Hey all! Today’s post is the last in my wedding series. Thanks for following along so far! If you’ve missed out on some of the other posts in this series and want to catch up, take a look at the previous posts below.
Wedding Posts in this Series
- The Civil Ceremony
- Getting Ready with my Bridesmaids
- Our Wedding Details: Invitations, Vow Books, and More
- First Look and the Venue
- The Ceremony
- The Celebration (you’re here!)
Other Wedding Posts
- Faithful, Steadfast, True: how we got engaged!
- How I asked my bridesmaids (through a Clue-themed murder mystery)
- How I found my wedding dress
We decided to structure our wedding ‘the Dutch way,’: first ceremony, then cake and champagne, then dinner, then party. So, immediately following the ceremony, we went into the room that we’d chosen for cake and champagne, followed by a stream of guests.
Cake and Champagne
Ken and I had gone to Alphen aan de Rijn to taste cake flavors a few months before. For most parts of the wedding, I had a stronger opinion than Ken, which sometimes made it hard to weigh his opinion equally (I’d usually end up choosing a few final options and asking him to choose, but by virtue of me picking the finalists, I still had more say). But Ken loves food, so I thought I’d give him the lead on our cake flavors.
Our baker recommended doing cupcakes and a small cutting cake, which gave us the option to play around with flavors. Before cake tasting, we sent in some flavors we liked, and they prepared samples for us: vanilla, sweet orange, champagne, white chocolate, and coconut. We chose flavors for the cupcakes, and when it came to the cutting cake flavor (“our” cake), the baking team asked us what we wanted. I looked at Ken, expecting him to say coconut, since that was the flavor we’d both liked most of the samples.
“I think melon sounds really good,” he said.
Melon, you guys. A flavor they hadn’t even given us to try.
So, three months later, on the day of the wedding itself, Ken and I cut into our melon cake. My mom, who is really crafty, had made shadow puppets of us to use as cake toppers. If you’re interested in seeing a tutorial on how she made them, you can head over to her blog to get step-by-step instructions.
Our melon cake!
Cutting the cake. I wish someone had told me how to prepare for this, because in the moment I realized I had absolutely no idea how to do cut a cake neatly and in tandem.
After we cut the cake, our guests were served champagne and took the cupcakes, and Taylor led everyone in a toast!
One of the bridesmaids drinking champagne
Ken and I had each asked our dads to give a speech during the dinner portion of the evening, and one friend to give a shorter speech during cake and champagne. Ken asked a longtime friend of his, and I asked Maya, who’s been my friend the longest out of all my bridesmaids. Afterwards, it was time for one of the highlights of the day for me: two Indonesian dance performances.
Ken’s mom is Indonesian, and met Ken’s dad when she was studying abroad in the Netherlands during college (fun fact: being American, I am the third generation of international spouses in Ken’s family. Ken’s mom is Indonesian and his grandma is German). Ken’s parents speak Indonesian, and Ken can understand Indonesian pretty well and speak a bit, as well. When Ken’s parents suggested having a traditional Indonesian dance performance at the wedding, we were really excited to celebrate his heritage in that way.
Both dances lasted a little over 5 minutes, with a break in between so the dancers could change their clothing. The dances were beautiful and really cool for me to see in person; I had never seen Balinese dance before, and in many ways the dances were different from the kinds of performances I’m used to seeing in the US and the Netherlands.
One example is the extreme attention to detail in posture and positioning; it seemed like every finger and toe had to be in perfect place, at a specific angle for each move. There was also a big storytelling component of the performance that I hadn’t expected, but really enjoyed. Ken and I both later said that the dances were one of our favorite parts of the whole day.
After the dances, it was time for dinner. There had been a mix-up with the venue, who put out too few tables for dinner, which meant we had to abandon the seating arrangement. (This was one of a few things that went awry during the day — “our cake” also ended up being eaten by all the guests, so we didn’t get to keep any for later or freeze some for the one-year anniversary. But honestly — we got married! Who cares about the cake?)
Before dinner, Ken and I got to have a few moments to rest by ourselves, which was a great way to get back some energy after several hours of being the center of attention! It also gave us the chance to touch up after several hours of wedding festivities.
