Ah, the excitement of weddings! Yesterday was my friend Carol's daughter's wedding, and I was in charge of the decorations and, at the last minute, the cake too.
The bride and groom were going to buck tradition and not have one (they cost a fortune from a bakery, I have to admit) but a wedding cake is one tradition I can't bear to see die. I told them that I'd make a smallish wedding cake so they could have the joy (and the pictures) of shoving cake into eachother's faces.
This is the end result = six cake layers (3 in each tier), lots of happy sunflowers, and plenty o' cake to go around. I actually had Carol buy 3 simple sheet cakes decorated with white (and only white) icing from Costco as back up, which was a good thing because the "real cake" ran out quickly.
I really enjoy decorating cakes, but it turned out to be a bit stressful to deal with all the decorating and the cake and all the flowers in one day. I had baked and frozen the cake layers a few days prior, fortunately. Transforming the gym into a reception center took longer than anticipated (even with 3 hours the night previous), and then the flowers for the 15 centerpiece arrangements were giving me absolute fits (more on that later). At the end of the day I had less than 2 hours to make 4 batches of icing, frost and pipe the cake, and make the floral arrangements for the cake. And put it together on site and then photograph everything I could before the event started. Yes, I was stressed. Yes, my kitchen was completely trashed (think powdered sugar and icing everywhere, plus flower stems and leaf leftovers scattered all over the counters and floor). No, I don't regret it - I'm happy they had their cake.
The bride and groom had the great idea of serving all sorts of very fun candy along with the cake, which was a huge hit with everyone. I'm not an avid candy fan, but that candy was really yummy! The kids, especially, loved it.
In fact, the candy was the absolute highlight of the evening for Hyrum and Hazel. They would. not. stop. eating. that. candy. It was cracking me up how excited Hyrum was about it - he was literally squealing (loudly) with delight about how spectacularly delicious it was over and over again. As if he had never, ever, sampled candy before in his life.
Hazel, being the subtle and calculating person that she is, just quietly mosied over to the candy jars and helped herself pretty much nonstop the whole evening, all the while smugly satisfied that she was getting away with eating so much sugar and nobody was "catching" her. Hazel has learned not to call attention to herself while doing things she thinks (or knows) she shouldn't be doing.
The men and boys in the wedding party were sporting sunny yellow ties, which looked great with all the decorations. Here's one of the very nice young men taking a sampling of the goods.
Ah, there's nothing like gagging on an entire mouthful of sickeningly sweet wedding cake icing with a little bit of cake mixed in! You were a good sport, Natalie!
There are wedding receptions, and then there are cultural hall wedding receptions. The latter is in a category all by itself. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mormon cultural hall (AKA gym/stage/social gathering area) weddings, here's how it works: the couple gets married in the temple with close family and friends in attendance and none of the commercial, expensive fanfare of a "traditional" wedding, then everyone comes from near and far to celebrate later on in the day or evening at the cultural hall in the local meetinghouse. In this case, the bride has severe allergies and an outdoor reception in July was out of the question, as was an expensive reception hall (I'm blown away at how much those places charge, especially in this area). So the big challenge became how to turn a gym into an intimate and lovely reception hall, on a relatively small budget.
You know those design shows on HGTV? I would LOVE to see them do an episode on transforming a gym into a reception center. They could only spend $500 and they would have to set everything up within 12 hours of reception time. Oh - and no open flame allowed in the building, for risk-of-fire reasons. Wouldn't that be an awesome show? I think so.
Anyway, this is what I was able to come up with considering the above-mentioned parameters. We borrowed fake trees from local friends, which were strung with lights and clustered around the room. I had Carol buy the paper lanterns, and we used leftover fabric from the bridesmaids dresses that Carol made, tulle from Jessie's wedding a couple of months ago, plus the white fabric I still have from my niece's wedding last year, to hide/disguise the basketball hoops.
See that funny change-of-plane up there above the giant yellow lantern? Yup, It's a basketball hoop. The cake table desperately needed a spotlight from above, shining straight down onto the cake, but the gym was fresh out of those. I was determined not to use the harsh, ugly flourescent lighting that the gym does have plenty of, so I killed all the overhead flourescent lights and relied on the little white lights and a few floor lamps to do what they could. Carol bought all the white table cloths (she has 5 daughters, so in the long run it makes better sense to do that) and she made all the turquoise table runners for all the tables. It's so nice to have friends that can sew so I don't have to! :-)
So what's up with the flowers, you ask? Well, let's just say that the biggest wildcard in the events I've done have ALWAYS been the flowers. I don't have a florist's license so I can't go down to the market and choose my own flowers - I have to order them and hold my breath that they'll be what I expect them to be.
Once again, despite arriving a few days before the wedding, the blossoms were so tightly budded that very few of them opened all the way by 6:00 pm. The ones that were fully open were used in the bridal bouquets, so I got to work with the stubborn ones with stiff, droopy heads. Having never worked with sunflowers before, I was surprised at how stiff, heavy, and crooked the flower heads were, and I had to work very, very hard to make the arrangements look decent because they were so heavy that they just flopped whichever way they darn well pleased. My blood pressure was rising to dangerous levels at this point because I knew I still had an entire cake (and cake flowers!) to deal with and the clock was tick-tocking away. My flower inventory was less than expected, so I had to keep going home to clip more filler from my azalea and daylily plants to fill in the gaps...it was CRAZY!
Everyone assured me the flowers looked lovely, but I was definitely not happy with them at the time. I can (sort-of) laugh about it now, but I still don't think I'll ever look at sunflowers the same way again... they're evil. :-)
Here's the happy-go-lucky couple sporting their bright and happy choice of foot apparel. Their style, obviously, is not your typical traditional approach - which suits them just perfectly. I tried to make the decorations go along with that... a little bit country, a little contemporary, and fun all the way around.
After walking around in heels all evening during the reception, I was very envious of their footwear. Wanna trade?
At last, it was time to bid the wedded couple adieu with a shower of bubbles to send them on their way.