29 August 2010

the food

My mom was the superhero with the food. Above is the menu from the party Saturday night, and it was all incredible. Matt laughs at me because whenever I cook (even if it's just for the two of us), I always cook enough for about three times as many people as I am actually serving. I get this directly from my mother, who will stay up half the night worrying after a big family dinner if one of the dishes actually gets finished..."someone might still have been hungry!"... Despite our tendency to overcook, we were still mighty nervous about preparing enough food for 100 people. But with the help of many kind friends, it all turned out amazingly well. We had a huge gas grill for the ribs and bbq, and my mom made enough of her famous dinner rolls for everyone to enjoy both nights--with plenty to spare, of course. (I think she made about 8 batches and froze them all in the weeks before the wedding.)

I ordered bamboo plates and flatware, and we used Mason jars for all the drinks--jelly jars for wine, half-pints for beer, tea, and lemonade. We made a bourbon raspberry lemonade that was a big hit, and I've been drinking it all summer since the wedding. (very easy: 1 part bourbon, 2 parts ginger ale, and 2 parts raspberry lemonade)

We decided against a wedding cake, and instead asked close family and friends to contribute a dessert. The dessert table ended up looking like a county fair bake-off (the picture above is before about half the desserts arrived). We had pies: strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, apple, and sweet potato. We had cakes: coconut, lemon bundt, chocolate pound, and honey bun. We had a huge banana pudding, and my mom made her trifle. There was blackberry cobbler and chocolate ganache tarts. And I'm probably forgetting something. It was amazing. And I think everyone appreciated the opportunity to contribute, and it made it so special. Not to mention freaking delicious.

19 August 2010

the flowers

The flowers were so much fun! Our house was like one huge bower. We had flowers coming out of our ears. My mom and my aunt did the flowers themselves, and it all turned out so beautifully. Since we were having a pretty informal wedding at our house, I wanted a cottage-y feeling, and we used lots of hydrangea, peonies, viburnum, and roses.

My mom ordered the flowers from a wholesaler and my aunt did all the arrangements, four hydrangea wreaths, my bouquet, six attendant bouquets (I didn't technically have attendants, but I wanted my sister, two best friends, the mamas, and the grandmama to have a small bouquet), and six boutonnieres. In retrospect, it's hard to see how she did it all. Who needs a team of florists when you have one superhuman and supertalented aunt?

Here's Aunt Ann working on my bouquet, which had pale blue hydrangeas, white lisianthus, grape hyacinths, viburnum, freesia, and Sweet Juliet roses. Sweet Juliet is a David Austin rose that we first encountered on a trip to England. It has a soft, sweet, almost lemony scent and we all have such good memories of discovering it in some picturesque English garden (though now I can't remember where we were...Sudeley Castle maybe?)

It's funny, I don't have that many pictures of me holding the bouquet, because pretty quickly after the ceremony I traded in the bouquet for a glass of champagne. Ann also put together the flowers for my hair, it's a lisianthus and (I think) some freesia.

The mamas had violet sweet peas, roses, queen anne's lace, and viburnum.

Matt's boutonniere had a green button mum, a tiny grape hyacinth, a sprig of Queen Anne's Lace, and those berries that I can't remember the name of. We used a hosta leaf out of the backyard.

I know some people don't care for mophead hydrangeas, but they just speak of summer to me. We had a huge hydrangea in the front yard of the house I grew up in, and I've always loved them. This arrangement also had the Juliet roses and Bells of Ireland, which is such a cool flower.

We had four hydrangea wreaths, which we put on the front and back doors of the house and the two fence gates. After the wedding, we just chucked them up in the attic and they dried amazingly well. I'm going to pull them down again and make a dried wreath for my front door this fall. We also hung up my bouquet (upside down in the attic) and it dried very well too. Retained much of its color and shape. I don't know what to do with it now, though. Mama laughingly suggested we display it under a bell jar in our living room, like Miss Havisham.

We also worked very hard to get the garden looking nice. It was wonderful to be able to rationalize some plant purchases, since we were having the wedding at the house. The garden is definitely a work in progress, and I am really enjoying it. This fall I'll be planting some Coral Charm peonies, which are the ones that are so spectacular in the pictures at the top of this post.

It really was a bower. This is my bedroom the day before the wedding, and this is only a portion of the flowers we had to work with. It was a lot of work, but we had a ton of fun.

16 August 2010

the dresses

Why have one wedding dress, when you can have two? I was lucky because since we held our ceremony and party over two days, I got to have two dresses. The challenge was finding two dresses I really liked, while staying within a very strict budget. After a couple frustrating months of searching, my mom came up with the genius idea of altering her wedding dress, so that I could wear it for the ceremony.

Here's Mom in her dress, in 1972. (How groovy are her bridesmaid dresses?!)

I grew up on tales told about this dress. My grandmother and mother sewed it, from veil to hand-embroidered hem. Before they started sewing, they went to Garfinckels, the big department store in downtown Washington, D.C. and Mom tried on dresses in their bridal salon. She found a dress she liked, and Mom and Grandma then found a pattern with a similar silhouette that they could use as a starting point. I can just see my Mom and Grandma, turning the Garfinckels dress inside out in the fitting room, examining every detail of the construction and planning how they would recreate it.

They bought the fabrics at G Street Remnant shop in D.C.: silk organza, silk peau de soie, and re-embroidered Alencon lace. (We found some similar lace online, which goes for a mere $150/yd today!)

