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