My groomy and I thought it’d be fun to corral all our loved ones for an engagement bash.
I wanted the shindig to be fun and beautiful. The setting was critical: It had to be outdoors. I was aiming for a garden party feel, yet still wanted it to be casual enough so that guests would feel comfy lounging and eating/drinking themselves silly for the night.
We decided to throw the party at my mom’s, since she has a cozy backyard and she won’t charge us for using her space. Score! Plus, she liked the idea of having it at her house so she could take on a key piece of the grunt work – arranging the table/chair rentals. Those rental people are always so troublesome! I was grateful she took on that task.
I sniffed around party planning blogs, looking for clever ideas I could recreate and tweak. After weeks of list-making, lunch-hour shopping trips, after-work shopping trips, weekend shopping trips, menu research, and remedial arts and crafts projects, here’s what we ended up with…
This party was a kick-ass trial run for wedding planning. And, yep, the bash was everything we wanted it to be! I think our party peeps loved the food and libations, which is the most important part of a celebration, hands down.
Here’s what I learned: Hosting 40-plus human beings for dinner is wild! It’s so special and exciting to spend that time with them. But it’s a BIG task that probably requires a paid staff member who can tend to food and beverage needs throughout the party. My soon-to-be mama-in-law, Bette, and granny-in-law, Nannie, filled this role and worked their tails off during the whole event – restocking appetizers, setting us up for din-din. My mom and best friend helped a ton too, especially before the party and even after. So did our de facto family members: Donna, Tom and everyone else, we appreciated your help!
Thanks a million, pals and family, for all that you did. You helped make it a perfect night!
And don’t worry: For the wedding, we’re definitely not taking the DIY route. I’ve got wedding planners/caterers/bartenders on speed dial.
Usually I don’t get very personal on Wander Woman.
I prefer to keep you entertained with tales of food and fun that can take place anywhere – in your home or mine… or your local farm.
But as an online yapper (read: blogger), I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with y’all some very big news in my life…
Yes, my manfriend, Sammy, who up till now has remained anonymous, took me on a surprise vacation to Chicago and popped/sprung/shot the question.
It was romantic: He did it in a dreamy little restaurant late at night when nobody was around. It was private and candle-lit, and he dropped on one knee. It was how I always fantasized it would happen…
Except for the fact that we were in Chicago in the dead of winter.
Who goes to Chicago during a cataclysmic cold freeze – the kind that froze the dinosaurs?
My fiancé and I do, apparently.
Anyhoo, we wandered over to a piano bar the day after our surprise engagement. (Yep, it really was a shock – I thought he was gonna tell me he got a job somewhere terrible, like Hulbert, Oklahoma! A marriage proposal was way better!)
At the bar, we discovered a valuable social and financial tip: IF YOU TELL A BAR FULL OF STRANGERS THAT YOU’RE ENGAGED, EVERYONE WILL BUY YOU DRINKS!
After I held up my diamonded finger triumphantly, fellow diners and bar-goers sent us over champagne, wine, beer, shots, babies to bless – it was incredible!
And they all wanted to hear our love story!
The men high-fived my love and congratulated him for taking the plunge.
The revelers and piano man insisted that Sammy and I practice our first dance, so we did – to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” which, coincidentally, Sammy likes to karaoke. I don’t know if Sammy was amped to actually be dancing to a song he knew or to be marrying me, but he swayed me back and forth like he was Liza Minnelli on Broadway. It was funny.
These were our friends for the night who were really excited that we were getting hitched…
When we got back home, all of our loved ones flew off the handle when they heard the news.
My mama, who’s over the moon, immediately started brainstorming an engagement party, reception menu and baby names (gulp).
One sweet galpal started weeping and convulsing in extraterrestial joy. (Or maybe she’s epileptic and had just eaten an onion?)
Another buddy, who lives across the country, screamed so loud she blew out my eardrum.
Some of our amazing friends took us to celebratory dinners, where we were given complimentary desserts (chocolate messages = awesome).
And everyone keeps grabbing my left hand to inspect the ring, which is fun, because I’ve never minded being pawed at or groped unexpectedly. (That sounds weird.)
In all seriousness, I’m the luckiest lady in the world because I hit the jackpot. I’m marrying my longtime love, Sammy, a man who would sacrifice anything to stand up for principle.
…who likes what he likes, including his robot club and safari jacket, no matter what anyone thinks…
…who never gets nervous, but is never cocky or arrogant…
… who puts me in line without ever being mean-spirited…
… who’s still smokin’ hot to me, even after all these years…
… who loves the silly things about me that no one’s ever noticed…
… and who always talks me off the ledge… and puts me on a pedestal.
I’m so proud to be his future wife.