Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bride’s Eye View: Wedding Crafting Report – 4 days to go!

Hi again! It’s 4 days until our wedding, and Jamie and I are furiously at work in the Wedding Command Center, also known as two 8-foot tables in our basement covered in scrap paper, burlap remnants, spreadsheets, gift boxes, cocktail napkins, dirty dishes and other casualties of wedding planning.
I wanted to share a couple thrifty and crafty projects from the Wedding Command Center that we’re working to finish by next weekend – our seating card display, and cupcake table design.

(My future husband in our embarrassingly messy basement/Wedding Command Center)

Escort Card Table and Table Names
I grew up in an apple-farming family, so when Rachel found a collection of vintage apple postcards we knew we’d find some way to incorporate them into the wedding. My little sister came up with the ingenious idea to use apples as seating cards, and name the tables after the apple box labels.

Along the way, I also became obsessed with burlap. Why? Burlap fulfills the coastal-organic-barbeque theme nicely, and is conveniently an inexpensive wedding trend at about $3/yard at most fabric stores. In addition to making burlap table runners and a burlap photo backdrop (more on those projects later), Rachel suggested we pin the postcards to a burlap backdrop on the seating card table, to help people identify their tables.

Voila! Décor and helpful directional signage in one fell swoop!

To assemble this project, I purchased a 2’x3’ piece of foam core for $3, a $7 gold table-top easel, and pearl-head pushpins for $4 at Michael’s. I previously purchased a bolt of burlap on Craigslist, but this project would require about 2 yards (or $8) worth of burlap. My postcards totaled around $20.
I wrapped the burlap over the foam core, tucking the edges in on the backside and securing the fabric with the pearl-head pushpins like so -


Sitting on my $7 gold easel from Michael’s, the table name display looks pretty from the back and front. Not too bad for a $42 do-it-yourself project!

These postcards coordinate nicely with our wedding colors and design concept, but this idea can be incorporated into many other events. I’ve seen so many wedding blogs feature vintage postcard projects lately, so I’m sure there’s many a bride out there using them in some fashion.

Cupcake Stands
Next up was my cupcake display table. Jamie and I chose cupcakes instead of a traditional cake to save money and hassle, and I’m so glad we did. Look at the fun project our cupcakes led to - 


Can you believe Rachel and I scored all these beautiful cake stands for a total of $100? The secret behind our frugal design is that we made 6 of the 9 stands in the picture. Can you guess which ones? The other 3 were purchased on Ebay and Craigslist.


We assembled the cake stands by purchasing $50 of serving plates, ashtrays and parfait cups at Goodwill. Playing around with different combinations of bases and plates led to us this design. We glued them together with Super Glue, the adhesive suggested by the professionals at our local Home Depot. You can find more detailed instructions along with a materials list in this previous Finch & Thistle post - http://finchandthistle.blogspot.com/2010/07/how-to-vintage-cake-platters.html

My baker was so taken with this idea that she’s offered to purchase our handiwork after the wedding, but I’m not sure I can part with such a fun project!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Styling Willi

Monday was one of the hottest days to-date in our bizarre Seattle summer so when I got a chance to style my friend Willi’s book cover shoot over on cooler Bainbridge Island, I jumped at the chance. Willi is a master gardener and expert cook who hosts the website DigginFood.com. She has a weekly gardening show on KUOW (Tuesdays, 10am) and is the West Coast editor for Organic Gardening magazine. The shoot would be the for the cover of her new book, coming out sometime in 2012.

We rode over on the ferry laden down with props and outfits galore – vintage baskets, buckets, wire racks, crates and piles and piles of gorgeous produce – the temperature dropping steadily as we got further and further from the city. 
After a quick pit stop at the Winslow market to meet our photographer, Jim, we headed to the southwest tip of the island to our shoot location, Octavia Chambliss’ beautiful garden.  Octavia is a garden designer based on Bainbridge and she had kindly offered up her garden for the shoot even though she herself would be away on vacation.  It was a stunning location. Imagine an immaculate perennial garden with a large vegetable garden tucked inside, a weathered picket fence and cottage gate leading to a tiny, vintage soccer field and public beach. The Bremerton ferry made hourly passes through the landscape and the sun dropped gently down behind some trees. It couldn’t have been more idyllic, or more Pacific Northwest, if it tried (although a surfacing Orca would have made for an awesome shot!)

I got busy unpacking the props while Jim and Willi scouted out the best spots in the garden. Then it was time to get to work. Here are some “behind the scenes” shots from that afternoon…

Willi 1

Putting my prop styling (and photography) skills to the test. Conclusion: kind of like flowers, just tastier.
 Willi 2Willi 4

With Jim’s reflective light panels all set up, it was time to begin!
Willi 3

Perhaps a sitting pose instead?
Willi 6

A close up of that fabulous blue table was enough to make anyone hungry.
Willi 5 Willi 10

We picked these herbs and peaches fresh from Octavia’s garden. Willi 7

Time for a new top and a new location (check out the giant rhubarb in the background).
Willi 11 
Couldn’t resist a few flower pictures.Willi 8
Willi 14

A few head shots for publicity…
Willi 12

Yummy garlic scapes
Willi 9
And my personal favorite shot - earwigs in the peaches!
Willi 13

Bride’s Eye View: Location, Location, Location

After Jamie and I settled on our wedding concept, we set out for a location that would achieve the feeling we wanted to capture without breaking the bank.

