Saturday, October 19, 2013

Becoming The Breen's #8 -- The Reception

 Welcome back! 
If you've been following my blog, you've read a good amount about us this week. I've blogged about everything from how we met to our wedding ceremony. I'm chronicling all this to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary which is in like, hours. Woot! Becoming the Breen's started earlier this week & will be wrapping up with the love letter I wrote to my husband (which I will happily share with all of you) tomorrow on our actual anniversary. In the meantime, here is the final "wedding" related post in this series. Check back next week for some of the honeymoon details! I know I'd mentioned that the honeymoon would be included in this series, but, well, folks, I just don't think it would be fair to tack that on as an afterthought so I'd rather write it up when I can give it the attention that story requires! Check back later next week & I'll hopefully have that up for you. 

& now, without further ado, here is the information on our wedding reception!

The Reception:

The plan was to get pictures taken right after the ceremony. It was such a beautiful fall & I REALLY wanted our pictures to show the lovely colors in all the leaves. But as we left the church, I began to realize that we might just end up taking pictures indoors at Antonio's. Not only was it COLD (we're talking low 40's...) But it was POURING rain. My sister suggested stopping at the Ski Lodge for a congratulatory shot & some pictures in the bar. Sounds like a decent plan, eh? So, we took an unexpected turn (surprising poor Katie who was following behind the limo) & stopped at the bar. The pictures actually came out pretty sweet.... Not to mention, it was a ton of fun to get to toast to our brand spankin' new marriage in a bar where we've had SO many fun memories! Added bonus-- Because my sister kind of owns the place, we got some awesome pictures behind the bar. Don't the bottles of booze just look super cool in the background? Also, those shots are called "Ski Slopes" & they're basically THE shot at the Ski Lodge. I may have done like 3. The bar patrons were pretty excited to see a wedding party in there. Although one guy mentioned that he thought I was a figment of the alcohol because I was just "too beautiful to be real." Beer goggles are a wonderful thing, aren't they? Hahaha. I love drunk people. 

But, I digress. So, pictures were taken. Drinks were consumed. Then it was back on the limo! We had discussed several locations to do our pictures. The one that stuck was in Youngstown New York at Old Fort Niagara. There are some beautiful mansions on the grounds with covered porches in case of rain. Also, the leaves & scenery.... just spectacular. I figured we could still do the porches since it was raining, so we continued towards Youngstown. But on the way, something REALLY awesome began to happen. The clouds were clearing. The sun's rays were beginning to show through the gray sky. The rain stopped! I couldn't believe our luck! 

We arrived at Fort Niagara & we took pictures for about an hour. They came out beyond beautifully. Katie is SO talented! Despite the cold, everyone took it in stride & we actually had a few laughs during the process. We did end up stealing the guy's jackets for quite a few pictures. But you do what you have to for survival, guys. :-) Here's some shots from our time at Ft. Niagara. 

It looks so sunshine-y doesn't it!?! Perfect, perfect, perfect! As soon as we got into the limo though... Torrental downpour. Whatever. It cooperated for pictures. That's all I needed! We drove up to Niagara Falls just in time for the start of the reception. But, by this point, my hair was coming uncurled, I had to use the bathroom & my shoes were KILLING me. So, I decided to make a stop in our hotel room before going into the reception. Most of the bridesmaids followed me upstairs. Those that were staying the night checked into their rooms & then came into the bridal suite to help me curl my hair & get ready for the reception. Andrew relaxed on our couch for about 1/2 an hour. Cocktail hour was just ending. Through the grapevine, we talked to the DJ & he got everyone ready for introductions. All of our guests were seated, the bridal party was in the hallway along with parents. We would be seeing many of our guests/the reception hall for the first time when we were announced! It was SO exciting that way. 

The parents were announced & then "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by the Darkness started to play. SUCH a fun song for announcements, by the way! The bridal party was able to rock out on their way into the reception & the guests were getting pumped up! One by one the couples in our bridal party were announced & proceeded into the double doors. 
The bridal party & parents being announced at the reception!
My heart was racing. Andrew took my hand & smiled at me as Lisa & Bobby made their way into the reception. The music changed. The first couple notes of "So Happy Together" by the Turtles started. "Ready?" Andrew asked. I just nodded my head. I could hear Brent talking "& now, ladies & gentlemen.... If you could rise.... It's time to put your hands together.... As we announce..... For the VERY first time, Mr. & Mrs. Andrew & Rene Breen!" 
We entered the reception to cheers, clapping & lots of high 5's! It was unbelievable. The music, the cheers, the fact that they just announced me as Rene Breen... All of it was just so exciting! Even now, just writing about it makes me smile the BIGGEST smile. It was incredible. Seriously, though. The fact that our guests got to see us for the first time after our announcements made it THAT much more special for us.

