fireflies and cottonwood

our wedding blog

Books as centerpieces February 24, 2009

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Walk into our apartment, or talk to us for very long at all, and you will realize that books are a major part of our lives, and have been for years.  (Matt, feel free to jump in with a post about the “packing for Canada” story.)  During our courtship, we talked about books, recommended and shared books, and filled our e-mails with references to favorite books.  Many a subject line was a quote from a favorite character or story.  (Again, Matt, feel free to go through the old e-mails for a historical post giving some examples.)


I think I saw an example in an issue of Martha Stewart weddings of a ring bearer’s pillow made from a stack of old books, tied with beautiful ribbon.  This immediately struck a chord with me.


Not only are our shelves filled with books, but I also end up decorating with me.  First, because we have so many.  But also, because we have some gorgeous ones.  A tiny collection of green and golden bound books on the early history of Christianity makes a sweet stack against a gospel hymnal from the turn of the century.  A third grade reader from 1867 supports a French copy of a life of Christ.  The French book is also small, and heavily decorated; the cover is broken so I’ve tied a pale green ribbon around it, like wrapping a gift, to hold it together.


And I have to share the title of the third grade reader before I continue. _Third Grade_, mind you:  “The National Third Reader: Containing Exercises in Articulation, Accent, Emphasis, Pronunciation, and Punctuation; Numerous and Progressive Exercises in Reading; and Notes Explanatory of Different Words and Phrases, on the Pages Where They Occur.”


I love the way the ribbon looks on the French book– it is the same shade of green as the cover, and the satin is such a nice contrast with the worn nature of the book.


We’ve already described how we want to decorate with luminaries we make ourselves, and thousands of candles.  We also want to use old and antique books in our centerpieces.  We have a great florist, and when I mentioned this idea to her, she was happy for us and even gave me some more ideas. (Good florist, right, to not push flowers as the “only” possibility for centerpieces?)


I imagine that the muted colors of these old books will go beautifully with the candlelight.  We also intend to be reusing books, and can offer them as take-away favors for guests, if they like.  By gathering books over the year, often for less than a dollar a piece (or free), we also intend to save, instead of spending a lot on fresh flowers.


(Minor detour: I adore fresh flowers, and Jane Winter at Wildflowers has sent me the most heavenly proposal for my personal flowers and the few arrangements we will be using… more on that later.  But we will have lush, unexpected, and amazing flowers.  Just not as many.)


The entry into the reception space is at the top of a staircase, in a sort of foyer before the room, before a beautiful window.  Jane and I imagine that I’ll find two old pewter vases or containers in the meantime, and they will be filled with two old-fashioned arrangements that spill out onto the table.  The arrangements will be amidst a stack of old, beautiful books.  Imagine a stack of large books, with one floral arrangement to the side of the stack, and one on top.  Smaller books can support picture frames with family photos and more candles.  Rich colors, lots of textures, and candlelight.


Similarly, many tables will have stacks of smaller books, with arrangements of candles.  Our current idea is to use writers instead of table numbers– each table would be a different writer; when guests find their name, it will come with a quote from that writer (on love!) instead of their table number.


I should do some mock ups and photograph them to show exactly what I mean, but I found a few examples that are in the right vein online.




Notice how the texture of the tablecloth is beautiful, but in a similar color scheme to the books, the ribbon, and the amazing bouquet of mistletoe.  Bouquet of mistletoe– how amazing is that!  I would just wave it around all night for kisses.




Ooh, look!  Beautiful books, a lovely blue and cream color scheme, and a tiny arrangement in an old pewter container.



If you have ideas for books, or places to get old books… let me know!  We’ll start collecting for all of our DIY wedding decorations soon.

Both images from


“Full court dress with feathers and trains” February 23, 2009

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My gorgeous ring has inspired new dress dreams.



Technically, this dress is from the 1930s, but I will call it “Edwardian revival.”  Look at the sleeves, and the amazing skirt.  Sigh.



According to “Victorian web,” this lady was attending court, in response to an invitation that required: “The Dress Regulations are: Ladies: Full Court dress with feathers and trains. Gentlemen: Full Court dress.”  

Do you think I could get away with asking that on our wedding invitation?  😉



I think this third one is my favorite.  The sleeves are amazing, as is the slight train.  I also love the silhouette, and the draping of the waist and around the shoulders.

First image from , third from


Reusing is better than recycling February 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 4:37 pm
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As Matt likes to remind me, because “reuse” comes before “recycling,” it’s even better.  My new ring is a delightful way of reusing– it’s an antique.  We don’t know exactly which year, but I think turn of the century.  It definitely reminds me of Edith Wharton, of Gatsby parties, of a grandmother’s jewelry box and dressing table.  We found it online, and it was owned by a small antique business in Idaho; when Matt called the woman to order it, she reassured him that she was going “straight to the bank” to get it out of the vault and mail it to us straightaway.  Ahh, I love that small town generosity in doing business.


I can no longer find a photo of it online, so I’ll try to describe it and post photos later.  The top, which sits on my hand, is made of four aquamarines, pale blue, which make a square shape.  A small diamond is in the center.  On the two sides of the setting, filagrees create a flower on each side, with swirls and tiny arches.  The filagree also goes along the bottom of the square, so it sits up on my finger.  It is very sparkly and delicate.


