I promised back in May that I would show at least some of the parts of my wedding planning. I never did prior to the wedding, which took place one July 13, 2013, because I felt that I would have better pictures of it afterwards. It’s been a little while since the event, and here they are.
I noticed when the medical class re-gathered for link block that quite a lot of ladies and gents had become engaged over the summer. I also noticed that quite a few were wondering what on earth they should do for wedding planning, and when it should happen.
Naturally, I am full of advice!
As for the when, in a four-year preclinical/clinical split program, the summers between first and second year and before clerkship are excellent times to get married. There’s time in there. Once clerkship rotations hit, it becomes much harder to plan anything reasonably. I don’t know what it is like getting married between medical school and residency, but I’m sure I’ll reflect on it at that time.
As for where/what/how, my advice is twofold: have a solid idea of what you do like, so that you can deliver clear instructions to the people you are working with, but also don’t be too fussed over what should happen. A lot of compromises need to be made with family, funds, and physics for a wedding to happen, so don’t be too adamant about anything. Plus, it’s much easier to enjoy the day if you’re not tied up in everything being as perfect as you obsessively want it to be.
As an example, my wedding colours were purple and silver. Because I like purple and silver. I also chose these colours because I liked to interpret “silver” as “any convenient shade of grey or metal that works.” I got what I wanted, and it was easy to be flexible. As a second example, our theme was “fairytale adventures,” which I followed for some of the decor elements. However, I didn’t get too hung up on it when it would be inconvenient.
Also: Christmas and Halloween are great times to buy decorative things for your wedding. When all that holiday stuff goes on sale, you can get large amounts of wedding-suitable decor for cheap!
Now on to my specific crafts. What follows is going to be a step-by-step of what I did to make my wedding reception awesome.
I’m an artsy kind of person, so I had a fantastic time hand-calligraphying the front of our invitation. I wanted to make a manuscript-like invitation. I made the template on a piece of bristol I cut down to 8.5 by 11 inches. I created an illuminated letter, and inked it with a black technical pen. For the lettering, I chose an early-christian style, and also wrote it in black ink using a calligraphy dip pen. Then I scanned it into photoshop for colouring and such, with this as the result:
I took the original template and, during an art day with a friend, had her colour in the letter and “age” the paper using teabags and charcoal. I should mention that I used waterproof ink for the letters, but even so I recommend dabbing and not wiping if you plan to age your own document.
It was my plan to use this template as a part of our “guestbook.” Instead of having a book, I bought a piece of black matting and had people sign with silver pens. I put the template in the middle of the matting, where our photo would eventually go. I also attached instructions about signing the guest-matting onto the template, using fake sealing wax (actually red hot glue!) and a seal I’d bought at a stationary store. All this sat on the table leading into the reception.
We also displayed some photos from our engagement session, and some pictures that my mother-in-law surprised us with.
Next was the seating chart and table identifiers. I personally find numbering tables at a wedding kind of boring. It has to be done for planning purposes, obviously, but I wanted to do something fun. And something I could draw. So, instead of numbering the tables, we named them after various fairy tale things, and I drew a picture for each table.
For the Seating chart, I bought a posterboard, some paper, ran some more images through photoshop, put the names over the top of the image, and glued. I will say now that glue-tape dispensers are extremely handy for this kind of work.
The tables themselves turned out amazing. I’ll go through how we achieved this effect:
We created the centerpieces with 20″ vases that we ordered in cheap, well in advance of the wedding. We hot glued silver sparkly stuff onto the bottom, and ordered some dark purple floating candles. For the flowers, we just bought some white orchids from Costco. (Seriously, for bulk amounts of normal flowers, Costco is a good source. For nicer things, use a florist or your garden, but don’t spend money or effort where you don’t have to!) We anchored the white orchids using metal frogs, which were hidden from view by the silver sparkly stuff.
The hotel I had the reception at had 14″ square, beveled mirrors for our use, and we put that in the centre of the tables with the big vase. Then, we put four little tea lights on the corners. We bought the tea light holders for cheap, and filled them with strands of silver Christmas garland. We used eight-hour tealights, so that they wouldn’t burn out partway through the reception.
To complete the centerpieces, we strung beads over purple organza ribbon, and snaked that around the tea lights and vase.
For our favours, we had tulip pint glasses printed with our names, the date, and a little design I threw together in photoshop. I used Lucida Blackletter, since it is a clear font, but also hearkened to our theme. Then we tossed the traditional Jordan almonds in organza bags in the bottom, and threw on a purple ribbon for a little effect.
Our place names were printed on business cards, which we slotted into purple-foil irises we had folded ourselves. Every wedding has some kind of thing where large numbers of that thing has to be made, and it is a large task. For us, it was the purple-foil orchids. My husband and I did the traditional thing, and bribed a group of close friends with food, drink, and company to get the folding done. They worked out marvelously.
The key for wedding receptions is, I think, to let the venue do the work for you. Our tables were fairly simple to throw together, but the plates, silverware, napkins (fan-folded!) and tablecloths were provided by the hotel. This helped enormously in the logistics of the whole thing.
For any of you out there planning a wedding right now, remember that people walk into your venue, take one look to get an impression of it, and then carry on the rest of the evening more or less ignoring the decor and just having a good time. All that needs to be done is to make the reception hall look nice enough for people to say “wow!” when they first walk in, and that doesn’t take a lot of money to pull off, no matter what the magazines try to sell you!
Again, the room itself was lovely, and the tablecloths and place settings came with the wedding package, so we just threw on a swag with some ribbon-flowers, some more of the tea lights, four short cylinders with floating candles, and a few bowls of flowers we arranged ourselves.
I created the topper the previous year using various craft odds-and-ends, and a candle-gazebo thing that I sprayed silver. I created a perch out of some dowel.
I turned one of small Halloween crow (remember how I said Christmas and Halloween were good times to buy wedding decor? That’s why.) into a magpie through application of feather and white paint, then I sewed a small veil for her. I also sewed a top hat for the remaining crow. Why? Because class Corvidae is awesome, that’s why.
I also painted some fake autumn leaves purple with fabric paint, and hot glued them along with some feathers into the arrangement.
A key thing to note about cake toppers is that you need to let the baker know what you’re planning, if you’re wanting something heavier like this. They can put dowels into the wedding cake to support the topper, so that there is no embarrassing “oh, look, the cake topper has completely destroyed the top of the cake, and fallen off!” events during your wedding.
Our cake was a chocolate and vanilla marble, with a simple icing pattern that came at no extra charge. We felt that, with that cake-topper, we really didn’t need an extravagant icing pattern. For the ribbon, we used purple satin, because organza doesn’t show that well on a cake.
And there you have it. The decor at Cory & Marie’s wedding reception. It was all created the year before the wedding. Some of it I doodled in class, some of it I completely delegated out to one of the mothers. When you’re a busy medical student, it’s not possible to do all the wedding planning yourself. Getting good helpers is key!
Again, I’d say the real secret is being invested in your ceremony, but ultimately focusing on having a good time. It is meant to be a celebration. I know my wedding day was one of the best and most fun days of my life, and I hope that any of you in planning mode right now have at least as good a time as I did.