30 July 2011: Sarah and cake artist Charla with the amazing Puppy Love Cake!
When it comes to discussing the reception, we must begin, of course, with the wedding cake. Our good friend Charla Crossman had offered long ago to make Sarah's wedding cake when that far future day came. Sure enough, Charla was as good as her word and created the perfect wedding cake for my daughter!
A close-up of Sarah's wedding cake.
Sarah and I looked at many different styles of cakes for several weeks. The formal, tiered wedding cakes were beautiful but didn't really suit Sarah's carefree style. So we thought about being more creative, choosing a theme that really showed who Sarah is.
Sarah's cute kissing puppies cake top.
Charla created the veil and I made the top hat.
Naturally, anyone who knows my daughter knows what a huge animal lover she is. Even as a baby in her stroller at the park, she went crazy with excitement over every passing animal. As a toddler, she had to hug every stranger's dog. She was fearless. To this day, she wants to adopt every stray and love every unloved pet, and she still plans to become a veterinarian technician someday.
Charla made the doghouse, the signs, the rocky streams, flowers,
grass, paw prints, and so on out of edible fondant. I think it's gorgeous!
In the end, we chose an animal theme for Sarah's reception. We started with her favorite animal, dogs, and we picked out the kissing huskies for her cake top. We were very fortunate that Hallmark was selling retro-style "kissing" salt and pepper shakers at that time!
As we gathered ceramic figures of dogs to display on the guest tables, we decided to use both cats and dogs since our family has always had at least two or three cats and dogs as pets ever since Sarah was three years old. Eventually we added rabbits to the mix, as well, because we've also had pet bunnies since Sarah joined 4-H Club and began showing rabbits at competition in 7th grade.
The cake-and-punch table is all set up a few hours before the reception begins.
We'd planned to arrange more lavender and white flowers around the base of the cake,
but we ran out of both time and flowers! We agreed it looked fine this way, though.
The table for the guest cakes and lemonade fountains
is also all set up before the reception begins.
We were fortunate to be able to cut costs on the guest cakes by re-using two of the large sheet cakes from our open house in May, when Ed and I were sealed in the temple. My friend Crystal had made us three huge, gorgeous sheetcakes (white cake with raspberry filling, yum!), but we only used one of them. So, after our open house, we'd immediately wrapped the remaining two cakes in 3 layers of wax paper, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil and placed them in our deep freezer.
Charla cut one of the sheet cakes in half and stacked them
to make this tall, personalized guest cake.
There they stayed, frozen solid, until the morning of Sarah's wedding. Then we removed them from the freezer and delivered them to Charla, who scraped off the old frosting and redecorated them for Sarah's reception. They came out beautifully, and they were still quite scrumptious! These were the cakes we served the guests until later in the evening, when Sarah and Chris cut their official wedding cake.
Charla cut the other sheet cake in half to make two separate cakes
decorated with puppy paw prints.
As guests entered, they signed the guest book at this table.
Of course, the rest of the cultural hall had to be decorated, as well. We'd reserved the church for the entire day on Saturday, but after my sister Karla and her kids arrived from Mesa on Friday, we decided to decorate the building on Friday night. Besides our family and Chris's family, we also had several friends from church show up to help out.
I was amazed how quickly the work went with so many willing hands. I distributed copies of the instructions and floor plan I'd sketched out and, before I knew it, everything was in place! It was incredible. In less than 2 hours, it was done. We returned early on Saturday morning to complete a handful of tasks that couldn't be done earlier, but that's it. Sarah's wedding day was simpler and more relaxing for having gotten so much work out of the way the night before.
Originally this was going to be the backdrop for the receiving line, but somehow
we ended up not having a line. We were just too busy to get it organized, I guess.
However, that left Chris and Sarah (and the rest of us) free to mingle with their guests.
It was still a nice backdrop for other activities, such as dancing and tossing the bouquet.
What had begun as an overwhelming task soon fell into place, as these things always do, thanks to the efforts of so many. One of my biggest worries had been finding a backdrop for the receiving line. As it turned out, there was no receiving line (which worked out well), but we still ended up with a lovely backdrop.
My sister Karla loaned us Christmas lights and a picket fence (which was actually made long ago by my sister-in-law Lori and has adorned several family weddings); friends of friends loaned us a wrought iron arch; and the McNeils, Cochenours, and Westovers loaned us a wreath and plants, as well as greenery, flowers, and lavender cloth to drape over the arch and fence. I'm so grateful to all those who made it happen for us!
Actually, setting up the backdrop was one of the best parts of that Friday night. The men voluntarily took on that task, but we women saw the need to help them, shall we say, adjust their completed project to fit our vision of how it should look. That led to a lot of good-natured challenges and teasing fun.
The men also set up the 12 guest tables for us (with 7 chairs at each table), and then we ladies followed along to drape the tables with white and lavender tablecloths. Atop each table we placed a mirror tile with a glass vase set in the center, containing a single lavender rose. Finally, on each mirror and surrounding each vase we arranged ceramic figures of little puppies, kittens, and bunnies. The tables turned out to be so cute and so very Sarah!
There was much, much more to be done, of course, other tables to be set up and activities to be organized, but I'll share those photos when we get to the post about the reception itself. Now, though, we have finally arrived at the main event. Tomorrow's post: Chris and Sarah's wedding!