Summer Lovin' Part 2

~Summer Lovin' Soiree: Part Two~

I'm back and so excited to share all the creations from the soiree! 

Many months ago, we decided that this would be a little bit more than just a party. 
Being so far away from all the planning action overseas, and knowing that many of the friends and family that were at our soiree would not be there with us for the big day...We knew we wanted to to do something special in lieu of our wedding...

We just didn't quite know where to begin. 

Was it going to be a reception? Was it possibly going to be a second wedding? 
So many friends and relatives asked...And we couldn't tell them...Because we didn't even know.

About eight months ago, things finally just clicked into place. 
Mark and I decided on what we felt was an appropriate function for the event....A casual reception of sorts.

Meaning, all the decor, food, fun & grandness of a wedding, without all the speeches, receiving lines, and other formalities usually associated with the day.

Knowing that it would be  more than just a party, we started planning all the details shortly after we made our decision. 

I knew that decorating would be a challenge, with my higher than usual expectations and vision...

From the center pieces,

 to the favors, 

to the sweets & the food...

We really wanted each piece of the puzzle known as our pre-wedding-party, to have a story and a special meaning to us, even years down the road when we would look back upon this event.

I am also so happy that it also gave me an opportunity to fully enjoy the process of planning, by being involved in all the little details that I know I will not be able to do for our big day. 

Without sounding too fairytale-ish, I must admit and inject a touch of reality here.. .There were times (on more than just one occasion) that all of it seemed impossible...And sometimes the mere processes of planning, organizing, crafting, decorating, cooking, and trial-and-erroring seemed endless.

Not to mention the mess. Oh the mess. 

A home that looked like Santa's workshop, pretty much up to the day of the party, with glue guns, scissors, fabric, paint and other miscellaneous crafty things scattered about, is not an easy thing to bear for months at a time. 

But it was all worth it. A million times over.

Plus, it will be nice to see the contrast between being fully involved like we were for this party, to being completely on the receiving end and letting someone else take the reigns on our wedding day. 

We trust Nina with all of our hearts to take care of everything on the day of the wedding, so it will be an unusual step back for both Mark and I to just show up and enjoy the day. 
I must admit, I am unusually excited to do so. 

Anyhow, getting back to our topic...
We were so lucky at how everything fell into place, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect, as everything we set out to accomplish & make, was perfectly ready by the time we packed up the car & headed home for the weekend.

Despite the mountain of work ahead of us, we had beautiful weather in the days before the soiree, which allowed us to set up everything and enjoy the process with the sun shining & all the spirits high. Not to mention all the hands that lent their time and efforts in making our dreams come true. 

Without our family, this dream of ours, could not have come to reality. 
Thank you to each of you (mom & dad, momma & papa stoi, melissa, aunt pearl, suzy, monique, and the rest of our friends & family who helped) for dedicating your time to help us. We are forever grateful. 

The day before the party was completely perfect. We woke up early Friday morning, to beautiful sunshine, lots of smiles and an awesome feeling in the air. 

The first order of business was to get the food prepped. We needed to mix the already-barbecued (which moma Stoi & Melissa so kindly baked AND shredded for us the week prior) pulled pork with the bbq sauce.

With our morning coffee in hand, and tons of space at the family bakery, we managed to mix & package all the meat in about an hour, just in time to head to the house and start work on the decorations. Luckily all the sweets (cupcakes, macarons, and other little treats) were done ahead of time, so this was the only-food related to-do on our list.

We had a few worries about the weather on Saturday, so we decided to set up all the dining tables inside the former swimming pool room, which in hindsight, was a perfect way to do it. 

 {head table at the front end of the room}

{Seating for 114 guests}

 {For the table runners, we used kraft paper from the family bakery.}

{In addition to the center pieces, each table enjoyed two bottles of home made red wine courtesy of Mark's brother & his wife. Thank you Mike & Shawna!}

 {Each of the bottles got a label. For the whites, I created a label with our names & the date.}

 {For the reds, I found these free printable labels, and added them to some pink paper with a few stitches. This way, we could use the bottles as table numbers.}

We were able to get all of this set up done on Friday night. By hosting the party indoors, we were able to set it up just the way we wanted without worrying about wind and other surprises making a mess. Also, choosing to keep the dining area indoors, it allowed us to keep the back yard open for mingling and extra space, as well as a haven from all the mosquitoes and other little critters.

