Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Full Story {The White Wedding}

I enjoyed my four day weekend -- did you?   I had four days, so I've been brewing this really long post.  Grab your cold beverage and enjoy... if that's what you do.

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I think any of you who blog will agree: it's hard (I'm assuming more so at first) to not pay constant attention to your statistics and your subscribers.  Really Hard.

So far, I have been overwhelmed with the number of subscribers (people who think what I have to say is worth reading?!) and the number of readers.  Really?  No, really.  I'm amazed.  They are a small but faithful bunch, and that is most important.  I appreciate everyone who has had kind words to say both about the launch of Laurel White Design, the beginning of my blog, and what started all of this in the first place: the wedding of Tim + Laurel White.

Thursday as I sorted through hundreds of amazing wedding photographs by Tyler Metcalfe Photography and Greenleaf Images trying to choose the top 50-100 to submit to wedding blogs, for the first time I really enjoyed our wedding.  I know that sounds crazy -- how could I not have enjoyed my wedding before now?  You'd be surprised.  I'm a perfectionist.  Incredibly picky.  Particular to a fault.  It's not a blessing, trust me.  I don't adjust well to change or diverting from my set path, or rather: the vision I have in my head.  So the fact that there were so many details of our wedding day that I never got to see completed just crushed me.  Oh yes, I had a great day -- I got married! -- and I partied my little heart out.  The emotions that come through those pictures are very real, but there was still a little bit of regret in my heart.  It's just something I struggle with, to be completely honest.  I struggle with contentment and finding pure satisfaction in any final product or execution of an idea.  Now, I've put myself in a position to help other brides avoid that regret.  Only now it's also part of my job to look at beautiful weddings every day and KICK myself for all that my wedding could have been.

But I digress.

I enjoyed my wedding all over again.  I had to analyze each photo and decide in which one was everyone smiling or which one best captured the lighting or which one was most expressive of our personalities.  It brought to the surface all of the good that was present on the day of our wedding.  Sure, we were stressed, I was cranky, we'd barely slept, there was family drama, I didn't finish this or that.... but in the end, I married the man I love, and nothing can make me regret that.

I'm hard-headed.  It takes a while for things to sink in, but I think . . .  finally . . . they have sunk.

Here's the full write up I'm submitting to blogs, if anyone cares to read all the minute details of what went into our planning.  I've included example pictures, for those who may not have seen them on facebook, but these are not necessarily the one pictures I submitted.

Our wedding was a DIY, very budgeted, full-of-love event.  There were so many personal and intimate details, made even more personal and intimate by the fact that my husband Tim & I, along with our families, created everything ourselves.

I knew I didn't want a strict theme or color coordination (I don't like matchy matchy!), but I did want my wedding to seem cohesive.  I wanted guests to arrive and enter a woodsy wonderland that we had created to fit and represent our unique personalities (we love all things nature & vintage).  I suppose that need to draw people in came from my theatre background and work as an actor.  We knew we wanted every invidual to feel like a key player and actively participate in our ceremony and our day.  It helped that we knew we wanted our "community" of guests to be very small.  We ended up with about 55 guests attending our wedding, including bridal party and family.  It was the perfect size for the atmosphere we wanted to create, which was - of course - intimate and personal.  For this reason, our guest book was a mock marriage certificate which everyone signed as a "witness" and we also had the guests take a congregational vow to support and love us, at the end of our ceremony.  Because our guest list was so small we had time to visit with each and every one of them, which was a really high priority for us in our planning.

Our loose theme was based on this idea of community & our tag line was "home is wherever I'm with you," because of how much we have travelled together as a couple and moved around, living in different states, and growing communities wherever we happened to be.  We first met on a road trip with mutual friends (introduced by my husband's Best Man!).  Our invitations were designed completely by us, using a USA "map of our love" that Tim and I drew and I watercolored for the front.  We designed it to look like a postcard, with the stamp containing our "home is wherever I'm with you" theme.  They cost us only $70 to have printed.

 We went with blues, greens, grey, and peach for our colors.  My two sisters were my bridesmaids and they picked out their own dresses and accessories and both wore their well-loved boots.  The groomsmen wore all different vests, ties, and dress pants and shirts all on a grey scale, but somehow they all ended up looking so well put together!  Tim wore the same baby blue tuxedo shirt and grey wool vest my own father wore at my parent's wedding.  

 My wedding dress was a key element of the wedding and really helped to accentuate the feeling of heritage, ancestry, and family love.  The dress was originally handmade by my late great-grandmother in 1951 for my grandmother's wedding.  Then my mother wore the dress again in 1980 at her wedding to my father.  Sixty years later the dress was still in good enough shape for me to be able to wear it a third time!  I did look at bridal boutiques but could never find a dress that fit my aesthetic -- nothing seemed just right for me.  As I was losing hope (and time!) I finally tried on my grandmother's/mother's dress and when my mom and I both started crying, we knew it was the right choice.  It was a priceless gift and added so much emotion to the preparation part of the day.

The wedding was held at my parent's home on 18 acres of Texas Hill Country land, near Austin, TX.  We planned the whole wedding start to finish in less than 3 months and for about $3,000.  Much of that time was spent landscaping and readying the property.  Tim put in many hours clearing & graveling paths, trimming trees, laying rock.  However, while it was a lot of effort on everyone's part, it was so much more meaningful to invest that time and money into a property we both had so many happy memories about.  I grew up on that property, climbing trees and playing in the woods, and since our relationship's beginning, Tim has helped my father to maintain the land and gardens.  My parents knew and we knew that it was worth the investment, and one that would keep on giving, rather than renting a venue with little or no sentimental value to us.

