Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Made with Love: DIY Wedding Projects

To save money and add a bit of personality to our wedding, we (and by we, I mean I, haha) made a few of the elements of our wedding. I used to be a big reader of the website Wedding Bee before I was engaged and it's a great resource for crafty touches to personalize for your wedding. Lots of brides make their own bouquets and flower arrangements from fabric and paper flowers, even Coke bottle caps and antique broaches! Stepping away from the traditional florals can be really stunning. I love flowers, but I know from reading Wedding Bee just how expense flowers can be. I wasn't even going to have a bouquet, but Felix felt strongly about that one. He called and ordered one of my favorite flower, yellow roses, a day or two before the wedding. For Felix and our fathers, I made boutonnierres from a gorgeous blue organza. With blue being our loosely adopted color scheme, they made our important men stand out. I used blue pearl beads to accent the centers. 

Felix's stepdad, Chitbodhi
Felix and his dad, Jina
I used the same method with a light pink organza to make a single flower for my hair clip and 3 for Jeny's headband. My mom and Felix's mom had no desire for a corsage, so they went flowerless.

I've tried taking better pictures of my last DIY project, but this is pretty much the only picture that turned out well. Jeny and I glittered our heels. She did silver glitter to go with her blue dress and I did blue glitter.

Creative, Nontraditional Wedding Guestbooks

We decided on 2 different types of "guestbooks." One was essentially a communal painting and the other is a set of anniversary cards that we will eventually put into a book.

We bought a large rectangular canvas, acrylic paints, and some paintbrushes to set up at the reception. We both loved the saying, "Home is wherever I am with you," so we ordered the saying in vinyl letters and affixed them to one corner of the canvas. That phrase is particularly fitting given our long distance relationship and the ocean that separates our two families and upbringings. As long as I am with Felix, I will always be home.

Chitbodhi, my friend from language school, Flor, and her husband, Aria

Felix's cousins, Nina and Levin
We asked our guests to paint whatever they wanted onto the canvas and make sure the whole thing was covered. The next morning, after the paint had dried, we peeled off the vinyl letters and exposed the words.

Currently, it is hanging above our couch and is a daily reminder of the love and joy we experience on that day.

At the reception, we handed out colored pens and these cards as part of our second guestbook. I ordered some blank solid colored cards and patterned envelopes from time2split on Etsy. She was fantastic to work with. The sizes of cards that she offered were a bit too small for what we wanted. I messaged her through Etsy and she was so friendly and helpful. She agreed to make a custom listing for me with the size and colors we wanted. The patterns are fun and happy.

I numbered each envelope with a year between 1 and 40. Each year on our anniversary, Felix and I will open that year's card and read the message left for us by a loved one. Unfortunately we still have a few cards left over, but I think they aren't until somewhere around year 30, so we have some time to figure out what to do with those. Ha, ha! I'd like to have some of my relatives write in some of the cards, but I don't know how they'd feel about being asked to do that after the wedding.

Right now they're sitting in a stack on our bookshelf waiting to be put in a book. It's tempting to read them because the envelopes aren't sealed, but we haven't peeked in a single one!

We've already picked out the book style we want to put them in, but it's a bit pricey for something we don't have to have right now, so it's on hold.

They are the same book, but different sizes and one has painted details.

Custom Wedding guest book wood rustic wedding guest book album bridal shower engagement anniversary- "Love Birds, Tree"
Custom Wedding guest book wood rustic wedding guest book album bridal shower engagement anniversary- "Love Birds, Tree" - Hand painted
I knew we wouldn't ever look at signatures in a traditional guestbook and Felix wasn't a fan of the thumbprint trees. These two "guestbooks" will help us remember our guests and be something we will actually enjoy and appreciate for years to come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Speeches at the Reception

As I think I mentioned previously, the Eulenmühle is a small local winery. We knew we would be eating in the wine cellar-esque dining room and, depending on the weather, we could move outside to the large patio. 

Since we didn't have wedding colors per se, the Eulenmühle went with what they wanted. From this photo, you can't see the table where the immediate family/wedding couple sat, but you can see how much beauty and character the room has.

Our piggy made it over to the reception and found a home with my bouquet, a yellow rose candle (no idea where it came from) and a "Just Married" balloon that someone brought from the wedding after us at the Rathaus. Silly wedding guests. :)

The obvious highlight of my day was the fact that Felix and I became man and wife. However, the moment captured below has a special warm place in my heart. The couple in the photo are Helmut and Marie-Luise. Marie-Luise is the sister of Felix's grandma. I had met her probably 10 times or so before our wedding day and every time she came off as steely and unfriendly, cold and grumpy. We have a really strong language barrier between us and had really never had a conversation since she doesn't speak English. It was more of a vibe I got from her than anything her actions told me. Anyway, at the start of our reception, she stood up to make a speech about how much she appreciated the line on our invites that said, "Come and celebrate love, friendship, happiness, and family with us." She said most people forget about the roll of the overall family and how a wedding is the joining of two families. That single sentiment really struck a chord with her, warmed her heart, and made her so excited to celebrate with us. Hearing such warm and loving sentiments from her brought tears to my eyes and I was so thrilled that she was so happy about the occasion. Since our wedding, she has really warmed to me and I no longer get that cold, stand offish vibe from her. It's wonderful.

