Marriage Material: Step Inside Claire’s AMAZE Backyard Wedding

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I’d never really harbored any wedding fantasies before I got married, except for one: I’ve always wanted it to happen at my childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s such a personal space: My dad has poured countless hours and his whole heart into the garden, and my mom’s design sensibility is evident everywhere you turn. So when it came time to do the damn thing with Chris, I wanted all of the elements to feel just as personal as the setting.  —claire

 Here’s how it went down:

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My Grandma Shirley was an amazing artist whose work perfectly embodied her personality. She died in between the time we got engaged and got married, so using her paintings of my parent’s house on the invites and program ended up being a really special way to give her a presence. My cousin Anna (who also designed the Of a Kind logo!) did the graphic design and layouts of them, so they were 100% a family affair.

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My dress is by (CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist!) Juan Carlos Obando. I had a vision of nineties, Calvin Klein-style minimalism in my head, and this really delivered. It’s not a wedding dress—just a white cocktail dress pulled off the rack at Barneys—which is the first piece of advice I give all my friends who are stressing about their wedding dresses: Go try on fancy dresses somewhere that is not a bridal salon. It’s a laid-back and low-pressure way to figure out what types of silhouettes actually look good on you. If you’re lucky, you might even find the dress, but if nothing else you can go into the rest of the process with a much clearer idea of what you’re looking for.

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My mom made my veil herself (using a YouTube tutorial, even). And that’s our nephew and ring bearer, Lucas, who picked out his outfit all by himself. (More on that here!)

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The so-sweet and so-talented Lauren Wolf custom-designed our rings and, man, do I love them. That’s a gray diamond on my engagement ring. Right after I said “yes,” I excitedly pointed out how well it would go with my collection of chambray shirts. And the wedding band is a bunch of tiny white diamonds in Lauren’s signature stingray setting.

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Armed with my new favorite technology, the curling wand, I styled my own ‘do—if you have curls, you know that basically nobody else can be trusted. My girl Chelsa Crowley is the best makeup artist I know, so I roped her in for my face. We came up with a term to describe her signature look: “aggressively natural.” She kills it every time. 

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My dad made that trellis from two of these $15 bad boys from Home Depot and some lathes of wood. The musicians who played during the ceremony are my dad’s community-orchestra posse—he plays the french horn. Cute, right?! And the tall guy is our friend the filmmaker Ben Nabors, who officiated.

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My attitude about party decor is that if you pick three or four elements and repeat them over and over (and over!), it’s gonna look good. We brought in a bunch of peonies, ranunculus, and baby’s breath and stuck ‘em in brown glass bottles from SKS. Farah Sit of Light + Ladder told me Russell’s Bromeliads has the best air plants around (and she would know!), so we got 100 and scattered them all over.

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Caroline Z. Hurley made metallic-printed table runners for us—which I’m now having cut and sewn into cloth napkins for everyday use.

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But let’s get real: I let my dad’s garden do most of the heavy lifting when it came to decoration.

What we didn’t do:

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We didn’t have a photo booth, but I passed around my Fuji Instax and adore the shots we got from it. They’re a totally different feel from the professional pics, and they’re  just so…tactile.

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We didn’t have a set dinner hour or assigned seating, which I was a little worried would throw people off, but it turns out everyone was psyched about not being told where to sit or when to eat. The pros at Talula’s Table served everything buffet-style and we bought lightweight, disposable, and earth-friendly plates and bowls from Verterra that were sturdy enough for people to eat standing if they wanted, and they also helped convey a more casual vibe.

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We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen (my brother and Chris’s sister served as our witnesses), but our friends did come over to keep us company beforehand—which turned out to be one of my very favorite memories from the day. 

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We didn’t luck out with the weather. But we did have 50 white golf umbrellas that created a really pretty scene when they were all opened up. And by the time the dancing got going, barely anybody noticed what was falling from the sky.

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And, speaking of dancing: we did not sit still. We danced so hard the cops came to shut us down at the end of the night. And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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THE END.

Photos courtesy of Brigitte Sire, John Cary, Ann Street Studio, Winnie Au (and our instagram army!).

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Make Marry: 4 Bits of Wedding-Planning Wisdom from 3 Way-Savvy Designers

As we get deep into the heart of wedding season, it feels like the right time to dive into a trio of the so-gorge ones we’ve featured on this site—which, by the way, all have one thing in common: The designers who tied the knot were all down to do things their own way. Get into it. —erica

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Don’t feel like you have to do the wedding-dress salon thing.
Julianne Ahn of the line Object & Totem went off-the-rack with this Suno awesomeness.
Get the deets.

