2. Crafty Wedding Rescue
Have you ever found yourself in an emergency and the only way out was to grab the hot glue gun? Well, I needed to save a wedding using not much more than a box of discarded plants and a few empty gourds. By sorting the pieces of succulents by size and symmetrically arranging them around a larger rosette larger rosettes. I was able to make wedding centerpieces and aisle decorations that were unique and beautiful.
Labor Day Weekend 2016 I'm traveling to Atlanta to attend my friends' wedding. This trip is great because my favorite cousin lives in the city and I would be staying with him during my stay. When I touched down my cousin informed me that he was held up at work and unable to return to the city until later that night. That was fine except in his haste took the spare house key with him. My cousin, being the best, offered to get a hotel room for the night but I told him I would figure something out until his return.
I called Leigh, the bride-to-be, explaining the situation and asked if it was cool if I hung out while I waited for him to get back. She graciously said yes even though the final countdown was on and last minute errands still needed to be run.
I arrived at the beautiful lake-view home and indeed she was in the full throes of wedding planning countdown. There were many things that still needed to be accomplished. I commended my friends for doing so much of the planning and decorating themselves but baby-girl was swamped! Programs and decorations were among some of the items still left to be completed. She described that the theme for the autumn event included a natural vibe using butternut gourds and succulents. She then showed me her materials, large gourds with holes cut in the front, small bone white pear-shaped gourds with stubby white candles and copper charger plates. She explained that the larger gourds were to line the aisle of the outdoor ceremony and the smaller gourds and candles were part of the centerpieces for the reception. Both elements were to be accompanied by an assortment of small live succulents. As with all things beautiful and meticulously planned, Murphy's wrench-welding monkey decided to make a guest appearance before the wedding. See, my friend had ordered her plants from a florist in Atlanta sight-unseen from out of state. This business was supposed to provide my friend with a variety of small succulents to use. However, when she showed up for her plants she was handed a corrugated fruit box filled with what I can only describe as "plant parts'' --succulent pieces; loose leaves and the occasion cluster-- they were trimmings at best. The shady florists had collected the money and left my friends the day before their big day with nothing more than Southwestern lawn clippings and dashed hopes for the ceremony.
The foliage was supposed to look like it was blooming out of the hole cut in the gourd but the singular leaf-bits were insufficient to cover the space. The centerpieces with the candles and small gourds would also look sad with loose leaves strewn next to them. Succulents leaves are fat, waxy and don't lay pretty or look as nice as--say rose petals scattered across a plate they need to be in clusters or else they become unrecognizable as a plant. With no time or money to source new plants --she was out of options.
Is someone out of options? Sounds like it's time to make custom shit!!!
Far be it for me to stand by and watch a friend spin her wheels when I could easily step into the nearest telephone booth and put on my cape. So I asked her permission to take over the decorating (because consent is sexy!) and then I channeled my inner Martha Stewart and got to work! I would need a hot glue gun and floral foam --to my surprise, we had both...
First, I needed to know what exactly I had to work with. That meant sorting the plant bits by size and shape. I had the expected clusters as well as tons of singular leaves but was delighted to find a healthy number of longer more linear branches. Once arranged the variety was reminiscent of old botany diagrams from encyclopedias and natural history museums. I have no idea how many plant species were present, the shapes and colors were in endless varieties. As beautiful as the diversity was it imposed a new variable; if I wanted to do this right I would have to balance size, shape, and color.
Second a "division of labor" would need to be determined for the plant materials. Establishing which pieces would be most useful for each of the two projects would help me use them the most effectively. The longer branches, and the largest, most whole clusters were relegated to the centerpieces on charger plates to balance the size of the candle and ground. This would give an equal weight to the plates 3rd element so its not lost next to the more substantive items.
For the larger aisle gourds, I would have the opposite approach working backwards size-wise using the smallest clusters and the lowly leaves and sprigs to create the larger centerpiece gourds -- this may seem counterintuitive but remember, the largest creatures in the world (blue whales) live off the smallest and most plentiful creatures in the ocean (plankton).
How did I do it?
These were pretty easy, the idea was to build everything around the center rosette and use smaller pieces to fill in any spaces in the design. No glue or foam necessary on this one. I think building them against the candle helped anchor the design but the succulents pretty much stayed wherever I placed them. Tucking them stem-first into a space seemed to be all the incentive they needed to stay.
The Aisle Gourds
These were a bit more hands-on and required a few more tools but were still SUPER easy. I started with enough floral foam to wedge about halfway into the hole in the gourd doing this was enough to keep them in place without glue. I then shaped the external foam into a dome by rubbing at the corners with my thumb. This was very satisfying for me because I could never do this to my grandmother's foam as it would make a mess and wasted material. With the foam in place I picked a small but prominent rosette to take center stage, I used its stem to bore a small hole that would allow the rosette to sit flush against the foam --hot gluing it in place. To fill out the arrangement I glued sprigs and leaves to the foam behind the rosette to embellish its fullness. The design was completed once I covered the foam with succulents until it was no longer visible.
The expression of relief, joy, and amazement to come over the bride's face was thanks enough. Needless to say, the crisis was avoided and the beautiful wedding went off without a hitch--or with a hitch (...it is a wedding after all...). The centerpieces and decorations were a big hit with the guests and the couple received many compliments on their theme and decor. I even ended up with a special shout out in the wedding program! I was so happy I could turn those disastrous remnants into something that Leigh, her partner Carmen, their family and friends could remember fondly for a lifetime. Honestly, this was the best gift I could have gotten them.
This particular craft holds so much warmth and love for all of the reasons stated earlier and many others that I don't have time to discuss here. The succulents, I'm sure, died a few days later but they served their purpose. This was never meant to be an enduring piece of art; the ultimate goal was to create something that would start conversations, and build a loving and positive atmosphere to be remembered and cherished for years to come. Love is energy; thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed -only transformed. My goal with any creation is that the energy and love I put into my creations stay with the recipient far beyond the object itself. And that is the key to crafting intrigue.
Leigh and Carmen are still happily married and we still reminisce on the magic and beauty of that weekend. I am so grateful I was asked to attend. 💕
Leigh and I have been cosmically intertwined for many years prior to her wedding. It is this connection that ultimately led to the creation of our podcast the Unconvenient Truth. We'd love for you to join us every other week on your favorite streaming service.
Have you ever saved the day with your crafting skills or with other skills or talents? Leave me a comment below I'd love to hear your story.