I don’t know why it has taken me so long to share the reception from our August wedding! Besides having a hard time deciding on which photos to use ( I have thousands!) I wasn’t sure if I would break this all up into multiple posts or not. So here it is, one really long info-packed post about our reception in our backyard here in Montana.
A few notes: I did not have a wedding planner or day-of coordinator. With my husband having a newly broken leg and a storm rolling in the night before the wedding, it was chaotic to set this all up, to say the least. My bridesmaids and I were up at 6AM setting up everything and moving furniture before we got ready for the day.
I didn’t feel like I could actually breath until I was standing there at the altar in the woods holding Nate’s hands. It was a blur or rushing around and lots of emotions before the ceremony. The timeline was off by an hour so we had to skip first-look photos. I didn’t even have time to shower before getting my hair and makeup done because I was still running around outside setting up the last of the details. If I could do it all over again I would have hired a day-of coordinator to do all this running around for us!
Since we didn’t have our wedding at a venue, that meant we were in charge of it all. And let me tell you, it is hard hosting your own wedding!
For cocktail hour we had five cocktail tables around the yard along with this little sitting area for people to rest tired feet. We decorated the cocktail tables with white linens, lanterns and little bud vases with small blooms.
The cocktail hour grazing table was definitely a hit! Everyone was raving about the selection and I loved how colorful and beautiful it all turned out.
Nate built a set of cornhole boards and then we were gifted a second set by our sweet neighbors! These were perfect for during cocktail hour and keeping guests entertained while we took family photos. Nate also built yard jenga out of 2 X 4’s that we put back by the fire pit but we didn’t get any photos of that.
For drinks we kept things very simple. We had a self-serve open bar where guests could pour their own drinks. We had all the basic liquors and mixers, a keg wall for two pony kegs of beer, lots of wine, and then two drink dispensers that had our signature cocktail- “Montana Mules”. (Which is a huckleberry moscow mule).
Since we didn’t have the budget for a DJ, I created several Spotify playlists that were played throughout the day and night. We had a cocktail hour playlist with more chill music then switched to dinner music and then on to dancing at the reception. There was definitely some rocky points when we had to switch songs for our first dance and father/daughter dance but it was just fine. We didn’t want our wedding to be so stiff and formal. We wanted more of a backyard party vibe with certain traditions sprinkled in.
What’s wonderful about having weddings these days is that you can really do anything that you want! Buffet style BBQ with vintage china? Go for it. We skipped the wedding party intros and just had our introductions as the new Mr. and Mrs. Barnett. We didn’t do a bouquet toss but did a garter toss. We didn’t even cut the cake! But that was not intentional. The night just really got away from us and half the dessert table was already eaten, so we just skipped that tradition and ate cake in my kitchen at 3:00 AM after everyone had gone home!
At first I felt sad that there wasn’t certain things done or things that were overlooked. You are told what a wedding is “supposed” to be and you read all these articles and blogs about what you need to buy and what the timeline needs to be… But when I think about our wedding day, I just think about how I cried through my vows, laughed so hard with my best friends dancing, married the love of my life, and that we had friends and family travel thousands of miles from all over the country to celebrate with us. No timeline or DJ or wedding planner could ever fill our hearts like that.
The DIY photobooth
The DIY photo-booth was a hit! We hung faux greenery above a vintage sofa and set up our iPad on a tripod. We had a few simple props and our umbrella light up as it got darker outside. It worked out pretty nicely and didn’t cost us any money! The only thing I regret is not putting a sign out to tell people it was a photobooth. Most people weren’t using it until later in the evening when they saw us using it!
The Seating Chart
The seating chart was one of my favorite details and didn’t cost a thing! I designed and printed out the names on card-stock and then used clothespins to attach them to a frame with chicken wire. We hung it from the tree right outside the tent for guests to find their seats.
The Guest Book & Card Table
We had this small table with a vintage lace tablecloth at the entrance of the tent that had our Polaroid guest book, card box, and wedding welcome sign. We had this piece of wood in our garage that was the perfect size for the welcome sign! I stained it and had my friend and coworker Alysha hand-letter it. Go check out her Etsy shop to see all her amazing work! We placed it on an easel I borrowed from work and draped some greenery over it.