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Look beyond peonies and poppies.
Erica Weiner’s flower arrangements included beets, carrots, and kale. And! She highlighted all of the veggie action happening by using clear glass containers.
Get the deets.

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Let an unexpected backdrop set the tone of the pics.
Um, how crazy-amazing is this shot?! Lauren Wolf and her husband got married in Death Valley and did photos at Zabriskie Point (where part of Star Wars was filmed).
Get the deets.

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Get creative with seating.
Want to avoid renting 100 chairs—or, in Erica Weiner’s case, hauling said chairs a quarter mile to a lake? These hay bales were happy to stand-in.
Get the deets.

Want to fall down a bridal rabbit hole? Here’s the way…

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Marry-Go-Round: Here’s What to Wear to All of Those Spring and Summer Weddings

The google isn’t entirely sure when, exactly, wedding season kicks off, but I have a pretty good sense: SOON. Which means you’ve gotta figure out what to wear to that garden-party-type thing in Newport, the hippie-doo sitch in Big Sur, and the black-tie, expensive-napkined hotel affair. Well, I’ve got some ideas—26 of them, all from way-cool designers. Oh, and there are even two jumpsuits. SO THERE. —erica

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Left to right: TBA, Piamita, Zimmermann, and Suno.

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Left to right: Elizabeth and James, Apiece Apart, and Loup.

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Left to right: Issa, Rebecca Minkoff, Rachel Comey, and H Fredriksson.

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Left to right: Opening Ceremony and Tibi.

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Left to right: Wren, MSGM, and Emerson Fry.

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Left to right: Won Hundred, Creatures of Comfort, 10 Crosby Derek Lam, and Kristinit.

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Left to right: Sea and Shaina Mote.

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Left to right: Morgan Carper, A.L.C., Rag & Bone, and Alasdair.

Looking for more wedding-ness? This way!

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Marriage Material: See Just How Erica’s Wedding Went Down

Major 2013 milestones? A big one for me was getting married to the straight-up wonderful dude who would probably rather not be pictured here. It was a low-key affair—is it weird to use the word affair when talking about weddings?—at Manhattan’s City Hall (technically the City Clerk’s Office, but you know) with just our fams…and some goodness from a few up-and-coming designers, obvi. Here’s how we made it official. —erica

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The amazing Kaelen made my dress! It’s WHITE LEATHER. (Thought that warranted use of the caps lock key.) It’s the same cut as this one from her fall 2013 collection, and it fits like a GD glove. (The shoes are coming later—don’t worry.)

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Custom suit, what, what. The savvy crew at Brooklyn Tailors whipped this sucker up for Thomas—it’s charcoal and super-timeless and has bells and whistles like hand pick-stitching that suit freaks die over. That *adorable* polka-dot bow tie? His grandfather’s.

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Our rings were masterminded by the lovely Blanca Monros Gomez.They’re rose gold, a metal that—as the designer taught me back when—looks good with pretty much any skin tone. My engagement ring has black diamonds (cause I like ‘em), and my wedding band has sapphires (cause they’re Thomas’s birthstone). 

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Ok, so the accessories: I wore a Lulu Frost bracelet (something borrowed!) that felt appropriately retro-cool for the venue and Alexandre Birman shoes (something very blue!) along with Thomas’s great-grandmother’s wedding ring and earrings that were my grandma’s (somethings old). And I carried a blush Clare Vivier fold-over clutch that’s been my go-to for weddings, mine or not—so, something new-ish?

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After we got our paws on that marriage certificate (and had our pictures taken by our Ann Street Studio pals), we walked over to the awesome, festive Blaue Gans for lunch—Claire sent flowers by Taylor Patterson of Fox Fodder Farm for the tables!—and then booked ourselves a sweet room at the Bowery Hotel for the night.

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Next up: a big ol’ party at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago to celebrate. The unreasonably talented Lisa Hedge of Venamour made our invites. I sweat them so much that I wanna get one framed.

Looking for more wedding madness? Ok, then.

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Lauren Wolf’s Double Desert (Wedding!) Adventure

Because two cacti-filled getaways are better than one.

