What better way than a party to gather the people in your life and reveal your impending nuptials? Now all you need is a theme. Kaylee Maresh of Calluna Events says engagement parties can be a daunting task on your rapidly growing list of wedding to-dos. She offers a few fun ideas to help it come together.


“You can never go wrong with a good brunch,” says Maresh. “More and more couples are opting for a midmorning celebration with libations and brunch bites. So pop open the bubbly for your mimosa bar, set up a spread of delicious breakfast nibbles and celebrate brunch style.”

Dish: Combine sweet and savory with on-trend maple-bacon quiche.
Drink: Mimosas. Expand your horizon beyond orange juice by offering a variety of juices, scoops of sorbet and/or frozen fruit (try raspberries, pomegranate arils or tiny Champagne grapes).
Decorate: Crystal glassware and white tableware. Perhaps preview your wedding colors with the linens.

Wine Tasting

It’s always fun to mark a momentous occasion with those you love by sharing good food and wine. “Go for an in-house affair,” says Maresh. She suggests hiring a chef to prepare some small plates and pair with appropriate wines. “It’ll be just like a family dinner with your closest loved ones,” she says. “Happy and full bellies is a perfect way to celebrate your new engagement.”

Dish: If you don’t go the private chef route, spend some time with the staff of your local cheese shop and get some recommendations for tasty pairings in varieties from bloomy to blue. Don’t forget the charcuterie.
Drink: Well, wine, obviously, but again, consult an expert to put together some complementary flights.
Decorate: Low, dense flower arrangements in deep jewel tones.

Backyard Barbecue

“It may be an old staple, but a backyard barbe- cue can be a casual and fun way to celebrate your engagement,” says Maresh. “Break out the lawn games, fire up the grill and cheers to your new adventure!”

Dish: Sliders are a good way to appeal to a lot of tastes; a wide variety of proteins can be cooked on the grill and go between those tiny buns: ground beef, pulled pork, salmon, lamb, Portobello mushrooms, chicken, Andouille sausage.Want to step it up a notch? How about a pig roast?
Drink: New craft breweries are opening their doors daily, so grab a couple of growlers. Don’t forget the lemonade—with a dash of ginger or basil.
Decorate: Mason jars with fun stripey straws, and lawn games, such as croquet, bocce ball and the three-and-a-half-foot-tall Mega 4.

Seafood Boil

Similar to the backyard grill option, a seafood boil is a great way to gather your loved ones for a celebration—plus it’s practically the epitome of summer.The family-style table is a sure way to spark conversation, and it’s a great, low-key way to honor the newly engaged couple.

Dish: In addition to whatever type of seafood— shrimp, crabs, crawfish—appeals to you, boil potatoes and corn on the cob with a homemade (or store-bought) spice mix. For dessert, make s’mores with roasted berries and locally made marshmallows.
Drink: Very cold beer and clean, crisp white wine in a bucket full of ice.
Decorate: Starfish, coral, fishnets (not the stockings).

Classic Cocktails

The show may be over, but “Mad Men”–era cocktails and bites from back in the day are a hot trend right now for both weddings and engagement parties.

Dish: Go retro all the way: bacon-wrapped dates, clams casino, shrimp cocktail, oysters Rockefeller, Swedish meatballs.
Drink: Martinis, Manhattans, Sidecars, Negronis, maybe a brandy Alexander.
Decorate: Cocktail shakers aren’t just for booze anymore. Use them to hold your centerpiece bouquets.