The highlight for every wedding planner is the moment the couple you’ve been working with walks down the aisle. It’s the grandest celebration of love, and there’s no greater feeling than knowing you helped to put it all together. While the wedding day is the magnum opus, in the Western world there is a long chain of events between the engagement to saying ‘I do’. Focusing on all of the events that make up a Western wedding timeline is crucial for a complete engagement experience.
If you’re an event planner looking to make your client’s entire journey to the aisle a fun and memorable one, we’re here to help! Use this guide to plan a Western wedding timeline of events after the engagement that’s sure to stand out!
A. The Engagement Party
The celebrations start as soon as the ring is put on. It’s the first opportunity for the couple to commemorate their love and commitment to one another, and it should be done in style!
If your couple is more traditional, then consider planning a sit-down dinner. You can make it a little extra by hosting the event at a fine dining restaurant, a rooftop bar or a wine cellar.
However, if they are party people, then plan the engagement around a fun activity where they can let loose. Wine tastings, cocktail pairings, and even a party at their house are good options.
For the adventurous pair, you can plan the engagement party around a group activity such as hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking.
Whatever the activity, make sure that it’s an opportunity for the guests to bond and create memories together.
You could make their engagement party stand out by hiring a caterer to serve unique food and drinks. Incorporate a signature cocktail that reflects their personalities, or their favorite foods and family recipes.
B. Engagement Party Theme Ideas
Another way of making the engagement party stand out is by adding a theme. Make it personal. It could be a theme that reflects the couple’s interests and hobbies. Ask them questions about what they like to do in their downtime to figure it out.
Some themes to consider include:
- Games night: This one is for all the quieter couples out there. Incorporate board games that the couple loves. If they want to spice things up, you could even add a few drinking games.
- Travel: If the two are jet setters, then decorate the engagement party using maps, suitcases, and postcards. If you want to go the extra mile, you could symbolize the party as a start of a new journey for even well-traveled couples.
- Beach party: Brilliant for sun lovers and nature enthusiasts, a beach-themed engagement party can take place either on an actual beach or at home using decorations such as a surfboard, seashells, and a beach umbrella.
- Hollywood glam: This theme is perfect for couples who gravitate towards all things glamorous. Incorporate a red carpet and sparkling lights into the décor.
- Vintage: Rustic and vintage themes add a cozy and intimate atmosphere to the engagement party. Include decorations such as wildflower centerpieces, wooden accents, and vintage suitcases and couches.
With a Western wedding timeline, it’s recommended that you plan the engagement party one to three months after the proposal. You need to send out the invitations at least a month prior to the couple’s close friends and immediate family.
C. The Bridal Shower
The wedding day goes by so fast, and the couple will have so many people to greet and thank that they may not get as much downtime with the ones closest to them. A bridal shower is a great event if they want a more intimate celebration with close friends and family before the big day.
Most bridal showers consist of a mix of eating food, mingling with guests, or playing games. It’s an event that allows both sides of the family to get to know one another before the official wedding celebration.
Why You Should Include A Gift Registry
The main event happens when the gifts are opened. We suggest that you incorporate a gift registry into the bridal shower to ensure the newlyweds receive gifts they truly want.
Gift registries are a common wedding tradition in Western societies. When creating one for a bridal shower, the bride selects items that she would prefer as gifts and adds them to the registry. Family and friends can then view the registry and select a gift from the list.
Gift registries are helpful not only for the couple who are starting their new life together and may need some extra help but also for gift-givers who can gain a better sense of what the couple or bride needs. This ensures that the gifts are appreciated and useful too.
Bridal Shower Themes & Ideas
Make the bridal shower stand out by creating a theme that reflects the bride’s style. It can be a tropical island-themed celebration or even a punk rock event. If you get to know the personality of the bride, then the possibilities for a themed bridal shower are endless!
You could also make the shower a co-ed event to which the groom and his friends are invited too. This is less traditional and will be sure to live on in the couple’s minds for a long time to come.
To keep your Western wedding timeline on track, the bridal shower should ideally take place between two months and two weeks before the wedding.
D. The Bachelor And Bachelorette Party
This event is usually thrown by the best man and maid of honor no later than one week before the wedding. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t lend a hand as an event planner!
The bride typically celebrates this event with the bridesmaids and the groom with the groomsmen, as well as close friends and siblings for both respective parties.
Some of these events last one night, whereas others span an entire weekend.
His and Hers Party Ideas
As an event planner, the last thing that you want is for the bachelor and bachelorette party to be predictable. Consider ditching the wild night out and limo for a destination party! Choose a spot that the bride and groom have always wanted to visit. A destination party is a great way to have an adventure with those closest to the bride or groom.
If a destination party is out of their budget, then plan a unique activity such as:
- Hosting a private dining supper
- Visiting a relaxing yoga retreat
- Attending a musical festival
- Throwing a creative paint party for the bride
For the groom, an adventurous experience always goes down well, for instance:
- Axe throwing
E. The Rehearsal Dinner
The rehearsal dinner is quintessential to Western weddings. It’s usually co-hosted by the bride’s parents or the couple themselves the evening before the wedding.
Rehearsal dinners provide a space for the couple’s families and friends to come together and practice for the wedding. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the approaching nuptials.
The venue for the rehearsal dinner may vary. However, it’s typically hosted at a restaurant, a banquet hall, or at the home of a family member.
Throwing a Memorable Dinner
To plan a rehearsal dinner that stands out, consider including custom details created by the couple or their friends in the décor. You could also personalize the venue with a wall of pictures showcasing images from the life and childhood of the couple.
Entertainment goes a long way at any event. Consider including music or games such as trivia to heighten the engagement at the dinner. You could make the trivia questions contain questions about the bride and groom.
F. The Wedding Reception
This is the main event and the one that the couple has been anticipating since their engagement.
The ceremony is the formal part of the wedding, but the reception is where the couple celebrates with their friends and family.
Fun Reception Entertainment Ideas
One way to make this a memorable event for all is to take song requests! Everyone should be shaking their booty and celebrating the love between the couple, so ditch a strict DJ and get everyone on the dancefloor. This process can become messy on the day, so ask the guests to list a few song requests when they RSVP.
Another memorable touch is a photo booth. This will also give the event more personal and intimate photos than a professional photographer could.
If you want to be truly extra, you could hire a live wedding painter to paint the most unique decoration the couple is likely to have in their home.
G. Planning Priorities For a Western Wedding Timeline
With all of the events that need to take place after the engagement, planning a Western wedding timeline can be daunting. We hope that breaking down this timeline makes it easier.
When you follow these tips, you’ll be able to plan events that make the couple’s experience from the engagement to tying the knot a memorable one.
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