Our at home reception has now come and gone, and I thought as a final contribution to the BDW site I would share some details, photos and insights on how our wedding celebrations wrapped up!
Wedding Date Riviera Maya: February 2, 2012
At Home Reception: May 20, 2012
I know...a significant gap between the two eventsâ€¦but we wanted to make sure that our photos were all back to us and organized into a slide show, which was an integral part of the reception plan. A number of our guests would also be travelling in from out of town, and we didnâ€™t want them to have to drive in any nasty winter conditions.
We chose to have a buffet brunch reception on a Sunday morning (May long weekend), but our original date (the â€œsave the dateâ€ included in our wedding invitation) was actually the Sunday prior. Due to a series of unforeseen events, we moved it to the May long weekend without too many difficulties. However, to be perfectly honest, I wish we had kept plans a bit â€œlooserâ€ for our at home reception and, on the wedding invitation, just put something like â€œfor those unable to attendâ€¦we look forward to celebrating with you upon our returnâ€. Coming back from Mexico, the last thing I felt like doing was getting back into planning mode and doing anything really formal, and had we not been tied into a contract with the reception venue, I would have been perfectly happy just to have everyone over for a day of visiting and good food in my parentsâ€™ backyard!
Our at home reception invite...details on the back:
I debated on wearing my wedding dress again, especially as a few family members, including my Grandmother who was not well enough to travel to Mexico, requested it. In the end, the look I was going for was sort of "uptown brunch" and I wanted something much less formal than my dress (but my Grandmother did get to see the dress the evening before the reception).
Jewellery from Stella & Dot
Shoes from Amazon - Mekong Stamped Leopard Leather High Heels by Butter
Short White Tahari Dress with Gold Accents from The Bay
And here is how the weekend was organized:
Saturday Evening: Supper with my side of the family hosted by my parents. Their house was PACKED (my Mom had to say â€œgraceâ€ twiceâ€¦for the group that was upstairs and then for the group that was downstairs)!
Sunday Evening: Supper with my husbandâ€™s side of the family hosted by his mother.
But, our BIG event was Sunday Morning: After I finished with hair and makeup, we met up with our immediate families in the park for a few photos, then back to the hotel for the reception. Beverage service began at 10 am and we hired a pianist to play background music for this first hour. We had a fancy breakfast juice table set up in an area more suitable for the group to mingle during this time. We also had two other tables, one set up with photos of us growing up and with photos/photobooks of our travels together:
The other table was set up with our instant photo guest book and prints of our wedding photos guests could take home with them. The idea was â€œleave a picture â€“ take a pictureâ€ (i.e., add an instant photo to and sign our guest book, then take a wedding print home). Our book was purchased from an Etsy seller (thehandmadeboutique) and we attached a little engraved plate with our reception information (done at the kiosk outside of Sears):
The table at the reception was set up like this:
Our guests really enjoyed all aspects of this â€œmeet and greetâ€ hour, especially the instant photo bookâ€¦but I would advise you to do what we did and ask a friend to help facilitate this activity with all of the guests and explain what they should do. Otherwise, I think some people get so busy visiting that they forget to do it or don't realize it's there!
Then, it was time for brunch and guests began to make their way down to the reception space, after an announcement from our MC (luckily we asked the pianist to bring a microphone with him to assist in getting the word out a little easier). It was a fairly long walk down the corridor and around a few corners to get to the room, and what we should have done was asked someone to accompany our two less able-bodied guests to the next space a few minutes before cuing everyone else to make their way down. People were being very polite and not wanting to pass themâ€¦my brother said it felt like a bit of a funeral march!
Anyway, we enjoyed a really delicious brunch together and had a short program consisting primarily of the slide show of wedding photos. Following that, we had the cake cutting and the candy buffet opened. Iâ€™ve been at weddings where people have helped themselves to the candy BEFORE the meal was even served, so I knew that we needed to have our MC tell everyone that the candy table would open after the cake was cut. I canâ€™t even begin to tell you how crazy people went for the candy buffet...young AND old! Our guests were lined up at it for the rest of the reception and helping themselves to it until they left the building.
The hanging glittery garlands on either side of the table were actually Martha Stewart garlands (I found on clearance at Homesense) that said "best wishes". They were so cute (and the letters easily removed from the ribbon), I stood there in the store for the longest time trying to figure out what else I could spell with them...and this is what I came up with!
The little kraft paper bags were purchased at the Great Canadian Wholesale Club and stamped with a personalized rubber stamp I purchased off Etsy (seller stampoutonline):
Our three-tiered wedding cake was decorated with succulents and sat on a hand-turned wood pedestal purchased on Etsy (seller woodandglass). The bottom layer was Mexican vanilla with a chocolate fudge filling, the middle layer was carrot cake and the top was Baileyâ€™s chocolate truffleâ€¦YUMM-Y!
Inside the reception space (next to the gift table) we also had a table set up with our framed marriage certificate, our Mexican bride and groom calacas (from our cake), our wedding photobook, etc.
