In the last post of my wedding week series, I'm sharing the decor, dinner, band, toasts, first dance, outfit change, after party, and our honeymoon location!
I cannot believe this is the last post in my wedding series this week. It’s both been a joy to relive this all, and also taken years off of my life to put these posts together. 😂 Kidding kidding, but it’s an impossible task to sum up our wedding week in a few posts! But the finale, and our favorite part of the day (the real celebration) is worth describing to its fullest. Our wedding reception will go down as our most favorite hours together, and with our friends and family, ever.
My aim was for it to feel ethereal, romantic, warm, and welcoming– like you were sitting at the coziest big dinner table at a party you never wanted to leave. We tried to achieve this with green and white block print botanical tablecloths on all of the round tables, white embroidered/sequined tablecloths on the long u-shaped wedding party tables (these actually matched my wedding dress, which was crazy), little cordless lamps lining the tables, moss-filled topiaries and overflowing arrangements of garden roses and peonies, and of course hundreds of little clear tea lights everywhere.
There were also personal touches that my mom and I sourced and hand-picked for the tent– like big pink and white ceramic lamps for the bars, dinner menus that were hand-painted with our wedding print and darling illustrations of the food we’d be eating, and hanging plate walls with pink and green floral/cabbage plates from my mom’s personal collection. When I tell you this was a labor love, I mean it. From spray painting the wicker furniture my mom thrifted, sourcing the exact shade of gold we wanted on the planters, and framing the cocktail menus for the bars with our favorite ornate frames, we (ok, mostly my mom), put our whole heart into every single detail.
I know I mentioned this in my post about the cocktail hour right before the reception, but the sky was giving moody pinks and purples, which turned into big rain clouds that spilled out buckets during my dad’s speech. Fortunately, we were all in the tent and it didn’t affect anything, but you could hear the droplets hit the canvas of the tent and it was the coolest sound and feeling. I actually LOVE the rain, and have always believed the wives tale that it’s good luck for it to rain on your wedding day, so I was beaming when I heard the (rather quick) storm come through. It also felt very Florida. 😊
The reception dinner was a combination of local Vero Beach fruits and our favorite foods. The starter was a butter lettuce salad that had local citrus, avocado, and goat cheese in it, and for the entrée everyone received chicken piccata with winter vegetable farrotto. I also was adamant about having big bread baskets on the table when everyone sat down, because I’m the girl who always asks for one at every restaurant (priorities, right!). For dessert we served mini Hummers (a John’s Island cocktail specialty that’s basically an alcoholic milkshake 😂), along with vanilla cake with strawberry cream filling, fresh strawberries, buttercream frosting, and vanilla ice cream, which was the sweetest, most scrumptious ending to the evening! The after party was all pizza, espresso martinis, and some much needed water… lol.
Our band, The Headliners, were unbelievable. For the full four and a half hours that we had them they only took about a 20 minute dinner break (while we were eating dinner), and they played everything from Frank Sinatra to Avicci. I remember us agonizing over the decision of which band to go with, and we absolutely made the right call. Our guests only sat down for the speeches and to scarf down their salads and entrées. 😂
We chose our band and the song list VERY carefully (I was actually super micro-managing about it), and was so glad we put in the time to be so involved in the song selection. But honestly the biggest entertainment were our guests… we had people doing the worm, shimmying with hot pink boas, dancing on the stage, lifting us up on chairs, playing keep-away with a disco ball (what else), and there was even a free-standing backflip in the middle of the dance floor at one point. Let’s just say everyone brought their A game.
My dad and Johnny’s brother (also his best man) made toasts during dinner. We kept it short by just having the two of them speak, and it was a good decision because we could hardly get everyone to sit still long enough for those lol. Johnny and I sat next to the dance floor on the wicker couch my mom thrifted to watch them give their speeches. It almost felt as if we were sitting in someone’s (very large and tented) sunroom, on their old wicker couch, which I loved. My dad talked about the morning Johnny asked him for my hand in marriage (crying) and his brother spoke to our relationships with him and mixed in some hilarious childhood memories. To cap it all off, he gave us Bulls jerseys with our names on the back (both Johnny and his brother are big Chicago sports fans). Both my dad and Johnny’s brother had prepared so well you would have thought they were running for president.
