Alissa & Ben planned a ceremony on the front lawn of the Walnut Hill estate house on March 27, 2021, with white chairs fanning out from the tree as the focal point for the ceremony. But as we rehearsed in the lawn the day before their wedding, checking the weather every 10 minutes, we all had a feeling we’d be using the rain plan.
The ladies arrived early in the morning to begin hair and makeup before the photographer arrived at 11 am. Alissa & Ben chose to start the afternoon with a first look so they could spend most of the day together. Family photos and wedding party photos were taken around the estate house and on the front porch, with beautiful sunshine and a bustling group of vendors setting up the barn across the property.
At 1:30 that afternoon, Alissa changed out of her gown into a cute white dress and headed down to the backyard for a wedding party luncheon. The couple enjoyed a catered lunch spread and mimosas with their closest family and wedding party before touching up and getting ready for their 4 pm ceremony.
As guests began arriving, they were greeted with a welcome sign, and down the path was a welcome table with programs, a basket of hand sanitizer, and a reminder that guests should wear their masks at all times except while eating. The programs welcoming guests to the wedding had a soft pink rose design, a timeline of the evening, and a note of special thanks to those who could attend. The seating chart was on the other side of the program, so guests didn’t have to crowd around one space to find their seats. It was also a sweet reminder of who was in attendance as Alissa & Ben started their lives together.
So far the weather had been beautiful, but as the ceremony grew nearer, we decided to use the rain plan and set up the ceremony in the lakeside pavilion. The grandparents and parents began the procession, followed by a wedding party made up of siblings and best friends. Their nieces and nephews were flower girls and ring bearers, and Alison was escorted down the aisle by her dad, while folks who couldn’t make it watched on Zoom. Since Ben is a football coach and it’s always been an important part of their lives, it was perfect that an old football coach buddy was the officiant. He filled the ceremony with sports humor and personal reflections about the couple. The vendors could hear the laughter and feel the love across the lake as we prepared for cocktail hour.
As the ceremony ended, guests enjoyed the cornhole and Jenga on the lawn in front of the picturesque white and blue barn, spread out between the two bars, one under the barn porch and the other at the sugar shack, and walked through the open wall of the barn to find their seats. Folks signed their guest book, an atlas with a request to leave a note at their favorite place, and checked out the generations table, featuring wedding photos from the couples’ families and a vintage suitcase for cards.
With a guest count of 67, we were able to comfortably space the tables out more than 6′ apart in the barn while keeping the headcount low at each. Centerpieces were made up of wood cookie slices, a mix of flower vases, and candles, along with a table number and a sign about masks. Each place setting included a blush napkin, silverware, and a sugar cookie designed like a cake. The piano was covered in a wide variety of cookies, some made by Alissa’s family, and the sweetheart table was along the open wall, with their families at tables beside theirs.
Alissa & Ben returned from a private champagne drink and photos to join the festivities before the end of cocktail hour. All of a sudden the wind picked up, the rain began, and phones started notifying us of a tornado warning. The vendors began hustling to get the cocktail tables, decor, and bar out of the rain, and the barn wall was closed to protect the couple from the wind and sideways rain.
We kicked off the reception with the first dance, parent dances, and a reminder that guests should wear masks any time they weren’t at their table. Toasts by the Best Man, Maids of Honor, and Father of the Bride followed, and then the officiant blessed the meal. After a few minutes at the sweetheart table with their dinners, the couple began making their way around to each table. After dinner, the dancefloor opened, the wind died down, and guests enjoyed their first good night out in a while.