Since we were not married in the South, and we are not Southern by birth, there were not a ton of obvious Southern details in our wedding. However, the love and community that rallied around our celebration, and the hospitality we took great pains to show to our guests, were definitely hallmarks of every true Southern wedding I’ve ever seen. Plus, we had BISCUITS! So happy to share a few more details about our cocktail hour and reception…
What was the funniest moment of your wedding? The funniest moment was actually during our portrait session. Tanja and Tia, her stylist, wanted to bring us down to the nearby beach for a few photos, so we settled into the backseat of their sedan for the trip. Philip, one of our videographers, concluded that there wasn’t enough room for him in the car (which was true, with my gown), and started to head back up to the reception. Tanja and Tia, however, convinced him to get into the trunk of the car, legs hanging over the edge, and then took off slightly faster than might be advised down a bumpy dirt road with “no trespassing” signs posted everywhere. Thankfully, he made it in one piece, and we were all able to take advantage of the last pieces of beautiful light and a gorgeous sunset over the ocean!
Pretty much anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with “mini food,” so serving a bite-size meal was a given. We didn’t have a full sit-down meal under the tent; instead, guests mingled around small rounds, high tops, and lounge areas, and wait staff circulated with pint-size courses over several hours. Some highlights from our caterer A Thyme to Cook included pigs in a blanket, tiny lobster rolls, a trio of fancy mac and cheeses, and composed plates of shepherd’s pie (with tiny slices of green bean on top!) and “Thanksgiving” during the reception.
Our cocktail hour included a table of “Southern favorites,” complete with mini pulled pork sandwiches, biscuits (with blackberry jam brought with us from North Carolina!), corn muffins, spicy deviled eggs, and Cheerwine! The Cheerwine was very confusing to our Northern guests — most thought it was alcoholic!
Did you have a cocktail hour? We did have a cocktail hour, and I’m sure it was awesome! However, we actually were not in attendance. Instead, we chose to have a picnic for two underneath a huge old tree down the hill from our tent. Our wonderful caterer packed us an actual picnic basket full of goodies from cocktail hour, and we thoroughly enjoyed the half hour we spent together relaxing, snacking, chatting about our ceremony, and marveling over the fact that we were married.
Favorite design element of your big day: It’s so hard to choose, when you’ve spent the last year carefully planning every detail! I absolutely adored our Sperry tent – those flags are so celebratory snapping in the breeze. I also love that we collected all the silver for the reception centerpieces. It was really a group effort – a good friend and I scoured our favorite flea market for months, my Mom enlisted all of her friends, we reused a pile of mint julep cups from John’s sister’s wedding, which took place just two months before ours, and my grandmother sent a few pieces from her collection.
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: John’s initial answer was that he doesn’t remember any of the details, only the people (mostly me). Upon further prodding, he revealed that he liked our picnic, the couches in our lounge areas, and “that thing Linda [our caterer] provided at the mac and cheese station” best. In case you’re wondering what “that thing” is, it was a vintage set of wooden drawers she set out to hold the forks! (And it was pretty cool.)
Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: I spent a larger portion of time than I probably should have in the weeks leading up to the wedding making an abundance of signage for our cocktail hour and reception. I bought some calligraphy supplies and went to town, learning as I went! I also produced party popper favors, our guest book, our “Quaker” marriage certificate and my signature drink stirrers, among other things.
I handmade the popper favors (filled with candy) for our guests to take home at the end of the night. (With, I’ll add, some assembly-line-style help from John, his mom, his sister, and her boyfriend a few days before the wedding!) We also decided to make a donation to the cat adoption agency where our kitties were from in honor of our guests — we love them oh so much, and couldn’t imagine our lives without them!
Two more projects! Our guest book was actually cards with question prompts like “What is your favorite memory of us?” and “Where should we go for our fifth anniversary?” I’m going to compile them into a book as soon as life slows down a bit. We also asked our guests to sign our own version of a Quaker marriage certificate as witnesses to our vows, which you can read more about here.
