All posts tagged hydrangea wedding cake

A Garden Wedding

Matt asked Alaina to marry him on Christmas day 2010. After being together for seven years and making a family of four with Matt’s daughter and Alaina’s daughter everyone was so excited… there’s going to be a wedding in the family!

A bird bath along the front path in garden.

The only thing we know is that they want to hold the wedding at my parents. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place with gardens all around the house, all that surrounded by natural growth and oak trees.

They were hoping for sometime in May. What?! Seems like such a short time. First let’s check with Grandma & Grandpa and see what they think. I knew they were thrilled to be asked, but then worried about getting things done around the yard. A lot had already been done in the garden for the 2010 Placer County Garden Tour on Mother’s Day. But knowing my mom and dad, they had a list of things to do for the coming spring and summer.

The bride and groom told me that they trusted me to plan the wedding setup and reception. Something many a mother of sons likes to hear! I’ll tell you it was a dream come true for me.

In our family we all pitch in and do what we can for events… My sister, Karen, is a fantastic cook and immediately offered to cater the wedding. I like to leave the food decisions to her and help her later with preparing. My older son Mike was going to design the wedding invitations and I was going to make the wedding cake. As time went on, everyone in the families got involved one way or another.

Well, thankfully it wasn’t too long before the date changed from May to July 23. Whew! Lots to do, but we just gained a few more months. It was going to be a quick and busy seven months!

Alaina bought her two sisters a peacock-feather hair accessory and the colors for the wedding came from them… peacock colors it would be. Turned out to be a great choice; it seemed that everything I looked at this spring and summer was available in peacock colors. I liked that because blue is not a color found in gardens much and these colors would show nicely among the greenery in the gardens.

Peacock feather and coordinating fabrics

Peacock feather inspiration with coordinating fabrics.

I was invited to go along to the bridal salon with the wedding party. The bride actually found the dress very quickly and looked fantastic in it. And it was on sale! She ordered the dress and set up a date for the first fitting. The bridesmaids weren’t so lucky; they are very petite girls and everything looked wrong. They would have to keep looking. I had been gathering stuff for awhile, so I took along fabric samples of the color choices and a sample of a wedding favor I had made (more about that later). The colors and favor were approved, so now the fun began.

All four of the girls’ finished dresses for the wedding.

The girls, aged seven and nine respectively, would need a dress. When we couldn’t find any appropriate dresses, I offered to make dresses for the girls. Two more dresses were needed for cousins that would be in the wedding too. As it happened the fabric was on sale and I could make all the dresses for the price of one! I made sure I stopped on my way home and picked up the fabric that day. The patterns would wait until a $.99 sale. The girls were growing so fast so I wouldn’t make the dresses until closer to the wedding.

I purchased enough extra fabric so that I could make table squares for all the different tables. White tablecloths would go underneath with peacock colors on top for pops of color. I would decide which color went where later.

Bird’s nests baskets for the junior bridesmaid and flower girl.

I found a great place online for some items I couldn’t find around here… I ordered three birds nests and some grapevines to make into bird’s nest baskets for the little girls to carry. We put flowers in 2 of them for the junior bridesmaids and petals in the basket for the flower girl. It took me some time to find a bird’s nest that the ring bearer would use to carry the rings in. But finally I did in a store called…wait for it… The Bird’s Nest!

Small bird’s nest for ring bearer.

I started my accessory shopping in my and my folk’s sheds. Lots of mason jars (my son thought that would be a good thing to serve the beer in), bottles, platters, anything that would work for a casual garden wedding. I wanted to create little vignettes with antiques all around the garden. For example, two old wooden ironing boards set up, end to end, for a salsa bar. An old iron used as a napkin weight with the tortilla chips served in a small galvanized washtub, set on top of a vintage printed tablecloth.

Thrift shops were my favorite wedding supply stores. I actually found 28 yards of fabric for $14 to use as table drapes! Michael’s craft store was where I found ideas for flowers. The spring silk hydrangeas were just the right colors so I bought a lot of them and used them in different ways. I took some apart and created flower balls to hang on a manzanita branch that came out of my parents yard. I would use some silk flowers for the buffet and on the arbor. The heat and sun would wilt real flowers too quickly.

