The Details of Our Reception Dinner

When I posted my Q&A last week of our small wedding, and how you could plan your own during the coronavirus, I totally forgot that I never posted about our reception dinner. It was always in the plans to since it was one of my favorite parts of planning but I think life just got in the way! So if you can indulge me for a second and take a trip back down memory lane.

I'm not sure why but the reception dinner was always a big thing for me... something that I really wanted to put my special touches on to make the dinner special for us and our guests. I feel like the ceremony is pretty straight forward in terms of things you can do, but for dinner... that's where you can really go the extra mile to make it feel authentic and unique to you as a couple, special for those in attendance and personal for everyone.

I'm really grateful one, for Andrew letting me run with the planning of the dinner and setting and two, for our family and friends who all chipped in to make the night so special. When you DIY your wedding the only real drawback is that you have to set it up. And as it's a pretty busy day, you rely heavily on those around you. On the flip side of that, I really do feel like everyone played a major role in our wedding and making it so wonderful. I believe they can all look back and truly feel apart of our marriage!

When I look back to the events of the week (outside the obvious of getting married to Andrew), I always think back to the dinner. I had big expectations and plans for our dinner and they all came to life. It was magical. I really can't seem to find the words to accurately describe how wonderful that entire day was, and how perfectly it was capped off with the dinner (and our pool jump). I know people always say their wedding is the happiest day of their life, but it really was. There is not a single thing I would have changed. 

The night of the dinner the weather was perfect, the lights were twinkling, we got an amazing sunset, and I was surrounded by the people I love the absolute most in the entire world. I think the reason I look back on the dinner, in particular, so fondly is because it was the first time we were able to really relax. There was no more stress of people getting in, running behind, planning, taking photos, setting up... we were just able to be married. Be happy! Be together.

The first time (in a while! the weeks leading up to the wedding are stressful lol) we could just sit back and not have to worry about what's next or what else we have to do. Just enjoy each other and our friends and family. So, as I type this all out, I realize that the post will focus on what the material things are that made up our dinner but know the most important things are not the tangible ones you buy. They are the feeling of love and happiness that is then accompanied by the things around you!

It was just so special. The entire day will be for me a memory filled with immense love and happiness. And I wish those same feelings on any future bride to be!

And with that being said, before we hop into the details, I wanted to share my overall thoughts for the dinner. I wanted it personal, I wanted it "us", and since I was buying everything on my own, I wanted it to be things we could use again in the future. I'm happy to say we achieved what we set out to do and I hope you enjoy!

Place Setting:

Koyal Rattan Charger: I knew I wanted more of a "statement" charger to help break up all the blue and white and I just have to ask... when did chargers get so expensive?? I had my eyes on some ones from Pottery Barn but SHEESH they were $$$. So I looked around and found a couple different options to test out and ended up really liking how these looked with the plates and flatware so they are what we went with.

Johnson Brothers Devon Cottage China: Fun little story behind this set is that I actually found these plates originally at TJ Maxx and fell in love with them. So much so that I went home later that night and ended up finding the rest of the sets and they are the dishes we use for our everyday. I picked up I think four sets originally years ago and they are far and away my favorite plates. So much so that I also wanted them at the wedding!

So we ended up buying a few more sets for the dinner but also for our future so we could have a larger complete set to use down the road when/if we have more guests and family over. It was a special little touch for me to have a part of our normal life represented at the wedding. It may seem silly to some but it was really great to me. 

Lenox Chelse Muse Floral Accent Plate: I wanted a white middle/salad/accent plate to break up the two blue and white plates since they are the same print and could easily get lost within each other. I loved the idea of a white scalloped plate to go with the theme of the dishes and bring in some extra dimension and texture to the set. Macy's always has some great sales too so I was able to snag these at a relatively cheap price!

Monogrammed Napkins: I bought our napkins from Etsy through a shop called Donovan Designs. I sent her over our crest and asked for her to pull the letters to use on the napkins. I knew there would be a lot of prints in terms of the tablecloth and dishes so I wanted something simple and timeless for the napkins so we did a white on white look. The napkins were great, although the dinner defintely left a few stains on some. But it was worth it!

