I knew I wanted our wedding to look and feel like an evening dinner party in Tuscany. Jerry and I love traveling in Italy and have always loved the easy, laid back, way they approach entertaining. No fuss, no rush.

We share a private park across from out house. It provided the perfect location for our wedding. But planning an outdoor dinner for fifty guests in a park, does present some logistic problems. Providing electrical power for the caters, musicians, lighting and a hundred year old fountain ending up being our toughest challenge.

Making it Magically by Vicki Payne

02I contacted my friends at Briggs and Stratton regarding a generator. They suggested a P2000 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator. It’s a power source that runs on gasoline, easy to transport and less noisy than a standard generator. It worked out perfectly. With the electrical issue solved I was free to design away.

Years ago when my daughter Sloan got married she convinced me to do the flowers. Although it was great fun and gave me some wonderful memories it also taught me to never do that again…too many last minute details.

This time around I decided to do some of the flowers and decorating myself and hired a florist for the rest. Todd at The Blossom Shop created my bouquet and my maid of honor’s, the boutonnieres for Jerry and his son and the greenery for the center of the tables. The rest was up to me.

Making it Magically by Vicki Payne

I started by opening all my cabinets and “Shopping My Own House”. I looked for candles, lanterns, candleholders, vases, and baskets anything that I thought had a Tuscany feel to it. Online I found great sources for candles, paper and fire lanterns. A few trips to my local craft store and Costco filled in the blanks.

I’m not normally a fan of artificial flowers but for certain, do ahead projects they work great. I attached berry clusters and greenery to two black metal lanterns that I already had. Used the same greenery to create wreaths for the two statues in the garden. Repurposed silver candlesticks and champagne bucket for our table.

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We hung additional market lights in the bar area and dozens of battery operated round white paper lanterns in the trees. I provided Todd, the florist, with a case of fresh lemons and votive candles to add to his greenery down the centers of the tables at half the cost of having him provide them.

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I rented dishes, glasses and flatware from the cater. I have tons of dishes and had hoped to use a mix of all mine but decided it was more practical to go the other direction. I didn’t have to worry about breakage or cleaning and putting them all away the next day. When you’re serving a six-course meal to 50 people it takes a lot of dishes and glasses. In the long run I was really happy I hadn’t gone with my first plan.

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I upped my rental bill a bit by stepping up to linen napkins instead of the standard slick polyester ones and selecting a more expensive set of dishes and wine glasses. It’s amazing what just a couple of dollars per guest can make when it comes to the table settings.

We had a beautiful fountain in the area of the park where the dinner was planned. Two days before the wedding, the fountain stopped working. My electrician sadly informed me it couldn’t be fixed without a major underground excavation that couldn’t be done in just a couple of days.

I was crushed but knew I had to be creative. We put a iron chandelier that I had on my terrace, in the center of the fountain and floated dozens of candles in the pool. Everyone loved it and it did look very romantic.

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11The day before the wedding I rent to our Farmers Market to pick up six buckets of flowers that I had pre-ordered. The lady that runs the flower stand makes the most amazing wild flower and field grown arrangements for just a few dollars. I got enough flowers for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding for less than $150.

When I got home I transferred the flowers from the buckets to pottery crocks that I found while “shopping my house”. Everyone loved them and couldn’t believe they were from the local market.

For wedding favors we bottled our favorite olive oil. Infused it with rosemary and theme from our garden. Added a package of our favorite homegrown dried herbs for dipping. It was a fun afternoon project for Jerry and me. A glass or two of wine and we had 50 personal gifts for our guests.

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See I really do what I preach on For Your Home. Have the pros do what they do best and filling in the gaps with DIY projects that can be made weeks ahead of time. Shop smart, don’t waste your money but don’t cheap out when it comes to the important details.

Please enjoy the photos from the evening.

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Jerry’s son Brett gave the most amazing toast. He charmed us all.

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A dance with my Dad is always special. He just turned 89 in September. He’s a newly wed too. Just married a wonderful lady, Marlene in June. Our friends and family truly enjoyed themselves. It was exactly what we wanted a relaxed Tuscany evening filled with great food, music and laughter. What a joy we got to share it all with our favorite people!