“There having been some days in preparation,
a splendid time is guaranteed for all…”
Having a home-grown wedding is a lot of fun, as well as a lot of work. The final efforts for setup and decoration reminded me strongly of the parties, dances, open houses, fairs, and festivals that we used to organize at boarding school. Now, as then, it took a squadron of friends and family to pull it off. I’m trying to reconstruct everything that everybody did, but this is a bit like giving an Oscar speech – I’m afraid I’ll leave out someone who made a crucial contribution!
Amazon was a huge help. Yes, I’m an employee and therefore biased, but I’ve also been an Amazon customer for over 20 years. I can now say: Amazon makes doing a DIY wedding a whole lot easier. I could get things quickly, try them out, send them back if I didn’t like them (or accidentally ordered too much), and order more if I did.
I did not want to rent dinnerware from the tent company, so I got compostable palm leaf plates, though we did end up renting glassware from the bartender and buying gold plastic cutlery, which was not ecologically-friendly (the eco options, like bamboo, seemed too flimsy). I bought random stuff like streamers and tissue paper in shades of pink and orange – most of which did get used (what didn’t, I later donated to Mitchell’s school). A few lengths of organza just in case we needed more fabric to drape around (we did). A white-and-gold Indian bedspread to hide the irrigation system controls behind the tiki bar. Gold-edged place cards for the tables (which Jonake’s daughter came over and hand-wrote the names onto the day of the wedding). Gold-edged stick-on name tags which I printed in a fancy font. Ribbons to tie on the backs of the chairs (all those lengths of ribbon also went to the school afterward).
I even got Brendan’s wedding ring via Amazon from an artisan, though we had to send it back to be resized, and it still doesn’t fit quite right.
Denise and I both wanted the table decor to be colorful, and she sent along photo inspiration. I used Pinterest to collect those and other ideas. We would be renting table linens from the tent company, but Denise wanted gold table runners. I tried one with gold sequins, but we agreed that that was tacky-looking, and instead settled on a soft, smooth gold fabric.
We also agreed that the flamingo pink I had originally chosen for the table linens wasn’t great, but couldn’t find much else we liked on the Bright Rentals website. Somehow, sleuthing around online, Denise found references to other colors, including some that Bright was no longer offering but still had in the warehouse. They located enough for us to mix and match all we needed in orange, magenta, and royal blue.
Colorful decor is the theme of our home and my life, so I already owned miscellaneous pieces of fabric, cushion covers, wall hangings, carpets, etc. that came in useful in decorating, indoors and out. Over time, items bought, borrowed, and owned piled up in our (never used) fireplace area.
The tent rental guy had suggested that it would be cheaper to buy café lights to hang in the tent than to rent them from him. I eventually bought enough to string all the way around the fence line and the eaves of the house as well as in the tent (Amy helped with hanging these). They’re all still there.
There were a few things I didn’t find on Amazon (at least not at prices I liked), such as glass bowls for centerpieces with floating candles and flowers. Fortunately, the Amazon office I’m assigned to in Palo Alto is right next door to Ikea, which had just the thing.
Most of my Woodstock guests arrived a few days before the wedding to help out and hang out, along with Jonake and Sharon, Woodstock friends who live in the Bay Area (though not very nearby). Family also joined us early – Rossella had been the first to arrive, soon followed by her partner Dan, and my aunt Harriet and cousin Donna from Louisiana.
Denise kept us fed throughout, whipping up amazing meals for a dozen plus people several times over, some at our house, some in the nearby Airbnb. On the Friday night we all went out for a rehearsal dinner at A Bellagio in Campbell (chosen for good food and being able to seat a large group on fairly short notice!).
The work begins
On Friday morning, the tent crew arrived.
While the tent, tables, and chairs were being set up in back, some of our guests were laboring in the garden in front of the house. I had put in months of work to bring the garden to that point, but they made it perfect for the big day. It looked cleaner and tidier than it ever had before – or since.
Decorating began Friday night. Those umbrellas? Shipped from Delhi (thanks, Amazon!) in a package of a dozen. Most of them went home with guests as thank-you gifts.
On Saturday, the day of the wedding, things really got busy. There were linens to be ironed or steamed and placed precisely on the tables, along with plates, cutlery, and placecards. (Yes, I had spent hours working out seating arrangements, aiming to mix and match guests whom I thought would be mostly new to each other but have reason to enjoy each other.)
More decorating was going on outside to create a check-in station for arrivals, and to provide play areas for our child guests.
Jonake had arranged for her neighbors to come and do rangoli designs in chalk to greet guests at the front of the house. By evening the front was a beautiful, welcoming lounge area, though I’m not sure anyone actually lounged there.
A photobooth was also being set up outside – we’ll get to that in another post!
Meanwhile, the “media room” where the ceremony would be held was being draped in saris and other cloth to create the effect of a wedding mandap, under the direction of Rossella. A Japanese-style folding screen (borrowed from Amy) would provide a backdrop for the ceremony and hide the kitchen from view of the guests.
We kept our daybed/sofa in the back of the room in case someone needed to sit down during the (brief) ceremony, and covered the back door for privacy as I’d be getting dressed and made up in this room beforehand. (We only had so many rooms in the house to maneuver in.)