This weekend my family celebrated a really special milestone for my parents. On December 19th, my parents, Karen and Paul celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. I told you all about their love story last week on the blog. And this week I’m going to show you how we celebrated that love story!

We started with invitations. My sister and I brain-stormed a few ideas, but settled on a rustic winter theme with gold accents. We wanted the party to have a seasonal feel, but we didn’t want to go too overboard and risk having it feel like a Christmas party. We also leaned towards pinecones for two reasons. First, I used to make pine cone wreaths with my mom growing up (so I know she likes them), and second, a huge pine tree had fallen last winter and my sister knew exactly where to gather an enormous number of pinecones (free decor!).  She gathered them up with her son, George, and at my father’s birthday (the last time we were all together) she had all the grandkids help her break them off branches and separate them by size and type. Here is a look at the invitations.

 I took all those pine cones and used them a few different ways while styling the different set-ups for the party. First, I spray painted a bunch of them gold to use as place cards. In addition, my mom had specifically requested a close up shot of her and my father’s wedding rings. And I used the request as a chance to test out my new camera (the huz got me a Canon Rebel with a 50mm lens for the holidays—I was allowed to open it up and use it for the party, but had to give it back for it to be wrapped and left under the tree).

I also took simple glass vases and filled the middle size with pinecones. I put a small amount of gold stone in the bottom, just to give it a little bit more color and interest. I wrapped some jute around the vase and tied a tag onto it to correspond with the table number. I chose to name the tables after important years in my parent’s marriage. I may have been the only one to get this tiny detail, but there’s a good chance my mom noticed. Their table, 1971, for the year they were married. My table was 1975, for the year I was born. There were a few other important years, I’m just giving you the most…

centerpiece-with-pinecones-and-cranberies-01

As soon as you entered Kate & Ally’s (a small restaurant and caterer in Forked River, NJ) there was a table that we used to place different items that were important to my parents and that were fun to look back at. We had the “Bride’s Notebook” my mom used to plan her wedding. She also used it to keep track of RSVP’s and thank you notes. It was really interesting to look back and notice how the planning process has changed and to see the types of gifts people gave back then. Other items on the memory table included my parent’s wedding album and the chalice in which they took communion during their wedding mass. We added a bunch of decorations, cards, and the guest book from their 25th wedding anniversary party. My favorite decoration was the Christmas trees made by my grandmother that were used as centerpieces. I still bring mine out every year for the holidays.

The guest book was one of my favorite design elements. A slice of wood with a hand-lettered quote, “No winter is too cold if you have enough love.” Here’s the before and after…

But, as with any good party, the highlight was spending time with friends and family who traveled from near and far to celebrate this milestone with them. We had so much fun!

Here are my parents with all the kids cutting their cake!

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And before the afternoon was through, Kate & Ally’s set up a hot chocolate bar, complete with candy canes, cookies, and marshmallows (shaped like snowmen) for the kids, and Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kalua for the adults.

And the results… well, they were priceless.

hot-coco-bar-04hot-coco-bar-06And really…in the end. That’s what it’s all about. Making memories.

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