Just Engaged and Proposals

Engagement Party Woes

We got engaged a month ago and my parents offered to throw us an engagement party in their backyard in August which we are VERY excited about! My mom, however, who would be doing most of the planning, has been vacationing in Europe for the last two weeks and will not be back until July, leaving me to handle many of the planning details. I agreed to do so cause it meant that I could pick out invitations I liked, food from the restaurant I like, decorate how I like, etc. However, since its not my money, I feel uncomfortable just booking things like tent rentals and caterers without consulting her first, which has been very difficult to do from across the world. The invitations went out on Monday and we expect to start receiving RSVPs as soon as today so I've been trying to get basic quotes on tent rentals, caters, etc. and send any questions I have back to her. Now she's freaking out about how much this is going to cost her and how many people will be coming. The guest list is up to 100 people and that's largely in part because I was told that my parent's friends -- 26 of them -- needed to be invited in addition to our two families and close friends. This is a party being thrown for me (although I am paying for some of it just out of ease with her being out of the country) and I am starting to feel like I am planning the whole thing AND getting crap for it.

I suppose that isn't so much a question but a rant but I do have some insights I would love from those who have thrown engagement parties, since my mom seems unable to provide me with insight:
-I plan on catering by tray not by person, but is there a benchmark for how much per person/per tray should be ordered?
-is it tacky to ask friends/family to help make some desserts to cut down on the cost of buying from an expensive bakery? if we offer to repay their supplies?
-how can I convince my mom we don't need a porta potty in the backyard?!

Thanks for enduring :)

Re: Engagement Party Woes

  • Your Questions:

    1. Ask your caterer; it's his/her job to know. There are normally a number of pieces for each tray. Depending on what's on the tray, you'll need different numbers. Also, if this is a meal time, you need enough to constitute a full meal.

    2. Yes, it's incredibly tacky. You should not have planned a party your parents could not afford; do not make your friends and family free labor because you couldn't plan. Grab some sheetcakes/cookies/whatever from a nice grocery store or Costco.

    3. How many bathrooms are going to be available? For 100 people, you want more than one toliet. And if it's her money and her party, let it go. You've already been spending her money. If she wants a porta potty, let her have the porta potty. There are the nicer ones out there that are basically transportable half-baths.

    image
    Blue_Bird
  • If your mother could not properly host and plan your engagement party, she should never have offered to give you one.  This is WHY my daughter did not have an engagement party.  Cancel it.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited June 2014
    Rorelai said:
    We got engaged a month ago and my parents offered to throw us an engagement party in their backyard in August which we are VERY excited about! My mom, however, who would be doing most of the planning, has been vacationing in Europe for the last two weeks and will not be back until July, leaving me to handle many of the planning details. I agreed to do so cause it meant that I could pick out invitations I liked, food from the restaurant I like, decorate how I like, etc. However, since its not my money, I feel uncomfortable just booking things like tent rentals and caterers without consulting her first, which has been very difficult to do from across the world. The invitations went out on Monday and we expect to start receiving RSVPs as soon as today so I've been trying to get basic quotes on tent rentals, caters, etc. and send any questions I have back to her. Now she's freaking out about how much this is going to cost her and how many people will be coming. The guest list is up to 100 people and that's largely in part because I was told that my parent's friends -- 26 of them -- needed to be invited in addition to our two families and close friends. This is a party being thrown for me (although I am paying for some of it just out of ease with her being out of the country) and I am starting to feel like I am planning the whole thing AND getting crap for it.

    I suppose that isn't so much a question but a rant but I do have some insights I would love from those who have thrown engagement parties, since my mom seems unable to provide me with insight:
    -I plan on catering by tray not by person, but is there a benchmark for how much per person/per tray should be ordered?
    -is it tacky to ask friends/family to help make some desserts to cut down on the cost of buying from an expensive bakery? if we offer to repay their supplies?
    -how can I convince my mom we don't need a porta potty in the backyard?!

    Thanks for enduring :)
    Holy smoke!  You sent the invitations for an engagement party out 8 weeks in advance?  This is not your wedding!  This is so out of control it is ridiculous.  Cancel this circus.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited June 2014
    I never understood engagement parties and even more so large engagement parties. You got engaged, you didn't win the Presidency. I mean, yes it is exciting, but is a huge engagement party really necessary? And I am with CMGr, if your Mom wanted to throw you this party then she should have made herself available to plan it, not hand it over to you to deal with. Edited because spelling is hard.

    CMGragain
  • I am having some engagement party woes, myself, but congrats to you on your engagement and upcoming party!

