You’re head over heels in love and so full of happiness, you want the whole world to know about it. There’s a sparkly new ring to show off and you feel it might make the fairytale seem more true if all your friends have seen that you are now engaged. The best way to share your joy and get your friends to bear witness to this important new stage in your relationship and in your life is to have a party. Everybody loves a party don’t they?
The question is, what kind of party? Should you just invite everyone around for drinks and nibbles at your house, or would it be better to hire a room and be a bit more formal? This is a formal declaration that you intend to get married after all.
If you want an informal party at home, then that’s easy to organise and very cheap. You could even make it a bring a bottle party and ask people to bring some snacks. The only hard part is to draw up a quick list of people you want to invite. The only trouble is, this kind of party can get rowdy and that means older people or people with small children would not enjoy themselves. This is especially true if you have the party in the evening. People may just assume that the main priority is drinking.
A better way, if your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a room, might be to have a lunchtime or even brunch party at a weekend or on a bank holiday. That way, everyone could come and the arrangements could be more flexible. If you have a garden and the weather is good, that would make it even easier, because if your house is small, the party can spill out onto the lawn and there will be space for the children to play while the adults talk. Provide a few cheap, simple toys for the children: rolls of wallpaper or big sheets of paper and some fat (water soluble ink) felt pens and maybe a few beachballs. You should definitely have lots of balloons, just because . . . balloons!
Food gives a focus and it need not be anything complicated.
Brunch could be a couple of different sorts of omelette, sausages, bacon and bread, fried onions and mushrooms laid out ready to make butties and an assortment of fruits, fruit juices, coffee, tea and herbal tea bags. Give easy access to the kettle and mugs and let your guests help themselves. If you did not want to bother with hot food, you could lay out an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses, with some good bread and butter and maybe some delicious baked goods, like croissants, Danish pastries and muffins.
Lunch could be a buffet, with an assortment of salads and cooked meats, followed by cake. If you know someone who is good at baking, perhaps you could get them to bring a sample of their skill. Or you could have a Great British Bake Off and get everybody to bring a different dessert.
If you have a larger budget, or a home that isn’t really suitable for entertaining, you might want to hire a room. This keeps all the mess out of your home and it’s easy to hire a DJ and a caterer. Those people who want to can go home early and everyone else can party into the wee hours. It’s a tried and tested formula. The only thing you have to think about is whether to go cheap and cheerful and just hire the upstairs room in a pub, or whether to hire something more expensive, but also more impressive, like a hotel. If you have people travelling some distance to the party, they could book a room in the hotel too.
You don’t have to conform to tradition and impressing people is really not important. What is important is to build in some flexibility, so that everyone is comfortable. Do what makes you happy and your guests will be happy too.