Now that you’re newly engaged and have the itch to celebrate, diving into engagement party ideas can be a fun exercise. The celebration can also serve as a pre-wedding test to see how you and your fiancé work together on party planning and themes. Because there are so many imaginative party ideas out there, we’ve narrowed down the 15 most exciting and memorable ones.
Tip: To ensure guests wear proper attire, include the dress code and other relevant instructions on your engagement party invitations.
Idea 1: On-Screen Romance
Friends and family who are cinephiles will adore this party theme, as it encourages them to dress up as their favorite on-screen couples. It also honors the many ways love has been represented in culture and creates space for you and your special someone to be added to the ranks of iconic romances.
To ensure all the costume goodness is captured, set up a photo wall where guests can have a Polaroid taken that they can add to your scrapbook with a personalized note.
Idea 2: Ablaze on the Beach
If you live near the beach and enjoy the feeling of sand and sea breeze on your skin, consider throwing a bonfire. For your beach bonanza, you can do a laidback potluck, where guests bring blankets and dishes to share around a fire, a formal affair with catered dinner served on white-linen tables under a canopy of twinkling lights, or something in-between.
Tip: Avoid hassles by checking with the governing body of the beach if you need a permit. Note that certain beaches disappear during high tide, so utilize a tide schedule (which you can find online) for your particular beach to select a start- and end-time and ensure your soirée won’t be washed away.
Idea 3: Bling Bash
Allow your sparkly engagement ring to set the tone and inspiration for your party. Adorn a photo wall with a shiny, golden backdrop, instruct guests to wear sequins, hang up that disco ball that’s been hiding in your closet, and embellish the space with anything else that screams bling—and, while you’re at it, add glitter to those invitations.
Potential décor for this party idea includes giant engagement ring balloons, glitter-covered ring toppers for cupcakes, ring pop party favors, and paper glasses in the shape of engagement rings. This theme creates a fun, light vibe and kicks your wedding planning off on a high note.
Idea 4: Music Festival
If you and your partner have a shared passion for music festivals, hire a band that can do covers of your favorite songs, and instruct guests to dress in their best music festival garb.
Ideally, you’ll host the party in an outdoor space that’s decorated with your favorite festival adornments such as teepees, canvas bell tents, vintage furniture, and twinkle lights.
You can enhance the ambiance by having food stations with your favorite festival nosh and a flower crown-making area (an essential festival accessory). And if you really want to go all out, think of a special name for your customized festival and create a banner to hang at the entrance.
Idea 5: Whimsical Garden Party
If you’re throwing an engagement party during the warmer months, utilize the vibrant nature around you by hosting a garden party at a friend’s or family’s house, local park, or botanical garden.
If possible, decorate the space with fine china, fantastical furniture (say, velvet-covered settees), and other antique treasures you find at thrift stores. Enhance the garden theme by creating elaborate centerpieces from foraged foliage, fruits, and wildflowers.
You can go as simple or as lavish as you’d like, opting for picnic-esque finger foods or hiring a caterer that can supply hors d’oeuvres and craft a light, colorful sit-down meal.
Idea 6: Masquerade Ball
For couples looking for an excuse to dress up, a masquerade-themed engagement party could be a perfect match. To really do up this type of fête, find a venue that exudes Venetian vibes or can be decorated with chandeliers, elaborate centerpieces, rich colors, and lots of feathers.
But while decorations help set the tone, your guests’ garb will fill out the theme, so be specific about the dress code on your invitations. In addition, have a fun assortment of masks for those who forget their own—or sprinkle in a DIY element by having a mask-decorating station.
Idea 7: Foodie Feast
Couples with refined palates and appreciation for fine food should consider hosting a small engagement party where they hire a chef to come to their home and help them prepare a gourmet meal.
This theme allows for bonding time with those closest to you and expands the cooking repertoire of you and your partner. To ensure the dinner is enjoyable, speak with the chef ahead of time to come up with dinner ideas that sound both delicious and doable. When it’s time to eat the fruits of your labor, have a beautiful table set that amplifies the festivity.
Idea 8: A Party Down Memory Lane
Honor your love story by crafting a party at a location where you and your fiancé shared a milestone (like your first kiss). You can feature foods you’ve had on favorite dates, songs that’ve been the soundtrack to your romance, photos that chronicle your love, and anything else that makes your heart glow.
To really get the happy tears flowing, ask two to three people—who have been there for the majority of your relationship—to give a speech.
Idea 9: Sporty Affair
Engaged couples with enthusiasm for a particular sport can infuse that zeal into their party. For example, baseball or football lovers can host a party in a special section of their team’s stadium, golf aficionados can invite guests to the driving range, or bowling league champs can buy out their favorite alley for the night.
To round out this engagement party theme, ask guests to dress in attire—such as jerseys or bowling shirts—that emulates their chosen sport.
For food, serve comforting favorites like mac n’ cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, and anything else that’s so easy and tasty it makes you forget about calorie-counting.
Idea 10: Bygone Era Bonanza
If the glamour of the 20s, the feel-good vibes of the 50s, or the campy ambiance of the 70s appeal to you, consider hosting a party that requires the dress, hairstyle, or even accents and verbiage (if you really want to go for it!) of the era you choose.
To really make guests feel like they’ve been transported to your special epoch, serve food and drink that was popular in those days.
Tip: This theme can be even more thrilling when mixed with #11.
Idea 11: Ships Ahoy
Enhance the elegance of your engagement celebration by hiring a boat to take you and your guests on a cruise through a nearby body of water. This celebration type requires few decorations, beyond twinkle lights, battery-powered candles, and simple centerpieces for the cocktail tables, as the scenery itself will provide such an intriguing backdrop.
Idea 12: Travel Soirée
Planning a destination wedding? Hype up your friends and family with a travel-themed party that hints at your special location with the decorations and foods you select. You can also add antique globes and maps to enhance the theme.
To create anticipation and some good-natured competition, set up a station for guests to write their best guess about where your wedding will take place. Then, at the end of the party, announce the destination. Have a simple prize, like a sweet treat or a coffee house gift card, for those who guessed right.
Idea 13: Dance Party
Get everyone’s dance moves warmed up by hosting an engagement party featuring professional lessons for two or three dance genres—say, hip hop, ballroom, and line dancing.
This theme will get your guests’ endorphins and laughs flowing—and maybe even save you the trouble of taking classes, when you’re trying to learn choreography for your first dance, at a later date.
Be sure to find a venue with a proper dance floor and rent it for the night. When you select your dance themes, include attire instructions on your invitations. But to make sure they don’t scare off any guests, add a note that participation is optional.
Idea 14: Wine Tasting
During an afternoon, set up a few wine tastings at different locations you may be interested in having at your wedding. By the end of the day, you’ll have a giddy buzz and hopefully one of your wedding event To Dos checked off. Maximize safety by hiring a driver and luxury bus to transport you and your fellow merrymakers.
Idea 15: Back to Nature
Couples who prefer the expansiveness of the outdoors can host their engagement party at their favorite camping destination, so long as it’s a doable trek for everyone on your guest list.
To glam things up and simplify the experience for non-camping guests, hire a company that can set up a series of canvas tents. For food, you can supply camping favorites like BBQ, roasted vegetables, s’mores, and other grillable goodies, or ask guests to contribute a little something if they wish.
Bailey Gaddis is a travel writer and author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. In addition, she works as a childbirth preparation educator and birth doula who supports mothers-to-be and new mothers. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.