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Rachel Fine

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Crucial Lessons From The Engagement Party

Posted: 11/16/11 08:21 PM ET

After 4 months of engagement, we finally had our engagement party. Which, from a party-throwing perspective, is like a tiny practice run for the big day. I learned a few crucial and translatable lessons for the wedding itself and I'd be remiss if I didn't share these with my fellow brides-to-be.

Lesson 1: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I got inspired. Unfortunately it was about five days before the party. And I should clarify that when I'm inspired, regardless of obstacles, I will move heaven & earth to make it happen. I'm a big "don't-take-no-for-an-answer" type chick.

Oh, I should also clarify that sometimes my come-hell-or-high-water inspirations are completely terrible ideas that are really just unchecked impulses running on overdrive.

So when I saw the customizable candies who shant be named (but are currently melting on my shelf...not in my guests' hands...) I had to have them. I uploaded pictures of Richie and me and wrote a particularly clever "R&R" message on the back. All systems go.

When they arrived the next day looking like complete crap, I was devastated. The customer service rep calmly explained that the black background behind us in the picture is what caused us to look bald on the candy.

Yup. Read that right.

He was certain he could fix the order using better pictures and still get it to me before the party Saturday. I bought little boxes with ribbons so we could fill them with candy and send home with guests. So cute, right?!

Thursday came and went. FRIDAY CAME AND WENT. At this point, I'm officially panicked but delusionally optimistic that I could still stuff the boxes the next morning, pre-party. By Saturday noon, I was in full meltdown mode, simultaneously speaking to a Fed Ex supervisor on one phone and the candy company on another. I realized things might be getting slightly out of hand when I literally ran into the street to stop a delivery truck (sadly, not on my driver's route).

We had to leave for the party at 3pm. At 2:45 I officially threw in the towel. There were tears. There were hiccups. There was vodka.

In hindsight, I'm not even sure where the candy would have fit in. We totally didn't need it. I just get so caught up in executing the impossible dream -- almost from an ego perspective -- that it becomes really hard to adapt and let go. I can't imagine that every single detail is going to go perfectly on my wedding day and I don't want to spend that morning going through this kind of neurotic hell for something that's ultimately not that important.

The candy got here Monday. In a highly related note, that's the same day I got a full refund. So in a glass-half-full kind of way, at least I ended up with two 5-lb bags of chocolate. And we're only bald in half of them.

Lesson 2: LET'S USE NAMES!

"GUESS WHO THIS IS?!?" Richie says to me, his arms outstretched towards a mystery tattooed girl who'd just arrived at the party, big goofy grins on both their faces.

"Umm, oh my gosh!" I stammer, completely stalling. Names are running through my head at a fevered pace. Not even names really, summaries of people I'd heard mentioned but never met. That bartender that had a crush on him. The tattoo artist that did his sleeve. The chick his best friend was dating.

Seconds are ticking by like hours and I'm shooting Richie my best "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, HELP ME!" eyes. He utterly misses them and responds with a mortifying "YOU TOTALLY KNOW WHO THIS IS! GUESS!". They're both looking at me, eyebrows raised in anxious anticipation, frozen in an excited tableau. I'm starting to sweat.

"YOU!!!!" I try, but they're not buying it. I'm nearing full on fight-or-flight mode, and leaning heavily towards the sprinting option. Like a gift from the benevolent gods above, mystery girl's boyfriend swoops in and saves me with an outstretched hand and a proper introduction.

Rest assured, Richie is now crystal clear that when his Great Aunt's cousin approaches us at the wedding, he better damned well use her name.

Lesson 3: EAT SOMETHING!

I know there's a definitive line that separates "sexy/a little tipsy" from "drunk/completely stupid". And I pride myself on knowing scientifically where that line is. I have the advanced mathematical capabilities to calculate the precise number of sips per hour to keep me on the pretty side of that equation. I will concede, however, that there's one element that effs up my math and that is food. Because when F = zero, R = trashed.

When you make multiple trips to the bar for another glass of Bordeaux, you've got a running count of exactly where you are in this formula. Or at least a nagging deja vu that might alert you to impending disaster. But when you're holding your wine glass and magical fairies keep sneaking up behind you to refill it when you're not looking, you better hope you've got a solid food base to counteract the storm a-brewin'. Apparently I spent more time playing rousing games of "Guess Who?" with mystery guests than I did actually eating the delicious food I was so insistent on. Because before you could say "sloppy drunk", I was reliant (or so I've heard) entirely on sign language to communicate. And no, I don't know sign language. Even a little.

Lesson 4: STOP AND ENJOY

I feel like I almost missed my own party. It was such a whirlwind of craziness, I didn't take that second to stop and appreciate being surrounded by the people I love until it was almost over. You have to make yourself stop, take a breath, look around you and soak it all in. While you're still sober, I mean.

And that's...four to grow on,
Rachel