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Wedding Week: Putting it all together

Well this is a little late but the sun came out and I spent a good amount of time outside the last few days. But it's supposed to snow again, so here I am back in front of the computer. Anyway, wrapping it all up...

We wanted our wedding to be made as much by us and those we know as possible, use items that could be repurposed or last longer than the wedding, and express ourselves. It's really strange that our wedding ended up on Arbor Day, because looking at it now, you would think it had really inspired a lot of what we did, when it really didn't inspire anything until the end. Our main inspiration: spring, books, and fun.

Our invitations and such

Our friend, Zoe, did our invitations and all the graphic items we needed for the wedding. I got the inspiration from a set of tea cups she gave me:

Which gave us this:

Our "Save the Date" is printed on business card stock, and then we stuck it on sticky-backed magnets (ended up with a ton extra - thus more magnet projects to come!). Super easy and fun. The invite (on the left) is put together like a book.

I love the way it turned out, and  special thanks to my sister for helping me cut out, fold, staple and label all the invitations!

Our Flowers

Inspired by Martha Stewart's craft encyclopedia, I wanted to create the bouquets and boutenieres. There were a lot of crafting days before the wedding, and I'm still very grateful to everyone who helped out.

"I'm making you flowers that would never exist in nature!" declared one of my friends as we cut, wrapped, fluffed and taped paper flowers just days before the wedding. Messy, but fun.

The boutenieres were made by Zoe and my then-future-sister-in-law. I gave them the beaded flower instructions, and turned them loose! Turned out it was much more time consuming than I thought it would be so they went supply shopping and came up with a really fun pin in the end. (bottom left in the picture)

The Wedding

We got married in a cave. There were lots of bats and spiderwebs... Not really, it's actually an old mushroom storage place became speakeasy became wedding and swing night place. It was such an affordable unique space. Plus, it's where Raulie's grandparents got engaged (we had no idea about that until we had booked the site).

Raulie and I personally chose or wrote our vows. I based mine off a book by Berkeley Breathed, Pete & Pickles, because it reminds me of us. My dad was our officiant, and even though it took a lot of procrastination to get him to do it, he was my first and only choice. Our ceremony was non-traditional traditional, using all the essential parts but without all the property/boy-girl stuff. Both parents were escorts for walking us down the aisle. Our bible passages were also off-the-beaten path, we used John 15:9-12 and 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8 (which my dad helped us find to tie into the spring/tree/Arbor Day idea).

Also, Record the ceremony, trust me. We didn't, I wish we had.


Dinner was provided by Kane's Catering, who are very friendly and wonderful to work with. We had an array of cupcakes from Cupcake in Minneapolis, plus a candy bar, for dessert. (Yay post-Easter clearances!) Our centerpiece: wine bottles displayed the table numbers and vases of saplings bookended books, surrounded by votives my sister made wrapped in vellum printed with our design, names and the date. Each table was unique and different displaying one of my favorite wine bottles. The vases were culled together from my cupboard and Goodwill.

The trees and books were wedding favors and anyone was welcome to them. The saplings were Red Pines and Thunderchild Crabapples.

We sat all of the families with younger children together at tables in little alcoves along the main area. At each of their tables was a basket with small toys, paper, coloring books, and crayons to keep children occupied for the evening. It's really simple to put together, and we had many parents thank us for it. 

Four years on...

We still get updates from people who took trees home from the wedding about how they're doing. My parents' friends took home two and named them after us. Now I just need to steal one back to put in our yard...

I use the bouquets to decorate every spring. Raulie's bouteniere is pinned to my jewelry display. They always make me smile. 

The backdrop from the ceremony that I alluded to last week became a patchworked duvet cover.

My dress still waits to be redesigned and worn again. Soon, I tell it.

And every month, Raulie and I toast on the 24th with a glass of the same brand of wine as we had at our wedding. We haven't missed one yet in 4 years.

So a little late, but there it is. I suppose my biggest piece of advice if you're planning your own wedding: Make it yours. Be gracious to everyone who helps you. Try to talk a little to everyone who comes. It will not be perfect, no matter how hard you try. Just accept that now. Enjoy the day and try to stay in the moment because it's going to fly by.




Festival Friday Wedding Week Edition

It's kind of a diversion for Festival Friday this week, but in the spirit of wedding week - Wedding Music.

