You're engaged! Congratulations! If you're anything like my in-person clients, you are diving head first into a brand new world of planning and decision making. This can be fun...but sometimes stressful! As a wedding day stylist that often works with brides from the minute they say 'yes', I'm privileged to get to participate in these happy moments. Today, I'm here to talk about the typical first big event for a bride-to-be. You guessed it...the engagement party!
The engagement party took a backseat over the past year and a half as we navigated quarantines and health concerns, but from what I can see so far, it is back and better than ever in 2022. This is often the first time the couple has the opportunity to celebrate their love and engagement with friends and family and its a fantastic time for the bride to set the tone for all of the events moving forward. It can be a microcosm of the actual wedding from the venue you choose, the clothing you wear, and the people you invite.
While the guest list is all you, I am here to help with all things fashion and styling! Let's get started.
Choosing Your Outfit
Your first style decision for the event will be to choose what you will wear. You'll want to take into consideration all of the obvious factors such as location and weather, and then move on to the vibe. As the star of the show you'll be the one setting the tone for every event! Whether you love the spotlight or hate it, all eyes will be on you. Do you want the feeling to be casual? Swanky? Getting your outfit decided on well ahead of time will allow you make any adjustments you need and will also help when your friends call to ask 'what are you wearing??'.
From a stylist's perspective, you first and foremost want to feel confident and comfortable in what you choose. Choose a silhouette that you know flatters your body type. Don't go super short if you will be sitting often during the party. Purchase the correct size outfit, not the size you hope to be on the party day. Make sure the material is comfortable and works with the temperature or have layering options.
Many brides choose to wear white to their engagement party. I love that! You are the bride-to-be after all! If you want to wear a white dress, but white isn’t 'in season' in the stores, consider searching designer outlets, resale stores, or even call your favorite local boutiques to see if they have any off-season dresses or back stock that they’re willing to sell you. If you are looking to add a pop of color you may want to consider colors that go along with your wedding palette. Not to say you should match your invitations, but carrying a consistent color theme through your events makes your overall photography incredibly posh and beautiful.
Once you have your dress or outfit chosen, try it on a few weeks before the party (or as far in advance as you can) with all of your undergarments. Do you need a new bra? Nipple covers? A quick trip to the tailor? A good tailor can make all of the difference in how your clothing fits on your body and it's a great relationship to start building early on. Then try it on again (with no makeup on, or use a garment shield!) right before the big night. You don't necessarily need to buy a new bra if the fit isn't quite right with one you already own. Bra converter clips are magical for hiding straps and double stick tape can keep bra straps where they belong.
Do the daylight test for sheer fabrics. Have someone take a picture of you in your outfit outside (well in advance) if you're having a daytime party or with a camera flash if you are inside. It's important to make sure your look isn't see-through. Stand up, sit down, move around! Make sure the outfit works for you.
The next thing to consider is your footwear. Will you be standing all night? Are you partying on a beach or in soft grass? Take this into consideration before you commit to a certain type of shoe. Once you've decided on a shoe, break them in well ahead of time on a similar surface to your engagement party venue. If you think you'll need a non-slip grip on the bottom of your shoes, have your local cobbler handle that for you! On a budget? Take your favorite heels to your local cobbler or shoe repair store to see if they can clean them up or resole them for you. Your shoes can look new with a little love from a pro and it’ll be a fraction of what you’d spend on a new pair. Bonus: they are already broken in!
The final piece of the fashion puzzle is the bag. Carry a clutch big enough to fit your essentials. There's nothing worse than not being able to tote your touch-up lip color, your phone (let everyone else do the paparazzi work), and travel size necessities.
Once the event is going, my job as a stylist switches from preparation to perfection. With my bridal clients I am on hand at all times to make sure they are comfortable, photography-ready, and available to fix any fashion disasters that arise. There are a few standard industry tricks that I like to prep my brides with ahead of time that can really make a difference.
1. Sunglasses. If it's a daytime event there's a good chance you will have your sunnies on hand to keep squinting at a minimum. Have a good friend hold them for every photo and move to the shade.
2. Give yourself some shape. Especially if your outfit is loose, you want to put a hand on your hip and pull extra fabric gently back. Pop a knee forward, and shift to one side or the other. This will give your body dimension and movement in the clothes you are wearing.
3. Prep your clothing. Take a moment after the first half hour or so and reassess your wardrobe. Do you need to lint roll? Get rid of wrinkles? Spray away static? Do you have any stains or slipping straps? As a stylist I keep a full kit of styling tools nearby to address any mid-party issues.
Last but certainly not least....clean your ring! The engagement ring is the final and most important part of your engagement party outfit! A toothbrush and some warm soapy water (gentle soap ladies!) is an inexpensive way to get an epic sparkle. When the night is over set your outfit aside to be dry cleaned and stored. I also recommend having a great manicure to accompany the ring since you'll be showing it off!
Working with a wedding day stylist from the beginning of your wedding journey can save you time, money, and so much stress. A stylist will help you dress you for your body type, scour sales, perfect your photos, and coordinate your entire wedding party's look! Not to mention they are experienced professionals who know how to solve fashion emergencies when they arise. If you're going the extra mile and getting your hair and makeup done for the occasion, they can also help by connecting you to the right people that you can build a relationship with for the big day. This is a great way to 'trial' your hair and makeup, and makes the look picture perfect to boot.
Understandably however, not every bride has the budget to hire people for the entire process or even for the day of. In order to help brides everywhere I have created a consumer version of my professional styling kit which contains all of my tried and true, go-to styling tools. These are the items that I use at every single wedding event. If you'd like check them out just click here!
Whether you hire a stylist, purchase The Bride Kit, or just take the advice listed in this article, you are well on your way to a low stress, high style engagement party.
photography: marisa belle photography