I am really excited to bring you this wonderful craft-filled wedding from over the pond in Conneticut, USA. Our gorgeous couple live in Brooklyn but got married in Connecticut after meeting at university six years ago. Sarah the bride designed so many creative elements of her big day including her stunning wedding dress (with Modern Trousseau), a wonderful ‘papercut-style’ chuppah designed with her very talented mum, our very own Smashing Supplier Jeanette Kuvin Oren, not to mention the beautiful table decorations, and exquisite letterpress invitations. Feast your eyes on their gorgeous day and take in all their lovely DIY details!
VENUE – CONVERTING A SIMPLE SPACE INTO A STUNNING RECEPTION
Sarah, the Bride: We booked my synagogue as the ceremony/reception venue. Being a traditional Jewish wedding, this was an appropriate locale. But don’t be fooled by a “lack of pizzazz” if your synagogue’s social hall isn’t as ideal as you’d like it to be. I had a vision, and was able to convert a large, relatively simple space into a stunning wedding reception. No one recognised the room once the decorations and lighting were set up. We also picked this location since we had a large guest list, and many venues would force us to cut our guest list in half (that wasn’t going to happen!).
The colour scheme came out through the process of seeing my likes and dislikes regarding décor. I didn’t have a true vision until all the pieces began coming together. I knew I wanted neutral, timeless colours; so I stayed in the beige, tan, ivory genre. When I added gold to the mix, I thought we were set. It looked so beautiful and ethereal. Once I chose my bridal party dresses, the final colour came to be: “Dusty Shale,” a grayish seafoam/teal variety. It was a perfect medley of neutral, yet beautiful and timeless colours for a wedding.
CUSTOM-MADE LETTERPRESS INVITATIONS DESIGNED BY US
Our wedding invitation was designed by ourselves, with the graphic design skills of my mum. She is extremely skilled with InDesign, so I was able to tell her exactly what I imagined and see it come to life on the computer screen. From the beginning, Mike and I planned to order letterpress invitations. This can be an expensive choice, but we came prepared. One of my close family friends is a professional book designer and has his own letterpress machine in his home. He was kind enough not only to let us come use it, but also to help with all the prep work and hand-cranking of the old-school machine. It was quite an endeavour! Original invitation design, gold ink to match the wedding colour scheme, custom-made letterpress plates … and of course hand-cranking each and every envelope, invitation, RSVP card, and thank-you card that went through the machine. Suffice it to say, our arms got a workout. But I wouldn’t trade that process for anything. We turned a several-thousand dollar choice into a several hundred dollar project.
OUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CEREMONY
If you ask Mike, he might say that the best part of the ceremony was when he stepped on the glass. He’d gotten one chance to practice, so pressure was on (and he succeeded)! One toddler in the audience told Mike that the glass smashing was too scary, since it made a loud noise; guess it worked! My favourite part of the ceremony was when I stood under my brand new handmade chuppah next to my husband in the synagogue where I’d spent much of my life, in front of all my friends and family.
OUR UNIQUE PAPERCUT-STYLE CHUPPAH DESIGN
I wanted something completely unique and beautiful, something that people might not have seen before. Together with my mum, we designed a papercut-style chuppah using our wedding theme colours and high-quality fabrics. I asked my mum if she had ever seen a chuppah like the one she made for my wedding, and she said no. It was a perfect addition to the sanctuary, adding a delicate look to the bimah (alter).
MUSIC CHOICES FOR WALKING DOWN THE AISLE
From the first moment I heard the Canadian Tenors sing this song at the 2011 Academy Awards, I knew that I would walk down the aisle to “Hallelujah.” I chose this Leonard Cohen song because of the beautiful melody and the emotional reaction I felt whenever hearing the solemn lyrics. We hired a violinist and flutist for the ceremony, to bring to life the tunes we chose (without singing the lyrics). We chose Celine Dion and Andrea Bocellis’ “The Prayer” as the song Mike and our bridal party would walk down to. Our cousins all walked down the aisle to a
song to which my mother walked down the aisle to 28 years ago: “Al Kol Ayleh.”
OUR WONDERFUL PHOTOGRAPHER
Since I was one of the first of my friends to get married, I didn’t have many people to ask for vendor advice. So I did a lot of research, inquiring about fees and packages for photographers in the NY Tri-State area. I was hoping to find a photographer who could balance “traditional” and “hip,” adding a special touch to otherwise typical wedding photos. Since we weren’t hiring a professional wedding videographer, we were able to put some more money into the photography budget – but I had to stick to that number. And we finally found a lovely young woman – Rebecca Hales – who lived in CT at the time (she and her husband, like us, moved to Brooklyn). My mum and I met with her months before the wedding, and knew that we felt comfortable with her. I was/am thrilled with her work, and have already been able to refer her to another friend who ended up hiring her.
