Cocktail Hour and Wedding Reception at Bridgeport Art Center

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**Photos courtesy of Daniel Peter Photo, www.danielpeter.com.**
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After bustling my dress and signing the marriage license, we headed out into cocktail hour. Because our ceremony and reception were in the same space, we decided to treat our guests to some drinks and mingling in one space while our caterers "flipped the room" from a ceremony space to a reception area. A pianist set the mood while our caterers passed bruschetta, bacon wrapped dates, and caprese skewers. 

In our area for cocktail hour, we had a few vignettes of posh, white seating, topped with old photos from our grandparents' and parents' weddings. After all, those are the people who have set an example for us of what marriage truly is, so it felt very special on our wedding day to have pictures of them on their wedding day!

An old, wooden bar served guests anything they wanted. As usual, a line quickly formed. There is some kind of curse on the first round of drinks at weddings! There's always a line. ;-)

While our bar tenders were offering guests any drink they asked for, my husband and I did create our own drinks. Chalkboards showed the recipe for "The Mr." and "The Mrs." Truth be told, I liked the Mr. more... but don't tell my mister!

A picture of the Signature Drink cocktails, taken later in the evening.
My husband and I tried to mingle during the cocktail hour and see as many people as we could, but, as any of you married folks know, it is nearly impossible to see everyone. I felt a bit torn between mingling as fast as I could... and staying focused on my husband. Ultimately, I chose the latter. After all, it was first and foremost  my day with him!

After some mingling (almost an hour only got us about 15% through the room - yikes!), our guests were asked to take their seats on the other side of the curtain. Their names and table numbers were written in white on black cards which were sitting inside birch logs.

Months before the wedding, my aunt and uncle painstakingly gathered birch sticks, cut them into small pieces, and then cut a "slit" in them, where our name cards would sit. We are so grateful to have had so many personal touches from our loved ones!

Because the loft space is so large and open, a curtain had been drawn to separate spaces. Once the guests grabbed their name cards and entered the reception area, it looked much different than it had during our ceremony!

I am apparently color-hesitant, and the decor of our wedding ended up being very color neutral. Our table linens echoed the gray used in the bridesmaids dresses, and each table had a cutting of burlap on top. 

When guests found their seats, each person had a pre-plated blueberry pomegranate salad, their own potted succulent to take home, and a gorgeous menu made by yours truly. I have to say, I had a blast making all of the papers for this wedding (Save the Dates... Invites... Ceremony Programs... Menus... etc). I also had a blast taste testing (hence the delicious salad)!

A mixture of white lanterns and white bird cages were both filled with one tall candle each and set on the tables. Next to them were the chalkboard table number frames that my mom, sister and I painstakingly made. It took a long time, but was worth it to have real chalkboard frames sitting on the tables instead of an imitation print.

Those who wanted to were encouraged to sign or draw in our guestbook. Instead of the traditional book, my husband and I bought a sketch book and set out a few cups of colored pencils. What we ended up with was a mixture of colorful signatures, drawings, and notes! What a great coffee table book.

Once all guests were seated, Matt, our MC for the night, began to announce our wedding party as Nero's "Me And You" played in the background. It was fun to see everyone let loose and get a little silly as they walked into the reception!

Having been to weddings where the bridal party was separated from their significant others, my husband and I had decided that we wanted to have a "Kings Table." We invited the dates of all of our bridesmaids and groomsmen to sit at the table with us, and instead of one long table with chairs on one side, we had the chairs on all sides!

As we took our seats at the Kings Table, my Father In Law prayed for the meal.

Next, my dad got up to give a toast. It evoked, at times, laughter, tears, and thoughtfulness, which is probably a good summation of who my dad is (funny, sentimental, thoughtful).

Watching the Father of the Bride give a toast!
After my dad's toast, we dug into our meals. We served filet mignon with a peppercorn demi glaze, grilled asparagus, and delicious potatoes. I know that some brides have a hard time eating on their wedding day, but I am not one of them! I literally ate everything on my plate without hesitation. I needed fuel for dancing later on...

Once we were working on our main courses, our Best Man, Calvin, gave his toast. I think it was really neat for everyone to hear about our relationship from a man's perspective, and Calvin shared how Justin never really thought about getting married until he met me! 

After Calvin's speech, it was time for my Maid of Honor, Ailie. As usual, she was very prepared, and gave a hilarious and well thought out speech. The above picture was probably when she announced to everyone that I once covered her in vaseline and stamps as a child. Oops.

After her speech, she asked us to move our chairs so that we were back to back and take off our shoes to play "The Shoe Game." We each traded one of our own shoes for one of the other's, so that we each had one blue bride shoe and one black groom shoe.