© Greenleaf Images
We had a neighbor who is a head chef at a local restaurant prepare a Greek-influenced cuisine for our dinner.  He served up tasty lamb, chicken, and angus beef (raised by my uncle) Gyros on pita bread.  His dolmades, tabbouleh, hummus, & mediterranean salad were the real deal.  Everyone drooled over the food, saying it was the best wedding food they'd ever had.  It was a huge success.  

 We offered a cheese, bread & fruit table for appetizers, and a sweets buffet on top of our traditional wedding cakes.  Tim's sister, Kelli, made some amazing cake balls in all flavors of chocolate.  My cousin, Karen, made the groom's German Chocolate cake and my wedding cake was made by a local baker: vanilla bean cake infused with sage, with champagne flavored icing.  Unusual, but probably the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. 

 The most fun part was that as guests arrived they grabbed a cold beverage (it was warm for March!) and so everyone was imbibing as the ceremony got underway.  We served Tim's and my father's home-brewed beers, and they were also a huge hit.  The beer was bottled in recycled bottles and grolsch bottles (the spring capped German style beer bottles) my mom and dad had saved from the 70s.

I was very concerned with keeping a backyard wedding classy, but also being responsible to the environment.  Guests were given one of everything: a silver fork (which also served as their place holders), mismatched vintage china dinner plate, and a mason jar for drinking.  We used no disposable anything.  People went along with it, because we explained it with fun signage!  I hand stamped everyone's placeholders, distressing them by tea-dying.  It was a labor of love. 

 My sister & mother helped me make a bunch of string globes to hang about the dance floor.  We used lots of string lights hung from the trees and candles for after dark lighting.  It had such a warm and beautiful effect.  We would have loved to have had money for a band, but with as much fun as people had dancing to ipod music, we'd never have known the difference!  

My sister, Maggie, did all the flowers, mostly the day of, using flowers I requested and others that were in season.  I wanted a lot of texture and variety.  We also incorporated my love of succulents, planting them in tea cups and little pots to add some accents.  Our bouquets were white aneomones & rannuculus, wild grasses, blue thistles, mountain laurel (my name sake), and mine had a big bromeliad (airplant) as the center.  We used a variety of jars and vases I had collected for months.  Some of the tables were actual dinner tables we sunk in the ground and some were plank boards laid across hay bales.  Everyone sat on haybales for dinner as well.  The ceremony site seating was a variety of old chairs, haybales, benches, and some antique theatre seats.  

We hung old glass pane windows from the trees, draped with spanish moss.  One of the trees had a great horizontal branch that we attached frames family photos to of our parents and grand parents on their wedding day.  We called it, our "Family Tree," of course.

The family and wedding party entered to "Daydream" by the Lovin' Spoonful.  Tim's older brother, Patrick was unable to be at the wedding, since he's working in Qatar, so Tim's dad walked down the aisle with his iPhone held up and Patrick skyped in so he could see the whole thing!  I walked down the aisle to "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Ray Lamontange.  Our friends sang and played the song "Home" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros for our exit tune.  Everyone sang and clapped along (they gave a tutorial so people could participate).  Our first dance was also by Ray Lamontagne, "You Are The Best Thing," & my father and I danced to "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" by Asleep at the Wheel (a spur of the moment choice since it was a great jitterbug!).  Everyone had so much fun on the dance floor!

Of course the whole day went by so quickly, but there are a couple of moments that really stand out to me.  In the middle of the ceremony our pastor, Jon, was supposed to be instructing me to put the ring on Tim, and he accidentally flipped it around.  Instead of just going with it, I corrected him saying "Isn't Tim supposed to be accepting the ring?"  There was a moment of silence and then everyone laughed.  I was a little embarrassed that I opened my mouth without thinking, but so many people told me later that it was a great moment they'd never forget and it truly made them feel like our ceremony was one big conversation between friends.

Something I had really wanted as a part of our wedding to represent my background in theatre, was an element of performance.  I never got around to planning it, but in early stages I had even considered having a friend be a mime or something crazy like that just to mess with everyone.  My younger sister, Susanna, has never liked being on stage and hates speaking publicly, so I was worried how she might handle the Maid of Honor's toast.  What she did could not have been more appropriate or entertaining.  After explaining that I had chosen March 20 because it was the last day of Winter and the beginning of a new season, she make the connection to marriage as the beginning of a new season in our lives.  And then she invited my cousin, Catherine, up to help her in a dramatic recitation of a poem called Daffodowndilly by A.A. Milne.  This reciting of poems, singing of songs, and performing together was a big part of our childhood and we have many recordings of our little "shows" that we would put on in the back yard.  The poem goes:

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour;
"Winter is dead!"

On "Winter is dead!" groomsman Nathan jumped up from behind some hay bales with a daffodil which we presented to me.  I was laughing so hard I cried.  It really meant so much to me that she had kept with our non-traditional themes and made her toast completely fun, unique and quite unexpected.

But the moment that will always stand still in time for me was our "first look."  I am so happy we decided to share that special, quiet moment alone together before the ceremony.  It didn't rob us of any surprise moment at the "alter" - rather, it allowed us to take a step away from the whole production of things to just look at one another and realize we were about to become husband and wife.  It was the only moment I was truly nervous... I walked up behind Tim and when he turned around he said "You look so beautiful."  I was so nervous I didn't hear him correctly and assumed he said " I love you."  So I said "I love you, too!" Then we both realized my mistake and laughed and all my nerves just sailed away.  He is my best friend, and I just got lucky he also happens to now be my husband.


  1. That sounds completely awesome. Really reminds me of my wedding. Yours was much better in the creativity side, but we did ours in two months, and we had everyone seated at tables so when they came in they could already start chatting, and then just stayed there for the food. mark and I sang together and it was so personal. We had congregational hymns and just enjoyed it so much. Congrats on a beautiful wedding you will always look back on and LOVE!!!


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