A Glow

I don’t know why I remember it this way, but years ago, on the Rue de Bouchers in Brussels, I recall the quality of light at dusk with all the little cafe lights strung between the buildings. I think I’m a sucker for a cliche because when I look at pictures of Beenhouwersstraat, there are no such lights to be seen. But in my head, it’s a lovely image, probably cobbled together from the tourist memories of many great meals.

There is nothing wrong with garden-variety twinkle lights, but somehow, they just don’t compare to the romance of big bulbs. How gorgeous do they make the scene below (although admittedly, a picture’s appeal is largely to do with who’s in it and that is one beautiful bride wearing one smashing frock):

I think that you get more refinement with cafe bulbs than you do with twinkle lights, which can fall victim to a sort of college-dorm-room sort of vibe. The other advantage of cafe lights is that while I would argue that twinkle lights are much better en masse, you can get by with just a couple strands of cafe lights. Plus, as we found when we cleaned up our backyard–which previously had no lighting to speak of (sitting at the table was akin to sitting around a dying campfire)–one string of incandescent cafe bulbs was enough not only to see, but cast everyone in cinema-romantic light:

That’s not daytime or dusk. That is straight-up nighttime–we do get minimal help from the lights being on in our apartment, but honestly, the cafe string really is that bright. We bought ours from christmaslights.com. Even though it’s less green (and who are we kidding, here–I board a plane like, 6 times a year; my carbon footprint is the size of Canada), I strongly recommend incandescent over LED, the latter of which are white and institutional. And if you buy a string, I also highly recommend you spring for a set of replacement bulbs. The bulbs are easy to swap out and trust me, you’ll be doing that fairly often. Nature of the beast.

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Vintage Stamps: Vive la France!

In honor of my friend’s upcoming wedding next week in France (natch), this stamp vignette is French-themed–perfect for a destination wedding, a wedding with a Parisian flair, or for those of you who are just good ol’ Francophiles:

From L-R: (1957 Lafayette Bicentennial) Scott 1097; (French Alliance) Scott 1753; (Liotard) *part of a set of a bunch of different artists of different nationalities (and Liotard was technically Swiss-French, FYI) Scott 1530-37; (Lafayette Bicentennial) Scott 1716; (blue upper Lafayette, 1952) Scott 1010; (Matisse lower) Scott 1259

You could also add this French Revolution 45-cent stamp (Scott C120):

And this France stamp from the “Overcome Nations” series that was produced in 1943 (although being as such, it is therefore somewhat hard to find; Scott 915):

There is also a 6-cent Marquette stamp (Scott 1356), which is lovely in its own right, but it is green and somewhat outside of the whole tricolor idea that the rest of the French-themed stamps have. Still, you might look it up, just in case. Another option would be to look up Mary Cassatt–technically, Cassatt was an American, but she lived much of her adult life in France and her paintings are often categorized under French Impressionism. USPS has produced stamps commemorating Cassatt twice–a 5-cent stamp in 1966 (Scott 1322) and again in 2003 with a 37-cent stamp (Scott 3804-07).

For more on vintage stamps, see my old post on the Basics of Finding and Using Vintage Stamps.

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Big Image, Big Impact

Don’t get me wrong–I love a photobooth. They’re fun, they give people something to do, and they furnish both the couple and their guests with great souvenirs. 

But. After having been to a million weddings, the photobooth thing is losing its chic novelty streak and becoming a cliche. Therein lies the question of the day: how does one make the old new again? 

And you can add to this our issue which is that we are doing this whole thing on a tight budget and so any photobooth we have has to be DIYd because we can’t afford a company to come in and do it for us. 

I’m not immediately worried. There are plenty of tutorials on how to DIY a photobooth and there are plenty opportunities to funk it up: provide costumes, like feather boas and fake mustaches, give mini chalkboards for guests to add messages to their photos, even just providing a funky backdrop. However, the best concept I’ve seen yet is the so-called Digital Photobooth from MVS Studios. Which is just like any other photobooth except that the pictures are taken as digital files which are then immediately printed for the guests AND the pictures are immediately projected onto a large screen over the event via a live feed. As more and more people take pictures, they get added to the slideshow which cycles through the shots at random. Brilliant (with the possible caveat that if your friends are anything like the chumps we know, they might need a talking-to about what kinds of things are appropriate to be broadcasted in front of your great-aunt as she eats dinner and what sorts of things are not). Not only does this idea give the photobooth its extra oompf that we were looking for, but it also solves a bit of a decor problem. If your venue has a raw, raw space–which many of the (cheap) venues we are considering do–nothing beats a really big image. Not only do big images give you maximum impact for minimal effort: 

