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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Emily Plans a Wedding post!

I had a hard time figuring out what to name this post, because we’re not really talking about reception details today – at least, not in the small and pretty sense. No, today I wanted to talk about the big blocks – the big rentals.

As you may recall from one of my first posts, our reception is being held outdoors. The tent will be in the Sunken Garden of The O’Neill, with cocktail hour taking place just outside, on the porch and lawn of what I call the Yellow House (and what I think the O’Neill calls the Hammond Mansion). Here’s the pulled-back view, with my notes:

Let’s walk through this chronologically, shall we? Cocktail hour is up first. As of right now, I think we’re going to do passed and set glasses of Prosecco, white wine, and blackberry lemonade during this time, then open the full bar under the tent. On the porch, then, we’ll have one simple 6- or 8-foot table covered with a linen at each end — one for drinks, and one for the cheese/fruit/bread business. Here’s a closer look at the porch:

Imagine a pretty table instead of a picnic table, and a green and white striped awning instead of metal bars.

On the lawn, we’ll have a few high-top cocktail tables for guests to cluster around. I haven’t decided yet if we’ll do floral arrangements or just candles on these. Guests are at cocktail hour for such a short time, and are so busy during it, that I’m guessing they would hardly notice the difference, and it pains me to pay for something like that when it doesn’t really matter to me, either!

The O’Neill also has this interesting little area off to the side of the porch (outside of the walled garden):

I’m thinking it will be a great space during cocktail hour, but I’m not really sure yet what I’ll do to enhance it, if anything. Maybe just candles on the rock ledges, or custom pillows on the chairs? Any suggestions are most welcome.

After cocktail hour, guests will move into the tent. I am SO excited to say that the tent itself will be a Sperry. This is for sure a splurge, as a normal pole tent would have shielded guests from the elements just as well. However, the price differential was not as much as I had initially expected, and in talking to vendors and other brides, it seems like the “feel” that a Sperry tent as opposed to a regular tent can give an event is more than worth the price difference. Plus, since the sheer loveliness of a Sperry means fewer decorations or add-ons (like a tent liner or pole treatments), perhaps we’re saving money in the long run?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sperry Tents, let me introduce you. You can recognize these beauties by their swooping, dramatic peaks, gorgeous sailcloth and pine pole details, and merrily waving flags – my absolute favorite detail. The flags can even be customized to match your wedding colors! Here are a few of my favorite images:

Credits from top to bottom: Cramer Photo via Snippet & Ink, Eric Barry, Landino Photo, Lisa Rigby, two by Justin & Mary, and Weddings by Two via Snippet & Ink

These tents take on a life of their own after dark.

Credits, top to bottom: Snap! Photography, Iris Photography, courtesy of Sperry, and Justin & Mary

Gorgeous! I have been so pleased with my interactions with my local Sperry office, too. They’ve been polite, courteous, and prompt, which, unfortunately, is not something I can say for every vendor we’ve been in contact with!

Now, what will go under that tent? As you may recall, we’re planning an unusual food service, which means we won’t be doing the typical chairs and tables things. Instead, we’ll be doing a mix. We’ll have several high-top cocktail tables:

Credits, left to right: Mel & Co and Gia Canali

We’ll also have a few smaller round tables to seat 4-5 guests each. I’m thinking 36″ or 48″ rounds, about the size pictured below.

Jen Fariello

For chairs, what I really want is these bamboo beauties:

via Ariella Chezar

They’re less formal than chivaris, but fancier than folding chairs – perfect for an elegant garden evening wedding. Happily, they’re also fairly reasonably priced – usually about $4 per chair, from my research. However, I have not been able to turn up a single rental resource for these in the New England area. If you know of a source, please help!!

If I can’t find my bamboo pretties, then we’ll probably go with something like this, a dark stained folding chair.

A Bryan Photo

Lastly, we’ll have two lounge areas. We haven’t nailed down these rentals yet, but here are a few I like:

Image credits: Lisa Lefkowitz, Michael & Anna Costa, via Matthew Robbins, and personal photo

Last but not least, we will have a dance floor from which to enjoy our awesome music. I have my fingers crossed for a black and white one.

Image by Abby Jiu, via Southern Weddings

Tell me: Are you having a tented reception? What sort of chairs are you having? And do you have a New England source for my bamboo beauties??

Up next: As long as I get my act together and get them out the door, it will be our save the dates!

