Real wedding: Lisa + Todd part 1

Lisa sent me these photos of her very cool wedding and I was more than happy to share them with all of you! I thought we’d start with the super cool invitations and then cover the event later in the day. She’s done a very thorough writeup, so I’ll leave it to her. More photos at 1pm!

Todd and I wanted a wedding that was fun and would incorporate elements that were especially meaningful to both of us — creativity, humor, a sense of intimacy, and as many friends and family as we could squeeze into one space. We had guests of many different backgrounds and ages, and we wanted them all to enjoy themselves and be comfortable while still honoring our own personal values and tastes. We planned the wedding ourselves, rather blindly, which was occasionally tough but rewarding. In the end, the event was a mixture of traditional and non-traditional elements, produced by vendors whom we often had a personal (or at least local) connection, which made the whole thing feel like our own planning was assisted by a strong community effort. It was a lot of fun, and even if things had gone less smoothly it would have been impossible not enjoy myself, being surrounded by so many people I like.

VENUE: We chose the Montauk Club in Park Slope, Brooklyn, for its location, and for its lovely vintage details. We both liked that the venue had a lot of character and history, and although there were some very ornate touches, it didn’t feel too fancy or stiff. The club has a warm but forgotten feel to it, like it had been dusted off and restored just in time for our event. We also appreciated that the layout of the venue enabled us to easily hold the ceremony and reception in the same building, and that the majority of our guests would not have to get on a plane just to attend our wedding.

CEREMONY: We asked my father (a minister) to officiate, and co-wrote the ceremony with him. The service was pretty balanced — it reflected our values and paid respects to our interfaith backgrounds. We didn’t have a traditional wedding party, but we asked family members and friends to read passages representing seven blessings that we hope to have in our marriage (such as trust, laughter, friendship, etc.). (The passages ranged from Woody Allen to Sylvia Plath to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.) We each composed love letters to read to one other, and my father wrote a short piece imparting his wisdom to us.

MUSIC: Having good music at our wedding was a huge priority, as music has always held an important place in our lives. Our friend’s bluegrass band played both the processional and recessional; during the processional, when Todd and I walked down the aisle together, they played a beautiful instrumental piece they actually composed specifically for our wedding. For the recessional, they played an instrumental bluegrass version of the song “Melt with You” by Modern English.

There was also a musical interlude during the ceremony, performed by our friends Pete and Anna. Their song, “Momentum”, is one we’ve both loved for years. It was pretty moving to hear Pete and Anna play it for our wedding day, and extra thrill to be able to introduce their music to all our friends and family.

Our friend Sean deejayed our reception, and did a great job keeping people in the middle of the dance floor, with lots of old funk and soul, new wave, etc.

RECEPTION: We had a cocktail hour immediately following the ceremony, and a reception following that. Another great thing about the Montauk Club is that it doesn’t need a lot of extra decoration. Our florist added lots of flowers and candles, we added vintage frames with old family wedding photos in them (one on each guest table), and our invitation designer made cards for the tables — that’s all we really needed. During the reception, people gave great toasts (for this occasion, we were lucky to have some close friends who are also comedy writers); swing danced to a song by the Andrew Sisters; served seasonal food (catered by our venue); and offered guests a candy bar (my new husband is kind of a candy fiend) and a photo booth. When it was finally time to leave the wedding venue, many of us kept the evening going at a nearby bar called Union Hall.

CAKE: We decided to serve multiple cakes in a variety of flavors, from a Red Hook, Brooklyn bakery called Baked. The cakes looked and tasted great, plus it was a surprisingly affordable alternative to a traditional wedding cake. For the cake-cutting ceremony, we had a miniature polka-dotted two-tiered cake (also from Baked), topped with cute little wooden figures that Todd hand-painted in our likenesses.

PHOTO BOOTH: We’d originally planned to rent a traditional photo booth — the kind that prints black and white photo strips — but space constraints required us to find an alternative solution. We settled on digital photobooth from usnaps.com instead. (It was more of a photo ‘pillar,’ rather than a booth, which is how it saved us room.) Usnaps offers several different options for backdrop colors and fabrics, but we chose to provide our own, from a damask fabric we found in the garment district. Even though the sleek-looking, white booth didn’t match the decor of the Montauk Club as well as a traditional booth would have, it turned out to be a better option for us. Because the photos were digital, everyone was able to see and share all of their photo booth pictures almost immediately. Getting the photo booth was one of the best things we did for our wedding; we’re both really glad to have all these extra pictures of our friends and family. Also, it was a lot of fun; our guests were very creative with it. (Even our shy nephew, who covered his face like an angry celebrity whenever our human photographer approached.)