MY CUSTOM-MADE DRESS
When I saw my maternal grandmother’s wedding dress in photos, I felt a desire to find that timeless design. She looked stunning at her wedding; her dress was so Jackie Kennedy! With my sister and future sister-in-law, we went to several bridal salons and saw what was out there. Not impressed. Yes, dresses were beautiful and special. But none were for me. I expected a “Say Yes to the Dress” tearful breakdown, but it never arrived. Once we found out that Modern Trousseau’s CEO and head designer Callie Tein lived in my town, that made the decision for us. I met with Callie and received a quote on a custom-made gown. It fit within our budget! What a special experience – a custom-made bridal gown in an uber-traditional design that isn’t in stores. No frills, just high-quality fabrics, classic design, and impeccable tailoring.
SEASONAL FLOWERS IN VINTAGE BOTTLES
Flowers were chosen based on colour and look. We chose seasonal flowers, and kept the budget lower than some might have chosen. Why order a room full of cut flowers, when they will have to be thrown away soon after? After viewing numerous inspiration pins on Pinterest, I chose a vintage bottle look, which didn’t need many flowers after all.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
We hired an incredible kosher caterer for our reception: Abel Catering, based in Woodbridge CT. They worked with our budget to make the most fabulous 5-star wedding meal I could have ever imagined. We had vegetarian, vegan, and fish options for non-meat eaters. We also made sure to include steak, per Mike’s firm suggestion. Meredith Abel worked wonders, and we were thrilled with her work. It was fun to plan the cocktail hour treats, signature O’Brasky cocktail, and reception meal and desserts. The best part of the meal, to me, was the dessert. We created a delicious dessert trifecta: a lemon meringue shooter, a deconstructed s’more in a tumbler glass, and a vanilla cupcake with white frosting a gold flakes. Rather than formally serve our wedding cake to our guests, we opted for individual cupcakes wrapped in lace.
HAIR & MAKE-UP
I did my own makeup. It was a conscious choice, as I’ve never had my makeup done by another person and I wanted to look like myself at my wedding. One of my bridesmaids helped with the finishing touches on my eyeliner and blush. My hairstyle was inspired by Kate Middleton. She is so naturally pretty, and totally pulls of any traditional hairstyle. Who doesn’t want to look like Kate Middleton?
OUR FIRST DANCE
Mike and I watched Casablanca a few years ago, and loved it. We chose “As Time Goes By” not only because it is the film’s theme song, but because my grandfather used to sing it from time to time. He was at my wedding, and surprised us with a solo on the clarinet, with the 9-piece band backing him.
FAVOURITE PART OF THE DAY
The best part of the day was when we walked down the aisle together as the ceremony ended. It was a rush, having just exchanged rings and making things “official.” We got to walk out together, hand-in-hand, and celebrate!
ADVICE TO OTHER BRIDES
I was told this advice before my wedding, and I will share it with other brides: things go wrong. You won’t know what it will be, but there will be mishaps. Don’t let it ruin your experience, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody will notice if your napkin rings are missing, or if your groom forgot his cufflinks. One of my friends had grass stains all over her white dress after a pre-reception photo shoot with her new groom. So, she did what every bride should do: she went on with the show! All that matters is that you stay “in the moment” and remember that this day is about getting married. If that happens, then it was a successful day!
SARAH + MIKE’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue – Congregation B’nai Jacob, Woodbridge CT
Photography – Hales Studio
Bride’s dress – Modern Trousseau
Bridesmaid dresses – JCrew Bridal Collection
Bridesmaid earrings: Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design
Chuppah, Ketubah, Simcha Chair, Logo design – Jeanette Kuvin Oren
Catering – Abel Caterers
Party Director – Judy Skolnick
Rabbi – Joel Levenson
That chuppah is genuinely one of the most stunning and original I have ever seen. And the simple floral arrangements in vintage bottles are so delicate and beautiful. And the ketubah… and the home-made letterpress invitations… oh my! Everything about this wedding was from the heart and it shows. Thank you Sarah and Mike for sharing all the wonderful details from your special day!
Have you been inspired by this wedding to create any lovely DIY details for your day? Let us know in the comments section below.