My sister and I actually made the wedding cake! We knew the majority of dessert was going to be small bites (to go along with our mini meals!), so we didn’t want to spend a lot on something that was only going to have two bites taken out of it. Sadly, I made a little garland cake topper that never made it onto the cake, but our florist stuck some flowers on it and it looked fine. The best part was our mini desserts – hot apple crisp, chocolate cake with raspberries, and mini fruit tarts (John’s favorite!) from our caterer. We also served each of our mom’s specialties – chocolate peanut butter balls from mine, and chocolate chunk gingerbread cookies from his.
I love dancing, but historically, it has not been John’s favorite activity. In the months leading up to the wedding, we often talked about taking some lessons, but never got around to it. To make matters worse, we were still deciding between two different first dance songs about two weeks out – “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz, and “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin. In the end, we chose “Beyond the Sea,” largely because it is a standard foxtrot rhythm and much easier to dance to than the Jason Mraz song, which is a very quick waltz. After deciding, we watched several YouTube instructional videos (oh yes we did), and practiced a few times in our living room. And then, armed with a few basic moves, we pretty much winged it! The hilarious part is that we received compliments on our performance for the rest of the night, with many guests assuming we had taken actual lessons! My theory about first dances is that it’s always better to look like you’re having fun (and actually have fun!) rather than be huffing and puffing and struggling to remember a series of moves. Perhaps our huge smiles distracted guests from our less than stellar feet?
Adore these two from our father daughter dance, so I included both :)
What was your reception like? It was awesome! The majority of our time was spent dancing to our band, Avenue A. They played the perfect mix of swing, big band, and rock and roll, and had everyone on the dance floor the entire night! In fact, one of my only planning regrets is that we didn’t rent a slightly larger dance floor!
What were some of the highlights? All three of our toasts were amazing. My Dad started things off by reminding guests of the months we spent apart during our first year of college, when John was in DC and I was in Massachusetts, and concluded that we are great on our own, but always better when we’re together. My sisters, who are both physical therapists and admittedly did not get the creative genes in the family, put together a hilarious toast with lessons pulled from their academic textbooks about bones and ligaments. Sounds like a stretch, but the band leader actually deemed it the best toast she had ever heard over the microphone! Our best man, who has been one of John’s best friends for at least fifteen years and mine for at least eleven, finished thinks up with a heartfelt toast that included just the right balance of embarrassing moments. I also very much enjoyed sharing our slideshow with our guests. John and I worked hard to collect photos, choose music, and put it all together, and it was so fun to see everyone’s reactions. Since so many of our guests have known us individually and as a couple for so long, we were able to include at least one shot of most of our guests, which made it extra fun for everyone.
Tell us about your grand exit. At the very end of the night, our bandleader invited everyone up to the driveway for a sparkler exit. (We had wanted to set off sky lanterns, but our town’s fire marshal nixed that idea immediately.) John and I stayed down in the garden, chatting with our caterer and waiting for the signal from our coordinator. However, we started to see smoke go up from the lit sparklers, and figured we had better make a run for it, since we still had to get across the garden, up the stairs, and out to the driveaway, and didn’t want them all to burn out before then! So that’s exactly what we did, and though the sparklers were definitely still lit as we ran through, I don’t think Tanja was quite ready for us! The photo editor in me feels a bit guilty about that!
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? Do what feels right for you. There were many times throughout our engagement that people thought we were crazy (wanting to serve only “mini food,” having a private picnic instead of attending cocktail hour, making our own cake, flying in a photographer from California and a videographer from North Carolina, etc., etc., etc.), but in the end, they were the right choices for us.
Thank you all again, SO much, for cheering us on throughout our engagement! It meant the world to me! If you’re a new reader and curious, this post links to most of the posts I wrote during our engagement. I’ll also be sharing more details about our wedding, including DIY project how-tos, our budget, and our rehearsal dinner, on my personal blog, Em for Marvelous, in February.
Last but certainly not least, make SURE you tune in on Saturday to see our wedding highlights film from Inkspot Crow!! I may be biased, but it’s pretty amazing :)
Inkspot Crow Films and Sperry Tents are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!