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”.

New Zealand Weddings Planner - - Editor’s Letter - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MARA SOM­MER

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 ►

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