…but they also seem to me a better way of dealing with decor for a raw space. And by “raw space,” I’m not talking about a whitebox gallery or the charming romance of a rustic barn–I’m talking about Girl Scouts’ multipurpose room, basement rec room, not-for-profit meeting room. The kinds of spaces that flowers not only look sort of fussy, but–worse–also tend to remind you of all the things that such spaces are not. When I think about the places we’re considering, I realize that it’s going to be a trick to decorate them in a way that doesn’t try to make them into something they’re not. A photo-projection on one wall might be a solution because it has a cool industrial-contemporary vibe. 

There is, of course, one teensy weensy problem with the MVS digital photobooth: the base price is over $3K and completely out of our budget. Yet. There must be some way to DIY this, right? It can’t be that difficult to set up a digital camera to a laptop with a slideshow program hooked up to a projector, right? Turns out–ta da!–it is DIYable, and here is one tutorial I found while tooling around from The Things We Think But Do Not Say, a blog that appears to be no longer updated as the last post was April ’09, but the instructions are still there. I should warn you that the instructions require equipment that will cost some money (albeit less than $3K) between renting a projector and making sure you’ve got the right camera and software, and the procedure is not exactly a piece of cake unless you are techno-savvy–but remember those chumps I talked about before? Well, our chumps are also mighty-talented. Perhaps yours are too. 

We're not quite as pulchritudinous as these folks, but our mugs aren't so shabby they can't brighten up an old wall in a warehouse.

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Inspiration: Trader Joe’s

When I was a kid and Trader Joe’s was primarily a Southern California operation, they had a distinct graphic style that referenced turn-of-the-century engravings and ephemera. I remember, for example, their juice labels had lush drawings, almost like toille, depicting scenes–most of which had nothing to do with the actual product (a court scene for cherry cider?). Today, TJ’s has taken on a more contemporary look, but there are still touches to be found in its products that reference its stylistic past:

A tissue box,

their paper bags,

and of course, their flyer

I love this sort of antique-y look and the way that it brings a sort of lightheartedness to the products. I think it would make a good jumping-off point for a more casual, vintage-inspired wedding, particularly if there are references to circus or carnival.

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Find My Bride Style…Really?

So last night had me taking quizzes. Bridal style quizzes online. That was before I smacked my forehead and thought, hello–you’re taking bridal style quizzes. Online.

The problem is, weddings are to a creative person like Disneyland is to an ADD kid: there’s just way, way too much visual stimuli. I feel like I really could have twenty weddings, all different in tone and style, not only love them all equally, but feel that they all represent me equally. I could do high-style loft minimalism, or elegant-rustic barnyard, or retro-picnic fete, or…So there I was, 10pm at night, taking bridal style quizzes because I can’t figure out what I want.

Compounding this is the fact that we have to decide on a venue and we have some pretty staunch requirements: a) inside and outside spaces b) a somewhat raw space so I can DIY it up (no hotel ballrooms, no “tuscan floral wonders,” no reception/banquet halls) c) can accommodate about 100 people d) no required/preferred caterers e) cheap*

*…did I mention that we’re trying to keep this whole thing at about $5000? Surprise.

Finding such a place in LA is not impossible and you do get a variety. Which is a bit of a problem. So we’ve got some beautiful white-walled galleries on the list, some private homes, and some campsites. And therein lies the problem: the venue dictates the decor style. So if it were in a white-walled gallery, that would call for something more chic than say, a campsite wedding. And then come the questions: who am I? Am I a modern-minimal bride? Am I rockabilly bride? Am I vintage bride? Sigh. So here I am blogging about it in the hopes that post by post, some sort of cohesiveness will emerge.

It’s a bit of a tall order, considering I can’t even decide on which calligraphy to do. And that’s on something people are gonna throw away.

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Wedding Plans Start Here

With the wedding reception (we’re doing the City Hall thing and then going to do a party) now on the horizon, I’ve begun the planning. So far, NRM and I have talked about it and we know we want a casual vibe, but somehow I suspect there will be a lot of details that are about California lovin’.

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North Carolina: Backyard Fireworks

Amy and Nate make excellent pyrotechnic sychronized swimmers. Jimmy and Jon are the support crew in the back.

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