Find Romance at Your Reunion

Few events are so rife with opportunities to find love than a high-school or college reunion. While class reunion ideas vary widely, you can rekindle old flames, follow through with unfulfilled crushes, or even hit it off with your once-geeky locker mate who's matured into quite the catch. Most of us harbor some "what if…?" thinking about our former classmates. In fact, close to 8 million of us return to our youthful stomping grounds every year, according to 57 percent are looking forward to reconnecting with former sweethearts or crushes as well as their buddies. So don't push the delete button on that old school summons; consider it an invitation to spark a new romance. Here are some steps you can take to secure that second chance with someone special.

Set the Stage for Romance
Just sending in your RSVP and hoping your romantic interests will show is, well, dubious at best. You're better off gauging the prospects beforehand by picking up the phone or sending an e-mail to the reunion event planner to see who's coming. Not only will you be able to pump this person for a bit of gossip, but if there are people who haven't agreed to go yet, this gives you time to track down their contact info and nudge them to come. A simple "Hey, the upcoming reunion made me think of you and got me wondering if you're planning to attend. It would be great to see you there!" can mean the difference between a no-show and the chance to chat up someone you've always wondered about. Better yet, get involved in the planning-don't worry, you don't need to run the whole shebang. Even just doing a few hours of work (like tracking down lost classmates through their parents) will earn you insider access privileges.

Request an Event Just for Singles
Given many of the attendants will already be taken, you're better off concentrating your efforts right where they're most likely to pay off: by requesting or planning an event exclusively for the unattached folks. Case in point: Four years ago Audrey Carlson, 49, a recently widowed Stanford University alum, decided to host a singles cocktail party for 30 classmates prior to her class dinner. "It was such a hit that three years later, the annual homecoming weekend now boasts a university-sponsored singles brunch attended by over 150 bachelors and bachelorettes," she says. For maximum convenience and minimal planning, schedule your singles mixer for right before a regularly scheduled class event so attendees don't have to stress about preparing for two separate get-togethers.

Lay the Groundwork Before the Event
Catching up with love interests at the reunion is all well and good, but there's no rule that says you have to wait until the reunion to forge potential relationships. "By getting reacquainted before the reunion, you're stacking the deck," suggests John Uppendahl, vice president of public relations at "And then your reunion can serve as a great -first date' in a friendly environment." So, go ahead and nab someone's contact info from the event planner or find it on or and start schmoozing! After all, everyone's curious what his or her classmates have been up to-you may be surprised how enthusiastic they are to hear from you.

Don't Stress Too Much About Your Appearance
It can be natural to worry about those extra pounds or receding hairline you've accrued since these people last saw you, but keep in mind that looks aren't everything when reconnecting with old pals and potential love interests. "After 30 seconds, you'll see the person as they were," says Dr. Nancy Kalish, author of Lost & Found Lovers and founder of "That's the wonderful thing about reuniting," she explains-you're so happy to reconnect with one another that you see each other through rose-colored glasses. Also know that your classmates will be way too worried about their own less-youthful appearance-which is why the best three words you could possibly say to everyone you meet are these: "You look great!" Say it with a sincere smile on your face, and you'll make their evening-and maybe make them crave your company all night.

Use Nostalgia to Your Advantage
You've just arrived; the room is filled with people who, in all honesty, may be feeling a little bit awkward. Here's one easy way to break the ice, build rapport, and even trigger a warm-and-fuzzy nostalgia high that could lead to a more intimate discussion: Try a sentence that begins with "Remember when" like "Hey, remember how Sally and I always threw out our retainers by accident at lunchtime?" Keep in mind, though, many people harbor some not-so-savory memories from their youth, so it's obviously best to steer clear of personal queries like "Remember when you ran for class president and lost?" or "Remember how you got picked on in gym class?"

Confess Your Crush
There your dreamboat is: that person you mooned over endlessly in your calculus class. If they were unaware of your affections at the time (as many crushes are), there's no harm in letting them know you were once smitten-you've got plenty to gain. Dr. Kalish recalls the time she walked into the room at her high-school reunion, and a guy confessed, "I had such a crush on you in high school." She remembers, "It was very sweet." And this past August, Collette Lee, 48, confessed to her crush at her high-school reunion with promising results. "At some point in the evening I told him, -You know you were always on my list of cute boys-I liked you sooooo much!'" she recalls. "He immediately let her know he was separated from his mate. I responded with, -Me, too!'" and things took off from there.

Don't Limit Yourself to Past Love Interests
While you may initially have your eye on your crush, don't discount that your classmates have changed a lot-that math study buddy you never thought of as more than a friend could now be quite the catch! A self-described "ugly duckling that returned as a swan," Glenn Millar, 45, had a fun romantic evening at his 25th high school reunion with an attractive classmate he barely knew in high school. "We had friends in common, but I was a true geek, " he admits. "She was kind of shy, and I would never have noticed her. But I think people hit their peak at different points in their lives. And we both had become a lot more confident. I danced the whole night with her."

Keep the Connection Going
The official class party usually ends around midnight, but why stop then if you're having a good time? Suggest going out for a drink afterwards or getting together for coffee the next morning. After you've left the crowded atmosphere of the reunion event is where things can get truly personal. Added perk: If your reunion pamphlet includes contact info (most should), you don't need to go for the hard sell and immediately ask for a phone number. If you want to keep them guessing, consider waiting a couple days and then e-mailing them with a "Hi, I just wanted to say it was great to catch up with you at the reunion. If you'd like to hang out again, let me know!" Chances are that if you felt sparks flying, the other person did too.

Jerusha Stewart, a.k.a. The Last Single Girl in the World, reveals how to be singularly sensational in her upcoming book The Single Girl's Manifesta.

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