As nervous as I was earlier that morning, my nerves came back ten-fold as soon as Marie-Luise's speech was over and I realized I had committed to giving a speech in both German and English. I had forgotten about it in all of the excitement of the day. At this moment, I wanted to throw up.

It was really important for me to give my speech in German for several reasons. We see Manisha's side of the family at least once a week. Jina's side, however, we only see a few times a year. Most of Jina's side at our wedding are people I hadn't seen since January, before I even began language school. They hadn't really even heard me talk or had a conversation with me. Despite this fact, both sides of Felix's family have ALWAYS been kind and welcoming towards me. They've made me feel loved and like I was a part of the family from day 1. You don't always find that when you meet your significant's family and it's even more difficult when there's a communication barrier. It was important to me to take this opportunity to express my love and gratitude. I will put the speech at the bottom of this post for anyone who wants to read it.

One of my other favorite parts of the day was this overwhelming, heart warming applause I received at the conclusion of my speech. This was the most anyone had ever heard me speak in German and I think I impressed them. I'm not including it, but we have another photo where Iris, Felix's aunt, literally climbed over Manisha and Felix in her cocktail dress just to give me a hug because she was so proud of me. You can see her sitting next to me in the picture of Felix giving his speech.

Of course I sat down immediately relieved that I got through my speech without stumbling over my words only to pop back up because I remembered I needed to give my speech in English as well for my family. I talk fast on a normal day, but I guess I must have been super speedy because as soon as I finished, everyone cracked up. Manisha still teases me about it.

Of course Felix decided to freely speak instead of writing anything down. It was not eloquent and poorly worded, but it was cute and sweet. His mom even corrected him during it because of a grammatical error. It was funny. :) He had the pleasure of explaining our guest books to everyone and instructing them that cards were to go in the big, blue pig.

Jewli's speech:

Welcome and thanks for coming.
I just wanted to take this opportunity, while we have you all in one room, to thank you all for the support you have given us over the years. It is always nerve-wracking when you meet your significant other’s family and I was even more nervous because I couldn’t speak a word of German. But you have always made me feel welcome, loved, and supported. I am truly lucky to be marrying into such a wonderful family. As my German gets better, I hope we can get to know one another better.
Please eat and drink as much as you like and thank you for celebrating this day with us.

Willkommen und Danke für euer Kommen.
Ich möchte die Gelegenheit nutzen, während wir euch alle in einem Raum haben, um allen für die Unterstützung, die ihr uns über die Jahre gegeben habt, zu danken. Es ist immer nervenaufreibend, wenn man die Familie seines Zukünftigen trifft und ich war sogar noch nervöser, weil ich nicht Deutsch sprechen konnte. Aber ihr habt mir immer das Gefühl gegeben willkommen, geliebt und unterstützt zu werden. Ich bin wirklich glücklich, in solch eine wunderbare Familie zu heiraten. Jetzt als mein Deutsch besser wird, hoffe ich wir können einander noch besser kennenlernen.
Bitte esst und trinkt so viel ihr möchtet und wir danken euch, dass diesen Tag mit uns feiert.

The Best of Our Photo Shoot

This would be one area where I kind of wish we had a photographer who could direct us a little better with posing, but we still got some great photos. Felix was nervous and excited so he just kept putting his arms around me and looking at me, which is why we don't have more photos of us both acting normal. haha. 

We love this photo because of the little man in the shoe figure in the left of the picture. He's so cute. :)

The bright yellow in the background of these pictures is actually a yellow trailer on the Eulenmühle property. We both loved the bold color and with the ridiculously bright sun, I think it made for some of the best photos.

The obligatory wedding band shot. Our bands certainly aren't that shiny anymore! I particularly love my nail polish in this shot. ;)

This was Felix's idea, to stick his head through the grapevines. He's such a goofball. :) It's one of my absolute favorite characteristics.

We were trying to get action shots of us actually running between the rows of grapes. Yeah, they didn't turn out that great.

This has become our favorite photo from the whole day. This and the one from my first wedding post with the balcony photo are my top two of all time. My mom says this one looks more bridal than the one from the balcony because of the bouquet. I have to agree.

And with that, we'll move on to the beginning of the reception and the speeches.

Verlassen Unserer Trauung und Unserer Sektempfang - Exiting the Ceremony and Our Sektempfang

After the ceremony finished, our guests formed lines at the front of the room to give us hugs and congratulations. Herr Scherer started corralling people towards the door. Our ceremony had run over and the next wedding was eager to get started.

This is Felix and Nicola, our awesome photographer.

I think at this point we were looking at each other and saying, "We did it!!!" I just love my awkward pose. I am nothing but awkward. :) This is a good time to mention my "something"s for the wedding. My shoes and nails were my something blue. My something old was also a something borrowed, my Grandma Bass' bracelet that my grandfather had given her many moons ago. My other somethings borrowed were the purse in the photo below. It was made from my Aunt Maggie's wedding dress for my cousin Meridith to use at her wedding. I also wore Meridith's garter, but there are no photos of that. My something new could have been anything, my dress, shoes, wedding band, bouquet, hair flower... I never picked something specific. I wasn't really concerned about having all of the categories, but it worked out perfectly.