Right after announcements, Andrew & I got to see our cake for the first time. It was a million times more beautiful than I could have ever imagined! A family friend (who should have her own bakery, but doesn't!) made our cake. We'd met with her a few weeks before the wedding & discussed what we wanted in a cake. Although we REALLY weren't too sure... I'd seen a couple pictures around that I'd liked, but I just had no real concept of how to put it together. Marge was amazing. She sat down, took all my ideas & put them into this amazing, beautiful design. She had us go through the books of all the cakes she'd made over the years. A ton of the cakes from the 90's had these fountains in them. My husband decided he wanted a fountain in our wedding cake. Marge told me she could make it purple to match our wedding colors. I was SO excited to see it. It had 3 flavors -- Spice cake with cream cheese frosting, vanilla with a raspberry almond filling & chocolate with vanilla frosting. Beautiful, delcious & so cool! (I'm pretty psyched to have it again tomorrow when we eat our thawed, year-old anniversary cake! Haha.) The DJ played "When I'm 64" by the Beatles while we cut the cake. We played nice... For the most part. 

Once the cake cutting was completed, we started the toasts.... & there were lots of them. Both Lisa & Jeri made toasts, Bobby, Nathan, my dad, Andrew's dad & Andrew's mom surprised us with a sweet toast as well. 7 toasts. It seems like a lot, but they were all beautiful & meant SO much to us. There was plenty of talk about how we met & there was mention of Andrew's crazy hair. There was marriage advice, well wishes so many sweet sentiments. I cried more than 1 happy tear & laughed SO much. I just loved them. 

After our many, beautiful toasts, it was time for dinner. We'd selected chicken marsala & sliced beef as the entree which was served family style with beans, mixed vegetables & red potatoes. I didn't have much of an appetite but what I did eat was supurb! Andrew & I started greeting our guests at their tables about midway through dinner. This was quite a task since there were 24 tables... But we made an attempt to get to as many as we could. I think we still only managed to get around to like 19 or 20? We kept getting caught up in conversation with people. I have a hard time just walking away so we weren't moving as quickly as we should have. Oh, well. 

After dinner it was time to open the candy bar! It was gone SO quickly because it was SUCH a hit! People just loved it. I'm so glad we waited until after dinner to do it so that we could have a chance to have it photographed. The set up really was lovely & I'm glad to have pictures of it completely intact! Haha. 

I should mention some of the beautiful, floral decorations you've seen, including those on the cake, the unity candle stand & the boutonnieres, corsages & all the bouquets were done by Creekside Floral in Medina, New York. Mary was an absolute joy to work with. She did such an amazing job! I especially LOVED our centerpieces. They were white pumpkins with beautiful floral arrangements inside. People thought they were just the greatest thing. We actually played a game after dinner where the winner won the centerpieces. Everyone was so excited to get to take one of those babies home. In fact, at the end of the night, every single one of them was accounted for & carried out by an excited guest. As lovely as they were, I couldn't have been happier to NOT have to carry centerpieces home with everything else the next morning! I'm glad we were able to get rid of them & make some guests happy! One guest even said "My husband didn't buy me flowers for Sweetest Day... But, luckily I won myself some." Haha. But in all seriousness, I could not have been more pleased with how they turned out. Mary took this idea I described to her & she made it absolutely stunning. The centerpieces really MADE the tables & all the flowers were just beyond gorgeous. 

Once the candy bar was opened, it was time for our first dance. We have many, many songs as a couple so when it came time to pick a song for our first dance, we had a LONG list to choose from. We listened to many & at different points even decided on several as THE song. But we were never completely sure. That is, until we relistened to Feels Like Home by Chantal Kreviazuk. There's so many words in that song that so completely describe the journey it took to end up where we are. But the most important one for me is in the chorus. Growing up with divorced parents, having a bed here, a bed there, weekends at dad's, weekdays at mom's, outfits just at mom's, outfits at dad's... Split holidays, shared birthdays.... I always felt kind of like I lived in 2 places. Like my life was specific to whichever house I was in. It wasn't until Andrew & I started dating & I realized just how much I loved him that I started to associate being with him as being "home." No matter where we were, if we were together, I felt like I was home. For the first time in my life, I knew exactly where I was meant to be. Moving in together & having this lovely house to live in has only further reinforced it. I'm finally, 100% home. So, this song meant so much. It described perfectly my feelings & also what we'd hoped to build together -- A home. A family. A love that would span a lifetime. 

