In the moments after getting engaged, you’ll certainly be in a celebratory mood. That’s why the proposal party has become such a popular concept. Unlike an engagement party, which usually occurs weeks or months after the proposal and is hosted by relatives or friends, a proposal party is a surprise event that occurs immediately after the question has been popped and the ring has been presented. It’s a way for family members and friends to celebrate with the very-newly-engaged couple, to share their good wishes in person. While a proposal party isn’t a must and it does take some forethought and planning, it’s a nice way to officially announce your engagement to those you love most. Want to learn more about planning a proposal party? Here’s how to get started.
Keep it a surprise.
Even if your proposal itself isn’t a surprise, the proposal party should be. You’ll need to warn your guests not to spill the beans. To add even more shock value to the event, consider asking loved ones who don’t live nearby to travel in for the event. They’ll likely want to be present for this important occasion, and with enough notice, will happily travel in for the occasion (if budget is a factor and you can swing it, you might offer to help pay for their travel).
Time it right.
Most proposal parties occur immediately after the proposal takes place. If your proposal occurs in the evening (as many do), the proposal party can include dinner or drinks. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. If you’d prefer to spend the moments after getting engaged privately, that’s totally okay. Why not plan a surprise brunch proposal party the next day? You and your new fiancé(e) will be well rested and ready to celebrate with family and friends.
Plan a budget.
Proposal parties need not be fancy—in fact, they work best when they’re quite casual. You’ll likely want to start saving up for the wedding right now, so don’t go overboard with this event and come up with a budget before you start planning. Find a venue that’s affordable and can easily handle events, and remember that the more guests you invite, the more money you’ll spend. If you host the event later in the evening, you can go for drinks as opposed to providing a full (more expensive) meal. While the proposal party is usually hosted (read: paid for) by the “proposer,” you might ask your parents to chip in if it feels appropriate.
Choose a convenient venue.
When planning a proposal party, you’ll want to keep things simple and straightforward. Choose a venue that’s close to your proposal spot and, if possible, familiar to both of you, like a favorite restaurant or bar. That way, you can easily suggest that you and your partner head to said location for a bite or a drink after the proposal and it won’t raise any red flags. Depending on the size of your party, a space with a private room is particularly ideal, but if your party is small enough, you can simple reserve a table to fit your crew. Don’t overthink your proposal party venue—you’ll have enough of that when it comes to choosing your wedding location!
Keep the guest list tight.
One of the benefits of hosting a proposal party is that you won’t spend half your night on the phone calling, texting, and Instagramming loved ones—your very nearest and dearest will be there in person! Remember, though, that a proposal party is not a wedding and you should keep the guest list relatively small—particularly if your celebration is taking place amid COVID gathering restrictions. This isn’t just for budget reasons (though that’s a big part of it), but it’s also so as not to overwhelm your partner. Decide if your guest list will just include close family, or be expanded to dear friends, as well. Also remember that the more people you invite, the more likely that someone will spoil the surprise—so make sure that you can trust all of the attendees to keep tight-lipped.
Give enough notice.
According to a WeddingWire survey, half of proposals are planned less than a month before the proposal day. We recommend giving yourself as much time as possible to plan both your proposal and your proposal party—at least a month, if not more—to ensure that your loved ones can make it to the big event, especially those who may be traveling. Formal printed invitations aren’t necessary for proposal parties. In fact, we recommend calling each guest directly to invite them. Email invitations are okay too, but know that there’s a greater chance that your partner might accidentally see ‘em, ruining the surprise.
Include a virtual component.
Whether due to COVID or for other reasons, there’s a likelihood that some of your nearest and dearest won’t be able to attend your proposal party in person. Have a friend or family member set up a laptop or tablet at the party with a Zoom hangout so your loved ones can participate in the celebration from afar. You can even send decor, a bottle of bubbly, or other goodies to your virtual guests before the big event. Just make sure everyone keeps their lips sealed about the surprise!
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by planning your actual proposal, don’t shy away from planning a proposal party. Instead, ask for help from loved ones. Family members and close friends will likely be so excited for you, they’ll be happy to assist you with planning and executing this event. Since you’ll be busy, um, actually proposing on the day of the party, you’ll need to designate a point person to coordinate with the venue, corral the guests, and ensure the surprise goes off without a hitch. This is a good job for a parent, a close friend, or relative—and great practice for a potential maid of honor or best man!
Get creative—but not too creative.
While you certainly can go Pinterest-crazy with proposal party ideas (hello, giant balloon structures and custom favors!), this isn’t the time to spend tons of time and money on the extras. Your guests are there to congratulate you and your new future spouse and enjoy some champagne, not to ooh and ahh over all the cute touches. So while a few creative details are okay (we love a fun “Just Engaged” banner), keep it simple.