Inspired by friends and their weddings, I wanted our wedding to be made by us as much as possible. My original inspiration for our ceremony music was that we would each write our processionals and then write our recessional together. It didn't happen that way though. That picture? That's me on the morning of the wedding trying not to freak out and write something. So we both ended up writing our own processionals but ended up using a song by Explosions in the Sky for our recessional.

If you're not musically inclined, here are some non-traditional suggestions for the ceremony:

"The Light" - Mason Jennings: Depending on your style of wedding, you might want to fade it out before the build. Mason Jennings has a couple of other songs that would be sweet for a wedding too.

"Imagine" - John Lennon: I looped the intro of this for my friend's wedding. It works because you can make it last long if needed, and it's hard to get sick of that progression.

"Falling Slowly" - Swell Season: Maybe it didn't work out for them, but as long as you don't find that ominous, I think it's still a great song. Glen Hansard is probably one of the most entrancing musicians I've seen, it's crazy. If you ever get the chance - take it. (well, if you like his music, of course)

Erik Satie - Go to the library, open up spotify, whatever you use, and listen to all the Gymnopedies.

Yann Tiersen - his music for Amelie was so enchanting.

"Snow and Lights" - Explosions in the Sky: This is what we used for our recessional. I wanted it to be a bursting forth. "Catastrophe and the Cure" and "So Long, Lonesome" also have a good walking pace to them. And they're long, so if you have to get a bunch of people down an aisle, you're good to go.

For our reception, we used an iPod preloaded with an extensive playlist for dinner and a separate list for the dance. We also had a back-up iPod with the same lists, just in case. If you decide to dj yourself, make sure that you have someone in charge to take requests, perhaps adjusting what comes next as needed, and warding off any guests wanting a change mid-song. With all of the on-demand music options now, it's even easier than ever to create an extensive and diverse playlist.

Honestly, my husband's got a knack for this sort of thing and he did a great job assembling what music we would need. It was a mix of songs he knew everyone would want to dance to, plus music that we enjoy as well. Click here for the songs we put in our playlist. There are some classics in there, songs that were heavy into our rotation at the time, and some personal favorites.

The key to picking out music is to remember your audience. Do you care what songs are played while your grandparents are still dancing? What about children? Would some of the songs offend your guests? Frontload with classics, current hits, and favorites - save some of your own favorites for the last half of the dance. That should help you keep people dancing until it's time to go.


Wedding Week: The Dress

Originally I planned on posting about how it all came together, but I have a few odds and ends to work on.  Anyway, tomorrow, the wedding but today the dress.

Ah, the dress.

The dress was inspired by a Vera Wang dress I tried on at a Macy's Vera Wang trunk show. There were two dresses that were so stunning, my mom offered to buy one of them right then. But I had a different idea. I wanted to make my dress. My mom and then-future-mother-in-law both sew as well, and I wanted the dress to be made by all of us. We went fabric shopping together, and we were supposed to make the dress together but timing didn't end up working well. My mom did help me with the mock-up though and Raulie's mom helped me finishing the dress frantically right before the wedding.

Originally I was thinking of an empire dress with flowing layers of waffled organza, but when we got to the fabric store, we found something different.

The ombre organza beneath the lace goes from pale blue to a dark green (our colors were green, blue and brown - very earthy spring), and the lace was just perfect: petals attached that saturated towards the bottom with a leaf pattern. Our wedding was on Arbor Day and it felt so fitting.

My friend whose feet are shown in the picture above described my look as Victorian-20s-Modern. The bodice and underlying silk layer were from another friend's wedding dress. Graciously given to me, I took the off-white organza and silk from the bottom half, and saved her bodice and lace for her. 

The last thing I wanted for my dress was to be able to wear it later. I still haven't touched it, but if I got rid of the train, I think it would work well. Or removing the lace and just leave the ombre organza.

But the best part of my dress? I could still play in it.





