Planning a party can be difficult – There are so many different things to consider. Last month, me and my Fiance had our engagment party which took months of planning. It surprised me how much I enjoyed planning everything from the colour scheme to making the centerpieces for the tables, to planning the guest list and even making floor plans.
This post doesn’t just apply to Engagement parties either; Birthday parties, Christmas parties, Halloween parties – This guide will apply to any kind of party.
I will be talking you through the things you need to consider when you’re planning a party and how to go about making your plans a reality.
Step 1 – Budget
Set a realistic budget for yourself – How much are you looking to spend? This figure will determine your venue, whether a buffet will take place or whether you will make your own food, how many people you are looking at inviting etc. So set a realistic budget which you can meet.
Step 2 – Numbers
How many people will be attending the party? You will need to sit down and collate a list of all the people you would like to invite. We came up with a list with over 100 guests however this did decrease a lot when it came around to actually inviting people due to people being unavailable, but when coming up with the guest list, add everyone you can think of who you would like to attend so you have a maximum figure.
Step 3 – Venue
So you now have a budget in mind and a rough idea on how many people would be attending the party – This means you can start looking at venues. Will you hire a function room? Could you throw the party at your own house, maybe have a garden party? This will completely depend on the first two steps. If your budget is at around £1000 and you’re expecting 80 guests, it may be worth hiring a function room. If your budget is half of this figure and you’re expecting 30 guests, it may be worth throwing your party at home or in the garden, depending on the size of said house/garden. So the next vital step is determining this. We were originally going to have our engagement party in my Fiance’s garden as it is a good size and we could have decorated it how we wanted and had a BBQ. However we did have 100+ guests on the list so decided to hire a venue.
Step 4 – Colour Scheme/Theme
The next step is to get a picture in your head on how you want the venue to look. Things to consider are the occasion and colour scheme, this is a good starting point- For example, if you’re planning a baby shower for parents who are expecting a baby girl, you would opt for pink usually. For an engagement party you may want to go for something a bit more elegant like cream and gold.
The colour scheme we opted for was black, white and gold.
Funny story actually, because I’m a huge goth and I love the colour black, I was actually joking around with the lady who we hired the venue off and said I wanted black as the colour scheme. She said that black actually looks amazing with the white table covers so we went with black and white. Then I decided to add a hint of gold to add a splash of colour and elegance into the venue.
Step 5 – Invitations
We wanted to be old school and send out actual invitations to people. For our older guests and close family we provided a handwritten invitation which is a nice touch as people can keep these as a memory and have something physical to remember the party. For everyone else we just set up a Facebook page and sent out an invitation – The beauty of social media right?
Be sure to remember to invite everyone else people may forget!
Step 6 – Music
This step is dependent on your chosen venue. If you have decided to have the party at home, you can set up your bluetooth spooker. If you hire a venue, they do tend to usually include a DJ or possibly charge a small fee for the DJ. You may have to source a DJ externally.
The best thing to do is speak with the venue to see if they have any recommendations for DJs.
The venue we hired did include a DJ for an extra charge, however this was discounted for us as we were hiring the venue. This made life so much easier as we didn’t have to worry about running around finding a source for the music. If we had stuck to our original plans of having the party in the garden, we would have used a speaker.
Step 7 – Food/Drinks
The next thing to determine is how you are going to cater for your guests. Will you hire caterers? Will you make your own food? If you hire a venue, most of the time, they can cater for you. They will provide you with a list of the food items they have, and they will have different packages with different amount of items. They will then charge you per head. So if 10 items cost £12.50 per head, and you have 100 guests coming, this will cost you £1250. This can be pricey, depending on how many guests you will have attending however this makes life so much easier. You don’t have to worry about making food, and you can get on with your night and enjoy yourself instead of worrying about getting the food out to everyone.
You can even make your own food, which I know a lot of people like to do – If this is the option you go for, you should gather a list of the food items you will be making so you have an idea on what your shopping list should look like closer to the date. This would definetely be the cheaper alternative. If our party would have taken place in the garden like our original plans, we would have catered for oursevles and hosted a buffet and a BBQ.
