I have to admit, I’m a faithful reader of the New York Times Wedding and Celebrations section, mostly because I find it really inspiring the way that love happens in all different ways, at different times for different people. Recently, I read this article, about two Jewish writers who found one another on OKCupid. The article makes mention of the fact that the writers used antique books as their wedding centerpieces. It’s hard when you’re keeping up a wedding blog not to plan your own wedding– even if you’re not even currently dating someone! I love this idea, and I thought I’d do some aggregating for all of y’all looking for inspiration. The great thing is so much of this has the potential to be cheap and DIY.
First some general Inspiration.
The coolest thing about books is the way you can play with color. Whatever your wedding palette, you can do it with books! Check out these book gradients!
Now for the Jewish stuff:
This picture has been circulating on the wedding blogs (from 100layercake):
Seems it would make a perfect chuppah, right? But it is a bit…much. All themes are in some respect performative, but this to me crosses over into theatre. So here are some other suggestions for a bookshelf-inspired chuppah.
Why not make your four posts out of verticle bookshelves like this one from Sapien?
The tall version of this bookshelf is (only?) 76 inches, and at almost $300 a pop, it’s hardly cost efficient for a four-poled chuppah. BUT, there’s no reason, with a little hard work and ingenuity, you couldn’t fashion something similar yourself. What would be the coolest (if you ask me) is an invisible shelf, that makes it look as though the books are precariously stacked one on top of the other. You could also use a metal rod to go down through all of the books, if you’re not worried about losing them. You can drill eyehooks into the top book of all four posts and attach your chosen chuppah fabric that way. (If anyone takes this advice and goes for it, please please please send us pictures! We’d love to see it!)
We’ve already blogged about using garlands from Etsy to make your chuppah. Here are some literary-themed ones that would be great for this purpose.
By hoopdaloop. $10 for a 10-foot garland
By The Pulparazzi. $9.50 for a 53 in. garland
By daisyanddots. $10 for 46 in. garland
Who says your ketubah can’t be in a book format? Just because few people do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Several of the artists on our Ketuv roster work in book arts. Why not commission one to make your ketubah in a book, with the signatures on the last page? I particularly like the idea of a ketubah in a moleskine, a la Catalina Uribe Percy:
Ketuv artist Golnar Adili also experiments with text and documents in interesting ways:
Bookmarks, bookmarks, bookmarks!
Imbue You Wedding has some really beautiful ones:
Martha Stewart also has some good suggestions on how you can DIY, with a nice card stock and store-bought tassles.
Green Wedding Shoes posted a bride’s account of her invitation within a book. They’re great, but so time consuming they almost don’t seem worth it. Not to mention the exorbitant shipping costs. I much prefer these less bulky, more suggestive designs by Oh So Beautiful Paper.
This is tops in my opinion. Totally DIY, and the name cards are personalized take home bookmarks. Only one suggestion: what if the line of books were a color gradient? Sure you might not have all your “favorites” but it would be real purdy.
Ok, so this has got to be the coolest idea ever:
From Gardenkultur and reblogged by Inhabitat. Thankfully, you can DIY, and Inhabitat has a great tutorial on how to create book planters. May I suggest bonzais?!
Along the same lines:
Other great ideas:
Tutorial from Once Wed.
I’m telling you, people, GRADIENTS.
Simply amazing. Via 100layercake.
Via Wedding Bee
Particularly love these very very old books. Via The Sweetest Occasion.
A great idea by Jennifer and Chad from Hartland, MI, as featured in Brides.
The “typewriter guestbook” idea from Martha Stewart:
But what I think could be even cooler is turning an old book into a guestbook by lightly whitewashing the pages with watered down acrylic paint or gesso, and leaving certain text or images un-whitewashed, to show through. Your guests will sign right on top of the whitewashed pages. Here’s a tutorial that teaches you to do something similar. I’m not suggesting the scrapbook option, though you could do that, too, but rather that you use the text or images that were originally in the book to spruce it up. You could use a book of love poetry or a book of illustrated fairy tales, for example (or feel free to use something entirely less cheesy, of course). If you try it, send us a pic!
What do you think of this idea? Every guest brings a book they love, but wouldn’t mind parting with, and they deposit them on bookshelves somewhere in the wedding space. (What about on bookshelves like these invisible ones, from Umbra?) When everyone leaves, they take a book with them that interests them, as provided by another wedding guest. You can encourage How-To books, picture books, comic books, etc. for those who aren’t big readers, so they’ll be able to contribute and exchange with one another. Personal, progressive, and FREE.
