Before the hoopla of the wedding planning, before deciding where to register, before looking for The Dress, stop and take a minute to celebrate: you’re engaged! Whether you’re throwing the bash for yourself or for loved ones, we’ve got loads of wonderful engagement party invites to set the tone. Since it’s still summer, we’re crushing on these flower-themed invites for a bright way to announce the good news.

Once you’ve got the invites sorted, think about an al fresco party. One good way to lower your stress level is with a well-stocked bar cart. If it’s too hot and humid (and it may be too hot and humid, we are, after all, in the South!), then move the party indoors. A bar cart is still a great idea to have for cocktail hour, as it allows guests to serve themselves, cutting down on stress for the host. You’ll want to decide whether your bash is a cocktail party or a sit-down dinner. There are lots of decisions to make, so we’ve rounded up some tips for the perfect (stress-free!) engagement party.

  • Who Hosts?: While it is traditional for the bride’s family to host the engagement party, these days, with friends and family all over the globe, it can be difficult to coordinate. Friends may offer to throw the party. The couple may like to host the party themselves. The main thing is: don’t get too caught up in the formalities. While we are more traditional down here in the South than in many other places, the bottom line is, you just want to gather loved ones and have a good time.
  • Timing: Host the party soon after the engagement, in order to ensure great attendance–wait too long and you will eventually have seen all of the people in your respective circles. A great party can really draw a line under such a happy occasion, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity.
  • Sit-Down Dinner or Cocktail Supper?: This is mostly a numbers game. It’s perfectly easy to host a posh cocktail supper or a super-casual sit-down dinner, so don’t let the formality level dictate what type of gathering you give. Think about how many people you can accommodate comfortably in the space you have. Also consider the crowd: what will work best for those invited? If your respective circles aren’t familiar with one another, the free movement that a cocktail party affords guests might be a better idea than a sit-down dinner, where people are more stationary.
  • Gifts: This can be a tricky subject. We like Emily Post’s advice – if you don’t want people to bring gifts, discreetly spread the word. If people do bring gifts, then by all means display them on a pretty table. And we like these note cards for casual thank yous–the matching print will remind the giver of the great engagement party.
  • Document It!: We’re in the “pics or it didn’t happen” generation now. While in the past, cute favors might have been disposable cameras, we recommend perhaps a custom hashtag for the party, so guests can see each others’ Insta snaps and share accordingly.
  • Decor: Don’t stress over this. We like the idea of lots of bright blooms, to match the theme set by the invitations. Zinnias, gerbera daisies, and greenery can have a huge impact, especially when scattered around a room or venue in small, varied vessels–the less they match, the better! Think old glass bottles, Mason jars, and bud vases. Similarly, the right lighting can set the ambience. We love these beauties from Restoration Hardware.

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