The invitations had been sent. The church was booked for the ceremony. The restaurant was booked for the reception. If we were to do no further planning, or if all our further planning were to fall apart, we would at least have a wedding.
Yet my bride-to-be and I had strong leanings about what traditions should be incorporated or left out, what the music selection should be, and what we should do for favors and table decorations. Anyone who's been within five parsecs of an engaged couple probably has a good idea of how taxing and time-consuming the planning process can be, but there's an added challenge when the planning involves creating almost everything yourself.
That is not to say that we built the church, sewed the dresses, cooked the food, constructed an android wait staff, etc. All I'm getting at is that, after the basics were in place, virtually all the personal touches we planned required direct involvement from us.
For starters, the flowers.
My now-wife is an avid reader and an artsy/crafty little kitten who had decided that we could do without a bill from the florist. Instead of professional flowers for the bouquets and boutonnieres (two difficult French-derived words I hope never to spell again), she decided she would make all the flowers herself.
Well, that only took around 15-20 hours over the course of about three weeks. However, we both agree the finished products were worth it.
Using blank pages pulled from the back of various books (an acceptable sacrilege, in this case), my gal printed up poems by her favorite poets and fashioned them into a different type of flower for each bridesmaid. The poems selected were from Dante, Mary Karr, John Donne, and Sappho, all reflecting different kinds of love--courtly, hopeful, metaphysical, and sensual, respectively. Groomsmen would eventually be decked out with flowers matching those of the bridesmaids with whom they were paired up.
Here's the step-by-step technical explanation of the construction process--you'll definitely need to click to enlarge:
And that's just one flower! For our families, she fashioned flowers bearing poetry and song lyrics from the likes of Harry Chapin and Langston Hughes that were particularly appropriate for the wearer. As for the bride...
...hang on--I need a new paragraph for this next part. But first, another picture.
As for the bride, she assembled a collection of flowers (I'm resisting the use of the word "bouquet" here) using the styles given to her bridesmaids and myself, as well as ivy leaves--which are the Celtic symbol of fidelity--adorned with the Three Friends of Winter (bamboo, and...um...fig leaves?). And echinacea, which is not a Friend of Winter, but we can pretend it is because I'm drowning in wonderful symbolism. Wrapped around the stem was her family's tartan, and a poem for W.B. Yeats' daughter (I am mostly confident she is not W.B. Yeats' daughter), plus a Celtic cross.
I got a paper flower.
Actually, it was a lovely orchid (my favorite flower, and the subject of a popular vintage guest post). My bride and I have been poets of a sort for some time, so my flower included poems from her such as, "My Love for You Is Like a Tarrasque," and the orchids in her collection sported my poetry from as far back as high school (my poetic heyday, if you can believe it).
While she was busy folding flowers and generally keeping the machinery of the wednaught in motion, I was hard at work playing Konami games. About three or four days out from the wedding, it occurred to me that we'd need table decorations and labels for our party favors. Also, party favors. We basically had a hundred little plastic pog containers filled with air. Factory-sealed air, mind you; we're no cheapskates.
There was a mad scramble to transform all these creative ideas that had been sitting around for weeks or months into something tangible. After a few evenings of (mostly enjoyable) toil and a number of visits and phone calls to the copy center at our local Staples, I had in hand nearly a dozen laminated table markers, a label for every party favor container, goodies to stuff into the containers, and fun little icebreaker question strips to put out on the tables.
Sample question: "List a few of the most obscure ice cream flavors you’ve ever heard of."
Okay, so that's not technically a question.
We had yet to cut out the icebreakers (10 copies each of 84 questions printed across 4 pages), stuff the favors (of which there were 100), and apply the labels to the containers. Fortunately, there was more than enough time to do all this. We would just have to skip the wedding to make it happen. Furthermore, our week-long honeymoon was to begin immediately following the wedding, which was being held in another state entirely, so at one point we'd have to stop working on the wedding and start packing for the honeymoon.
We simply ran out of time. We left in a rush in the middle of the night, arriving in town at 3:30 in the morning on the day before the wedding, to ensure we could meet with her family for breakfast and my family for lunch as planned. We brought with us bags and boxes of supplies that would allow us to start on the icebreakers and favors. We had our wedding rehearsal and a meeting with the restaurant that night, leaving us with about two hours to do something like eight hours of work.
I impress my friends and family into indentured servitude next time, in Part 3.