Armin and I wanted our Northern California wedding to be an intimate, fun, midsummer night party — a time to celebrate how lucky we are to have found each other, surrounded by our amazing family and friends.
In Munich, where we live, a big part of summer is hanging out in biergartens illuminated with string lights. These lights cast such a warm, cozy feeling on a summer night, and I knew I wanted to incorporate them into our wedding. In truth, almost everything at our wedding was DIY, which was pretty doable since we only had 65 guests. We started with the invitations, which I designed and my father (a letterpress printer) printed. I used craft paper to convey that the wedding would be casual and somewhat rustic, as well as grass and butterfly imagery to evoke the outdoors.
Later, I turned this design into one of my first printable invitation kits on Etsy. It came directly from my heart, so I guess it’s no surprise that it continues to be one of my best sellers!
I spent two days with my dad in his print shop while he printed the invites; Armin documented the process. Even though I’m a designer, I never really appreciated how challenging letterpress is, especially when you are trying to print white ink on chip board! It was fun to spend this time with my dad, and it gave me a whole new appreciation of the art form. My dad also made the table numbers out of old wood type, which he painted chartreuse.
To celebrate our friends and family, we gathered old photos to hang on the trees; it was a great icebreaker for people who didn’t know one another. My step-mom and I spent the better part of a day painting wooden frames in our wedding colors and hung them up the day before the wedding.
We ordered flowers from a local organic flower farm and arranged the bouquets ourselves. Arranging flowers is a great thing to do, but give yourself twice as long as you think it will take to put all the bouquets and table flowers together. Luckily, my sisters spent the night before the wedding helping me get all the vases and bouquets together!
Since we were already married in a small civil ceremony in Munich, my cousin was the officiant of a ceremony we created ourselves. The ceremony included our own vows, and an a capella poem that our three sisters performed.
The bistro lights strung between the trees worked their magic beautifully. (A DIY tip for hanging lights over a large space is to first hang reinforced nylon cable. Attach the string lights to the cable to make them more stable.) The lights cast an enchanting glow over the tables and maintained the warm ambiance, even though it got chilly in the evening. Luckily, we’d planned ahead and wrapped a bunch of fleece blankets in twine so no one would be cold.
While the invites, RSVPS and directions were letterpress, I printed the rest of the paper goods (menus, programs, place cards, and seating charts) myself on our little color printer at home. It worked like a champ!
The main meal was catered, but instead of a wedding cake, we opted to have a cookie bar. My aunt and several family friend ‘aunties’ baked up a whole mess of cookies. This was definitely something our guests raved about long after the wedding. Sadly, we didn’t have nearly as many leftover cookies as we had hoped.
The days surrounding our wedding were some of the happiest of our lives. A big part of that was working together with our family and friends to put together a happy, homey, handmade summer celebration.
All photographs by Charlie Gesell.