My great grandparents, Mary and Louis, celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary not too long ago. I'm sure Mary and Louis would have been happy with a family party at home, but our family wanted to celebrate this milestone with a special theme.
Mary and Louis were married in the Roaring Twenties, but that seemed too obvious to use as our theme. Someone mentioned the classic feel of black and white movies and photographs. Everyone agreed "black and white" would make a great theme.
Our family is fairly large, so the work was divided among us so no one would feel overburdened. We sent out about fifty invitations. On the cover of the invitations was that famous black and white photo of a uniformed sailor man kissing a lady in a dress. Inside were the details of the party such as location, date and time were listed inside, as well as a request that everyone dress in black and/or white clothing and wear comfortable dancing shoes.
One team looked through family albums and picked out black and white pictures to take to a video editor and have a ten minute presentation. It was set to rag time and big band music. Of course a a real big band was hired to play at the party. My team located and reserved a banquet hall at nearby hotel, and reserved a block of rooms at reduced rates for out-of-town guests. Since the hotel also, offered catering it was so easy to arrange the buffet for the party and it was inexpensive too after we brought in a quote from an independent caterer and they agreed to match it. One of our cousins is a photographer. He also collects antique cameras and wanted to use a camera from the twenties to take posed pictures, , but brought a modern automatic camera for candid photos.
A limousine picked up Mary and Louis and brought them to the hotel. The hall was decorated all in black and white. The tablecloths were white, the chairs, napkins and plates were black. The dance floor was checkered. Posters of classic black and white movie stills hung from the ceiling. The band played some strolling music while Mary and Louis walked to their seats. We all stood and clapped for them as they walked down the black and white runner to the head table. They were seated in the center with their children on either side.
The afternoon went smoothly and wonderfully. The hotel set up a lovely buffet with chicken Marsalis, grilled salmon, or vegetarian pasta dishes, soup or salad, and either chocolate or vanilla ice cream with the giant black and white iced cake. It was delicious. For those of us over 21there were Black or White Russians, and wine.
After the meal, we watched the ten minute video, which moved both Mary and Louis to joyful tears. Mary got up giving each of her children a kiss to thank them for the wonderful gift. Of course, that made just about everyone else's eyes get misty with emotion. After the party many people asked for a copy of the video, which we happily made for them. Louis made a short speech thanking all the guests for coming. Then their oldest son, Charlie made a toast to the couple.
The band played and we all danced for the rest of the evening, including Mary and Louis. Many of the younger people learned the swing, waltz and other ballroom dances from the older guests.
By 9:00 PM, Mary and Louis were ready to go home, but the rest of us stayed for a few more hours and danced. Mary and Louis are still talking about the party and how wonderful it was to see everyone together and happy again. It had been a long time since they had that much fun a long time. I'm glad we could make their 75th anniversary so memorable.