What is a wedding without handmade touches? They add so much to such a special event, truly infusing the day with the personality of the couple. I'm a huge fan of handcrafted details (I mean, I kind of have to be since I help make them!) and constantly find new inspiration in each couple's unique vision for their big day. I think you can tell a lot about a couple by the details they choose.
Francesca and George tied the knot in a crazy beautiful multi-cultural ceremony in North Carolina. Everything was so perfectly hip! I adore Francesca's stunningly retro tea-length dress and the vibrant bouquets and colorful touches (her shoes! his tie!!) make me jump for joy! The sweetest hand-decorated jars made by Francesca and her mom were used for the centerpieces--what a special bonding activity! Perhaps my ultimate favorite part (although it's really hard to choose!) was their favors--little jars of tea! I'm a total tea fiend and even have an entire styleboard online devoted to weddings with coffee, tea, and cocoa, so obviously I'd be in love with this little detail.
I find it particularly special that when Francesca realized that every guest might not like coconut cake as much as she and her beau (and what a gorgeous cake it was!), she added some adorable mini cupcakes to their dessert table so accommodate all her guests' tastes! What a sweetie (literally)!
Francesca was kind enough to let me interview her about her wedding. Below are her thoughtful responses, as well as some great advice to other brides in the process of planning their wedding:
Where was your wedding held? Is there a special meaning about this place for you?
We held our wedding in my parents' town of New Bern, NC. We searched high and low for affordable venues in Chicago where we both live, but it was difficult. My mom had the suggestion of keeping the wedding southern style, and having it at an old manor down the road. I was skeptical at first, but as soon as I saw the place, I loved it. The manor was this lovely, old house surrounded by flowers and palm trees with enough room to house the bridal party before and after the wedding. There was a pool in the back. It also had a separate area for an outside ceremony and an attached carriage house and patio for the reception. It meant that we couldn't have as many friends at our wedding as we wanted to, but that was alright because we wanted our wedding to have a family focus anyway. We celebrated separately with some of our friends that couldn't come to the wedding.
What were your wedding colors? What made you choose these colors?
We chose mint and coral for our wedding colors. I tried to pick refreshing and cheerful colors to go with the month (August), and setting of the wedding. I wanted something to mix cool and bright. I'd advise brides to think about the setting of their wedding before picking out their colors-a favorite color can look out of place depending on the place. I love dark plum, but it would have clashed with the season and wedding manor.
What were challenges you faced planning your wedding? Do you have any advice for future brides in regards to these challenges, or in general?
Our biggest challenge planning the wedding became trying to plan from out of state. My mother was wonderful in helping us to find things. I ended up having to fly out for a week to iron out all of the details and we used every minute of that week to meet with vendors, talk about details, and make things together like my centerpieces. I'd say that any brides planning on getting married from out of state should expect that they'll need to fly out at least once to plan.
Another challenge was writing a ceremony that would suit everyone's needs. We are not religious, but our relatives are. Both sides are culturally used to longer ceremonies. We wrote a ceremony by hand that had length, meaning, and tradition, but was not necessarily religious. We used poems for readings, included a call and response, wrote a vow ourselves, and included a ribbon tying portion. We wanted to symbolize the two families and cultures coming together. Our mothers came and braided two colors of ribbon together to represent our cultures and family stories being woven together.
What are 5 words you would use to describe your wedding?
Family-oriented, multi-cultural, simple, bright, loving
What was your favorite detail/details about your special day?
I really liked seeing our families come together for the first time. My family is Italian. My husband's family is Indian. Many of our relatives we hadn't seen in a great while came to our wedding. We even had families fly out from oversea. We tried to make the event friendly to all of our relatives. We chose two caterers for the reception. One was a small, local Indian restaurant. The other was a larger scale caterer who prepared Italian dishes. We had dishes like channa masala and lamb rogan josh alongside pesto pasta primavera and chicken marsala. I learned that often times if you want to use two types of food, a smaller vendor may not always have the equipment for larger catering like weddings. Mixing vendors can be a good thing. A larger catering company will often be willing to pick up food from a smaller vendor, to use their equipment to warm both types of food, and to serve both. That was what happened in our case and it worked out well.
I also learned that while you can plan details for your big day, some of the best memories can just be from not micro-managing and letting it happen. I forgot my bouquet on my way back down the aisle after our "I do's" and had to run back for it in my high heels. Everyone laughed and I admit it added humor to the day. I didn't know what my father's speech would be and it was so touching I cried my eyes out and my wonderful maid of honor had a kerchief magically waiting for me. My mom's side had a dance off that left us all laughing. After the dress was on I didn't worry anymore and great things happened.
Were there any handmade touches?
There were lots of nice handmade touches to the wedding. My mom and I made centerpieces out of varying sized mason jars. We decorated them with scrap book paper and tied twine around them. My mom made us pennants out of pieces of coral, yellow and mint fabrics and hung them around the patio area. She also made us one of paper that had our names written on it to put over our sweetheart table. My bridesmaids (and even some of the groomsmen), helped me to fold and hang paper fans along the wall also made of scrap book paper, folded together and glued. I was gifted a cake plate made by a local artist for our wedding cake to stand on. It was painted beautifully and had our names, wedding date and location written on it. We used tiny jars to make favors. My own parents used to sing, "tea for two," together when I was growing up. It reminded me of how a happy marriage should be. Our favors were little jars of tea then, with "tea for two" and our names and dates written on them. We got the labels off etsy, bought loose summery tea in bulk, and filled the jars and tied ribbons on.
Were there any uniquely meaningful items?
A family friend wrote me the nicest note before our wedding wishing me luck, and offering me a traditional six pence piece for my shoe. A wedding can show you just how helpful and kind others are-this was just one instance where I was humbled during the planning process. Everywhere I turned people offered help, made me smile, and gave love.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?
My best friend was so helpful. She was always there to help me find things from DIY ideas to shoes. Without her, I would have felt overwhelmed with all of the choices. She knows me better than anyone, so she was able to help me find ideas she knew that I would like. In addition, I used the "cross it off" method for planning. Once I had picked something, I didn't over-think it. If I made a decision about flowers, or gift favors, I crossed it off the list and moved on.
I also realized I didn't have to plan everything. I picked a color for the dresses and told my bridesmaids to pick whatever they wanted to wear, as long as it was near that color. Giving others choices made parts of the wedding more fun for them, and more of a fun surprise for me. I wanted everyone to feel involved and comfortable. I never liked weddings where everything feels forced and formal.
Is there a story behind your dress?
I can be an advocate of dress shopping with friends, and also alone. When I first went to find a dress, I felt pressured into getting one that wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Luckily, when I went back to get it fitted alone, I happened to see a dress that was perfect. There was no one with me and I didn't feel guilty about asking if a switch was possible. The shop nicely let me exchange the dresses and did a last minute alteration.
What was your favorite part of the day?
My family surprised us with a getaway car at the end of the night at a really nice local bed and breakfast. They packed us leftovers knowing we would be hungry from not eating much that day, and extra cake. They had the best man and maid of honor go sneak in our rooms at the manor before the wedding started and pack us extra clothes. I didn't think we'd need the peace and quiet we did at the end of the day, but we did, and it was the perfect surprise. One of my brothers drove us and gave us a bottle of champagne to take with us.
They're just so cute! What a perfect day! A big "Thanks!" to Francesca for the interview and pictures. :)