Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

May 22, 2024

Wedding Wednesday: Our Engagement Party!

      On Saturday May 11th, Ryan's parents threw us the most amazing engagement party at their beautiful home!! I'm so excited to share the details with you for this week's Wedding Wednesday post. I am also such a firm believer now that every engaged couple should have an engagement party! If you need convincing, hopefully today's post will help. 😉

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     What was the very first wedding planning related thing that I did after getting engaged last November? Ask Ryan's parents if they would host an engagement party for us at their home at some point! (No really... this was asked way before we found our wedding venue, finalized the budget, or set a wedding date!) Ryan chose to plan a completely private proposal (minus the photographer), and it was very important to me to still get a chance to celebrate us just being engaged with our family and friends, before all of the wedding day craziness was upon on. Ryan's parents have a perfect backyard for entertaining small-medium sized groups, and I knew that it would be so wonderful if we could do this at their home. Fortunately, they were so excited when we asked them! Ideally I think it's great to do an egagement party a bit sooner to when the actual engagement happened, but since we got engaged in November we wanted it to be well after the holidays and winter months. April was a busy month for all of us, so we settled on having it in May. It kind of worked out as that was six months post-getting engaged, and six months until the wedding! The perfect halfway mark for a celebration.

     I was originally envisioning something fairly casual in Ryan's parents backyard. If Ryan and I had a house of our own, I might've wanted to host my own engagement party! But I knew we'd be inviting a few too many people for our apartment, and their yard was just perfect for this. If they could help us provide some food and drinks, that's all I thought we needed! Ryan and I both feel so lucky that his parents took it way beyond that. Ryan's parents did so much decorating and planning, and truly made it into the most classy, beautiful and special party!! Not that it wouldn't have been special of course just hanging in the backyard in its natural state. 😊 But everything they did truly took things above and beyond, and we are so grateful!

    Ryan's parents rented the gold chiavari chairs and some additional tables for the backyard from Affordable Rentals. Ryan's mom told me that just about all of the party decor was found very affordably from Dollar Tree or Amazon. I think she did an absolutely fantastic job!

     Let's start with a look at the indoor decor! The majority of the party was outside (we lucked out with a beautiful sunshine filled evening!), but the food was set up inside, and restrooms of course. I loved these fun decor touches that Ryan's mom had around the areas that guests were in!! (The cake was inside for the first couple hours of the party, but then was moved outside for cutting.)

      And here's a look at their beautiful backyard! It seriously took my breath away when I saw it all set up like this shortly before the party started. Ryan's parents did such an incredible job with the party rental items and the decor! It also helped of course that we lucked out with a beautiful and sunny 60-something degree day (with no wind!). It was the perfect temperature to be outdoors for a party without being too hot or too cold. 

     A quick note about our cake! It was baked by a radio listener who I got to know through my former job. His name is Russell, and he owns a business called Baking Bikers! He used to bake for some of our concerts and station events, and I learned very quickly that his cakes were delicious. Our engagement party cake was almond cake with raspberry filling and almond buttercream. YUM! There was barely any leftover after the party. I highly recommend Baking Bikers if you're in the Hampton Roads area. 

     And a few pictures of our families and guests! Ryan's older brother Nathan (to the right of me in the photo below) flew out from the Midwest for our party, which we were so grateful for. My parents of course also both flew down from Maine to be here! Ryan and I feel so lucky that not only do we get along well with each others' parents, but his parents get along great with my parents! 

    We also had so many friends come celebrate with us, which meant the world. We kept the guest list to mainly to local Virginia Beach friends, but we did also invite a few members of our wedding parties and very close friends that lived in a few hours' driving distance. None of my bridesmaids are local, but three of them did make the trip to Virginia Beach for the party, which was incredibly kind of them! One of my matrons-of-honor, Caroline, had originally told me she and her husband wouldn't be able to make the party because it was on their wedding anniversary. They ended up coming and surprising me and spent their anniversary celebrating us! The best surprise.  My friend Mercedes and her girlfriend also came down from DC to be with us, and it meant the world to have them there too!

     A quick note on my dress! It is Lilly Pulitzer, but was purchased in like-new condition from Gator Lilly's, a. Lilly Pulitzer specialty consignment store chain in Florida. I purchased this in March 2023 on Ryan and I's first-ever vacation together (Orlando). I remember texting him from the dressing room that I had found the dress to wear to our future engagement party. Mind you- I hadn't even started engagement ring shopping yet at this point! 😉 Love that everything worked out the way it was supposed to, 14 months later! 

     I feel so lucky that we got to have this special celebration of our engagement. I would strongly encourage any engaged couple to have an engagement party, especially if your proposal was private and you didn't get to celebrate that day with any family or friends. It doesn't have to be super fancy or super big. It can be whatever you and the party hosts want it to be! But it is truly such a special time to celebrate. Friends that are married have always told me that the wedding day goes by so quickly, and you never feel like you have enough time with all your guests. I feel a lot of peace now knowing that I did get to have some sort of celebratory quality time with a chunk of our wedding guests. (Even if it was six months before the wedding- ha!) To me, having a nice engagement party like this was way more important than having an expensive and extravagant bachelorette trip. 



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