What our engagement party taught me about what to expect at our wedding.
When I found out that my mum and fiancé had been planning an engagement party since before I even knew I was engaged I was super-excited. I couldn’t wait to boogie the night away surrounded by all the people I love most. I also had my doubts – I realised that the whole concept of an engagement party is a funny one because surely that’s kind of what your wedding is for. Right?
But now that the party has been and gone I’ve realised that an engagement party can actually be a really great thing to do, not just because it’s fun but also because it will teach you a lot about what to expect from your wedding night.
1. It gives you an idea of numbers and guest lists for your wedding day
I found putting together the guest list for the engagement party quite stressful! It gave me an insight into what it’s going to be like putting together the far more important list for our wedding, and also gave me some practice at saying no or expressing my concern when the numbers were getting out of control.
It was the first time I realised how much our wedding means to our parents too. They invited friends that I would never have thought to invite to our wedding and it’s something we will need to carefully consider when we plan the list for the big day. It’s difficult because our parents paid for the entire engagement party and will be contributing to our wedding day too, so I don’t want to tell them who they can’t invite – it’s their money I’ll be spending as well as my own. But equally, it’s our day and I want to make sure that we’ve got all of the people we really want there first.
2. It breaks the ice between your families
We’ve been together for nearly nine years but it’s crazy how many of our family members haven’t met. We are effectively joining those families together so it was a fantastic way to let my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents meet Ryan’s. It was also actually the first time I had really had a chance to speak to some of Ryan’s aunts and uncles that live further away and we see less. As it was our engagement party it meant they came and specifically spoke with me for the first time – usually it’s at weddings or parties and aren’t mine so it’s not as natural to spend lots of time chatting with those distant relatives.
Even more importantly for me was that it broke the ice between my family, which has separated. My mum still speaks with my dad but they are now divorced and my dad is engaged to another woman. Mum had never met her before, so that was the first hurdle, but there were also my cousins and aunts and uncles from my Dad’s side who my mum had spent years with but until the party had also spent many years without. The same goes for my dad with the family on my mum’s side.
I wouldn’t say it all went completely swimmingly, and I’m pretty sure that my parents were the drunkest of the lot, but at least we got the awkward bit out of the way and that worry has eased ahead of our wedding day, because let’s face it, I’ll have enough to worry about without that on my mind.
3. It taught me to keep alcohol to a minimum and eat something substantial
I learned this one the hard way. I managed to get exceptionally drunk by the end of the evening at our engagement party, mostly because people kept buying me drinks and also because I had no time to eat with all of those guests to speak to.
I made an incredibly drunken and loud speech towards the end of the evening and in the morning the latter half of the party was hazy to say the least.
It was great fun but it made me realise that I would hate for that to happen on our wedding day. I want to remember every little detail in great clarity and I really don’t want to regret any of my actions because I tend to get a little bit silly. Don’t we all after a few glasses of wine? 😉
4. Spend time with your partner
This one was a big one – I basically spent no time with Ryan the entire night. I don’t remember talking to him at all other than one quick dance and a moment at the beginning as people were beginning to arrive. I want to make sure I enjoy my wedding with Ryan, so I am planning to stick with him as much as possible and let others come to us rather than separating and going to them. It’ll be a longer day so I’ll have more time to see everyone, but it’s something I’ll definitely keep in mind.
5. The gifts
This might sound really selfish or greedy, but it’s definitely a real pro. We were so stunned by our friends and families’ generosity. We got lots of bottles of bubbly, some lovely gifts and also some money and vouchers. In fact, we got enough money to pay for the deposit for our wedding venue which is pretty incredible. So while it’s not the only reason you should have an engagement party, you might find that it’s a very well-received bonus for you and your partner.
6. It teaches you to write down what everyone got you!
I’m really annoyed with myself for this one. In our excitement, we opened all of our cards and gifts without writing down who got us what. I really wanted to write Thank You cards, but I had to keep some of them very vague because I couldn’t remember exactly what everyone got us 🙁 I love to write really personal messages in the Thank You cards so when it comes to our wedding day I will make absolutely sure that I know who got us what.
And if you’re curious, I used Thank You cards from Paperchase (I’m obsessed with that shop). Three different designs as shown below:
The fun stuff
For those of you interested in fashion and beauty I thought I’d add a little bit about what I wore to the party, including nail polish and hairstyle. Annoyingly I didn’t take any photos before the party to show you, but I’m new to this so I’ll know next time! (Silly me).
My dress was a bargain £22.99 maxi from New Look which I felt amazing in. It had a split up one side of the skirt but only to just above the knee so it was perfectly appropriate, and I loved the high neckline and crossover straps at the back. It’s also a dress I’ll be able to wear again to another occasion which is always handy.
On my feet I wore white strappy sandals from Red Herring at Debenhams and I painted my finger and toe nails in a deep red (Maybelline Forever Strong Gel Nail Color Midnight Red) to match the middle of the white flowers on the dress.
Finally, when it comes to decorations for the hall we had the party in, I made my own timeline of our relationship by framing photos within a Polaroid template and writing the place and date they were taken on them. I pegged each photo to a long piece of brown string with small silver craft pegs and hung it above the buffet table for people to look at as they got their evening nibbles. I had lots of comments on how good they looked so I’m glad I took the time to make them (it took me ages and I almost gave up!)
Have you blogged about any parties you’ve hosted or been to recently? I’d love to read about them so link me up in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
xxx Ashleigh xxx
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