Monday, September 10, 2012

The Groom's Side.....Part III, The Engagement Party

The Guests of Honor
As we continue on this path to the big day, we (meaning the bride’s family and ours) are trying hard to observe all of the “engagement traditions” while still keeping things casual. As I have done in the past, before we even started the planning of the engagement party, I did my research. This time, I thought I would start with foremost wedding, lifestyle, craft and cooking expert, Martha Stewart. I knew that she would certainly know what the groom’s parents place was in this particular facet of pre-wedding activities. Okay Martha, you’re on:

“While traditionally the engagement party is hosted by the bride's parents, in these untraditional times it often turns out that friends of the bride and groom, or other relatives, want to host an engagement party as well. In that case, you may opt to have two or more parties: one for relatives and family friends, for instance, and another for your own friends. All the same, a good rule of thumb is to let the bride's parents have the opportunity to be the first to celebrate the engagement; even if a veritable stream of parties follows, theirs should be first.”

Umm….in Martha’s scenario, is the groom’s family the “other relatives”? Okay, I’ve now decided to no longer research the internet for information on this subject and to just go with the flow. Besides, my ever-conscience future daughter-in-law, Kathleen, invited me to join her, and her mother, Jean, in a pre-engagement party planning session. Over pizza and wine, we divided up the menu. Jean offered to have it in her lovely landscaped backyard which comes complete with a babbling brook. It worked for me. Since it is going to be a beach wedding, we deemed the party and the food to be casual fare.

Now, I always thought the real goal of the engagement party was to have both families get to know each other a little better. To gather in a relatively small, informal setting, before the wedding comes and they are all dressed up and doing the chicken dance. And, as Martha suggests above, there may be other parties that we are not included in….and that’s okay. This party is the one I felt was important. Since one of my menu items to bring were meatballs and sausage, I got up early to pick tomatoes from the garden and blow everyone away with real homemade sauce.

The recipe really belongs to Italian chef and cookbook author, Lydia Bastianache, and its hardcore homemade but so worth the effort. Not far from us, is Del Buono’s Italian Bread Factory where you actually grab a bag and catch the rolls as they drop off the conveyer belt, hot. It’s always crowded, and a definite place to avoid around the holidays. Anyway, I put my husband on “roll” duty as I did my thing in the kitchen. Being of Italian decent, it is my nature to believe that there is never going to be enough food. So along with several pounds of meatballs and sausage, I cooked up two spiral-cut hams. You just never know…….

Every bit edible....every bite delicious!!
On the other side of the river in Pennsylvania, Jean was busy cooking a wonderful pasta and chicken dish along with the most amazingly beautiful cake. Kat was chopping and dicing for appetizers and salads. I guess you could say that the three of us were cooking up a storm…literally. By the time the party was to start, there were tornado warnings with severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and hail in the offering. The skies looked ominous. Gone was the pleasant evening sipping wine under tall trees with a running stream behind us.  Now we were just hoping to keep power on for the lights, air conditioning and stove, and praying for save travels for all our invited guests.

I told my husband on the way over that as a co-host, I was going to try hard to mingle and not let the different factions of people segregate into their own areas. But as is typical of human nature, as soon as introductions were made, the younger bridal party gathered on an enclosed back porch, the bride’s family congregated in the kitchen, and my family and friends took to the living room where my sisters were discussing my need to wear false eyelashes to the wedding, and my friends were discussing 50 Shades of Grey. Both topics of conversations that, I am sure, were not taking place in the kitchen….or on the porch. Maybe some things are best left the way they are.

Well wishes from family and friends!
In any event, if the true goal of the engagement party is to celebrate the approaching union of this great couple,  it was a huge success. As the soon to be bride and groom mingled among their own friends and families, I would catch them get a glimpse of each other through the crowd and smile. The love in their eyes gave me comfort. Both sets of their parents have combined marriages of over 70 years, so the ground work has been laid. Compromise and humor will get them through most everything.......and the four of  us will always be there for anything else!

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