At the back of the room, we set up the extra tables including the welcome table:

For the welcome table, we created a few pieces, like the floral centerpiece and the decorated birdage for all the cards. 
But the piece-de-resistance had to be the the beautiful chicken wire frame.
With a story that can only be told in person, it was quite an accomplishment to create this little treasure. 
Let's just say that sourcing reclaimed wood of this sort is not without it's adventures.
Thank you so much, dad, for going out of your way to help me with this one :)

After making the frame, I decided to add a bit of pizzazz to it by adding a banner & some pictures. 
I love, love, LOVE that I was able to incorporate a saying inspired by one of my favorite TCM stamp sets by Nina Brackett (Happiness Is). I also used the stamps to complete the 'Happiness Is...' quote on the banner, by stamping bits on the little clothespins.
Here is a close up:

Sitting right by the frame was the guest book I created...Although I wish I had remembered to keep it flat. It would have made it so much easier for the guests to write in...But I couldn't resist all the flowers and the beautiful monogrammed knob. 

 On the other side of the frame, a decorated birdcage for all the cards

A couple close-ups:

And a shot of the favor area, which stood right next to the welcome table...

I saw this idea where some couples had taken the beautiful, but quite pricey Antrhopologie monogrammed cups, and arranged them {with flowers} to spell out the word 'love'.
Since we don't really have such a store here, I figured I could create my own version, and maybe even at a fraction of the price!
I found these beautiful white tea cups at our local thrift store, gave them a good scrub, and added a stamped letter to each cup using some clear stamps and Staz-on ink (ink that won't rub off of slick surfaces)

The favor table was right next to the 'love' cups, full of handmade coffee, tea and grapefruit preserve favors.

Moving outside, we set up a small tent to be used for food. However, upon setting it up and seeing how beautiful it looked with momma Stoi's lace curtains, I couldn't help but change my mind that it would be designated as the 'sweets' tent. Can you blame me? 

The lovely lace just begged to be paired with the pastel array of cupcakes and macarons...I simply couldn't resist!

We decided to add the lemonade dispensers to the tables as well, and some decor to add a bit of color. 

On the walls, we added:

Giant rosettes I made from different scrapbook papers and pretty edge punches....

A pretty ladder with the menu in a frame...It was intended to be outside by the food table, but with the risk of rain, we did not want for it to get wet. Besides, as the guests visited the tent for refreshments, they could take a peek at the menu!

Here is a close up of the menu inside one of the frames. 
{Please visit the end of this post for all the recipes I used}

I made three of these frames...One for the menu, one for the favors and one for the welcome/guest table. 
I covered the background with canvas fabric, printed out the menu (designed in Photoshop with the help of some free brushes I found here) on some cardstock, and added a few pretty details like the die cut heart, die cut doily from Papertrey Ink, and some lace, of course.

We added a few heart banners here and there inside the tent...To make this, I simply added some die-cut hearts (I used my Big Shot and this Sizzix die to cut the hearts), to a long piece of string using hot glue. 

We added pretty frames wherever we could...
I found this particular frame at HomeSense, a perfect source for home decor & one of our favorite stores (wedding or no wedding).

And we added milk glass vases with soft flowers...
These were a find at a local thrift store and I love them dearly. 
I can't wait to add them to my collection of vases & decor. 

For the side of the sweets & lemonade tables, we added some handmade banners.
I found the colorful fabric at a local store, and fell in love with it immediately. 
 I decided it would be the inspiration for the color theme of the party. With the soft yellows, oranges, and pinks, it was the perfect jumping off point.

For the banners, I used only my pinking shears and a sewing machine to create the pennants. 
I cut triangle shapes out of the canvas fabric as the base of each pennant, layered with a piece of white cardstock, followed by a piece of the beautiful fabric.

For each pennant piece, I created a rosette from white cardstock (I used these instructions) and added a scalloped pink circle & a chipboard letter that I had painted white. For a finishing touch, I cut strips of fabric and added about 4-5 to each pennant piece before gluing all the pieces together to create the banner. 

We had four banners in total, one for the sweets table, lemonade table, the favor table, and the welcome table. 

