One Way To Throw A Wonderful Wedding

by J.B. Lester, Father of the Bride
Publisher, The Healthy Planet magazine
photos by Mia Ulmer, Birchtree Studio

June 2, 2012 was the day my first-born daughter Natalie got married to a good young man named Ben. The Pettys are now pulling up stakes and taking their two-person act to Kansas City where they will continue on with their educational pursuits. The wedding is over. The blessed event came and went like Halley’s comet without much mishap, but with plenty of forethought. There are more ways to plan a wedding than stars in the sky. So I thought I might share our story and resources for any who are interested. Our daughter’s wedding and reception were wonderful and the vendors we used did such a great job that I feel compelled to give them well-deserved plug in my magazine. And perhaps you will give them a call when your planning time comes to see if they would be as good a fit for you as they were for the Lesters and the Pettys.

First of all, you need a location for the ceremony. After some deliberations, we chose wisely and ended up under the trees in the herb garden at the Hawken House in Webster Groves. This of course makes great sense and good karma because I am from Webster Groves and my two daughters grew up there and graduated from Webster Groves High School. (Before someone asked.) The Hawken House Herb Garden was ideal for an outside wedding allowing 108 to comfortably view the exchange of vows. The bride and groom stood beside a wrought iron arbor while a heavenly harp brought the ceremony to a beginning and serenaded them as they walked back down the brick path as husband and wife. If harp music is part of your plans, look no farther than Terri Langerak, simply the best harpist in the St. Louis area.

The adjacent Hearth Room was delightfully arranged for a delicious buffet dinner seating the 100-plus crowd. And there was still room for dancing. A small but efficient changing room for the bride made it possible to get dressed on-site avoiding wedding dress wrinkles. This historic setting was perfect for our choice of wedding and reception. Guests could eat, converse and wander about the Herb Garden. A great space for a great memory.

We chose Butler’s Pantry as our caterer. The bridal party, parents and guests raved about the food that tasted like 5 star dining. Everyone at Butler’s Pantry, from the early planning folks to the event staff, were great. They helped make our special day a magical memory. Richard Nix and his staff are top-notch and there is a reason they are considered St. Louis’ top caterer.

The adult beverages were from Crown Valley Winery and Schlafly Beer. Guests sipped on a spirited red wine named Frontenac, a semi-sweet white called Traminette and a celebratory sparkling vintage called Chardonel Brut, which I learned cannot be called Champagne unless it comes from that certain region of France. I am a craft beer lover myself and thoroughly enjoyed the always delicious flavors of Schlafly’s kegged Pale Ale and Hefeweizen. Both are always crowd pleasers.

And what about the cake you might ask. We asked St. Louis’ traditional bakers at Lubeley’s to create a double layer (chocolate & vanilla) sheet cake for 100. Beautifully designed with lavender swirls and topped with two ceramic hearts entwined that my wife Niki scouted out, the cake was a big hit. And don’t forget the bride and groom rubber duckies standing guard over the ceremonial cake until the happy couple shared bites and traditional cake & icing smooshings.

And of course the entire event has to be captured in images for all generations to see. We asked our new best friend, Mia Ulmer of Birchtree Studio, to do the honors. She covers all the bases and has the ability to put everyone she photographs so much at ease. And when it comes to a wedding, ease is a critical. Mia also loves to photograph children and families. She is a wonderful blend of creative and caring.

Natalie decided on silk flowers so everyone had a keepsake that would last a lifetime. So you are on your own for the florist if you want fresh flowers. As for the invitations, thank you notes, etc., you can figure that out for yourself, too. Make sure you use recycled content paper, cups and something old, borrowed and blue.

I hope these resources that made our special day a moment to remember, will also help you as you plan yours. It is a day you will never forget!

Here is the list and contact info:
Hawken House: 1155 South Rock Hill Road,
St. Louis, MO 63119. (314) 968-1857.

Butler’s Pantry: (314) 664-7680.

Schlafly Beer: Bottleworks: 7260 Southwest
Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63143. (314) 241-2337.

Crown Valley Winery: (573) 756-9463.

Lubeley’s Bakery: 7815 Watson Road,
(314) 961-7160.

Terri Langerak: (314) 647-3777,
email: terri@harpsinger.net,

Birchtree Studio: Mia Ulmer photographer.
314-610-0010 or mia@birchtreestudiostl.com