Once the wedding day came a close, and we bid the bride and groom goodbye for the night, it was time to turn my focus to the reception. There was much to do in preparation for the celebration that followed the wedding two days later. In an effort to plan an event that was both beautiful and affordable, we opted to make Grace and Zach’s reception a home-grown affair. Luckily this homey theme tied beautifully into Gracie’s vision for the day.
As we began making plans months ago, Grace shared her vision for her reception. She wanted a vintage feel that made guests feel as though they were coming over for a family dinner. Since we don’t have the space in our dining room for 200 guests, we opted instead to turn the church’s cultural hall into home through the use of decorations from our house and heirloom photos. The theme was “home is where the heart is,” and that theme was a joy to bring to life. I am a firm believer that love is in the details and it is our hope that through the details in the décor our guests felt loved and felt the love Grace and Zach share. Here is a sneak peek at the reception hall prior to the celebration.
Using Toby’s trailer we loaded up furniture from home to transform the gym into a reception hall.
Continuing with this “family dinner for 200” theme, we opted to serve different homemade soups, along with salad and bread.
We used pumpkins to serve as signs to identify the various soup choices.
In the lobby we set up the “guest book.” Using the beautiful antique desk given to Grace and Zach as their wedding gift from my parents, we created a homey little vignette to greet guests.
The bride and groom opted to pass on a traditional guest book, choosing instead to purchase a family bible with note taking margins for their guests to mark their favorite scripture and pen a message of love.
For our younger guests we prepared activity boards as gifts to entertain them during the ring ceremony. Each clipboard came with colored pencils and wedding themed activity/coloring sheets.
For those readers not from the Pittsburgh area, you might not be familiar with the traditional cookie table. This sign was displayed to explain why cookies are served in addition to wedding cake at most Pittsburgh wedding receptions.
The cookie table as it slowly filled up with cookies donated by family and friends.
“To go” bags were provided so guests could take cookies home to enjoy later.
Grace and Zach wanted to make their reception as much about celebrating family as they did celebrating their own love. They accomplished this through a lot of thoughtful and personal touches, including incorporating loved ones’ wedding songs as part of the DJ’s playlist for the evening, and in doing so allowed couples the chance to enjoy a slow dance to their own wedding song.
Apple cider was the drink of the night at their October reception.
Their beautiful cake was made by our talented friend, Kelly. Gracie’s request was a “naked cake,” one that was thinly frosted and decorated with fresh berries. It was as delicious as it was beautiful!
The couple opted to have a ring ceremony at their reception so that family and friends could witness the exchanging of rings. In creating a space in the reception hall for that to take place, we opted against a traditional arch and chose instead to create a “arch” using old ladders and vintage details to create a more unique “arch” for the ceremony.
The head table where the bridal party would sit.
The tables themselves were decorated with mismatched vintage tablecloths, framed family photos, decoupaged houses (lit from within to glow when the lights were lowered), and mismatched glassware with fresh cut flowers.
In family-style serving, each table had a cutting board with a loaf of bread in addition to salt sticks to accompany the soup for the meal.
Our “party favor” was an individual apple pie at each place setting, tagged with the pun, “Appley Ever After!”
The table numbers were recreations of old library cards to tie into the antique books that were displayed as part of the centerpiece at each table.
The finished effect made me smile.
But it wasn’t until the overhead lights were turned off and the room was lit only with strings of mercury glass lights that the place really began to feel magical.
Photos of the actual reception will follow soon.
We opted to hire our talented friend, Holly, to capture the evening through photos, thus freeing me up to simply enjoy being mother of the bride and enjoy the magic of the evening. As soon as we get those photos back I will share with all of you, but I couldn’t resist giving you a preview of our magical evening with Zach and Grace.