Wedding Week: The Planning


Oh the planning - so many people dread this part but I love it. These are some things  that helped me through, or I learned the hard way. Our goal was to have a nice wedding for 200 guests as cost effective as possible. I delegated out a lot of tasks to the most wonderful helpful friends and family, and we did a lot of work ourselves as well. I still owe a lot of thanks to everyone who helped us, it is so nice to have so many talented and giving people in our lives. Anyway, the stuff I learned and the stuff I did:

- Find a timeline. This will help you know if you're on track or not. There are so many ways to do this: pick up a bridal magazine, there's usually one in there; buy a wedding planner (I recommend the The Bride's Essential Wedding Planner for anyone. It has all the questions you need to know, and places to keep track of the answers while you research. Plus it's not the usual binder size, so it's more discreet to carry around or have on a table as you go over plans with your loved one), or use a website.

What I wish I had done: Make every deadline one week ahead of what the planner said on my own calendar. I'm a procrastinator, and if I had given myself a little leeway, things might have been a bit better at the end.

Post a To-Do where you both can see it: Ours were taped to the dining room wall. This way, you have to see it every day and you also get to cross off items as they get done with a large marker. It's so satisifying, like popping bubble wrap.

Have a place to brainstorm: I used a binder, but if a file folder works better for you, or a Pinterest page, maybe a file on Google Drive - then go for it. But keep it in one spot. Also, both of us had a notebook for the wedding counseling and to keep notes in to help us decide different things. Which brings me to...

Brainstorm separately, compare, compromise: This is probably one of the things we do the most in our relationship, and it works. It helps you figure out what each person wants, and then be able to find what it is you want as a couple as well. Sometimes it's easy because the other person does not care at all whether the flowers are real or paper...

- Walk through the day in your head. Where do people get ready? Where do they meet? When? Where are photos? What kind of photos? How many? When do we need to set up the space? What is the schedule for the evening? I went through the whole day piece by piece, and then figured out the timing.

What I wish I had done: After the ceremony, things get really crazy. Have an alarm set on someone's phone or watch 15 minutes before each thing is supposed to happen. For example: everyone should be seated for dinner at 7:00 - have the maid/man of honor's alarm go off at 6:45 to make sure the receiving line is done and you are on the way to the table. Toasts at 8:00? Best Person's alarm is set to 7:45 and they make sure that all of the wedding party is seated and ready to go.

- Visualize the space and ask how it happened: what are the decorations? How is it set up? I sketched it out and then worked backwards: how did they get there? Where did they come from? Where do they go? Who takes them away?

What I wish I had done: Test out some of the decorations beforehand. Hanging fabric from the brick wall was terrible. We could only ducktape things up and during the ceremony, one of the pieces slowly slowly fell off the wall. It was painful for me because every part of my body just wanted to pause the ceremony, run over to the wall and resecure it. (no, I'm not obsessive or anything, not at all...)

- Assign people to tasks. I looked at who would be available when, and started assigning tasks. I tried to give people tasks that fit their strengths - musicians handled the PA system, more arty friends handled some decorating, more time-conscious people were set with time sensitive tasks, etc. My sister was our wedding go-to person the day of. I gave her a binder with the tips for the various people we hired, a master seating chart, a list of what each guest ordered for dinner, the schedules, and each person's responsibility. One other part I loved: between the ceremony and dinner, I had two people load up all the presents and deliver them back to our apartment. This way we didn't have to worry about it later in the evening when everyone was tired along with loading up the PA system.

What I wish I had done: Either given my sister one or two helpers, or had two people in charge of the wedding day. It was probably a little too much for one person.

- Type it up. I typed up a schedule and packing lists. At the rehearsal, I gave a packet of the wedding day schedule, responsibility lists and packing lists to each person. Then I went over the schedule and made sure no one had any questions or problems.

What I wish I had done: Assign someone to double check the packed items. I just left it to all of us, and things got forgotten. Also - assign a second person to triple check. Just in case.

Secondly, if the turnaround time between your ceremony and reception is only a cocktail hour - contact anyone (such as relatives like grandparents) you would like to have a formal picture with and designate a time to get together before the wedding. If they can't make it beforehand, have a clear time set with your photographer to make sure you don't forget about it later. Because making everyone wear the outfit they were wearing to the wedding at the next family event is kind of awkward.

Sure some of it seems like a lot, but being thorough and clearly delegating helps save time in the long run. The day goes by fast. Really fast. Too fast. Structure and planning will help you make sure that you don't forget to do something you'll regret later.



Four years ago this week, my husband and I got married. So for the rest of the week I'll have memories, tips and photos of what worked, what didn't work and how we made our wedding ours.