The Engagement Party & The Bridal Shower
Pre-Wedding Parties are a great way to celebrate your upcoming nuptials with friends & family. Especially with those who cannot make it for the actually wedding day. Although theses events are not necessary, they are a great way to celebrate the next stage in your life.
Pre-wedding parties do not have to be expensive and can actually help you save money on your big day. Also, most of the time your family and friends like to host these events for you, meaning you can actually relax and enjoy! Here's a look at the 2 most common pre-wedding celebrations:
#1. Engagement Party
Most pre-wedding celebrations separate the bride & groom, but what's so special about an engagement party is that you and your love are to attend this party together in honour of BOTH of you. Engagement parties are different for every couple. Some like to keep their engagement small and simple with only immediate family, while others treat it as a bigger event. Your engagement party can be focused around brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails or even breakfast! They are a great way to surprise everyone on your upcoming wedding, perfect for introducing others to your other half, or simply an intimate way of celebrating your journey ahead. If your engagement party is also your engagement announcement, be sure to keep in mind how your friends and family may take the news. Some people do not like surprises or can be offended if they are not the first to know.
So who hosts this event? Traditionally, the bride's parents do, as it is considered the first officially celebration. Sometimes the couple like to do so themselves, and other times the chosen bridal party does so. Of course anyone can host the event, and many may offer to do so, just make sure to show how grateful you are! DO NOT take advantage of your loved ones simply because you are now engaged. Keep in mind, if you would like to host the party for the couple, you are expected to manage any financial matters. Therefore, before you ask to do so, keep in mind cost and any other implications. DO NOT offer if you cannot follow through. No one will be offended if you do not offer. Remember, you can always volunteer to help the host(s), whoever it may be.
When should there be an engagement party? No later than 9 months before the wedding. It's best to celebrate a few months after the proposal so that there is enough time for guest to be notified and for the couple to enjoy themselves before the planning begins. Now where should you host the party? this will depend on the number of guest. I suggest to keep engagement parties for close family members (nothing past 1st cousins & life time friends). Why? well, this way the couple isn't forced to think up of a wedding guest list early. If the guest list is long because the couple has a large family or because the couple simply knows many people, then a venue is your best bet. A venue is ideal in this situation because of inexpensive packages that may be offered.
Please do not look up a venue on Groupon! Make sure to check out at least 3 venues before signing any contract. It's a good idea to contact a wedding planner for a consultation of respected, budget-friendly venues. Also, I want to clarify that venue does not always equal a banquet hall. Banquet halls can be very expensive, so think outside the box. If the weather is nice, a mini-cruise along Lake Ontario is a great idea. If the couple likes to golf, then why not at a golf course? Some other ideas include: amusement park, museum, historical house, art gallery, the zoo, a farm, provincial park, public or private garden, nightclub rooftop, theatre, restaurant, etc.
Click the photo above for the engagement party gallery!
#2. Bridal Showers
A bridal shower is usually seen as a "gift-giving" party that is held for the bride-to-be in anticipation to her new future with her partner. Usually, the bride does not plan her own shower, unless she really wants to. When the bride doesn't plan it, who does? Well ...
Maid of Honour
Maid of Honour + Bridesmaids
Sisters and Close Friends
Mother with the bride's Mother-in-Law
(Of course, the list above is not limited to those individuals).
A bridal shower is a nice gift to give a bride, especially during such a hectic time. Planning a wedding is difficult as it is (with or without a wedding planner), so a party in the bride's honour is much appreciated. Plus, wedding showers are nice to have for those who cannot join the bride on her wedding day since they still get to celebrate with her.
What needs to be done to plan a wedding shower? Here are a few tips:
DO NOT wait until the last minute
DO NOT pick a theme if the bride does not want one
If you do pick a theme, pick one you know your bride will love or one that reflects her character/personality
Make a bridal party plan and determine a budget
Decide on a date. Keep in mind where most guest live. A bridal shower can happen anywhere between 6 months to 2 weeks before the wedding. 4 months mark is usually a safe bet.
If the bride's mother is not part of the planning, keep her in the loop! She will appreciate it. She'll probably have lots of ideas and if her and her daughter are close, she'll be able to help you with minor details, or major details (like hosting the party at her house!). This will also help you get names and mailing addresses of family & friends you are not familiar with. You DO NOT want to forget someone important as that may cause unnecessary drama.
Gather your final bridal shower guest list and stick to it!
Order and send out bridal invitations. This does not have to be expensive. You can custom make invites on vistraprint.com for great prices, or even find templates online. Always check places such as HouseSense, Winners, and Indigo as these types of items frequently go on sale. Also, if the bride has a registry set up, it may be nice to provide that information. NEVER say gifts are mandatory to guest, and NEVER print "cash only" on the invitations. This is horrible etiquette and sends the wrong message.
Buy the Bride a bridal shower gift. Even though you are paying for the event, it's necessary to buy the bride a gift. This also does not have to be expensive. I always suggest more than one person to plan the party, especially if you do not have a planner, as splitting costs lessens the headaches and financial blow.
Have a gift opening time slot during the party. The best way to do this is by picking a section in the venue for guest to drop off their gifts. One person should bring the gifts to the bride, while the other records the name of the giver and the gift. This is really important for thank you cards! DO NOT rely on your memory! It's one of the most common bridal shower mistakes. You may also want to assign a couple bridesmaids to collect any wrapping paper, ribbon, etc. in order for easy clean up and photos without garbage laying around.
- Be clear on the dress code (guest hate it when they don't know what to wear!)
- DO NOT order food until you have a good estimate of the number of people showing up
- Keep the time in mind when ordering food (lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktails, etc.) Depending on the day of the shower, this may help with your budget.
- DO NOT order a huge cake. It's best to order a small detailed cake for show and close family members, and then have the same (or mixed) flavour cupcakes to go along with the bridal shower cake.
- Provide sweets and fruit along with the cake/cupcakes
- Favours do not have to be items! A donation from each guest to a cause that is important to the bride is always a good idea. Another good, inexpensive idea are treats to take home. You can do this as a candy stand, or have ready-packaged treats. If you go for a ready-packaged treat, try to pick something that represents the bride. For example, a dessert from the bride's cultural background, or her favourite sweet. The possibilities are endless.
Click the photo above for the bridal shower gallery