Beyond the sea: Reception

26 February 2013

As we drove up the hill from the beach, we could see our guests transitioning from the cocktail hour area to the reception tent in the Sunken Garden of the O’Neill.

eugene o neill tent wedding

As guests approached the tent from the side, they could take a favor, peruse the menu, and/or leave some of their belongings inside the cubbies we had set up, and just inside the tent was a table with our guest book, marriage certificate, and family wedding photos. Let’s take a closer look at all that, shall we?

popper favors

Em for Marvelous

We opted to spend the majority of our “favor money” on a charitable donation to the shelter from which we adopted our beloved kitties. We did set out homemade popper favors filled with Snickers and Starbursts (two of our favorite candies!) as a small token along with a sign explaining our donation. Yes, those are actual watercolor paintings of our cats — we had them made through this Etsy shop a few years ago, and I scanned them for this special card!

oversize menu

Since our reception set-up was a little unusual — what I termed a “strolling small plates” reception — I wanted to give guests an idea of what to expect right off the bat. Our oversize menu did the trick. To make it, I purchased an old frame at the flea market for $5, popped the “art” out and wrapped it in a textured silk fabric to match our linens, painted the frame, popped the backing back in and secured it with my staple gun, then added the hand-lettered menu cards and bow. Not sure why it was positioned behind the tent strapping, but oh well :)

Em for Marvelous

You’ve already heard a bit about our “Quaker” marriage certificate, but I’m happy to say it worked out great! A quick tip: Definitely plan for fewer lines than you have guests, as many of ours signed as a couple, leaving us with half an empty column on our finished poster.

Em for Marvelous

I also loved our guest book. We printed up cards with six different prompts or questions — “What is your favorite memory of us?” “Emily and John are meant for each other because…” “What has been your favorite part of our wedding?” — and guests could fill out as many as they found interesting. I’m planning to compile them in some sort of book or display as soon as I hit upon a good format!

sperry tent

Our tent was filled with high tops, small round tables and chairs, and two lounge set-ups. Our florist used all of the silver containers we had collected to gather garden-y arrangements of my favorite flowers and fruits, including garden roses, anemones, spray roses, lisianthus, hellebores, jasmine vine, peaches, and crab apples.

mint julep centerpiece

Em for Marvelous

tented wedding

calligraphy signage

Since our reception had open seating, we made sure to reserve three tables on the recommendation of our caterer — one for my Mom’s Mom and her friends, one for my Dad’s Mom and her friends, and one for John and me. It was nice to know we had a designated spot we could retreat to, though I think we sat down for about five minutes the entire night!

Alrighty, now for two details that didn’t quite measure up.

Em for Marvelous

Keeping it real here, folks! It was only when the photos came back that I noticed these two little blips, so happily, they didn’t bother me on the day of. On the left, you see the cocktail tables just outside our tent. This was the inspiration, and as you can see, it fell a bit short. On the right, you see the mini boxwood wreaths on the back of our chairs. I loved them, I just wish that knot had been rotated to the back so it wasn’t visible and the two wreaths matched. Y’all probably think I’m NUTS for even noticing and/or mentioning these teensy details, but I think it goes with the territory of my job!

first dance

After our guests were settled in the tent, we made our triumphant entrance to “Ready to Go” by Panic at the Disco (the instrumental part at the beginning). A tip: Make sure you specify title AND artist when giving your song choices to your bandleader or DJ. I didn’t, and we almost had a heavy metal song also titled “Ready to Go” accompany us — yikes!!

happy first dance

black and white dance floor

Photo above by Nancy Ray!

We moved immediately into our first dance, which was to “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin (hence the title of this series). Our first dance cracked me up. John and I talked about taking some lessons in the months leading up to the wedding, but never got around to it. To make matters worse, we were still deciding between two different songs about two weeks out – the other was “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. 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 that was it! The hilarious part is that we received compliments on our performance the whole 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.

father of the bride toast

As soon as we exited the dance floor, my Dad took our place to offer an opening toast. He told me he actually wrote it months ahead of time in a stroke of inspiration, and as usual, his brilliant way with words served him well.

happy wedding

Wait staff unveiled the first “course” after he finished — passed one-bite Shepard’s pie mini meals (complete with tiny slices of green bean on top!) and a “trio of tomatoes” station. Other highlights throughout the night included tiny lobster rolls, a trio of fancy mac and cheeses, and a mini “Thanksgiving” meal! We also finally had a chance to hug some beloved people!

