Getting engaged is reason enough for celebration—no matter what’s going on in the world around you. Of course, celebrating your engagement in the middle of a global pandemic does present its challenges. For obvious reasons, the epic party at a bar with 100 of your closest friends and family is certainly out. (Safety first.) You could wait until next year to celebrate, but why hold out? You can go online and do it up right on Zoom anytime.
We know, we know. Having a virtual engagement party over Zoom is probably far from what you had in mind, but it can still be a lovely way to come together during these challenging times—and rest assured, it’ll still be great. “You can still make your engagement party feel fun and festive, even when everyone is on Zoom,” assures Kourtney Perry, founder of 7 Centerpieces in Houston, Texas.
Your first step is to think about the guest list, just as if you were party planning for having an engagement party in person. You can choose to invite all of your family and friends at once, or break it up and have separate parties, one for close family and another for friends. You could also have a separate Zoom session for just the wedding party.
The nice thing about going online is that there aren't extra costs for inviting more people, so it’s possible to include your co-workers, neighbors, or anyone you want. Just make sure that you have everyone’s emails handy when you create the guest list.
The invite sets the tone for the party, explains Keith Willard, president of Keith Willard Events in Florida. That’s why you’ll want to be as specific as possible. “There is nothing worse than receiving an invite that is ambiguous,” he says. “Have clear instructions. Having a really specific date and time that also defines a time zone is a must.” Don’t forget to include an end time (so guests know exactly how long they’ll be with you.)
Evites are best for a Zoom party because you can include the Zoom link and login instructions directly in the email. (If some of your attendees aren’t big on email, you could also send a text message.) You can also build and create a Virtual Event at Zola that helps host everything in one place.
If the party doesn’t already have a designated host (or multiple hosts or hostesses), consider assigning someone, such as a close friend, who can take on the task. The engaged couple could also host themselves.
Think of the host as your MC for the afternoon or evening. They may start by thanking everyone for joining, introduce the future happy couple, unmute those who are going to be giving toasts (or anyone who wants to speak when it's time) and kick off the games or activities portion of the party.
Now that you’ve got the guest list nailed down and the invite sent, think about how you can make the party a bit more festive for guests. That might mean emailing something to guests ahead of time or picking a theme or color. “The goal with Zoom parties right now is to be as inclusive as possible,” says Jessica Dalka, owner of Chicago Planner Magazine. “One fun way to do this is to send attendees a care package. Create a fun little box of party favors, and include some celebratory items. Depending on how spread out everyone is and the budget, you can also send food or desserts to everyone to enjoy during the party.”
Other festive ideas include:
Games or activities are a must—include them in a schedule and choose something that everyone can participate in. Some ideas include trivia about the couple (“Who knows the couple best?”) or have the couple participate in games “Newlywed” style to find out just how well they know each other.
If you aren’t into games, you could also have a special guest appearance appear, recommends Willard. “Having a guest appearance by your favorite chef who will walk everyone through building a meal out of the charcuterie board, or a florist that helps everyone build a centerpiece out of flowers that were sent ahead of time, will help pull everyone into the moment,” he says.
Designating specific guests to give toasts at a certain point in the party is another wonderful way to celebrate your engagement, but it’s entirely optional. If you do want guests to give toasts, make sure that they know ahead of time, so that they’re prepared. Be sure to give them a specific time limit to avoid them going on and on (one to five minutes is plenty.) You could also open up the mic at the end of the party and give anyone who is interested a chance to offer their congratulations.
Looking for more virtual event planning into? Zola’s Expert Advice has you covered.