Chris and I got engaged at the end of February this year and one of our first thoughts after the euphoria of the engagement itself had died down was : The Engagement party.

We both come from a big family and have lots of friends and we wanted to have a party to celebrate this huge milestone in our relationship with everyone we knew as we had decided on a destination wedding early on. So how did we pull off such a great party for 250 guests in less than 3 months and on a budget you ask? Hopefully this will help brides or brides to be out there.

1. Decide on the type of party you want to have as this will set the tone for everything else. We knew we wanted a cocktail style reception which reflected our style and one of the main theme/quote that came out of our engagement party brainstorming weekend away (yes we did have one of those) was “Eat, drink and be married, for that is our plan”. We knew we wanted a big party where everyone ate, drank and most of all danced the night away.

2. The venue: Finding the venue proved to be one of the biggest headaches for us. We looked everywhere for a venue and most of them wanted to charge us through the roof for that amount of people. It then dawned on me that I could transform any venue into what I wanted and decided to hire our local function hall, which had just been renovated. It was a blank canvas which was great for me.

3. The invitations: For our invites, we wanted to stick with a black and white theme and one of our good friends Leigh Woodford (who is a talented graphic designer), designed a very elaborate invite for us and had the quickest turnaround of only two days. I would definitely recommend his services if anyone out there is looking for invites. He also created a logo for us which we used on a lot of the items for the party.We got them printed through a company in Sydney and the result was amazing.

4. Food and alcohol: Again if you want to stick to a budget, you have to look to your inner circle. With alcohol we bought most of our spirits and softdrinks from costco each week which was great. Some of our family members work for a wine distribution company and we got our wines through them. As for the food, early on in the planning process, I made a list of all the canapes I wanted served and again used the services of a family friend who worked for a food distribution company to get us the food at a cheaper price. We also took on the generous offer of other family members who wanted to contribute to the food. The result was that we could have had another party with the amount of food left over.

5. Decorations and styling: Being a wedding stylist, I knew early on the look I wanted to achieve with the engagement party. I created a moodboard on pinterest and started an online shopping frenzy. I found ebay, gumtree and etsy to be very useful in sourcing the decorations at a much cheaper price. In regards to changing a plain room, lighting and flowers play a huge role. I was able to get all my flowers from the National Flower Markets at a very cheap price, albeit the 4am wakeup call. The flowers were beautifully put together with the help of my two gorgeous sister in laws to be and Tereza (who is studying to be a florist). I hired some lounges and cocktail tables to create a more intimate feel so that our guests could dance and still have somewhere to sit. I hired some uplights to create the glamorous mood and this definitely changed the whole venue.

6. Favours: I am obsessed with soy candles and set about learning how to make them. I got all my supplies online and with the help of my sister and cousin, we made over 200 candles which were a big hit with our guests. We also made a cd of all of our favorite songs and included the proposal song in there.

Now a party would not be great without music so we hired Forte, a six piece band who were so great at getting all of our guests to dance the night away. We also hired DJ LadiB, who was able to get the crowd dancing and catered for everyone.

As for the cake, I wanted to stay away from a candy table and instead have our favorite desserts. Our dessert table was styled by Annie from House of Claude who also baked and decorated our amazing cake. All of the other desserts were a contribution from family members.

We hired a photobooth to ensure that all of our guests had a great time. My fiance and I created the backdrop which proved to be a bonding session. All of our photos were taken by Chris from Orchid Studio. They were great in capturing the essence of the party.

Everyone had such a great night and are still talking about the party to this day.

My advice to prospective brides/recently engaged couple: Your party should be a reflection of who you are as a couple. With enough planning and help, you can definitely have a great party without going over budget.

Images by Orchid Studio

Swirl divider12 Cocktail Friday Cointreau Fizz Passion and Chilli

Ms Gingham says: Definitely useful to have friends in the know!!! It looks like a fantastic party Sharon! Congratulations!

Sharon of Wedding Day PA says: “On the day wedding coordinator. I love all things wedding!”