As for drinks – You could provide your own drinks, however this could get pricey depending on your guest list. If you hire a venue, a lot of the time they do have a licenced bar so guests will have to buy their own drinks.
If you have the party at home you could make your own punch bowls, or buy beer/cider kegs. You could even get extremely experimental with cocktails and make your own gello shots or alcohol infused fruit – This is something I would have really enjoyed doing. If you’re looking for amazing drink ideas, look up the Tipsy Bartender. He has some amazing tutorials on YouTube.
Step 8 – Cake!
Will a cake be necessary for your party? If not you can skip this step. However everyone loves cake! You could hire somebody to make a cake for you or you could go to the local super market and get a cake. They have some amazing cakes in some of the supermarkets in my area. You could even make the cake yourself, if you’re lucky enough to be good at baking.. I would probably end up burning the kitchen down though!
For our party – We opted for cup cakes. Cupcakes are easier to just pick up and eat and take home at the end of the night. Plus we loved the idea of all of the cupcakes having different designs on. We hired somebody to make our cakes which again we were opting for the easier option which meant we could spend less time worrying about things going smoothly and more time planning other areas of the party.
The cupcakes were an amazing idea – We sent the designs that we wanted made over to the lady making the cakes and they came out perfect. Our designs included – Our initials, stickmen proposing, little rings, writing that said ‘She said yes’ and ‘He asked..’ and floral designs too. They were lovely!
If you do opt for cupcakes, you can purchase cupcake holders for people to take home at the end of the night – Which everyone loved at our party. Everyone was stocking up on cupcakes at the end of the night. You can get these holders for a couple of pounds on Amazon. You could even buy multi-packs of cupcakes so if having them made isn’t an option you could always pick some up from the super market!
Step 9 – Balloons
No party is complete without balloons. We were originally going to purchase balloons and a helium cannister from Amazon and blow all the balloons up ourselves, however we did change our minds and I will explain why.
By the time you have purchased your balloons, your helium (You would probably need more than one cannister depending on the size of venue and how many balloons you would like) your weights for the balloons, the string to connect the weight and the balloons – You would have spent roughly around £50-£60 if you add everything up. We ended up visiting a party shop who gave us a quote for 10 balloon clusters, a balloon arch, a large heart shaped personalised balloon, party poppers, banners and confetti. We could choose whatever colours we wanted – We opted for gold, black and white to match our colour scheme. The quote the shop provided to us was similar to the price we would have paid if we did everything ourselves and it took all the effort away of blowing all the balloons up so it was a no brainer decision for us. We loved our giant personalised balloon too! On one side it said ‘He popped the question’ and on the other it said ‘She said yes’ (We still have that balloon now! It’s a bit saggy, but it’s holding up well) All of the balloons were delivered to us on the afternoon of the party and they looked perfect. It completely took all the stress and effort away. So it may be worth doing some research and visiting party shops to get an idea of costs.
Depending on the occasion, you can also get special balloons that really stand out from the others – For example, for our engagement party, we purchased ring balloons which looked great! The party shop offered to blow these up for us too and deliver them with the rest of the balloons. There are all sorts of interesting balloons you can purchase – For a baby shower you can buy a giant baby balloon, you could buy giant letter balloons and spell someone’s name or initials. There’s all sorts of balloons that you can buy.
Step 10 – Other decorations
Now I’m going to split Step 10 into a few categories as there are so many different varieties of decorations you can opt for. This again all depends on your venue. If you are having your party at home, you will decorate it differently to how you would decorate a venue. I am going to break down what we planned for decorations and you can take inspiration from any of these ideas.
Table centerpieces: We had 8 tables at our party and wanted to put centerpieces in the middle of each table. We wanted to make this as cheap as possible as we’d have to buy 8 of these. We started by purchasing little glass vases for 50p each from Ikea, then purchased a small bunch of fake white flowers for £2 each to put in each of the vases. I then decided I wanted to add fairy lights, so we purchased boxes of these from Amazon for £10.99 each.
I then decided to add black ribbon around the vases at a later date – The ribbon cost me £3 from Amazon. Cheap and cheerful!