Another surprise of the day! I hadn't even considered arranging any sort of a send off. We weren't having a big send off or leaving straight for a honeymoon. It just wasn't on my radar. We think Ranva arranged it, but we never really found out. As we walked out of the Rathaus, our guests showered us with flower petals and confetti. It was wonderful.

The folds of my dress and the neckline itself trapped a lot of the flower petals. This is the face I made as I felt the petals shimmy down my body under my dress. Ha ha!

Manisha had arranged a Sektempfang, or Champagne Reception, for between the ceremony and the reception. I hadn't ever heard of this, but apparently it's common practice here. The idea is that the people who come to the ceremony or just stop by after to congratulate the couple can also partake in the celebration. I think it's also popular because couples that have a second church ceremony want to do a mini celebration after the legal ceremony. Some people drank straight Sekt and others mixed theirs with orange juice.

A brief rundown of the characters in these photos:
Left to right --- Manisha (Felix's mom), Ralf (Manisha's brother-in-law/Felix's uncle), Nadine (Ralf's daughter/Felix's cousin), Sandra (Jen's girlfriend), Jen's back (Clemen's son/Felix's "cousin")

My new Schwiegermutter, mother-in-law!

Toasting the newly weds! That big blue pig is our card box. Nadine said she saw one at a friend's wedding and we loved the idea. Iris and Nadine made him out of paper-mache for us.

My sister is just so gorgeous and there were so many great pictures of her from the wedding. Here is one.

In this photo, my parents, sister, and I are talking with my friend Flor from language school and her husband Aria. They were the only friends I ended up having at the wedding, but I was so grateful they could come so last minute. We were able to invite them when my other friends backed out.

One of my favorite photos from the day: Felix with his biological parents. :) Felix grew up having lots of parental figures and we love all of them, but these are the two that started it all.

And with the sekt almost gone, we headed over to the reception site to start taking pictures there.

Unsere Trauung - Our Wedding Ceremony

In the Rathaus, there is a large room where they conduct the wedding ceremonies. I was concerned when we first decided to marry in Germany that the room would be sterile and cold. I was also a bit afraid it would be too small. Thankfully on one of our many meetings with Herr Scherer, he allowed us to visit the room so we could get an idea of what it would be like on the day.

They don't have any of the traditional fanfare that goes with a church wedding, so we imposed what we could when we could. We had all of the guests go in and have a seat first and then Jeny walked in by herself. Next Felix escorted Namira, his sister. And finally my dad and I walked in followed by Herr Scherer.

My dad gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek before taking a seat next to my mom. 

It's funny, but in most of the photos of the four of us sitting up at the front of the room, 2 or more of us have our eyes closed and look asleep. These are the best photos of the four of us.

Here you can see Herr Scherer and our translator Petra Barclay-Jans beginning the ceremony. We had Nelson video tape the ceremony, but we haven't yet watched it.

He pronounced us man and wife before the ring exchange. This is our first kiss as a married couple.

Herr Scherer interrupted his readings to tell us that someone had a special surprise for us. It was a beautiful Irish song performed by Clemens. He is the husband of Felix's mom's cousin. (Did you follow that?)
He has been incredibly kind, welcoming, and accommodating since the very first time I met him. Every time we see one another and I ask how he is doing, he says "I am always doing well when I see you." He's a sweetheart. Little did we know, this was only the first surprise would have for us that day. I've included the lyrics that he e-mailed me.

Irish wedding song by Ian Betteridge

Here they stand, hand in hand.
They exchanged wedding bands.
Today is the day of all their
dreams and their plans.
And all of their loved ones
are here to say,
God bless this couple who marry today. Chorus

In good times and bad times
In sickness and health,
May they know that riches
Are not needed for wealth.
And help them face problems
they'll meet on their way.
Oh, God bless this couple who marry today.

May they find peace of mind

comes to all who are kind.
May the rough times ahead

become triumphs in time.
May their children

be happy each day.
Oh, God bless the family who started today. (Chorus)

As they go may they know

ev'ry love that has shown
And as life it gets shorter

may their feelings grow.
Wherever they travel,

wherever they stay,
May God bless this couple who marry today. (Chorus)

After the beautiful song, it was time for us to sign our lives away. Even though having witnesses was an optional choice, if you choose to have them, they must sign as well. To add another layer to this, if we decide to divorce (in Germany) sometime down the road, God forbid, we would need both of our witnesses to be present in order to do so. We would also need to be legally separated for a year before the government would even let us divorce. These are things I learned in language school.



At the conclusion of the ceremony, Herr Scherer congratulated us again and gifted us with a bottle of wine. We are supposed to drink the wine when we are ridiculously happy or very angry. Either way, we are supposed to drink the wine and think back to our wedding day and the love we share.  We haven't enjoyed the wine yet. We were gifted so many bottles of wine that we think we'll save this one for our 1 year anniversary.