During our search, I learned that state parks are the hidden gem of wedding planning – many parks are in a beautiful location and have reception spaces from the average to the extraordinary. Best of all, because Washington State Parks and Recreation doesn’t spend gobs of money advertising like traditional wedding venues, many of these beautiful spaces are inexpensive and unknown to the masses.  Many locations let you use the caterer of your choice, and provide your own alcohol, which can mean thousands of dollars in savings. Info on all Washington State Parks wedding and event spaces is here: http://www.parks.wa.gov/dayuseplaces/

Two state parks I've visited and would recommend are Kitsap Memorial State Park near Poulsbo and Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. Rachel and I drove out to Kitsap Memorial on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year and we were seriously impressed. The websites for both these venues don’t do them justice – in person, the Kitsap Memorial Log House is a rustic but beautiful reception hall set among towering pine trees, perched on a bluff overlooking Hood Canal. Boring online, but stunning in real life. Likewise for Fort Worden in Port Townsend. 

These gorgeous pictures from One Love Photo truly show off the Kitsap Memorial Log House’s full potential -
image  image image image
We also spent some time researching what’s in our own backyard in Seattle. Seattle Parks and Recreation Department rents the Alki Bathhouse and the Golden Gardens Bathhouse (below pictures courtesy of Laurel McConnell) for weddings and events, and both of these buildings are charming venues with tons of options for ceremonies and receptions.

We stumbled on (and eventually chose) the Oddfellows Hall on Orcas Island while searching for a state park in the San Juans with an event venue. Oddfellows isn’t a state park property, but it has the same benefits – set in a beautiful location, affordable, and no strings attached in approved vendor lists.

Weather permitting, our ceremony will take place on the patio overlooking Eastsound.
 oddfellows patio
And our reception will be inside the 100-year-old historic dance hall just upstairs.
What are some creative and affordable places you've found, off the beaten path or just around the block?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bride’s Eye View: Part I

Hi everyone,

I am so pleased to share the details of our upcoming wedding with you all! So here goes…

Jamie and I are getting married August 28th on Orcas Island, in the San Juan Islands in northwest Washington. We got engaged last summer (three minutes before we took the picture below) and have spent over a year planning our wedding, so I’m excited to share some of what we’ve learned in the process!
As I set out to plan our wedding, I turned to the dozens of wedding design blogs for inspiration, including this one. I found great ideas for dresses, décor, beautiful locations and reception entertainment. However, the problem was that I found too many great ideas! Overwhelmed by all the shiny pretty wedding things, I realized I had to first think big picture before dealing in the details. So, Jamie and I asked ourselves what I think is the most important question as you start planning - “How do we want our wedding to feel?”

If you’ve ever visited the San Juan Islands, you know it’s a laid back place, and that’s how we imagined our wedding from the start. Our wedding slogan, so to speak, became “organic, coastal barbecue.” We wanted our wedding to feel like a more dressed up, organized and beautiful version of the parties we throw at our home, surrounded by friends, with tasty and healthy food, and plenty of Northwest wine and beer. We wanted our guests to remember our wedding as part of a memorable weekend when they relaxed, unplugged, and enjoyed the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Once we knew how we wanted the day to feel, I was finally able to contemplate a specific location, décor, and the many details we’ve since planned. The hardest part of the process was editing down all my ideas into a few manageable DIY projects. Rachel and I discussed everything I was thinking of doing and then she put together this design board:

I loved it! Not only did it help me tie all my ideas together and visualize the mood of the wedding, it gave me something tangible I could show other vendors and friends.

And so…our wedding colors became many shades of blue (the “coastal”) with some orange and peach thrown in for contrast at Rachel’s suggestion. We bought a bolt of burlap and used it for anything and everything we could, and started saving and re-purposing glass and tin jars for flowers and candles (“organic”). And we chose food and drink vendors we were confident could deliver a delicious but casual menu (the “barbecue”).

Throughout the next couple weeks, I’ll share some of the specific projects we took on to make our wedding concept a reality, and how it all unfolds in just 25 days from today!

~ Chelsea

Bride’s Eye View Introduction

Over the last few years, I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people and recently I have noticed a trend- friends so often become clients, but conversely, so do clients often become friends. I’m not really sure why this happens although I have a couple of theories. Weddings are intimate and special occasions and brides will usually choose vendors with whom they feel a connection. I would hope that the brides and vendors who choose to work with me over all the other talented florists and designers do so because they enjoy my personality almost as much as they appreciate my design style and aesthetic. It’s the part of my job that I most value and enjoy and let’s face it, if I didn’t get along with my clients, I wouldn’t have any!

Because Chelsea is one of my closest friends and possibly one of my biggest fans (second only to Max and Izzie), I have been intimately involved in the planning of her upcoming wedding. We’ve had countless conversations about colors and dresses, venues and menus, decor and flowers and so I thought it would be fun to share some of those conversations with my other clients and readers.  As Chelsea planned her wedding over the last year (while holding down a stressful job with an intense traveling schedule, managing a puppy and fiancé and remodeling a new house), she has trolled the wedding blogs, magazines and websites to plan a wedding that will be truly unique and meaningful for her and her fiancé.  Over the next four weeks leading up to the big day, Chelsea is going to guest blog on Finch & Thistle about the trials, tribulations and DIY madness that has taken over the Walli-bull household. I hope you will all enjoy her wit and insights.
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