Wednesday, April 9, 2014

planning our wedding: forget the reception!

no, we didn't forego the reception, i just refused to call it that! it's a celebration in my book! it was so much fun to think about how to create a space to connect with our guests after we were proclaimed husband & wife. 

the values guiding our celebration planning:
  • simplicity
  • comfort
  • really tasty, filling food and generous portions
  • ease & flow
  • connection
when we considered what we wanted our celebration to look like, we wanted first and foremost for people to be well-fed and relaxed. since we had an interesting set of constraints (i.e. no kitchen or power since we were at a remote park), we were given an opportunity to think creatively. one thing that did emerge in this process was that neither of us were married to having dancing at the wedding. this is an example of questioning an assumption and realizing that dancing wasn't necessary or important to us. it simplified the whole event! we would rather have time and space to talk to our guests, unhurried by an exhaustive program. the only thing driving us was trying to get around to everyone!

anyway, we imagined how awesome it would be to have picnic style set-up so people could enjoy good food and then lounge around. or if they wanted, our guests could play games and watch their kids (or adults) run around a giant green field. with that vision in mind we created this:

eat till you drop: originally, i wanted to have five different food trucks of all varieties so that people could eat whatever they wanted, but when i started looking at cost, it was prohibitive. so we decided on one food truck by koja kitchen & a custom crepe making station by crĂªperie saint-germain. because samuel is ethnically french and jewish and i'm korean, it was really fun to have our food represent both of our backgrounds. the best part? our guests could have as much as they wanted. unlimited, hot food! AWESOME. in addition to the main course, for appetizers, we had a huge platter of fruit (thanks to our friends lisa & michael ng who gifted this to us), nuts (thanks to costco) and a variety of dduk: korean rice cakes (thanks to my mom). apparently, it was more than enough food. phew!

only one interruption. sometimes at weddings, you might be having a great conversation with someone you haven't seen in a while, but every 10-15 minutes, your attention will get called to the front. nothing wrong with that; sometimes you want the interruption! but we cut out all the toasts, first dance, groom dance with mom, bride dance with father, game 1, game 2, bouquet toss... honestly, we just didn't connect with most of the wedding traditions out there. instead, we decided to have one item on the program: the cake cutting. after appetizers and lunch, we had everyone gather one last time together. 

the cake: a work of art. i can't even describe to you the intricacies of cake that our dear friend chris marcell murchison made for us. it was his wedding gift to us, and it was an intensive multi-day labor of deep love. the bespoke cake was a hazelnut genoise with a berry (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries) and cream filling, and a white chocolate buttercream icing. and when i saw it, i couldn't believe it. to decorate it, chris and his partner daniel meticulously placed every leaf & flower to perfection surrounding the delightful cake toppers that our dear sheri jarvis made and shipped to us all the way from montana! all of it, was an exquisite piece of artwork and i felt overwhelmed by this expression of love. we had chris come up and describe the cake to everyone before we all dug into it.

kid-friendly games. not only do i have four adorable nieces under the age of six, we have a lot of friends who have small children, so we wanted them to feel free to bring their kids (and not have to find a sitter), so all of them could enjoy the celebration. my dear friend josh brought his homemade giant bubble makers, which entertained the kids like no other. we also had a little station where kids could go on a scavenger hunt, hula hoop, play with play-doh and silly putty, or draw.

adult-friendly activities.
  • remember my "soon-to-be disposable centerpieces?" well, i got $1 tin cans from target's $1 section and filled it with candy, paper, and some markers. i asked our friends to help us with a little project by drawing something they saw during the wedding. the intention was to send those cards to our guests as thank you's, but i'm still deciding what to do with them. (*clearing throat* to those who attended our wedding, thank you's are on their way!)
  • bingo: as a way for people to connect with others, i created a bingo game where you had to find out who fit the description in the box. if you got bingo, you'd get a little reward: $5! i had so much fun designing this activity, and who doesn't like getting money?
  • adult toy box: don't be dirty minded. this toy box had frisbees, dodgeballs, board games, etc that people could play with. the best part? we asked a few of our friends to bring stuff to fill the box, then take it home when they were leaving. 
  • picnic blankets and pillows: one of the most memorable moments from my wedding was when samuel and i pulled up to the picnic area after we went off to take some photos by the lake. when we pulled up, i saw my friend's husband laying on one of the blankets, resting his head on a pillow. he lifted his head and gave us a nod and i remember thinking, "that is exactly what i wanted people to do! awesome!" it gave me a good laugh. 
    • note: i bought used flat sheets at a thrift store and washed them, and the pillows were mostly borrowed from my friend emily. i asked her to take them home with her after the celebration, and she graciously did!

when all was over, we took off and our friends and family stuck around to help clean up. but the celebration didn't stop there! since our wedding went from 11:30 to 4pm-ish, we hosted a final family dinner that evening. we had so much fun spending relaxed time with our extended family at cafe pro bono. the service was impeccable and the food, delectable.

our only change would be that we could've had more time to connect with everyone. the day went by far too fast. (oh! and i never got a chance to eat a crepe. major bummer because everyone raved about them.) otherwise, we loved our celebration! 

up next: our itemized budget!


  1. so beautiful and so fun!!!

  2. All looks so perfect and full of enjoy. Its really an impressive idea to get together with family and loved ones. Liz, you have suggested such a impressive ideas for adult activities. Thanks for posting it.


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