My family is spread out across the country, so wherever the wedding was held, they would be flying in from all over. My husband’s family, however, is almost entirely located within a 40-mile radius around Philadelphia, which made it a natural choice for the location of our wedding. Additionally, since my husband was set on returning to live near his family and friends, it would be a perfect time to “introduce” my family to the location where I would someday be settling down and making my own home. However, this meant that I was planning a wedding in a location where I, and no member of my family, had ever lived – in essence, it had become a “destination wedding” of sorts for every person invited off of our side of the guest list.
Because of this, we decided that we wanted to include a Philadelphia feel to our wedding. When it came to picking a location, I knew I didn’t want a traditional ballroom – something that could be located in Anywhere, U.S.A. When we found the Loews Hotel, located in the PSFS Building (the first international-style skyscraper), I was sold. Just look at the views from the 32nd floor, where we held our ceremony, cocktail hour, and brunch the next morning!
To tie a little bit of the city into our wedding, we decided to name the tables after famous Philadelphia landmarks (we, of course, sat at Love Park). Using the motif from our invitations, I created vellum.-wrapped votives to serve as escort cards. However, since so many of our guests were from out-of-town, I wanted to provide a bit more information for the guests about each location we chose. At each table, the sign had a picture on one side (I tried to use pictures that I had taken for a personal touch; for locations I had not visited, I managed to round up pictures from friends and family members), and on the other side, I provided information about the locations. The table names were a hit – more than one guest came up to me during the evening and commented that they went around to each table to read all the locations to decide what they wanted to visit the following day!
We also decided to use a Philadelphia-themed guestbook. I debated for a long time if I even wanted to have a guestbook at all – I couldn’t really imagine what I would do with one, as I’m too practical to keep around something that I won’t display or actually use. At the time when I was planning, magazines and websites were raving over wishbowls and wish trees, or photo-guestbooks, and all sorts of other creative ideas… but I just couldn’t imagine what I would actually do with any of these after the wedding. Do you leave them out on your coffee table? I’d much rather leave out photography books full of beautiful pictures… which was when I realized that I could combine the two. We found a book on Philadelphia, full of gorgeous pictures of the city, but with signfiicant enough margin space that our guests could write us messages. I think this was one of my favorite parts of the wedding, because not only were the messages meaningiful, but everyone seemed to sign next to a picture that meant something to them, as well. For example, one of my father’s friends rowed for Drexel undergrad, so he chose to sign next to a picture of Boathouse Row, while my twin 8-year old cousins chose to leave their message next to a picture of one of the sights they visited that very morning during their first trip to Philadelphia. It’s a book that is beautiful enough to keep on display, but also holds wonderful memories of our wedding through which we can periodically flip.