Here are some shots of the food table, prior to all the food 

There are so many more pictures I could share, but I am afraid I have already exceeded an acceptable amount for a single post. But before I go, I have a few more things to add, like the recipes I promised to share.

Here are the links to the recipes I used, although I did tweak each one to my liking {I tend to do that a lot} and could not even begin to remember fully what I had changed. If you have specific questions, send me an email and I will do my best to remember. 

Here is my best try for now:

Pulled Pork Recipe from Kevin & Amanda's Blog for the brine & the brining & dry rub times, but I used this Pulled Pork Recipe for the rub (which I also added to the brine instead of the rub from Kevin & Amanda's blog). I changed the baking method, and baked the shoulder for 3.5 hours at 300 degrees F, without any cover, and then added a foil cover and baked for another 1.5-2 hours. If the meat was not falling apart by this time, then the shoulder could bake for another 30 minutes to an hour until tender.

Jicama Slaw Recipe, Courtesy of Bobby Flay. I added raisins, corn, a bit of mayo to the dressing, and eliminated the cilantro 

Fennel Slaw Recipe - I added bacon bits 

Macaron Recipe, Martha Stewart. I used a Nutella filling - super easy and so delicious

Coconut Cupcake Recipe. Granted this is not a coconut cupcake recipe at all, but I liked the sounds of it and figured that it would be safe to play with the flavors. So, instead of vanilla pudding & extract, I used coconut pudding & extract, respectively. I eliminated the liqueur and mocha paste from the recipe, and for the filling I used creamed coconut. You can pick it up in your ethnic foods isle, and it is literally a packaging of coconut that has been creamed. Just be sure not to buy coconut milk. They are not the same thing. Just mix this coconut cream/paste with sugar & heavy cream to your taste and until it is slightly soft and easy to pipe at room temperature. You can refrigerate the mix, but be sure to bring it back up to room temp before filling the cupcakes as it hardens in the fridge quite easily. 

I am almost certain that I did make other changes, but they are the kinds of changes I make as I am cooking/baking. I usually taste the food and if something needs to be added (like more seasoning) I do so. 
The downside is that I cannot remember after the fact and every time it is a challenge to get the recipe to taste the same. 

For the most part, I think these are pretty delicious and easy recipes and should be just fine if you want to give them a shot! 

I am so happy with how they turned out for the soiree, and how everything else turned out.
From all the family & friends that we saw, to the beautiful weather, all the help and all the smiles & fun, 
it was a perfect day!

And it wouldn't have been possible without all the help from our family and friends. 
I hope you all know just how much we appreciate all that each of you have done to help us pull off this party. 

We also sincerely want to thank all of our family & friends for coming from near and far to celebrate with us. Without you,  this party wouldn't have been nearly as special or nearly as fun!

Thank You!

love & hugs, 

*Ivana & Mark*


  1. Oh my goodness! How perfect. Love love love all of your photos.. this is just so dreamy. All of your touches are just FAB! You should consider doing this professionally! Exactly what I was imagining for my wedding reception!

  2. Ivana! This is so beautiful! I am full of emotions! Congratulations, all perfectly!

  3. Everything is simply beautiful. I love it all and I think you are very talented. Thanks for always inspiring me and a big congratulations! Hugs <3

  4. Everything is simply beautiful. You are one talented lady. Thanks for always inspiring me. Big congrats to you and lots of hugs. <3

  5. All the effort was well worth it! So so beautiful!!

  6. The soft elegance of everything is exquisite, and the flowers are perfection! You created this from the heart, which always brings the best results.

  7. Just so beautiful and in perfect Ivana style :) I hope you can breath easier now and enjoy your summer, big hugs!

  8. I am astounded! Soooooo much attention to detail in such an immaculate and perfect style! Stunning!
    Enjoy summer! :)

  9. Wow!!! Everything is so beautiful!!!

  10. OMG OMG Ivana this is soooo dreamy and airy Perfection at its best! Love ALL the details, you did an amazing job and you should do this professionally seriously :-) I can't stop staring at the pictures. Tfs ~Steff~

  11. OMGOSH! This is one of the most beautiful, detailed, from-the-heart weddings I have ever seen. Thank you so much for sharing with the rest of the world. You are so talented. ~~Robyne~~

  12. You can see how much love and thought has gone into, hope it was all you could have imagined and more.


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