When the Oakland-based jewelry designer Lauren Wolf and her boy decided to get married, the desert called out to them—twice. “My husband’s family has celebrated Thanksgiving in Death Valley for over 30 years—it’s a special spot for them,” says Lauren of picking the spot for the ceremony, which went down in April. Six months later, the newlyweds headed to Oaxaca—an easy trip for them from the Bay Area—to honeymoon it up. Get the scoop on (and stunning pics of) both adventures below. —alisha prakash

Wedding – Death Valley

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“Patrick and I grew up together in Atlanta—we’ve known each other since we were five years old and reconnected later.”

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“We got married at The Inn at Furnace Creek. To come across the inn in the middle of nowhere is pretty dramatic. It’s a hotel that’s been around for almost 100 years that was really popular in the twenties and thirties with the L.A. Hollywood crowd. It has this old-world glam aspect to it, but it’s obviously very dated. There’s a lot of history to it.”

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“The ceremony was outdoors. It was just about the last weekend you could be there comfortably. It was 90 degrees—but a dry heat—and it cooled off during the night. We got married outside in the oasis garden, which is so lush—and the contrast between that backdrop and the desert is also pretty amazing. The ceremony was really simple. My sister and Patrick’s brother stood beside us. One of my best friends from New York officiated for us.”

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“This is a place called Zabriskie Point, where they filmed Star Warsit’s about a quarter mile from the hotel. For my dress, I definitely didn’t want to wear white. This was not a traditional wedding by any means. I didn’t want something over-the-top and wanted something that was comfortable, simple, and a reference to the hotel where we were getting married. There’s a little bit of that twenties/thirties throwback with the lace. It is Tadashi Shoji dress that I got at Neiman Marcus. I splurged on the shoes though—they’re Christian Louboutins.”

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“The watch is my grandmother’s. It’s a really cool piece from the fifties. She passed away, so it was important to me and to my grandfather—he’s 93—that I wore that piece. The earrings I got from one of my diamond dealers. They’re made in India. And the bracelet I wore for my something borrowed—it’s by my friend Rebecca Overmann, who’s a jeweler in San Francisco.”

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“This was an impromptu thing. We had just cut the cake. The photographer said, ‘Everybody get out there quick—we’re going to do a line in the desert.’ It turned out to be a really cool photo. So many of our guests had never been to Death Valley and probably wouldn’t ever be inclined to visit. It was neat to bring all these different people to that one spot. Everyone had a blast.”

Honeymoon - Oaxaca

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“Oaxaca is one of the culturally richest parts of Mexico as far as textiles go. Patrick is a graphic designer, so he’s interested in patterns and design, just as I am. We stayed at Casa Oaxaca. It is an old colonial hotel that has five rooms that are pretty simple—ours had a nice traditional Mexican bed with Oaxacan woven sheets.”

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“This is called the Jardin Etnobotánico. This particular botanical garden had these amazing cacti that are probably 12 to 15 feet tall.”

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“Throughout Mexico, you see these ancient ruins—this is Monte Albán. It’s amazing that these places still exist just outside of the cities. I minored in anthropology, so I have a strong interest in cultural history—as far as the way people lived and dressed and the jewelry and everything.”

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“This is the cultural center in Oaxaca, and this photo doesn’t do it justice. The two towers are the cathedral, and attached to it was a monastery that then became a prison.”

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“What’s so cool about Mexico and these colonial towns like Oaxaca is that everything is happening on the interiors of the buildings, architecturally speaking. Because of the climate, it can all be open. This is the interior courtyard of a museum we went to that I can’t remember the name of!”

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“This is a library. Every public place, even the coffee shops, has these amazing interior gardens.”

Wedding photos by Ro Agents; Oaxaca photos by Patrick Dunaway.

Holy pearls—see what Lauren made for her latest edition now.

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Spy 5 of Grace Lee’s Most Stunning Engagement Rings

She’s got us wrapped around her finger.

“When I was working in corporate finance, one of my offices was in downtown Los Angeles—a block away from the jewelry district, I think my physical proximity coupled with the fact that I had designed my own engagement ring were reasons friends asked for my help with their rings,” explains superstar Grace Lee on how she got her start. Since then, she has turned her part-time gig into a full-blown biz—and the we’re-getting-married ring is still such a huge component of that. “Getting to know the couple behind each ring is one of my favorite parts about being a jewelry designer,” Grace says. Here, five custom creations built to stand the test of time. alisha prakash

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“The bride-to-be is a professional chef—so she’s rough with her hands—but wanted an emerald center stone as it is her fiancé’s birthstone.  We encased the center emerald in gold to protect it from the daily grind.”

