In 2008, my husband and I got married.
In 2009, we got married again.
The first time Bob and I found ourselves in a race against time involving an expiring passport, governmental procedures that weren’t moving fast enough and the threat of finding ourselves on either side of a border that was just too far away. We’d already spent most of our whirlwind dating time apart – me in sunny California and him in the Great White North (Edmonton, to be exact). We couldn’t stand another goodbye. Three had already been too many. So, off to the courthouse we went with our local family in tow.
It was a Wednesday. I took a half-day at work and then left at lunch to go get married. We exchanged vows prepared by the courthouse and dined at Claim Jumper that evening. For getting engaged only five days earlier, it was simple, sweet and nearly perfect. The only drawback was we didn’t have the time to involve the rest of our family or friends. So, we decided that a year and change later we’d have a more traditional gathering so we could share our feelings with everyone we love.
And that meant I got to be a proper bride! As with most brides, once the wheels start turning it’s hard to stop them. I wanted blue dresses! No, pewter dresses! Roses! No, lilies! No..
Months went by and I began to realize that we’d have to do some of these things ourselves to keep things on the less expensive side. Plus? The more personal the better. In fact, it got addicting. What could we add to our wedding that we hadn’t seen at any others?
It started with our invitations.
Bob and I are big readers. When we love a book, we’re passionate about it. While we dated from afar, we traded a book back and forth, underlining passages that spoke volumes of how much we missed each other. In fact, the whole romance was right out of a fairytale.
The amount of serendipity necessary to allow our love story to unfold is novel worthy. Okay, maybe cash-register-paperback-worthy, but when much of your pre-being-in-the-same-country-togetherness involves slaying digital dragons together three scheduled nights a week (Yes, we’re a World of Warcraft couple), everything feels pretty epic. We went from picking firebloom together in Tanaris to planting a garden together this last spring. I don’t care what I do these days, as long as it’s with him.
It’s those feelings we wanted to share in our invitation. And what better way to do it, than to write a stanza’d poem in the vein of T’was the Night Before Christmas? Even better? Let’s make it library book style and have a friend illustrate it for us!
But first? Bookmarks to save the date.
Our cookies. Let us share them.
When it came to favors, we’d considered all sorts of things. The theme was a mixture of Winter and Christmas, so the first thing that came to mind were ornaments. But having ornaments done with our names and date that stayed under budget all looked like corporate gifts. It still wasn’t personal enough.
My husband and I had spent a good deal of his early time in California learning creative baking through cake decorating classes and a few paid jobs. Because flour and sugar had become such a big part of our lives, we decided to incorporate that into our day. My mother has a mouth-watering sugar cookie recipe that’s been in our family for a while and, with some help, we were able to bake, decorate and package enough cookies for the event.
Fairytales and Storybooks
I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do for centerpieces. I started with the tall vase idea — thinking a bunch of bare sticks and a few sparse flowers would give the winter effect I was looking for. Maybe it would have if I knew anything about flower arrangement, but when I tried it mostly looked just like that: bare sticks and sparse flowers. Less “fantasy winter” and more “back alley florist dumpster dive.”
One afternoon I’d busied myself with wedding crafts trying to come up with yet another thing that was not only us, but cheaper than getting a bunch of fresh flowers. I’d nearly thrown in the towel when I started to think about all the paper we’d just used to print out those invitations. And how I just adored the handmade touch of each sheet. And how, in general, I just really love paper (so much so that my first birthday present from Bob was a roll of green textured paper that I simply adore!). Aha! Paper flowers, I thought.
Coming out of books, I thought.
And not any books, but our favorite books! …I thought.
After I made my first prototype and showed it to Kathy, she jumped in with both feet and threw me a crafty wedding shower where my guests could be part of the construction!
The flowers themselves are scrapbook paper Modge Podge’d onto a sheet that’s a page out of whatever book the centerpiece represents. So the underside of each flower is printed with some of our favorite words. Also, the page that sports the table name has our favorite passage beneath the name.
I’ve been slightly obsessed with keys since I was a little girl. I’ve traced it down to Dorothy stealing the ruby key from Mombi in Return to Oz. Or maybe it was the key she continually traced with one grubby finger after finding it in the chicken coop. “OZ,” she’d spell. “OZ.” I often wanted to find a magical key of my own and, to this day, there’s still a great bit of whimsy that comes with old fashioned keys. So, we thought, why not give every one a bit of magic! Even if the only spell it casts is the one that grants them a chair and a meal that night.
The easel we borrowed from the venue, but the board I made from a frame rescued from a garage sale painting ($5! – and, recently I sold the painting back at my own garage sale for $3, so it only cost me $2!) and pieces of cork board purchased at a discount store. I wrapped it with snowflake fabric and used upholstery pins as hangers for the keys. To keep the board from getting too cluttered, a key was assigned to each couple, rather than each person.
More Bound Memories
In addition to centerpiece construction, Kathy’s wedding shower was also composed of scrapbookers. They didn’t have photos to use in the book yet, since the wedding was still a month away, but they did prepare an empty scrapbook for me to fill with pictures once I had them. Admittedly, that scrapbook is still waiting for it’s pictures. But, I recently got the guestbook portion of the scrapbook in order, so it’s ready to be put together.
Instead of a traditional guestbook at the door, Bob and I opted to provide colorful markers and blank papers to our guests at their table. They could choose to write us a little note, or draw us a picture, or tell us a joke.. anything they felt like sharing with us on that day. It may be my favorite craft that came out of the wedding because the messages are so heartfelt and beautiful. I always smile when I go through them!
I’m so fortune to have friends and family that humor my do-it-yourself whims because there is no way I would have been able to finish all those projects without them. I love every single thing about our day, though — especially the part where it never quite ended. Bob and I are still writing our story through every overwhelming baking job we take on, every dragon we slay (or puzzle we fight!), and every time we take each other’s hand.
He’s my happy ending. The rest is just a long, pleasant epilogue.