Food & Drink

Everything You Need To Know: Food And Drink At The Engagement Party

By Christina Clemente


Congrats! She said yes. But before you start planning the big day, it’s time to have a drink (or five), watch people fawn over the ring, and get used to all eyes being on the two of you for the next year or so. Yes, we’re talking about the engagement party.

It can be as casual (backyard BBQ, anyone?) or as fancy as you damn well please. In fact, you don’t even have to have one if you don’t want to! But we’re here to tell you to do it. People will want to congratulate you on your engagement, and plus, it’s a great time to introduce all those near and dear to you who will probably be seeing one another for the next year or so, thanks to you.

The engagement party is the first event in the wedding lineup, and should fall within a few months of the proposal. But don’t rush it— you’ll want to soak up that just-engaged bliss for as long as you can. Aim for two to four months after you pop the question.

As we’ve already answered the infrequently asked questions about engagement parties, now it’s time to talk about the really important stuff: food and booze.

Who’s Coming?

You don’t have to invite that embarrassing uncle, or your mom’s friend from college. The engagement party is truly meant for those closest to you both. Which means, you don’t need a fancy, five-course meal and an open bar (unless that’s your thing). This is the time you can be a little more casual, and for instance, only serve wine and beer, and also get away with just serving finger foods.

The Mysterious Benefactor

As for who’s responsible for footing the bill? No surprise that traditionally it’s the bride’s parents. But these days it’s completely acceptable for the groom’s parents to split it, or for the couple to even chip in. Whatever floats your boat! Just know that typically, whoever takes on the role as host sets the budget and will make most of the decisions.

Keep It Light

Unless you want a fancy sit down affair, small bites and passed hors d’oeuvres are the way to go at an engagement party. And let’s be serious, the best foods are the ones you can shove in your mouth in one bite, especially while working a room as mingler-in-chief. From tiny grilled cheeses to grilled scallops wrapped in prosciutto, hors d’Oeuvres are anything but limiting. Of course, the menu should align with the theme, venue, and vibe of your event.

Open Yourself, And Your Bar, Up To Your Guests

As for the booze, if you can, an open bar is always preferred. But if your budget is more limited, beer and wine (and champagne for the toast) are totally acceptable— and you can even throw in a custom cocktail if you want to show your creative side.

Le Menu

Keep in mind that guests will be on their feet and mingling, so food selection is everything. Avoid anything with too much onion or garlic; you don’t want the in-laws not seeing eye to eye over a case of bad breath. Also, make sure the bites are actually bite sized, we don’t want a big red sauce stain from that meatball slider on your tie. Pro tip: stay away from all foods with red sauce for that matter.

While your friends and family most likely love you both, that won’t make for an epic party. It’s absolutely necessary to offer food and alcohol at your engagement party, not-to-mention it’s a great way to loosen up the crowd and allow people to mingle, especially those from groups who never cross over (until now).  

Not only is the engagement party optional, but at the end of the day you and your fiancé can do whatever you want. Not into a cocktail-hour-small-bites soiree? That’s fine. If your celebration’s catered or at a restaurant, that’s even easier. Or you can take it a step further and go for a buffet. No matter what you opt for, make sure there’s a good variety of food and drink options.

Bottom Line

There are really no rules when it comes to the engagement party. As long as you keep the food coming and the drinks flowing, your loved ones will be more than happy to celebrate your wedding planning kickoff.

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