This real wedding is so darling ... more than that, it had so much thought and meaning behind it! Amber and Nate focused on creating a wedding that was environmentally friendly and as green as possible. I love that!! I also adore their theme: Vintage Library. The yellow and blue details are perfection and as always, the clicks by Two Birds Photography show it off in the most amazing way.
Our florist didn't just create the floral arrangements - she and her team managed the decor for our whole event and set a cozy, vintage mood for a fraction of the cost of any other company I had researched. Lindsay of Bella Flora was completely on board with our vision of soft, simple, single-flower arrangements of baby's breath, carnations, spray roses, and football mums, and was happy to use everything we had collected and created to decorate the reception hall. She worked astilbe and ranunculus (my favorite flowers) and scrap lace from my dress into my bouquet, and used beautiful vintage canning jars that belonged to my great-grandmother to create our centerpieces.
Nate and I are avid readers and collectors of old thrift store books and I worked at a library for several years in my youth, so we chose a vintage library theme that felt like us. Most importantly, it allowed us to have a green, eco-friendly affair. I’m an environmental scientist and we both volunteer with land conservation groups and love the outdoors, so an environmentally responsible approach was critical for us. The vintage and DIY aspects allowed us to have total control about the kinds of materials we used and their sources and we spent an insane amount of our lives in thrift stores, flea markets, and online finding all of the vintage items we used to set the mood. We spent over a year creating many paper and book-related crafts in preparation for the wedding and our posse of incredibly talented friends just brought more amazing details to the table.
In the end, it felt truly rewarding to come out of the happiest day of our lives still feeling like we did right by the environment and orchestrated an event that felt personal, warm, and overflowing with love and joy. Even though the things we crafted may not have been perfect, we didn’t feel like we were denied anything and it was wonderful to look around the room at all the things we had made and be surrounded by the people who helped make them.
We looked at DOZENS of potential photographers but so many either seemed to be taking their shots based on the Playbook of World's Cheesiest Wedding Photos or had prices that seemed very inflated for what they were bringing to the table. I stumbled across Two Birds Photography in a forum by chance and we fell in love as soon as we reviewed their portfolio. Their photos were warm, alive - they really captured the spirit of a start of a life together. Once we met with Jake, we knew they were they were the ones we wanted to photograph our wedding. He was so down-to-earth, talented, and really understood what we wanted for our wedding. Plus, he even took photos with a vintage camera for some gorgeous film shots that meshed so well with our vintage theme. There was so much happening the day of our wedding, we really felt relieved to know Jake was at the helm and capturing it all for us to re-live later!
We wanted to support small business to the extent possible and decided to work with Dawn of Dawn's Custom Cakes, who works out of her home in Griffith, Indiana. We were inspired by a robin's egg-esque cake design in a Martha Stewart Wedding magazine and Dawn recreated it almost to a T. It was delicious to boot (banana cake frosted with vanilla bean buttercream and filled with caramel buttercream and eclair filling). Nate actually created the bookcase cake stand I envisioned in my head by staining pine boxes we bought at a craft store and then filling them with thrifted books. We re-purposed the cake stand by stacking them and using them as a bookcase in our bedroom.
Nestled in a forest preserve and crisscrossed with rivers, the location was perfect for our autumn wedding and meant we needed very little exterior decoration. It married our love of the outdoors while the hall itself provided a perfect blank slate to compose a cozy, old library vibe. As part of the Will County Forest Preserve District and a green design building, the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center itself boasts strong environmental policies and the venue coordinator was very accommodating and supportive in all our requests to help us have the most eco-friendly event possible. It also offered a beautiful outdoor ceremony location and an gorgeous enclosed reception hall protected from the elements.
Our amazing friends Annie and her husband Dave helped design our invitations. They letterpressed the invitation suite on cotton paper (a renewable resource) using a 100-year old letterpress they had purchased while planning their own wedding, and we assembled the invites to look like library books, complete with a binding, library pocket and customized seal. My best friend Alexis, a talented graphic designer, helped to prepare our save the dates, the menus, and basically every other printed item during our wedding. She created the silhouettes that were used on our invitations and in our programs for the whole wedding party and which were used by our dear friend Carol to handcraft and bind our guestbook.
My greatest gift to Nate was that we didn't have to write our own vows. As loving a man as he is to me in our day-to-day life, a gushing, effusive well of emotion in public he is not. So we decided to personalize our ceremony in every way possible by making sure each song and each reading expressed our love for one another while using the same vows we had heard all our lives. My uncle, Kris, who was there from the start of our relationship, was ordained online to perform our ceremony. We choose "Everyday" by Buddy Holly for our bridesmaids' walk and "Grow Old With You" from The Wedding Singer for my aisle walk with my father. The ringbearer was our English mastiff, Buddy (holding the rings on his back in a vintage book hollowed out with a secret compartment), and we were treated to a beautiful rendition of "First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes performed by my cousin Amanda and Uncle Erik (on guitar) and to a sweet reading from my Uncle Kris' wife, Beth, of an adaption of the children's book "I Like You" by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. After we were actually married, they played "Happy Together" by the Turtles for our walk as a couple back down the aisle - my mother's favorite song in the whole world. She started crying again as soon as she heard it!
I would really encourage brides and grooms to consider the environment when planning their weddings. I know it can be hard to see past the day itself and you're just doing whatever you can to craft a beautiful event, but there is often so much waste that goes into a wedding. It's just one day in your life together but the environmental toll can continue long after the day is done. Go simple, modern, vintage, or minimalist - any of these routes will help you reduce your impact on the environment and will likely save you money. So many people told us how blown away they were by our wedding and yet we spent less than $15k on the entire affair and managed to keep things very green.
Also, I highly encourage couples to "pay it forward" and give away anything they created or bought for their wedding. I plan to give away almost every single thing we made and thrifted for our wedding so that they can have a second (and hopefully, third, fourth, and fifth!) chance to make someone else's dream day come true.
Photographer: Two Birds Photography
Flowers: Bella Flora
Beauty: Samee Schaap
Caterer: Chef by Request
Wedding Cake: Dawn's Custom Cakes
Favors: Soy Candles
Event Rentals: M&M Event Rentals