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Friday, November 22, 2013

Putting It Together: Details of Elizabeth & Scott's Surprise Wedding Annviersary

One of my most involved events was a surprise wedding anniversary dinner for my sister-in-law.  A surprise wedding anniversary dinner sounds like a unique event, and it was.  (See more pictures here.)  Here's a look at Putting It Together...

Title: Elizabeth & Scott's Surprise 10th Anniversary Dinner
Date: April 25th, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Location:  Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Salt Lake City, Utah

We had approximately 80 people join us for an adult only dinner.  The guests were friends and family members of Scott & Elizabeth.

"D" Decor:
The table linens were cream brocade long cloths with cream sheer toppers.  We used 3 champagne striped toppers for the head table.  We had cream brocade chair covers with champagne sashes and cream napkins.  

The flowers were created by Every Blooming Thing and were very impressive. Because the room had very high ceilings, we wanted to make sure the floral arrangements had lots of height. The designers used tall pedestals topped with tall glass vases.  Then they installed tall, cherry blossom branches that stretched out of the top of the vases.  Silk ribbons in the chocolate brown, choral, lavender and light teal "wedding colors" were attached to the branches and flowed downward.  The effect was a cascade of height.  Beautiful. We also used tulips at the head table which are some of Elizabeth's favorite flowers. 

"E" Entertainment:
To his only daughter my father-in-law sang two songs.  The first was Turn Around from Fiddler on the Roof:

"Where are you going my little one, little one?
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you're two
Turn around and you're four
Turn around and you're a young girl
Going out of the door
Turn around, turn around, turn around
And you're a young girl going out of the door
Where are you going, my little one, little one
Little dirndls and petticoats
Oh where have you gone?
Turn around and you're tiny
Turn around and you're grown
Turn around and you're a young wife
With babes of her own
Turn around, turn around, turn around
And you're a young wife with babes of your own…"

Next, Edelweiss from The Sound of Music. Martin sang this song to his children every night at bedtime. He was accompanied by Elizabeth's brother, John.  

Prior to the event we invited friends and family to write a letter to the couple.  We gave them writing prompts such as:

"My favorite memory  about you is…" 
"Do you remember when…" 
"What I admire about your relationship is…" 
"The traits you possess that I most want to emulate are…" 
"You have influenced me by…". 

People wrote lovely letters.  We bound them all in a three-ring binder and gave it to Scott & Elizabeth as they left that evening.  What a keepsake.

The night's events were ordered in a timely itinerary.  First, Scott's brother, Rick, gave a toast-like talk reflecting of their 10 years of marriage. We also created a video for Scott and Elizabeth, similar to a wedding video.  The video included pictures of their children and the first 10 years of their marriage.  It was fun to see how their family has grown up through the years. I will always remember scanning lots and lots of photos while Elizabeth was away running errands.  (I still can't believe we kept it secret for so long!) Her reaction to the video was one of the highlights of the evening for me.  We had a company transferred years of her ballroom dance videos from VHS to DVD.  It was a mammoth-like task and I was so pleased with the result.

The evening included another surprise.  When it was Scott's turn to talk about Elizabeth he  presented her with a Hawaiian lei while telling her that their bags were packed and they were leaving the next morning for a week in Hawaii!  We even arranged to have their children come to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building that night to say good-bye. 

"T" Table Setting:
We used gold chargers under all the plates to create a classic look.   The napkins were folded into a pocket that held the chocolate colored program/menu.  We used a matching chocolate brown ribbon on the favor box, and a similar colored ribbon on the name cards. Each table had over 50 candles and glass candle holders of various sizes that I purchased at IKEA.  The candles gave the tables an impressive soft glow.

The centerpiece of the head table was a specialty cake created with a rare candy making technique.  We searched the entire metro area for someone who could make it.  At her wedding Elizabeth had a similar cake.  Her plan was to preserve it, but despite her best efforts the message wasn't received and when she returned from her honeymoon the cake was destroyed. We wanted to recreate this symbolic memory from her wedding. The cake topper was a special element.

"A" Appetites:
Hand passed appetizers including crostini, crab cakes, and raspberry lemonade were served to the guests while they waited for the surprise.  The tables were set with rolls, a house salad and sparkling white grape juice.  

Each entrée was served with fresh asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes.   Guests chose either Filet Mignon; a tender cut of beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce and petite mushroom caps or Chicken Oscar; sautéed chicken breast topped with lobster mix and béarnaise sauce.   

My father-in-law believes that the last memory of any dinner is the dessert, and it should be impressive.  He personally worked with the head Chef to create a dessert that both looked good and tasted good too.  What a fun way for him to add his touch.
Catering: Temple Square Hospitality. Many thanks to wedding photojournalist Pepper Nix who beautifully captured each element of this memorable evening.

"I" Invitations:
Elizabeth & Scott had recently taken photos with Busath photographers who were great to help us create the invitations. We paired their original wedding photo with a current photo and included the text in the middle.  I really liked the "Shhhhhh" on the front of the invitation. We used the same design/er to create a two sided program and menu. The invitation also included a matching reply card.

"L" Linger Longers:
Scott loves brownies, so our favors were various brownie bites wrapped in an ivory box with a brown ribbon.  They were arranged on each place setting.  It was a simple, but a nice nod to Scott. (see photo above: Table Setting)

"S" Sound:
A harpist played music as the event began and throughout dinner.  The musical numbers and video underscore kept the evening moving.  The Joseph Smith Memorial Building also played pre-recorded music for the remainder of the night.

Worked Well:
It was a lovely evening!  It was a real celebration of marriage.  I left the event feeling closer to my spouse and a little more grateful for the blessing he is in my life.  
The mere fact that we were able to pull it off was a miracle.  There were so many opportunities for Elizabeth to see some of our planning materials, or ask what we were doing.  I couldn't have pulled it off without Emily.  She was fantastic and willing to drive all over town to meet with cake makers and talk with the caterer.  She was terrific!

Next Time:
One of the challenges of any surprise event is getting the guests where they need to be before the surprise.  This aspect of our event was especially tricky because our guests were parking in a parking structure and trying to be stealth as they entered the event.  No one wanted to spoil the surprise. In the future I might build in a longer arrival period and be more clear to let the guest know we would be serving hors d' oeuvres while we waited for the moment of surprise.

List of Vendors:
Location:  Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Invitations/Design: Busath Photography 

Catering/Decor: Temple Square Hospitality

Floral: Every Blooming Thing

Wedding Photojournalist: Pepper Nix

Side note:
I enjoy being behind the scenes.  I appreciate the details of an event and work hard to make every party a lasting memory.  This effort is a gift from the heart.  

While creating this post I went back through pictures from five years ago.  I am amazed at how time flies and how much life can change.  Seeing this picture of me instantly transported me back through the years to that very night.  It seemed to transcend time.  

Usually I'm the one behind the camera.  Its rare for someone to capture a picture of me, and even more rare to capture my pure joy at how an event turned out.   I am grateful to Pepper for capturing it and preserving a great memory.

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