Secret “book boxes” are relatively easy to make, and a great gift. I wouldn’t recommend trying to make them for every wedding guest, unless you’re having a very small wedding, but for your nearest and dearest, I think this is a fun and personal DIY gift. Here’s a great tutorial on making a secret hollow book.
As I said before, I wonder at what point a theme goes overboard and becomes complete theatre. I imagine you couldn’t do all of these things at once, but rather choose the accents you most enjoy. Let us know what you think!
What’s the deal with favors? They’re mostly just manufactured junk, right? That’s why I’m partial to a living, growing, eco-friendly and potentially DIY alternative: plant favors! They’re beautiful, they’re utilitarian, and they’re quite often cheap.
A note about eco-consciousness and the Jewish wedding. For whatever reason, conservation has not been championed as a cause by the most religiously and politically conservative members of the Jewish community, but that is not because this value is not in the Torah. It is! All over the place! There are prohibitions against needless waste (Bal Tashchis, Dvarim 20:19-20). There are laws against air, water and noise pollution (Harchakas Nezikin, found in the Talmud). There are many commandments regarding kindness towards animals, and a prohibition on causing them needless pain, particularly those who are going to be slaughtered for food (Tzar Baalei Chaim). There are laws requiring all cities to be surrounded by a greenbelt (in modern terms, this can be read as a way to preserve biodiversity). There are laws that require farmers to allow the land to rest every seventh year (shmitta). There is even a blanket decree that declares us stewards of the land, with a responsibility to it (Devarim 11:10). If we take care of the land, the Torah says, it will take care of us. We hope you’ll keep this in mind while planning your Jewish or inter-faith wedding. Or any wedding, for that matter. The environment is all we’ve got.
If you feel inspired, you can attempt to DIY favors inspired by the below. Martha Stewart has some suggestions how (we particularly like slides 3, 4, and 5). What’s great about all of these favors is that most of them are pretty cost efficient and they all have the potential to double as name /seating cards.
Air Plant Terrarium by TheTropicalGarden, 4.5 x 4.5 in. $12/per but less for bulk orders. Moss colors are customizable.
Air Plant Boxes by toHOLD. $135/ 20 boxes, customizable colors
From the seller: “Your guests can place them in an old jar from the flea market, old wedding china, or in a cool ashtray. No dirt required! Easy to care for – just run them under water once a week and give them some light (they LOVE office flourescents).”
Seed Bombs by BigRockPaperCo. 7-10 seed bombs in each packet, $1.50/per ($1.65 for custom orders). Seeds, ribbon color, and tag fully customizable.
Seed Bombs by visuallingual. Hand-screenprinted personalized pouch (3 x 4.5 in.) with 5 seed bombs of edible herbs: basil, dill, cilantro, chives, and parsley. Price per depends on quantity, but ranges from $6.50/per – $3.50/per.
Wildflower Seeds by thepaperynook. Handmade muslin pouch, seeds, and custom thank-you note tied with rope. $1.95/per.
This is a personal favorite! Mini Chalkboard Herb Pots by SophisticatedPalate. Comes with 3 pots, chalk, handmade envelope with your choice of seeds. $9/3 pots with seeds, but discounted for use as wedding favors.
Succulents by SucculentsGalore. Succulents with pots wrapped in natural color ribbon. $168/48 succulents with pots.
Lavender Herb Box by favorcreative. 3 x 3 x 2 in. recycled box. Inside: 2 in. peat pot, peat pellet, instructions for planting, and lavender herb seeds. Ribbon color is customizable. Personalized tags sold separately. $35/10 boxes.
We’ve been focusing a lot on DIY chuppahs, but what if you still want something handmade, but you’re not really the crafty type? Never fear, Etsy is here!
We took a look at what Etsy has to offer and we’ve decided to give you our favs.
1. Intricately-Cut Canopies by sculptor Andrea Cohen‘s chuppahstudio.
Photos by Anna Kuperberg Photography
While it’s definitely more of an investment, we can’t help but drool over internationally known sculptor Andrea Cohen’s custom chuppahs. From her Etsy page: “Each chuppah comes with a painted wood frame and intricately-cut canopy. The canopy pattern, as well as the frame and canopy colors are all customizable.”
2. Quilted Canopy by Kelly Brooks of BrooklynNouveau.
Getting your names and wedding date embroidered on the back side of the chuppah costs just a bit extra ($50) but it seems worth it to me! She can also build a sleeve onto the back of the chuppah so after the wedding it can be hung on the couple’s wall.
