Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ten wedding details

Right away when Josh and I got engaged, exactly 10 months before our wedding day, we knew we wanted to keep the planning process simple and relaxed. We were so excited and grateful about making this commitment to each other in front of our family and friends, and we wanted to keep the focus on that, without getting too tied up in the details.

Like many people before me, though, I felt a little overwhelmed early on by All Of The Options for every part of a ceremony and reception, for things I didn't even know we were supposed to think about. The choices got easier, more fun and more meaningful to me when I looked at the details as a chance to connect to a memory, story or person whenever possible.

This word count is gonna get crazy. Here are three quick takeaways:
  1. My mom was an incredible source of ideas and knowledge and enthusiasm and energy, and so much of our wedding details happened because of her.
  2. The Etsy online marketplace was a wonderful resource for me.
  3. Most of these details don't actually include my new husband. To clarify: He was a huge part of the planning (I think he actually coordinated more components of the wedding than I did) and we had so much fun working on our plans together. But: these kinds of details, as he would say, are not his jurisdiction. (I am planning another post that gives the broader view of the whole day.)
In no particular ranking, with no possibility of ever being a comprehensive list, here are some of my favorite details. (I'll share more photos later on, once we get them from our photographers.)

1) The flowers: I grin when I think of our flowers. My mom, who has a florist's eye, spearheaded the project, with help from two of my aunts and my friend Sara. This group assembled everything the day before the wedding: an arrangement for each dinner table plus the five bridesmaids' bouquets and my bouquet. (Mom also made all of the boutonnieres and corsages, but that happened ahead of time. I am telling you - she's amazing.)

I stopped by my aunt's house the day before the wedding and marveled at the whole process unfolding in her backyard. Here is Mom with one of my aunts at one of the work stations:

Mom is well-versed in flower language and I am not, so we had looked at bouquets on Pinterest to help identify what I liked and didn't like. Beyond that, all I knew was that I loved bright, bold colors, especially that poppy-orange shade that showed up in lots of places at our wedding.

When I saw a draft of my bouquet, I couldn't believe how spot-on it was. I love, loved it - and didn't want to let it go.

Everything is real - and in some cases, home-grown by my family - except for the poppies. I love poppies, but they're too fragile to count on, so my mom tucked artificial poppies into my bouquet. Also, earlier in the summer, I smelled dill and it reminded me of the dill from our gardens when I was growing up. We ended up using dill weed flower in the wedding bouquets, and I loved that, too.

2) Our ring dish: "I think we should get a ring dish," I told my perplexed groom about a month before our wedding. (We didn't have any plans for a ring pillow or anything, so the plan at the time was for the best man, Josh's brother, to carry them in his pocket.) I saw some pretty options on Etsy and chose an ivory clay dish about four inches in diameter with a lace stamp over part of it. It's engraved with a few words ("i carry your heart") from one of our readings, the E.E. Cummings poem with the same name. I loved this little ring dish. It's on our dresser and I like seeing it.

3) The calligraphy: This spring, I signed up for a calligraphy class (with Sara!) with the idea that if I liked it, I might be able to address our invitations in calligraphy (and if it didn't work out, it would be a fun class to take with my friend). I was far (far, far, far) from an expert in the subject, but after six weeks of class, I felt comfortable enough to give it a try.

I had pictured a couple of weekend afternoons devoted to the project, but it worked better to spend half an hour or so at a time. (My letters got worse if I worked much longer!) Even though it took more time than I expected, I was very happy I did this. It helped me with names and gave me an uncanny memory for peoples' addresses (a weird consequence worth noting), and I loved spending a few minutes as I worked on those envelopes to think about every guest.

4) My headpiece: Once I chose my wedding dress back in January, I pieced together the rest of my accessories. I decided not to wear a veil - in fact, I wasn't going to wear anything in my hair. Then my mom suggested something called a "headpiece," which sounded to me a lot like a nice hat but actually includes a wide range of accessories. I was kind of overwhelmed by the options, but my mom really helped out here, too. She asked what I thought of using one of my grandma's brooches in the headpiece, which I loved, and also suggested using the lace that was cut out of my wedding dress during the hemming. (I'm 5'4" and needed a lot of hem.)

She sent me a mock-up of what she was imagining, and that was it. My headpiece was all set:

This was maybe four inches long, and you'll see how it fit into my hair soon.

5)  My bracelet: I wanted to keep the rest of my jewelry pretty simple. I got a necklace with a single pearl on it from Etsy, and then found earrings (also on Etsy) that coincidentally matched the brooch in my headpiece almost exactly. My bracelet, though, tied with the headpiece for my favorite piece of jewelry. My sweet aunt restrung one of my grandma's pearl necklaces into a two-strand bracelet. I loved how it fit and I loved that I could look down at my wrist and have a reminder of my grandmother so close.

