Real wedding: Carrie + Jonathan

September 27, 2008
Oratory Church of St. Boniface in Brooklyn
Bubby’s in DUMBO

Theme: Jon and I are both journalists and truly love the city, particularly Brooklyn, where we make our home. So we thought our wedding would be the perfect opportunity to showcase the borough for our friends and loved ones. Crafts — particularly needlework — are also a huge part of my life, so I wanted to imbue our wedding with lots of personal, handmade touches. Most of all, we really wanted to the day to be a celebration and feel like us — down-to-earth, even silly, but full of heart.

Setting: For our ceremony, we feel really lucky to have discovered the Oratory, which is tucked into a block in downtown Brooklyn. It’s a small, cozy Catholic church that strives to make everyone feel welcome. It was the perfect place to exchange our vows. For our reception, we very quickly settled on Bubby’s in DUMBO. The views are simply unbeatable, particularly during the cocktail hour. (Plus, we really wanted a fun, accessible menu — and you don’t get much more fun than fried chicken, pecan-crusted salmon and macaroni and cheese.)

Decor: We chose the color combination of chocolate and aqua — or “chocqua,” as we affectionately call it — early in the process, and I let it guide the rest of our design decisions. I had been toying with the idea of having our guests throw pompoms at us since I saw the idea in Martha Stewart Weddings, so when I saw these invitations by the White Aisle, everything came together. I got the invites, table numbers and escort cards in this motif, which reminded me of pompoms. My mom, mother-in-law and I made hundreds of “chocqua” pompoms (my made 400 herself!), which were thrown at us and also used to decorate the table. I also tied pompoms to a little card at each place setting, explaining that we would make a donation in lieu of favors. A lot of guests took the pompoms home with them, and we have a vase displaying the leftovers.

I didn’t want any artificial aqua flowers, so Carmine at Flowers by Emil used off-white spider mums — which reminded me of pompoms — and brown lotus pods for my bouquet and the centerpieces. (My bouquet also
had orange unique roses, just to add a little more color). Aqua table runners and “chocqua” lanterns bought on ebay brought everything together.

Dresses: My dress was by Mikaella and made of Chantilly lace, the same fabric that my beloved grandmother wore when she was married. While the lace is old-fashioned, the neckline is frayed and ragged, giving
it a more modern look. I wanted to be kind to my wedding party since traveling to New York is pricey enough, so they chose any J. Crew dress in espresso. Jon bought his suit at Brooks Brothers. I struggled to find ties for the men that brought all the colors together and finally found them — in Australia. But they were so inexpensive that we basically just paid shipping.

Photography: Jennifer Shea was our main photographer, with Stephen Strutt as the second shooter. They were so understanding and flexible and fun — it was misting all day, nearly ruining our chances of
taking pictures under the bridges. Anyone who says rain is good luck on your wedding day is lying. But it cleared just long enough for us to race over to the park after the ceremony, and they were such
professionals about it. Even though my hair fell because of the humidity, I’m glad we took the risk. (And luckily, I found four aqua umbrellas two days before the wedding at a hardware store on Court St.
— the employee gave me a discount because we were getting married!) The dance floor pictures are totally priceless! I also really have to credit Christine Viola of Exquisite Affairs Productions, who basically saved me from a hundred panic attacks.

Ceremony: We really cared about creating a ceremony that represented us. We spent a lot of time finding Bible readings that would speak to all of our guests, including one that mentions crafts (Proverbs 31 —
“She obtains wool and flax And makes cloth with skillful hands“) and chose the Gospel reading about Zaccheus, a childhood favorite of mine because I’m short. We also wrote our own vows, which is unusual for
Catholic weddings, as well as several smaller parts of the ceremony.

Music: For our ceremony, we really loved the idea of strings for most of the Mass, but this required a lot of extra work. Hire Conservatory Alumni worked with us to personalize the service and transcribe music
traditionally played on other instruments. I walked down to the aisle to “Anne’s Theme” from “Anne of Green Gables,” which sounded so beautiful in strings. And for our processional, they played an
instrumental version of U2’s “Beautiful Day.” It was just perfect. For our reception, we used the Downtown Band from Hank Lane, who were a total blast.

