Drool and a Ton of Hair: Decorating for Cocktail Hour

The best part about having our wedding in a mansion is that there’s plenty of space for guests to mingle in. The worst part is that there’s plenty of space to decorate.

Luckily, Valley Country Club’s antique décor and ornate parlor rooms mean our decoration needs are minimal. But I do want to add our own touch. I started with the cocktail hour.

Following the ceremony, the bar will open, and our guests will enjoy hor d’oeuvres in three parlor rooms as the staff transforms the ballroom into the reception space. When we dropped off yet another deposit in March, I wandered the first floor, trying to figure out what our decoration needs were. Then it hit me: the cocktail tables. During our initial tour, owner and manager Debbie told me most guests would hover around this area. It would be a perfect place to inject some personalization.

And we’d do it with photos. Photos are important to my mom; she has pictures of my brothers and me in nearly every room of their house. It’s the same with my FILs. Even I warranted a spot on their photo shelf back when Mr. Puffer and I were just dating. Having pictures of Mr. Puffer and me as drooling, chubby babies would be an easy, personal touch.

Image via Valley Country Club / Photo via Maria Linz Photography

So framed photos it was. I put out requests to my mom and FMIL for family photos, then hit Michaels for frames. My goal has been to limit any purchases of items that won’t serve a purpose post-nuptials, so I wanted to buy frames Mr. Puffer and I could use after the wedding. I got lucky: frames were 50% off, and I had a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase, including sale items. The final total was around $80—more than I wanted to spend, but not too shabby for attractive frames we’ll be able to use for years to come.


(Personal photo)

I also had a coupon for 20 free prints from Snapfish. With shipping, I think I spent all of three dollars on pictures. I didn’t really have an idea of how I wanted to organize the frames until the photos arrived. Once I had everything set out on the table in front of me, it fell into place.


Ms. Hannah checking out the finished product (Personal photo)

Table #1: The Grandparents

Mr. Puffer and I have lost all eight of our grandparents, unfortunately. We knew from the beginning we wanted to honor their memory in some way. But a memorial table just seemed too depressing for what was intended to be an upbeat cocktail hour. We’re saving the memorial for another project. This cocktail table celebrates family and marriage by featuring the wedding photos from all four sets of grandparents.

Clockwise from the top: Mr. Puffer’s maternal grandparents, my maternal grandparents, my paternal grandparents, and Puff’s paternal grandparents. (Yes, those are my grandparents’ wedding photos. No white dresses for them. During WWII, weddings were a luxury.)


Personal photo

Table #2: My Family

For the other two tables, I wanted to highlight our parents’ wedding portraits surrounded by smaller photos of Mr. Puffer and me at similar life stages: newborn, infant, young child, and teen or young adult, plus a family photo. I started with my family.

Clockwise from the top: my parents’ wedding photo, me at 17, me at two days, my entire family in 1977 (I’m old!), and me at four.


Personal photo

Table #3: Mr. Puffer’s Family

My FMIL sent me so many photos, it was hard to pick just a few! Mr. Puffer was absolutely adorable as a newborn, and I love the photo with his older brother, who will be Puff’s BM come November.

Clockwise from the top: my FILs’ wedding photo, Puff at five, Puff with BM T, Puff at two weeks, and Puff at around 20 with his maternal grandparents.


Personal photo

And yes, if you’ve been following my posts and taken note that Mr. Puffer shaves his head, that IS him with long, long hair (with comb in hand). I was shocked, too.


Personal photo


Mrs. Puffer

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  1. tractor Bee
    Mrs. Tractor 32 posts, Newbee @ 6:22 am

    Very cute, Puffer! Your space is so ornate and unique already, it definitely doesn’t need decor, but I think your photos will add a personal touch without over cluttering the space!

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