Champagne and Dessert Fete
May 18, 2007

After a bit of an inspiration board hiatus, I have finally put together a board that I absolutely love. Probably because this palette just happens to be my absolute, hands down personal favorite. So much so, that my own wedding was inspired by these colors.

Today's inspiration board is for Samantha, who is having a champagne and dessert reception for her closest family and friends, after a private ceremony at a small chapel on the coast of California. Because Sam and her fiance are footing the bill, she has decided on a small affair for about 50 guests, held in the gardens of a local restaurant.

Sam is going for classic elegance and sweet sophistication. Although she hasn't picked her colors yet, she knows that she wants it to feel pretty and warm. I chose a palette of berry, ivory and chocolate...along with accents of gold and copper for warmth. I also pulled in a grass green, which rounds out the spectrum in a nice way.


Top Row from Left: Vera Wang bridesmaid dress, flowers by Spruce, Vera Wang gown. Center Row: Vicki Lee coffee, earrings by Wendy Mink, Cake by Truly Jorgs. Bottom Row: Invitation by Cheree Berry, flowers by Mimosa, dessert by Vicki Lee

In my opinion, when you are on a limited budget, it is important to approach your wedding in one of two ways...either an all out bash with emphasis on food/drinks and music OR an intimate affair with every aspect, from the desserts to the flowers, being completely decadent. This is how I see Sam's wedding.

Since the ceremony is private, I am going to jump right ahead to the reception...

The outdoor garden, where the reception will be, has a little courtyard with a stone patio for guests to gather. Since the affair is on a Friday, during the evening hours, the music should be upbeat but classic. Think Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Sinatra. Something that guests can sway to if they'd like, but not so much "wedding music."

Guests should be served chilled champagne, very early on in the evening (before the bride/groom arrive). The wait staff should be dressed to the nines and should make sure that everyone always has a drink in hand. Once the bride and groom arrive, a welcome toast by the band or DJ is perfect, followed by a personal thank you from the groom. It would be nice to have a close friend or relative toast the couple immediately following the welcome (all of this should be planned in detail beforehand, so that guests feel that they are attending a very special evening).

Candles. What more can I say? Candles EVERYWHERE. Hurricane glasses are great, because they will block the wind but will also create a beautiful glow. Sam could accent walkways with petite candles, hang tea lights from the trees, decorate side tables with varying sizes of pillar candles. Go nuts with the candles, just shy of burning the whole place down.

Now on to flowers. I chose this particular palette because Sam's wedding is in the late summer months and the warm tones remind me of an intimate dinner party, right on the brink of fall...just before the colors turn to deeper reds and chocolates. It just seems like the perfect color palette for the timing and the environment. Additionally, I think that varying shades of pinks and coppers will look spectacular amongst all of the candlelight. The flowers pictured above were actually done by my own wedding florist...she wrapped cylindrical vases with a beautiful copper ribbon...a great, inexpensive way to achieve a unique look. She kept the flowers monochromatic, though varied the shades to provide a bit of depth and drama. Perfect for this wedding.

As for the food...each dessert must be perfect. Since it is the only thing that Sam will be serving, it has to be memorable. Vary the tastes so as not to get redundant and try to stay true to the season. Late summer berries, dark chocolates, caramel...things like Warm Molten Lava Cakes with Raspberries,  Mini Creme get the drift. Although most dessert receptions are buffet style, I really think that it would be lovely to pass the desserts. It seems like it would add a sophistication to the event that would be so much more special.

To really bring in that added touch, Sam could order a bunch of vintage or antique spoons to be passed with the desserts.

And finally, to emphasis the intimacy and the warmth, I recommend having a coffee bar to conclude the evening. Even if it is just a beautiful copper espresso machine and carafes of regular and decaf coffees, this would be the perfect ending to a lovely evening. To save money, you can also use this portion of the evening as a "favor" to your guests. Make (or order) a custom wrap for your to-go coffee cups and send guests on their way. A handwritten note of thanks is the perfect accent.

As a re-cap, here are the ways to save a little $$...have the wedding on a Friday, later in the evening. Choose only one type of alcohol (champagne). Buy candles in bulk in varying sizes or shapes. Hire a DJ rather than a small band. Slowly begin to collect antique dessert plates or spoons, rather than renting everything...this is great because after the wedding, they make perfect gifts for newlyweds. "Make" your own vases by wrapping inexpensive cylindrical vases in a beautiful ribbon. You can even handwrite your invitations for a personal, but oh-so-beautiful touch...try using a white ink on chocolate paper.

On the flip side, SPEND your money on perfect desserts, spectacular flowers and of course, a dress that will make your guests swoon.