Wedding reception decorations

So…here’s the next installment of wedding updates!


We walked down to our wedding reception Biergarten and saw everything set up for the first time, and our guests were mingling happily. It looked fabulous, I must say! It was so great seeing how all of the things we had planned had come together so well.

We wanted our wedding to feel like a fun summery outdoor party – nothing too stuffy or formal, with a more relaxed yet classy feel. And I think we pulled it off quite nicely. The reception was at a café/Biergarten called Altonas Balkon.


Closed for a private party!

Table Decorations


There were long Biergarten-style picnic tables that could sit 8 people on benches. We had kraft paper table runners with a cream-colored satin ribbon on top.

We also collected 40-some candlesticks for the tables as well. We had mostly silver or silver-plated candlesticks, plus a few brass ones. The candlesticks with the tall candles in them helped add some height to the table decorations and definitely added to the romantic feeling of the day!


For months before the wedding, we had been collecting books from various thrift shops and flea markets. We picked books whose titles had something to do with weddings/love/USA/Germany/France or just another funny title that we liked. Once we had the seating chart set, we chose books according to who was at each table and picked titles that would be interesting for them. For example, at Peter’s table, there was a book that said “Alle lieben Peter” (Everybody loves Peter), and at our parents’ table, “Keine Angst vor Schwiegermüttern” (Don’t be afraid of mothers-in-law)! They got a kick out of that. Some people even read a little bit, like our friend Jo here who is reading to one of our littlest guests:



My mother-in-law translated it for my mom, and she got a kick out of that!


On each table there were crossword puzzles that guests could complete – I made two versions (one German, one English) and printed a double-sided half page, which I adorned with a strip of washi tape for a little fun pop of color. Since Tobias proposed to me with a crossword puzzle, it was only appropriate! Plus, the guests learned a lot more about us – like the street we grew up on, our middle names, the number of diamonds in my engagement ring, etc. And if they didn’t know the answers to the questions, they could ask other people. I’m pretty sure my uncle Jeff ran around all evening asking people if they needed help with the crossword puzzle – and people were grateful for his tips. Hah.



Our flowers were put together the day before. We did it all ourselves! Tobi’s sisters, Tante Hannah, Laura and my dad helped out. We just spread out all the flowers we had bought on the table and we all went at it – mixing colors and textures until each bouquet looked finished. The flowers were summery and colorful – even better than I had imagined! For vases, we used jam jars, honey jars, pickle jars…we had been saving them up for months as well. A bit of twine around the top completed the look.


I also made approximately 40 of these old book luminaries, an idea which I had found here. They look even better at night, which made the pages glow! I found an awesome book with that old German script, which made it look even cooler! Tobias cut the table numbers out of more flea market books. (This worked pretty well, but some of the books could have been a bit thicker so they’d stand up better!)

For the head table, we had an empty jar to hold my bouquet and our T & S cardboard letters.


Other decorations

At the entrance, we had a big board with the seating chart on it. Guests each had a card with their name on the front and another name and a question on the back. As an ice-breaker, and to encourage guests to mingle, they were supposed to go find that person and ask them for the answer to the question that was on the back of it. The questions were all related to stories that the guests could tell about Tobias and I. That was a LOT of work coming up with an interesting story for each person to tell (and choosing one we were sure they’d know the answer to!) but it was so worth it. The guests had a lot of fun with that, and we definitely tried to do a little “matchmaking” and stuck people together who we thought would enjoy talking to each other.


We also had a string of pictures of us from our childhood. Baby pictures, awkward teenager pictures, and pictures of when we’d first met. We ended up with about 160 pictures to hang – it was a lot! But our helpers did a great job of hanging them and I really loved the look!



We kept the pictures in age order, and it was extra sweet to be able to compare Tobi’s and my baby pictures! (With being 14 years apart, it’s even more interesting to be able to see what we looked like at the same age!)



Since I love to make collages, we had a collage station set up over at the guestbook table. We had scissors, glue sticks, stickers and a jar of colored pens there to work with, and we filled an old leather suitcase with American and German magazines for people to use in their collages. Even though we had an awesome guestbook, in hindsight I would have provided blank pages instead, because that would allow more than one person to work on it at the same time. Quite a few people did a page, but not everyone got a chance to. However, the entries in there were pretty awesome!


We also had lanterns hung at different heights up on the “stage”. They were even more awesome at night with the candles in them, and they spun around in circles. They really gave off a magical feeling!

(All photos by Annette Schrader, our photographer!)


3 thoughts on “Wedding reception decorations

  1. Wow, you guys put so much effort into the reception. 🙂 It sounds like it had a real touch of the both of you, which is so much more fun than a generic reception. And the candle holders look great!!

  2. Sarah, What an amazing and touching wedding the two of you created! I found myself smiling and nodding through your entire post. Thanks for my first smile of the day. All the best, Terri

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