I never thought of myself as a backyard wedding kind of person. I started collecting wedding magazines when I was in college, although at that point – fortunately – my interest was pretty much focused on having a wedding, not a marriage. Through the next five or seven years, my plans for what I wanted evolved from getting married in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles (yes, that Versailles) to a beach wedding in the Outer Banks to a cool reception at a museum in Baltimore, but there was never a point where I thought, “Hey, my parents’ home would make a great place for a wedding!”
Nick and I initially decided on a 120-guest reception at a museum in Baltimore with live music and a seated dinner. We actually signed a contract and put down a deposit. But as Nick and I started to talk more about the details, it became evident that neither of us really wanted the big wedding. For me at least, I think the appeal of a large wedding was that – in some ways – it would be easier- we wouldn’t have to make tough decisions about who to invite, there would be a fleet of professional wedding people to do a lot of the work for us… but it just didn’t sit well with me. There was definitely some hesitation about putting so much money into one day, but mostly I just wanted something more intimate.
It was Nick who first suggested we consider having the wedding at my parents’ house. I liked the idea – it would be personal, we could do the food ourselves- but I also had reservations, and figured my parents would never go for it. To my surprise they were willing to do it, and lots of our family and friends offered to help out in whatever way they could.
In the end our wedding was something far better than I had ever imagined. We got to celebrate with lots of friends and family, I was able to actually spend time to talk with most of our wedding guests, and we have some absolutely beautiful photographs, thanks to the incredibly talented Stevie Trischmann and Danielle Mahoney. Also, having a wedding at their home finally pushed my parents to follow through with the kitchen renovations they’ve been talking about for years.
I would like to think I would have done more myself, and be a little more organized, if the wedding planning didn’t coincide with my first year of a doctoral program. But Nick and I did still manage to have lots of DIY details (really, more like DIWLOHFWFM- Do It With Lots of Help From Wonderful Family Members). These are some of my favorites:
Save the Dates
I don’t remember how exactly we got to the idea of a yearbook-themed Save the Date. I had in mind that I wanted our actual invitations to be fun (but also pretty and a little fancy) so I was open to the Save the Dates being a little more wacky. We asked friends to use the Yearbook Yourself program (or give us permission to do it for them) or send us their actual yearbook photo. (The strange-looking guy in the top row, second from the left, by the way, is Bailey. The cat face superimposed on the human head still disturbs me, but Nick insisted that we include him.)
The invitations were time-consuming, but absolutely worth it. I hand-drew the designs with watercolor pencils and scanned the images to print on the stationary. Originally they were all going to be the same as the red hibiscus flowers on the actual invitation, but while I was working on them I commented to Nick that just the outline looked pretty cool. It was his idea for the three pieces of stationary to all show different steps in the process- so the RSVP cards were just the outline (with some pencil still showing), the Information cards were after I had shaded the whole thing, and the invitation was the final design, once I had blended everything with a wet brush.
I knew I wanted turquoise pocket folds, but I was having a hard time finding the right shape and color. I have to thank my friend Audrey, whose May wedding featured a brown and turquoise theme, for referring me to Cards and Pockets where I finally found what I was looking for. We bought the envelopes and pocket folds from there, but for white card stock we used double-sided matte photo paper, because the print quality was a lot better than anything I found from the stationary suppliers. This meant we had to cut everything ourselves, but my dad was happy to have an excuse to buy a new paper cutter.
From the beginning I planned on baking cookies for favors. In hindsight, sugar cookies, containing more butter than you could ever imagine, were not necessarily the easiest cookies to make in June, even in an air-conditioned kitchen. It required working in small batches and frequently returning the dough to the refrigerator. And I gave up on the idea of doing both cat-shaped and heart-shaped cookies, as the cat shapes were much more difficult to work with (typical) and ended up being unrecognizable anyway. You can find the recipe here: Cardamom-Orange Sugar Cookies.
Stay tuned for the second installment of my favorite wedding details!