    - I am not sure about the person/tray ratio...most places that I have looked only cater per person or they should say on their website/brochure how many people per tray, I guess this also depends on they type of food.
    - I don't think it's tacky at all! Maybe don't frame it as "we are trying to save money will you do this?" but just asking some friends/family that like to bake if they would like to bring something as you are doing desserts in a potluck style!
    - I would say no to the porta-potty too! Just tell her that it is too smelly. I've been to house parties with 100 people and don't think the bathroom issue has ever been a problem.
    Knottie08470204
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited June 2014
    Poor jbswetish!  I am so sorry, but it is rude to plan and host your own engagement party, as you are doing, and asking people to bring food or drink to any party that you host is also rude.  Bringing food is only appropriate at family gatherings and church potlucks, not at a party where you are hosting!  This is not personal opinion.  These are the rules of proper hosting.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    Blue_Birdholyguacamole79
  • lilacck28lilacck28 member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited June 2014
    Oh my gosh. You are basically hosting your wedding reception if you're doing a full blown catered, tent affair for 100+ people. Phew. I hope your mom can actually afford it. My mother would MURDER me if I just took the reins and unilaterally made decisions about guest lists and food without first asking her! (and, I wouldn't, because I would not plan my own party) Don't ask people to bring dessert for you. It is not their job to subsidize your extravagant party, and is most definitely tacky. As PP said, there are some SUPER yummy and inexpensive desserts from grocery stores. Anyway, port o pottys are certainly necessary for that number of people. here's an article from the knot about backyard receptions, note the parts about the port a pottys and generators: http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-reception-planning/articles/home-wedding-reception-secrets.aspx
  • ugh no paragraphs. sorry.
  • PDKH said:

    Your Questions:

    1. Ask your caterer; it's his/her job to know. There are normally a number of pieces for each tray. Depending on what's on the tray, you'll need different numbers. Also, if this is a meal time, you need enough to constitute a full meal.

    2. Yes, it's incredibly tacky. You should not have planned a party your parents could not afford; do not make your friends and family free labor because you couldn't plan. Grab some sheetcakes/cookies/whatever from a nice grocery store or Costco.

    3. How many bathrooms are going to be available? For 100 people, you want more than one toliet. And if it's her money and her party, let it go. You've already been spending her money. If she wants a porta potty, let her have the porta potty. There are the nicer ones out there that are basically transportable half-baths.

    There are 2 bathrooms available immediately inside of our house with a third easily accessible in our basement. There will be no children in attendance so I don't anticipate having to run into an "emergency" bathroom situations. My cousin's wedding had VERY nice porta pottys so I know that very nice ones are available... but my mom is simultaneously telling me that the food is going to cost to much and then wanting to spend money on a porta potty when we have 3 bathrooms inside. I would MUCH rather save the money and have better food.

    As for dessert, many members of both my and my fiance's family are very big bakers and dessert creators. His cousin's girlfriend is famous in the family for her cakepops and FMIL just took a cake decorating workshop that she is very proud of. I realize I didn't include this in my original post, but many of these people have asked what they can do to help for the party. I was hoping it would be ok to ask them to make something they'd enjoy making and then to bring it by before the party began (so they weren't "showing up" with something). I also wanted to put out signs with the desserts to give credit to who made what and so that compliments could be addressed directly to them.
    CMGragain said:
    If your mother could not properly host and plan your engagement party, she should never have offered to give you one.  This is WHY my daughter did not have an engagement party.  Cancel it.
    Isn't it pretty bad etiquette to call 100 people 1-2 days after they receive an invitation to tell them "just kidding, we're canceling it"?
    CMGragain said:
    Rorelai said:
    We got engaged a month ago and my parents offered to throw us an engagement party in their backyard in August which we are VERY excited about! My mom, however, who would be doing most of the planning, has been vacationing in Europe for the last two weeks and will not be back until July, leaving me to handle many of the planning details. I agreed to do so cause it meant that I could pick out invitations I liked, food from the restaurant I like, decorate how I like, etc. However, since its not my money, I feel uncomfortable just booking things like tent rentals and caterers without consulting her first, which has been very difficult to do from across the world. The invitations went out on Monday and we expect to start receiving RSVPs as soon as today so I've been trying to get basic quotes on tent rentals, caters, etc. and send any questions I have back to her. Now she's freaking out about how much this is going to cost her and how many people will be coming. The guest list is up to 100 people and that's largely in part because I was told that my parent's friends -- 26 of them -- needed to be invited in addition to our two families and close friends. This is a party being thrown for me (although I am paying for some of it just out of ease with her being out of the country) and I am starting to feel like I am planning the whole thing AND getting crap for it.