It’s all in who you know… Between family members, friends and neighbors we came up with tables, shade awnings, wine barrels, wicker furniture sets and even a bar! We would have to rent round tables; both regular and high-top tables, white tablecloths for all tables, chairs, wine glasses, dinner plates and dessert plates.

Throughout spring I tried to picture the areas from the front yard around to the back yard we would be using and make a plan for each. This is what we ended up doing:

Chair, petals and the wedding program fan.

The ceremony took place on the front lawn. One hundred white folding chairs with an aisle down the middle and flower petals along each side of the aisle. The petals came from cutting up some of the silk hydrangeas. As the heat seemed to be a very real concern, the idea of the program fan became a necessity. That and some bottled water at the end of the aisle worked for the length of the ceremony. It was great that the sun was mostly behind the trees for the late afternoon ceremony. We needed an arbor of some sort and as time went on I was convinced that I could use the dead branches from the trees around the property to make something. We walked the property and the vacant one next door to see what was available and found plenty of possibilities.

The wedding arbor made from dried branches and decorated for the ceremony.

A month before the wedding I went up and tackled the arbor.  With branches, wire, and cutters I set to work creating an arbor for the ceremony. I had something in my head, but as I started collecting branches and laying it out I quickly decided to just let it do what it was going to do. I called it an arbor, but my mother called it an amphitheater. She’s probably more correct since it ended up being a shell shaped structure. I do have to say it fit the space well and blended with the background. That was the one thing I wanted it to be… open and airy, so as not to block the view.

Nine foot redwood bar.

The bar was around the side of the house from the front yard. My parent’s have neighbors who loaned us a nine-foot long bar, made of redwood and galvanized panels. I loved the rustic look! We set it up so the open part with the shelf was facing front. That worked best for a self-serve bar. We could keep the shelf stocked with the glasses and mason jars we were using for the drinks. Pony kegs set up on either end of the bar in galvanized tubs. The bottled water was kept in turquoise plastic tubs filled with ice. I wanted to soften up the wooden structure over the bar so I made the Martha Stewart tissue flower balls. For those of you out there that like to do these things… save those JoAnn’s coupons! They come in handy. I got the kits for the tissue flowers for 50% off. We hung the tissue balls and some paper lanterns, I found at the Dollar Store, varying their height for interest. Gave the area a nice festive look.

Lights strung over the rose garden surrounding the patio area.

Family members knew people who had strings of the larger outdoor light bulbs and we were able to use those to light up the patio area. That would be a dual purpose area. First set up for the buffet and then quickly emptied of the buffet tables and turned into the dance floor. The DJ would set up in a corner of this patio. The week before the wedding we had a work party to get things started and lighting was a big to do on that weekend. I couldn’t wait until dark to see what we accomplished. It was magical. I love lights and what they can do to any area!

flower pom-pom tree

Flower pom-pom manzanita tree on the gift table.

The gift table was set up along one of the paths that winds along the lawn area. A week before I had potted two manzanita branches that had broken off a bush the previous winter. I decorated one with the flowered pom-poms and placed it on the gift table, along with a white birdcage (I just happened to have!). The guests could place any gift cards in the birdcage.

Flower bombs wrapped in tissue.

I can’t remember where I learned of something called flower bombs. But it sounded perfect for inexpensive favors that suited a garden wedding. Just mix flower seeds, clay, compost and water and mix well. The mixture is then rolled into balls and placed in a paper egg carton, so they can dry thoroughly. When dry, we had a work party and wrapped the balls in tissue paper, tied with paper roses and a tag with directions that read “Toss, Water and Watch the Flowers Grow!” on one side and the bride’s and groom’s names and wedding date on the other. These went in a flat basket on a small table along the walk to the left of the chairs.

Lemonade, iced tea and cold water off the pathway in the front yard.

We had borrowed three wine barrels to use as drink stations around the yard. They were set up with glass beverage dispensers for lemonade, iced tea, cups, and napkins. Iced bottled waters in tubs also. An umbrella blocked the view of the neighbors driveway and created a cozy place for drinks.

Family photo tree of new family.

