Daltongirl and Nemesis have done an excellent job of documenting this glorious occasion. And now it is my turn to let you know a little more about what went into making the reception so great.
So much of this wedding was planning long distance. My mom was out in Maryland. We talked on the phone quite a bit and tried to get things together as best as possible. Because the reception was going to be held in a different state from where my family actually lived, we decided it was better to hire a caterer to do all the work. So we went through caterer-choosing hell. One caterer stood us up. Another made it very clear that we knew way more about food than they did. Finally we found a caterer who looked like they could do a very capable job. So we hired them.
And then they sent us their estimate.
For 150 people it was going to be about $6,000. And that was for a minimal, cost-saving food offering. We had meat, fruit, pasta salad, green salad, desserts, and WATER. To add a beverage would have cost $1.50-$2.00 per person, which Squirrel Boy accurately pointed out that for that cost, we could buy everyone their own 2-liter. The wait staff was $150 per person, in addition to the inflated food cost. And on top of all that, of course, we were expected to tip 20%.
My mom kept saying that if we were doing it in Maryland, we could do it ourselves because she has her support group. I kept telling her that I have a very good support group out here and they could do it! Finally, after seeing that ridiculous statement, my whole body was buzzing with empowerment and I went to Costco and walked down EVERY SINGLE AISLE and wrote down any food item that would lend itself to minimal preparation and maximum presentation. I had a large list of foods. I called my mom and went through it with her and we decided that yes, it was doable! We could do it ourselves, and it wouldn't actually be that hard.
At the mention of "I fired my caterer" all members of my wonderful support group without prodding volunteered to be put to work. (This is where I start to get teary-eyed.) I have the most amazing and talented and dedicated friends, and I am so grateful to each of you. I honestly had no idea how much work would actually be involved, but you all rose to the occasion and put on a reception that exceeded my expectations.
It sounds rude to say that: exceeded my expectations. But what I mean by that is that in my head, I had a picture of what I would be able to do myself. But all of you working together were able to do so much more than anything I could have done myself or even thought of myself. And somehow, in the middle of all the preparations before the wedding date, it never really occurred to me that I would be doing none of the work. Everyone did an amazing job and put together for me the most perfect reception I could ever hope for.
And now, for my speech, in which I thank every individual who contributed:
To Murray's family:
Thank you for always offering help, even though I was never good at figuring out which jobs to give you. You came through though and found the things that you could do. Thank you for taking care of the linens and the tuxes. Thank you for handing out the favors. The girls looked so cute, and the boys got involved later in the evening, too. In fact, one of them came up to me and offered me a favor. So cute. Thank you for taking care of the flowers. Everything was so perfect. Thank you for taking care of the gifts for us. Thank you for hosting our out-of-town guests. Thank you for the wonderful breakfast that filled me and Murray up enough that we weren't hungry for the rest of the day. Thank you for your wonderful support. We love you so much.
To Mary Moo and Miss Precocious:
Thank you Mary Moo for doing an amazing job of the decorations. The buffet table was spectacular---words don't come close to expressing the awe that I felt looking at your work. What vision! Miss Precocious, I hear that you were busy all night long as Mary Moo's personal assistant. Everyone was so impressed with you and how hard you worked!
To Patience and Viktor:
Thank you so much for the pumpkins! I didn't even notice that one had a picture of the temple until I was going through the pictures. Such attention to detail! They were wonderful, and Patience, I'm sorry that you took out a chunk of your finger.
Thank you for working hard all night to serve the guests. Viktor, special thanks to you for volunteering to come to our home and braving the possibility of finding us in an indiscreet fashion. I promise you that nothing was going on anyway and will shortly defend my honor. Thank you again to both of you and to Miss Precocious for being friends who are as close as family.
To Dr. Rice:
Thank you for flying out to my wedding from DC just to be put to work. And thank you for doing all that work in stilettos. I think that about twenty people have told me how hard you worked all night---"And she was wearing stilettos the whole time!!" Don't worry. I will never reveal your actual height. Thank you also for wearing a skirt instead of going pantless or skirtless, as you are prone to do. It means the world to me. Thank you for doing the aprons. You. Yourself. All alone.
