By the editors of TheKnot.com
The key to throwing the perfect engagement party? Find a theme that fits the couple of honor. Here are some ideas you're sure to love.
Honor the oenophiles and have each guest bring a bottle of wine to share for the party. You can even provide the wine for the party and host a swap, where each person takes home someone else's favorite vino. Have plenty of wine glasses on hand (at least enough to have a red and white for each guest), along with ample food options for pairing. Fill out the table with a spread of great cheeses (fresh, aged, soft and hard) and baguettes. A few extras: an olive bar, hummus and pita bread, and even grapes, strawberries and sliced apples. Go the extra mile and hire a sommelier to guide the tasting, or rent out the back room of a local wine bar or winery for a private tasting session.
Impress foodies with a cooking class hosted at a local culinary school or restaurant. Or hire a chef to teach the class at your home. When it comes to choosing the menu, pick a starter, an entree and a dessert. For ideas on what to make, tap into the couple's favorite dishes and personalities -- if they both love sweets, make it desserts-only, or if they come from a particular cultural background, serve up international cuisine. Split guests up into smaller groups so that each group can tackle one of the choices on the menu. Have a buffet-style setup of all the food, along with recipe cards for guests to take home at the end of the night.
Stage the celebration at a rooftop bar or restaurant for a cool, intimate setting with amazing views of the city skyline. The vibe can be as formal or as casual as you'd like. Create a swanky, lounge-like atmosphere with sleek rentals, like white ottomans and Lucite tables and chairs. Or just keep it casual with shabby-chic furniture and string lights. As for food, have waiters pass hors d'oeuvres on trays. And don't forget about the weather. Set out baskets of pashminas and blankets to keep everyone warm in the cooler seasons. For a warm summer night, offer up grown-up takes on favorite childhood treats. Think: cocktail popsicles made with prosecco and berries, bourbon-spiked slushies, or even a lemonade and tea station, complete with a variety of fruit infusions.
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Skip the obvious piñatas and sombreros -- mark your engagement with bold, bright table settings and pitchers of margaritas and sangria. Deck out your space in festive multicolored paper lanterns, pom-poms, cutout banners or balloons. Instead of traditional vases, place fiery-colored blooms in empty authentic Mexican hot-sauce and soda bottles. Set up a taco bar filled with traditional add-ins (grilled meats, fresh vegetables and a variety of salsas and guacamole). A mingle-friendly idea: Have waiters pass around smaller bites, like empanadas, mini fish tacos and cheese quesadillas. And don't forget about the music -- arrange for a mariachi band to serenade guests throughout the night.
What better way to celebrate the newly engaged than with glasses of champagne and something sweet? Set up a table full of chocolate-chip cookies, truffles, flourless chocolate cakes, a chocolate fondue station and more. Or, if it better suits the couple's tastes, feel free to switch up the flavor theme or add a variety of other desserts, like petits fours and mini fruit tarts. Along with bubbly for all the toasts, you might want to include a few extra dessert-time drink options -- a coffee, espresso or even a tea bar is a fun idea. At the end of the night, have favor bags and scoops ready so guests can take home any leftover treats.
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For a refined take on this all-American classic, nix the paper, plastic and checkered tablecloths for white linens topped with straw chargers and a few lush flower arrangements. Finish it off with tons of floating candles and string globe lights. Serve fruity cocktails in Mason jars and place glass pitchers of lemonade and iced tea on tables. Dress up standard BBQ fare (like mini pulled-beef and pulled-pork sliders) with crowd-pleasing favorites (think: truffle mac and cheese).
Host a clambake or a fish fry, or go upscale with a fancy seafood spread of grilled shrimp, lobster and scallops. When it comes to the sides, stick to the classics -- serve corn on the cob, bruschetta and fresh watermelon. Keep the drinks simple and fill galvanized buckets with ice and bottles of local brew and root beer. Set up tables and chairs right on the beach or on the deck of a beach club or waterfront restaurant, and consider decorating with blue, yellow and white nautical motifs. When the sun goes down, lay beach blankets and pillows on the sand and keep guests warm with a bonfire and s'mores. Favors aren't required, but consider sending everyone home with saltwater taffy or mini bottles of artisanal sea salt.
Dream up the couple's favorite brunch menu. Maybe it's French-inspired with mini bottles of champagne, macarons and quiche. Or go more rustic with homemade granola and blueberry pancakes. Another option: Host a cocktail brunch and offer up smaller bites, like scrambled egg tartlets and mini French toast, so guests can mingle and nosh with ease. As for drinks, stick with the staples -- coffee, juice, mimosas and Bellinis are all fair game. And while you can certainly celebrate at a family home or a cozy restaurant, consider going all out with a tented, garden-set affair.