Personal touches:
I knew immediately that I would knit and crochet shawls for my bridesmaids, which was a wonderful way to really relax and focus on our friendships before the wedding. I picked a different pattern for each of my girls, crocheting two and knitting two. For the groomsmen and our dads, I sewed boutonnières out of different “chocqua” fabrics, so each one was unique. People told us not to bother with programs,
but I always love reading about different traditions and following along with the service when I’m at weddings. I designed them myself, had them printed locally and included personal stories about us and our wedding party, as well as this poem by ee cummings. I also made a cake topper that looks alarmingly like us.

What I couldn’t make myself, I bought on Etsy.com because I really wanted to support independent artists. Myra at Twigs and Honey made my hairpiece, but I ended up swapping the center flower out and adding
one that matched our colors more. I bought cute flower earrings from Luxe Deluxe, and our ring holder, which was engraved with the same ee cummings poem, was from Palomas Nest. (Sadly, this got lost at the
reception!) I wore my mother’s pearl bracelet and carried my grandmother’s vintage handkerchief; Jon wore his grandfather’s cufflinks. And we bought our rings at Clay Pot in Park Slope.

[images by Jennifer Shea]

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Real wedding: Lara + Jerome

Lara & Jerome met within a fairly international group of friends. Lara was known as the “American Girl” and Jerome was the “French Guy”. They first met at a fall party where Jerome spilled a drink on her and they hit it off from there. They joked about being future roommates that night and a year and a half later they were engaged on a beach at sunset where Lara said “Oui” (yes, in French).

Their wedding day was a reflection of their personalities organic, colorful, easy-going, but still refined. They got married in the conservatory so they could bring the outside in and be surround by the feeling of nature. Their décor was pops of orange, yellow and cream flowers with pale green eucalyptus leaves to keep it sophisticated. The center pieces also included curly willow branches that hung 6² orange lanterns with led lights to give a warm glow to the room at night. The cake played off the bark/organic theme. Each layer was wrapped with individual 5″ tall chocolate shavings that looked like twigs.

They also wanted to make sure they included little touches of French here and there to pay tribute to Jerome. For instance their favors were wrapped in orange boxes with yellow ribbons. Inside they had French chocolates and candied almonds surrounding a French dessert called Canneli de Bordeaux.

After dinner guests were encouraged to take Polaroid camera’s and a gold frame and take pictures. This was an interesting way of doing a Photo Booth with all the hassle of setting one up.

In the end Lara & Jerome wanted an intimate relaxed evening wedding, where it wouldn¹t matter if the weather was unpredictable. The conservatory at The Royal Park Hotel was perfect and allowed so much of the outdoors into the space during the ceremony/reception. The guest were still be able to go outside during cocktail hour to enjoy the sunset and then move inside to enjoy the stars during dinner and dancing.

[images by Aruna B. Photography]

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DIY birdseed packets

Ellie over at Mint has been doing some fun DIY projects for her upcoming wedding…these birdseed packets are so easy and adorable!

[image from Mint]

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Real wedding: Jessica + James

Jessica Guerrette and James Vanderberg
October 11, 2008
The Hill-Stead Museum
Farmington, CT
Jane Shauck of Iris Photography

Theme: We wanted to use the natural landscape and the time of year as a backdrop and highlight that with organic and natural touches and a nod to good old-fashioned Victorian weddings. Most importantly we wanted the day to be intimate and cozy and about our community coming together. Even with 150 guests we wanted each person to feel cared for and honored because they were there supporting us. We chose chartreuse and aubergine as our color scheme. James proposed to me with a redesigned ring from the turn of the twentieth century that was worn by my great-grandmother, grandmother (a wedding cake maker), and mother so we wanted the day to connect to parts of our past. We also wanted to make sure we used the creative resources (friends and family) we had at hand. Also, James and I spent a lot of time apart traveling and living in other places and we wanted our guests to know we were starting an adventure together…finally.

Setting: We chose The Hill-Stead in Farmington, Connecticut because of the surroundings, the history and because my family lives close by. The house was built at the turn of the twentieth century (a little before time my ring was first worn!) and contains a pretty extensive collection of art from the era (Monet, Manet, Degas, Cassatt, Whistler, etc.). It’s very rustic with gardens and gorgeous views of the Litchfield Hills and was a perfect setting for our October wedding. We had our ceremony in an Arts and Crafts style makeshift theater within the house, the cocktail hour in the sunken garden, and the reception in a tent on the front lawn.