INVITATIONS: Our friend Tim O’Donnell designed our invitations and all our other printed materials for us. We love how all of the elements worked together, and we got a ton of great feedback.

DRESS & SUIT: My dress was made for me at Blue, in East Village. The color was inspired by a dress Michelle Williams once wore to the Oscars; the rest was shaped by Christina (the designer at Blue), my friend Stef, and me, sort of by trial and error. I was really pleased with the end result.

Todd’s English-cut pinstriped suit came from Paul Smith.

ACCESSORIES: I found my necklace at RePop, a vintage furniture store in Brooklyn, and my earrings and bracelet belonged to my great-grandmother. (My grandparents let me keep them as part of my wedding gift.) My veil came from an Etsy shop called Something Bold, and my shoes, which were more than 80 years old, came from ebay for $30. I bought them before I was engaged, and I had no idea when I’d ever wear them.

Todd bought some vintage cufflinks on ebay, but had to ditch them at the last minute (his shirt didn’t accept cufflinks), and he bought some brown cap-toed shoes from Allen-Edmonds.

HAIR & MAKEUP: My friend and longtime hairdresser Luisa (at Fringe Salon in the Lower East Side) did a fantastic job on my hair, and my friend Elizabeth Crockett made my face look its best.

FLOWERS: This was a difficult area for us, as neither of us know much about flowers. We were only certain of the colors we wanted, and that we hoped to include a lot of texture. (Using berries and fruits, and so on). Nicolette Owen did an amazing job. She handed me one of the prettiest bouquets I’ve seen, and she made boutinneres for everyone else associated with the wedding. Normally I don’t feel all that strongly about flowers, either way, but I felt real love for these things. I have no idea how she managed to do all that on her own.

FAVORS: In addition to the photo booth and candy bar, we made mix CDs which were inserted inside recycled cardboard CD sleeves along with the wedding program, so everyone received one at the door before our ceremony. Unfortunately, the venue forgot to leave out the plastic bags we’d purchased for the candy bar, so I guess everyone had to eat the candy on the spot, unless they used their pockets. (These tiny mishaps are the kinds of things that are supposed to freak out brides, I think.)

PHOTOGRAPHY: My online friend and Chicago Tribune photojournalist Candice C. Cusic did a wonderful job and was great to work with. It was nice finally meeting her in person, although I can’t say for sure what her face looks like, other than a Canon SLR camera. She worked tremendously hard and did a fantastic job capturing the day.

VIDEOGRAPHY: We hired a cinematographer named Ed David to shoot our wedding day. His stuff is beautifully shot and very unobtrusive, and we liked getting to know him. We’re excited to see the footage once it’s ready.

[images by Lisa Whiteman]

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Real wedding: Kelly + Terrell







From the beginning, Terrell and I knew we wanted a laid back, relaxed
wedding, so most of the decisions we made revolved around that. We
were going for a warm and whimsical feel and knew we wanted a fall
wedding outside. We both come from large extended families and so we
planned for 250, which turned out to be about right.

VENUE: We wanted the ceremony and reception at the same place, and it
was pretty important to us that we be able to do our own decorating
and have time to spend with our people. So we were really happy to
find a barn-styled retreat center near our home that we could rent for
the whole weekend. The Barn at Valhalla had a pond and rolling lawn
for the outdoor wedding and beautiful mahogany floors for dancing
later on. There was an outdoor fireplace that made a great hangout
spot away from the dance floor, and the site was casual enough that 20
or so kids could run around and explore. We spent the day before
decorating with the wedding party, our family and helpful friends and
were able to have a larger (40+) rehearsal dinner there Friday night.
Bonus: the barn had an upstairs which slept 18 and had two full
bathrooms, which made it a great place to get ready, too.

