We are engaged! But, I guess the title give that away. And that means this blog has a new category — wedding planning! In case you didn’t know, Henri and I have been together for nearly 10 years. So I had an idea of when this was happening since we’ve been talking about this chapter for awhile. And I was so excited to celebrate with our friends and family at our engagement party!
I’ve been pinning my dream wedding, bridal shower, and more on Pinterest for literally YEARS. I love a reason to host a party and knew I wanted an engagement party when the time came. So it was easy to turn this around, but I also had a general sense of timing because of some hints Henri had made. However, he did totally surprise me when he actually proposed. I was so sure it would be the week after it actually happened. Hence no pretty nails the day off, but it was literally perfect.
The Engagement Party Inspiration
I had a feeling our engagement would be around the holidays, so I wanted our party to be a mix of our wedding theme (which is tropical) with some Spanish flair for a warmer vibe. Think terra cotta accents, pops of bold colors which you’ll also see in our wedding design, and a romantic atmosphere. Here’s how we pulled it all together:
This was a last minute idea! I figured if I could get it before the engagement party, it would be something I could repurpose for the shower and wedding to get the most for the money. Neon signs are super trendy, but also pretty pricey. I just received a vendor list where a smaller generic sign is $175 to RENT.
You can find all kinds of neon sign makers on Etsy, but time was of the essence. Luckily, we live in Los Angeles and I was able to find someone that turned it around in less than 24 hours. Andthe price was better to buy a custom sign than to rent a generic “better together one.” I only paid $167!
My tip, before committing to renting check Etsy and OfferUp. OfferUp could save you on costly shipping and you’ll be buying from a local maker.
I used payless4sign who I found on OfferUp and then chatted with on Instagram. The process was simple. I reached out and shared the link to the Etsy inspo I found. From there, we decided on a font and colors, they sent a mock up for me to proof, I sent the deposit via Venmo, and picked it up the next day.
It was great and I would highly recommend to anyone in the area. It was a huge “wow factor” at our engagement party! I made the sign our initials so we can use it after the celebrations too, I’m thinking over a bar cart.
My other larger purchase was two wooden arches. You’ve probably seen these all over your Instagram feeds for birthdays, baby showers, and everything in between. I quickly realized they’re also expensive to rent. So again, I took to OfferUp to find a local maker. Easily, I found Destiny Wood Co. They were so great and also turned them around quickly. I decided to add these on Friday evening and he had them delivered by Saturday morning. They fold almost like a picture frame for easy storage too. I decided to cut some aloe plants from around my yard and put them in terra cotta pots to decorate around the floor of the arches, I also moved some other plants from the patio, and used more crates to elevate items.
Flowers and Candles
Two key elements to this design were the flowers and candles. The flowers is where the colors came into play. While the candles were meant to set the mood.
I bought floating candles to put in the pool which didn’t totally work and smaller ones to put in glass vases around (which did work, yay!). I also got regular pillar candles to place around the border of the pool in square vases. We filled my mom’t tiki torches to add to the fiery element. Lastly, I found great textured colored jar candles at the Dollar Tree of all places in the perfect colors: pink, yellow, orange, and blue. I bought all the ones at our local store.
The food table served as an anchor in my design with the pool as the backdrop with the neon sign hanging from the arch, surrounded by candles, all reflecting off the pool. It turned out better than I expected.
One of the Pins I saw on Pinterest had a great salsa bar, which is how I ended up with a Mexican menu. Apologizes to my guest who were expecting authentic Cuban food, you can come over for dinner anytime.
An element of the set up was beautiful terra cotta menus. Of course, I thought I could easily make those myself with my handy Cricut machine. I had my best friend and maid of honor Abby come over to help. It was a Cricut party gone wrong. The vinyl wasn’t cutting correctly, then we got it, then it wouldn’t work with the transfer paper. It was a whole thing! But in the end, we got it! We used vinyls for the titles and used the vinyl as a stencil with a chalk pen for the details.
One had the salsa menu, one had the food menu, and since we didn’t have a full bar I wrote “Cheers” in the 3 languages we speak: English, Spanish, and French. I also repurposed some wood creates, Mexican textiles, and baskets to enhance the main table. While the cocktail tables all had a small floral arrangement and the colored glass candles to add to that romantic vibe. I also printed and framed some of the photos from our engagement to put around on the desert table and a random table my mom has plants on usually.
Food and Custom Cookies
We made the food and while it was good, I wish we would have stuck to our original idea of hiring a taco cart for a stress free day. It also would have added a fun feature to the party. We scratched that idea because we thought it would be a smaller party, and there was a 50 person minimum for the person my aunt usually uses. We turned out with about 40 people and probably could have gotten a taco cart… but oh well, we will save it for another party.
I also ordered some awesome custom cookies from my cousin to serve as both a dessert and takeaway item for our guest. We had 3 designs: a ring with flowers, our engagement date, and a heart with our initials! Check out his great work on his Instagram: What’s David Decorating.
The other lesson I learned while I was refilling Sangria and party supplies was that it might have been nice to hire at least one waiter, I need to stop thinking I can do everything myself. Luckily, I have an awesome aunt and grandma who helped take the lead on restocking. And now I learned some valuable lessons before the big day!