On September 28th, over a week after our wedding, we celebrated with the Party With The Newlyweds at the Knoxville Zoo. What a night! In reflection, it was so nice to have a week between the wedding and the big party. Much more relaxed than I would have been if we’d done it all together.
The way we ended up at the Zoo was a little strange. We were narrowing down the location between two other places and just happened to get an invitation to the Zoo. Thinking it’s be a nice way to get a free day to see the animals, we went. We regularly attend their Feast with the Beasts fundraiser and love the place. After we left, we both kinda looked at one another and said, the other two places are out… this is the spot! Our coordinator there, Ashley, couldn’t have been more helpful. We received regular To-Do emails from her to keep us on track. And was very patient when the groom had a little meltdown the day-of. Just another of our fantastic vendors…see Part 1 for more about choosing professional vendors – don’t trust amateurs.
The day-of, I spent some of the time delivering some last-minute goods to the zoo, driving in the perfect fall weather, and mentally preparing. M was getting her hair and makeup done – fantastic by the way! My (now our) niece Taylor did the honors on the makeup and it was outstanding! My cousin/best friend distracted me some and then I came home to some much-needed champagne while I got ready for the Party.
We arrived early for photos and our incredible photography team, Adrienne Lampe Photography, along with Ashley from the Zoo drove all over the Zoo…just us (the Zoo was closing). It was so nice to have the place to ourselves and we were able to have some very nice interactions with some of the animals. Including the chimps that were interacting with me through the glass of their homes. After the photos were completed, we were able to visit the cocktail location, the new Tiger exhibit. And Talk for a bit with our dear friends Nikki and Jason who had agreed to provide entertainment for the cocktail hour. We were sad that we wouldn’t get to hear them perform though since our ‘reveal’ was at the main party location.
We then made our way to the site of the main party. And wow… wow! when we walked in, we were both just blown away. We had been much more involved in the details of this event than the actual wedding. After all, it was close enough that we could more easily meet with people and there was a lot more ‘designy’ things to do. Our event designers were Whimsical Gatherings and boy, did they blow us away! When we first met with Carrie from Whimsical, it was almost 2 years before the wedding and we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted… we wanted a Loft-feel inside the zoo! She was immediately onboard with the ideas being a native Chicago resident. Over drinks, and a few tipsy text conversations, the idea evolved into a truly PERFECT interpretation. We were really glad we got there quite early so we could let it all soak in a little (did I mention we were emotional… oh boy). We also visited with Diane and Chef Jerry from Abner’s Attic. They were so great to work with.
Being the Knoxfoodies, we wanted to make this meal as special as possible on the scale/budget we were working with. Within the last year, we had discovered goat meat and how wonderful it is… so we also wanted to incorporate that somewhere. So we came up with a Goat Taco (but Abner’s Attic agreed to call it a ‘Cuban Quesadilla’) so as not to turn away people who wouldn’t try it because it was goat.). It was fun the following week letting people know they had eaten and LOVED Chef Jerry’s goat quesadilla’s. Abner’s were so very open from the very beginning to taking our recipes and scaling them up and adding their own flair. Here was the menu for the night:
Cocktail Hour: Cheese board with Welch Cheddar and Red Dragon Cheese
- Andouille Sausage Station
- Soup Shooters: Split Pea and Roasted Pumpkin
- Chicken and waffles with jalapeño dipping sauce
- Spinach & artichoke dip with toast rounds
- Deviled eggs with pickled onions and candied bacon
- Cucumber cups with garlic herbed cheese
- Goat Quesadillas: Chipotle marinated goat
- Dessert: Banana Pudding shooters, Georgia Special Cake Shooter, Peanutbutter Cream Cheese Tart, Mini Lemon Tarts
- Late-Nite Snack: Pork belly sandwiches on corn cakes with arugual, tomato, and pickled radish
We hid behind the curtain until our pre-recorded entrance interview was played and then… the party was ON! Our friends from Taboo provided the music for the night. These guys learned a ton of songs just for us which made it even more special to have them. At this point, it was a whirlwind. I barely remember who I was able to speak to and who I wasn’t able to get to! We had toasts from some of our closest people… some much more emotional than we had expected. We danced the night away beginning with our First Dance: Your Song.
At the end of the night, we were sent away in a hail of paper airplanes. This night couldn’t have been more perfect! The weather was a perfect September temp. And all our friends and family were surrounding us. And with the help of all our amazing wedding professionals, we were able to share an unforgettable evening together.
Our Wedding Professionals.
The Knoxville Zoo
Ashley was our contact here and was excellent throughout the process keeping us on track.
We met with Diane early on in our planning process because we knew food would be a central theme. As mentioned above, they were so great to work with and to challenge. And Chef Jerry did a great job. Also, Chef Jerry who cooked our food is about to open a food trailer. Be sure to check him out: The Iron Skillet He also does person chef gigs if you are in need!
OK, if you look them up, it may say ‘florist’, but they are so much more! These guys are total environment designers. And SO creative. I feel like they enjoyed our desire to contrast the rustic setting with a ‘Sex in the City’ feel. Carrie worked very closely with us…but also totally surprised us. It was more than we ever expected!
Random Acts of Flowers
One of our favorite non-profits is Random Acts of Flowers. And we are happy that after we were able to enjoy our arrangements from Whimsical Gatherings, our flowers continued to spread joy to others. Our flowers were recycled and distributed to hospital patients a few days after our party. Please remember Random Acts of Flowers the next time you have left-over flowers.