Saturday, September 29, 2012

Theme vs. Design Scheme

Despite what your 3rd Grade english teacher may have told you, "Theme" is a four letter word.

I can't tell you how many times I hear a bride and groom talk down their own fabulous ideas for their wedding celebration because they are worried that it is too "themey".  In general, I agree.  Themes are great for kid's birthday parties, hell, even adult birthday parties, but you'll never catch me endorsing a "My Little Pony" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" themed wedding.  Well, at least not yet.

Let's make a critical differentiation, shall we?  Yep, a theme can be tacky, trendy, and otherwise distracting from the celebration of two people committing to spend the rest of their lives together.  But a Design Scheme...hints of personality running throughout your event, sharing with your guests your story, your favorite things, what makes you love each other so, actually adds to any wedding.

Now, onto Carrie and Nick.

When I met with Carrie and Nick, they were excited to be getting married, but the planning process had fallen a bit flat.  Within a few minutes, I heard about Nick's proposal at the State Fair, and how he'd like to integrate a Griffin (his family name, and a really cool-looking mythical creature found in many heraldic crests) into the stationery somehow.  They wanted to keep a classic look to the wedding in all elements, but also wanted their guests to cut loose and have a good time.  For favours, they absolutely required Sweet Martha's cookies...their very favorite tradition at the Fair (I'd like to meet someone who hasn't walked around with one of those buckets of cookies at least once). 

So, how do you incorporate the fun, casual, even somewhat bumpkin (yes, people, there is a Swine Barn) aspects of The Great Minnesota Get Together, with an elegant formal country club wedding?

Easy.  As they were talking, I could see them working it through.  While the Griffin that Nick pulled up on his smart phone is one ugly creature (Sorry Nick), the Heraldic Crest for the Griffin Family that he pulled up a few minutes later was beautiful.  But more importantly, it reminded us of a vintage carnival know, the kind of thing you'd see painted on the side of the traveling circus trains.  We just incorporate the crest with a circus stripe background pattern, keep everything in their beautiful color scheme of pale blue and slate grey, and run with it. 
And run with it, they did!!  By the time they left, we had decided to name the guest tables (rather than number them) after different rides at the fair.  Carrie had a photo of place cards shaped like tickets that entitled each guest to a seat "on the tilt-a-whirl", "tunnel of love" etc.  She loved the concept, but the cards were solid bright colors and far too informal for their venue.  We can fix that!
And the biggest hold out of all, was that Nick wanted to do an old-fashioned ring-toss instead of letting the guests simply clink their fork against their glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss.  Sounds like he had a lot of Coke to drink in the coming months to put this all together!

For the cake, we kept it classic.  Don't forget, we're dealing with a formal event in a beautiful venue.  We copied the bride's lace pattern from her dress, and incorporated details from her jewelry and the Griffin Crest.  Topped it with an enormous Gum Paste Dahlia and called it done (until a few weeks later, when they emailed to tell me that their Doberman Pinscher, Capone really wanted to be on the cake, so I sculpted him out of chocolate paste, and gave him the best seat in the house).  By the way...we miss seeing you around the shop Cappy, come by for a visit, sweet boy!

We got our hands on Sweet Martha's Cookie Dough, and baked up the little sweeties the day before the wedding.  Coupled with little pints of milk, tied with the most adorable paper straws that Carrie found, we put them out for guests to take home at the end of the night. 

Here's the best part.  What Nick and Carrie did, was to take the often daunting, stressful job of planning a wedding, and embraced it.  Each idea led to the next, and their wedding was filled with all of the things they love.  It was natural, relaxed, beautiful and fun...just like them.

Many thanks to Fine Exposures Photography for these lovely photos. And to Ambiente Wedding Coordinating and Minikahda club for taking the reigns on the wedding day and letting the Bride and Groom just enjoy themselves.  Got to love the floral, as well, so hat's off to Zinnia Designs Floral.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Love in an Elevator

Now that I've got that horrible tune in your head, I'll try to redeem myself.

This blog isn't about Aerosmith.  I just lost half of you, but that's okay.  This blog is actually about smart people.  Not your average smart people...your MIT Media Lab, Mechanical Engineer, smart people. 
Suffice it to say, that the first two line items on the groom's virtual resume are as follows: Max/MSP chiptune externals and virtual circuit bending-enabled emulators.  Template-directed bytecode instrumentation for program visualization. 
 'Nuff said.

Laura and Kyle met at MIT.  They both worked in the Media Lab there, where, I still have no idea what they do. I do know two things.  One, they shared their first kiss in the elevator at the Media lab, and two, Kyle proposed four years later in that same elevator.  I instantly went for the elevator cake, but Laura reeled me back in, and pointed out that the Media Lab's elevator is nothing to write home about.  Instead, she and Kyle recommended that we use the Media Lab building as loose inspiration for the cake.  She also suggested that we make little frosting robots to top the cake.  Did I mention that I heart Laura?

As we began sketching, we copied the paneled texture of the atrium of the building, worked in the gear motif from their invitations (engineers, people) and even incorporated my first-ever cut out, overhanging cake, again, inspired by the Lab's architecture.  They suggested that the Cake-Bots be building their initials on top of the cake, as  MIT students are known for "hacks" (pranks), many of which involve building things on rooftops.
Laura even requested that her Cake-bot be holding her "favorite drill".  No kidding, she has a "favorite drill".  I'm liking this girl more and more.  When I asked her for a photo of her with the drill, she didn't have one, so she gave me the make and model of it, and sent me this little beauty of a pic instead.  It was entitled "best picture of me with a power tool". 
Now, I've recieved a ton of extranneous collateral from my clients in my day.  Photos of their pets for our frosting ASPCA doggies, photos of wedding dresses, centerpieces, and honeymood destinations, but none will ever delight me as much as this one.

With the bulk of the cake designed, we had one blank tier (by luck, or maybe subconciously by my own brute determination to share the elevator story with their guests).  So, I laid it out there once more.  With my best sales pitch, while whining a bit and bouncing up and down on my chair like a third grader who has the answer to the teacher's question, I once again suggested the elevator.  It would look like the button panel of the elevator, and we'd even carve out the cake behind the 3rd floor (Media Lab level) button. We'd put an LED light behind the number, printed on a sheet of vellum so that it lit up.  Not sure if it was my incessant nagging, or the LED light that did it, but it was a yes!

The wedding day came, and while setting up the cake, one of the Caterers asked about the meaning behind the Cake-bots.  I began to explain that the bride and groom worked in robotics, and turned to one of the bridesmaids (also from MIT) for verification.  She got as far as "well, robotics is a small part of what we do at the media lab..." before my brain shut down as though she were surely speaking another language that I will never understand. 

Suffice it to say...Smart People.
Many thanks to Shelley Paulson for the beautiful photos!!