Today is Matt‘s and my 1st anniversary.
Once we got home from the honeymoon last year I did a series of posts on the wedding, and one of the posts I wanted to do was on the crafty aspects. I never got around to it because it would make a long post and I was intimidated at the thought of all the how-to. I’m not going to make this a complete guide, but I thought it was worth at least highlighting all the things we and our friends made for the wedding, and share some of the cool photos I haven’t had a chance to share yet.
I don’t like flowers. Wait. Let me reword that. I love flowers growing in the ground, or in pots, and I love plants of all kinds, but I’m no gardener, and I don’t really get the point of cutting flowers off their plants to die. I realize some flowers actually grow better if they’re cut, but the whole idea, especially for a wedding, sort of annoys me.
Initially I didn’t want flowers at all, but after thinking about it, I wondered if we could do some kind of steamerpunk-esque flowers, maybe with hinges, or clockwork moving parts, or… I got a little crazy in my imaginings. In fact I sort of let the whole idea go until I mentioned the idea to one of my Kims (we had two Kims and Maid of Honor Amy in the wedding) who said: “Ooh that will be so much fun, let’s do it.” Actually I’m not sure that’s how it happened, but she doesn’t read blogs so I figure I’m safe blaming her.
We took a trip to Pat Catan’s (like a cheaper version of Michaels) and just picked up a bunch of… parts. Cool metal looking buttons and beads, 3 colors of substantial foil, weird clock things, modeling clay, star sequins and all sorts of bits. We had a couple parties (by we, I mean Kim, who hosted everything) with Amy, both Kims, Jack and my brother Brian. After a bit of experimentation we gave up on the clay and mostly on the hinges. We did manage to get LED lights through the center of seven flowers on the bouquet, plus Matt’s button flower thing (whatever those are called, I refuse to try and spell it).
Making the flowers was not that bad, relatively speaking. I say this, because to be totally honest, Kim did most of the work. We rigged the bouquet up with a switch so I could turn the lights off, but the wiring got messed up somewhere and it didn’t work. We managed to “fix” it so that it was permanently on instead. I’m not sure when they eventually burned out, but when we got back from the honeymoon they were still burning bright.
There were three kinds of flowers: the lilies made from gold foil, the- I dunno- flower-flowers in copper foil, and the baby’s breath.
The baby’s breath was the easiest, though most tedious, and this is the only flower I ended up working on. All we did was take some of the thin jewelry wire, twist a couple silver or gold star confetti/sequins on the end, and twist it off. Eventually Kim discovered that it made more sense to do this seven or eight times per strand which saved a lot of time. This was somewhat unsatisfying, since the yield per time was pretty low, but they looked extremely cool. I think real baby’s breath is pretty useless stuff, but this shiny delicate spray was something else altogether. Kim made a more continuous strand of this as well, which she twisted in my hair.
The copper flowers were also pretty simple, and invented by the other Kim.
They cut copper foil into roughly flower shaped bits, folded away the sharp edges, and crinkled, then used the jewelry wire to thread on a textured silver button and twisted the whole thing onto cooking skewers.
The lilies were a bit more complicated as we wanted them to light up. Kim (the first Kim) used the gold and silver foil to cut out shapes the same way you would for paper flowers, but slightly more angular to keep with the metal look. As a plus, they kept their shape much easier than paper.
We wired up some long strands to the LED bulbs, gave them twisty stems from the thicker gauge wire, stuck them in the center of each flower, and sort of… sewed the whole thing together with the jewelry wire.
This was all far more complicated then it sounds, but it turned out amazingly beautiful. The guys got silver foil cala lily button flower things, with confetti/sequin deely-bob centers. These were much easier. Matt got another normal lily with copper foil, a light in the center, and the sole hinge, because we discovered that was just too much of a pain in the neck to do it for all the lilies. The bouquet took a CR2032 watch battery messily taped up in the center (we covered it with leather ribbon to make it pretty, and Matt’s took a very small watch battery (he doesn’t remember the serial number and I never knew it).
