Parties Along the Way
It’s not all about the big day. Let our guide to pre- wedding soirées guide you on all the check points leading up to “I do”.
THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY
WHAT IT IS: As well as being a good opportunity to celebrate this milestone with your loved ones, the engagement party is a wonderful chance to introduce key people from your lives who will, possibly, be helping with the planning process of your wedding over the next year or so – and will soon be seeing a lot more of each other. It can be as formal or casual as you see fit. WHEN TO HAVE IT: A few months after your engagement, preferably before any serious wedding planning has kicked off. WHO ORGANISES IT: Traditionally, this task has fallen on the bride’s parents. However, anything goes: let both sets of parents plan it in a combined effort, or set about it yourselves. The rules are fluid. WHO’S INVITED: Etiquette used to dictate that you shouldn’t invite anyone to the engagement party who wouldn’t be coming to the wedding. But, like weddings, the formality of engagements is evolving, so expectations have changed. As a good rule of thumb, the invite list should depend on the formality of the party. If you’re keeping it casual – a Facebook event invitation for a few drinks at a neighbourhood bar – then invite whoever is a big part of your life now: think newer friends or co-workers, regardless of whether you think they’ll still be in your life when the wedding rolls ’round. However, if you’ve chosen to go for a more formal affair (for example, you’re sending a paper invitation and it’s a catered occasion at your parents’ home), stick to those you’re planning on inviting to the main event.
THE HEN’S PARTY
WHAT IT IS: The hen’s party is your ‘final send- off’ into married life. It can be as tame or as wild as you (and your bridesmaids) choose. While many hens take the customary route (think tequila, skewiff veils and topless waiters with a strip routine on the cards), an equal amount choose to take a modernised approach tailoring the activities to the bride’s personality. Think a flower crown-making class followed by a gourmet dinner for a foodie girl who loves all things pretty, a cocktail-making tutorial for a bride who wants the booziness without the debauchery, or a white-water rafting session for an adventure-seeking adrenaline junkie. WHEN TO HAVE IT: Between two and six weeks ahead of your big day – particularly if drinking is involved. WHO ORGANISES IT: Your maid of honour takes charge, and your other bridesmaids lend a helping hand. WHO’S INVITED: This part is completely up to you, and probably depends on the level of rowdiness involved. Traditionally, it’s a get-together for your closest girlfriends, which might also include your mum, auntie and grandma. However, there’s no hard and fast rule. For instance, if you have close male friends you’d like to invite, go right ahead. Or, if you know your bridesmaids have something wild planned, consider having two parts to your hen’s party: invite your family members to come to an earlier portion of the party (which might involve a sophisticated lunch or dinner and a few drinks) before splitting off with your girlfriends in tow for a wilder time. Generally, only those who you’ve invited to the wedding will come to the hen’s party (except in special circumstances, for instance, if the wedding is very small and only close family members are invited).
THE STAG DO
WHAT IT IS: The groom’s chance to farewell single life with his best mates. Like a hen’s party, his stag do can come in many and varying forms depending on where his ►