reception ideas

Henry & Cassandra | Traditional Wedding at First Baptist Church | Waco, Texas

A traditional church wedding on Christmas weekend inside First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

We ended 2017 with the beautiful, traditional church wedding of Henry & Cassandra on Christmas weekend, and we are so excited to show it to you! If you read Henry & Cassandra’s engagement blog post, you’ll remember these two Sweethearts met when they were younger because their families attend First Baptist Church, Waco together. So FBC was the perfect choice for their wedding ceremony!

If you asked us what would be the most beautiful sanctuary in Waco for a traditional church wedding, FBC Waco will definitely be one of our top suggestions! With the soaring ceilings, all the stained-glass windows, the rows of beautiful wooden pews, the architecture of the balcony...it is just such a gorgeous sanctuary! The beauty of the sanctuary and the small touches of red poinsettias for Christmas provided the perfect backdrop for Henry & Cassandra's wedding day.

Henry & Cassandra continued the traditional theme of their wedding by choosing not to see one another before her walk down the aisle. However, to help calm their nerves and to have a special moment together before, they decided to do a “first touch.” We love when our Sweetheart’s choose to do a first touch, taking a moment to connect and talk together before saying "I do." Since we couldn’t find a great doorway without exposing Henry & Cassandra to all their guests who were arriving, Jason found a small bench in front of stained-glass windows on the second floor landing. I brought Henry up from downstairs and had him sit facing the corner, and made him PROMISE he wouldn’t turn around. Then while Jason got into place, I brought Cassandra out of her bridal suite and placed her behind Henry on the bench. Maybe Cassandra was able to sneak a little peek at Henry before the ceremony and see him looking all dapper in his blue tux, but this location paid off in one of the most beautiful first touches we’ve photographed.

After the first touch it was time for the ceremony, and it was such a meaningful ceremony filled with beautiful moments. A pastor from Mexico closely connected with the family presided over much of the ceremony, encouraging Henry & Cassandra in their new roles as husband and wife. There was also a time in the ceremony when relatives and close family friends were invited to give traditional gifts to the couple getting married. One of our favorite parts was when Henry & Cassandra were encircled with the wedding lasso rosary during their time of prayer together. It was such a perfect symbol of marriage, being tied together, side-by-side as you journey forward.

A bride gets into her beaded wedding gown from Georgio's Bridal Salon, Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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A calligraphy wedding invitation suite laid out on bride's veil, surrounded by bouquet and bride's jewelry - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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A bride gets emotional giving her father a gift before her wedding at First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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A bride and groom hold hands during a "first touch" at their wedding at FBC Waco - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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A groom cries when he sees his bride coming down the aisle at a wedding ceremony at FBC Waco - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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A bride and groom kiss in front of the historic First Baptist Church in downtown Waco- Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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After the ceremony, Henry & Cassandra invited their guests to a fun-filled reception at Castle Heights Bijoux Events Center. They kept the traditional reception elements such as the Father/Daughter dance, toasts, and of course, cutting their gorgeous wedding cake! But there were some fun additions to the celebration we had never seen before in our experience as wedding photographers!

Before Cassandra did her bouquet toss, she and Henry stretched her cathedral length veil between them and all the young women (and some young-at-heart) joined hands and ran through the venue and under the veil. Then, right before Henry tossed his boutonniere to the young, single men, they did the same! Also, a group of Cassandra’s cousins from Mexico swarmed Henry and tossed him up in the air to the music. He almost hit the ceiling!

After all the cake had been served and the bouquet had been tossed, a family friend led the entire reception in a few rounds of competitive games. It was fun to see the women compete against the men, each team trying to win for the bride or groom! The fun reception ended with everyone praying over these Sweethearts, praying blessings on their new marriage as they left the reception to start their new life together.

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A bride and groom dance together during their wedding reception at Castle Heights Bijoux Events Center in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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Guests at a wedding reception run under the bride's veil - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Guests throw the groom into the air on the dance floor during his wedding reception at Castle Heights Bijoux Events Center - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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Dear Henry & Cassandra,

There were so many beautiful moments on your wedding day that we hope you cherish in your memory for years. We hope you remember the joy and emotions, the way all your family and friends came together to support your love and marriage. And we pray that the way you two smile at one another and the love in your eyes for one another doesn't fade but grows stronger with each anniversary. Blessings on your marriage!

Love, J&M

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Brian & Kendra | The Phoenix Ballroom | Downtown Waco, Texas

Bride and groom in downtown Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

These two Sweethearts have appeared on our blog not once but twice before! We’ve known Brian and Kendra through working with them as fellow wedding vendors in the Waco area. Brian is the talented DJ behind Broken Spoke Entertainment and we always love when we find out he’s the DJ for one of our weddings. When Brian and Kendra began planning their own wedding we were so honored they asked us to be their photographers. But we had no idea how fun it would be having them as J&M Sweethearts! First, we had an epic engagement session on a legit NASCAR racetrack. Then we had a SECOND engagement session on Brian’s grandmother’s farm in West, Texas. And that’s only the photo sessions! Learning about NASCAR, eating Olive Garden together, visiting each other’s booths at bridal shows, and just getting to know them as friends has been an amazing experience.

Brian and Kendra were married at the end of July in Kendra's home state of Ohio where her family still lives. But they knew not everyone could make the trek to Ohio, so they decided to have a second celebration here in Texas. And the idea of a Texas reception was born!

We were blown away with how authentic and fun Brian and Kendra made their Texas reception. This wasn’t just a party to celebrate their Ohio wedding. This was a real-life wedding reception! Kendra had her hair and makeup done, and put back on her wedding dress. (Yay for getting to wear your dress multiple times!) Brian didn’t wear a full-blown tux this go round, but dressed up his jeans and boots with a vest, tie and his signature cowboy hat. They had the majority of their bridal party present, with her bridesmaids even wearing their navy bridesmaid dresses again!

Brian and Kendra invited all their guests to The Phoenix Ballroom, a beautiful warehouse-style venue in downtown Waco. Guests arrived and sat around tables filled with centerpieces overflowing with white hydrangeas and blush & white roses. And at 6 pm, DJ Jim Alvarado called everyone’s attention to the video screens around the venue where Brian & Kendra’s Ohio wedding day video began playing. Everyone was able to see Kendra walk down the aisle on her dad’s arm, hear the vows Brian & Kendra exchanged, and see them seal their marriage with a kiss. And then as the happy couple walked up the aisle as husband and wife on screen, the video faded out and Jim announced the married couple as Brian & Kendra made their grand entrance into The Phoenix.

Everyone cheered for the newlyweds, and the Texas Reception was underway. A dinner of fried chicken and BBQ was served. Brian and Kendra had a second chance to cut into a gorgeous wedding cake, made by The Cake Lady - Veronica Gloeckner, as well as not one but two amazing groom’s cakes by the talented All Sugard’ Up. There was two-stepping and line dancing all night, endless margaritas at the bar, and in honor of Brian’s family’s Czech heritage, kolaches were served and everyone joined in on a fun Grand March around the ballroom.

It was the perfect central Texas reception, y'all!

Wedding gown and bride's shoe details, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bridal jewelry and bouquet details, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Dallas Stars groom's cake, Beer cooler groom's cake, 3 tiered cream bride's cake, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
blush and white rose bouquet, DJ set up at The Phoenix, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Groom's mother's wedding gown made into custom table-cloth for wedding, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Details from navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom in downtown Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom in downtown Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom in downtown Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom in downtown Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Guests watch video from wedding prior to reception, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom enter reception after announced by DJ, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom together in sunset with Waco skyline in background, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom stand together with Waco skyline and sunset behind them, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
A bride and her cowboy groom pose stoically outside The Phoenix, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom smile at one another in the light of sunset outside The Phoenix, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom cut cake, Bride and groom in downtown Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom pose by Dallas Stars groom's cake, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
The Grand March, a Czech tradition, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
The Grand March dance, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com 
Bride and groom have first dance, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom have first dance while friends dance around them, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and groom laugh during first dance as their family dances around them, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
Bride and bridal party dance at reception, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
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Bride and groom kiss during sparkler exit outside The Phoenix in Waco, Navy and blush Texas Reception at The Phoenix Ballroom, Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Dear Brian & Kendra,

We cannot say enough how much fun and what an honor it was to walk this journey with you guys! Thank you for the experiences on the track and the farm, and thanks for being friends. Your reception was beautiful and Texas and perfectly y'all, and we hope y'all enjoy these images for decades to come. We pray you have a long, happy marriage filled with laughter, music and dancing!

Love, J&M 


Venue | The Phoenix Ballroom

Wedding Coordinator | Lois Ferguson

Rentals | Action Rental Waco

Florals | Donna Roach

DJ | Jim Alvarado with Diamond Productions

Bride's Cake | Veronica Gloeckner, The Cake Lady

Groom's Cakes | All Sugard' Up

Caterer | Eddie Ray's Smokehouse

Hair and Makeup | Robin Dieterich and Kimberly Cutler

Bridal Gown & bridesmaids' dresses | Jo Ann's Bridal


See more of our J&M Wedding Stories on the blog! 

Unique Wedding Day Ideas

It's always fun to observe how different couples' personalities will shine through in the elements of their wedding day. With each ceremony, I always find one unique thing or an example of thinking-outside-of-the-box I wish we had incorporated in our own wedding years ago. Alas, Pinterest was not around yet to serve as a treasure trove of wedding planning ideas.

If you find yourself in the midst of wedding planning and are looking for some fun ideas to incorporate you and your fiance's' personalities into your big day, here's a collection of the most fun, touching, and unique wedding day ideas Jason & I have seen recently. 

The Wedding Time Itself

I'm not sure of the exact statistic, but I'd bet the vast majority of weddings occur Saturday evening with the reception lasting late into the night. Want to be really unique when planning your big day? Get married Saturday morning. One of our recent couples did exactly that. They took their love of coffee, and "meh"-feeling towards dancing, and had a lovely Saturday morning wedding followed by a brunch-themed reception. THEY. HAD. AN. OMELET. BAR. AND. STARBUCKS. COFFEE. It was such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Meaningful wedding day gifts

If you aren't planning on doing a first-look, a great way to have a connection with your soon-to-be spouse is to write each other a heartfelt note before the ceremony. You can even send your photographers over to your future Mr. or Mrs. to hand-deliver the note and document the moments you read his/her sweet words.

During her bridal portrait sessions, one of our #JandMbrides had us take her picture holding this sign, under the guise it was to be a present for her dad since her mother was there with us. We got her the image and she had it framed, writing a sweet letter to her parents on the matte. Before heading to the ceremony on her wedding day, she gave the framed picture and letter to her parents. It was such a sweet way for her to share with them how much they meant to her on this special day. 

Before, During, and After the Ceremony

Have one final celebration with your bridesmaids before the ceremony by providing a mimosa bar in the morning. Sipping on mimosas while you have your hair and makeup done is a relaxing way to start the wedding day.

There are a lot of different ways to symbolize the uniting of two families in a wedding ceremony besides the traditional unity candle. But hands-down the most unique and most perfect personality-capturing unity symbol we've seen was a unity tree. Each set of parents poured soil into the large jar. Then the bride and groom planted a tree into the mixed soil. After their wedding and reception, the couple carried their unity tree with them to their new home in Oregon to be planted in their front yard. 

Some people cannot wait for the DJ to start spinning tracks and hit the dance floor. But some guests would rather do anything but dance. One fun option we've seen at a reception was to provide dozens of board games for your guests to play. Nothing brings families and friends together like board games!

Photobooths are really fun and a neat way to send guests home with a commemorative picture. But have you ever considered a personal caricature? One of our brides found an art student at Baylor University to draw caricatures for any of her guests during the reception. It was so much fun, and super popular. The artist had people waiting in line to get their caricature drawn. 

Looking for some unique entertainment for your guests during cocktail hour? One of our couples hired a local polka band to come play for the guests. It was so unique, and so fun. The kids especially loved twirling around and dancing to the music.

A lot of women wear super-cute high heels to weddings. While these shoes may look great with their dresses and be perfect attire for a wedding ceremony, by the end of the night these ladies may be unable to dance the night away with you because their feet are hurting. A great solution is to provide a stash of complimentary dancing shoes displayed in the women's restroom of the reception venue.

Speaking of dancing, everyone is aware of the traditional dances which open the dance floor at a wedding reception. There's the newlywed's first dance, then the father-daughter dance. Occasionally there's even a mother-son dance. But one of our tender-hearted brides (remember the picture she made her parents?) had a surprise mother-daughter dance with her mom. Her mother had no idea until the DJ called her to the floor. They danced for a little bit before the DJ called all the daughters and mothers on to the floor to join in the dancing. Luckily I was only holding our off-camera flash and not taking pictures at the time, because I was a blubbering mess. It was such a sweet moment and truly showcased this mother and daughter's meaningful relationship.

We love seeing how each bride and groom add unique elements to their wedding day to truly make it their own. Those are some of the most unique wedding day ideas we've seen recently. Leave us a comment below to tell us and other brides what you've seen. We'd love to hear it!