Another table was set up along a pathway to set a framed engagement photo with a canvas matting that people signed and left their good wishes on. I took another piece of the manzanita branch that had broken off the previous winter, placed it in a pot and hung photos of the newly joined family. The small frames were purchased from Michael’s for $1 each. I sprayed them dark brown and then antiqued them with a peacock blue wash. I then tied a peacock blue ribbon on the frame to hang it by. The photos I printed in black and white on parchment paper.

Potted creeper with peacock feather.

Lounge area with seating areas and high-top tables. The shade moved quickly into the area.

The Lounge area was on the lower side lawn, just below the bar. We set up a few high-top tables and wicker seating arrangements. We wanted people to stay in the front yard or along the side area prior to the ceremony. Earlier in the month we planted pots with a bright green creeping plant. We added peacock feathers for height and scattered glass beads around them. The huge borrowed awning fit perfectly on the back lawn. We were able to fit the six rented tables underneath. Those tables, along with some umbrella tables set up around the yard, gave us enough seating space for the guests.

Centerpieces were made up of jars, vases, candles and flowers.

The tables were each decorated with a brown fabric square topped with a leaf placemat, then an assortment of vases and jars with real flowers arranged in them. A couple of battery-powered pillar candles added for light later. Scattered around the vases and candles were glass beads in the peacock colors. The leaf placemat was fun to make. I found woven placemats at the Hospice thrift shop and thinking I had all those hydrangea leaves left on the otherwise empty stems to use, I decided to hot glue the leaves on the placemats and use them under the vases on the centerpiece. When I ran out of those leaves I went to the dollar store and bought greenery stems of larger leaves. I ended up with nine different placemats. We used them on each round table and the buffet table.

Huge awning with table and chairs on back lawn.

My sister-in-law and niece, who know a great floral designer, helped with all the florals by shopping at the flower mart and then arranging all the flowers. Including making the bouquets and boutonnieres. What an enormous help that was!

Once it was dark, the click-it-yourself photo booth would light up for lots of fun photos!

A photo booth was set up by a dear friend, who happens to be a photographer. We brought out an old area rug, set an antique chair on it with a sign saying “Photo Booth”. Lights were set up and props were placed nearby. A remote control made it possible for guests to sit in the chair and take the photo of themselves. It worked great and was a lot of fun for all! Up, around the other side of the house was where the port-a-potties were set up. A cute, old-fashioned, small white dresser with mirror was set up with nice glass pump bottles of hand sanitizer and lotion. Solar lights and a string of dragonfly lights were placed along the path so it was lit in the dark.

Buffet and appetizer tasting months before the wddding.

The menu for the wedding buffet was decided by a tasting my sister set up in January. Both families were invited to taste and give there opinion. Finger foods had been requested as the wedding was after lunch but before dinner. Not that the guests wouldn’t be able to eat enough for the evening. That is never a problem at our events. We passed out cards so we could keep any suggestions for later. We originally thought we’d have a couple tastings, as the kids decided what they wanted. But it turned out that, with very little changes, everyone loved the first menu my sister came up with. Gotta like that.

Wedding cake on flower pot stand.

The last thing to finish was the wedding cake. To go with the garden theme I made a cake stand from a large terracotta flowerpot turned upside down up and glued a terracotta tray to that. I glued some silk leaves to the top and was ready for the cake.

To make things easier on myself I made the gum paste hydrangeas and leaves weeks before the wedding. My first plan was just to just make a bouquet of hydrangeas as the cake topper. But I had a request from the bride to please make lobsters for the cake topper. Lobsters hold a special meaning for the two of them. I guess it’s a reference from a Friends episode.

I wasn’t sure how to make red lobsters fit in with the colors I was working with! So, I did some research. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when I saw a photograph of a rare blue lobster! Now I knew what to do. In my research I had come across a clipart photo of two lobsters with their antennae joined in a heart shape…perfect.

blue lobster wedding cake topper

Rare blue lobsters fit the colors for this wedding and was a special request for a cake topper.

Since the weather was so hot I did not put the wedding cake outside until we were ready to cut the cake.

Right before bringing the cake out I stuck the heart-shaped antennae to the lobster cake topper. It worked!

As exhausting as this wedding was I loved doing it. The kids looked so happy and the guests had a great time.

The next day the kids came and joined in with the cleanup before leaving for Tahoe.

I could not have done this without lots of help from family and friends.

Thank you all!