Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

January 2013

Throwing An Engagement Party

Now that you’ve said yes to his marriage proposal, it’s time to share the happy news with the world. How about doing it the fun way by throwing an engagement party? SingaporeBrides lists everything you need to know.

The Purpose

Traditionally, the engagement party is meant as a couple’s first formal announcement of their upcoming nuptials. Once your man has proposed – and the happy news is all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – people will want to congratulate you. Throwing an engagement party is a more straightforward – and enjoyable – way of informing those around you than SMSing all 500 people on your phone list or getting your parents to pass word to relatives. It’s not all about the fun though – there is a practical aspect to such a gathering. It is the best time to introduce the key persons from both of your lives to one another. This includes both sides of parents and close friends, many of whom might end up working together as your bridal party over the next few months to pull off your wedding.

The Timing

When deciding when to hold your engagement party, do make sure that it is neither too soon nor too long from the time of the proposal. If you hold it too early, say a couple of weeks after you’ve said a teary “Yes, I will marry you”, you may run the risk of missing out some people from the invite list. You may also not have ready details of your wedding to share with your party guests – and you can definitely expect a flurry of questions from family and friends. Yet, hold it too late, and you will find yourself having to organise it while juggling your wedding planning on the side. So the ideal time to hold an engagement party is within the first three months of the proposal – right after the sweet start of just-engaged life.

The Budget

Following tradition, the bride’s parents should be the one hosting the engagement party. But in this day and age, you don’t have to follow it so strictly. Besides, in Singapore, the culture of hosting engagement parties is still not developed – and some parents may gasp at having to incur such an extra cost. So if you are throwing the engagement party yourselves, bear in mind that it will be your responsibility to foot the bill. When you are deciding on the details, remember that the financial costs of an engagement party will add to your final wedding expenses. Unless you have deep pockets, you may want to limit your spending on your engagement bash so you can spend more on your wedding.

Throwing An Engagement Party

The Invite

The rule of thumb is that if you invite someone to the engagement party, you will have to invite him or her to your wedding too. So remember this as you are drawing up your guest list for the engagement party. There are exceptions though. For instance, if your college friend is going to relocate to the United States from next year and cannot attend your wedding, you should still send him the engagement party invite. Most probably, the most efficient way to do this is to trim your engagement party guest list down from your wedding guest list, and it should only include your immediate family, bridal party, and close friends and colleagues.

The Venue

Typically, the engagement party is celebrated at a fancy restaurant. But with the vibrant dining scene in Singapore, it is not your only option. So think about the kind of party atmosphere you want. If you have dreamed about a cocktail reception or a dressy dinner where everyone can meet and mingle, check out a few mid- to high-end restaurants or bars in town and see if you can book a private room or two. If you prefer a more casual do, nobody will stop you from throwing a BBQ party at your condominium estate, a low-key gathering at a beach chalet or a weekend brunch at a nice café. Or, get creative and hold it at surprising venues, like the museum or on a yacht.

The Food

The food can make or break any party (yes, even engagement parties). So take some time to consider the type of cuisine that you want to provide. If you plan to invite more friends than family, a western-style, buffet or sit-down dinner – followed by beer and cocktails at the bar – will be delightful. But if your invite list consists of mostly close relatives, you may need to ask if they might prefer Chinese, halal or Indian cuisine. A tip: Try catering both western-style and traditional dishes in a buffet line. That way, guests can pick out what they want or do not want to eat.

Throwing An Engagement Party

The Décor

Ultimately, the décor will depend on the venue you have chosen. If you are holding a cocktail party at a swanky hotel, it is likely that you will not have to embellish much besides adding some fresh flowers to spruce up the private room. But if you think you might have more creative freedom with a bare venue (like the function room in a country club), then you can consider developing a theme for your engagement bash. The theme does not have to match that of your wedding (which most probably haven’t been settled at that point), but it should not deviate too much from the look and feel either. For instance, if you are holding a simple solemnisation by the beach, followed by a luncheon, it might not make sense for you to hold a fancy engagement party at a hotel. After all, the engagement party should never upstage your Big Day.

The Dress

Likewise, your outfit for the event will depend on the venue and theme. However, it is likely that you will only need a tea dress for the event. Even Kate Middleton only wore an off-the-rack, blue silk jersey, knee-length dress by Brazilian-born designer Daniella Issa Helayel for her royal engagement party. For an indoor dinner party, a sleek cocktail dress should do very well. For a casual outdoor affair, consider putting on a pretty sundress. You may also need to engage a make-up artist to do your hair and make-up. But again, remember not to out-do your wedding look.

The Frills

The great thing about planning an engagement party now is that there are so many options to customise certain aspects to reflect your personality as a couple. For instance, if you both love sweets, consider adding a candy and dessert bar at your party. Photo booths – where your guests can ham it up for the camera using various quirky props – also all the rage now. Or, if you are holding a beach party, add oomph to the merrymaking by renting a popsicle cart. Earlier this year, member of Taiwanese pop group S.H.E, Ella Chen, held her engagement party in her hometown in Pingtung, Taiwan – and entered the restaurant in a traditional bridal sedan chair. So, it all boils down to your creativity!

There are endless possibilities when it comes to planning an engagement party. Like the preparations for your wedding, there may be countless details to take note of. No matter what, remember that it’s a joyous occasion to mark your upcoming nuptials – and enjoy the ride!