Real Wedding: {cypress and oak}

And now Jules of {cypress and oak} with the tale of her wedding….
What made our wedding thrifty WAS what made it creative and sane. Instead of seeing the budget as limitation, we saw it as inspiration. We sat down together, decided what was most important to us (being absolutely surrounded by loved ones, creating a sense of inclusion for our families, even the bits that were estranged from each other due to divorce) and what was least important to us (having flowers flown in from the far side of the moon, a bedazzled dress), and made plans from there.

For example, we could have bought a custom-designed letterpress stationery suite – for twenty guests. Instead we invited more than four hundred people using a letterpress suite that we designed to fit on one 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. We had it printed by an online discount letterpresser. I cut the elements apart and stuck them to linen cardstock to make the invitations, rsvp cards, thank you notes, etc.

I love lilies of the valley, because they represent a return to happiness and are sometimes called Jacob’s ladder. (Jacob is the name of my twin brother who is now in heaven.) So I wished upon the moon that they would be blooming in early May in my neighbor’s garden. And they were. I made my bouquet for free (and spent less than $35 to buy a few different stems to make the boutonnieres, tossing bouquet, mother’s flowers, and attendant’s bouquet). I had a backup plan – I could have carried a tiny Bible my mother carried as a junior bridesmaid when she was twelve years old (that she then gave to me when I was twelve years old). But the bouquet turned out beautifully (and smelled heavenly).

Because I wasn’t using a florist, I devised non-floral centerpieces. Made of copy paper. I made a design in a word processing program, printed it on 11” x 17” paper, and stuck the papers together with double stick tape. Put a few LED candles inside, and voila! Centerpieces. They were so successful that some people took them home at the end of the night. (The names on each lantern were central London tube stops, and a giant tube map at the door directed guests to the tables’ locations in the room. The escort cards were luggage tags I made too.)

These three elements (and others) also made the wedding greener. Most of our stationery paper and all of our envelopes were recycled, as was the copy paper for the centerpiece lanterns. The flowers were local (and pesticide free). In our vows, we promised to repair one small piece of the world. Why not start with the wedding?Other than priorities, two other things made our wedding sane. After reading this *brilliant* concept by apracticalwedding reader, we made “marriage” the theme of our wedding. We put most of our creative energy into the language and significance of our ceremony. The words of our vows were even written around each tier of the cake and put in their entirety on the cake topper.

The ways we included our families resulted in my parents calling the wedding “our wedding.” Like this:

Mama: I was just telling a friend about our wedding. Oops! I meant to say your wedding.

We designed a Blurb guestbook that held black and white photos of our family members on their wedding days, going back several generations. My mother in law looooves cake, and her birthday was the day after the wedding. So we ordered her a birthday cake and put it on the table with the bride’s cake and the groom’s cake. She said, “Oh! You didn’t have to share your special day with me.” But as a twin, I was sharing before I was even born. Sharing the day made it even sweeter.

The other sane factor was not taking ourselves too seriously. So we picked the Hallelujah Chorus for our recessional. We made pinwheels with the words of our vows on them in lieu of rice for tossing.

And when the bakery misspelled our Scottish family motto on the groom’s cake, we had a great big belly laugh about it. The motto is supposed to be “Per Mare Per Terras,” or “By Sea and By Land.” Instead, the cake said, “Per Marf Per Terras,” or “By Marf and By Land.” What the Marf?! HA!

We have received several notes thanking us for the wedding. People have said that it made them believe in marriage again. That it filled them with bubbling joy. That they felt like rock stars. Upon several requests, we have sent out copies of our vows, our celebrant’s sermon, and DIY instructions for making pinwheels, guestbooks, and boutonnieres. The long and the short of it is this: the wedding was wonderfully imperfect, because it reflected US. I can only wish you the same.

Love (and Marf!),

(P.S. Love the photos? They’re by the miraculous Todd Pellowe. He reached up into the night sky that was our wedding and captured shooting stars of emotion. I think it’s his superpower.)

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  • Anonymous

    Loved reading about her wedding, read her vows over on her blog and copied them as well…they were beautiful and PERFECT. Beautiful wedding!

  • Anonymous

    That your choices were so personal to you is what's fun to hear about.

    And putting the vows on the cake? Wow!

  • Gah. And then I cried reading this post. I love the way she writes.

  • This post couldn't have come at a better time for me! I have been stressing about even having the wedding (oh the things that money could have been put toward!) and the seeming massive guestlist has me a little freaked out. Probably normal for 29 days out, but still.

    This wedding reminded me of WHY we're doing it. We want to celebrate with our loved ones and for them to have a wonderful time.
    Now to channel my inner {cypress and oak} for the next month…

    Thank you.

  • April

    Ahhh…. I totally misted up reading this sweet, lovely and inspiring wedding recap.

    Well done!

  • Wow! Looks like a fabulous wedding, loved everything from the groom's cake to the kilts!

  • So cool! Vows as cake topper, very neat idea. Looks lovely!

  • jg

    what was your source for the online letterpress? i am probably designing my own invites and would love to do the invitations affordably.

  • Yea! This wedding looks like it was everything it should be!
    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing!
    (I'd also love to know where you had your invites printed, if you don't mind sharing.)

  • Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments!

    The online letterpresser I used was Mercurio Brothers. They were fantastic!