SO, since my last blog post things in my life have changed dramatically…
I’m going to wife, there will be a wedding!
It happened on Christmas Day, just the two of us in our little flat and I couldn’t be happier!!
Lets just say there was A LOT of ugly crying!
So after the initial shock, celebration and festivities I went into full on organisational mode and first things first:
Never having organised a party before I thought it would be a piece of cake (and although the party was filled with the stuff) it was not!
First on the party planning agenda:
THE GUEST LIST
It is literally impossible to organise anything else until you know how many people are coming! You may also need to know what sort of age group is involved for venue and entertainment purposes.
As far as I am aware the people you invite to your engagement party are generally the same people you plan to invite to your wedding, otherwise what’s the point?
“ Hey come celebrate our engagement with us, we are so excited to be getting married! it’s going to be amazing, when is it I hear you ask, well I’d rather not say to be honest considering you aren’t actually invited” – AWKWARD!
So after agonising over whom to invite, how many people, do we invite plus 1’s and children the list was finalised and dominated largely by my huge family!
Next step is finding a place to have it, as you cannot invite people to a place that doesn’t exist nor can you arrange entertainment and food to arrive to nowhere!
When deciding to organise the party we imagined spending very little – being budget minded people it seemed possible. However, there are unavoidable costs (more than we had thought of to be honest)
Being in February it would not have been appropriate to have a garden style affair – and not having a garden would have also made this very difficult! But if you are lucky enough to have a nice big garden or a generous family member who has, a BBQ get together would be fab!
There are also lots of nice posh venues who do everything for you and cost a small fortune.
After a thorough search and some family advice we chose to have ours at Writtle Community Association, a lovely hall local to us and cheap as chips! We were also able to use their tables and chairs, decorate however we wanted and bring our own food/entertainment which was perfect for us! The place was also equipped with a bar where people could purchase their own drinks – this would also give you the option, if you’re feeling generous, to put some money behind the bar for your guests…. We are not that generous – Sorry guys!
Good things to look at when you’re looking for a venue:
2. Ages allowed
3. Disabled/elderly access (are there places for them to sit down)
4. What decorations are you allowed (a lot of places don’t like you pinning things anywhere)
5. Can you bring your own food/are there catering facilities
6. What entertainment is available/can we bring our own.
7. Plug sockets (random but relevant for any dj equipment or lights)
8. Are you allowed candles (most places won’t allow “open” flames)
9. What times can you have the venue for
10. Is there a bar / corkage charge
11. Does the bar have a card machine (really important to inform your guests on!)
12. Who is responsible for setting up/clearing away
13. When can you set up/ clear away (we had full use of the venue from 11am (party at 7.30) and was able to collect our stuff the next day)
14. Who is your main contact
I’m sure there are lots of other important questions but these are all I can think of!
For some reason this personally ended up being the most stressful part!
I wanted to save costs and DIY them, but I also wanted a nice design.
So I cheated… I found websites where you could amend the wording, used the snippet tool on my laptop and copied and pasted them into word.
This may potentially get me in trouble but it’s a great idea.
I then bought some fancy card from hobby craft and printed the design onto them… this was the stressful part!
The card was too thick for the printer and the ink smudged, then I tried to cut them on a guillotine and ended up ruining half of them trying to do too many at a time. Safe to say that for the wedding I will be ordering/buying my stationary!
The invites were then enveloped and posted/handed out to our guests.
Once the RSVP’s start coming back you will be able to see how much food you need. Knowing how much my family love to eat, we over stretched slightly! We decided on a buffet style arrangement due to the type of venue and relaxed atmosphere we were going for. Nothing fancy, just everyone we love all in one room celebrating our love for each other.
All our food was home made / cooked by guests!
We also had crisps in silver dishes on the tables which were set out for people to pick at.
Most of our food came from cash and carry including the usual sausage roll, chicken nugget type affair but we also made some big pasta dishes and had meats, cheese, pate and crackers. My head bridesmaid made tarts, her family brought home made bread/pasta, my sister in law made cupcakes and my step siblings made a big cake (which I ate all to myself – no lie!)
Everyone loved the food BUT as we had overstretched we had SO MUCH left over! Which I subsequently ate over the coming days!
All we really wanted was music so a DJ seemed the appropriate way to go, but after getting quotes we realised that was out of our budget range!
Luckily we were able to hire music/lighting from a friend who set up/dismantled everything for us at a fraction of the price and all we had to do was make a playlist and plug it in!
I say “all we had to do” but this was another huge stress! Trying to pick songs that everyone would enjoy, for the amount of time you have, in an order that flows with the evening is enough to give anyone a mental breakdown – which it did!
But it was a big success and if I could tell past Laura anything it’d be “Girl you got this, don’t stress!”
To make the playlist I signed up to spotify premium – 3 months for 99p which enables you to listen to your playlists offline. I did this on my laptop and plugged it in to the music equipment at the party.
I would suggest making a playlist that is slightly longer than the time you have at your party just in case you have misjudged it or want music on while you’re setting up etc. but don’t put anything you’re really looking forward to past that point!
So we had free range to decorate the venue but very little budget so it was time to get our DIY hats on! The theme of the engagement – and the wedding – is country, shabby chic, vintage esq.
My dad and his wife very kindly handmade 250ft of bunting (not all of which I discovered till the next day OOPS!)
My head bridesmaid and I also set aside a day to get crafty (not to be confused with our usual crafty bottles of prosecco!)
Things we made:
1. To cover the tables I had already bought blue banquet roll – we used this on the present table and a few random tables. Most tables we covered in hessian and lace which we got at Chelmsford market (this was an experience in itself)
2. We used old baby food jars donated by my big sister and filled them with candles and gypsophilia (after my little sister had washed the remaining labels off)
3. We made bunting out of paper saying “your engaged” and mini bunting to go round one of the present table baskets
4. I had a bird cage which we filled with gypsophilia
5. Jenna haggled an old potato sack from the veg stall which we filled with gyp
6. I ordered polaroid style prints from an app called polabox which we pegged to string and hung up
7. We also purchased a frame which we painted blue took the middle out of and hung stringed up photos across
8. Jenna made a “Save the date” sign
9. We had an “engagement party” chalk board
10. Me and my friend Kareen made popcorn (not very successfully I must say), wrapped it in cellophane and tied with a brown tag saying “he popped the question” (GET IT!?) – these were put in a basket on the present table as favors which the kids loved!
I also ordered some photobooth props which I put in a sailor jerry box and left on the side for people to take their own selfies! This in particular went down a treat and they ended up very thin on the ground after the party (guess we will have to get some more for the wedding!)
When everything was set up it looked so lovely! There were lots of compliments and it all made everything seem much more personal!
All in all the night was a complete success! One of the best… our families and friends all got to meet each other and it was a lovely way to celebrate our engagement!
In fact we had so much fun there is not one picture of me and Jon at the party!
So I would say that if you love to have pictures of your events in order to keep those memories forever I would hire a photographer, get a photobooth or have a designated person in charge of capturing the evening as this is my only regret!
I would totally recommend anyone to have an engagement party, however low/high key! As it’s not only a great way to celebrate but it also gets you ready for wedding planning – it’s like a mini trial run and if you come across any problems here it’ll be a lot easier to figure them out with a clear head and use the experience towards your wedding planning! 🙂
Keep your eyes peeled for more wedding updates and hopefully no stress!