97 Days to Go!

Yesterday, I was honored to be a guest at a friend’s wedding in Dallas… this was the first wedding I’ve attended since becoming engaged, by one of my peers, in my city, and scheduled at the same time of day and day of week as my ceremony… so you can bet I was taking mental notes all evening. ūüôā

The ceremony was scheduled for 5:00, and actually got started at around 5:10. There were six bridesmaids, all¬†in tea-length, strapless black dresses, and six groomsmen in black tuxes with black ties (the groom had a grey tie). There were two flower girls and two ring-bearers. The bride wore white, with lots of rhinestone accents. The ceremony was lovely – it was in a church, and was religious, but was inclusive and sweet. There was something about a baseball that I didn’t quite understand (too many sports references for me!), but I appreciated the symbolism of the two pieces of leather stitched together with one string. There was also a touch of humor with the unity candle ceremony. The bride and groom stood with their individual candles for several minutes, attempting to light the unity candle, but it just wouldn’t take the flame. The minister stepped in to try to help, to no avail. Eventually the bride gave up and grabbed a nearby tealight and perched it on top of the candle as a makeshift solution. It was clever and funny, and the audience responded with appropriate laughter.

After the ceremony, we all headed to the Room on Main Street for the reception, which happens to be a 10 minute walk from my apartment. So instead of trying to find paid parking in the area, we just drove home and walked to the venue. Rich and I arrived a little later than the rest of our little group (there were 9 of us who knew each other from work), and found that our group had snagged a table and left a couple seats open for us. There were no escort cards, place cards, or table numbers in sight. Just 26 or 27 ten-person tables, one (that I saw) with a reserved sign, and a sweetheart table for the happy couple. There were two (open) bars at either side of the room, a photo booth tucked in the far corner near one of the bars, two small tables to the right of the entrance with bride and groom cakes, a table to the left for gifts, a buffet table on either side, and a DJ booth opposite the entrance, near the sweetheart table. The tables were round, with white tablecloths, a black runner, and black napkins. The centerpiece was a simple vase of white hydrangeas on a mirror base, surrounded by four candles.

At around 7:00, the wedding party entered the hall and took their seats, followed by a mariachi band! The mariachis serenaded the couple once they were seated, and the couple was served dinner and ate during the performance. After they were taken care of, tables were sent one by one to the buffet table to fill their plates. Food was standard wedding fare; beef, chicken, mixed veg, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, and bread – fairly similar to what we’ll be offering. The mariachi band continuted to play throughout dinner, and at around 8:00, was replaced with a DJ, who played dance music for the rest of the evening. At around 9:00, the MOH and BM gave toasts, and around 9:15, the cake was cut (the cake was a gorgeous 4-tiered work of art by The Cake Guys, patterned to match the bride’s dress, and was a delicious white cake).

We ate cake, drank a bit more, and took advantage of the photo booth. At some point around 8:00 or so, a caricature artist arrived and set up an easel near one of the bars. The line was too long for us to take advantage, but it seemed like a fun idea for those willing to wait.

We danced and drank, and had a fun time with my friends, and departed a little after 10:00. I saw a few others starting to make their way to the door at around that time, and I would guess that the party probably wrapped up before 11:00.

One other thing I should mention – the bride was assisted by Courtney from Bride Associates, who is also my coordinator! It was really great seeing her in action – very organized and in control, but also very unobtrusive and behind-the-scenes. I took a moment to say hello and congratulate her on her own recent engagement, but she understandably didn’t have a lot of time to chat. ūüôā

Ideas¬†I’m going to steal… I wasn’t quite¬†sure at first, but the more¬†I think about it, the more I like the idea of unassigned seating. People tend to gravitate towards the guests that they know, and they end up sitting where you probably would have assigned them, anyway.¬† And I can see how it’d relieve a little pressure from the bride & groom, too… they don’t have to worry as much¬†about tracking every name, assigning every seat and worrying about no-shows, and (even worse) trying to find spots for extras who didn’t RSVP. To accomodate everyone in this fashion, it’s probably wise to have at least one extra table, since some groups might not fill a complete table. But I think, even with an extra table, I’d save money this way, since I wouldn’t be investing in table numbers and escort/place cards.

I liked the idea of the couple being announced as they entered, and immediately going to the dance floor for their first song.¬† They’re up anyway, and everyone’s attention is focused on them at that moment, so why not?¬† I also liked that the couple was fed as soon as they sat down.¬† This gave them time to enjoy a quick bite, then get up and mingle while others were getting their food.

I liked the aisle runner she used for the ceremony, and really think I should invest in something similar.  I guess hers was to protect the carpet from crushed rose petals Рmine would be to protect my dress from grass stains.

What I’m going to skip… The DJ wasn’t really to my tastes.¬† He was very talented at scratching and such, but I didn’t like how he mixed songs together – there’d be a few phrases of one song, then it’d jump to another, and another, with no breaks in between.¬† And everything was current popular dance¬†music, without any ballads to slow things down.¬† So the older people in the group had nothing to dance to.¬† I’d rather do a mix of fast and slow so there’s a little something for everybody.¬† And there were few announcements… at one point he told everyone to be quiet so that the bridal party could do toasts, but that was pretty much it.¬† No announcement (that I heard) that cake was being cut or served.

The second bar ended up being largely unnecessary.¬† Most people gravitated towards the one in the front, and I really think it would have been enough to accomodate everyone.¬† And since she had more guests than I’ll have, I think I’ll do fine with just one.¬† Also, my drink of choice (vodka cranberry) seemed to be many people’s drink of choice for the evening, so I’ll have to remember to stock up on vodka!

The photo booth was fun, but I don’t know how many people took advantage of it.¬† And the booth shot out duplicates of the pictures – usually, the bride and group would keep one copy as a memento, and the guest would keep the other, but we were given both copies.¬† So it was a cute favor for us, but nothing that the couple will ever see, and that seemed like a shame.

Overall, though, it was a really fun experience, and Rich and I had a great time celebrating with the lucky couple!

EDIT: I didn’t really think about it until days later, when I saw pictures popping up on Facebook… we completely missed the bouquet and garter toss!¬† It must have happened well after 10 – I’m sorry I missed it, but it was just too late for us to stay on a work night.