This eclectic woodland wedding, captured by Redfield Photography, definitely shows the bride and grooms personalities. Some couples steer away from taking every element of their wedding on but not Jane and Brandon. Just about every detail of their wedding was planned or created by their family and friends or themselves. Now that is some serious teamwork!
From the bride, Jane: Brandon and I both come from creative stock (his mom’s a dancer, my parents are both classical musicians), so the little details and what they represented really mattered to us. We started out wanting to keep it simple, but ended up making pretty much everything and dragging our best friends and family into it, too. I learned to do a lot of things I didn’t know how to do before (Wood carving? No big deal!). A few days before the wedding, it basically became a craft fair in the woods – a few days of summer camp full of DIY, painting, tying, punctuated by karaoke and beer pong and family chats. It was a blast. It helped that the owners of the barn, Mia and Ralph, were awesome and game for making the day what we envisioned.
Big wood initials – Brandon is an amateur furniture maker (he made all the furniture in our NYC apartment!). When I told him I wanted him to build something cool, he sawed and hammered in his parents’ garage, and when he was done, he had created two giant initials (J and B), painted them gold, and attached LED lights to the back so they would glow for the dance party. Pretty cool husband I’ve got.
Invitations – We designed our invitations based on old vintage Poconos postcards. As a keepsake, we burned little forest landscapes into small wooden rounds with our initials on the back, and tied everything together with baker’s twine.
Programs – We wrote every guest a little thank you note in our program, because we wanted to make sure everyone knew they were a part of our family. I dusted off the old Photoshop skills and cobbled the programs together myself. A illustrator friend from the tech startup I work for drew a caricature of us that we used for the front, and I literally got them printed from Office Depot two night before (whew). Flowers – I was convinced we didn’t need to spend a fortune on flowers. We found bloominous.com, which ships flowers to you – designed and bulk. One of their designers, Richard, and I plotted over the phone for weeks, and a day before the wedding, all the flowers came FedEx. Our lovely friend made my floral crown and all the bouquets (she’s never ever done it before and they turned out to be AMAZING) and my bridesmaid and family put all the table flowers in all sorts of vases to place on the tables.
Wedding ceremony chapel – My parents disappeared for two hours, and when I found them, they had decorated the ceremony chapel with fresh garlands I ordered online (from Sam’s Club!) and added some color with flowers Mia had around the barn. So beautiful.
Cake – Brandon’s groomsman Nick’s mom is basically his second mother. He’s been dreaming about a wedding cake baked by Daria for years – it’s half the reason I suspect he wanted to marry me. When I told her we were hoping for a “naked” cake, she pulled herself together, googled it, and made the most spectacular and delicious carrot cake I’ve ever seen.
Tables – Well, this wasn’t DIY, but we found Forget-Me-Not Vintage rentals. I told Renee my vision for a family style dinner with jewel colored old-world goblets, eclectic china, and mismatched… everything, and she obliged. We set all the big farm tables out in the clearing in the woods – together it looked pretty magical.
Favors – A friend of mine started Sriracha2Go which makes tiny, keychain versions of the hot sauce I (and every other Asian in the world) put on everything. He generously sent us a bunch of these to use as favors! I printed my mom’s Chinese chicken recipe and put them in little burlap sacks. Totally functional!!
Brandon and I really just wanted a big ol’ party in the woods with all the people we love, and as many of the things we like, as possible. When we found Tall Timber Barn in the Poconos amongst all the beautiful tall trees, next to an old abandoned resort rumored to be haunted, 15 minutes bus ride from a local casino for an afterparty, we were sold. We wanted a family dinner outside in the clearing with eclectic table settings, lots of flowers and vases, games, and sunshine, followed by a dance party in the barn with glowsticks and animal masks, lots of things to see and eat, and lots of laughter and bourbon. We wanted the day to feel romantic and slightly otherworldly. Our wedding party got to explore the haunted resort in the area with our photographers, Marisa and John, and videographer. Brandon and I wanted to honor our families’ journeys. Brandon’s family hails from Hawaii and my parents and I are from China, so we wanted to make sure we took pieces of our cultures we loved and brought them into our wedding. Both our families have gone through a lot to get to celebrate together and we felt so deeply grateful. We had a traditional Hawaiian lei ceremony officiated by Brandon’s uncle Juan, who came all the way from Honolulu to join us.
My parents are both musicians, and my brother and I were forced as children of musicians to learn (albeit rather poorly in my case). We brought the band back together for a big show, my parents and I on violin and my brother on piano. My dad also plays a host of Chinese folk instruments, and he busted out some mean solos on the Er Hu, a 2 stringed instrument traditionally used in Chinese theatre. Everyone started stomping the floor on the beat and hollering – it was awesome. We also brought Chinese street shiskabobs straight from the streets of Flushing, Queens. We basically went to Flushing one day and convinced our favorite street vendor to drive to the depth of Pennsylvania at night. What awesome guys for coming! These late night snacks were my favorite food growing up as a little girl in China, and they were a huge hit at the wedding. And finally, my dad’s speech. He’s not a verbose guy, and when he said, “This is everything your mother and I hoped for you,” it meant everything. He also hand carved a photorealistic picture of Brandon and I in wood as a gift for us – unreal.
Any advice for couples planning their weddings now? Go for everything you truly want and make sure you make your family and friends feel loved and special. I believe you should do all the things you dreamed of to make this one day yours – it’s a day that really represents who you and your fiancé are as people and as a couple. People kept telling me not to focus on the details, but I’m so glad we made it a fun, creative project we got to work on with the whole family. Details for me were all the fun!