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Fun + Frivolity

From engagement parties to bridal showers, you will have many opportunities to celebrate your engagement with friends and family. Not only is this an excellent time to share good food and drink with great company, but it also provides a unique opportunity to spend quality time with those closest to you. The team here at Nebraska WeddingDay has compiled this go-to guide for special events leading up to your wedding day, complete with creative party ideas and proper party etiquette. 

Your engagement is an unforgettable and exciting event! Your engagement party is where all of your family and friends have gathered in honor of you and your new fiancé. It can often be the initial meeting for most of your family and various groups of your friends. An overwhelming sense of excitement and sheer joy often sets in at your engagement party. The engagement party is thrown shortly after the proposal and can be an intimate affair, traditionally hosted by the bride’s parents. However, it is entirely acceptable for the bride and groom’s friends or the groom’s family to host an engagement party, should the bride’s parents decline the opportunity. 

The options for engagement parties are diverse. The guest list may be short, providing for a more intimate gathering, or you may opt for “the more, the merrier” with a large cocktail hour event. The engagement party guest list should be limited to only those guests who will also be invited to the wedding. Both sides of the family should be invited unless due to geographical location, separate parties are held. Some grooms discuss the engagement party plans with the bride’s family prior to the proposal and then surprise the bride immediately following the proposal with a party. Engagement parties can be a simple cocktail party, a special dinner party or even a casual backyard barbeque. Above all, the event should reflect the couple’s style and personality.

When possible, a couple is encouraged to create a preliminary gift registry before the engagement party so guests who wish to bring a gift to the party can access the couple’s selection of gift ideas. A good guideline for registries is to select items of varied price points to give guests the most flexibility in choosing a gift. Please note that it is not appropriate to list the gift registry on the invitation. However, since it is likely that some guests will wish to bring a gift, it is perfectly acceptable for you to inform close friends and relatives of your registry preference in case someone asks them. It is important to keep in mind that unless all of your guests bring gifts to the party, it is best to open packages after the festivities to avoid embarrassing those who did not bring a gift.

Also, it is proper etiquette for the bride and groom to give the host/hostess of the engagement party a gift as a token of thanks and appreciation.

Bridal showers have been a tradition for many years and are a terrific opportunity to gather with friends and family to honor the bride and shower her with gifts. It is not common for the bride’s mother or family to host a shower, but rather the maid of honor and bridesmaids or friends. A bridal shower should be hosted months or weeks prior to the wedding and only wedding guests should be invited. Also, this is the one occasion that it is appropriate to list where the bride is registered on the invitation. 

There are many traditional games and activities for bridal showers. However, themed showers are becoming very popular. Depending upon the size of the guest list, bridal showers can become a challenge when entertaining and accommodating guests. Themed showers are fun and provide a unique way to entertain the guests. Below are some of our favorite themes and activities to consider when planning a shower.

If the bride enjoys spending time in the kitchen, encourage guests to bring a shower gift inspired by baking. Set up a buffet of three to four desserts or baked goods for guests to sample. For the invitations, include a recipe card for each guest to jot down their favorite recipe to bring along to the shower for the bride to include in her recipe box. Send guests home with a jar of jam and a loaf of bread, tied with some colorful string and the recipe.

This theme is perfect if the bride has a family member who loves to quilt. Prepare fabric squares in the bride’s wedding colors or consider a neutral palette for each guest to write a special message on the square. After the party, have a family member or friend sew the squares together to create a beautiful and meaningful quilt for the bride.

It is always a successful event when guests are able to mix and mingle and easily strike up a conversation. By supplying scrapbooking materials, guests are able to meet one another while engaging in an activity. Encourage guests to bring a few items that remind them of their relationship with the bride. These items may be movie tickets, concert tickets, special notes passed in grade school or even a special photograph. Each guest is given a page to decorate for the bride. The hostess then collects the individual pages and slips them into a scrapbook for the bride to keep and cherish for years to come.

The bride and the groom alike will love this theme, as it will supply them with months of activities and ideas for date nights throughout their first year of marriage. Encourage guests to bring a date-night themed gift pulled together with items from their gift registry. For example, movie passes and popcorn bowls or a blanket and a bottle of wine. As a shower activity, supply guests with note cards and markers so they can jot down date-night ideas. Ideas can range from free activities, such as a walk at sunset, to more expensive options like a date night at a fine-dining restaurant. Put each note card in a sealed envelope and mark it with an estimated cost. After their wedding day, the couple can pick from the envelopes to fund a unique date-night idea.

Brunch showers are great for larger gatherings. Host a parfait bar for guests to build their perfect parfait with different yogurts, fruits, nuts and granola. This allows guests to mingle and also provides an easy food option for the hostess. This theme could carry throughout the party by pairing a variety of cut fruit, fruit juices and champagne to create a mix-and-match mimosa bar. This is a deliciously light and easy self-serve beverage option for guests. Guests preferring a non-alcoholic beverage could simply opt for the fruit juice.

Bridal showers have been evolving over the years into couple showers and often include the groom and his buddies. Friends of the bride, the groom or both often host couple showers where the bride and groom’s friends are invited to celebrate the couple’s upcoming nuptials. These showers are typically more casual and relaxed and are ideal for the couple who already share many household items. Yard games and cold beverages are perfect for this type of shower, allowing guests to get to know one another and mingle.

Many brides are shying away from limos and bachelorette games for this special event with their closest girlfriends. Some brides are gathering their friends to participate in a local cooking class while others might head out of town to relax by a hotel pool. The most important element of the bachelorette party is for the bride to feel comfortable with the plans, especially since this is a time for her to truly kick back and relax before the wedding day. Looking for some fun and creative activities that are a bit out of the ordinary? Below are a few of our favorite bachelorette party ideas.

Perfect for the bride who loves to spend her time in the kitchen, invite a small group of girls to participate in a cooking class. This gives the bride an opportunity to spend quality time with her friends while the guests are entertained and may even pick up a cooking tip or recipe. 

This is a simply fabulous way to host a relaxing bachelorette party. Invite guests to a local vineyard to taste wines while catching up and chatting about wedding plans. The scenery itself will provide a relaxing experience for the bride and her guests.

Give guests an opportunity to create a gorgeous piece of art without the need for any true artistic talent. At some area art classes, guests are given step-by-step instructions to help each guest create a memorable painting, while also affording the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine in celebration of the occasion. |NWD|