In case you missed a post…
The main characters
Where we’re getting married
I go dress shopping
We choose a photographer
I ponder bridesmaid style
Mini food!
The music

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kelly Cummings reply

    Gorgeous tents, I love those merrily waving flags too! Your wedding is going to be amazing!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Lovin those tents!! Our wedding is at a very large house also. With a tent. And I totally underestimated how stressful the rental situation would be. ($8,000 for twinkle lights in the tent?!) Glad your rental process is going smoothly! Wish I could help with those gorgeous chairs!

    • avatar Emily reply

      GOODNESS, Emily!! No one should be charging you $8,000 for twinkle lights!! Hang those babies yourself! Just for reference, we’re getting string lights around the perimeter of the tent from Sperry, and they charge $.85 per foot, so it will be about $150 for our whole tent. Hope that helps!

  3. avatar AmandaR reply

    Your wedding keeps sounding more and more like my own wedding I am planning! Love black and white dance floors – must have. Great plan for the tents! Love them and I am jealous. My mom and I wanted pole tents (I assume the same as “Sperry” tents??), but the dimensions and square footage limitations of the back yard at her house made a pole tent impractical. Her back yard is an English garden with a brick wall and box woods, which limits where tents can be placed. So we went with a frame tent (not as pretty) AND it is more expensive than the pole tent our vendor offers. UGH! I think you will be extremely pleased with your Sperry splurge! Can’t wait to see what else you come up with next!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Great minds think alike, Amanda! :) And while I think Sperry tents would classify as pole tents, not all pole tents are Sperry tents (if that makes sense…). Just wanted to clarify!

  4. avatar Kelly reply

    Love keeping up with your wedding plans! Looks like it’s going to be lovely! While we would’ve loved to have an outdoor reception with a Sperry tent, our hot July date required an indoor facility. We’ll still be hanging swags of Italian string lights and trying to make the most of the barn space. Good luck finding the bamboo chairs!!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      I’m sure your barn space will be just lovely, Kelly! And congratulations on your engagement — I know you were waiting for it! :)

  5. avatar Meredith reply

    I’m so in love with Sperry tents! This post makes me so excited for your wedding, Emily!

  6. avatar Jennifer @EsqEvents reply

    have you tried calling NECR?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Jennifer! Someone actually suggested NECR on Twitter yesterday, and I’ve already emailed them! The chairs themselves are very reasonably priced, but the delivery fee is a little much considering we’re based in CT and they’re in MA. However, they’ve been super helpful, and have helped me think of some alternative options! Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  7. avatar Jennifer reply

    Love the plans so far. Have you considered some type of luminaries for that little stone seating area? Maybe some ribbons or lanterns in the trees? Good luck on your chair hunt.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Jennifer! I most definitely have! I’m kind of strangely enamored with the look of candles on stone walls, so we’ll definitely be doing something like that. Hanging some votives or lights in the trees could be so pretty, too!

  8. avatar Desiree reply

    Hey Emily, great post! :) I wanted you to know that towards the end of December, I successfully pulled off this fun cocktail reception style at my last wedding of 2012. It was a joint effort with the catering BOE, band, & myself. We coordinate flights of food to come out with certain phases of music & the 36in rounds with 4 chairs, plus some high-tops, & 5 lounge areas was more than enough to give ppl a rest…but most of the time they were shakin their groove thangs! It was really awesome to see – not a lull in the whole evening. I’ve used those awesome bamboo chairs at 2 of my weddings down here…too bad New England isnt as into the island-y look as my beach brides…hmm, good luck! OH OH and as far as your cocktail tables, what I suggest to brides is to have lots of your photos printed (engagement, of your first home, from school, from when u were dating, family, as kiddies, pets, etc) & frame them with little tags that have ‘conversation starters’ or ‘fun facts’ on them. Like, “did you know that the newlyweds met at a football game?” next to a pic of you two, ahem, at a football game..”Emily & her beau plan on going to >> for their honeymoon, what do you suggest they see?”. Stuff like that. No flowers, candles or expensive decor needed. And then, you can just reuse the frames for your wedding photos afterward! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      So glad to hear something similar to what we’re planning worked out for you, Desiree! And I like your cocktail table idea, too!

  9. avatar Allie reply

    Try New England Country Rentals. They’re out of Massachusetts, but they work in all of New England (thank goodness!) and they have those bamboo chairs you like. I am finding them very useful, slightly more pricey, but really great. Hope this helps!

  10. avatar One of Our Brides… Meet Emily Ayer | a jubilee event :: wedding inspiration for the jubilant bride reply

    […] married I go dress shopping We choose a photographer I ponder bridesmaid style Mini food! The music We’re renting a tent! We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres We send out our save the dates I gather hair and makeup […]

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