Monday, June 6, 2011

The Reception

Our reception was the best party we’ve ever thrown (so far), and we're people who love throwing parties. We love dinner parties. We love crazy holiday parties with pinatas. We love giant 30th birthday party scavenger hunts. We love the energy of a great party and love hosting events that create a warm evening for our friends. So in the end, that’s where we put our wedding planning efforts and splurges, deciding to prioritize great music, great food, great drinks, and a crazy DIY photobooth over an expensive dress or fancy (or easy) venue.

We told people to aim for clothing on “the casual side of dressy,” to honor the day with the excitement of getting dressed up while still feeling comfortable enough that people let their hair down. We wanted our first married party to thank our community for the support and love we’ve received along the way.  We wanted all our disparate groups to actually feel like a community, with the casual vibe facilitating conversations that moved beyond small talk. And we wanted it to feel like a heartfelt celebration, infused with the importance of our ceremony, but in a joy-let-loose way.

And I think that’s exactly what we managed to achieve.

The moment we arrived at the cocktail hour from our yichud, we were engulfed in a sea of hugs and love.

We didn't have favors, but we wanted a way to say thank you for coming to our wedding, for supporting us in our lives and marriage, and to express our genuine love for our family and friends. So our guests were each greeted with a handwritten, personal note inside their placecards.

For everyone concerned about a wine and beer reception feeling cheap... I can assure you it wasn’t. We bought a range of good beer options from Costco (it was about the same price as kegs and glass rentals). We made sangria with Two Buck Chuck and fruit from Costco. I insisted on fancy sparkling fruit drinks and sparkling water. The (very nice) wine was a generous gift from my grandmother. And although all our plans for presentation went awry (green plastic "backup" cups accidentally got used for the sangria and all the signage was made in a last minute panic), we threw some flowers on the bar and no one cared or noticed. They were too happy drinking up (and complimenting us on) the tasty drink offerings. 

We couldn’t afford catered appetizers. I spent ages trying to find easy, cheap, make-ahead options that fit with our fusion Mexican meal. In the end, I decided to make it easy on myself with a chips and salsa appetizer bar. We made it feel more special by offering six gourmet salsa options and focusing on nice presentation.

We never rehearsed our first dance. But we were so in love, that no one cared about our junior high shuffle. 

And then we transitioned into some crazy dance moves during the next song. Which, oddly, was a lot less awkward for me than the first dance. When two unselfconcious goofballs get married, apparently they get down on the dance floor. Even when it’s still light out and they haven’t yet had anything to drink.

Still on the fence about having a taco truck wedding? Don’t be. The Border Grill Truck was amazing. A-MA-ZING. We could NEVER have afforded such gourmet food if we’d hired normal caterers or restaurants. But we got access the the high-end Border Grill kitchen at (high end but still) taco truck prices. We offered vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and meat options in our menu of chopped salad, poblano chile quesadilla, tamales, tacos (carne asada, chicken, and potato), rice, and beans. They were easy to work with, we hired service staff and bartenders through their full-service catering division (one less vendor to deal with!), and people are still raving about the food. Seriously.

After dinner and toasts, Jason and his college a capella group surprised me with a song. For anyone who feels an ironic snort coming on with the mention of a capella, you’ve clearly never been serenaded by your new husband and his talented friends, performing a song from the night you got engaged.

There was dessert. Specifically, there was a three-tiered flourless chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and white chocolate shavings, all made by a friend who can kick Martha Stewart’s bum. It was served concurrently with Border Grill churro balls. Yes, this was a dessert fiend’s dream. Yes, I am a dessert fiend.

scans from our DIY photobooth

There was a DIY photobooth and guest book, comprised of a Fuji Instax camera, our friends’ Halloween costumes, notecards, archival pens, tape, and some Ikea fabric I had laying around. Although I've never been keen on the idea of a guest book,  I was really excited about the idea of facilitating photo ridiculousness and associated notecard messages. The enthusiasm was fueled by alcohol and love and the resulting photos and messages are amazing. They make me cry and laugh all at once.

There was a dance party. I will share more on this later, because seriously, The Flashdance gave us the best danceparty ever. Like, take the best night dancing you've ever had, multiply it by at least 103, and then you can start to understand the fun. Our musician friends and grandparents alike flipped their sh*t and went wild.

A play-by-play reception recap can't possibly capture the explosion of love and support and joy we felt during our wedding. Although I remember each moment so clearly, it's the general feeling of warmth and joy that has stayed with me. And although I shared this image before, it's about the only thing that starts to illustrate the actual emotions I experienced that day, as the evening ended with a spontaneous group hug.