The Guest book and the metallic pens are from Amazon.
We chose long farmhouse-style tables with pilgrim chairs and cushions. I had always envisioned tapers and gold rimmed plates with beautiful blooms under a big white tent. I loved how it all turned out. It was the craziest morning of my life setting this all up just me and my bridesmaids, but it was worth it ! My vision really did come together this time and I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.
The deep navy blue taper candles were from Yummi Candles. These are high quality candles that don’t drip nearly as much as ones found on Amazon. They also have a huge selection of colors to choose from!
I collected antique brass and gold candle holders for months and loved the mix-matched look of these.
I designed all my floral centerpieces the day before the wedding. (Perks of working at a local flower shop!) I went for a textural romantic look that had that peachy-blush color I love and sprinkled with the deep burgundy of the dahlias. I was obsessed !
Flowers I used:
Blushing bride protea
Cream spray roses
I designed our menus and had them printed at our local printers. I love how they turned out! I tucked them into the cloth napkins on each plate and kept the settings simple with just adding the cutlery and two vintage goblets for water and wine.
Our favors were little twine-wrapped bundles of palo santo with a tag that I designed. I cut out each tag and punched a whole at the top to string the twine through. We placed one on each napkin.
For table numbers we used postcards from places that are special to us. I used gold floral frogs as the stands. Breckenridge is where we really fell in love with each other and the mountains, Denver is where we had our son and lived for 7 years, Chicago is where we were both born and raised and met as adults, Portland is where he proposed, and Whitefish is where we live now and bought our first home!
Since we had a self-serve bar I wanted to have large bottles of wine already on the tables for dinner. That way guests wouldn’t have to get up to grab a drink! We served the cabarnet sauvignon from Costco on each table, along with a chardonnay. To cover the Kirkland labels, I bought this template from Etsy and printed out my own label on card stock.
The Kids Table
For the kids table we covered a folding table with brown kraft paper and set out crayons and twig colored pencils for the kids to color with. Since we had a buffet, I didn’t want to worry about the kiddos bringing up the china to get their food. We ordered some plastic plates from Amazon that were similar to our plates with that gold rim. The package came with the cups and flatware.
Our Sweetheart Table
I am SO happy that I decided on doing an intimate sweetheart table. It was the only time that Nate and I had together just the two of us and it felt good to sit together and see everyone else there under the tent laughing and eating and drinking together. So many people we love were under that tent, my heart was so full!
My mouth literally starts salivating when I think of the food at our wedding. We had our favorite restaurant Desoto Grill cater for us and we were so happy with them! We had a buffet-style dinner that matched the casual backyard feel we were going for.
My huge sweet-tooth was completely satisfied with this amazing dessert table. My generous neighbor baked EVERYTHING for us as our gift. The cake was pink champagne with buttercream frosting and I added in some blue thistle, white snowberries, and spray roses.
The Whiskey Bar
The whiskey bar was set with some of Nate’s favorite whiskeys, an ice bucket, and vintage glasses. Every bottle was consumed that night! I got this little sofa table from Hobby Lobby for under $50.
Dinner dancing and drinks
Here we go
We can’t have a party without having a bonfire and s’mores !
I could share about 200 more photos that I am in-love with but I think you get the point. This was the craziest and best day of my life! And it wouldn’t have happened if all our friends and family jumped in to help us.
We are forever grateful to everyone who ran around with us setting things up, moving things, picking up after the kids, and supported us! You all made our day extra special and could not have done it without you!
To read about our Ceremony In The Woods click here!
Photography: Jaci Vigil Photography
Tent Rental: Celebrate Party Rentals
All other rentals (plates, cutlery, goblets, all linens, keg wall, sweetheart table, farmhouse tables, chairs etc) Empress Tents and Events
Florals: Designed by me, blooms purchased from Mum’s
Catering: Desoto Grill
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