Engaged in Quarantine Part 1: We hosted our engagement party over Zoom — here’s how it went down.
In Jewish tradition, newly engaged couples host something called a ‘Le’chayim’ soon after their engagement where friends can gather at a home, the park, or maybe even a bar (depending on your style), to celebrate. It’s not exactly an engagement party, but to be honest, it’s essentially the same thing. So in these quarantine times (a phrase we’ve all likely grown tired of), like all other events happening in April so far, it seemed only right to make an attempt to host our Le’chayim on Zoom.
The day of our engagement was simultaneously incredible and exhausting. After coming home from a lovely picnic engagement we called countless family members and friends, ate the Domino’s Cheesy Bread delivered to our house, watched mediocre TV (shout out to Community for getting us through the first few weeks of quarantine) and passed out hard.
Two days later, after we’d had a chance to breathe a bit but were still very much caught up in the buzzing excitement, we sent out the invitation to our Zoom party to somewhere around 200 of “our closest family and friends.” Who knew we had that many friends? We were fully aware of the possibility that it would be a total disaster, but as a professional community builder I (Yuval) was excited by the challenge. We figured in these unprecedented times (another phrase you’re undoubtedly sick of), it was worth a shot.
Here’s how we made it happen:
- We set three time slots:one slot for Zach’s family, one for my family and one for all of our friends. This allowed us to ‘socially distance’ our respective families and our friends, making the group dynamics a bit more organic. It also evened out the number of people coming in and out throughout the evening, ensuring there were never too many people on the call at once. Most people followed their assigned time slot, and it was a nice way to segment the event into digestible morsels. Some people chose to stay for awhile, while others popped in and out quickly. The freedom and ease of using Zoom is kind of a beautiful thing. While this isn’t a paid promo by Zoom, we are more than happy to talk them up if it means we’ll get some assistance in live-streaming our virtual wedding down the line.
- We used an HDMI cord to make the flat screen TV in our living computer monitor. This way, we saw our guests on the big screen, and they could see us sitting on the couch (donning our onesies of course #meundies).
- We also made great use of the microphone I use for podcasting, which allowed for much better sound quality. This was a must, as poor audio quality with a crowded Zoom party would’ve made things way more difficult. Aside from the moment when the cord (which was stretched out across the living room), clotheslined our 3 year old niece (#WWE), it worked out really well! Poor Dana though…
- Once we set up the mic, things started feeling very official. We felt like hosts of our own talk show. “I’m Yuval”, “And I’m Zach. Thanks for tuning into this special evening of programing!” An extra perk of a zoom engagement party — you can see the name of each person as they log on, so no more forgetting the name of that random cousin your parents invited. To make each guest feel welcome when they logged on, we introduced them with a fun story or question. This allowed people to get to know each other a bit better, and it also gave a bit of structure to the event. We tried to ask them each one or two questions, but we kept it short and not too personal so as to avoid boring everyone else. You can’t exactly slip away and find another person to exchange small talk with when you’re all in one Zoom meeting.
- Saving the most important point for last: Wine. We drank a lot of it. It made us a bit sillier, loosened us up, and helped us forget that these were, at the end of the day, extremely odd circumstances in which to host our celebration .
Bonus hot tip: We organized a second call the Sunday after this initial call to celebrate with our family and friends in Israel. By doing so, we avoided both the language barrier and any time zone issues.
When we think back on that evening, it brings a big smile to both of our faces without fail. Is it what we dreamed of? Absolutely not. Was it better than what we dreamed of? Potentially! It was different in a way that was extremely memorable. ‘Different but special’ and uniquely memorable’ are not vibes we’d be upset to carry through to all of the exciting things to come in the life we build together.
Now, the next big question is, how will we do the same with our wedding? We’ve decided to give ourselves two weeks of engagement bliss before we worry about that. Taking it day by day is the quarantine way.
Cheers for now,
P.S. If you attended, look for yourself in the screenshots below!