Then, my sister read statements and we had to raise the shoe of the person it applied to. For example, "This person does most of the cleaning," and "This person makes most of the messes," and "This person has the craziest family." For the record, we both raised a blue shoe on the last one. ;-)

After the shoe game, we finished our food and then tried to mingle a bit more. I believe we got to two tables.

As we were mingling, we pulled away for a few minutes to cut the cake. Instead of having an audience, we did it fairly privately. It wasn't a big deal to us, and we didn't want to get everyone up from their dinner to watch us do it. 

Justin made me promise not to do anything crazy during the cake cutting, like shoving a huge piece of cake into his mouth. Let's just say this was one promise I intended to break the whole time... but he took it like a champ. 

In addition to the delicious cake, we also offered a huge sundae bar, complete with tons of sundae toppings. After we announced that cake, ice cream, and coffee were being served, it was time for our first dance!

We danced to Etta James' "At Last." The song is special to us - not only because we have, at last, found each other, but it is a song that we recorded together early on in our relationship

One thing that I loved about our dance was that it gave us some more private time to enjoy each other. We are not the fanciest dancers, but we did enjoy each other's company. I'm pretty sure I said "Oh my gosh, we're married" about five times.

After our first dance as husband and wife, it was time for me to dance with my father. We had debated for quite a while about what song to dance to. When I was little, my dad used to sing me the beginning of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood. He would sing... "I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me." The rest of the song is not so on-point with a father-daughter dance at a wedding... but, at the end of the day, it was meaningful to us, so we picked it.

As the song ended, my dad pulled me to the side of the dance floor and started taking off his jacket. He exclaimed: "Help me get this off, I'm hot!" Next, he popped off his suspenders, took off his bow tie, and started taking off his white shirt. He was down to a green t-shirt, his pants, and a pair of suspenders that hung loosely. Then, he walked back onto the middle of the dance floor and stood still, hands in his pockets. I was so confused and had no idea what was happening!

Soon, the music from Napoleon Dynamite's dance scene started, and I quickly figured it out. He had learned the entire dance choreography and was doing his own flash mob! He fearlessly danced like Napoleon Dynamite (which, if you've seen the dance, is hilarious), and then, as the song ended, he sprinted off the dance floor!

Next, my husband danced with his mom. As they started their dance, the band invited the rest of the guests to join them on the dance floor! I promptly kicked off my shoes and we all joined in.

The band we had at our wedding was fantastic. They knew how to play anything and everything, and they did a wonderful job reading the crowd to keep everyone engaged and having fun.

I had a blast dancing with my husband. A couple of times, I was so overwhelmed that I shed a few tears just thinking about how special each moment was. 

That said, despite the happy tears, it did not take long for things to take a turn to crazy town. The good crazy town, not the bad. Soon, spirits were soaring and smiles were grand... and, when you combine that with a great band, feet start moving, too!

Circles kept forming of great combinations of people. Friends from high school danced with cousins from other states. Everyone was pulling together in celebration and having a wonderful time.

And, naturally, my dad started a train. 

Back in the cocktail hour area, where cake and ice cream were being served, there was another special treat for our guests. The photo booth! 

Yet again, there were some awesome combinations of guests taking photos in there. My little cousin, sister's boyfriend, and brother in law. My husband and his 90 year old grandmother. 

There are even some hilarious photos of little cousins holding up signs like "I'm drunk." You can't make this stuff up - it just happens when people are having a great time!

Around 10:30, I unveiled a surprise I had in store for my groom. When we first met at work, he would occasionally sit in on my team meetings. At my very first team meeting, my boss played a trick on the new girl (me) and said that every new member of the team had to sing a song in front of the group as part of initiation. I have no idea why I believed it, but the other team members corroborated the story, so I was cornered. With my future husband sitting in the room, I sang the beginning of Elvis' "Can't Help Falling In Love."

So, on the night of our wedding, during our reception, I sang that song with a live band. I had been a bit nervous to do it, but at the end of the day, I was on such a high that it didn't matter.

It was such a wonderful day and night. Being surrounded by friends and family as I married THE BEST MAN EVER (no offense, every other man... sorry) made it all so much more special! We felt so supported and loved. 

As the night came to a close, we tried to soak up every last moment in the event space. I have heard some people say that they felt sad as it ended... but, somehow, I did not. I simply felt full of joy.


  1. Simply wonderful seeing people I care about in such a love story. Congratulations.

  2. Lovely wedding! Congrats to you both. Costa Rica looked amazing too!

  3. Happy to see crazy pictures of enjoyable moments of the wedding reception. We are planning to organize my brother’s cocktail party at one of dashing wedding venues Los Angeles next month. My father wants everything to be shimmery and showy. Any ideas?


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