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“This grey diamond engagement ring was originally designed as an upgrade ring for a bride who had a traditional white diamond engagement ring. She wanted something different and liked the center grey stone. The practical mom in her liked how this ring is flat on the finger and won’t catch on things.”

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“We knew that the bride-to-be liked oval diamonds, vintage, and the simplicity of my line. We took this simple setting to the next level by hand-engraving all three sides of the yellow gold band.”

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“The bride-to-be wanted a colored diamond that was shaped in a square. We used a flat, rustic-cut yellow diamond and added pave diamonds around the diamond and all around the band.”

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“This is another setting where we needed to protect the center emerald, so we created a gold basket to encase it. The band on this ring is flat with two sides that are hand-engraved.”

OOF Grace’s new lapis ring is totally rad.

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Gown Girl: See the Dresses that Designers Wore to Their Own Weddings! WHOA.

Doesn’t everyone look just soooo pretty?

I know you: You’ve already scrolled past this intro to look at the pictures. And that’s JUST FINE. Behold: the getups—some white, some otherwise—that ten of our favorite designers wore to get hitched. —erica

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Clare Vivier: “My wedding dress was from an antique store in St. Croix, Minnesota, and it was $100 and was a christening dress. It was yellow and spotted with age—I took it to a dry-cleaner in L.A., and they made it into a beautiful white dress that I transformed into my wedding dress! I also had small white flowers in my hair.”

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Annika Jermyn of mrs Jermyn: “I made my own super-simple wedding dress mainly focused on this crochet detail across the front of it. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was little, and since we were celebrating family, I wanted to include an element of past generations.”

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Kathleen Whitaker: “A gray silk dress made for me by a Swiss dressmaker—Daniela Kurrle—in Los Angeles.”

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Alyson Fox
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“I wore a dress that my friend sewed for me out of a WWII single jump parachute that I found on eBay years before I got married. I just loved its seams, cording, and color and knew I wanted it for a dress one day. Back in the day, parachutes were all silk—not nylon—so the fabric is so pretty. Before I walked down the aisle, my grandma asked if I was going to cut all the cords.”

image Jaclyn Mayer of Orly Genger by Jaclyn Mayer: “Victoria from VPL made me a special wedding dress. It was one of a kind—and perfect for our Northern California farm wedding.”

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Lina Rennell: “Two days before the wedding, I went into my favorite local boutique at the time; it’s no longer there. I wasn’t set on getting a white dress, but they just happened to have the perfect-fitting dress in white. I wore it with a warm orange bakelite vintage necklace and orange nasturtiums in my hair.”

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Allison Sires of Thomas Sires: “I got married this summer, and talking about my wedding hasn’t gotten old, yet.  So, if you insist, I wore a vintage YSL dress I found at Resurrection. I love it and probably always will.” [Ed: And! Allison married another Of a Kind designer, Sam Shipley of Shipley & Halmos!]

image Christine Marcelino of Materials + Process: “I wore a Tadashi Shoji number with beautiful ruching and beading. I saw the back of the dress on Pinterest and printed it out to put on my mood board without knowing what the entire dress looked like or who the designer was. I found it randomly—it was misplaced in the formalwear section when we were shopping for bridesmaids dresses. Such a happy coincidence.”

Han Starnes of Josi Faye:I wore a dress that I designed and had made by hand in Nashville.”

image Stacy Herzog of frieda&nellie: “My friend Katie Ermilio designed my gown for ceremony—we used a pair of my nana Frieda’s vintage crystal earrings as tuxedo-ish buttons on the back of the dress and a diamond brooch from my mom on the center front of the bodice. I did an outfit change into a short, white party dress with a bow—also by Ms. Ermilio—with Miu Miu sparkly sneakers for the reception. I was a dancing fool.”

Get all the wedding action you can handle here.

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Of a Kind

These two Bliss Lau rings stack…but not like your classic engagement + wedding combo AT ALL. —erica

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Of a Kind

Are you ready for a bridal jumpsuit? Because Houghton is. —erica

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Of a Kind

Ok, this Kathryn Bentley engagement ring—not sure it gets better than this. —erica

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