    I suppose that isn't so much a question but a rant but I do have some insights I would love from those who have thrown engagement parties, since my mom seems unable to provide me with insight:
    -I plan on catering by tray not by person, but is there a benchmark for how much per person/per tray should be ordered?
    -is it tacky to ask friends/family to help make some desserts to cut down on the cost of buying from an expensive bakery? if we offer to repay their supplies?
    -how can I convince my mom we don't need a porta potty in the backyard?!

    Thanks for enduring :)
    Holy smoke!  You sent the invitations for an engagement party out 8 weeks in advance?  This is not your wedding!  This is so out of control it is ridiculous.  Cancel this circus.
    I realize sending invitations out so far in advance is a "wedding thing to do" but its also a polite thing to do. We have people flying in from other parts of the country who would probably appreciate a longer amount of time to book their plans. Plus, it will be easier for me to get an accurate head count for food, drinks, etc. the earlier people RSVP. 

    I also understand that we're all entitled to our own opinions, but there's no need to call this party a "circus."
    I never understood engagement parties and even more so large engagement parties. You got engaged, you didn't win the Presidency. I mean, yes it is exciting, but is a huge engagement party really necessary? And I am with CMGr, if your Mom wanted to throw you this party then she should have made herself available to plan it, not hand it over to you to deal with. Edited because spelling is hard.
    A huge party wasn't necessary. That's part of my complaint here. We originally wanted to invite about 75 people in the hopes around 50 would show up. My parents decided to invite 26 of their own friends all of whom have indicated they are coming, putting us at 100. My mom invited them for a party she is paying for and is now complaining about how much its going to cost. That's really my only complaint here.
    lilacck28 said:
    Oh my gosh. You are basically hosting your wedding reception if you're doing a full blown catered, tent affair for 100+ people. Phew. I hope your mom can actually afford it. My mother would MURDER me if I just took the reins and unilaterally made decisions about guest lists and food without first asking her! (and, I wouldn't, because I would not plan my own party) Don't ask people to bring dessert for you. It is not their job to subsidize your extravagant party, and is most definitely tacky. As PP said, there are some SUPER yummy and inexpensive desserts from grocery stores. Anyway, port o pottys are certainly necessary for that number of people. here's an article from the knot about backyard receptions, note the parts about the port a pottys and generators: http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-reception-planning/articles/home-wedding-reception-secrets.aspx
    We're only getting a tent because its in the backyard and my mom is worried that it will rain. If we could predict sunshine, then we would absolutely do away with the extravagant/costly tent. But unfortunately we can't fit 100 people in the house in the event of rain or have a rain date, so sadly, tent. I actually mentioned in my post that I haven't spent any money BECAUSE I feel uncomfortable just booking things without her okay -- which she is not giving me. Its not like I have a credit card or check book and I'm just running around purchasing things. The only thing I have bought so far were the invitations and those I paid for out of my own pocket. My complaint here is that I am trying to get my mom's opinion on how much she would like to spend on food, drinks, tent, etc. and when I am giving her quotes she is not telling me "yes" or "no".


    jbswetish said:
    I am having some engagement party woes, myself, but congrats to you on your engagement and upcoming party!

    - I am not sure about the person/tray ratio...most places that I have looked only cater per person or they should say on their website/brochure how many people per tray, I guess this also depends on they type of food.
    - I don't think it's tacky at all! Maybe don't frame it as "we are trying to save money will you do this?" but just asking some friends/family that like to bake if they would like to bring something as you are doing desserts in a potluck style!
    - I would say no to the porta-potty too! Just tell her that it is too smelly. I've been to house parties with 100 people and don't think the bathroom issue has ever been a problem.
    Thank you for your input and congratulations to you as well! I hope your party planning goes more smoothly! :)
  • It's good you're not just spending money and making decisions willy nilly! I think you should analyze your guest list a little further with your mom. If she is saying the costs will be too high, and is still demanding those 26 people, maybe cut down your side. Or re think the food. 

     It's the engagement party, not the wedding, so that's not as big of a deal. Engagement parties (in my circle) are often about the parents and who they want to show off to. Usually most of the friends of the bride groom are not invited. 

    And I agree, you DEFINITELY need a tent if you are set on inviting 100 people to your mom's house. I never had an issue with that.  I just sympathized with the expenditure. 

    You didn't respond about the article I sent, so: That knot article says: You'll want to account for three bathroom trips per guest. Most septic tanks can't handle that many flushes, so portable bathrooms are a must. A general rule of thumb is to have one bathroom for every 35 guests. 

