I was never the little girl who ran around the house in tutus and tiaras, dreaming of my wedding day in great detail — no idyllic fairytale Cinderella wedding with glass slippers, horse-drawn carriages, or platinum wedding budgets. Instead, I dreamt of traveling to the places in my history and art books, experiencing the sights, tastes, and smells of exotic and faraway lands.
My new husband and I purchased our fixer-upper ranch in historic Mendham, NJ last summer. They say that if you can survive a do-it-yourself kitchen renovation, that you can survive anything! Just as we were preparing to move from the dungeon basement into our beautiful new home, we became tearfully engaged by nite-light, before the sunrise on a Sunday morning in November. We set a short engagement, which was announced hand-in-hand with our big move on a custom postcard by H20works. We then planned for a small intimate wedding, the day after Christmas, in the house that we made into a home.
We knew the size and the budget, the rest I knew exactly where to find — and Etsy was my go-to. Knowing that we wanted very specific items, I ventured into the world of Alchemy to source custom pieces. Alchemy allows you to request items made to your specifications, provide pictures as examples, and propose your own price. Artists then bid on your request and provide you with the details, price and schedule to make your item.
For me, it all began with The Dress. Even before I had found the groom, I had found The Dress! Linda Mompalao of cybersewingfairy responded to my Alchemy request for my wedding dress and helped me design the perfect gown — combining two dresses that I had admired for years. The best part of getting a custom-made gown is that you’re not trying to fit into a dress on a rack — you’re getting a dress to fit you!
For accessories, I went with family heirloom pieces. I wore my great-great aunt’s vintage yellow gold topaz calla lily earrings, the pearl and diamond necklace that my father gave to my mother for Christmas the year that I was born, and a beautiful bracelet from my stepmother.
Along with Alchemy, we used the “Request Custom Item” option to create personalized pieces from some of our favorite sellers. I was most thankful for the gorgeous winter shawl that sheltered me from the rain, made to match my wedding gown by the very talented Maryum Karim of yarncoture. Our invitations by jerise helped set the perfect tone for our wedding.
The one thing I knew I wanted to splurge on was the flowers! I was thrilled when Diane Phillips of dkdesignshawaii agreed to make our bridal flowers. If you’ve never been awed by flowers before, you will be when you realize that her breathtaking arrangements are made of clay! Not only is her work gorgeous, but my bouquet looks as beautiful today as it did on our wedding day and the corsages and boutonnières are cherished keepsakes for our loved ones.
Our short ceremony was conducted by our good friend and Todd’s bandmate from college who we had ordained to marry us. We stood at the archway of our brand new, beautiful kitchen, as I barely contained my tears of joy saying our traditional vows, Todd urging me to smile through my tears, in front of our closest friends and family, as our parents stood next to us.
Roses have always been my favorite flower and we used an image of a single red rose and carried it through our decorations. I’ve always known Todd’s great appreciation for the art of letterpress and was delighted by the custom letterpress work created by Lisa Willis of missive. She created lovely coasters and place cards which doubled as recipe cards for our favors, tied by personalized ribbon from espritdejoie.
With just 25 guests we were able to spoil them with full size bottles of the traditional Puerto Rican coconut and rum eggnog called Coquito as our wedding favors! The bottles were labeled with custom bottle labels from tishtica.
After the ceremony, we treated our guests to a wonderful dinner at the historic Sammy’s Ye Old Cider Mill just down the street. I designed our centerpieces with red roses and white hydrangea over custom made white satin table runners by Teresa Swift of tsurfer. My best friend Heather Peterson, of fairyloreandmore, managed to complement them with the same red knot as my satin red strappy heels.
Our cake was made by my devoted little sister and her new husband — the custom cake toppers from Jennifer of TheLilDetails, were the stars of the show! Our guests were also delighted by the chocolate covered spoons for stirring their coffee by Nicole Varrenti of nikid.
Even though our wedding was a small and intimate affair, we wanted to share our wedding with everyone! We sent photo collage Thank You Cards by h20works with all the special details of our day. I also included custom monogrammed cards I made with the extra ribbon left over from the favors.
Even though I never grew up dreaming about a fantasy wedding, because of Etsy we were able to have the perfect wedding in our new home. Then we were also able to fulfill some other dreams of our own. In April we took a two week cruise out of Rome through the Mediterranean. It was like a dream — seven ports of call, four countries and three continents!
We watched the sun rise and set over the Mediterranean, and toasted our love every night — no tiaras or glass slippers — but to our fairytale beginning.
Wedding photography by Stephen Shadrach. See more of Dorana and Todd’s wedding and honeymoon photos on Flickr.
About the author: Dorana, a.k.a. dorana and ddots, is a freelance writer, artist, and entrepreneur. Dorana runs a health and safety company, teaches families how to resuscitate their checkbooks as a wealth and money coach, and runs the site HandmadeRegistry. Mother to a houseful of senior pets including Lancelot, her 15 year old yellow lab, she loves scuba diving, crab legs, and curling up to watch Netflix with her husband, Todd, when they’re not renovating their new home in Mendham, NJ.
Have you been a part of any handmade weddings? Tell us about them in the comments below!