Lauren & Mitch’s Backyard Engagement Party

When Mark and I got engaged my best friend Lauren threw us a surprise engagement party. Naturally, when she got engaged I had to return the favor. To keep things simple, we decided to nix the surprise aspect for the most part.

I say most part because I wouldn’t let her see the backyard until party time. Lauren and Mitch are super laid-back, so for their party, we went low-key with just a few special touches. This engagement party shows you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a party feel special. We were able to use a lot of furniture/items we already had and put almost all the money toward food and alcohol (arguably the most important parts of a party.)

Before I start any party, I like to sketch out what I want the space to look like. I pin ideas that I like and then translate that into my vision. Then I see how I can utilize stuff I already have and make a game plan from there. Here’s an example of what I had for Lauren and Mitch’s party:


This is an overhead sketch of the backyard. I wanted to use as much of the space as possible, so we decided to stage the food off the deck so that most of the deck could be devoted to seating. In the bottom left-hand corner of the backyard is a fire pit. Since it was the middle of summer, instead of a fire, I placed a pallet over the pit to create an outdoor coffee table (as you can see below.)


We already had the pillows on hand from the front porch, I just moved them to the backyard. TIP: Don’t be afraid to repurpose items from other parts of your home — stage the space people will be using the most and no one will notice it missing elsewhere!


For food, I let Trader Joe’s do most of the work. They’re assorted macarons in the frozen section are an AWESOME fancy fuss-free dessert, and I’m a sucker for all their various dips and tapenades. Just pick up a baguette, toast and slice it, and serve it with a few dips and you’re good to go.

Between Lauren and I we already owned all the serve ware–but if you’re in the market for some definitely hit up local thrift stores and HomeGoods. You can find some great deals that won’t break the bank. TIP: I like to buy white and/or clear glass serve ware only. This way I can mix and match as I need without it looking clunky. Oh and that stand the macarons are on? It’s a bowl turned upside down with a plate on top!


For drinks, we made a yummy punch recipe that I’ll follow up with in another post. We also filled our yard wheelbarrow with ice for anyone who BYOB’d. The bags on the left side of the table are simple brown lunch bags with the tops cut off. I picked up a few different kinds of flavored popcorn from TJ’s and distributed them through the bags for a fun “pick-your-own” flavor set up.


Up on the deck, we moved our indoor bar cart outside and used it to display maps of the where the couple met, got engaged, and live, PLUS plates and napkins. To party things to invest in for the long run: a plain white table cloth (on the food table) and cloth napkins/towels. I purchased two dozen off of Amazon and have used them for so many parties–and it’s better for the environment!

Parties don’t have to be over-the-top affairs. With a few smart choices and letting Trader Joe’s handle the rest, I was able to host a pretty engagement party for my best friend. What do you think? I’d love to hear other ways people get creative with their parties! Let me know 🙂

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