Why Having an Engagement Party is a Great Dress Rehearsal for the Big Day!

Written by Emma Hla
“…take time to enjoy it, communicate your priorities and delegate!”

Planning an engagement party can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time planning a wedding-related event as a couple!

Bride-to-be Nazlee, Managing Director and in-house Wedding Planner at Offley Place, shares her own experience of planning her engagement party, offering helpful tips and lessons learnt for couples looking to do the same. Nazlee also highlights the importance of communication, delegation, and enjoying the process along the way. Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering or a larger celebration, keep reading for valuable insights to help make your engagement party memorable and, most-importantly, stress-free.

Notes from the Bride

Nazlee says…

An engagement party is such a joyful event bringing together friends and family to celebrate the exciting news. However, for the couple, this could also serve as a great rehearsal for the big day itself. We hosted our engagement party in a beautiful yurt set up in my parent’s garden in Hertfordshire, it was such a special day for us both but behind the scenes, it was quite a journey to get there!

As a wedding venue director who has planned numerous events and weddings for our couples at Offley Place, when it came to planning my own engagement party, I felt confident that I was in my element. However, planning our first wedding event from my own perspective, working out our style as a couple and how that translates to all the party elements was a completely new experience and more challenging than I anticipated.

The process of planning an engagement party requires you to make very similar decisions to when you are planning your actual wedding, however on a slightly smaller scale with the stakes being much lower – so it’s a great time to find your feet with it all and even experiment! This could be your first time planning an event with your partner, or with your family so communication is key to navigating these new waters and will set the tone for how your wedding planning will go. For us, this involved a lot of patience, understanding and being open-minded, we were thankful that our parents really wanted us to have the sort of event that we loved, but we were also willing to respect any elements that were important to them as well – it is a family celebration after all!

An engagement party requires a venue, a menu, a guestlist, an outfit, potentially even a cake, flowers, music and maybe even a photographer. This may be the first time you are thinking of what kind of flowers you like, or what type of music reflects you as a couple but also works well for your guests.

Planning an engagement party will also introduce you to the political minefield which is writing a guestlist – Are plus ones invited? What about children? What about people you haven’t seen in years? Or haven’t spoken to for a while? All of these challenging questions will bring you closer together as a couple and prepare you for graduating to the next step for your wedding day planning – writing a guestlist with a seating plan! As a general rule, I would highly recommend not inviting anyone to the engagement party that you wouldn’t invite to the wedding itself, this gives guests the right expectation and reduces a lot of potential awkwardness in the aftermath of your special day.

As exciting as it is to plan a wedding and bring together all of your favourite things, the number of choices available can be overwhelming, particularly for someone as detail-oriented as myself! I had so many ideas that I wanted to bring to life and really wished to make the event a special one for our friends and family. However, focusing so much on these elements, I found myself falling into common pitfalls that I myself advise my couples against – most notably, trying to do a lot of the set-up myself.

As someone whose many years of experience have taught me to be a strong advocate for delegation when it comes to wedding planning, I somehow lost sight of this myself. Perhaps because an engagement party felt smaller or different to a big wedding day, I initially started thinking that I would set up the flowers myself, organise the decor and set up the venue. All of these are elements that have to happen on the very day, and as we got closer to the day of the engagement party I realised that this ambition was unfeasible as on the day of the party I would want to be getting ready myself! I managed to call upon one of our lovely florists who kindly put the flowers together for me and recruited a team of family members to help with the set-up. This was a massive help and allowed me to get ready leisurely and really enjoy the morning of my engagement party, comfortable knowing that everything was getting done.

If you do choose to have a photographer, your engagement party also gives you some practice for posing with your partner. This may be your first time in front of a camera and it allows you to try different poses to see what looks good and feel comfortable – you may even want to recreate some of these for your wedding day!

All in all, an engagement party is a wonderful, fun occasion and for most people their first try at planing a wedding related event as a couple and will set the tone for your wedding day.

My advice: take time to enjoy it, communicate your priorities and delegate!


Venue Offley Place

Photography Sonderlust Photography

Videography Creative Spark

Florist Sarah Maylin Flowers

Catering Galleria Catering

Bar Syrup Bar

Yurt Funky Monkey Tents

Styling Fleur de Lace

Cake Erzulie Cakes

Saxophonist Tom Ridout

Balloon Welcome Sign Becky Wells Events

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