From her Etsy page: “I will create a completely personalized quilted chuppah based on your colors and style for use on your wedding day. This chuppah is perfect for a couple looking for a unique, rustic chic, handmade feel to their wedding. Great for outdoors (the light shines through the top with a wonderful stained glass-like effect) or indoors. I made one for my own wedding and it was so beautiful and fun that I thought I would start doing this for others!”
3. Garlands! (Various)
Ok, so we said no DIY. But this is only halfsies. We showed you the wonder of garland-based chuppahs with the Confetti System chuppah. The good news is, you can basically do this with any kind of garland. All you have to do is make the posts (there are lots of quick, easy, affordable ways of doing this, depending on what you want) and string a few of them across.
Reblogged from Pretty Lucky Events.
The extra good news is that when you type “garland” into Etsy there are literally over 15,000 results, and most of them are really affordable. Here are some of the garlands we think would make great chuppahs.
Pom Pom Garland by WestcoastKnittery. $17/ 70 in.
Pom Pom Garland by perfectlypaper. $40/ 7 ft., comes in customizable colors.
Hand-cut Heart Garland, by PaperPolaroid. $35/ 9 hearts
Shakespeare Book Heart Garland by bookity. $28/ 8 ft.
Vintage Handkerchief Flower Garland by HomeRoomStudio. $18/ 6.5 ft.
Vintage Map Garland by moonandlion. $8.50/ 9 flags
Comic Garland by missisaau. $6.50/ 30 in. Also check out her Heart Garlands. (You might have to ask her to make longer ones.)
Crochet Garland by Emma Lamb. Colors customizable. $59/ 70 in.
Tissue Garland by pipsqueakandbean. Customizable colors. $9.50/ 12 ft.
Paper Garland by hoopdaloop. Fully customizable. $18/ 15 ft.
Paper Fan Garland by EntertainingPapers.$24 / 6 tassels (6 ft.)
Fabric Garland by ShopLuLus. $42 / 65 in.
We love the idea of garland chuppahs. You can get a lot of them affordably and match your chuppah to other accents of your wedding decor. The possibilities are endless, whether you go the DIY or the Etsy route.
On the one year anniversary of her wedding, as she and her husband prepare for a long awaited Ireland honeymoon, Ketuv artist Aliza Lelah shares all of the lovely handmade, personal details of her Colorado wedding.
The Chuppah: My mom made the chuppah. It’s made out of her great grandmother’s table cloth, with pictures of my family ancestry printed on fabric and sewn on, their names and dates of their marriage embroidered underneath. My older brother got married in 2009 and used this chuppah, and then their photo was added to it. Justin and I used it in 2010, and now our photo will be sewn on, in anticipation of my younger siblings’ weddings. The chuppah was hung over Aspen trees that me, Justin, and two of our friends cut down here in Colorado.
The Ketubah: Our ketubah was something completely different than any ketubah I have ever made. The text was silk-screened onto an old piece of wood. The wood has clearly withstood the test of time, and is a symbol of our future. The image of Robin Hood and Maid Marion are painted on, and that image represents a special memory for me and Justin, dating all the way back to when we met in 2003.
The Centerpieces: The centerpieces were made by sculptor and friend Andrea Moon, and were inspired by Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree installations. The ceramic tree trunks were on every table, with wire as the branches. At each place setting was a note about Yoko Ono’s installations, a pen and a white tag, asking people to make a wish for us. After they wrote their wish, they hung it on the centerpiece. The place seem to sparkle after people began adding their wishes!
The Place Cards: The place cards were hanging on a few ceramic trees when the guests walked in. We had a small, intimate wedding of 60 people. Each place setting had an old photo on one side of either Justin or me with that person, and on the other side, there was a recent photo of Justin and me with them. There were no names– only photos.
What I Wore: Almost everything I wore came from our grandmothers. I wore Justin’s grandmother’s dress. I changed it only a little, by shortening the sleeves and removing the fabric that went up to the neck. My engagement ring was my maternal grandmother’s: a lovely opal. I wore my paternal grandmother’s pearls, and the earrings I wore were her mother’s. The earrings had even more significance, as they are the only thing my grandmother managed to save of her mother’s before she died in Iraq, just before they were kicked out for being Jewish. All three grandmothers were at the wedding, and it was so special.
Justin’s grandmother in her wedding dress
Me in the slightly modified dress
The Bouquet: I made my bouquet out of vintage buttons.
Breaking the Glass: Both Justin and I broke the glass. Justin is half-Jewish, and we sort of cherry picked the traditions that were important to us and who we are.
