This is for you if you like the how behind the pretty. Today we’re joined by recent bride Heidi who’s approach to planning a wedding was influenced by the fact that she – and her husband James are trainee architects. You can see from their wedding photos by the wonderful Jeff Simpson Photography that they paid big attention to the visual elements and finer details. Ever wanted to know how an architect would approach wedding planning – and achieve beautiful results? Read on…
The wedding of two architects-in-training is bound to be a visual feast. Heidi and James have studied in the same undergraduate and graduate programs, and worked together for three years. But as Heidi explains, while there was sometimes a divergence in design sensibilities, there was one thing they could agree on, “One would imagine this pair would enjoy months of wedding planning in a constant state of agreement. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There was one thing though, that my new husband, James and I did readily agree on, and that was the process of designing our wedding.” Today they share not only the photographs of their day, but also an insight into their approach to designing it, which is informed by their six years’ training.
Time for some lessons from the school of Architecture….
Core Concepts and Key Concepts
Core concepts and key concepts form the core of your vision for your wedding. They are a summary of your values, priorities and taste. Core concepts can be described as qualities that are fundamental to all weddings, including ours.
Some examples of Core Concepts are: Affordable, Accessible, Memorable, maybe even Environmentally Sustainable.
Key concepts are qualities that flesh each wedding out in a personal and unique way.
Ours were “Countryside Carnival”, “Coral Orange and Light Gray” and that everyone from toddlers to grandparents would have fun at our wedding. This was especially important to us because weekends in the DC-metro area are precious family time, and we wanted kids to enjoy and remember the event as much as their parents. We also had relatives coming from as far as Australia and Taiwan, and friends coming from Switzerland, Honduras, and all over the country. What better way, we thought, to unite our international and trans-generational guests than cotton candy, sugared-up children running around, and a game of ring toss?
Throughout our planning process, our key concepts remained the backbone of our vision, and helped us resolve conflicts over any detail (however captivating) that did not align with them. Our key concepts highlighted important details over the less important, and filtered out many digressions we might have made. That said; make sure to allow for flexibility within your key concepts. Our initial hunt for a country barn in Northern Virginia proved very trying, but we eventually found Great Meadow Polo Club, that was barn-less, but still fit our “Countryside Carnival” vision perfectly! [/box]
Study Context and Precedents
Just as a skyscraper loses its significance without a context of shorter buildings, a wedding cannot be defined without boundaries. Time and money always seem restrictive, but we saw our tight grad-student budget and our flexible academic schedule as prime opportunities to get creative. I did plenty of research online to find feasible DIY projects (pennant strings, fabric flowers, paper pinwheels, invitations and bowties just to name a few) and then it was a matter of being teachable and willing to mess up a few times along the way. James countered my “But I don’t know how to…!” with “Well then, just try!”) In retrospect, I did learn how to choose, cut, sew, sear and iron fabric and I have 522 flags,
16 runners, five bowties and about 200 flowers to prove it. Meanwhile, James learned how to transfer images using acetone and a spoon and delved briefly into decoupage. We were fortunate to have free access to the “Materials Lab” in school, a fully-equipped wood and metal shop that also had three laser cutters. All we needed to find were raw materials, and we had the means to create really anything we wanted. And we squeezed every last drop of time we had and money we didn’t out of the Materials Lab! James found a discarded steel pipe and sliced it up into dozens of rings for our ring toss. He also built an entire full-scale operable photo booth out of lightweight timber – complete with curtains and hemp rope to hang pictures onto![/box]
If you’re thinking, this wedding sounds like a ridiculous amount of work, you’re right. That is why there is absolutely no way we could have pulled it off without the help of our family and friends. There’s a saying in architecture school that the people we will learn most from are our peers. It is so true – why do we insist on doing everything ourselves? It is true about architecture school, it is true about weddings, it’s true about life. As a self-professed perfectionist, I had a hard time allowing people to help me in the beginning. It felt like I was unveiling a secret prematurely, by sharing with them our delicious vision before the big day itself. Silly, but true. But thankfully they persisted in offering their help. Now, along with all our DIY projects, I have lifelong memories of enlisting my mother-in-law and her friends in our pennant string factory, late-night conversations with my roommate over tea lights and singed fabric, and a boisterous afternoon with a dozen or so ladies during my “DIY Bridal Shower”. It was a wonderful time of laughing and learning together, something I will cherish all my life.
We have also been very blessed that our church family’s culture is one of helping and serving. For as long as I remember, every wedding in our church has always involved a good number of fellow church members. I’ve helped out several times myself. But it’s another thing altogether to see close to forty friend-helpers swarming around my wedding site on my wedding day. There were eight teams of helpers; each with a fearless leader and a servant heart, arriving long before guests and staying till long after everyone has departed, including sunlight itself. I had much to say to our many guests throughout the day, but no words as I helped a few to take dismantle carnival tents by moonlight. “Thank you” didn’t seem enough.
Admittedly, everyone’s wedding story is different, but if yours is still in the writing, I urge you to share the unfinished draft with those you trust – so that they can be part of your wedding story too. [/box]
Thanks so much to Heidi for sharing her experience and insight with us and best wishes to both of you for the future.
Photographer: Jeff Simpson Photography; with thanks to Two Bright Lights; Wedding Dress: Molly by Priscilla of Boston; Reception Venue: Great Meadow Polo Club; Caterer: Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company; Wedding Music: Jim Snedeker; Bridal Shoes, Jewelry: Charles and Keith, Raleigh Flea Market; Bridesmaid Dresses: Tailor made; Dance Instructor: Olivia Ray
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