As the song began, Andrew took me into his arms. We'd practiced this dance in our living room. We'd talked about how we were going to do some fancy maneuvers & show off our dancing abilities. But when the time actually came for our dance, we slowly, quietly swayed to the music -- both of us listening to the words. Sometimes we sang the lyrics to each other. But I just could not keep the smile off of my face. The first dance is ALWAYS my favorite part at weddings. I love watching the way the new Mr & Mrs get lost in each other & the notes to their song. It's such an extraordinary moment. So many people are watching, but to the 2 people dancing on the dance floor, there's nobody else in the world. I experienced that first hand. When the last few notes of the song ended & my husband kissed me, I was brought back to earth by the applause. It was such a wonderful few moments of alone time... even as hundreds of people watched, even as cameras flashed. It was just us, in our own little world. Alone on the dance floor. It was better than I'd imagined. :-)

Next up was the father daughter dance. I'd selected the song "I Loved Her First" by Heartland because it's seriously the most perfect father-daughter song on the planet. It fit the moment perfectly & was just such a lovely (if not a bit weepy) moment with my dad. Andrew & his mom danced to "I'll Always Be Your Mother" which we found online. She had the hardest time picking a song because nothing seemed to fit. This song was SO sweet & was very meaningful for both Momma B & Andrew. 

There were a few more formal dances & then it was open dance floor! I was amazed and absolutely delighted at how many of our guests were on the floor. The dance floor was packed the entire night. I LOVE to dance so whenever possible, I was on the floor, dancing up a storm!

I'll sum up the music selections for you while we're on the subject of music & dancing.

Bridal Party Entrance --
I Believe in a Thing Called Love : The Darkness
Bride & Groom Entrance --
Happy Together : The Turtles
Cake Cutting Song --
When I'm 64: The Beatles
First Dance -- 
Feels Like Home: Chantal Kreviazuk
Father/Daughter Dance -- 
I Loved Her First : Heartland
Mother/Son Dance -- 
I'll Always Be Your Mother : Lynn Leonti
Parent Dance -- 
A Moment Like This : Kelly Clarkson
Bridal Party Dance -- 
Because You Loved Me : Celine Dion
First Open Dance -- 
Celebrate : Cool & the Gang
Anniversary Dance -- 
Just the Way You Are : Billy Joel/Unforgettable : Nat King Cole
Garter Removal -- 
Let's Get It On : Barry White
Bouquet Toss/Garter Toss --
Mission Impossible Theme
Last Song of the Night --
Then : Brad Paisley

I should mention our bouquet/garter toss. Originally I did not plan to even do a garter/bouquet toss. I HATED having to participate in them when I was unmarried & I certainly didn't want to put any poor single guests through it. There's nothing worse than having some strange, creepy stranger inappropriately sliding a piece of lace off someone else's leg up your thigh... No thanks. But, a few months before the wedding, Andrew's cousin Samantha got engaged. We decided to set it up. So when the music began, I handed the bouquet to Sam & Andrew handed the garter to her fiancé Joe. It was sweet & they were hysterical. It's so much less awkward to watch when it's not the drunk groomsman & some poor, unsuspecting pre-teen. Just my opinion, I guess. :-)

Anyway. The reception itself was supposed to be 5 hours... But it ended up getting done close to midnight. There was just too much fun going on & nobody wanted to end it. Seriously though. The bar stayed open another hour & 1/2. It was an open bar... Not like they were making ridiculous amounts of money in anything but tips.. It was just FUN. However, all good things MUST come to an end. So was the case with our reception. The last song of the night played (Then by Brad Paisley) & Andrew & I danced, surrounded by the guests who remained. It was the perfect ending to an amazing night.

Here's some shots of our last dance & the 2 of us heading out of the reception & toward the life that awaited us. (But, really we're headed to our bridal suite....Haha.) 

& there you have it, ladies & gentlemen! 
The final recap has been completed. I hope you've enjoyed these past few posts as much as I've enjoyed writing them!

Tomorrow, check in for my letter to my beloved. 
It's anniversary day! Woo! 
I promise that I will make an honest-to-god, serious effort to get in the honeymoon post next week. 
I'm on vacation so I SHOULD have some time to blog. 
I'm bad with keeping my blog-y promises though. 

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