THEME: I know most people plan these out, but ours sort of happened by
accident, evolving from our save the dates (baby pictures using moo
cards) and invitations (little fabric pouches). We’re both known for
taking lots of pictures, so incorporating family photos made sense.
Sewing also ended up being a common thread, as my family has long ties
to the garment industry and his is full of quilters (In fact, all of
the fabric used in our invites came from our parents’ various
stashes).

DECORATIONS: The one drawback to our venue was the art lining the
walls. We got around this by incorporating lots and lots of family
quilts. Terrell’s mother and uncle spent a good bit of time on Friday
using tobacco sticks from his grandparent’s farm to hang almost 20
quilts inside and outside of the barn over the art. It really made the
whole place feel comfortable and homey. There was also a wonderful
quilted tablecloth on the cake table. On the cocktail tables, we had
centerpieces made out of three wooden frames, assembled around a
candle. These held family shots printed on vellum so they could be lit
from behind. We used leftover moo cards from our save the dates as
accents on the flower arrangements. And perhaps one of our most fun
ideas was to line the tables with brown kraft paper and set out small
tin buckets of crayons. We had no idea the guests would enjoy this as
much as they did, but we ended up with lots of wonderful drawings and
personal notes.

FLOWERS: We wanted simple arrangements in mason jars and had been
planning to go with our local farmer’s market for flowers, but our
wedding date ended up being at the end of the growing season. We were
able to get lilies from a local greenhouse and supplement the rest
through Whole Foods (who was fantastic to work with). If you feel
comfortable doing your own flowers (and have the time and some
helpers) I would recommend it to anyone on a budget. Since it was a
fall wedding, my dad also brought in a ton of mums, and we decorated
the arbor with ivy from my parent’s yard. My friends and I made the
guy’s simple boutonnieres out of daisies and bittersweet (which we
also used on the arbor).

FOOD: Keeping it laid back, we had a buffet line catered by our
favorite BBQ joint and used our favorite Mediterranean place for the
vegetarian options and appetizers. We weren’t sure if this was a weird
combination, but all of the food was devoured and one friend told us a
highlight of our wedding for him was being able to combine his two
loves: hushpuppies and hummus.

CAKES: Oh my god, the cakes. We have the most amazing friend Kim who
offered to do our wedding cake as our present. As we talked about what
we were thinking (cupcakes), she suggested multiple wedding cakes in
several flavors instead (apparently, she has strong opinions about
cupcakes). I was so glad we listened because the cakes (9 total) were
amazing. Not only were they gorgeous, but easily the best I have ever
eaten. People are still talking about them. In fact, we had to move up
the cake cutting time because lines began forming right after dinner.
Most people went back to try multiple kinds. And Kim took care of
everything, even the flowers for decorating them — she made it as
stress-free as it gets.

FAVORS: We rented an old timey photo booth (the-photobooth.com) for
five hours and used it as both our guestbook and our favors. We asked
everyone to leave us one strip and sign our book and the rest were
theirs to keep. This was a huge hit with guests and the book is one of
my favorite things from the wedding. The company also brought a
scanner and scanned each strip for us, so it was awesome having these
images to look at right after the wedding. (online at
www.flickr.com/photos/kellyink/sets/72157608188917552) We also ended
up getting some fun personalized koozies, since for some of the
refreshments, we had sodas in large galvanized tubs. These turned out
to be in demand.

ART: Both of us really appreciate art and well made craft, so we
incorporated these into our wedding wherever possible. I’m a huge fan
of outsider art and have tried to visit some of these artists around
our home state. We had visited artist Vollis Simpson a couple of times
before we were married and owned a few of his whirligigs. So we
decided to ask him to create a larger piece for our wedding day. We
also had him make many smaller whirligigs which we gave to our wedding
party and families. Other wedding items (ring bowl, wooden guest book)
came from artists on Etsy.com and I made our caketopper using a basic
kit from another Etsy vendor, The Small Object (she now sells
caketoppers, too). We also invested in great photographers, Whitebox
Weddings, who have really made our memories of the day come to life.

[images from Whitebox Weddings]

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Real wedding: Anna + Sean









Anna and her husband Sean are one creative couple…I think their wedding speaks for itself!

