1. Decide who's hosting.
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the couple's engagement party. However, like many etiquette rules, this one has changed over the years and these days, pretty much anyone close to the couple is welcome to plan and pay for the engagement party. However, the bride's parents should still get the first chance to throw it. Also, it's perfectly fine to not have an engagement party at all, or to have two — perhaps in the bride's and groom's hometowns. If the groom's parents would like to plan a party as well, they should check with the bride's parents regarding dates, as their celebration should occur after the bride's parents' party.
2. Pick a date.
Engagement parties are usually held soon after the couple becomes engaged, while the news is still fresh. You might even decide to announce your engagement at the party! But many couples decide to share their happy news on social media soon after the proposal happens.
3. Create the guest list.
Anyone invited to an engagement party must also be invited to the wedding, so the party host needs to work with the couple to compile the engagement-party guest list. And if you aren't sure of the size of your wedding just yet, it's better to limit the invites to those you are certain you will also invite to the wedding.
4. Decide on a venue.
Think about the type of party atmosphere you want: If you like the idea of having everyone in the same room, you might want to rent out a private room at a local restaurant. For something more low-key, a family member's house, backyard, or clubhouse might be a better choice.
5. Register for gifts (or not).
Some guests may inquire about a gift registry, so figure out if you want to register or not. If you decide to do so, select items in the low to middle price range (don't forget, the wedding is still to come). If not, include a note in the invitation kindly requesting no gifts.
6. Send the invitations.
Keep the invitations simple — hand-write them yourselves or send the invite via email. If you decide to go the printed-card route, choose a clean, classic design; don't worry about color palettes or other details — your engagement party invitations don't have to match the rest of your wedding stationery.
7. Plan the menu.
There's no need to plan a five-course meal with a four-hour open bar. Anything from passed appetizers to a simple buffet or a casual cookout will work. You can also get creative and serve dishes with special meaning to you.
8. Set the scene.
If you want, choose a theme that reflects you as a couple or something that reflects your two families. The real trick here is that you don't want to upstage the wedding — the point is to celebrate your engagement. If the budget allows, include a few small floral arrangements to perk up the space (it's also a great way to try out a potential florist for the wedding).
9. Decide what to wear.
Choose attire that complements your party setting, but keep it simple. A pretty sundress is great for an outdoor celebration; if your venue is a little fancier, a little white dress is a safe bet. As for your fiancé, while he doesn't have to don a suit and tie (and definitely not a tux!), his outfit should nicely complement yours.