With all due respect to any number of truly epic ragers during your collegiate years, your wedding is bound to be the single biggest party of your life. It would take that title on its own, however, there’s a series of smaller celebrations that book end the big day that make it, well, that much bigger. All of these celebrations have one very important thing in common: they all require food and drinks. Though the guest lists will vary, you, the groom, will be the main man at all of these affairs (as well as your fiance, except for one). Bet you weren’t expecting to be partying so hard and so thoroughly. That’s why we’ve outlined every major moment where you’re going to be on the hook to feed folks and keep them well lubricated.
For some, food and drink would be the last thing on their minds when it comes to the proposal. But after bending the knee, you’re going to want to celebrate. Now, if you’ve proposed at a restaurant, you’ve pretty much got everything taken care of (just order up the dessert). There’s also the picnic proposal, which entails packing food in addition to the ring. If those aren’t your preferred method of popping the question, you’re still going to want to plan to pop some bottles and at least have a snack. And if family and friends are a part of the proposal, you’re most definitely going to have to feed them. Remember, you can’t cheers without at least two beers.
The Engagement Party
While the engagement party certainly isn’t a mandatory moment on the wedding timeline, it is an opportunity to celebrate the newness of your momentous decision. It’s also a chance to show off that rock on her finger that sealed the deal. You’re going to be deluged with an unfathomable amount of questions about the wedding, a strong majority of which you will have no answer for (hence the need for drinks). You’ve got a lot of flexibility here in terms of the guest list and what to serve. This can be cocktails and small bites, a buffet bonanza, or a straight up sit-down, restaurant affair. Hell, if the weather’s right, this is the perfect chance for a backyard BBQ.
The Bachelor Party
This is the one celebration where you don’t have to plan anything and you only have to open your wallet to show your ID to the large man (most likely with a shaved head) letting you into the gentleman’s club. Bachelor parties tend to focus strongly on the liquid side of the festivities (your liver is going to get drenched) but there’s going to be one big meal you can bank on. The bachelor party dinner might be the most important (and easiest) event for your crew to plan. Other than sitting at a large table with actual cloth napkins wolfing down copious amounts of BBQ or other grilled meats, make sure not to miss your meals. Remember, you need fuel in order to consume all that booze.
The Rehearsal Dinner
So at this point, you’ve gone a while (a few weeks) without a celebratory event. Well, consider the rehearsal dinner the JV game that leads up to the big one (the reception). Heads-up, traditionally the groom (or the groom’s family) foot the bill for the dinner. Lucky for you the guest list is often limited to close family, the bridal party, and sometimes guests who have travelled great distances (this all changes for a destination wedding). You’ve got options when it comes to the food and drink, from a classic sit-down meal to lighter dishes, buffet, or handheld fare. This celebration is all about the speeches and toasts, and there’s a good chance that a lot of people will want to talk, hopefully without their mouths full.
The Wedding Reception
This is the big one. From logistics to cost, you’ve spent months and possibly many paychecks on making this the most welcoming, fun, and downright delicious celebration that your two brains and hearts could possibly pull off. That’s a lot of pressure, especially since it’s going to fly by so damn fast. You and your bride are probably going to miss the cocktail hour while your guests mingle and imbibe. Having an open bar is going to be a major decision here. Also, you’ll be lucky if you clear half of your dinner plate or finish an entire drink during the reception because you’ll be pulled in so many directions from the dance floor to the smothering embrace of Aunt Carroll. At least you’ll get a few bites of cake in, because there’s a whole moment just for that. You’ve got a ton to think about here but we’ll help you break it down in the most manageable (and tasty) bites.
The Wedding After Party
Since you’ve spent months planning the reception and only a few hours actually enjoying it, you’re totally entitled to keep the party going. That’s why after parties were invented. This is where the guest list gets winnowed down to those still looking to rage and where you might even be able to loosen up with a wardrobe change. The after party is meant to be a super casual affair (think local bar with a back room) with some fun, simple, and most likely greasy food. Chances are, everyone will be paying for themselves and of course the bride and groom will be well taken care of by their guests. Just remember, you probably have something going on in the morning so sleeping until noon is most likely not on the menu.
The Day After Wedding Brunch
Think of this as the after after party…or not. The biggest day of your life just happened and you’re probably operating on limited sack time. But you’ve still got family and guests in town and they’re going to want to see you one last time before they hit the road. Brunch hits that sweet spot of not too early but still basically serving everything you could have eaten during breakfast with the welcomed addition of some boozy beverages (Have a bloody, buddy). This is where staying in a hotel that offers a buffet brunch really helps. All anyone has to do is make it to the ground floor and your well wishers can come and go as they please.