    I'd do a bit more research from other sources to be sure but....I think it makes sense that your mom is worried about the toilets. I wouldn't want to chance my septic system going haywire either. Plumbers are pricey. 

  • And I'm sorry your mom isn't giving you firm answers. So maybe have a chat with her about if she actually wants to throw this party or not, and that if she does, you absolutely need a budget. Because with out her check/ credit card and approval I would not spend a dime for anything, unless you are prepared to cover all the costs yourself. 
  • We've already cut down on the food from the caterer's suggested 21 trays to 15 and I'll be making apps/purchasing from wholesale stores to keep the cost down on nibbles. At this point I'm just really hoping that a bunch of people we think are coming decide they can't!! Maybe my parents' friends don't want to come after all ;D

    Speaking of engagement parties being used as a parents' way of showing off, my fiance's best man (who he is also best man for) had an engagement party last year that the parents were completely in control of. They invited 125+ people and the couple being celebrated were only allowed one table of 10 friends to invite. It was also held in a catering hall with a bartender, DJ and dance floor. They ended up telling us how much it cost and it could've been their wedding for how much was spent. I'm sooo glad that my parents do not want to go that route at all.

    Thank you also for the info about the toilets! I had never thought about it that way before and now I'm going to look into some pricing for porta pottys. The backyard is larger than the house so we have plenty of room, so its definitely something to consider.
  • Rorelai said:
    We've already cut down on the food from the caterer's suggested 21 trays to 15 and I'll be making apps/purchasing from wholesale stores to keep the cost down on nibbles. At this point I'm just really hoping that a bunch of people we think are coming decide they can't!! Maybe my parents' friends don't want to come after all ;D

    Speaking of engagement parties being used as a parents' way of showing off, my fiance's best man (who he is also best man for) had an engagement party last year that the parents were completely in control of. They invited 125+ people and the couple being celebrated were only allowed one table of 10 friends to invite. It was also held in a catering hall with a bartender, DJ and dance floor. They ended up telling us how much it cost and it could've been their wedding for how much was spent. I'm sooo glad that my parents do not want to go that route at all.

    Thank you also for the info about the toilets! I had never thought about it that way before and now I'm going to look into some pricing for porta pottys. The backyard is larger than the house so we have plenty of room, so its definitely something to consider.
    So your parents are shelling out tons of money and you hope their friends wont come? Have invitations gone out? I would seriously think about cancelling; this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Parents get to spend their money how they want and they have no obligation to contribute to a wedding.

    And again, if this party is during dinner time, you MUST have enough food to constitute a meal for each person. Cheese and crackers wont cut it. 
    image
    holyguacamole79
  • That was a joke... of course I want everyone we invited to come. Yes, the invitations have gone out already and despite "cancelling it" apparently being a go-to response, I have no intention of doing so. I'm aware parents get to spend their money how they want -- I don't think I ever indicated otherwise. All I said was that they invited their friends (which is fine) but are now complaining about how much it will cost (which is due, in part, to the amount of people they invited).

    I also never said I was just going to serve cheese and crackers. I plan on having 17 trays of food. All I said was I cut it down from the 21 the caterer recommended in order to save some money and that I will put out MORE appetizers to compensate losing a couple of trays.
  • I honestly DON'T understand what the big deal is about having family members fly in. I'm in no way shape or form treating this like a wedding. I'm treating it like a party to which people want to come. My parents mentioned the party to relatives in California who were not originally being invited and they want to come. My fiance has a cousin in the navy who just got back from deployment and is living in Florida who wants to come. So what if they want to fly in? People who haven't seen us in years want to spend the money to fly in (which we are not making them do) to celebrate with us -- coming from a family who historically was not very close, I think this is AWESOME. We plan to give them a place to sleep and do not expect gifts or anything from them, just their presence. Plus, in both of our families its more polite to invite someone long distance than to leave them off and start a grudge.
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited June 2014
    It is not rude to cancel a party after the invitations go out.  You can call people, or you can send out a simple card saying that the party is cancelled.  No explanations.
    What would be very rude would be to go ahead with the party, but dis-invite some guests to keep your numbers down.  I know that you are not planning to do this.
    I think that you should read the responses you got on this board again.  Others will likely share the opinion that your party is too big, too expensive, and your expectations are not realistic.
    I honestly have never heard of an engagement party on the scale that you are describing, and I used to live in the Washington, DC community!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    1.  I hope you realize that every person attending this engagement party MUST also be invited to the wedding.

