Countdown to 10!: The Engagement Dinner

This year marks the 10th anniversary of my wedding to W. As part of the celebration, I will be documenting our relationship from the proposal up to the wedding, and each year up to our 10th anniversary.

December 2007…T – 1 year to the big day!

Our families had never been in the same room at the same time, and after our six year relationship it was about time they did. If it all went well, everyone involved would meet, make friends or at least form temporary alliances to help us reach wedding zen. It’s a guessing game, akin to coming up with table seating charts, so we didn’t want to risk sticking them all together in a room for the first time during our nuptials. Weddings have weird effects on people, not all positive, and it wasn’t too much of a stretch to prevent rather than lament later. These were the people who would have to figure out how to share or spend holidays and vacations together for the sake of the grandkids. Time would tell on this one.

We reserved his family’s favorite restaurant called El Saboreo, back when it was up top a nice ridgeline in the center of Puerto Rico. The proximity of the restaurant to the east coast allowed his grandparents, then 93 and 83 years old, to make the short trek from Maunabo, to join in on the fun. With my grandparents in tow, my mom, sister, cousins, plus ones, aunts, uncles and guests of honor made their way to the location expecting to have a good time. My clan of 20+ outnumbered his family almost 3:1 but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. My peeps are cool introverted cucumbers that knew how to play the in-law game well. It didn’t hurt that gave both families incentives to participate and packed the place with activities to help them break the ice.

Xmas spirit still in full swing because the island has one of the longest holidays seasons on the planet – Nov 19 to Feb 1, which includes two gift giving days – so we set to party hardy. Great autochthonous meals were served with wine and beverages aplenty. The room had enough space to dance and host an improvised dominada. The owners and chef, good friends of W’s parents, went all out for us, including giving us the best private room they had with a view! It was a very cozy spot that was comfortable and secluded. They could all bond without the oohhhs and ahhhhs of a peanut gallery. That’s how we roll. Intimate yet lively, the atmosphere was of excitement and fun, with no hint of apprehension or dislike. You’d be amazed at how much you get to share and learn when there is no wedding schedule rush nor pressure.

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After we presented the bridesmaids – all family members – and the padrinos (Maid of Honor and Best Man) we settled down to eat the main course. In the middle of the meal I heard a gasp on my side of the room, and saw my father in law, a cardiologist, run to my grandpa’s table. He was turning blue and had slowly sunk his chair. I raced to his side in time to hear this exchange:

W’s grandpa: “What happened to my buddy over there?”
My grandma, halfway through her plate, shrugged and replied: “He probably didn’t chew his steak well enough”.

I almost keeled over laughing. Married 53 years, she had seen him survive worse and was not worried at all! After 5 minutes of pulse readings and observation, my grandpa regained his color and kept going like nothing had ever happened. The air ambulance would not need to be summoned after all. Phew!

Gotta give it to grandpa to keep us on our toes. Between his love affair with ladders and power tools, you couldn’t blame us for overreacting. My mom promised she’d keep an eye on him and would let me know if the situation turned dire. Even with that big hiccup, I can’t complain about how the day turned out. The dinner itself was one of the best four course meals I have ever had in my life! At $35 a pop it had been pricey but completely worth it. As we said our goodbyes my future father in law took care of the tip and told us he was impressed with how everything worked out in spite of my grandfather’s health snafu. I promised I’d keep him posted about his condition, and for a while he seemed to be a-okay. There was no guarantee he’d get better or worse, so we moved on and continued to hope this wasn’t a sign of worst things to come.

The last stretch before the wedding should be an easy one. Now, if we could only get the vendors and decor we needed, it would all go downhill from there…

Up next: The Wedding Planning Trilogy’s conclusion, Year Three.

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