Top Tips for a Memorable Engagement Party: Advice from Bride-to-be Maura Kent

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Engagement parties are the exciting prelude to the main event, a chance to celebrate love in a more relaxed yet equally enchanting setting. We enjoyed speaking with Maura, a bride-to-be who recently hosted a stunning cocktail-style engagement party. Here, she shares her inspiration, planning process, and the memorable moments that made her celebration special.

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What inspired you to host a cocktail-style engagement party?
“Growing up down the street from my fiancé, it only made sense to have our engagement party in our hometown. We both wanted to celebrate with as many family and friends as could make the trip, and the backyard of Sean’s parents’ house was the perfect venue. For engagement parties, I always think you want to bring a bit of fun to the event in contrast with the formality of a sit-down wedding. A cocktail party is a good way to strike a balance with a large group without taking away from the big day.”

Maura’s vision for a light-hearted yet elegant gathering set the tone for a memorable evening. The decision to host it in a familiar, sentimental location added a personal touch that resonated with their guests.

Can you share your experience finding and choosing the Danielle Frankel dress for the occasion?
“I had a tough time finding a dress, and I was initially disappointed because I am very decisive, especially when shopping. I tried on countless dresses online and in stores and had no luck. I decided to make an appointment at Danielle Frankel, and the minute I tried this set on, I knew it was the one. I loved that it was a two-piece pant set and loved the corset. I hope to mix and match the set over the years on anniversary dinners.”

Finding the perfect outfit is often one of the most challenging parts of event planning, but Maura’s persistence paid off. The unique two-piece pant set provided her desired sophistication and versatility for future occasions.

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How did you strike a balance between elegance and relaxation in the atmosphere of your engagement party?
“Regarding the engagement party, we wanted it to be simple, fun for everyone, and true to us. The venue was so beautiful we didn’t need to do much to compliment it. For the colour palette and florals, I drafted a vision board centred around tulips and the colour green. Our event planner, Margaret Short, and Fifty 50 Creative Services brought my vision to life. In New York, I went to a fabric store and fell in love with this green silk, which we used for direction and, ultimately, the bows for the high-top tables. To prevent overcrowding at the bar and minimize wait times, we set up two bars on opposite sides of the backyard. This worked out great.”

Maura’s attention to detail and ability to weave personal touches into the decor created a serene and inviting ambience. The clever use of space and thoughtful planning ensured guests could enjoy the evening without feeling crowded.

Did you incorporate any DIY elements or personal touches into the event planning?
“I love incorporating personal touches into every event, no matter its size, often through custom logos and themes. For our engagement party, I aimed for cohesiveness without overwhelming branding, as I believe an excess of anything can detract from elegance. The custom logo I designed was subtle yet impactfully incorporated into the party through embroidered linen napkins, branded toothpicks for past appetizers and drinks, and branding on one of the bars. Additionally, signature julep cups and tulips throughout the party added to the overall design. I wanted to bring even more personal touches to the evening, but I was conscientious about saving some surprises for the wedding weekend events!”

Maura’s subtle branding and personal touches on her engagement party showcased her creativity and attention to detail. These elements added a layer of sophistication while keeping the overall look cohesive and elegant.

Could you share any memorable moments or highlights from your engagement party?
“One of the most memorable moments from our engagement party was when our parents gave heartfelt toasts. Sean and I felt so much love and support from their kind words and being surrounded by our families and friends.”

The emotional speeches from their parents added a profoundly personal and touching element to the celebration, highlighting the importance of family and shared joy.

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What was the story behind the decor? Can you tell us more about planning it?
“My creative process always starts with vision boards on Pinterest to narrow down the inspiration and theme. Transitioning to Photoshop allows me to customize and refine the concept, ensuring every detail aligns with our vision. This meticulous approach facilitates decision-making and helps me stay focused amidst the distractions of limitless online inspiration. When it comes to planning, clarity is key, whether you’re working solo or with a team. It’s easy to lose sight of your vision without a clear vision. For example, I had no idea there were so many types of tulips! Margaret Events and Fifty 50 Creative Design guided me through this process, helping me narrow the selection down. I had so much fun doing this, and I can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the wedding.”

Maura’s systematic approach to planning and using vision boards and Photoshop to solidify her ideas ensured that every decor aspect reflected her and Sean’s personality and preferences.

What role did music and entertainment play in setting the ambience for your party?
“We used Sonos, a system already at the house, and supplemented it with additional outdoor speakers. We decided to keep the music more low-key. We’ll amp it up during the wedding!”

Music can set the tone for any event, and Maura’s choice of a relaxed playlist created an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for their guests to mingle and enjoy the evening.

Did you encounter any challenges while planning your engagement party, and how did you overcome them?
“The weather was our biggest concern, but there wasn’t anything we could do about that, so we crossed our fingers and lucked out! We had some music outages but were able to fix those relatively quickly. Additionally, some guests experienced difficulty navigating the Partiful app for e-invitations, particularly among my parents’ friends. Overall, we got the RSVPs, which was efficient for us.”

Every event has its challenges, but Maura and Sean’s ability to adapt and troubleshoot ensured that their engagement party ran smoothly despite minor hiccups.

Looking back, what advice would you give other couples planning their engagement parties?
“I would consider doing an engagement party. Having our loved ones gathered to kickstart the celebrations was incredible. It goes quickly, but an engagement party can be a great test run. From experimenting with hair and makeup styles to getting comfortable around the photographer and navigating the room, the engagement party provided invaluable practice. Sean and I made it a priority to personally acknowledge and thank each guest for attending, and we’re glad we got a chance to practice before the big day!”

Maura’s advice emphasises the benefits of hosting an engagement party, from practising critical elements of the wedding day to simply enjoying the company of loved ones in a celebratory setting.

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Maura’s engagement party was a beautifully orchestrated event that perfectly balanced elegance and relaxation. Her insights and experiences provide valuable inspiration for couples planning their engagement celebration.

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