This weekend we had our engagement party. It was really fun and was great to be surrounded by so many supportive people.
It was supposed to be low key, but ended up as a fun blow out. A lot of my friends regularly DJ, so they kindly played some awesome music all night for us. A couple of other friends took photos. H took a lot of photos too, but also drank a lot of beer, so I haven’t seen how the shots from the end of the evening look yet.
We invited 40 people and 37 made it to the party.
For the venue we chose somewhere non-smoking that friends already regularly hold events at. This meant the expectations of the guests were in line with ours: buy your own drinks, dance to some great music, talk with friends and relax. The goal was to keep the budget low, and create a relaxed, fun atmosphere to celebrate in with friends.
Thankfully, the party was very simple to organise: we didn’t have a closed party, so the venue was free, friends kindly DJed and took photos for us, I used Facebook for event invitations and organising the DJs, and hand made decorations and party favours. In the end I’m very glad we didn’t pay for a private party, there were only two or three other customers all night and it would’ve been a real waste of money, just for the sake of excluding a couple of quiet regulars from the bar.
I really love crating and luckily I had some free time in the days before the party, so focused on making cheap, but impactful DIY decor. I made a engagement ring paper chains, similar to those in this picture, mine were made in shades of blue, purple and green, with every 10th ring being gold, I used iridescent origami paper for the gems.
I also made a gold paper banner, some kitschy dinosaurs, got balloons and made a photo collage of us using photoshop templates I found online. For our guests we had bags of heart shaped marshmallows and ring Haribo sweets and ring pops, both of which seemed really popular and resulted in a lot of cute fake proposals. As it’s almost valentines day, it was especially easy to get small bags for the sweets that looked cute from the Daiso.
I made little photo props of our faces, which proved progressively more popular as people drank more.
Here is H and I with the engagement ring hula hoop photo prop I made. My friends spent a lot of time dancing with it. I covered a hula hoop in gold foil wrapping paper and made a diamond shaped himmeli using drinking straws covered in holographic tape and string to hold the himmeli together. I used the video here to get the shape right. The diamond was attached to the hoop using 4 cable ties, which were then covered in duct tape to make sure nobody got scratched and they didn’t slip around. I wrapped the gold foil wrapping paper over the top and it looked fairly seamless. It managed to stand up to a lot of drunken hula hooping in the end!
People seemed to really enjoy the homemade touches, and the decor was the only thing we spent money on, as we wore clothes we already had and everything else was free. Because of H’s anxiety I wanted to ensure setup and takedown was easy, in the end the two of us spent less than 15m getting set up and it took me under 10m to clear up at the end of the evening.
Cost breakdown for the decor:
- Coloured paper for paper chains, Yuzawaya, about 200 yen
- Gold paper for banner, paper chains and favours signs, Daiso, 324 yen
- Miniature easel, Daiso, 216 yen
- Hula hoop, Yodobashi Camera, about 800 yen
- Holographic tape, Daiso, 108 yen
- 20 Happy Engagement balloons, Amazon Japan 330 yen
- Heart balloons, Seria, 108 yen
- 10 Balloon sticks and cups, Don Quixote, about 400 yen
- Dinosaur toys, paint and decorations, mostly Daiso, about 600 yen
- Foil wrapping paper leftover Christmas
- Haribo ring sweets, £10 including shipping on eBay, sure these were overpriced, but they were the only thing I splurged on, and that’s because I wanted them and had to get them in a hurry, this works out as 50 yen per guest
- Marshmallow hearts, Daiso 216 yen
- 24 Ring pops, Amazon Japan about 800 yen
- Sweet wrapping bags, Daiso 324 yen
- Posterboard for collage and photo face props, Daiso 540 yen
- Print outs of the photo collage and face pictures, 7-11 copy machine, 700 yen
- Card for photo face prop handles, Daiso, 108 yen
Total: around 7000 yen for decor, which was the only party cost we had. That’s about $50US at the current exchange rate.
Throwing this party helped me realise that it’s the people, not the decor or styling that make the memories, that I am very loved and blessed to have such wonderful friends, that H can enjoy a party, despite his social anxiety and that I need fewer people around me than I thought to make a wedding event feel really special. It was worth having the party, because it was really insightful in terms of what we can practically DIY, what is important (good music, good friends), that I want decor to be interactive and fun, otherwise it doesn’t seem worth the bother to me. I realised I can make cute things, that people enjoy cheaply and that I don’t need as much decor as I thought (can you tell I’m a bit decor obsessed?), this was a very valuable lesson.
I honestly can’t think of a party I’ve ever enjoyed more, I’m only sad I was sick and that meant I was totally exhausted by the end of it.