How to Throw a Killer Winter Engagement Party, According to the Pros

Take the first of your pre-wedding parties to the next level in cozy style

Updated 01/24/17

Christian and Reinna

Did you get engaged over the holidays? Congratulations! Now the fun really begins. The best way to mark the start of this super-exciting chapter? An engagement party, of course!

No matter how many months there are until your wedding, your engagement party is a fun chance to embrace the season, explore different themes, and really make the most of what winter has to offer. We've asked some of our favorite wedding planners to share their favorite winter engagement party ideas that are totally chic.

Pick a Theme

Go beyond the standard engagement party with a seasonal theme that screams winter. "If you're introducing your families for the first time, consider breaking the ice — literally! — with an ice skating party," suggests Alicia Falango, owner of Alicia K Designs. "Or if you're all skiers, turn it into an 'après the engagement' event with all the après ski fixings." Think spiked cocoa or cider, warm and belly-filling bites, and a relaxed vibe. If you're feeling festive, there's no better time than the holiday season!

"Have a champagne and apps party to celebrate your new sparkler," Falango adds.

Into something a little more classic? Let the color palette speak to the season. "Metallics are really having a moment right now, and are perfect for winter," says Lindsey Nickel, owner of Lovely Day Events. "The mercury votives and candle holders people love in summer can also add great sparkle to a winter party. Mix in burgundy, purple, and white flowers for a warm and luxurious feel."

© Megan W Photography

Get the Location Right

"There's no need to go over the top and make your engagement party feel like another wedding," says Viva Max Kaley, creator of Viva Max Weddings. "Find a bar or restaurant with great ambiance, then host a cocktail-style event with light hors d'oeuvres or fun food stations to keep people mingling." Since the engagement party is the first time many of your friends and family members will be meeting, a relaxed space is the perfect atmosphere to get to know everyone.

Send Invitations!

Whether you're sending printed invitations or emailing e-vites, set the tone with an invitation that fits the season. "You want the invitation to be festive, but not too sweet and cutesy," says Kaley. "Choose something clean and simple in a cool palette, such as light grey, soft teal, or taupe." She also loves adding white envelope liners as a way to make the invitation look more substantial.

Framed

Gladys Gem

Decorate with the Season in Mind

Winter brings to mind cozy touches, as well as lots of sparkle, so use that to your advantage. Suggests Kaley, "Confetti balloons or tassel garlands in a modern color palette would be festive and shimmery, while a more rustic design scheme would look great with plaid cocktail napkins or sprigs of evergreens in bud vases." And of course, don't forget the candles! "Use a lot of candles and sparkling lights," says Virginia Edelson, founder of Bluebird Productions. "What better way to celebrate the beginning of an exciting new chapter in your lives than with lots of warmth and glowing light surrounding you and your nearest friends?

It's a timeless and effortlessly chic way to decorate."

For a personal touch, look into fun ways to add some personality to your decor — as well as get your friends and families mingling and talking together. "We love when our couples include custom cocktail napkins printed with conversation starters or fun facts about themselves and their relationship that guests may not know," Edelson suggests.

Adds Nickel, "Make the event cozy with a warm and inviting lounge. Seating is a must at any event, and creating a winter lounge is as easy as layering pillows and wool Pendleton blankets." For an outdoor space, add a fire pit and patio heaters to make it extra toasty.

Photo by Megan Wynn

Don't Forget the Food!

A great engagement party wouldn't be complete without seasonal cocktails and bites. "Anything with aromatic herbs, like rosemary or sage, will make the night feel cozy," says Kaley, who loves bubbly with rosemary and an orange twist or a cocktail of pear vodka and sage. While tequila and bourbon are incredibly trendy, turn to their cozier cousins for a winter fête. "Mix brandy with cognac, apple cider, and orange juice, or swap in smoky Mezcal instead of tequila."

Interactive food stations will help get guests mingling, so pick something that's fun and interactive, like a roaming oyster shucker (since the bivalves are in season right now!) or a DIY bruschetta station. "Your engagement party is less formal than your wedding, so it's a chance to have fun and choose things you'll both really enjoy," Kaley says. "No need to go over the top, but a fun focal point can go a long way!"

And you can't forget the champagne! "Nothing says celebration and chic like bubbly," says Nickel. "Specialty flutes will go a long way to really elevate this classic beverage and make the display more fun. Pair it with truffles or flourless chocolate cake for a rich and indulgent experience."

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