Thursday, September 16, 2010

notes from the bride.

Perhaps unlike other American girls, I did not have a vision of my wedding. Oh sure, I perused Martha Stewart Weddings and fell victim to extravagant fantasies, but over my shoulder I would hear sweet mom's voice saying, "by the time you get married all of this will be out of style." Touché Mom. But you know what? I wish I would have had a vision. It certainly would have lessened the load that suddenly accrued when I said "yes" (while laughing. It's a funny story, ask my husband about it.) I have discovered that I am extremely indecisive. I think. Part of that stems from the fact that a wedding is a designer's dream. I liken it until being the First Lady. She gets to choose her own dinner ware and party themes, create guest lists, pick out a fancy dress, mix and mingle. Mind you she has a East Wing committee. I come in (thankfully) three: Mom, sister Caitlin (thanks to a hip replacement surgery giving her an extended vacation at home), and me. It's also like going to Prom with all the nervousness and anticipation that surrounds it. But, you're not just going; you're putting on the whole show too.

That said, a wedding is the culmination of everything that I love: music, crafts, people, creativity, fashion, interiors, exteriors, gardens, flowers, paper, invitations, and let us not forget men. For the first time in my life it was a great excuse to spend money on it so I took the opportunity. For example, the invitation. My brother Sean remarked, "you've probably spent more time on that invitation that most people do on their whole wedding." Yes. And who wouldn't when you love paper and letterpress and color?! So, after months--no seriously--of deciding the theme, format, paper choice, process...I decided to go with the theme of Scandinavian Garden (since my husband, Paul, is from Denmark and we met in Copenhagen while I was studying here and I LOVE all things floral) for the reception which meant lots of bright colors with a touch of rustic...we'll call it Rustic Technicolor. I worked with Leland Rowley of Rowley Press in Provo, UT because Caitlin is good friends with him. What an absolute gem! Such a delightful and helpful person. I couldn't have asked for someone better to work with. He understood what I wanted to do from the get go though figuring out how to do it was a bit trickier. Essentially I wanted a ton of colors -- not really suitable for letterpress, so he found a giclee printer for the first round and then letterpress for the text in round two. The rustic element came in with a kraft paper envelope from Jam with two rubber stamps from here that I customized: a floral embellishment for the front and a return address stamp for the back. I used a white ink and then hand addressed each envelope. For more info on the letterpress for the invitation check out his explanation on his blog here.

Because our first date was to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, I wanted to bring in some of its magical imagery. One pathway in the theme park in particular hosts a barrage of quirky signs like this, which led to the idea of painting banners to be hung in our garden site. We decided on canvas that we shaped to 30 x 50". Originally I was going to paint them all in florals but then thought of all my majorly talented friends and family. Since most of them can't come to the reception anyway, why not have THEM paint them? I sent out about 20 blank banners with a color palette and a few inspirational images of "Scandinavian Garden" and waited on the edge of my seat for their return. And boy was I pleasantly stunned with the results! The first one back came from a friend of ours, an attorney, who colorblocked the floor plan of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water home, after a road trip to Pennsylvania we had taken. Another was from a classmate friend of mine who cleverly incorporated the flowers of significant places in our leaves into the Danish flag, like the Canadian maple leaf (Paul's birth place), DC cherry blossoms (where I went to grad school and one of two sites of our long distance courtship), California poppy (where I'm from and the site of our reception), and the Danish daisy. Other favorites were a floral piece that Paul's dad, an artist, created and a portrait of a wedding couple by my artist cousin, Bryson Gill, not to mention two stunning likenesses of Paul and me by my sister. I was overwhelmed by their creativity, devotion, and support. We made some banners as wayfinding tools for the guests to lead to the reception site in addition to a couple that we made for ourselves like our "just married" sign and "Jeg elseker dig, I Love You More" quote bubbles.

To build on the Danish references, I envisioned oversized flowers plastered throughout the garden much like the Danish fairytale Thumblina by Hans Christian Andersen. Hans Christian Andersen also dabbled in the paper arts and being much more skilled in paper flower making from a project I did at the Danish Embassy last year, I decided to go with an all-paper flower repertoire, from recycled or recycleable materials. Thankfully, my mom was on board and went to town finding out the best ways to achieve oversized flowers. We came up with one large flower per round table for about 20 tables, each flower requiring about 7 sheets of large artist paper. My bouquet was along the same lines but Mom made it with watercolor paper that she then watercolored with peaches and blush pinks. I picked up a silk flower early on in the planning process and put it to use as the stem for my new paper bouquet and nearly squealed for hours after its completion.

We also created paper flower garlands with a myriad of colors from our palette to hang from some of the tables and more life-sized shapes to stick into the bundt cakes of 17 different flavors that a dear friend of ours graciously made (and yes, they were exquisitely delicious!). Had we remembered the boutinieres on the night of the reception, we would have displayed a cute singular flower as well (oops!).

Rustic was once again brought to the table (pun intended) with the choice to use burlap as tablecloths. Lacking common sense, I painted each one with white paint to spruce it up a bit. Each tablecloth had its own theme like Scandinavian flowers, birds, animals, monograms, etc. I spent far too many hours on the tile floor painting leaves. Needless to say, I loved the look in the end so I'm pleased.

One of the highlights of the whole event, leading up to and the night of, was the chance to work with our friend Kimi Encarnacion. Kimi and her husband Jay Jay had a band called Moonpools and Caterpillars and remain the ultimate rockstars. Kimi was kind enough to say yes to 1) redoing my mom's wedding dress 2) playing at our reception. I had a not so pleasant time deciding on a dress but it came much easier when mom suggested that I used hers. Thankfully, Kimi could make a paper bag look fantastic. She turned the dress around so that the back buttons now lined the front, took off the high neckline and created a v-neck, removed the bell sleeves and left the puff. Much like my mom's dress, I made a sash with green and then made fabric flowers in whites/off whites/blush pinks to accent. I painted a false curtain on canvas for the band on the stage with our bright Scandinavian florals and hung a dainty chandelier to give light to the musicians. Kimi and JJ perfectly entertained their guest with a fantastic playlist that included songs like Hey Ya and Home is Wherever I'm With you.

In addition to our bundt cakes we had an all French toast menu including some savory dishes like brioche and asparagus along with sweet classics like strawberries and cream. The menu was topped off with some raspberry and strawberry lemonades. Not that we got a chance to try any of it because you could spot us either chatting or dancing the whole night.

The floral theme continued into the attire of the bridal party. I made bow ties for Paul, my two brothers and Dad out of Liberty Of London prints and found a bright vintage skirt and contrasting top for my sister with some floral print flats. Mom decked out in fabric flower necklaces.

The guestbook was also a tough decision. I wanted something out of the ordinary but also something we could look through, preserve, display easily, and easily transport, since we would be taking it with us back to Copenhagen. Ultimately, we did decide on a book format and found a fantastic official recorder's book similar to this and added some photos to the inside of our parent's and great grandparent's wedding days with the intention that we can continue to use it.

The party itself would have been fine enough with just our friends and family who came from everywhere, but we added some LED lit hula hoops (a major hit with the youngins) and made some ribbon wavers for our exit to the car at the end. All in all, I think we were crazy to try to do everything ourselves, but the memory of making things together combined with the good times made will not be forgotten.

Wedding ceremony site: Newport Beach LDS temple
Dress: from mom
shoes: Matiko
bow ties: Liberty of London from PurlSoho
Hair: Rebecca Maready
Bride, author of The House That Lars Built: Brittany Watson Jepsen

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