Things Iâ€™m really glad we did:
- hired a photographer to capture candid and posed shots. We love to travel and were given a beautiful globe for a gift...our photographer was able to get some shots with our rings on it just as I had hoped. However, I wish I had been even clearer about the fact that we wanted ALL of our edited pictures to be in colour. I had to go back to the photographer and request that she include the original colour photos of those she sent to us only in black and white (about 25% of the total number of pictures we received). I mentioned in the consultation that my husband would ALWAYS prefer a colour photo to a black and white or sepia and she wrote that in her notes. But I guess I wasnâ€™t clear enoughâ€¦next time I will specifically ask that all of our proofs be in colour.
- had a candy table!!! It was so much fun to put together and such a highlight for our guests! I just sold all of our glass jars and clear scoops, tongs and ladles on Kijiji (as one big set) and recouped all of my expenses there. I watched for sales on candy and came across some incredible (usually unadvertised) deals. For example, the large boxes of Whoppers and Milk Duds I picked up for .37 each at Superstore one dayâ€¦the Lindt chocolates were on sale after Easter for $1.44/100 grams. The family packs of mint Aeros were in the clearance bins at Extra Foods for $1.14. Our larger containers were filled with things like chocolate almonds and Jelly Bellies from Costco. The biggest hits with our group were the Ring Pops, the Kinder Eggs (requested by my niece and nephew), and the three-packs of Turtles chocolates (purchased from the Great Canadian Wholesale Club). So, if you're planning a sweet or candy buffet, watch for specials (and pay close attention to expiration dates).
- created long-lasting succulent centrepieces and sent them home with those guests who were at our wedding in Mexico, along with a thank you card/care instructions for the centrepieces and a little book of photos from the wedding day. Itâ€™s quite neat to visit friends and family and see these centerpieces thriving all over the city! The ceramic containers were purchased from Costco last year, the river rocks from the Dollar Store and the little chalkboards were from Michaels. Simple and fresh for spring!
All of the succulent cuttings used on the cake and for the decor were given back to the grower to root. I'll get them back in the next couple of weeks to repot!
The albums that went home with each of our guests who attended our wedding:
The fabric covered DVD boxes held copies of our slide show and were given to our parents:
- ordered our fresh flowers from Costco for my bouquet and the beverage table centerpiece. We pre-ordered the flowers three weeks prior to the date of pick-up (the minimum length of time our store required) and picked them up the Friday of the long weekend (and kept them in the cooler at the hotel before/after doing the arranging). They were the most incredibly fresh beautiful flowers Iâ€™ve ever seen and they lasted two weeks! I really didnâ€™t want to carry a bouquet around all day, but I did want something to hold for our photos to give them a â€œpopâ€ of colour. After looking at a few You Tube videos, I decided it was something I totally wanted to try and do. This was the approach I thought would be easiest (the â€œtape as you goâ€ approach rather than the â€œcompose the whole bouquet in your hand and then tapeâ€ approach):
- it was incredibly easy and cheap to do, considering the roses at Costco work out to around $1/rose and the bouquet took around 24 roses. I would certainly recommend two people working on it together (one holds the roses while the other tapes and gives feedback on the shape). My family couldnâ€™t believe we did itâ€¦I was a proud bride! : )
Centerpiece for the beverage table:
- we did a seating chart out of necessity, as our venue was tight for space and we didnâ€™t have the luxury of setting up extra tables (but we skipped place cards). Somehow I knew that there would be some last minute changes, so rather than doing one large printout, I had a card for each table to allow me to change it at home on our printer. Indeed, 24 hours before the reception, we got a Facebook message that a family of 4 who hadnâ€™t planned to come were indeed coming. That was greatâ€¦but it meant I was shifting people around at tables and re-printing cards the day before the reception. The cork board was purchased from Homesense:
- I purchased some really inexpensive activity kits ($1 each at Michaels) and placed them in a basket next to the easel holding the seating chart, so that the kids could select whichever kit they wanted while their parents were looking for their seating assignments. Some of the parents came up to us after and said they really appreciated that we had thought of doing this for their kids and that it helped keep them occupied.
- and just as an FYI...we also got feedback that the parents with young kids appreciated sitting close to the exit doors so that they could discreetly leave the room when a child became fussy.
Things I wish I had done:
- when I confirmed with my vendors a week ahead of time by e-mail, I wish I had included the TIME they would be expected/we agreed upon. I confirmed the DATE with my hair and makeup lady, but she showed up 35 minutes late, saying she thought the contract was for her to start at 7:30 am. Ummmm, nopeâ€¦I checkedâ€¦the contract said 7:00 am! That made for a really stressful start to our morning at the hotel.
- as I've said already...kept the plans for our AHR a bit looser so that we had a bit more flexibility to do what we felt like doing when we got home from the wedding.
Well, that's all that comes to mind for now! Feeling sad and happy all at the same time that it's over...but we're looking forward to celebrating our first anniversary in the Mayan Riviera next year, and hope to be able to meet up with one of the awesome photographers I've found here on BDW for a mini anniversary photoshoot!!!
Bye for now!