6) The ties: The only part of the wedding planning process that was more difficult than I expected was our darn colors. As previously mentioned, I love vibrant colors, and with a green light from Josh, I chose to incorporate a poppy-orange and a deep bluish-purple around the wedding. (Orange ties in to some of our favorite teams and schools!) I definitely did not understand that these would be very weird and hard colors to find together. (A bright red ended up finding its way into the mix by the time we got married.) We found purple dresses for the bridesmaids and chose black suits for the groomsmen, and we thought it'd be nice to find a tie that pulled together the orange and purple colors. This turned out to be really hard to find.

Thank goodness for South Carolina's Clemson University, which happens to have nearly the right orange and purple as its colors. We found orange- and purple-checked ties via a Clemson vendor and almost got them, but they had a few tiger pawprints (the mascot) on the ties and we weren't wild about that. Then I found Handmade by Gigi, an Etsy store run by a person who makes bow ties in a wide range of Southern schools' colors (and lots of other colors). I saw this one and loved the fabric, but Josh and I wanted neckties, not bowties. I contacted the seller and asked if she could do a special order for neckties, and she did! She was one of the fabulous vendors with which we were lucky to work.

7) Our papel picado: Josh and I love papel picado, which is perforated tissue paper banners that you can find at Mexican markets. (We have some hanging in our kitchen.)

Some of our wedding elements were inspired by this art, in our invitations and in ivory papel picado hanging at our reception that wove in our names and wedding date. (Thank you to AyMujer on Etsy!) Our candleholders used papel picado more directly. I bought plain vases and several packs of the paper banners, and on a chilly spring Sunday afternoon, my mom and sister and I used spray adhesive to glue papel picado onto the vases, which we used as candleholders at each table.

I have three of those pieces now - red, yellow, and blue - and I've used the red one as a vase, but I need to see them in action as candleholders. (Thanks to Mom and my sister for their help with this!)

8) My hair: Early this summer, Mom and I talked about my hair and decided that, if a couple of trial runs went smoothly, she would do my hair and makeup for my wedding. (She does hair professionally, so I was in very good hands, but we both wanted to make sure this wouldn't add too much to her plate that morning.) I was so grateful she was open to doing this, and I loved having time alone with my mom that morning as we got ready for the day. Also, I was really happy with what she did to my hair, seven thousand bobby pins and all. (See the headpiece now?)

9) Our dessert: When Josh and I started talking with caterers, we thought a lot about the dessert and weren't quite sure what to do. (Dessert is important to us!) We thought about a traditional cake, and one friend told me about pies at her wedding, which sounded great. Then, one day, I was thinking about getting some ice cream and it hit me. We love ice cream. Why not ice cream? Two of our friends had ice cream sundaes at their wedding in Washington, and we thought it was about the best thing ever.

Once we decided on ice cream sundaes, the pieces came together quickly. There are a few really good ice cream shops in St. Paul, but our favorite is Grand Ole Creamery. We set up a catering order and chose two kinds (birthday cake and sweet cream), and the shop sent two people to scoop the ice cream, and then our guests chose their own toppings. My sister grabbed a sundae for me right before we started the dances, and after the first few songs, I went back to our table all by myself and had a few bites, and it was so good. We were so happy to be able to serve our favorite ice cream, from one of our favorite shops in our city, to our guests.

10) Our guestbook: I must have read about alternative guest book ideas early in the wedding planning process, because right away, I wanted to do a thumbprint tree guestbook. There are lots of options on Etsy and other sources, so we chose a design with our names and wedding date printed under a bare tree, plus a few thumbprint-shaped ink pads in red, orange and yellow. (Y'all know how I love my colorful leaves.) Then we printed it at Kinko's on a mounted poster board, and set up a little station at the reception with the ink pads, the poster and some wet wipes to remove the ink.

As we made our plans for the wedding, we often wondered what it would be like to see so many friends and family members from different parts of our lives in one place. Picturing it felt so special to us, and we loved the idea of a visual reminder of that in our home. We weren't sure if people would be into making thumbprints with ink, but we thought it'd be worth a try.

Josh and I arrived at the cocktail hour maybe 10-15 minutes after the rest of our guests, and one of the first things I vividly remember seeing when I walked into our venue was the guestbook poster, already nearly full of thumbprints. I am pretty positive that I squealed.

It's hanging on our wall and I see it lots of times every day, and I love it.

Friends, I could go on and on and on. It was a wonderful day, and we can't say this enough: we are so, so grateful for the friends and family who helped with the details that made it even more special for us - and for everyone who helped celebrate, with us and from afar.


  1. I love everything about this post. Your wedding was the epitome of how it should be done! Relaxed, fun and personal! So happy for you two lovebirds :)