Gold Nantucket Basket Napkin Ring: In one of my summer trips to Nantucket before the wedding, Ashby and I were in a gift shop near the wharf and I randomly stumbled across these napkin rings and fell hard for them. They were so cute (and something I could use forever) and grabbed four of them to take home and test out with the table decor. They, of course, worked out perfectly and added a great touch of color to the table setting. They were expensive for napkin rings (at least from the gift shop) but thankfully I found a seller on eBay that sold a set of 16 for a much better price and snatched those up right away. These are one of my favorite things about the whole table!

Gold Bamboo Flatware: I think originally (like right when I was starting to plan the wedding) I had this idea in my head for something a little different in terms of dinner and place settings and ended up buying this flatware set right away. It wasn't until a few months down the road (when the return window closed) that I realized that I didn't actually want these. BUT they obviously stayed -- it was too late and I don't think I cared enough to buy more sets of flatware. 

They are wonderfully made and really great in terms of flatware sets but I just didn't think they really went with the overall theme and are a little too trendy for my taste. Out of everything, these are my least favorite but I honestly don't know what I would have used instead. To this day Andrew and I can't find an everyday flatware set because I am that picky about it. 

Ginger Jar Escort Card Holders: These were an engagement gift from my parents -- I remember seeing them before we even got engaged and loved the idea of little ginger jars for future parties and dinners. They came in a set of white and blue and once we were mocking up the table we realized that the white ones kind of blended in with the table cloth. Thankfully we had enough sets so everyone got a dark blue holder and Andrew and I used the white ones. 

Escort Cards: My SIL made these using her Cricut! She printed everyone's names out and had the machine cut it into the shape of Nantucket island. They were the perfect little touch!!

Flowers + Table Decor:

Ginger Jars: All of our ginger jars were ones I actually already owned/had around the apartment. I guess all those years of hoarding them paid off! They are from various shops, eBay, TJ Maxx, and antique stores. I really liked the look of the different patterns, styles, and sizes mixed around the table and the rest of the patio space.

Flowers: I didn't really feel like spending a ton of money on flowers so I opted for silk flowers and I love how they turned out. It was ~very~ controversial to a lot of people that I did this but I literally do not care. I don't like flowers, I don't like how they die easily and I don't like the tremendous upcharge florists charge for weddings. If that bothers you, look away. 

I was actually able to find some really beautiful silk "real touch" white peonies from Michaels. They were exactly what I was looking for and wanted but by the time I found them they were being transitioned out of stores. I guess they sell seasonal flowers? So I had both sets of parents and my cousins (in CA and NC) hit up all their local Michaels stores and buy whatever they could find. I think we ended up with like 25-30 stems? And then day of we added (real) baby's breath to the arrangements for added texture and style. 

One of the big reasons I also decided to go with silk flowers was because we had 4 days of parties to decorate: the rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony, the reception dinner, the welcome party and then the bigger reception party for the rest of our guests. They not only lasted the entire week but are still arranged beautifully at my in-laws home and will one day decorate our future house!

Candles + Hurricanes: I wanted something to just kind of fill in the extra space on the table and thought candles would do -- more so for decor than functionality. We bought 6 small, 6 medium and 6 tall candles, and clear glass hurricanes to match from the Christmas Tree shop for like $1-$2 each so it was perfect. We ended up using the candles and hurricanes throughout the rest of the weekend and we still have them!! They lasted a lot longer than I imagined. 

Glassware: For our glasses, we actually used our Waterford Lismore champagne flutes that we registered for. When we added them to our registry, we knew that we would be using them for the first time at the wedding so it actually worked out really well! I mean what better time to use them?? The two glasses Andrew and I used were a different Waterford Lismore flute style that we got for our engagement from his cousins. 

Tablecloth, Lights + Rentals:

Chairs + Table: These were rentals from Nantucket Tents, who were great to work with. They dropped these off when we needed, and picked them up the next morning after the wedding. The whole process was really easy. I knew I wanted a darker wood for the chairs as I just liked that vibe more than the white options. 

We used these chairs for our ceremony as well and then moved them over to the dinner table once we were done. For the tables themselves, they were the most basic folding tables -- we didn't really care about how they looked since we were putting the tablecloth over them anyway. 

Tablecloth c/o: This was one of the very first things I put into motion after getting engaged! Well, not the tablecloth directly, but the custom print, designed by one of my favorite people and artists, Riley! You can read a little more about our wedding print and how it came to be here. Today we're just talking about the tablecloth so this post doesn't get longer than it already is lol.