    2.  I hope you take a lesson from this prior to beginning your wedding planning.  Don't accept other people's money unless you want them to dictate your wedding.  Don't count on money other than your own unless it is in your possession prior to spending it.
    holyguacamole79
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Rorelai said:
    I honestly DON'T understand what the big deal is about having family members fly in. I'm in no way shape or form treating this like a wedding. I'm treating it like a party to which people want to come. My parents mentioned the party to relatives in California who were not originally being invited and they want to come. My fiance has a cousin in the navy who just got back from deployment and is living in Florida who wants to come. So what if they want to fly in? People who haven't seen us in years want to spend the money to fly in (which we are not making them do) to celebrate with us -- coming from a family who historically was not very close, I think this is AWESOME. We plan to give them a place to sleep and do not expect gifts or anything from them, just their presence. Plus, in both of our families its more polite to invite someone long distance than to leave them off and start a grudge.
    I guess it is because this party revolves around the fact that you got engaged.  It really isn't that big of an event/achievement to throw such a large and lavish party where people need to fly in from all over the country.  Why not save the extravagance for your wedding and cancel this huge engagement party and just have a small get together with immediate family and close friends?

  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    I have no words of real advice, just commiseration.  Almost the exact same thing happened with our e-party.  FILs offered to host it, we got all excited, they invited people, then realized they could not afford to host that many people.  We kicked in some money to save face for them so that the party would not be canceled.  And, tbh, because once the wheels were in motion we really wanted the party, too.

    It ended up being a blast, even though imo there were way too many people there.  It started off with plans for 30 people in their backyard and then became 75 people at a restaurant.  The whole thing blew up and became way more of a production than I ever thought it would be.  In their culture, large gatherings are normal and hosting is a Big Deal.  They really wanted to do it and Fi felt obligated to help them once things were set in motion.  They would be mortified to cancel the party.

    Looking back, we could have done without the party.  But I understand you don't want to cancel it once invites have gone out.  And Fi's family is the same way that they would fly or drive a long distance to come to an e-party.  Nobody flew for ours, but several people got hotel rooms.  IDK, it was just a big deal to them for some reason.  I thought it was sweet so many people traveled.

    Just try to make your mom understand it doesn't have to be huge and impressive.  And maybe you can tell her it's stressing you out to make decisions without her, and try to get more input.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

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  • Oh my goodness, you poor girl (I am not being sarcastic in the slightest.)

    I am not a fan of engagement parties, but that is just a personal opinion.

    I am sorry that people have been so harsh in their responses to your post. 

    With that being said, Congratulations on your engagement! 

    Your mother and you decided to have an engagement party. That is very exciting! Skype, e-mail, etc. as much as you can with your mother. Ask her for a budget and abide by that. 

    Best of Luck!

  • atlastmrsgatlastmrsg member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited July 2014
    Rorelai said:
    We've already cut down on the food from the caterer's suggested 21 trays to 15 and I'll be making apps/purchasing from wholesale stores to keep the cost down on nibbles. At this point I'm just really hoping that a bunch of people we think are coming decide they can't!! Maybe my parents' friends don't want to come after all ;D

    Speaking of engagement parties being used as a parents' way of showing off, my fiance's best man (who he is also best man for) had an engagement party last year that the parents were completely in control of. They invited 125+ people and the couple being celebrated were only allowed one table of 10 friends to invite. It was also held in a catering hall with a bartender, DJ and dance floor. They ended up telling us how much it cost and it could've been their wedding for how much was spent. I'm sooo glad that my parents do not want to go that route at all.

    Thank you also for the info about the toilets! I had never thought about it that way before and now I'm going to look into some pricing for porta pottys. The backyard is larger than the house so we have plenty of room, so its definitely something to consider.
    Don't get portapotties.  Get a restroom trailer.  I was adamant about this for my wedding, and so glad that I didn't have smelly portapotties.  I won't even go in a portapotty at a concert or festival...I hold it until I can walk somewhere like a restaurant to pee.

    This is the difference...here's the restroom trailer at my wedding.  It had flushing toilets, sinks, TVs, air conditioning, and I put a julep cup of flowers on each vanity.  I think it was well worth the expense to have comfortable facilities.  It is, however, something you will have to budget for since it is not inexpensive.

    image
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    OP, just some advice for planning your wedding based on your comments here ... plan on 100% attendance. If you invite 200 people to your wedding, be sure that you can properly host 200. Don't plan around people declining. Also, don't ask your guests to bring/provide anything, even if they like baking.

    Good luck!
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