Yes, the wedding will be the most significant of all events, but there are plenty of other festivities to take into consideration leading up to the big day: the engagement party, the bridal shower, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, and the rehearsal dinner.
Similar to the wedding, the stress induced from all the planning can make it easy for a couple to lose sight of what’s most important. Although friends and family do contribute greatly to your big day, don’t forget just that — it is your big day. The wedding is meant to celebrate and support both of you, so every event leading up to the wedding should be, too.
Although there are a slew of opinions that may surround what the rehearsal dinner is supposed to look like, know that this is your show. There are basic guidelines for what each of these events typically look like, but there are also tons of alternatives to consider as well. So, shake up the traditions and create a wedding season that truly speaks to the both of you.
The Engagement Party /
She accepted the proposal. You got the ring. Now begins the celebrating! While you can’t go wrong with a traditional engagement party, they aren’t always for everyone. Here are a few unique ideas to consider to start off your wedding season right.
01. A Wine and Cheese Party
When hosted at home, this is the perfect balance of comfort and sophistication — without having to prepare a full meal. Kick off the wedding festivities while sampling an extensive range of wine and cheese offerings.
02. A Rom-Com Showing of the Couple
For the movie-buffs, it might be fun to turn your engagement party into your own rom-com screening. Compile some of your favorite moments as a couple and create a montage for everyone to sit back and enjoy.
03. Attend a Sporting Event
Consider renting a suite at a sport venue. They are surprisingly affordable (especially if you plan for a weekday), and packages typically include food and beverages.
The Bachelor / Bachelorette Party
This is your big party to celebrate your last single days with your closest friends. Some people are all about the quintessential bachelor/bachelorette night out, and that’s perfectly fine. But, for the more toned-down brides and grooms, there are many other options to leave you feeling refreshed the next morning.
Her Party //
Take this up a notch by renting out a private space at a Korean-style karaoke bar — a private room for you and your friends to channel your inner-Beyonce and belt out “Flawless.” You’ll pay more than at a regular karaoke bar with a beat-up machine, but you’ll have more time to sing and won’t have to worry about making a fool of yourself in front of strangers.
02. The Spa Weekend
The bachelorette party doesn’t have to be for one night only. Plan a weekend getaway for you and your ladies, filled with quality food and drinks, a spa package, and plenty of time at the pool. It’ll also probably be a breath of fresh air from all the wedding planning.
03. Attend a Wine Tasting
Another way to ditch the traditions and opt for a more sophisticated option for a bachelorette’s night out — sipping away on the finest vino with your favorite ladies.
His Party //
01. Rent a Houseboat
A bachelor party of a lifetime, this is a weekend of both exploring and reminiscing with your best buds. Spend the day jet skiing, swimming, hiking, and soaking in the area and all the amenities of the houseboat. Then spend your nights sharing about some of your favorite memories together while you relax on the water.
02. Attend a Mixology Class
Learn to create innovative cocktails and mix like a master at a day-long mixology class, and then spend the evening together indulging in your handiwork.
03. Go Camping
Take a break from the wedding planning and head to the great outdoors with your friends. Keep it as rugged as tents and sleeping bags under the open sky, or as luxurious as renting a cabin or a rustic and woodsy Airbnb.
The Bridal Shower /
Some people love having others watch them open gifts for an hour. Others … maybe not so much. So, if you’re a part of the crew that would rather bypass playing cheesy bridal games, this list may be for you. (Bonus: all these are great options for the couple wanting a co-ed wedding shower)
01. An Open-House Shower
A low-maintenance party, set a block of time for your guests to drop off a gift, grab some food, mingle, congratulate you two, and head out. This type of shower gives you the freedom from tradition, and allows your guests to come and go as they please.
02. A Honeymoon Shower
This is a shower themed around your honeymoon destination. Create a separate registry for essentials you’ll need for your trip, and tie in the decorations, invitations, food, and games around the big trip.
03. A Stock-the-Bar Shower
A fun twist to the classic bridal shower, guests are expected to bring items that will stock the bar in the newlyweds’ home. This shower can be as elaborate or as simple as the couple wants. Consider really playing into the theme by offering a signature drink.
The Rehearsal /
Note: we did not say rehearsal dinner. A rehearsal meal does not need to exclusively revolve around a formal dinner, or meal, for that matter. Shake up this classic pre-wedding event by not only coming up with a unique location, but also the time of day which it is hosted.
01. The Welcome Brunch
Welcome all your guests with a rehearsal brunch. A tradition is often to have a wedding brunch the morning after the wedding, but switch things up by doing this before the ceremony and in lieu of a rehearsal dinner.
02. A Cocktail Hour
Forgo the main meal and plan an early evening at your favorite restaurant and bar filled with light bites and beverages. This can also be a great option if you still want to have a big meal with only your immediate family and then invite a larger group after.
03. A Post-Dinner Dessert Party
Another low-key, sweet option for the couple — set up a little dessert bar filled with your favorite baked goods from a local bakery, and make this an open-house party where guests go to dinner anywhere and then spend a few hours with you after.