Behind the Scenes, I: Details, Details

We have access to all our wedding pictures now, and we’ve enjoyed re-living some of our favorite moments of the evening through them. It’s been equally fun to experience vicariously some of the moments we weren’t privy to at the time: our guests interacting as they waited for the ceremony to begin, my brother escorting my mom down the aisle, some awesome photo bombs during the cake-cutting. As I scrolled through the photos, it occurred to me there were a number of small details that were meaningful to us, objects or choices with stories whose history or deeper significance wasn’t immediately apparent. So, here’s a behind-the-scenes tour of some of those details that helped us put our special stamp on the day.


NJM_9465 lgMy train and the gold-tone brooch pinned at its apex: The train I wore, which attached to my dress at the waist, was made from the train of my mother’s wedding dress, a Watteau-style that fell from her shoulders like a cape. The lovely Terrisa Vaughan of Her Perfect Day refashioned it for me after my mom cut some of the lace to make the ring pillow, which also included fabric from her dress and my grandmother’s wedding dress (read the story of the ring pillow here). The gold brooch at its apex had been worn by my maternal great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother at their weddings. The legacy piece served as my “something old.” I also wore my paternal grandmother’s wedding ring on my right hand.

I wore two bracelets with special significance: the first was a vintage pearl and silver marcasite piece Steve and I bought in a shop on Portobello Road during our trip to England last Christmas. I was drawn to it because my mother also wore a silver and pearl bracelet, a gift from my father, at her wedding. I also had a sterling and aqua chalcedony bracelet made by my friend Janna of A Little Twisted, which represented the love of my girlfriends. Both were also “something new.”

Steve and I wore the gifts we’d given each other: His was a silver cuff engraved with the latitude and longitude of the Rooftop; the inside sports the date and the phrase “here beside you.” He gifted me with a delicate anklet of bright blue butterflies, an homage to the Butterfly Garden that was part of our celebration. It was also “something blue.” My “something borrowed” was a beaded coral bracelet my friend Sarah had brought back from a trip to Nepal, and it was tied around my bouquet. I did in fact have a real “sixpence in my shoe” (taped with washi tape), courtesy of my now-stepson Dusty, who’d procured it during his study-abroad at Oxford.

The men in the wedding party wore bright polka-dot socks mostly because I thought it would be fun (and I love bright colors and polka dots!). We gave my nephew a pair of “Hobbit socks” with toes because Steve kept joking it would be “so cool” to have Ethan dress as Frodo, since he was “The Ringbearer.” In homage to the groom’s family heritage, specifically Steve’s maternal grandmother, his sons each wore the McIntosh plaid, Dusty in the form of a kilt and Tucker in his tie.


NJM_3080 lgThe venue itself has some backstory. My mom gifted us with a cocktail hour held in the Science Museum’s Butterfly Garden because it was as close as she could get to the courtyard wedding we’d dreamed about together when I was a girl. And Steve and I chose the Rooftop because of our own history with it—we danced together the first time at the Center in the Square’s grand-reopening, so it was fitting we share our first dance as husband and wife there, as well.


Some of the decorations also had stories. The vintage-map-paper flowers that were scattered around the tables were crafted in honor of Steve’s love of and longtime work with mapping and GIS software. (Our invitations, which also featured a map theme, focused on Virginia, since that’s where we met and fell in love—and, well, Virginia is for lovers, right?)

Next to our guest book, we placed a painted tin that featured an olive shell on top, which hearkened back to the first time I’d told Steve I loved him (“Olive you”) during a beach trip, as well as the fact he later proposed to me on another beach.

I wrote back in December about wedding favors and noted we had chosen something useful and personally meaningful: jars of wildflower honey bottled by my father, Garry, a beekeeper.

The milk-glass cakestand that displayed our wedding cake I inherited from my grandmother. Instead of a caketopper, I painted two wooden S’s that stood in front of it. Steve’s was green and decorated with a forest of tiny trees (he is a forester), stripes, and a bow-tie made from map-printed fabric. Two miniature books represented his sons, and a clay figure I’d sculpted of his dog Imoh sat in the curve. My S was aqua, for sky and water, and featured polka dots and a tulle bow, along with a small collection of seashells. A miniature journal, open, represented writing, and two cat sculptures, black kitty Lola, and tabby Charlie Kate, completed it. I kept the S’s a surprise for Steve, so he did not see them until just before the ceremony.


The lyrics and history of the songs were important too. I selected Ronan Keating’s version of “I Hope You Dance” for the father-daughter dance, because the lyrics echo the advice my father always gave me. Steve and I danced to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” for our first dance because the nature imagery touches on all the beautiful places we’ve been together–forest, mountains, ocean–and loved. Our last dance song, to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me,” hearkened back to a night we turned on an iPod and danced in the woods.

And I still don’t know whether anybody caught it and got the joke or not, but I enjoyed the moment immensely: our recessional song was “I Do” by Colbie Caillat, but it was immediately followed by “Finally” by CeCe Peniston: “Finally! It’s happening to me!”

Finally! Sings the forty-something first-time-bride, with a wink and a grin.

Next week: more behind-the-scenes stories about a few things we didn’t expect….

All photos by Noah Magnifico

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