You can be as creative as you want with the centerpieces and even use old empty bottles to add an old rustic feel to the table. I may even create a post soon with different ideas for centerpieces.
Seat covers and sash: To add to our colour scheme we paid the venue an additional fee to decorate each of the seats with a black seat cover and a gold sash. These looked absolutely amazing! If you are hiring a venue they may provide this service. If not, you could hire these from an external party company, they may charge something lik £1.30 per seat cover/sash.
You can also purchase seat covers on ebay for 99p each – Which would be a cheaper alternative.
Welcome to our party board: This is one of the first things I envisioned for our party. I wanted a ‘Welcome To Our Engagement’ party board with our names and the date of the party. I pictured this on an easel with flowers and a fairy lights wrapped around it and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to.
I ordered the sign online from a website called Zazzle and completely customised the board and then framed this myself to put on the easel. The easel is something we already had, however you can purchase these quite cheap online. And the fairy lights we used were the ones we purchased for our table centerpieces.
I purchased the flowers from Amazon and wrapped this around the whole board. I was so happy with how this turned out.
A sign would be perfect for any party – This is the first thing your guests will be seeing so I definetely think this is something to consider.
Photographs: I think it’s a nice touch to add photographs around the venue. We lay our photographs of me and my Fiance on all of the tables, showing us grow together throughout our relationship. I used my Snapfish 50 free prints a month to print these photos off, so it was completely free. (Just download the app for 50 free prints a month)
Light up letters: We wanted light up letters of our initials placed somewhere. We thought this was a really nice touch and something we wanted from when we first started to plan our party.
Fairy lights: I kind of went mad on fairy lights, but I wanted something to brighten the venue as I knew the lights would be dimmed. Plus, I’m a big lover of fairy lights, they make the place look magical.
Confetti: Even though our balloon package included confetti, we wanted to absolutely drown our tables in more. So we purchased all different kinds; Crystal gem looking confetti, engagement ring confetti, champagne bottles, confetti with our initials which I purchased on eBay. We scattered these all over the tables.
Step 11 – Other things to consider
Guest book – We had a ‘guest book’ at a party as we wanted a little keep sake from all of our guests. It wasn’t a traditional guest book though – It was a little jar with wooden hearts. People signed the wooden hearts and popped it into the jar. We love reading back through the messages people had written for us.
Picky snacks – Before the main food comes out, guests may get peckish so it may be worth putting out some picky snacks like crisps, peanuts and pretzels. We had bowls of chocolates on each of our tables too which was a nice touch, and we had placed sweetie bags over each of the tables for the children. (And let’s be real..the adults too)
Photographer – This may be a little bit extra.. but I think it’s definitely nice to have memories of your party. My Brother-in-Law is a photographer and we asked him to take pictures. I love looking back at the pictures he had taken for us, they are beautiful. Because the night goes so quickly, and you’re so busy mingling with people and having fun, you forget to take pictures. With a photographer, they take pictures in the moment without you realising, and you can look back and keep the photos forever.
Guests – Remember that list you had written at the very start of this whole process? Well expect the list to drop by atleast 30 people. As you get closer to the date of the party, you will have a better idea on who can’t make it and who has cancelled. So say your original number was 100 guests, you now only have 70 guests. On the night/day of the party, you are going to have some no shows. So expect your numbers to drop from your list again. Because of this – When planning for the food/buffet I would cater for less than what you are expecting. From the experience at our party, we had a lot of food wastage because not everyone ate and not everyone turned up. So this will save you some money/effort.
So those are my steps on planning an engagement party. My last bit of advice and last step would be to simply enjoy yourself! If it is an engagement party you are planning for, spend time with your Fiance at the party. Make time for each other! Me and my Fiance barely saw each other as we were so busy mingling with everyone and making sure everyone was enjoying themselves. We didn’t even sit down to eat together in fact, we barely ate any of the food that we had spent so long choosing. So be sure to take 15 minutes to relax with your partner and enjoy some food.
I hope you found these steps useful and if you liked this post be sure to follow my blog for further content and give this post a like. This is a different kind of post for me, so I hope you found it enjoyable and if you did I can start to create more posts like this.
See you on the next post,