Here’s a photo of the three mini meals at our tasting, since we didn’t get great shots of them on the night of:

mini meals

Em for Marvelous

Em for Marvelous

We spaced our other toasts between the courses. John’s best man and one of our dearest friends, Dan, gave the first toast, which, if you recall, was threaded through our highlights film. Needless to say, he did a marvelous job. My two sisters gave a joint toast, and they also did a fabulous job weaving their specialty (bones and ligaments — one is a physical therapist, the other is a physical therapist in training!) into our story. Fun fact: Our bandleader emailed me the week after our wedding to say that our toasts were the best she had ever heard at a wedding! I can’t take any credit for that, but I was impressed!

giving a toast

Em for Marvelous

Ever since my friend Katharine’s wedding, when she spoke so eloquently, I have wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of having all of our loved ones in one room to say a few words. I had my chance (so did John), and I hope I used it well! I concluded by inviting my Dad on to the dance floor for our father daughter dance.

father daughter dance

We chose “Lullaby” by Billy Joel. Billy Joel songs were a huge part of my childhood, and “Lullaby” always tugs at my heartstrings. In fact, I teared up pretty much every time I heard it in the months leading up to the big day, but on that night, I don’t think either of us shed a tear! I guess I used them all up on my walk down the aisle…

bustled wedding gown

military wedding

John and his Mom joined us halfway through the song. I love these photos of them!

Em for Marvelous

After more dancing and eating, we made a brief pause for our last scheduled events of the evening: our cake cutting and slideshow!

Em for Marvelous

Em for Marvelous

As much as I love a traditional white, tiered wedding cake, we went with something a little less grand — but majorly yummy — for our wedding dessert. It was a group effort! Our caterer made mini hot apple cobblers, chocolate cake “shots” with fresh raspberries, apple cider donuts, and mini fruit tarts (John’s favorite). We also served each of our mom’s specialties – chocolate peanut butter balls from mine, and chocolate chunk gingerbread cookies from his. We also served chocolate glazed munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts as a late-night snack!

homemade wedding cake

Finally, my sister and I made our simple wedding cake — with Funfetti! — so we had something to cut into. I made a garland wreath topper with a little bow on top for a topper, but it never made it to the reception. Though it wasn’t what I was envisioning, the flowers the florist stuck on looked nice, too.

cake cutting

wedding cake cutting

Not sure what’s happening in this photo, but I kind of enjoy it.

funny wedding photo

After that, all there was to do was dance!

Em for Marvelous

parents dancing

Em for Marvelous

dad and grandma

tanja lippert photography

reception dancing

At the end of the night, everyone that was left gathered in a circle on the dance floor for a good old singalong to “American Pie.” Good memories.

end of reception dancing

Photo by Nancy Ray!

sparkler exit

sparkler getaway

And that, my friends, is the story of our wedding. Thank you again for indulging me, especially with today’s super long post. It has been such fun to share our memories with you along with so many of Tanja’s beautiful photos. Much love to you all!

Photographer: Tanja Lippert / Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films / Day-of-Coordinator: Diana Chouinard of Jubilee Events / Reception Venue: The Sunken Garden at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center / Tent: Sperry Tents / Dance Floor, Chair, Basic Linen, and Catering Rentals: Liberty Rentals / Lounge Furniture Rentals: Rentals Unlimited / Linens: La Tavola Linen / Flowers: Blush Floral Design / Hair and Makeup Artist: Tia Reagan / Catering: A Thyme to Cook / Band: Avenue A / Signage: Em for Marvelous / Boxwood wreaths: Save on Crafts / Ribbon: MJ Trimming / Bride’s Gown: “Brisa” by Christos / Bride’s Earrings: “Toulouse” by Nina / Bride’s Necklace: Blue Nile / Bride’s Veil: Chaviano Couture / Groom’s Attire: Tuxedo by Tommy Hilfiger from Macy’s / Groom’s Bow Tie: Bows N’ Ties / Groom’s Suspenders: J. Crew

Wedding Week
Rehearsal Dinner
Wedding Morning
First Look
Cocktail Hour

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February 26, 2013 8:58 am

Such a beautiful day, from start to finish! It is so interesting to hear your thoughts about the day, getting the perspective of the bride/member of the wedding industry is fascinating. I didn’t even notice the little goofs that you mentioned until you pointed them out! It is also so nice to see that despite the few things that didn’t go as planned, you and John both knew that those details weren’t what the day was all about. Congrats again on your marriage, I wish you both years and years of happiness!

