My Handmade Wedding: A One Year Retrospective

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Part of the venue marking series of signs.

Last weekend I celebrated my one year anniversary. Whoo! Whatever. According to the dad of a friend of mine we’ve been married for, like, ten years. So….eh. As flippant as I was at the time and continue to be about it, our wedding was, indeed, a big deal to me. We were starting a new chapter of our lives together, and I wanted a big grand party to celebrate it. That being said, I wanted everything to be unique and special. I wanted people to not just remember this party, but remember that it was mine.

Somehow, that turned into me handmaking about 70% of it.

Not the big stuff, mind you. Dresses were bought from David’s Bridal, catering was a local burrito place, and dessert was from a local bakery. The venue didn’t really need decoration (kinda the reason we chose it), but what little was done was put together by my friends and I.

This means that the wedding website, bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, wedding topper, invites, save the dates, table signs, dessert table signs, venue signs, sand mixing jars, our arbor thing, and wedding jewelry were all made by yours truly.


The Invites

The first part was deciding the mood and theme. I’m not really a fan of “themed weddings” per se, but I definitely wanted a sort of mood to the whole thing. Because we’re gamers and table top players, out theme was “starting a new adventure.” This is most reflected in the Save the Date magnets that went out four months before the formal invites.

save the date

I designed them from start to finish including our illustrated portraits and the layout. I would like to defend myself here, and say that I made these about two years ago, and I’ve gotten immensely better at layout and illustration since then.

For the formal invite, I pushed hard for a comic book. It was something I really, really wanted. Well, we didn’t have the money to commision it, so it was up to me to make it happen. So I did…..sort of. Instead of full on illustrations which I just didn’t have the time to do, I did what basically amounted to painting on photographs. Using a combination of cosplay, photograpy, composition, average color filters, manual painting and a few more pieces of photoshop trickery, we had an 8 page comic book with an invite at the end. Looking back I cringe a little, but everyone was pretty impressed by the results.

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page 9

cover page5_6 page4

 

The Food

The second big thing I wanted to make sure got covered was the food. I come from the old southern tradition of “if you’re going to throw a party, there better be delicious food.” We had our favorite burrito place cater, and that was the end of that.The dessert bar, however, was a little more tricksy. We decided, right away, that we wanted video game themed food. This is the bar.

From left to right, back to front: rare candies, found cake, sweetroll, heart containers, pac man dots
From left to right, back to front: rare candies, found cake, sweetroll, heart containers, pac man dots

The sweetroll cake and the “found cake” came out the most impressive. I actually brought in sketches in addition to screen grabs and photos to the baker. She said that I was one of the best clients she ever worked with. Apparently, most brides in particular come in with either no idea what they want or with ridiculous demands. I was right there in the sweet spot with exact specifications yet reasonableness in my requests apparently.

The wedding cake itself was seven dozen cupcakes made by a friend of ours, and this was the cake topper I made.

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My wedding cupcakes and a Groom’s tiramisu cake.
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cake topper close up

This stupid ass cake topper was probably the most annoying thing I had to deal with mostly because I couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted and Husband was totally all out of shit’s to give by this point in the process. They ended up being pretty gosh darn cute in the end, though.

 

Bouquets, Boutonnieres, and Corsages

The bouquets in particular were a big ridiculous thing. Their design went through a lot of phases, and now I’m wishing I had taken more pictures of the final product. I wasn’t totally dedicated to the idea of flowers to begin with. If I was going to have them, I wanted them to be silk so the bridesmaids could take them home, and I could make them well in advance. I also wanted them to be fall flowers instead of spring flowers like asters, mums, and goldenrod. When I solidified our colors as red and black, it became even more difficult to determined what flowers would fit best. I gave up and went for a feather and stones approach. That was how I got the idea that all the little accoutrement would be things that a hero might have, possibly, won off an enemy. Feathers and talons and teeth and claws. I had a solid idea after that as to what I wanted to do. My mother was the one that took some time to bring around to what I was going for. We spent hours in Jo Anne’s and Hobby Lobby going through their floral department and beyond, trying to figure out what I wanted, and it took the longest time to get her to see what I was seeing in my head. Eventually it came down to me telling her specifics. “I need a black feathered thing that looks like this and these exact things.” And it mostly worked.

This is some of the stuff I ended up with.

Bridesmaid boquets
Bridesmaid bouquets
Jr. Bridesmaid boquet
Jr. Bridesmaid bouquet
Bride boquet
Bride bouquet
Dads' pins
Dads’ pins
Moms' corsages
Moms’ corsages
Groom's boutineer
Groom’s boutineer. The grooms men’s were white teeth of black feathers. 

I wish I had better pictures of just everything in general, but I was so stressed out at the time, there was no thought to do so. All the claws and bones were made of clay and painted by me. My niece made parts of her own bouquet, and my mom and sister helped with the twisted wire pieces on the other arrangements. The rest (i.e. the actual assembly) I did myself in the few weeks leading up to the wedding.

LARPing Equipment

So yeah, we kinda had a mini nerf gun/boffer fight during the transition between the ceremony and the reception.

Boffers and nerf guns
Boffers and nerf guns

The guns were a sort of group donation exercise (we bought a bunch of small ones, brought it our big ones, then had some brought in my groomsmen and family members), but we made all the boffers ourselves with the help of a couple of our friends. They’re cardboard, bubble wrap and two colors of duct tape. They didn’t last the whole night.

 

The Jewelry

This is where my jewelry started.

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I wanted, more than anything, to wear an Amulet of Mara from Skyrim on my wedding day. It just had to be. There was literally no other option. By now, though, we had decided on red and black for our colors, and the Amulet of Mara is blues and golds. I turned to Etsy. I found a super awesome shop on Etsy called The Seventh Courier (they’re now on Store Envy), and they made me this utterly badass custom Amulet in my colors.

Black and red Amulate of Mara
Black and red Amulate of Mara

Using this as my starting point, I made earrings and and a bracelet with a “tooth” on it to match.

The hair fascinator/veil/hair piece was the next thing I had to work on. I was growing my hair out from a “boy” cut, but there was no guarantee that it was going to be long enough to pull off some kind of elaborate updo. I wanted something, then, with flexibility, in black and red, and fitting the theme. That’s when I came up with dragon scales.

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It’s those little wooden spoons you get with ice cream cups cut and sanded down to shape. I painted them red, the crackle paint, then black, then a satin varnish. Layered, they look cool. Combs on the back kept it in place. Until I cut my hair short again three weeks before the wedding. I stuck in on head band and went with it.

Wedding jewelry
Wedding jewelry
Jewelry on the wedding day
Jewelry on the wedding day

Would I do it all again? Probably. I had fun at my wedding, more so than any of the other bagillion other weddings I’ve been to, and not just because it was mine. A friend of mine asked, a few months after the wedding, if we could go ahead and get married again because she had such a good time. It was stressful and nerve wracking, but also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life watching how all these little things came into place to orchestrate this big beautiful thing.


For our five year anniversary we’re thinking a pirate themed costume party on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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