I was sort of shocked at how beautiful the flowers ended up; after buying three giant bags of STUFF I suddenly became positive that they were going to look like crappy cheesy foil things made of a bunch of… well, stuff. Instead they looked amazing. The end result of the flowers was AWESOME, in the literal sense, awe inspiring (I can say this since Kim made most of them).
We used the rest of the random craft bits to make charm bracelets for Amy, Kim, Kim and my sister-in-law Jen (just to clarify, she was not my sister-in-law at the time, being Matt’s sister) who was also in the wedding.
Which brings us to
We wanted a non-traditional wedding. We got a priestess to marry us, I had henna (and am clearly not Indian, nor any other ethnicity that can claim it as heritage) Indian food, an Irish-punkrock band, had the ceremony AND reception in a zoo, and metal flowers we made ourselves. Also, I wore a blue dress, not white, and everyone else wore pretty much whatever they wanted.
So we clearly wanted to do things a little differently, and for that matter, not spend hours of our lives struggling with the decorations (we failed there, but oh well).
The wedding favors were just boxes of animal crackers in the old school Barnum boxes, which was possibly the easiest part of whole thing even with hand written labels (it ended up being easier than printing them believe it or not). The centerpieces presented a dilemma though.
There are ton of low cost, simple centerpieces that would have looked great, but I was unsure how much light there would be in the building, and thought local lights might be a good idea. We considered using those stupid dancing animals and creatures that hook up to ipods, hoping they’d light up and dance to the Irish music, but we weren’t sure we could make them work, and honestly they’d be small enough that they probably would have ended up looking kinda dumb in the middle of the table. The simplest (and probably least expensive) solution would have been a bunch of candles. I’ve seen a few arrangements online that are cheap and beautiful, but the zoo was kinda iffy about open flame, even in candles, and we didn’t feel like messing with it.
Soooo… I suggested light up trees. Because THAT’S easy.
Ikea had some cool LED lamps that inspired my idea, only they’re something like $60 which seemed like more than we wanted to pay, and are actually a bit larger then made any sense. So we collected various online guides to LED creations (couldn’t find any of the initial links we used, but guides are pretty easy to find) and got started. The construction was, in theory, simple. Wire frames (gauge about the same as a coat hanger, maybe a bit thicker) twisted together at the trunk, then branching out for the… branches. Long single strands of insulated wire with LEDs soldiered to the end, taped once around the connections, wound around the wire branches then taped again to hold them on the end.
Matt ordered some C battery holders, we got more switches (and these actually worked) we stuck in the batteries, taped the exposed wire with electrical tape, taped the whole battery mess with clear packing tape (to protect any unnoticed exposed parts) then stuck the whole thing in a glass cylinder and filled the whole thing with silver tinsel (which is why we needed to be so careful with the tape… the tinsel is actually made of metal and could cause some problems).
(BTW… worst definition EVER of cylinder: “Geometry. a surface or solid bounded by two parallel planes and generated by a straight line moving parallel to the given planes and tracing a curve bounded by the planes and lying in a plane perpendicular or oblique to the given planes.” from dictionary.com. I knew what a cylinder was before reading it, now I have no idea.)
I will say right off, that they looked fantastic on the tables at the zoo. There turned out to be plenty of light in the room, but they gave great mood lighting and may be the only centerpieces in the history of weddings that disappeared without the desperate couple urging guests, “please, take them!”
Matt and I managed to snag two (the one from our table was a bit different so I wanted one of the normal ones as well) but it took some effort to make sure we got them. I will also say that Jack and Kim once again came through like champs, letting us bury their home under wiring components for what might have been weeks.
The major thing I must say though, is that by the time we were almost finished with the second tree, we all wanted to scream, and if we hadn’t already paid money for all the electrical components (more than planned) and if we hadn’t been weeks away from the wedding, with no time really to come up with something better, we would have abandoned the whole thing to the depths of craft hell.
Oh yeah. Also. Our friends are amazing.
