We met at 9:00 on the morning of the wedding. There were 50 guests, plus the two of us and the scavenger hunt guy. As the group started to gather, it felt like this was a natural continuation of the party the night before. Being the teacher that I am, I had people arrange themselves in two groups according to whether they were having lunch with us after the hunt or not (so I could get a final head count to let the restaurant know how many people were showing up) and then I read off the teams.
The scavenger hunt dude (I guess I can call him John, since that's his name!) had said that we could just show up and divide into teams that morning, but, um, that didn't really work for my virgo self. Any teacher knows that usually when you let kids choose their own groups, you're asking for disaster. So I had pored over the scavenger hunt RSVP list and created teams of people in advance, keeping in mind our ultimate goals of having fun and creating a feeling of community.
I mixed people from Will's family and people from my family, people from in town and people from out of town, and also tried to make sure that every kid had someone close to their age on their team. This was actually easier than it might sound, since we have a lot of friends with kids. I also created one team of families with younger kids, and asked John to give them a more direct route so they had a shot at finishing around the same time as everyone else. Will and I weren't on teams, so I made sure that our kids were on a team with people they knew well who would take good care of them. Gotta say, I'm glad I was a control freak about the teams, and I'm pretty sure that every team hit it off and bonded over the course of the morning!
Once everyone was standing with their teams, John explained how the hunt would work, and the teams scattered to find their first envelopes. These contained clues that led to the next envelope. The clues were a combination of riddle, code, and visual images, and each envelope had 4 copies of the clue -- this made things much easier, since there were 12-13 people per team.
Will and I walked around videotaping and hanging out with the teams as they followed clues around the whole downtown area of our city. This was totally perfect, because it gave us quiet time alone to talk while we were in between teams, and rowdy fun time with all of our friends as we watched them try to solve the clues.
Soooo fun! The weather was gorgeous: sunny but not scorchingly hot. Even though we pretended like it was...
There were nine clues in total. One of them led to the jewelry company that made our rings, and another led to the pub where we had our first date, and where we wrote our vows. The final clue brought everyone back to a spot near the restaurant we had chosen for lunch.
We picked this restaurant because the food is yummy, and they are totally set up to accomodate a large group, even when everyone is ordering off the menu with separate checks. It's super laid-back, and the party area has pool tables, so the kids were entertained while the grownups socialized. People kept moving from table to table, but the waitresses didn't get cranky even though they had trouble figuring out where to bring the food. This would have been a non-issue if we had paid for everyone's lunch...but then, there are lots of things that would be a non-issue if we could afford to buy lunch for 40 people!
A few of my Albuquerque relatives got into town too late to do the hunt, but they met us there and apparently hit it off with some of our friends and ended up spending the afternoon with them. (I only found this out when I saw photos they had taken of the weekend!)
The whole morning was exactly the way I had envisioned it when we first started talking about a wedding weekend. Was it worth the money? Hell, yes! Do I regret changing my original budget to accomodate what we really wanted? Not one bit! Am I proud that even with the scavenger hunt, we spent less on our whole weekend than most people spend on a celebration that lasts a few hours? Why, yes! Yes, I am!
It was hard to pull myself away from the restaurant, but before I knew it, we had to go home to get ready for our photo op...