Engagement Party| Surprising the Clarks

Some of my best friends got engaged, WHOOP! Now for the task of throwing a surprise engagement party to make sure the people closes to her can be the first to say congratulations.

The Story

Here is a little back story so you can follow along. Allison and Garrett got engaged in Winter Park, Colorado with his family on their annual ski trip. They both look forward to this trip every year, and Garrett knew he wanted to propose somewhere memorable. Before they left for the trip, I talked with Garrett about working with Allison’s mom to have her family in town for a surprise engagement party. He suggested cheap pizzas, kentucky deluxe, and hanging out under that lights in our backyard.

My favorite part about this engagement party, besides the looks on their faces, was hearing all the little details that actually went into getting everyone to that moment. The weekend before the trip, Allison’s best friend asked to go get her nails done. This wasn’t suspicious. Honestly! Jessica had been getting her nails done semi regularly for the past few months and on occasion Allison would join for a girls trip. At the engagement party, we all found out that Jessica had only been getting into manicures the past few months to make sure that when the time came, getting Allison to the salon wouldn’t be suspicious. To make this EVEN better, the day before Jessica found out the coming plans and invited Allison to get her nails done, she painted her nails at home. Jessica spent all day at work ruining her nails and chipping off the fresh polish to make sure she really sold the story to Allison. That is true friendship right there!!!

The Party Plans

The party was great and I could go on and on with stories, but you had to be there. Leading up to the event, I had a hard time finding backyard engagement party inspiration… that’s actually why I am making this post! I want to talk transparently about costs and planning. My original goal was to stick to a $100 budget. If I followed Garrett’s pizza plan I DEFINITELY could have, but I wanted to really make this nice. I started with thinking of the necessities: who could come, food, and decorations.

The Guest List

As soon as I had the go ahead from Garrett I messaged Allison’s Mom. Allison’s relationship with her mom is fantastic and honestly, if it has Wendy’s stamp of approval, then Allison will love it. Wendy coordinated the family party and was able to get one of Allison’s granfparents to come.


I know Garrett loves pizza, but I wanted this to be a little classier. My boyfriend and I have really been into making burgers lately, and I know Garrett and Allison both can’t turn down a good burger. Allison had also been really enjoying fresh salads lately, so I knew that was a must. In honor of keeping with the casual elegance food, I decided potato salad would help tie everything together. Since I wanted nice, fresh food, all of the money went quick… To save some money I ended up making the potato salad from scratch. It was a HIT!
In total, I spent $60 on the food. I later learned I made 4x too much salad, but everyone was well fed, so no complaints!


I give all the credit to Wendy on this one! I had a vision before hand, but the day of I was stuck cooking. Wendy showed up with a team of girls and all sorts of decor from her house… I am so so grateful for her creative eye! We did spend a little money renting some foldable chairs from Premiere Events (about $2 per chair) and Wendy purchased some flowers from HEB. One of Allison’s favorite colors is yellow/mustard, so Wendy brought over some antique depression glass that has been in the family. I love when items with family history are used at events.

My Choices

I wanted to make a specialty cocktail for Allison and Garrett. I’ve seen this done at lots of weddings and is something I LOVE. I knew Garrett would have a bloody mary. For Allison, I new she was a fan of Rum Chatta, so that’s where I started with my brain storming. I decided she needed a drink that was light, fun, and refreshing. It was a crowd favorite! The day before I was photographing a wedding and could not run party errands, so my boyfriend was tasked with purchasing the alcohol. He did not realize I was trying to stick to the budget and spent $60+ on the booze… It’s okay! Anything extra was our gift to the couple.

I also really wanted to give them some sort of a keepsake. I printed out one of my favorite photos (and Garrett’s) from the proposal and got a thick matted frame from Walmart. I asked everyone to sign the border and gave it to them to take home at the end of the night.

Final Thoughts & Photos

We definitely went over budget, but not by anything crazy. We kept them in mind the entire time and it turned out great! I love these two so much and cannot wait to get to help with all sorts of wedding plans!!! #loveyouwithallmyclark

Reaction to the drinks
A girl, her ring, and her shiner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *