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Jungle Love: Dancin’ Time

January 27, 2014

After a beautiful ceremony, our cocktail hour passed in the blink of an eye. We took our big group family photos and then tried to chat with a few people, but before we knew it, it was time to start the reception.

Our wedding party and family walked in with the same order as the ceremony, then stood at the front.

Wedding Reception

Wedding reception

I was a little nervous walking in – I was kind of afraid I’d fall down the stairs. But luckily, I stayed on my feet.

Wedding reception

Next up was the part of the wedding that had me most terrified: our first dance. To give you a little background: I love music, but I really don’t like dancing. I mean, I’ll do a little booty shaking in the privacy of my own bathroom, or maybe after about 18 drinks. But generally, I hate to do it in front of anyone. In any situation. Needless to say, Mr. Panther and I didn’t rehearse any fancy routines or take any ballroom lessons. I just wanted us to do the middle school sway and then get off the floor as quickly as possible.

Wedding reception - First dance

It was nice, though. For our first dance, our band played “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. DON’T MAKE FUN OF US. We didn’t tell anyone what our first dance song was before the wedding, because I was sure that at least one person would ridicule us and then I’d have doubts right up until July 2nd. See, that song is special to us, because when we first started dating, we watched Aladdin together, and we both starting singing during “A Whole New World.” It turned out that we both knew every single word and both the male and female parts. Ha! It was so, so dorky, but it was a real connection moment for us. We both love that song, and it is a love ballad, so it seemed appropriate.

True to form, we sang it to each other during the first dance … except for when the female vocalist botched a few lyrics. Then we just cackled at each other.

Wedding reception - First dance

And of course, because we didn’t want to be out there alone, we were that mean couple who forces the wedding party to come out halfway through the song. I feel a little bad about it. I hope they didn’t mind!

Wedding reception - First dance

The toasts were next. Mr. Panther’s best man went first, and he asked us to stand up with him. His toast was fantastic – he quoted “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.

Wedding reception - toast

My maid-of-honor was next. We’ve been best friends since we were 12, and she shared some stories from our younger (and wilder) days.

Wedding party - toast

I didn’t have a father-daughter dance planned, since my dad had passed away a few years earlier, but at one point, my uncle (who walked me down the aisle) asked me to dance, and I happily obliged.

Wedding reception

Meanwhile, Mr. Panther was cutting a rug with his grandmother.

Wedding reception

The dancing continued all through dinner, which absolutely thrilled me. I was so terrified that we’d have one of those receptions where nobody wanted to dance! Our band kicked butt, though, so that definitely helped. The alcohol content of our signature cocktail (the “Something Blue-garita”) didn’t hurt, either.

Soon after we ate, we did the cake cutting. No smashing – just eating.

Wedding reception - cake cutting

And perhaps a sweet little smooch. (And that’s the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written.)

Wedding reception - cake cutting

After the cake cutting, Mr. Panther took the dance floor with his mom. Those jerks practiced! I had no idea until I saw them twirling and dipping around out there. They totally showed our first dance up!

Wedding reception

I’ll forgive them someday. MAYBE.

At some point, our photographers stole us away and took us outside for a few shots under the stars. I’m so glad we made time for this – they’re some of my favorite pictures from the whole day.

Wedding reception - Getaway car

We got a few photos with our amazing getaway car (which was borrowed from Mr. Panther’s best man’s family), then headed to the lawn by the water.

Wedding photo under starry sky by water

Wedding photo under starry sky by water

By the time we got back inside, it was about time for the bouquet toss. I turned my back and tried to throw arbitrarily, but it was a straight shot to my friend Bianca.

Wedding reception - Bouquet toss

Wedding reception - Bouquet toss

Bianca’s serious boyfriend playfully gave me a hard time, but he proposed the next year, and now they’re married! So it WORKED!

So, at this point, Mr. Panther and I had been trying to make the rounds to each and every table for the past few hours. And it was starting to become clear that we weren’t going to make it. We had a big wedding, and it’s so hard to rush through when you’re chatting with people you haven’t seen in years. Our venue’s ballroom had two levels, and the second level held a few guest tables, the dessert table, and our photo booth. Mr. Panther and I never set foot up there. It still bums me out, but I can’t see how it could have been any different.

After the bouquet toss, people were starting to leave, and we knew the reception was almost over. We’d only danced a couple slow songs, and that was it! So, we made an executive decision: We decided to abandon the socializing and join our friends on the dance floor. And I’m so glad we did. You have to dance at your own wedding!

Wedding reception - dance floor

Wedding reception - dance floor

Eventually, one of those terrible dance circles formed. Dance circles are my nightmare, and you will never catch me in the middle of one, but other people like them, so hey, enjoy!

Look at this hottie!

Wedding reception - dance floor

Then, something happened. Mr. Panther decided to break dance. In his expensive wedding suit.

Wedding reception - dance floor

Yes, those are his legs you see in the air.

Wedding reception - dance floor


Wedding reception - dance floor

Wedding reception - dance floor

I mean, he could have at least taken his jacket off! But oh, well.

Soon, it was time to go. *sob* We’d purchased 36″ sparklers from, and everyone headed outside to light them while I attempted to mop the sweat off my face in the bathroom. When Mr. Panther and I went outside, everyone had their sparklers lit and were standing along the sides of the walkway. It was perfect – exactly how I’d imagined it. And we even got the sendoff photo of my dreams!

Wedding reception - sparkler send-off

It wasn’t easy to stuff my giant dress into such a tiny car, but I got it all in there! This photo was taken before Mr. Panther came around and got in on his side:

Wedding reception - getaway car

Mr. Panther and I drove off, but we actually just went in a few circles around the venue while we waited for everyone to get on the buses. We couldn’t take that little car all the way back to the hotel!

By the time we got back, almost everyone was gone. A few stragglers had missed what they thought was the last bus and started telling us about how they lived at our venue now and were staying forever. We laughed our heads off before we informed them that the bus would be back for one more pick-up. It was a good thing, because a few of the bridesmaids were still around, too! We dumped my suitcase on the bus with them, and then hopped in Mr. Panther’s mom’s sedan to ride to the hotel.

I don’t have any photos from the after party in the hotel bar, and it’s probably better that way. We were done being the bride and groom at that point, and just wanted to have some laid-back fun. I hadn’t seen my college friends in years, and we sat around singing our fight song and drinking cocktails, and it was wonderful. The perfect end to a perfect day.

So, that’s the Panther wedding!

Did you manage to greet all your guests at your wedding? How much dancing did you do?

Miss any of the Panther recaps? Get caught up!

All photos by Raw Photo Design

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