I am a sucker for love and I live for a good celebration… but there’s something about engagement parties that always feel so stuffy and forced to me. The bombardment of “sooo have you two set a date?” The awkward oogling of the ring. The ‘oh, how do you know so and so’ and the unspoken competition of whose closest to the couple. The moment when you realize the bridesmaids have already been chosen and you’re not one. The “he put a ring on it” banners… or worse the “finally” sign. The politely waiting ones turn for the cheese board. The ‘let’s only have one glass of champagne because it feels like someone is counting the pours’. The fact that the party is generally at someone’s home you have never met so you are on your better than best behavior. The what to wear, the what champagne to bring, the sappy message in the card… it’s all a bit exhausting.
Now, it’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed a good ‘we’re gettin hitched’ shindig, because I have. But we were determined to throw a relaxing bash without the awkward formalities.. and thus the idea of the ‘Engagement Pool Party’ was born.
10 Steps to Throwing the Perfect Engagement Pool Party
1. If you don’t have a pool, ask a friend or family member if you’d be able to throw the party at their home. If not, go our route and rent a house for the day through VRBO, homeaway or airbnb.
2. Your invitation should be informal and fun to set the tone for your party. Tell people to bring their own towel and let them know it will be a cookout. You don’t have to invite everyone you’re going to invite to the wedding. And you sure as hell CAN’T invite anyone who you’re not going to invite to the wedding. If you can keep it to a manageable size, you’ll be able to spend quality time with everyone who attends.
3. If you’ve ever logged in to pinterest, you know that the welcome sign is crucial. As are flamingo glasses party favors and bride and groom rubber duckies. For the welcome sign I painted a canvas in chalk paint then wrote over it in metallic sharpie.
4. Let’s talk food. We had a ‘build your own burger bar and hot dog bar‘ with all the fixings and an adorable basket of individual bags of mary’s potato chips. I set up the buns, condiments and toppings beforehand and Matt flipped burgs and doggies at the beginning of the party and then again 3 hours later. When the dogs came off the grille, he put them in the buns then wrapped them in individual tin foil hot dog sleeves (I know, too stinkin cute right?). With the help of 2 bridesmaids, we made fruit skewers, a salad (with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, cucumber, feta and balsamic dressing), cheese board and set out guac, chips and salsa before the party. We also had a pan of quite possibly the world’s best eggplant parmesan and lasagna courtesy of the groom-to-be’s Mom.
*Don’t forget about dietary restrictions – offer a few vegetarian or gluten free options!
5. Ohhh dessert. I had about 10 pounds of strawberries I hastily bought on the side of the road in Malibu (don’t ask) so I made 3 dozen strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The macaroons were store bought and the fruit was left over from the skewers.
6. Drinks. We hired a bartender to serve simple mixed drinks, champagne, beers and white wine. I also printed out a signature cocktail sign with 2 speciality drinks (one was a joke). This really added a personalized touch without going over the top.. and my drink was delicious. The Gilson: vodka, prosecco, fresh rosemary, St Germaine & lemon. If you want to skip out on hiring someone, I suggest making a big batch of spiked lemonade or sangria and leaving it out with beers, wine and champagne on ice.
4. Just because you’re being fun and casual, doesn’t mean that you can’t adhere to the tradition of wearing white. This type of pool party will relieve you and your fiance from a lot of the attention, but c’mon, you’ve just got to wear white! I mean how annoying is it that you probably have a closet full of white dresses you can never wear because it’s always someone else’s wedding celebrations?!
6. Inflatable flamingo drink holders that keep your drink afloat in the pool are pretty much a necessity. As are pool floats.
7. …As are chalkboard themed paper products. Cuuuuuute!
8. Don’t forget to encourage photo taking by promoting your new hashtag! #abreliantwedding
9. Enjoy every second. Make sure to get face time in with everyone attends, but also to share a moment or two with your fiance. If you don’t have enough food, order pizzas. Need more alcohol or ice? Send someone to the store. Other than that, just relish in the notion that all of these people are here to support you as a couple. It’s a pretty beautiful thing.
10. And last, but definitely the most important: Send thank you cards to EVERYONE who attended the party, regardless of whether they brought a gift or not. It doesn’t matter if you have a laid back cookout or rent out the banquet room at the Ritz, physical cards should be handwritten and mailed to every person who attends within two weeks of the party. No objections.
…And wah-lah, it’s as easy as that 🙂