rooftop party


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I celebrated our marriage with our friends both near and far by throwing a rooftop party.

Our intention with the party was to make it beautiful and as stress-free as possible.

When creating a vision for the party, I imagined using our apartment building’s roof deck. For decor, I got color inspiration from the pops of blue in our wedding ceremony. We also agreed that we should incorporate all the foods we wanted to have at a traditional wedding reception: a build your own mini-slider bar, mac and cheese, my favorite cupcakes, a signature cocktail, and craft beer.

To help us keep things manageable, we decided to only cook the sliders and buy prepared foods for the rest of the meal. After a rather very stressful Fourth of July party earlier this year, we knew that it would be nice if we cooked everything ourselves… but definitely not necessary.

So we took a few trips to Cost Co and Binny’s and wound up with a fridge that looked like this.

Since we had over 50 friends to serve, this fridge is just a fraction of the goods we had to bring down the the roof deck. To help speed the process along, we borrowed the building’s moving cart to load up all the items we needed in batches.

We also we were extremely fortunate that my best friend and “maid of honor,” Maggie, and her fiance, Tony, were on hand to help us prepare. Due to their enormous help and enthusiasm, we were able to get the whole party prepped in about three or four hours.

Here’s a rundown of the party in photos.

photo via Cathy 


The night before the party, Maggie invited my girlfriends out to celebrate my marriage in a “bachelorette-like” party. But since I was already married and had no interest in a tiara or phallic-anything, we dubbed it a “Mrs. Party.” We met at my favorite swanky bar, The Bedford, and drank nice cocktails. It was the perfect low-key way to spend time with some of my closest friends.

The next morning I was so happy to discover we had the perfect warm-but-cool weather for the party. Our only weather related challenge was the wind in the afternoon, which made affixing tablecloths near impossible a challenge.

We purchased serving dishes for the event, which we will use forever-after as well. We decided on white dishes so we can evolve our collection over time. In fact, our bowls seen here are from my Grandpa’s collection and the rectangle dishes are from Crate and Barrel Outlet. Because the lines of all the dishes are clean and simple, we will be able to expand the collection endlessly into the future and still remain coordinated.

You will also notice the white table cloth. Those are actually three large white plastic table cloths purchased with the other party supplies. We used a liberal amount of clear packing tape to ensure that the granite table was covered and would not get blown away. At the end of the night all we needed to do for clean up was remove the tablecloths and throw them away – which definitely beat scrubbing down the giant granite bar by hand. The white covering also created a great backdrop for my color scheme as well. Had we just left the regular dark pink granite as-is, I don’t think the party would have felt as pulled together.

We also picked up a big metal wine bucket at Target earlier in the summer which worked perfectly with our white dishware. Under the table the beers were stashed in a cooler.

As I mentioned before, I also wanted to have a cocktail station. Mr. Lively and I are usually not cocktail people, but I thought it would be nice to serve the one cocktail I adore: the Classic St. Germain. Each of those beakers has marks which indicate how much St. Germain, soda water, and champagne should be added for a perfectly prepared drink.

Our blue napkins and gold(!) plastic silverware, plates, and silo cups were the major pops of color for the table. I ordered them online here. (As you can tell, Mr. Lively let me pick the decor for the event.)

We also lucked out on this caddy for about $7, which happened to be the exact same blue as the napkins, at the Crate and Barrel Outlet. It was a pure fluke.

Because we indulged in amazing cheese while at our cooking class in Paris, we decided to serve fancy French cheese to our party. Mr. Lively splurged on these incredible French cheeses found at Pastoral. Besides the cocktails, they were the biggest hit at the party.

We scored the white marble cheese plate for just $19.95 at Crate and Barrel the day before the party.

On the other side of the table we had an array of cheeses for the mini sliders. My favorite find for the party was the batch of chalkboard stickers  from World Market. They were super easy to label (they come with the chalk in the package), and because they stuck to the table cloth, we didn’t have to worry about them blowing away.

By 4:00 we were all set for guests. Here are the two fantastic people that helped us make the party such a hit, Maggie and Tony.

