So, now that we've studied individual components of a wedding's look in some detail, the question is, how do we put it all together? For each hypothetical wedding I plan, I usually pick some sort of unifying theme that ties in with the season and color scheme. So, as I think I've already mentioned, one of my favorite ideas for an inexpensive winter wedding is to do a citrus theme. That takes care of the color and menu choices! Centerpieces would be bowls of clementines, favors could be chocolate oranges, etc.
My hypothetical weddings started out incredibly grand and formal, and while I still wouldn't mind having a wedding like that, I've realized that weddings should really be only slight embellishments of how you and your family usually entertain. This led me to conclude that I should have my wedding at the Potomac Boat Club in Washington, DC. My dad has been a member since before I was born, and still keeps his single racing shell there. My mom is now also a member and she and my dad go out on the river together. We also held a big 45th birthday party for Mom there, not to mention my own Sweet Sixteen, which was an incredibly fun party that Eva and I had together. So what follows is my proposal for a PBC wedding.
The Boat Club is tucked under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown, so it's not the most glamorous of river properties. Downstairs is the big storage room that houses all the boats and leads to the dock. Upstairs is the "ballroom" which is usually full of ergs, and the bathrooms. There is also a balcony above, just perfect for throwing the bridal bouquet. The ballroom is panelled with dark wood, lined with built in benches and old photographs, and has french doors leading out to a veranda with a view of the river, Key Bridge, and Rosalyn, VA. To the left of the veranda is a smallish roof terrace. The whole space is probably not big enough for a sit-down dinner, but part of the charm of this wedding is that it's a more casual cocktail-y stand-up reception. Plenty of dancing, food, and drinks, but no awkward tables of conversationally-challenged people.
I struggled at first to come up with an organizing decorative theme for the wedding. "Boating" or "rowing" or other nautical themes made me cringe at the thought of crossed oars or signal flags or similar all over my wedding invitations. Beach themes were also (more unfortunately) out. Then I got it, sea glass! Sea glass would provide a wonderful color palette of blues and greens and relate to the water, while still making sense at a boat club.
Guests would get their first glimpse of these colors in the "Ocean" stationery from MountainCow, which I would use to print out the invitations at home. Or, if I was feeling ambitious, I would hand write them.
The "ceremony" will probably last ten minutes and take place on the dock. Yes, guests will have to make their way through the racks of rowing shells to get to the dock. Yes, some poor guy will probably be trying to use the dock to hose down his boat after a sweaty row. But this still seems easier than making everyone get to both a church and the reception. Plus, I don't know which church I would use since the one I went to growing up seems too far from the Boat Club. So the ceremony will probably be on the dock. If I can't find a reasonably priced and fabulous used or vintage wedding dress I'll probably get a white bridesmaid's dress or something from J.Crew. My bridesmaids would wear their own dresses in blues or greens, and the groomsmen can wear their own outfits too. But I might breakdown and dress the ring bearer and flower girl (probably my niece Lily and nephew Jackson) in matching seersucker.
The bridesmaids and I would carry big bouquets of baby's breath, which happen to symbolize everlasting love. I also might torture everyone by hiring a bagpiper to play, which is a family tradition at weddings. But I'll make up for it by getting a great live band for the reception.
As soon as the ceremony's over, guests will be offered a choice of cocktails, wine and beer. I'd want to serve Pim's Cup, another family tradition, and some sort of champagne cocktail, to remind us it's a wedding. We'll set up a bar or two inside and put all the beer in big containers of ice out on the veranda. Then we can tent the roof terrace and use it to serve all the food. We'll set up small tables and chairs inside and out so about half the guests can sit at any one time. But all the food will require fingers only, or at most a fork, so sitting down to eat won't be necessary for the young and nimble. Right now I'm thinking there will be a mix of Mediterranean things: tapas, antipasti, middle eastern stuff, and maybe a grilling station.
The cocktail tables will have blue or green tablecloths and centerpieces of glass cylinder vases (which you can rent or buy wholesale on eBay) filled with sea glass, pillar and votive candles, and maybe our baby's breath bouquets. To help fill out the lighting provided by the candles, we'll suspend white, blue, and green paper lanterns from the ceilings of the tent and ballroom.
In fact, paper goods might be another theme of the wedding, if ForYourParty.com has anything to say about it. I would want to get custom printed cocktail napkins in the design at left, with white flowers on a light green background, which reminds me of my favorite baby's breath (FYI ordering custom napkins can be cheaper than buying them in the store because you order in bulk). I would also get custom matchbooks to hand out as favors (and add to my own matchbook collection). I like the format and typeface of the example below but would use light blue script.
After some toasts and plenty of dancing it will be time for dessert. Since all the food is meant to be eaten easily with the fingers, I think the perfect wedding cake would be a tower of cupcakes instead. I would skip the fussy lace trim and fondant hearts you see here and decorate them with blue and green sugar crystals to tie in with the sea glass. Since my grandma is a one-person cookie factory, the cupcakes might well be the centerpiece of a dessert buffet of homemade sweets. All in all, I expect this wedding to cost about $6,000 for about 100 people, not bad for a wedding! Of course, prices might go up. Then again, if my wedding-planning trend continues my requirements might also continue to go down.