Class Reunions 2
To bring spouses … or not
When planning a 20-year high school reunion, we are considering whether to go with spouses or no spouses, do you have an opinion on this?
That's a great question and one that changes as reunions get older: 10th year you want to show off your spouse, by the 60th you're joined at the hip so for the 10th and 60th spouses are essential. But 20-year, who knows? Perhaps it’s more fun going solo, which is often fine with the spouse-who doesn't want to go anyway.
My own reunion and my sister's a couple years later have been having Friday night gatherings that are for classmates. Some spouses who are really close to class members come along. But spouses who know no one in the class should be spared one uncomfortable party.
I think the question can be answered from the point of view of the classmate, who is eager to see former friends, and the spouse, who knows no one and does not look forward to being ill at ease. The classmate is either reconnecting with old friends or duty bound to hang on to and introduce the spouse over and over again. Spouses not related to the class are all in the same uncomfortable position. They can form a cadre of uncomfortable others so if one of them is a cheerleader, they can soon bond, if only for a couple of hours … every 10 years. They may, as often happens at military reunions, form their own group who look forward to seeing one another at the next reunion.
Note: these are only opinions: there are no rules!
We also asked expert members of the National Association of Reunion Managers (NARM) what their experience is.
Many people have different feelings about bringing a guest or spouse to their reunion, wrote Joyce Capolino of The Best Reunions in Tequesta, Florida. To make everyone happy, we always invite all alumni with a guest and it is their decision if they would like to bring a guest or spouse. Some alumni will not attend without their spouse; many people do not like to travel or attend functions alone. We let it be the individual’s decision and the more the merrier.
Typically, whether a reunion event is “Classmates Only” or not is specified on the invitation. The popular way to hold a reunion is to have a Friday evening classmates-only event, and a Saturday event with spouse/significant others, and then sometimes a family picnic on Sunday, wrote NARM’s Administrative Assistant, Renee Mead, Renton, Washington.
Byron Davidson of 1st Class Reunions, Loganville, Georgia, said his experience has been that if a class is close and has had reunions, spouses have formed at least a casual relationship with other alumni and spouses. So by all means invite spouses but have some activity or recognition involving them. For example, use the DJ to get the spouses dancing together, then possibly line dances (Electric Slide, etc.), as long as there is something for them to do. Also, there’s a practical aspect to having spouses there. Alumni may “party to excess,” so when it comes to leaving, the spouse is a designated driver.
Gayle Rapoport, Reunion Organizers of Minnesota, Minneapolis, agreed that some people may choose not to bring their spouse or significant other, but there are those who do not go anywhere alone.
Carolyn Moore of the late Reunion Planners of Texas, asked whether our reader/questioner is trying to increase the divorce rate for their class. “Without spouses, you will lose about half the class attendance.”
T. Stevens, Reunions to Remember in Manhasset, New York, says to definitely include spouses, as long as they are willing to come! While Greg Hollander, Class Encounters, Sacramento, California, suggests that, on average, about 50% of classmates bring their spouse or a guest to their reunion.
Help! I’m Master of Ceremonies!
Dorothy Huddleston, Ellinwood, Kansas, wrote looking for humorous material for a Master of Ceremonies and material pertinent “to us oldsters” for a 60th high school reunion.
Have you gone back to a history book? Chronicle of the 20th Century is a good one and there are lots of websites, too. It gives you lots to talk about life back then: prices, styles, world and national events.
These additional thoughts don’t have a lot of humor though I suspect with a little work they could:
Read what the yearbook said about classmates and then document what really happened. If you can get a bunch of yearbooks, read what classmates wrote to each other. How many promises were made? kept? broken?
Distribute a questionnaire before the reunion, tabulate information about your classmates and make a report at your reunion. In other words, find your class’s footprint in time. I’ll guess it’s pretty impressive. How many went into the military? How many went to college? How many children did you all produce? grandchildren? great-grands? What occupations did you pursue? How far did you move away? How many stayed close by?
At the reunion, pose a provocative question and ask everyone to answer: What is the funniest thing you remember about high school? Or, how did life turn out for you?
Talk about how your town has changed since you graduated from high school or how the world has changed. Have someone read one of those impressive lists of things invented/discovered/developed since you graduated from high school.
Editor’s note: What material do you have or have you used that might help Ms. Huddleston? Email the editor or send to Reunions magazine, PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211.