My hair is naturally a bit wavy or curly, so it tends to get frizzy on warm days. The coordinator ended up doing a quick hair-change on me to pin it up, which wended up being a lovely way to show the back of my dress, which had racerback straps that I loved.
Each of our dads gave a speech; my dad’s speech, amazingly, included the entire story of my birth, including the moment my mom was dilated enough that my dad could see my head. I died of laughter (and mortification); my dad, for his part, was so wrapped up in telling the story that he didn’t notice. It ended up being really great, and hitting that perfect sweet spot of moving-and-embarrassing that dad’s speeches are kind of supposed to at weddings. The birth story is one of those moments I suspect will be carried on in our family’s lore forever!
My bridesmaids getting to know me (and my mom) a lot more intimately through this story
Our centerpieces, which I absolutely loved
Ken’s grandfather also gave a short speech — a blessing of sorts to welcome me into the family. Finally, Ken stood up to thank everyone for being there, and encouraged everyone to eat, drink, and be merry. But there was one more surprise in store! Two of our guests had birthdays that weekend — my godmother Kristen’s husband, and Ken’s close friend who gave a speech during the cake portion of the afternoon. We had cupcakes brought to them with birthday candles in them, and led the guests in a double-rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Ken and I then had the chance to eat our dinner, chat with family and friends, stop by a few tables to say hi — and then sneak out a bit early to take sunset photos with Shannon.
Shannon has told me before that sunset photos are her favorite part of the wedding day, because the nervousness from the portrait session before the ceremony is gone. I see that in these photos — Ken and I are tired, but also blissfully happy, and a lot more relaxed than we were that morning.
After our guests had finished eating came the last part of the night: a lounge-style party out on the lake.
Ken and I aren’t huge party people, and we wanted the wedding to feel like “us.” So instead of the dance party you often see combined with dinner at receptions, we brought everyone out to the terrace on the water for more food, drinks, games, and conversation.
The terrace before guests arrived
I’m among the first of my friends to get married, so I haven’t been to many weddings. I was a little nervous that this part of the evening would fall flat, but it ended up being another favorite part of the day. Everyone had the chance to have fun, relax, and be themselves. It also gave us a chance to talk with each group of guests who came, which was important to me — I wanted to be able to not just thank everyone individually for coming, but also talk for a few minutes and really catch up.
Me with Ken’s mom, her sister, and her nephew; these two family members came the farthest for the wedding, visiting us from Indonesia to be there!
Our friends from Ken’s time in California were also able to come to the wedding. It was actually the first time I’d met either of them in person, even though we’d been talking online for years. Amazingly, despite how tired Ken and I were after the wedding, we were able to see these friends four times that week!
My cousin, Ken’s best friend and the reason we met (also jokingly called “the architect of this marriage” numerous times during the wedding week) surprised Ken during a photo op by sweeping him up like a bride. We joked looking at this photo that we’d never seen Ken so happy!
Ken and I also planned a few activities for during the reception. One of those was a series of question cards that guests could answer, asking things like “what should we name our kids?” and “where should we honeymoon?” (Our best name suggestion, by the way, was Gozilla, suggested by my little brother.) These ended up being a really fun addition to our guest book later; I glued the cards into the extra pages we had at the end, along with cards we received and the Polaroids our guests took.
Speaking of Polaroids, Ken and I borrowed two Instax cameras from our friends and bought about 200 photos’ worth of film. Our guests could then tape the photos into the guest book with their messages, and take extras for themselves. This was another really fun decision that we made somewhat last minute, but it added so much to the evening and we got multiple comments about how much people liked it later.
The whole evening ended up being so much fun, and the exact mix of relaxed and joyful that we’d been hoping for. By the end of the night, Ken and I really felt like we’d had the happiest day of our lives.
That’s all for the stories of my wedding this week. Thank you so much for reading and following along. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been blogging here since the day before I met Ken, and that I’m now sharing our wedding day with all of you. Thank you for being a part of that journey!
Please comment below to tell me about your own wedding, or which of these ideas you’d like to steal or do differently! I’d love to hear from you.