Our friend Ryan acted as bartender and mixed up the St. Germain cocktails.

Once the grilled veggies for the sliders were ready, Mr. Lively dished them out on disposable serving trays. Again, more easy clean up.

People had a great time mingling and hanging out.

Mr. Lively was Husband of the Year and made sure everyone had as many sliders as they pleased and made sure I didn’t get too stressed.

And he also took the time to hang out with his friends visiting from Kansas City.

I was lucky enough to have friends from my hometown, Rochester, Michigan, travel from all parts of the country. Thank you Maggie (New York), Catherine (Georgia), and Krista (Michigan).

It was a treat to also spend time with my girls from the University of Michigan, too. Marisa, Maggie, and I call ourselves The Tribunal.

A few hours into the party we served our cupcakes. My all time favorite, Magnolia.

By the time we ran out of beer (again), it was time to head over to Matilda’s for a 90’s dance party.

I am so incredibly grateful for such a fun-filled party with those we love. It definitely hit the refined and relaxed intention we were going for. I hope that some of our party decisions might come in handy for others planning big bashes.


This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Rian

    Beautiful party! I love how you mixed fancy elements (the flowers, the St.Germain, the cheese labels) with casual ones (plastic forks and cups, paper napkins). Looks like everyone had a fun & relaxed time. Congrats!

  2. Jenn

    I love how you pulled this together- just enough “zhush” without too much fuss. And I love a girl who loves a St. Germain- I have two empty bottles I’m trying to use somewhere in my house because they’re just too pretty to hide away!

  3. Bettina

    I love how your celebration turned out! Congrats to you and Mr. Lively!

    I am contemplating doing the same thing. We would rather get married in a private setting with just immediate family at a destination we love, and then have some sort of party afterwards on a different day. Most of my friends at this point just want us to have something to celebrate so I’m leaning toward this type of gathering and got some great ideas. Besides the delicious cupcakes, did you have any reception like events at the gathering? Like any did anyone introduce the two of you as husband and wife at the beginning or was it more like a casual party? I’m so clueless on some of these pieces since every single one of my friends has had a more traditional affair.

  4. Kate Gleason

    What a lovely fête! I am so so happy for you and Mr. Lively! Hope to see you both soon and celebrate! : )

  5. Jess

    Thanks so much, ladies!! I’m glad you like the fancy yet unfussy mix.

    Bettina, I say go with your gut! We did not do anything wedding like besides the Mrs. Party and the cupcakes. It was just fun to celebrate with friends. But you could do any manner of things for your bash. Just make sure you like what you decide and do it with your intentions in mind. : )

  6. Looks marvelous! What a great job by a great hostess 🙂

    It looks like fun was had by all!

  7. Gwynne

    Sounds like a wonderful party! You did such an amazing job. By the way, where did you find your mint julep cups that you used for the flowers? I’ve been on the hunt.

  8. Jess

    Gwynne, I got them at a thrift store (which has now closed) in Chicago. : ) I think they were $15 for four big ones and two mini ones. I love hunting for accessories at thrift stores… in fact many or most of my accessories for the home are second hand.

  9. Susan Muntz

    Looks like a lot of fun!! Beautiful weather!!, beautiful friends for a beautiful couple!!

  10. Bettina

    Thanks for the advice Jess! I think it’s time I go with my instinct and with what is right for us, versus what everyone else would like to see 🙂

  11. Jessica

    I love the color combos, they pop so well on the white serving dishes. I 100% agree that going white with serving items is the way to go, it’s one of my favorite tips to give friends when they’re registering for a wedding or choosing in general.

  12. Beautiful, beautiful way to celebrate your recent nuptials. I love reading about your wedding and marriage celebrations.

    BTW any of the men from KC single? 😉

  13. Sue

    Looked beautiful congratulations! Can you please tell me where you got the St Germain beakers from? They are fabulous! Thanks

    1. Thanks! The beakers actually came with the St. Germain bottles. I’m not sure that they usually come with beakers… they may have just been special edition bottles. But you could check online or at a liquor store just in case. : )

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