I love that it belonged to someone before me, and imagine maybe the parties and gatherings she attended with this ring.  How long did it sit in a jewelry box unused, waiting to sparkle again?  Who gave it to her, and for what occasion?


At the beginning of a New Year January 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 9:31 am
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We’ve been thinking for a long while that we would need to move our wedding back from this summer into next winter, for a number of reasons. It became my unofficial task to make the formal announcement, and I have been dithering, since part of the delay has been wanting to make sure we can do this wedding safely, on our own terms, with our own money (for the most part). Well, I just got my first full-salaried paycheck, after dealing with the dreadful bureaucracy of the New York State Education Department for a year-and-a-half. So, I am feeling bold enough to say: our new wedding date is January 2, 2010.


What does this mean? It means that my knees will likely be cold, and I will definitely be wearing a twill jacket, for any outdoor photographs. According to the almanac, the average high temperature on a January 2nd in St. Louis is 38°, and the average low temperature is 22°. It means that we will be spending our Christmas with our families and friends in the St. Louis area, with the holiday drifting into our wedding preparations. Hopefully it will not mean major inconveniences for our guests, scheduling their holidays and travel for our wedding.


I was recently made aware that the tradition with weddings was to have them begin at the half-hour, so that the new married life together would begin with the minute hand of the clock on the upswing. Well, we’re going to have our whole first married year on the upswing of the new year. It is an invigorating prospect. It seems like songs like “This Will Be Our Year” might have increased prominence in our wedding…


Cue the groom’s song January 30, 2009

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I found a new blog today; the writer is planning a wedding (or living on the outskirts of the planning) with his fiancee.  In one great post, he describes why he should get to come down the aisle to “Eye of the Tiger.”


Here’s an excerpt (fifth entry down):


“[Eye of the Tiger is] all about rising above adversity (dating) defeating a bitter rival (psycho ex-boyfriend) and ultimately triumphing when no one thought you could (getting married means I’m finally mature, right?).

The way I picture it is the second the first note blasts from the speakers, I kick open the doors and come trotting inside the room. As I make my way down the aisle, maybe I point at a couple people who believed in me, then get some high fives as I take my place up front.”


Awesome.  Groom’s often have cakes (Matt refuses, insisting–correctly–that the actual wedding cake is his, too), why not a special song that captures the moment for them?  I’d like to know what everyone’s song would be… this would be a good dinner party game.  For us, “Eye of the Tiger” is already taken, as it’s my thesis-writing song.


Beautiful beige January 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 10:06 pm
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It might be these bright winter days with no snow, but lots of light that are making beige and “neutral” colors seem so appealing.

Look at these amazing tulle ball gowns for lights that Seeking Everyday Beauty made:


Here’s a close up:


And guess what they’re made of?


Old sewing patterns.  Beautiful, worn, patterned pieces of tissue.  One of my classmates last year used sewing patterns in her artwork, and in her senior thesis installation, which was a series of mixed-media paintings and writings that focused, in part, on a woman’s sense of self.  Patterns for women’s clothing are such a great medium to use for that kind of exploration.  But I’m loving the beige, the soft fullness, and all the possibilities– I imagine wrapping gifts with the patterns, and using pale colored ribbon to finish them off.


A simple Esty search for “beige” reaped more beautiful things:









I’m tempted to keep deep lapis as the dress color for the lady bridespeople, and accessorize them in all shades of creamy pale.


Ritzybee had an entire inspiration board around beige:


I adore the giant fabric flower on the shoulder of that gown.  I also think, with my basic sewing skills, I could make flowers like that from cheap cast-offs of pale, creamy fabric from fabric stores.  If they don’t turn out well enough to use for the wedding, I could still decorate little blank books, drawer pulls, and gifts with them.

PS: My friend Shelly contributed her ever-wise and dashing two cents to the question of registry inserts–go back to that post to read her comment.  We should all be so lucky as I am, to have someone as no-nonsense as her around to prick the faux-bubbles of constricting etiquette.


the E-ring blues January 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 1:42 pm
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We’re looking for a new engagement ring.  As much as we loved the company who made it, and their values, and the ring itself– we had many problems with it.  After only two months, the emerald came loose; we sent it back and they re-set it.  Two weeks later, it was loose again.  They redesigned the setting, and sent back a new ring.  Finally, the third ring broke– the prong that held the emerald in place sheared away from the shank.

The company was of course apologetic and totally ready to fix it again.  But in the last eleven months since we’ve been engaged, it’s been in the shop for two.  As I told the company: “I just can’t get a fourth ring from you, open it up, put it for a fourth time, and not worry that it will last until our wedding.”  

They felt bad, we feel bad, and they are sending us a refund.  Which means: I have no engagement ring.  I’m currently scouring online antique stores– we would love to “reuse” an older ring.  Old rings are so romantic, and when I see them on trays in antique stores, I always feel sad that they aren’t being worn daily and loved.  An older ring would also go along with our green impulses.

For a morning, I thought I had the problem solved– when I was in high school, my parents gave me a beautiful topaz ring with a fairly large light blue stone.  I thought, “Ooh– we could get an antique mounting and re-set my old topaz in it; that would be lovely.”  I went looking for the ring all in my vanity drawers.  Finally, I remembered: the ring was stolen in a burglary when I was living in St. Louis.  The burglars also took my grandmother’s engagement ring– that was the major loss, and it still makes me feel bad.

For the time being, my left hand feels especially bare.