Anyway, Matt and I couldn’t really give up, and our friends were as mentioned, amazing, and stuck with us (possibly because it was the only way to get all the wiring crap out of their house, but still) so we sort of assembly lined it and eventually got all 10 trees finished (doesn’t sound like much, does it? You have NO idea).
I didn’t end up doing any of the wiring on this one either, instead I did all the tree structures (gloves and goggles both very necessary). With all the loose wires, batteries, and tape, the house looked like a bomb factory.
Each tree had 15 bulbs. We soldered all the positive wire ends together in one clump and the negative ends in another, then soldered them in place with the battery holders. As they were being put together, I started to worry that they all looked freakish, then decided I didn’t care, and eventually, realized they looked quite nice even if they didn’t quite look like my initial designs. I suppose the frustration was worth it, but if we’d known, we definitely would have chosen something easier.
Even so, I suppose as wedding work and wedding frustration and wedding decoration and wedding flowers goes, Matt and I got off pretty easy. I say weeks, but actually we got the trees done in just a few LONG sessions. Most of the wedding party chipped in to help with at least a bit, and Kim did most of the bouquet herself (she claims she enjoyed it, so I try not to feel too guilty). If we’d had ten friends (and maybe 5 soldiering irons) helping with the trees, we probably could have done it in a couple hours. As it was, the centerpieces ended up being the biggest headache of the whole wedding, so really, I guess I shouldn’t complain.
3. Other Bits
The flowers and trees were really the only wedding things we made ourselves (well that and our vows) but there were all sorts of other things provided by others.
When we mentioned we needed a broom (to jump over) for the ceremony, Kim (the other Kim) volunteered to make one, using broom grass and other plants from her garden. She tied everything together with cooper wire which sort of connected it with the flowers and centerpieces and all. My brother dug up a staff I’d picked up on a camping trip, left at his house and forgotten all about. The result was lovely, not quite dried, and is now hanging on our bedroom door (dry!) until we figure out where else we can put it. It looks very welcoming there, and we’d love to leave it where it is, but it gets a bit battered with all the opening and closing, so we should really put it somewhere safer soon.
I think I covered most of the other makers in posts last year, but just to re-mention… here goes:
There was the intricate henna for all the girls done by Lisa (also the person who married us) and then the gilding for me on the wedding day. Jeff, a talented local jeweler, custom made our rings from our ideas and his own, giving us something completely unique, and perfect for the two of us. Amy put together a surprisingly fun bridal shower (bridal showers are not my idea of fun) in spite of my inability to give her addresses until the very last minute. Kim (first Kim) helped me turn my dress from something shapeless to a surprisingly pretty roman looking thing (I’ve always said my dream wedding dress was one of the dresses Lucilla wears in Gladiator). The band we found (a month before the wedding!), the Mickey’s, kicked ass Irish rock style. The lady (owner I think) from Create-A-Cake listened patiently to my out there cake ideas, looked politely at unlikely sketches, turned them into something actually possible, and even seemed excited about it, which is always a plus. India Garden catered with super yummy Indian food and ended up taking over ALL the food and service details that Matt and I hadn’t really considered (table cloths, utensils, plates, servers, food warmers… they even provided plates for the cake) AND they gave me roses which was just amazingly sweet. Our family provided support and funding, which gave us the opportunity to have a dream wedding and honeymoon both. Finally, our friends John and Holly TOOK OVER the day-of planning, acting as guides for the guests and participants alike. Their generous intervention is probably all that saved our wedding from our lack of planning, which, I’ll be honest, was vast. They also found us our photographer, their daughter Willow, who did an amazing job.
I think that’s the real reason I wanted to post this today (and to be clear, I absolutely did NOT write it today, I’m busy celebrating with my husband). There are so many amazing people in our lives. I think of people I know with “frenemies” and I can’t imagine why. I read about people who cringe at their in-laws and am extremely grateful that I actually love mine. I guess everyone’s wedding is special to them, but I think ours will stay special to us, because it was about so many more people than just Matt and I. We have wonderful people to love and to love us, and we are both so thankful. Happy Anniversary.
*photos by Willow, Jack, Amy, etc.