February 26, 2013 8:58 am

So number 1, I’m so thankful you shared your experience because I took a lot of advice with me and I’m so grateful! (I appreciate the thought to write down everything the day after, and I’m so glad I did) Number 2, I LOVED your dress, I really think it was “you” and my favorite thing about it, is that it moves so beautifully, especially when you’re dancing. And Number 3, I love how if we didn’t have the photos of the details we’d be upset but we’re also disappointed in how some details came out because of the photos, in which we would’ve never noticed before. Oh hindsight! I definitely feel that way in regards to some details in our reception, but what can you do?!

No matter what I’m sure it was the most perfect day and in the end it’s all about your beautiful partnership with John and the start of your life together. :) Thanks for sharing all the details, the photos are just stunning!

February 26, 2013 9:56 am

I have loved your recaps! Your wedding looked so joyful. Where did you get those boxwood wreaths for your chairs? I’ve been looking for something similar since they were in the Williamsburg SW shoot (your inspiration, perhaps?).

February 26, 2013 10:20 am

As usual Em, its all beautiful! Really love your dress!

February 26, 2013 10:21 am

No stone was left unturned in this wedding and that is VERY apparent. The food was just lovely – how many people can make food look lovely? My food wasn’t lovely at all!! But it was damn good! I love the lounge area and the sperry tent and I am really a fan of the arrangement on the coffee table! It was all beautifully executed (even with the few hiccups, what wedding is complete without them?!) and I am so happy for you all! Following this journey with you has been a joy and a pleasure!

February 26, 2013 12:07 pm

Your wedding is so beautiful. I cannot get over every little detail that you paid attention too. Everything was done beautifully. Congratulations on what looks like an absolutely perfect day.

February 26, 2013 1:52 pm

So sad the series has come to an end! Everything was absolutely perfect, even the imperfections.

February 26, 2013 4:21 pm

I loved everything, which I’ve already told you, but it was so fun getting to see detailed pictures of everything! So beautiful!

What is the color and fabric of the linen that was at your table for the reception? I love it!

February 26, 2013 6:19 pm

I was scrolling through my Google Reader just now and the biggest smile came over my face when I saw this post. I almost forgot that we had one more recap left! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I absolutely love every single aspect of your wedding. Thanks for sharing it with us all, Em!

February 26, 2013 7:17 pm

Thank you all SO much for your kind words! They mean so much to me!

@Polly Our wreaths were from Save on Crafts, which is the same source we used for the Williamsburg shoot! Definitely an inspiration for me :) They don’t seem to be offering the same size any more, which is a huge shame because they were a great price!

@Kelsey Me too! Those linens were one of my color inspirations for the entire wedding. They are the “ocean” color in the Tuscany collection from La Tavola!

February 26, 2013 9:26 pm

You did a beautiful job, Emily, and were blessed that day as well as throughout your planning process! It was such a treat to see all of the plans come to fruition. We are so happy for you and Johnny!

February 26, 2013 9:47 pm

I”m honestly sad the series has come to end Em!! I have LOVED all of your heartfelt advice, adorable ideas & gorgeous pictures. Thank you for sharing with all of us! And, I’m pretty sure I will be just like you – I have a feeling I will look back and notice the silly hiccups no one else will… but reading all of your thoughts & seeing the outcome of y’all’s gorgeous day, makes me realize even more that at the end of the day the MARRIAGE is what really matters :)

February 26, 2013 9:51 pm

Love love love all your posts. Did you take the traditional Wheaton photo?

February 26, 2013 10:31 pm

So nice of you to include me in so many photos, but I feel I didn’t actually take any good ones! However, you looked beautiful and John looked handsome and you both looked happy in every one, which is all that matters.

February 27, 2013 5:24 am

Just lovely. Brought back such happy memories of my own wedding.

Victoria C
February 28, 2013 11:24 am

Yay! My suggestion for the guest book cards is to make them into an envelope book a la “The Jolly Postman” ( Love it!

August 14, 2014 11:22 pm

Your wedding was beautiful! Any tips on where you found all the silver vases for the cocktail tables, etc.? I’m currently on the hunt for my upcoming wedding. :) Thank you! Your wedding series has been so fun to read and a big source of inspiration!

August 25, 2014 11:02 am

Thank you, Emily! That’s helpful! :)

July 18, 2015 11:14 pm

Just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed revisiting your wedding posts – I am writing down my own wedding memories as a “paper” first anniversary gift for my husband, and these posts are such good inspiration! And I still can’t get over your dress :)