To Switchback, Maid of Honor:
Thank you also for spending money to fly out to my wedding, only to be put to work. Thank you for being with me pretty much the whole weekend and being my personal assistant. Thank you for helping me with my makeup. I love how I am able to throw you in with a group of my friends who are all strangers to you, and you can immediately bond with them. When anyone meets you, they understand immediately why I would want to have you around as a friend. I really enjoyed our bouquet hand-off instead of a toss.
You really deserve it. I love you so much.
To Nemesis, Jenny, Daltongirl, and Ambrosia:
You are my blog ladies and you all came through as my primary support group. Thank you so much. My parents can't get over all the work you did. In fact, they feel bad that you worked so hard. They keep talking about it again and again, saying that you worked like dogs. You really impressed them and I was so proud to show my parents the high quality of friends I have out here. You are all amazing. You have all proven yourselves to be kitchen goddesses in the past---yes, even you, Daltongirl---and I couldn't have chosen a better bunch to entrust with my reception food.
To Cousin C and her friend A:
Thank you for calling up and volunteering to help. I hardly saw you at all during the reception and I didn't meet friend A, but I hear that you two were wonderful and took charge of the dessert and drink table. I appreciate the initiative you took in offering your services. It's people like you who are needed in this world!
To my Siblings:
Thanks to each of you for the days of work that went into the reception. I think that The Boy was running errands for four days straight. You all did such great work, and as The Boy pointed out, you did it all in your tuxes. I don't even know which things each of you were responsible for, but I know that you were all in charge of bringing all the items to the Art Museum before the reception. As Daltongirl and Nemesis pointed out, the kitchen was full of food when they got there to start helping out. I know that took several trips and several loads. I know that you had to run lots of errands. I am so impressed with all of you, and very grateful to know that I can always rely on you for help. Captain Mom, even though I know you hate that blog name, a special thanks goes out to you. From the very start, you've been available for consulting (which I did many times because you're the pro). I really trust and value your opinion and your help throughout the whole wedding-planning process was invaluable. Most of the time, Mom and I would say, "Well, they did it this way at their wedding, so we should do the same thing." You set a good example a few years ago, and that was really key in helping me know what to do. Thank you for always offering help, and always volunteering exactly what you could do to help. The buffet table looked wonderful thanks to you and your family dishes. Thank you for all the cooking you did ahead of time to try out recipes that could work at the reception. I hear that several people have been asking for the ice box pudding recipe. I am so blessed to have you as my big sister; you came through splendidly this time.
To Mom and Dad:
Where did you get that chef's jacket? Seeing Dad in the chef's jacket on top of his tux I think says it all. Both of you have been working so hard for so long to make this day come together, not to mention paying money to make of all my decisions and ideas into a reality. I am grateful to you for putting on the best wedding I could have ever imagined. It was a lot of work and time and energy. Thanks for figuring out how to do the mums in the pumpkins! Thanks for developing a menu that would really work! Thanks for the days you spent in the kitchen! Thanks Dad for carving all that meat (three minutes per roast!). Thanks for the detailed instructions that you gave my friends so that they could do their jobs. Thank you for really taking my idea and then doing all the work to make it a reality. Thank you for your attention to every detail. And most of all, thanks for being the type of people who make it all fun---who, as Nemesis and Daltongirl pointed out, aren't high-strung and stressed in a situation like this. I have always loved that you two get along so well with my friends---it was fun for me to have you meet them and work with them. I always said that I didn't want my reception to cause anyone stress---I wanted it to be a very relaxed day and fun for everyone. How naive! My reception was a ton of work and a ton of stress, but you came through wonderfully and calmly. The day was absolutely perfect. Absolutely, absolutely perfect. I love you so much and I am blessed to have you as my parents.
I think that does it for this post, especially seeing as how I've sobbed through writing most of it. I am finding it very difficult to express all the gratitude and awe and pride that I feel. The day was perfect.
There are still issues that must be addressed. I will write about the honeymoon (check out Murray's blog for some drawings and details) and I need to defend our classiness in our choice not to enjoy some "afternoon delight" between the ceremony and the reception. But those things will have to wait for another post.