Erik and I eloped on April 20th in Madison, Wisconsin. Our immediate family members as well as my oldest friend from childhood and Erik's closest friend from college were in attendance. We chose Madison because it is a city that is uniquely important to both of us for different reasons (Erik went to school at UW-Madison and I have family in the area). When we chose the date neither of us thought it had much significance, other than it being two days after my birthday and the same weekend we visit my family in Madison every year.
During one of the first conversations I remember having with Erik he confessed his favorite number was 111, which always struck me as sort of cumbersome and totally unhelpful if he were ever to be a contestant on any show that airs on Game Show Network (it's called strategy). While paging through a new 2012 calendar in January, I turned the page to April and looked at the 20th. It was marked "111/255" - the 111th day of the year. Hello sign, feel free to take a seat next to me. Then, while my paternal grandmother and I were discussing both of us getting married two days after our respective birthdays she shared that April 20th was also her parent's anniversary.
It was meant to be.
I'm not changing my name, both of our last names just happen to start with "B".
Our ceremony was held at Gates of Heaven synagogue in James Madison Park. Erik's closest friend from college, Justin, acted as our officiant. Although it is presently considered a historical landmark and no longer an active synagogue, we were hesitant about the undertones of having our ceremony in a space that was once used for religious purposes (even a religion we've never had ties to). Oh, but it was difficult not to be smitten with its charm. Jam packed with detail and history and all the personality that would fit within its pint sized walls, it called to my architecture-loving heart.
As we batted it around, a simple idea continued to emerge: this space was used as a place to gather. People met here, families and friends - they were happy here. People supported and witnessed one another's lives here. Did it matter so much the banner under which this space was used while they did so? We wanted our people to gather. To be happy together. To support and witness this new life we were creating together.
The answer became very plain. No, it didn't matter why they gathered. It mattered that they gathered at all.
America sportswear with a twist of vintage was the look we both agreed on and attempted to capture. I'm not certain we got there (or that I could even describe what "American sportswear with a twist of vintage" really looks like) but, we were fully clothed and decently presentable so I've marked it down as a win. Erik's basic categorization of what he wanted to wear went something like, "I want to look clean and classic but you know, me." Thankfully, a lovely older woman named Caren was able to help us decipher what that meant during an impromptu trip to Banana Republic.
I used similar esoteric criteria while choosing my wardrobe. Qualifications like, "I must be able to pee all by myself while this garment adorns my body" and "it may not include anything that pokes, itches, laces, bustles, glitters, gathers, girdles, swishes, stands up all by itself or otherwise require the assistance of another person to put on" left many a salesperson scratching their head and discretely avoiding interaction with me while I shopped. Apparently, a real bride isn't an ethereal being of light and wonder that can independently use the commode, but the woman needing a half drunk bridesmaid to hold up 3423 bolts of tulle while she attempts to wipe her wazoo in a cramped bathroom stall.
PHOTOGRAPHY & INVITATIONS
Invitations: lindsey ellyn design (design) | Copper Willow (print)
Our photographer was Louisa of Lousia Marion Photography. She also happens to be my brother's girlfriend's sister. Talented doesn't even begin to describe her abilities as a photographer. I mean, look at us. I don't want to burst this carefully crafted fairytale our photos portray, but we don't look like that. Mostly, I'm satisfied if I don't have something hanging off my face and my hair hasn't frizzed to the size of Texas. The fact that Louisa is sweet as a button, went so far above and beyond what was required of her, and made us look like that? Pure, slap-yo-mama talent right there, my friends.
Our invitations were also a family affair in that they were designed by my cousin's girlfriend, Lindsey. She crafted invites that were stunning in their simplicity and design and had the patience of a saint as I sent email after email with vague tweaks to our proof like, "can you vary the size of the stripes so they have more depth?" I owe her a big one and probably a drink or ten.
We chose a letterpress company located in Culver City called Copper Willow as our printer. They specialize in small batch letterpress and were a joy to work with. The moment we walked into their petite shop I was sold. The fact that their work was also impeccable was just icing on the cake.
RECEPTION & DECOR
Reception: Osteria Papavero
My bouquet and the flowers at the reception came from Fleurishes and I can't speak highly enough of the owner, Andrea. I had planned to track down three dozen white hydrangeas myself when we arrived in Madison, but on the way to the airport (roughly 36 hours before our ceremony) I regained my ability to reason and concluded that was a terrible idea. A quick phone call to Andrea and three dozen hydrangeas were waiting for us when we arrived.
Our reception was held in the private dining space of Osteria Papaveros. With floor to ceiling windows surrounded by an outdoor patio overlooking the Capitol and Lake Mendota, it was the perfect space for a group of 22. I created the place settings by covering styrofoam balls with moss and sitting them on mini terracotta pots I spray painted white. I also created the menus and printed them myself on heavy cardstock. Mercury glass votives, cream pilar candles atop table mirrors, and white hydrangeas in glass bowl vases completed the table decor.
Our meal consisted of caprese salad, roasted pork chops and buttermilk marinated roasted chicken breast, buttered chard with parmigiano cheese, potato gnocchi with pesto and the best butterscotch pudding anyone has ever tasted in the history of the world AMEN. For the rest of my life should I ever eat buttescotch pudding again I will smugly declare, "it's good, but it's not Papaveros good."
Guests arrived at the reception just as the sun was beginning to set. Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra crooned as champagne corks popped. Everyone fell into easy conversation and took in the view of the setting sun over the water. As we all sat down to dinner, Erik and I both looked out over our family and friends - our people.
These were the people we had turned to for comfort and support in good times and in bad. These were the people that had cheered us and our relationship on in sickness and in health. These were the people that, for richer or for poorer, loved us unconditionally. These were the people that gathered and celebrated as we pledged these same things to one another and began this new life. This new life that couldn't be nearly as special without all of them in it.
And we felt immeasurably lucky.
Want to see more photos from our wedding? Head to FLICKR to check them out.
All images courtesy of Louisa Marion Photography.