This is an atypically personal post for this blog, but I wanted to be sure that all my family members would be able to see this event we threw for my beloved Grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. Not all of them read my family blog. If you care to hear more about the planning of this event, and the story behind the details, see my notes at the bottom of this very long post.
Here you will see the lovely catered luncheon we held in their gorgeous backyard. Some of my favorite details were the vintage toys we put out to let the children play with, my mom's vintage hand-smocked dress worn by baby Kate, the colored ribbons hanging everywhere, my Grandmother's wedding dress and trousseau that we displayed, the Magelby's cake and cookies decorated by my amazing aunt Marilee of Frosted Insanity, and eating lunch on my grandparent's fine china (the burgundy/gold is their wedding china!). I made everyone dress in pastels, which was particularly fun. In the end, it was a fitting tribute, indeed. It was a true group effort, pulled off by my incredibly talented family members. They always blow me away with all their talents and abilities. I am so lucky to be a part of such an amazing extended family.
In our family, we pride ourselves on making the most of even the most simple efforts. The event was amazing, and I love thinking about it still. Mostly because of all the fun we had pulling this together last-minute, setting up, and just being together. Everyone seemed so happy to be a part of it. I'll never forget it.
Happy 60th Anniversary, Grandpa and Grandma!
Images taken by me and my amazing sister Erin. I love shooting with my sisters.
above by Erin
above by Erin
above two by Erin
above by Erin
When we found out for certain that we were going to London, I decided that I was going to make a solo trip to Utah to visit my Grandparents. My trip to Utah coincided with my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary, and because I love nothing more than planning a party, I asked whether I could have the honor of planning a celebration for them. It was something that everyone was thinking of, but prior to about 2 weeks out, no one knew whether my Grandpa was going to make it to their anniversary. So sad, but true. Thankfully, Grandpa pulled through to see their 60th wedding anniversary, and we were so happy to have about 35 family members here to celebrate. It was amazing.
I began to plan on my own, and pulled together decorations, hired a band, asked my Grandmother to gather her trousseau, and made food assignments to family members. When it became clear that his might be our last family event with Grandpa, we pulled out all the stops, and what started as a little backyard event became a catered meal with gorgeous tables and linens under a gorgeous white tent. It was truly a group effort, and the result was simply magical. With the financial support and manpower from my amazing family members, we made this event what it should have been. And it was amazing.
We knew we wanted to have the event in my Grandparents' backyard because it was easiest for my Grandpa to be comfortable there (he even ate dinner in his favorite chair!), but it was not ideal because it meant that we would place undo stress on everyone trying to make this event spectacular all on our own. We ended up still going with the decorations and dessert table I'd planned, and to that effort we added some luxury by hiring a company to put up a tent so we could host the lunch outdoors, and they also brought tables, chairs, and linens.
In the weeks leading up to the event, I thought very hard about what I could do to make this event special with my own time, talents, and limited budget (before we hired out the amazing tent, tables and linens and catering!) And here's what I came up with:
1. Create an ambiance: I figured if I could create an amazing atmosphere, anything else you to add to it is just a bonus. You can imagine my elation when my aunt Heidi arranged for a big white tent. Straight out of my dreams! One if the first things I did when I started planning was check the price of tent rentals. There was no way that was going to happen on my own, so it was a dream come true!
- Music: I hired a four-piece jazz combo to play during dinner and dessert. They ended up bringing a singer when the bass player couldn't come, which was great because she sang my parents' song: Stardust.
- Decorations: I knew that I'd need my decorations to fold flat for the airplane, so I had the idea to use crepe paper folds and plain twine to make garlands, and then also used quotes from their personal histories to hang from the sycamore tree (but they actually cut down the branches this summer that I was planning to hang them from, and I didn't know, so we hung them from bushes nearby! I love to improvise). I also write favorite lines from my grandparents' personal histories on circles that I cut out to suspend from trees (bushes) using the same twine I used for the garland.
- Dessert: My Grandma requested a Magleby's chocolate cake, and my amazing aunt Marilee offered to send a special cake topper and custom cookies as her contribution to the celebration. I knew whatever she did would be amazing, and it was! I bought a whole bunch of old-fashioned treats, including See's suckers, which were a hit!
- Favors: I always love to send people off with favors because they leave with a smile, and it makes the event seem well-planned and pulled together. I filled little bags with gummy peaches and tied them with wired-twine. Easy and cute. But half of them melted in the hot, hot sun. Whoops!
2. Focus on Traditions: my family is huge on traditions, so I decided to play up the ordinary and accent some of the traditions that I have cherished growing up.
- We ate on fine china, just like we do for Sunday meals at Grandpa and Grandma's
- We all ate at one big, long table. I wanted everyone to be together!
- We enjoyed dessert in the side yard under the sycamore tree, where we always have family gatherings in the summer. There are so many great memories there.
- In preparation for this, I read both my grandparents' personal histories to learn more about them. I learned so much about them and their relationship. The theme was tied around peaches. The reason I chose this theme was because the one thing Grandma's father requested was that they not marry during peach harvest, but they did it anyway. Besides, I really like the colors of a peach, and peaches are lovely. Also, I always loved going to their housde to eat canned peaches when I was little, and I loved it when Grandma would fix us fresh peaches in the fall. So, there was a personal as well as an aesthetic choice. Peaches remind me of my grandparents. Also, from their personal histories, I pulled quotes that discussed their childhood, or each other, and used them as part of the decor. It was sweet, and so funny. It was fun reading the quotes aloud and laughing together. My grandparents are always teasing each other and I love their sense of humor and positive attitudes no matter what they're facing.
- Trousseau & wedding dress: I had actually never seen a wedding trousseau, and my Grandma still had most of hers! I asked her to get out her wedding dress and trousseau for us to display alongside wedding pictures. It was really amazing to see all the handmade treasures in her trousseau.
I loved the decor, which was simple and made almost entirely of crepe paper folds, twine, and acetate ribbon. It was inexpensive, but labor-intensive, with an amazing result. With some more family support, I was able to step up the floral arrangements. With about $100, I assembled 18 little arrangements using flowers bought at Trader Joe's and Costco, and arranged them in globe vases from the dollar store. My grandparents had mums at their weddings, so I used daliahs, mums (that looked more like gerbs), and spider mums in the arrangements, along with roses and freesia, as an homage to their wedding day.
Kyle offered to keep Kate here in NYC, but I was adamant about bringing her for some reason. Once I arrived in Utah, it was amazing to see the instant bond Grandpa formed with baby Kate. They would just sit and grin at one another, and just hold hand. Baby Kate doesn't usually like to sit still for long, but she would just sit near Grandpa and grin and hold his hand. It was the sweetest thing.
My favorite picture all weekend
Thanks for this one, Daddy. I'll treasure it for always.