How to Throw an Engagement Party on a Budget


When you get engaged in times like these, celebrating can feel, well, tricky. A big chunk of money went towards your engagement ring and you have a wedding to plan. An engagement party might even seem a bit frivolous. you know you can’t burden family and friends, and you don’t want to add to your own debt either.

On the other hand, thankfully, life’s greatest moments can occur despite a shaky economy. And doesn’t a newly engaged couple deserve to announce their happy news with flourish and style — even now?

The answer, of course, is yes. With a little creativity, you can throw an engagement party without breaking your or anyone else’s bank. Here’s how:

Top Tip : Have the party right after the proposal

Having family and friends to support you and help produce your proposal is the hottest trend right now. They can help you document the proposal and make it even more exciting. Since everyone is around, you should all go celebrate right after the proposal. If you decide to propose on a Holiday or a Birthday, even better, you already have a location to host the party.

Keep the guest list small
Obviously, smaller engagement parties cost less than huge bashes. But there’s no need to feel cheap while limiting the number of invitations you send out. It’s actually part of the engagement party tradition. Engagement parties originally were meant to give the couple’s closest family and friends a chance to meet before the wedding. A more intimate affair allows everyone to really talk and get to know one another.

Be creative with invites
Printed invitations can cost a bundle—and that’s even before you consider the price of postage. For an engagement party, they’re also completely unnecessary. If you followed Step 1, you already have a small guest list. So why not handwrite the invitations and envelopes yourself?You can purchase festive fill-in-the-
blanks-style invitations at a party store, or visit a craft store for blank cards you can decorate at home.

engagement-party-champagneHost at home
Using space that’s already at your disposal is a lot less expensive than renting a hall or paying for restaurant service. An engagement party can take place at the home of the guests of honor.A close family member or friend also might be willing to lend the space—provided they’re invited to the party, of course. During colder seasons, a cozy living room will do nicely (especially if it comes with a fireplace!)

Do not consider this a mini wedding!
Traditional weddings often include every detail imaginable: a once-in-a-lifetime gown, stretch limos, elaborate
centerpieces, a DJ or band, favors for guests, etc. An engagement party, on the other hand, should not be a miniature version of the larger celebration to come. Keeping that in mind, you easily can opt to skip things like limos, centerpieces and favors.

Skip the gifts
When you’re sticking to a budget, it’s only fair to pass the savings on to your guests, especially in this economy. Include these lines on the invitations:“Your presence is the only present requested. Please, no gifts.” An engagement party isn’t a wedding shower,where the bride should be showered with gifts. And it’s not the wedding either,where gifts symbolize congratulations once the couple is married.The engagement party is simply about bringing people together and celebrating good news.

Plan a simple menu
Provided you time the party right (either after lunchtime and not too close to dinner or well after dinner), you don’t have to serve a full meal. Instead, you can scale down on food and beverages, cutting costs considerably. If you think in pairs, it’s easy to come up with a simple menu:wine and sweets; coffee and cookies; or champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Plan ahead so you can make the food yourself, and you’ll slash your budget even more.

Consider a BYOB or potluck meal
If you want to serve a full meal at the party, there is a way to do it without taking on all of the responsibility (and cost) yourself. In Step 5, you let guests off the hook for pricey gifts.That gives you license to ask them to bring wine or beer, non-alcoholic beverages, or a dish to share instead. Specifically request the items you need,whether it’s a main dish, side dish, salad or dessert.You might even want to plan a theme for the food, such as Italian, Mexican or American-style picnic.
-Heather E. Schwartz

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Comments (5)


  1. Andrea says:

    “In Step 5, you let guests off the hook for pricey gifts.That gives you license to ask them to bring wine or beer…”
    No, it does not “give you license” to ask anything of your guests, such as supplying the food. Their only concern should be to show up and support you, and enjoy the party.

  2. Kimberli says:

    I think that if YOU are the one hosting the engagement party you should not ask your guests to bring food, but if if your parents or friends are hosting then by all means let them ask for help in a potluck style.

    In my family when something big like an engagement happens someone is always willing and almost creepily excited to step in a host these kinds of events. When that happens it ends up being about 10 people all fighting to do it, so there is more than enough food and stuff to go around. No one in my family has ever had to host any big deal themselves. The only thing anyone has hosted on their own was baby birthday parties and what is that? Cake and Ice-cream?

  3. Janette says:

    Trying to come up with cheap and cheerful ideas for my daughters engagement party.
    I feel that as parents we need to ensure the guests are not pressured since my daughter is also pregnant and Im sure baby showers and Baptism celebrations will follow and we dont want family and friends to have ‘party overload’ and feel they must provide gifts for all events.
    To help us …and our guests we are going to ask that guests bring their own drinks to all events as we find catering for drinkers and non drinkers especially expensive, even a variety of soft drinks can add up. We will have nicely bottled water on the tables and will provide all food
    To keep food costs down finger food will be on offer in a buffet style.
    Mostly sandwiches, chicken wings and cheap and tasty nibbles…I know this is something I am confident and pretty good at!
    The venue is hopefully going to be a local church hall this will be free or donation to the Church.
    Usually most churches will let you use their hall as long as you clean up after and use it during day many do not ask for much and some are free but its always polite to give a donation to the Church as a gesture of good will.
    I am using christmas fairy lights (free) local garden flowers (free) crepe paper table cloths a few dollars and bright colours
    and cheap disposable plates and glasses.
    The main cost will be food.
    I hope to make cupcakes rather than buy a fancy cake these are more practical and can be bright and fun to decorate. I can also make a lot of the food prior to the event and freeze it therefore spending is gradual not one big blow out!Also the workload of baking and cooking is not so stressful and I can buy specials along the way and freeze too.
    We will have a luncheon midday rather than night event because we live in the country and many guests have a long way to travel so this way they can leave their homes in the morning and be heading home by 3 ish.
    We will take our own photos on the day and invites will be on postcards no envelopes to buy :)
    I will also print out black and white photos of my daughter and her fiance and use them as decorations and party favours will be magnets with a photo of the happy couple and the date with a Thank you message (these are cheap online )
    Hope my ideas help others out there I will let you know how it goes :)

  4. Julia says:

    People are entirely too hung up on etiquette bs. There are people out there who can not afford to throw all the parties required for the whole pre wedding thing and have to do the pot luck thing or be creative. Just because they cant afford the posh crap that rich b$$&% can doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to celebrate with out being criticized by other people who are too hung up on details instead of enjoying special moments in their lives. If people want to look up ideas to do this I like the fact that they can get great ideas from other but should not have to read through negative crap that many of these sites have about people trying to do thing on a very tight budget.

  5. Joie says:

    If keeping the affair limited to close friends and family, I suppose I am extremely blessed to have friends and family members who would actually offer to pitch in and help in any way possible. No one would blink an eye if asked to bring a dish to share. I am happy about that. However, I am the bride to be’s mother and I have not yet met my future in-laws. What ever we do decide to do, we will not be asking the groom to be’s family or friends to bring anything other than themselves. Although Julia above demonstrates her frustration of people getting too hung up on etiquette and what people think, getting frustrated is caring too much about what people think. :) Budget or not, the point is celebrating love. Just do what you can do with love, and demonstrate that love to all of the guests. Good people will remember the event by how it made them feel, not by the decor or the food. Those that leave with only criticism, are welcome to take home with them what they brought.

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