Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Event: Planning

Our Special Event has come and gone. Sigh.

You don't fully appreciate how much an event like this occupies your thoughts and time until it's all over. And over so quickly. How does four hours go by so quickly?

We worked toward the Event for months, after the big question was asked back around December last year.

Our daughter, the ceramics Teacher, met the fiancé at church one Sunday, almost two years ago. This is yet another providential benefit of our move to Texas. I'll call him Hunter because he loves to hunt, especially dove and deer. In fact I knew it was serious when Teacher went dove hunting with him. One: that Hunter would ask her to go with him, and Two: that she'd want to go.

The first few months we planned the bigger items, like venue, photographer, and dress. In the last months we concentrated on the smaller details regarding decorations and food. There are so many details to be considered, many of which aren't even noticed by the guests!

Several things complicated our situation. We had a small budget, as wedding budgets go, and kept having to adjust it as we went along. We predicted we would have 150 guests, mostly local family and friends. So that size ruled out having the wedding on our property. Teacher had a very artistic style, including her wish to wear a blush colored dress. To make the dress stand out she didn't want anything white, anywhere. And because burlap, lace, and mason jars are overused in our area, they weren't allowed either.

Hunter's parents found the venue which was within easy driving distance and affordable. If you've never looked at just how expensive venues can be, you need to at some point. Most venues would have taken our entire budget! This one used about 35% of our budget.

We made a trip to Houston one weekend in February and found her dress at BHLDN (I learned you pronounce this Beholden) which is a sister company to Anthropologie. She told us later that she started crying in the fitting room when she put it on, knowing it was the one. Surprisingly, especially if you have ever shopped at Anthropologie, the BHLDN dresses were very affordable. Her blush dress was only 6% of the budget, and also fit into our definition of modesty.

Hunter's mother had offered to give Teacher her veil from their wedding in the 80s. It was an off white, long veil (about 9 feet), edged in lace with a small pill box hat attached. She kept insisting she didn't mind what we did with it since she was about to donate it to charity. I was tasked with the job of de-constructing the veil, dying it blush, and remaking it. 

After many collective hours searching online for the right color and style, the bridesmaid dresses were found on Etsy and came from China. They were handmade and the color was smoky blue. After ordering one as a sample, I did a deal with the seller to make and ship all five at the same time which saved us some on postage. We broke protocol and included them in our budget, along with the matching shoes we found at Target. Dressing the bridesmaids cost about 5% of the budget.

A local photographer was found who agreed to take engagement and wedding photos for the agreed price which was about 20% of the budget. I understand with the quality and convenience of digital cameras along with the age of social media how important photos have become. But it still surprises me how expensive they are. Guv'nor and I have about a dozen wedding photos, total, and rarely look at them.

The venue provided tables, but we rented chairs, linens, forks and glasses (14% of the budget). One special thing Teacher wanted to do was make the plates for the wedding dinner. The plates would become the wedding favor for all the guests. I can't pretend to understand the complexity of the entire process, but I understand the basics.  Rather than "throwing" the clay for the plates, the clay was rolled and cut out using a mold to provide a more consistent size and shape. She used a method called "mishima." 
"Mishima is the name of a slip inlay style of pottery adopted from Korea, probably in the 16th century." --Wikipedia
A line design (she chose a floral pattern which was drawn free hand) was incised (carved) on the surface of the plate with a tool. An under-glaze (she chose green and blue) was painted on the top of the plate. The top surface was wiped down and the under-glaze was left in the incised line. Each plate was then glazed and fired. The final product was pretty amazing to us, yet we had no way to know if the wedding guests would find them equally amazing (we found out they did, by the way). She had perfected the method by the time she had made 145 plates!

One of my Washington nieces offered to arrange the flowers if we would order them. Once Teacher had chosen the wedding colors (blush, smoky blue, hunter green, and tan, with accents of copper) my niece was able to research what flowers would be in season by October. She discovered that for us, in our rural location, getting the flowers through our local Brookshires grocery store was our best option. We finalized the specifics and placed an order in August. The flowers were about 5% of the budget.

The last big item was the food for the wedding dinner. Teacher and Hunter both decided they would like Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches. Nothing fancy but yet a crowd-pleaser. They also chose macaroni and cheese and creamed corn as side dishes, which I offered to make. I insisted on something green to add color to the otherwise monochromatic yellow color of the meal. This is when my hydroponic lettuce was so useful in providing a nice fresh side salad. Hunter's sister agreed to make the wedding cake which had a lovely fresh strawberry filling. The groom's cake was the Red Velvet cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory. The food was about 12% of the overall budget.

I almost forgot to mention the invitations. They were a work of art as well. The "Save The Dates" and the invitations were custom designed by our oldest daughter (a Bride herself two years ago) and included original watercolor artwork. Teacher's heart doodle was also integrated into the design. The printing was less than 2% of the budget.

Another thing I forgot to mention was the sweet idea for the bridesmaids. As the maid of honor, Teenager made a set of appliqué t-shirts for the bride and bridesmaids to wear on the day while getting ready. She ended up making a couple extras for the wedding coordinator and flower arranger.

And, of course, there were all those other details that I haven't mentioned because I wasn't involved with them: groom and groomsmen shirts and suits, flower girl dresses, ringbearers clothes, hair and make-up, etc.
I didn't realize I had so much to say about the planning process, so I'll finish telling you about the actual Event in my next post. I hope I haven't bored you.

Many, many thanks to friends and family for taking these unofficial photos and sharing them with me to use here. (You know who you are - RF, JC, KP)

The engagement ring was custom made by a local jeweler.

I carried these color samples around with me for nine months.

The outside venue had enough natural beauty it didn't need to be decorated.

The inside venue was quite plain and allowed us to decorate as we wished.

The choice of dresses was truly overwhelming at this Dallas boutique.

BHLDN dresses were a little less traditional.

The dress was chosen from these last four tried on.

The lace on the veil fell off after the dyeing process and had to be reattached.

We ordered one sample Etsy dress to see if we liked it before ordering the others.

We were able to rent wooden chairs rather than white ones.

Each plate was completely unique.

The blue under-glaze was captured into each groove.

The roses that best matched were called Quicksand.

Other flowers included blue hydrangeas, lisianthus, dusty miller, astilbe and dahlias.

A bunch of astilbes were used as a simple bridesmaid bouquet.

My favorite of all the flowers were the blue thistles.

Here's a sneak peak of the bridal bouquet.

The buttercrunch lettuce was almost overgrown by the time of the wedding.

The lettuce was cut the day before, washed, dried and bagged.

The red romaine lettuce was a perfect addition.

The back of the invitation was an original watercolor design.

The invitation envelope liner incorporated Teacher's doodles.

Here are the fabrics chosen for the bridesmaid t-shirts.

Simple cotton shirts came from Target.

Here's the appliqué for one of the t-shirts.


  1. What wonderful pictures! I had the pleasure of watching Teacher make those beautiful plates. I can't wait to see more pictures!

  2. I loved reading this. The wedding ceremony was beautiful just like the bride. I love our plates. I served cake on one to company on Sunday.

  3. I love the colors for the wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses, blush and smoky blue. Also, I have heard before that venues are just impossible to find that fit both price and size of the party. Your daughter's talent and desire to make plates as keepsakes is a priceless story, and I'll bet the guests loved it!

    Sandee Rigsby @ Details Events & Marketing