So, little sister is getting married! And because she loves me the most-est, I’ve been appointed boss bish in charge, AKA the maid of honor.
Now, I’ve been in my share of weddings I also happen to know this is the one role in the wedding party with thee MOST responsibility. MOHs plan damn near thing from dress coordination to the bachelorette party— and when it comes to nitty gritty details, I am the worst. I loooove to host events, but I despise the tactical orchestration.
Thank goodness I have my cousin (who I’ve dubbed the Wedding Party CEO) to help work her organizational magic behind the scenes.
So, for our first magic trick, we had to put together the happy couple’s engagement party, with a little more than a month to plan it, and under a modest budget. So, the first 2 weeks, I was basically in panic mode— like, ‘OMG, I’m surely gonna f*ck this up and my sister is gonna be so disappointed (and pissed).’
And, then I got the bright idea to just pipe down and do what I’m good at and known for— a damn good happy hour! I am the happy hour queen. I LIVE for happy hour. So, all I had to do was look at this event as an opportunity to bring folks (ours and his) together for a few drinks in someplace low-key special with a beautiful ambiance.
And that’s when the vision started coming together…
So, if you have an event that you want to put together with a happy hour type of vibe that will make the guest(s) of honor feel super-special and loved, keep reading!
1. Think of the last time you went to a decent, poppin’ happy hour some place cute with dope decor and ambiance. Can you come up with 3 options? Write those down.
2. Figure out when/if those places are open before their typical happy hour starts (or gets busy). This is very important, because you don’t want to bring a large group to an over crowded bar where no one can get a drink, sit or chat. (Or maybe you do, but later, towards the end of your planned event once everyone is good and sauced and ready to dance—Idk). Either way, timing is everything.
3. If you can, visit your targeted bar, lounge, restaurant bar, or hotel lobby bar <—(excellent choice) around the time that you would want to have your shindig.
4. When you get there, ask the host/hostess when is the best time to come with a group. In my case, I fabricated a bit and said the fiancé wanted to pop the question and was looking for a way to do it low-key, but with friends and family around. I also mentioned that he was thinking of doing a champagne toast, and would the bar be able to accommodate something like that for about 20 people? *Notice these are all hypothetical, maybe/possibly scenarios that I was fishing with. Because for some reason, as soon a you mention wedding, people start to hear their register cha-ching and think they’re about to cash out at your expense.
In our case, I knew that the venue I had my eye on doesn’t do parties for large groups so, there wouldn’t be a need for reservations or deposits. We could basically show up and take it over (which we did).
5. Be sure to get the bar manager or catering manager’s name/card, as they will most likely be your point of contact to coordinate details like corkage fees, bringing cupcakes, etc. (they say it’s not a party without cake—but hey, it’s your thang! Do you).
6. After you’ve scouted locations you need to think things through based on what you observed and the strategic questions you asked when you visited. Like: Can the space accommodate the number of people you anticipate will show up (keep in mind roughly 15-30% will likely be a no-show), is it appropriate for children (as we had), how’s parking, will the elders be present, and if so, how you can secure seating for them, (if no one else)? Once you’ve done a little homework, you should be able to narrow down your location decision.
7. For me, the next step was to get the invites out as quickly as possible. We were at the 2 weeks until the showtime mark and I wanted to make things look official and classy. So, I threw up a mobile-friendly invite page using the online software, SplashThat. This is primarily a marketing tool, but it had all the bells and whistles I needed— mobile responsive (meaning, it looked good on the phone), it allowed me to collect info from RSVPs, and it looked beautiful. (It definitely helped that at my encouragement, my sister connected with a great photographer and had their engagement photos taken on the fly.) Also, by doing this step digitally, I didn’t have to worry about snail mail and it made it easy to share the link around to whomever they wanted to invite.
*Side note: The only “hiccup” I ran into 2 days prior was that the catering manage had not called me back to give me the deets on coordinating the champagne toast. But, that really wasn’t a biggie to me, since I knew that no bartender in their right mind would be unwilling to uncork a few bottles of bubbly to boost their sales (and tip quota) the day of. We weren’t expecting white glove service or anything. We just wanted enough to go around for each guest to participate in the toast. This was literally the ONLY party expense. And I know for a fact, bottle service was less that $400 for 25-26 people. And this was a VERY nice bar with a range of champagne options to choose from.
8. The day of the event, make sure that you and maybe a few close friends/co-host arrive early before any of your guests to scope out and secure prime seating. I nabbed the first table in the center of the bar as soon as I arrived (one of the reasons I chose this location is because I knew seating was 1st come, 1st serve). The groom’s family arrived right after me and grabbed the high top next to mines. As the guests filtered in, within an hour, we had all 4 of the center tables sewn up, plus seating off to the side for the kids. Most of our guests were milling about back and forth to the cash bar. Some ordered food, some were on the deck overlooking the bay, some were sitting at the bar next to our tables— everyone was within eye range, and all seemed to be having a good time. Not one person complained about service, food or drinks (which is a very good sign).
9. Take plenty of pics (and video clips). As the hostess, I tried to make sure I got a photo of everyone in attendance so I could use the photos as a keepsake for my sister and her fiancé. I ended up making a video, and will likely reuse the pics for a printed album when it’s all over.
10. Raise a glass to yourself, you did it! You pulled off a very litty engagement party happy hour!
That’s it! Tell me what you think of these tips in the comments or on social.
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