CEREMONY & RECEPTION SITE: Sean and I got married in a field in front of a cabin outside of Seattle that has been in my family for generations. My great-great-great grandfather owned the land between the cabin and what is now Kayak Park. Over the years all the land was sold, but my great grandmother was eventually able to buy back a small portion of the property where the cabin now sits. I spent many childhood summers there picking apples, camping in the field with cousins, swimming and building elaborate sand/driftwood forts down at the beach, so it was a very meaningful spot for us to have our ceremony and reception. My parents and grandparents put so much love and time into the cabin – painting the trim, collecting driftwood to build the arbor we were married under, and landscaping the field with flowers that matched our wedding colors – yellow, orange, and red. We were married by the same pastor who married my parents – an old family friend whose daughter I grew up with.

INVITATIONS: Sean and I have our own design company, Sub-Studio (

http://store.sub-studio.com/custom/custom.html), where we design hand-screened paper goods. We knew we wanted to design as many elements as possible for the wedding. We set the tone for our outdoor, destination wedding (my family was local, but Sean’s family and most of our friends flew in from the New York area), with a playful suitcase motif save the date. The invitation that followed was more refined and elegant and was designed around a leaf motif to refer to the outdoor ceremony/reception. A red thread wrapped around the invite to imply a branch, which also became a way to tie all of the different pieces of the invitation together. The same red thread showed up again in the binding of our programs.

GOWN: I bought my wedding dress from the Bridal Garden in NYC (http://www.bridalgarden.org/), a not-for-profit bridal boutique that sells deeply discounted designer wedding gowns. All proceeds from the Bridal Garden go to the Sheltering Arms Children’s Service (an organization dedicated to the education of New York City children). My gown was by Melissa Sweet – I was instantly attracted to its simplicity and the delicate bead work. I wore a very simple veil that was made for me by one of the seamstresses at the Bridal Garden.

ACCESSORIES:

I kept my jewelry very minimal and wore a pair of earrings that I made from faceted citrine drops. I made matching earrings and necklaces for my bridesmaids. My shoes were classic, creme pumps by Bandolino that I got from DSW. They had a slight wooden heel which was great for walking around in the grass all evening, since you couldn’t see the dirt.

HAIR AND MAKEUP: The lovely Erin Skipley of Bellatrix Studio (http://www.bellatrixstudio.com/) did the hair and makeup of myself and my bridesmaids. I normally wear no makeup at all, and Erin was able to find just the right mix of natural and dramatic.

BRIDESMAID DRESSES: My bridesmaids wore dresses from Ann Taylor Loft. The dresses were creme, with a simple, dark navy (almost black) graphic of a plant running vertically along the mid section of the dress. It was hard to convince my ladies to wear white (they were afraid the white would call too much attention to themselves), but ultimately we (especially me!) loved how it turned out.

FORMAL WEAR: We didn’t ask the groomsmen to buy specific suits for the wedding, so long as they were black. They wore yellow pocket squares and ties to match my bridesmaids’ flowers and Sean had a red pocket square and tie that matched my bouquet. Sean had custom Converse slip-ons made for himself and for the groomsmen. All of the shoes were black – Sean’s shoes had red stitching and his groomsmen’s had yellow stitching.

CEREMONY PROGRAMS: We designed our programs around our invitations with a simplified leaf design. The program cover was printed with red that matched the detail of the invitations, and they were bound with the same red thread as the invitations.

FLOWERS: My mom found our florist, Amy (khryshaze@aol.com), who lived just a few minutes away from the cabin and had a sign for fresh flowers in front of her house. We described our vision to her and she made it happen. Because we were having an outdoor wedding we wanted the flowers to pop against the green backdrop, so we went with yellow, red, and orange arrangements, using a mix of dahlias, gladiolas, lilies, cosmos, and gerber daisies. For the most part, each arrangement was kept to shades of one of the three colors. We didn’t want the arrangements to obstruct the view of the guests, so we kept them small and had several centerpieces on each table. Amy provided simple, white vases for the arrangements.

CATERING: Chef Bertron (http://www.chefbert.com/) was our caterer.

The cabin is located about an hour north of Seattle, so before the ceremony we had a cocktail hour and served hors d’oeuvres, to give people time to arrive and relax. For dinner Chef Bert served grilled, fresh Alaskan salmon, spring mixed greens, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled baby corn with chili and Parmesan cheese and fresh sour dough bread. One bonus with Chef Bert – he will come to your home and cook your proposed wedding menu (for a party of six – it’s his version of a tasting). Because we were planning our wedding from across the country, we didn’t get to take advantage of this great service, but I was able to convince my cousin and his wife to sacrifice an evening to help us out.