Grandma had a next-door neighbor who had worked in costume shops in Hollywood and had helped sew the dresses for Gone with the Wind, among other movies. She helped Mom and Grandma figure out how to transform the lace into a triangular yoke and then embroider the lace along the hem, so that the lace would trail up and over the silk band about 12" above the hem.

The dress had organza leg-of-mutton sleeves, with deep lace cuffs and a long row of tiny fabric-covered buttons on each cuff.

It's a beautiful dress, and I was very nervous about altering it. It almost seemed like sacrilege. But Mama gave me full encouragement to change it in whatever way I liked, so we started thinking about how we could update it for me. The sleeves had to go, as did the high collar. Unlike my mom, who was married in a church in January, I was planning an outdoor wedding in June!

We briefly contemplated doing the alterations ourselves, but we were nervous with so little time before the wedding. Luckily, we found the most amazing seamstress in Cary, NC named Olga Samarskaya. Olga has a thick Russian accent, a brusque, no-nonsense demeanor, and the warmest heart you will ever find. She was a Godsend.

I brought Olga a set of rough sketches, and we decided on a v-neck that followed the line of the yoke. Olga took her scissors to the sleeves during the first fitting (eeeek), and had wonderful ideas about how to alter the dress so it would hug my figure just so.

Olga also talked me into a deep v-neck in the back as well. Because, as Olga said, "you want to be a little sexy on your wedding day, dear."

I felt absolutely beautiful. It meant so much to wear the gown that my Mom and Grandma had put so much love into. Grandma passed away 12 years ago, but it felt like she was there with us on my wedding day.

And then for our party on Saturday, I wore a simple J. Crew dress. It is called the Aubrey, and they don't seem to sell it anymore, but it is made from a lovely embossed cotton fabric. So cool and comfortable for an outdoor party.

I can't end this post without a few words about Matt's outfits. (I kept calling them his "outfits," which he didn't like very much. I think it implied a certain orchestration of the wardrobe that he didn't want to own up to. This coming from a man who has a very sharp sartorial eye despite anything he might say to the contrary.)

He wore slacks and a vest both days. He was very dapper. On Saturday he wore his royal blue Crocs. Because Crocs rock, no matter how many people pooh-pooh them.

11 August 2010


I had a lot of fun with the invitations. Instead of the traditional interior envelope, I used a sewn sleeve made from a natural linen to hold all the insertions. I printed the design on the front of the sleeve with my trusty gocco, and we made them just the right size so that the "Matt & Julie" at the top of the invitation peeked out of the sleeve.

Here's the invitation. I wanted to use a bunch of small icons that represented me and Matt, and we ended up presenting them in pairs--showing the yin and the yang of our personalities. So we have the Bigfoot and Lady doll--the Bigfoot because Matt has an eternal dream of capturing the elusive monster, and a doll because, well, I like dolls. We used silhouettes of our dogs, followed by a banjo and whisk. Night and day because Matt is a night owl and I most definitely am not. A luchador mask and a sewing machine. The text reads "Matthew Tucker and Julie Sizemore (who despite certain personality contrasts, each think the other just about perfect) have decided to say 'I do.' And so, along with their parents, invite you to a party at their house to celebrate."

We also included a simple little card for the folks we wanted to invite to our ceremony, which was held the evening before the party.

I goofed up a bit on the RSVP cards; I forgot to give people a place to write down their names. So we ended up getting some mystery RSVPs, and had to try to figure out who they were from by deciphering the postmark and through process of elimination. It was quite a puzzle. Though it didn't end up mattering in the end since we didn't do a seating chart for dinner. I decided a seating chart was way more trouble than it was worth, so we let folks just sit wherever they darn well wanted to. It worked out just fine.

Aside from the linen sleeve, which I printed with my gocco, I did these all on my home inkjet printer using paper from Paper Source. We also got a return address stamp made (from Paperwink), which made addressing the envelopes much easier.

10 August 2010


Matt and I were married on June 4, 2010. It was wonderful. And married life is oh so good.

Truth be told, I was something of a reluctant wedding planner. I tried my best to convince Matt that eloping to Costa Rica and spending two weeks lying on the beach and exploring rain forests would be a much better use of our money than a wedding. The idea of planning a party for 100 guests and then having all of those 100 guests look at me (all 100 of them! at the same time!) while I stuttered over my vows or tripped over my dress made my heart falter. But Matt gently said, "Well, why don't we just have a big party in our backyard?" And of course he was right. At the beginning of the wedding planning, it was so hard to understand that our wedding didn't have to be like everyone else's. We could make it just right for us, a day that would be comfortable, special and meaningful. A day that would celebrate the life we've built together, and the wonderful people who have supported us and loved us for so long.

We had the wedding in our back yard, and we did pretty much everything ourselves, from the food to the flowers to the photography. We have extraordinarily talented family and friends, let me tell you. What surprised me the most about the whole wedding process was how much everyone wanted to help. Our loved ones were incredibly generous with their time and talents and it was so humbling, and so special.

We said our vows on Friday evening, surrounded by closest friends and family. Then we had our big party on Saturday--complete with bluegrass band and barbeque.

Weddings are funny things these days. So much money, so much emotional energy, so much spectacle. So much pressure! Honestly, it was hard for me to make sense of it all at first. But as the wedding started to come together, we realized that we could just relax, defy convention as needed, and plan a wedding that fit our personalities and our lifestyle. And then it got a whole lot more fun.

I have lots of details to share with you. More to come!