Tuesday, September 1, 2009

40th Wedding Anniversary Party

I had the great honor to organize and implement a 40th wedding anniversary party for my mother and father-in-law this summer. My sister-in-law is busy planning her own wedding, and so I donned my party planning hat and started thinking about themes!

My research quickly uncovered the fact that the 40th anniversary is the Ruby Anniversary. My in-laws just weren't the types that desire to be lavished with rubies, so I figured out ways to play up '40' and used 'ruby' as a color accent instead.

In order to get the event off the ground on relatively short notice, it was imperative to do the invitations electronically. Fortunately, I had just been given the opportunity to upgrade my account to Premium at Punchbowl. If you are not familiar with punchbowl.com, it is a great resource for party planning from invitations, to managing what dishes your guests are bringing, to posting pictures of your event when it is all over.

The first order of business to give Punchbowl a whirl, was to design the invitation. I could choose from plenty of very pretty designs and styles, with good prompts for all the necessary information. Previewing the design was simple, and editing my information was just as intuitive. I had a lot of fun tweaking the details of the design, too. My in-laws' wedding colors were yellow and light blue. I added a splash of red to the design, too, remembering that this was the ruby anniversary after all! Having gathered in my research (thank you, Google!) that the Nasturtium is the 40th anniversary flower, I added a photo of a pretty yellow Nasturtium to the invitation. Wow! I was so pleased with the look. It was pleasant and classy, which is just the impression I wanted to convey.

When I was satisfied with the design, I moved on to discover more of the features Punchbowl offers. I was thrilled with the option to add a potluck contribution manager. Since this party was just for family, and was to be held at my in-laws' backyard during the summer, we opted for a cookout celebration. The guests would be bringing dishes to share. I had already envisioned the menu. We would be grilling marinated chicken breast and steak for steak sandwiches, as well as having pulled pork. I also made spaghetti dill salad and deviled eggs. My sister-in-law made a fruit salad, brought the celebratory cake (decorated, once again, with yellow, blue and a splash of red) and supplied the beer and soda. Based on the number of guests, I selected the type and number of other dishes that the guests could choose to bring. I was really impressed with this feature! I did have to play around with it a little before I figured out that you need to remember to click "submit" or it won't save the numbers or prompt the guests to look at this section of the invitation online.

At last, I was ready to send the invitation. Punchbowl allows you the opportunity to add a specific message to all of your guests, just one, or a different message to each guest - whichever way you want. This is helpful if you want to suggest to your aunt to bring her acclaimed baked lima beans dish, and your uncle to throw a couple of folding tables in the back of the truck, too. Very cool! As the RSVPs came in, I was able to edit the online invitation to update the number of guests expected on the potluck page. Again, I had to play around with this feature, but finally realized you have to click up in the "Note" section to update this information.

An easy to manage to-do list is another great feature on this site! This was very handy for me, as I was planning this event the same time I was planning my Dominos American Legends Pizza House Party.

The party itself went swimmingly! Everyone contributed such great food, and it wasn't your run-of-the-mill cookout. I wanted my in-laws to feel special, and I think they did. My in-laws have three children (my husband being one of them). To pay homage to their 40 years of marriage, their three children and I each made a list of 10 things we love about them, totaling 40 things. The list ran the gamut from touching to funny, the youngest citing such things as "You never gave me a curfew." And one that I contributed was that "Our kids love coming to visit them, and that it was only partly because there is a playground next door." My husband tugged the heart strings with things like, "By loving us and showing us that you care, you proved that love is truly the light of the world and we are all meant to carry it on to others." My sister-in-law remarked on all of the family vacations they had made over the years, and how the family time would be cherished forever.

But that wasn't the only tribute that we paid to to their anniversary. In the week leading up to the party, my husband scanned the pictures from their wedding album and enhanced them with a photo editing software. Some of the photos had been damaged in a flood many moons ago, and some had yellowed over time. They looked great, and were viewed in a wonderful slide show presentation at the party set to the music of their song. My mother-in-law in particular was truly touched by this gesture.

As a final tie-in to the 40 theme, the children each gave the couple of honor a $40 gift card for someplace meaningful to them. And although I didn't think of it at the time, I later thought a gift card to Ruby Tuesday would have been appropriate!

Later, in a thank you note, my mother-in-law said, "Thank you ever so much for the special anniversary celebration. The food was so good, our wedding pictures put to music was wonderful, and your things that you admire in us were so touching. We truly felt special and so loved. As we grow older, we find that having family is our greatest blessing."

When all was said and done, I was proud to be involved in the event, and glad to have shown such a wonderful couple that they have done well in their life together. And... I can't wait to throw a Golden Anniversary party for them!

1 comment:

benilhalk said...

Happy to know that you arranged you’re in-lows wedding anniversary. I am also planning my sister’s first wedding anniversary party at one of LA event venues. Will be taking ideas from internet. Want to make it an astonishing event.