MUSIC: We hired the Pacific Brass Quintet (http://www.pacificbrassquintet.com/) to play for 2 1/2 hours which covered the cocktail hour, the ceremony, and most of dinner. They played a great selection of jazz music. Afterwards, we had an iPod, curated by Sean, that provided the music to dance to. On our RSVP, we had asked each guest to request a song, and included all of the requests in the iPod mix. Our first dance was to Etta James’ “Sunday Kind of Love”, the song that Sean had asked me to dance to by the reflection pool at Lincoln Center before proposing. I love that song.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Between our photographer, Summerhouse Photography (

kmgiordano@gmail.com), and our artistic friends (the photos shown here are a mix from all of these people), I was so pleased with the photos of our wedding. Kristin was great – she has a candid style that we loved and she was a pleasure to work with. We also had two Polaroid cameras that our guests used to sign our guest book with and also to take photos with throughout the evening. As you can imagine, the photos got more and more funny as the night progressed!

CAKE: Sean and I are both cupcake people, so we opted not to have a traditional wedding cake but to have cupcakes made instead by Haggen (http://www.haggen.com/), iced in our wedding colors. My mom had a larger cupcake made up for us to cut and feed to each other. Our cake toppers were a little Lego bride and groom that I found on Ebay.

FAVORS: We made prints for each guest as the favor, and designed a print that incorporated the cabin and the location of the stars on our wedding night. We screenprinted it with metallic dark navy ink onto a pale blue paper. We strung the favors on a makeshift clothes line, along with each guest’s table card.

The evening ended with a big bonfire and s’mores. It was the perfect way to finish celebrating.

[images from Summerhouse Photography]

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Real wedding: Amanda + Matt






A few months ago I showed you Amanda and Matt’s bridal portraits taken in Brooklyn, and now that they are finally hitched, Amanda sent me some of the amazing photos Jessica Johnson took.

All of our decisions were based on our venue – our colors, orange and gold, matched the elaborate ceiling tiles and the theme, “bohemian Art Deco”, came naturally. I DIYed everything except for the flowers!

Bridal attire – I went for a very glamorous look, with a vintage up do and a birdcage veil. My makeup was little heavier on the eyes to resemble a classic 1930′s look. The earrings had an Art Deco pattern that subtly tied with our theme. My bouquet consisted of orange and peach roses, orange ranunculus and peach sweet peas, that were tied to an antique gold satin ribbon with a burnt orange bow. The shoes – were dyed in peach/orange. I bought a pair of vintage clip on earrings to add a bling and also doubled as my something old!

Both ceremony and reception were held at the Guardian Building, in Detroit.

Ceremony – Tissue paper pomanders were hanged from chairs to decorate the aisle. I made the pomanders using tissue paper flowers a la Martha Stewart, and glued them onto a styrofoam ball – about 50-60 flowers were used to each pomander that my husband and I made while watching tv in the evening over the course of a month. Our programs were telegrams, with an Detroit “stamp” on each envelope (the image is blurry but even the date of the stamp matched our wedding date, all done on Photoshop).

Reception – We hanged our escort tags on manzanita branches, with white pebbles in a clear vases to contrast with the black marble of where they were placed. We had candles on the tables, lots of them! The entire room was glowing when the lights went down for dinner. The table linens matched the ceiling and the color flowed with the venue despite the heavy and bold look to it. Our place cards carried the Art Deco elements from our invitations.
The cake design was clean, white on white, with a simple Art Deco pattern. The vintage cake topper is from the 1930′s. Our vintage cake knife (not shown in the pics) was a Depression glass cake knife (all found on Ebay).

The photobooth was a fun project. My husband is a photographer, so he had most of the equipment necessary (check out his page, www.matthewnistor.com – he’s now starting in the wedding business too). We sent 4×6 prints to each guest along with our thank you notes, with directions to where the photos are being hosted.
Pics from the photobooth : www.matthewnistor.com/photobooth

[images by Jessica Johnson]

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