We rode a wave of love all the way back to our hotel. The night ended when friends surprised us with a fully-decorated getaway car and personalized mix CD for the ride. This was a whole other sort of group hug, leaving me misty-eyed and shaking from joy as we drove into our first night as husband and wife.

All photos by Kelly Prizel Photography, unless otherwise indicated


  1. Your reception photos look exactly what I dream ours feels like.

    Oh, and we almost hired the BG truck based on those churro balls alone but the Smog Shoppe wouldn't let them park it outside (argh).

    Still doing tacos though. Viva the So Cal/Jewish/Mexican fare wedding!

  2. This post could be titled "I win."

    Agreed with Bri. I want this wedding.

  3. Gosh. Even without words, the pictures say this wedding was a resounding success!

    I've only been to one wedding that was fun, but I don't think we had as good a time as your guests did.

  4. @Bri - really? Smog Shoppe used to let other tact trucks park there. I'm happy you're still doing the Jewish/Mexican food wedding (it worked for us!)

    And for anyone considering Border Grill, we had a full buffet instead of eating from the truck, so that's an option if parking is an issue.

    @Robin - if by "I win" you mean "heck yeah, I'm married! woot!" than yeah. Exactly. The party was icing on the (large and delicious) cake.

    @Anonymous - I think it was a success because we love and like each other. A lot. I've been to a ton of weddings and, so long as the couple loves and likes each other, I've had a great time, even if it was a vastly different format than ours.

  5. All I can say is that this looks EPIC! So much joy and love and prettiness. Seriously, so pretty and so fun.

  6. So glad you had such a wonderful time. The dinner looks just wonderful. Scaled so well.

  7. those dancing faces are perfection! I love them so much!!

  8. Yay!!! The love in these photos is so evident.

    Those churro balls almost made me change our menu when we tried them at the tasting. Sooooooo good. But we'll have plenty of homemade dessert and we'll be fine.

    We've already decided to give up on appetizers that go with the food in any way at all. I'm just going to swing by Costco and pick up a couple of giant platters of whatever they have that will tide people over during cocktail hour. And I'm pretty sure we'll just be serving them straight out of whatever black plastic tray they come in. We're at that point already.

  9. @Rachel - ha! The black Costco platters were my other option (fyi - you can order ahead). Instead, we got organic tortilla chips from Costco (yay for bulk), gourmet salsa from Gallegos Mexican Deli (which a friend picked up for us) and served them in matching reusable bowls from Party City. Honestly, Costco would have been fine but my option was also easy, which was the most important part. "Good Enough" was our motto and it certainly worked for us.

  10. The energy and joy in these photos is just awesome!! What an amazing celebration of you and Jason.

  11. This post is really inspirational. I'm getting to the home stretch of my wedding planning, and it can be hard to keep the doubts away. Like, "is it REALLY ok to serve pizza at our wedding?" and "can we really get most of the stuff we need from Costco?" and stuff like that. Throwing a budget wedding certainly encourages that kind of thinking. It's great to see it work so beautifully.

  12. This looks like it was so fun!!!! Congrats! :)

  13. @Bret - I know those doubts well. And from the other side, I can finally say with conviction: so long as you love each other and make sure people are comfortable (providing basic chairs, food, drink, safety, etc) you'll have a great wedding. So long as *you're* enthusiastic about your pizza (and who the heck doesn't like pizza?! Pizza was actually my emergency contingency plan, in case everything went to heck) everyone* else will go with the wedding flow and embrace it too.

    *except for that one guy/gal. There's usually one, and to hir I say, it's your sad loss.

  14. God, I love your wedding. You had the dance party I wished we had, but our DJ sucked arse.

    WHA? And beer and wine receptions are kick-ass. Picky drinkers need not imbibe, that was my motto!

    Seriously, you had a serious party and you had fun (clearly). Who was it at the top? They got it right:
    Becca: WIN
    WIC: F*cking LOSE.

  15. I'm so glad that the things you guys kind of worried over came out so well. The food and the splurge for the DJ especially.

    It doesn't surprise me you have a community who loves you this much.

  16. Grinning, heart full of happy. AWESOME.

  17. These photos have so much life in them! So colorful and warm - makes wish I could just step into them! Looks like a d*mn good party. And churro balls... I've been lusting after those since you first mentioned the idea.

    (oh, and glad the instax camera worked out, yay!)

  18. Fabulous! I just so like every picture that was posted in this blog. I love your wedding, it was actually simple yet so much life and love on it.. Congratulations.


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