The Giveaways: These took literally all of last year to make. Justin and I compiled a list of lyrics by different artists that were meaningful to us. I hand and machine stitched those words onto fabric, stretched them, and built stained-wood frames. During cocktail hour, they were displayed in shelves I made, with a note on the highboy tables asking everyone to remember which frame spoke to them, and to take that one home at the end of the night. That way, each household got to take a piece of the wedding home with them. It’s been so magical this year, learning who took what and seeing them in the homes of our family and friends.
Happily: We got married outside at a venue in boulder called Chautauqua, at the base of the Flatiron mountains. Our reception was called the Community House. We were not allowed to take anything off the walls at the Community House because of its protected historic status, except for in one spot: above the fireplace. Justin and I decided on the one thing I would make to go there– the word “happily.”
We found this fun and modern chuppah from Sarah and Mike’s Connecticut wedding on photographers The Image Is Found’s blog. It was made by the Confetti System, a creative duo that has crafted sets and installations for everyone from J. Crew to the Gagosian Gallery, to musicians Beach House and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (they clearly also have good taste in music). The Confetti System describes their process as one that “transforms simple materials such as tissue paper, cardboard, and silk into interactive objects that create a point of focus, where memories are made and a spontaneous collaboration with the viewer is sparked. Confetti System’s creations occupy the space between the ephemeral and the permanent, evoking a sense of nostalgia and lighthearted fun.”
And check this out: the bride was the one to break the glass!
We’re new to the world of wedding blogs, but one thing has become clear: not all wedding photography was created equal. For some superior shots, visit The Image Is Found’s wedding photos. It’s downright inspiring.
BONUS: The Confetti System charges $130 per 12-foot garland, and you can choose custom colors. But if that’s not really in your budget, we found this tutorial over at The Knotty Bride to make your own Confetti System. If you’ve got the time and the patience, looks like you’ve got yourself a DIY chuppah!
The idea of the chuppah bed sprung from furniture designer Henry Levine’s own wedding in 2004. In an effort to personalize his chuppah, Levine, a Parson’s School of Design MFA graduate, fashioned its four posts from scrap wood from the floor of his studio.
The Levines under the chuppah, made from scrap wood from Henry’s studio.
The poles sat stored away in the couple’s new home in Texas for nearly four years, until Henry decided he wanted to incorporate them into a piece of furniture– aptly, the couple’s marital bed.
We love this idea not only because of its modern aesthetic, but also because of its inherent symbolic value– taking the chuppah, the symbolic “home” that the couple creates on their wedding day, to one of the couple’s most sacred spaces within their home. It also jives with one of Ketuv’s focal points: turning modern takes on traditional objects into heirlooms, thereby keeping traditions alive.
The Chuppah Bed
Levine now offers the chuppah bed to other couples. He creates the poles first from reclaimed and salvaged high-quality wood and sends them to the couple to be used in their ceremony (the couple must provide the fabric for the canopy itself, whether it be a talis or otherwise, according to their vision). After the ceremony, the couple will send the poles back to Henry in Austin, Texas and he will build the four-post bed from the poles.
The chuppah poles come free with the purchase of the chuppah bed ($6200.00 for a King and $5900.00 for a Queen), or can be purchased alone for $1200 (for a set of four poles). He’s also available to design custom poles and beds that are priced accordingly.
Levine believes that the chuppah bed can have relevance for couples of many different faiths, and we agree. A canopy creates a private space for the couple on their wedding, the sacred space where they are joined. Making the marital bed reminiscent, or perhaps a re-creation of this space is, simply, a beautiful thought.
You can learn more about the chuppah bed, and see more of Henry’s work at his website: www.henrylevine.com.
This DIY chuppah comes from Christine and Nate in California. It was built from branches collected from the backyard of the bride’s childhood home in Portland. The canope is a batik thrift store fabric, cut to size. The wood boxes were built by the bride and groom (they got a kid at Home Depot to cut the wood down to “not quite the right sizes”), and family members helped pour the cement into the boxes on the wedding day.
There’s a lot to love about this chuppah: elegant, personal, eco-friendly and economical. And let’s not forget the stone-lined aisle. Kinda Andy Goldsworthy.
The couple did A LOT of the wedding details themselves, and you can see a bit of the DIY glory on Christine’s Flickr page, or on her blog. We couldn’t help but notice their awesome homemade ketubah– which Christine describes as a cross between a ketubah and a Quaker wedding certificate. Interesting that both of their heritages (Christine comes from Quaker stock, and Nate is Jewish) include the signing of a marriage document. One of the wonderful details from the Quaker tradition is that everyone present at the wedding signs the document. Very cool. You can hear what Christine has to say about the “Quaker ketubah” on her blog.