Decor: Flowers were very important to my mom. Since the reception was in a tent we knew we’d need someone with vision who could turn a blank canvas into some place worth hanging out for a few hours and we found Dragonfly Events (www.dragonflyevent.com). They read my mind and created the most intimate, warm tent I could imagine. I gave her a list of things that I loved and she made it come to life. Each tablescape was different but coordinated with bell jars, bird cages, wooden boxes, succulents, white pumpkins, hanging moss, old picture frames, ranunculus, buttons, recycled glass, old stones, burlap and wine bottles. My Mom and Aunt Rosanne made all the burlap runners for the tables. We drank enough wine over the course of 10 months to be sure every table had at least 3 wine bottles filled with flowers. My father made the picture frames that acted as table numbers. James, a painter (www.jamesvanderberg.com), made a watercolor for each table and one guest sitting at that table took it home as a favor.

Invitations: Since I work at Lion in the Sun (www.lioninthesunps.com) in Park Slope, paper is very important to me. Through the shop I was introduced to local New York designer Kimberly Driessen of Blue Ribbon Letterpress Designs (www.blueribbondesign.com). She custom made a whole suite for me from invitations to informals to programs and placecards. One of my favorite things was how she letterpressed a portion of Walt Whitman’s (a fellow Brooklynite!) Song of the Open Road on the back of the programs:

Camarado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money
I give you myself above preaching or law
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Food: The cake was made by my Aunt Rosanne and was inspired by the custom designed invitations. Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, our favorite. Food was important to us too. Lisa Cole at Inspired Catering (www.inspiredcatering.com) was very helpful. We had just spent the last 8 months living in Paris and wanted the food to reflect our love of French cuisine. She created a meal using seasonal harvest ingredients that included a beautiful croquembouche to go along side the traditional wedding cake.

Dresses: The bridesmaid’s dresses and groomsmen’s ties were all from Simple Silhouettes in NY. My dress was Romona Keveza and reminded me of a John Singer Sargent painting. I bought it at Kleinfelds after trying on loads of dresses at 5 other boutiques. I didn’t think I was going to be one of those girls who “knew” what dress was for me, especially after trying on so many dresses. When I walked out of the dressing room the look on my family’s face confirmed that this was, in fact, the dress. The designer was there that day and helped me augment the dress by adding buttons down the whole back and customizing the veil. James wore a custom made suit from Brooks Brothers.

Photography: I chose Iris Photography because of her process. She has a journalistic eye and develops her pictures so the colors are super-saturated. She also had a really unique eye and shared a vision of my day, which was helpful. (www.photoiris.com). She and her husband work together and they even stayed later than expected to hang out and listen to our band…they were a lot of fun to work with and she took some really breathtaking pictures of the day. The best thing she did was set up a portrait station after the receiving line and took a portrait of each of our guests next to a stone wall or barn door.

Ceremony: Our ceremony was written by us. We took elements of a Quaker service without self-marrying. Our parents stood behind us as we said our vows to each other. We had friends read passages from Hafiz and Socrates. James’s brother Peter, a poet, read a piece he’d written for us and our families titled “Prothalamian”. During a long moment of silent reflection we passed our rings around the room so that every person could be part of something we would carry with us every day. Kir Royal’s were served as our guests left the theater to let them know that it was time to party.

Music: James and I are in a band together and music is very important to us. Our friend Emily, an opera singer, and Jamie, a classical guitar player played me down the aisle to their own version of Stereolab’s “Peng!” and our groomsman and bandmate Matt (www.myspace.com/mattsucichwiththevanderettes) lead our recessional with Van Morrison’s “Starting a New Life”. Art Bailey, a Brooklyn accordion player, escorted our guests to the sunken garden for the cocktail hour. James’s granddad sang along with Art during that time. The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn (www.thebluevipersofbrooklyn.com) played music from the 1920’s and 30’s during the reception…they are the best! Find them in the city if you can. After the ultimate dance party mix made by James and Matt, played through an iPod, we finished the night with a set from our own band (Matt Sucich with The Vanderettes) which included guest appearances by my dad and members of the bridal party.

L’il Things: I love Etsy.com and found so many amazing pieces on there for our wedding day. My hairpiece was made by Myra at Twigs and Honey (www.twigsandhoney.com). I had James’ cufflinks custom made with vintage maps of Brooklyn and Paris from Anne Holman Designs (www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5053816). I even had custom fragrances made for each of my bridesmaids by Loreto Aromatica (www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=4563). James gave his groomsmen Laguiole knives, traditional French cutlery. I also had a lot of pieces from my family on me that day including a bracelet from my Great-Grandmother and a hand-crocheted hankie from my Grandmother.

[images by Iris Photography]

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