Announcing Your Engagement

So you're tying the knot? Congratulations! Now prepare to party.

So you said "yes." What do you do next? Pull out the party gear and prepare to celebrate the good news.

Traditionally, engagement parties have been hosted by the brides' parents and held in their home. These days, however, it's fine for just about anyone close to the bride to host this bash, and the fete can be held anywhere!

Some couples have more than one engagement party—a formal one at mom's house and then something more spontaneous and fun with friends. Some couples hold a party during which they suddenly announce their engagement. (Surprise!) Here are some ways to make your engagement party extra special:

Past Perfect

Your friends and family can share in the history of your romance when you hold your party at the location where you first met or where you got engaged. Or you can turn an inside joke into a party theme. Did you first set eyes on him when your cars were stuck side-by-side in a traffic jam? How about inviting your pals to a bumper-car rink? Is his nickname Party Animal? Ask your local zoo if they'll rent out space for a party. Yours can be an event for your memory book.

Born in the USA

An engagement party doesn't have to be a stodgy affair. The old-fashioned, all-American backyard barbecue can be a perfect way to celebrate. Decorate the trees with streamers, unfurl mini flags for your table centerpieces, and artistically place your condiments in a small picnic basket in the middle of the table. Don't forget the backyard touches: potato salad, chips, bottled beer—and music by Bruce Springsteen, of course.

Bowled Over

Want to surprise your friends and family with your news? Invite them to bowl a few games before you knock 'em silly with your announcement. Notify the alley in advance to ask for super-special treatment like customized soundtrack, lighting, or culinary options.

Swinging With Your Sweetie

Gear up for your impending vows with a '50s sock hop. Rent a jukebox so your guests can scroll through the playlist to find perfect songs for the happy occasion. Options for the sock hop setting can range from your parents' finished basement to a private room in a restaurant.

Sophisticated Tastes

Celebrate in style with a wine and cheese party. Highlight certain cheeses and their complementary wines on small tables decorated with strewn flowers or elegant linens. Let your guests sample Brie with Cabernet and Beaujolais, Stilton with port, and Gouda with Riesling and Champagne.

If Champagne is your preference, you can't go wrong with strong cheeses and appetizers such as prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe and asparagus with lemon butter. As you sip and savor, everyone can share your joy.

Sugar for my darling

If you've got a sweet tooth, paradise is a dessert party. Create a little piece of heaven-on-earth with a white-chocolate macadamia-nut cheesecake, strawberries, and truffles. Serve up a selection of dessert wines (port, white Riesling, Merlot, and Cabernet) and typical dessert-time beverages such as espresso, coffee, and tea.

just engaged
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