything yourself, there might be a reasonably cheap pay-per-head option for finger food as an alternative to set meals. You can also start the event a little later so that people can find their own dinners beforehand. This will reduce the amount of catering required.
If you have a private room, this makes it much easier to organise formal speeches. You don’t want everyone to tell all the good stories before the wedding, but it would be nice for a few speeches. This is especially good if your families have not met before.
Events like this can also call for a professional photographer or videographer to record the special moments of the night. If you are looking for a cheaper option, set up a tripod and have a friend press record for you.
If you have already planned and booked your wedding, this could also be the time you announce these details to everyone and you can hand out the formal invites at the dinner.
A Secret Wedding
And finally, the ultimate memorable engagement party idea is to double it as a secret wedding. This is guaranteed to shock people, especially if you’ve misdirected people with talks of destination weddings or other locations.
Some of your more distant friends and family might not bother coming to your engagement as they’re just waiting for the wedding. This is a good way to weed out the fakes and ensure you only share your special day with the people who care about you the most.
This would require a few extra steps, like hiring a celebrant. The cost and effort involved in organising a two-in-one engagement and wedding would be incredibly cheap compared to have another separate event. Weddings can be incredibly expensive.
In summary, engagement parties can be expensive, but they don’t need to be. As long as you enjoy yourself and everyone else has a good enough time, that’s the main thing. There’s no point stressing yourself out and crippling yourself financially over it. You’ve got plenty more opportunities for that later.