Riely was actually a major inspiration behind the tablecloth as she did something similar for her wedding by creating custom table runners. When I first reached out to her, I talked to her about how I would love to make a print for a tablecloth for the wedding and we got the ball rolling from there. The way the process works is that you can create any design and then turn it into just about anything you'd want to create on fabric via Spoonflower.

At the time, Spoonflower just sold fabric by the yard and it was my job to figure out how to turn it into a tablecloth (spoiler alert: it's not as easy as throwing it over the table lol). I turned to my mom for help as she's pretty crafty and a great sewer! But the issue was that the yards would need to be combined width-wise to go floor to floor over the table. Long story short, it turned into quite an issue trying to find a way to turn my wedding print into a tablecloth!

It wasn't until randomly searching on the internet did I find Roostery which is a company under Spoonflower and found that they do everything Spoonflower does but they do it on dining and living decor... aka a tablecloth. How I didn't find it before is beyond me... and I see that they made it even easier now as everything seems to also be available on Spoonflower directly!

So I was able to create this tablecloth (and you can too with your own print) for the dinner with the help of the Spoonflower team and Riley and it made the dinner really special for us. We ordered two rectangular tablecloths I *think* in the largest size. You're also able to order samples of fabric which really helps a lot because the first time around I realized that the colors were just too light and clashed with the other blue and white items on the table. 

I was able to re-upload a darker color print of the pattern as well as test out different pattern print sizes to see what works best. I swear at one point of wedding planning, the entire apartment just had square samples all over the place!!

Canopy Lights: These lights were one of the main visions I had for the dinner and wedding in general. I think I came across a photo on Instagram a couple years ago and fell in love with the idea. Actually, one of the major selling points of the house was the covered patio. Not only would it shield us from any unplanned weather, but it also made the light situation a whole lot easier since we could attach them to the walls/ceiling vs creating a structure to hold them up outside. 

I actually got a quote for lighting (creating a structure and stringing them on the house) and it was way too expensive. And so I decided to DIY it. I asked my FIL to be in charge of the lights with me and we talked a lot about how we could make this work. The photo inspiration actually had one really long string of light up, over and down repeating until there was a full canopy. The idea seems simple but the execution of it with attaching the strings together, dealing with extension cords, and also with plugs was a real nightmare.

So back to the drawing table I went, I can't begin to tell you the number of people who said it couldn't be done! But that wasn't going to stop me lol. I turned to Amazon (as one does) and started looking for outdoor string lights. I stumbled upon these curtain lights and thought I could probably make this work.

I ended up ordering four boxes to test and we mocked a curtain (one up, two across, and one down -- all their own light strip) in the living room of our summer rental and did a trial run with the proper dimensions of the patio (which we took down during a weekend visit a couple months prior). The plus of the lights was they were the perfect length to go from ceiling to floor. The hiccup with the lights is that the ceiling of the patio was longer than the lights but shorter than two lights together. 

So what we ended up doing was essentially hanging four strips (two on either side) and then taking two of the top strips of lights and bringing them together over the center of the ceiling. We used the twisty ties that the lights were wrapped in to tie the lights together in the middle and it worked out pretty well! They were silver anyway so they blended in perfectly.

For hanging the lights, we used little command light holders and they were pretty much invisible on the house and they didn't harm the house so we could put them up and take them down without worry. These lights actually plug into each other so we were able to plug almost all in that way and connected an extension cord off the porch and down around in the bushes and finally into an outlet. It was a lot but the final product was worth it!

I think in total, we ended up buying like 25 boxes of lights for the entire patio to be safe. Whatever we didn't open we ended up returning and for the ones we did open and put out, we ended up throwing them away (they got damaged in the storm the following day). They weren't really the kind of lights that you re-hang multiple times anyway and they get tangled really really easily so packing them back up to bring home wasn't really an option.

They actually tangle so much so that when you hang them up, you need to make sure that you keep them tied in their bunches until you're completely done hanging everything up. Then when the time comes, you let them drop down. The lights also came with a little remote so you could set them to whatever flashing, rotating light setting you wanted or put them on a timer. We just turned them on and let them be!

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