After those speeches, Johnny and I stood in the middle of the dance floor and both spoke to thank our guests and parents. I can barely recollect what I said, and thought I hadn’t prepared anything (only to remember days later that I had written a whole mini speech in the middle of the night a few days before the wedding… which I then completely forgot about). But I do remember joking about my mom and I planning this wedding since I was basically born, and having known that Johnny asked my dad for my hand in marriage due to the fact that my dad finally let Johnny drive his boat in Maine. 😂
Our First Dance
Our first dance was to “Enchanted” by Taylor Swift— we wanted a dramatic sing-along with lots of dips and even a lift, so that worked perfectly. We went to the Fred Astaire dance academy on the Upper East Side in NYC for our lessons and can’t recommend them enough! Other tips– cloud effect and cold sparks bring the DRAMA for a first dance! The man we hired to do the cold sparks actually ended up staying two hours past the time we had hired him (he said he was just having such a good time, no joke hahah), and he ended up shooting them off again when we did our re-entry after my outfit change, and at other random times throughout the night. He was a legend.
My Outfit Change
For my outfit change, I wanted to make an entrance because we weren’t having an official wedding ‘exit’ (we wanted to make sure we were the ones closing down the reception bar… come on now), so I planned to get on Johnny’s shoulders and hold two champagne bottles with sparklers shooting out of them for our re-entry post-outfit change. Crazy? Extra? Risky? Yes, yes, and yes. 😂 But hands-down a major highlight of the evening and so us (also blame my Bachelorette in St. Barts as this was definitely something I picked up at Bagatelle…). Luckily after eight years together, none of my crazy ideas surprise Johnny anymore and he was game– didn’t even bat an eye, bless him. It was just as much fun as it was reckless, and is definitely something we will show our future kids to remind them that we used to party it up back in the day.
My mom also had no idea we were planning that (and she was the most intimately involved person in every detail of the wedding), so that was hysterical in itself. I know I’m doing something right when I can even shock her. I also found my after party dress about two weeks before our wedding… which is incredibly unlike me, but nothing was giving the Florida-flamingo-pink-flirty-frilly vibe I was going for. Until I saw this little number released on Revolve, and it was the most outrageously perfect thing I had seen. Just thank the good Lord for the fashion tape we had fastened to the sides of it.
The After Party
After our band played the last song, “Don’t Stop Believing,” and the encore song, “Love Story,” (highly recommend both– also definitely decide on an encore song with your band ahead of time), we formed a long conga line that went from the reception tent right to the beach bar at our venue, where a DJ was set up and already playing our favorite songs from our college years. There wasn’t a breather in between either dance floor, except when a group of people ended up in the pool… which the bride and groom may or may not have led. Around 1 AM my parents drove our Moke back to our home and Johnny and I took the bus with our wedding party back into town, where we walked barefoot back to our hotel room.
For our honeymoon we traveled all that way to the Coco Bodu Hithi resort in the Maldives for a week, and then to Raffles The Palm in Dubai for a few nights! Johnny’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day (as well as our dating anniversary), so we celebrated all of the above while on our honeymoon as well.
Finally, I absolutely have to shout out our videographer, Erikson Corbin, and our photographer, Joseph Rogero, who both had videos and photos back to us within 48 hours of the wedding, which is extremely rare for wedding vendors and solidified how they’re the best in the game. They really made us (mostly Johnny, who isn’t used to excessive photos and vides) feel SO comfortable, at ease, and like ourselves during the wedding day, which was extremely important to me. Their creative, unique eye for capturing pure emotion and energy also set them apart from any other videographers and photographers I looked into, and I have such an appreciation for the care and love they put into documenting the most magical day of our lives, for us too relive and remember forever.
After Party Look
Our Wedding Vendors
Church: First Baptist of Vero Beach // Reception Venue: @ji_club // Catering & Cake: @ji_club // Coordination: @annacarolineweddings // Band: @theheadlinersband // String Quartet: @lotusstringquartet // Officiant: @gracespacechristiancoaching // Tent: @sperrytents // Florals: @hutchinsonsfloral // Linens: @nuagedesignsinc, @bbjlatavola // Rentals: @achairaffair, @orlandosparklersse // Photography: @joseph.rogero // Videography: @eriksoncorbin // Dress: @dylanparientyparis (wedding), @bronxandbanco (after party) // Shoes: Jimmy Choo (wedding), @stuartweitzman (after party) // Jewelry: vintage necklace, Asha earrings (wedding), Chanel earrings (after party) // Hair & Makeup: @cindygoetzmakeupartist & @lindsaynaffzigerstylist // Stationery: @ashleyd_studio, @emilymccarthyshoppe, @anne_vallette // After Party DJ: @wearetraxxentertainment // Transportation: BTM Motorcoach