Thursday, June 23, 2011


Once in a while life brings you an opportunity to work on a project that goes beyond the work itself and ends with a much deeper level of fulfillment. There’s a couple we’ve worked with for almost twenty years and have known for even longer. We started out as co-workers where we quickly realized our joint backgrounds, then as designers and clients where we found our commonality, and finally as friends where we linked our lives permanently. It’s one of the perks of our profession. As a designer you are, by necessity, required to dig below the surface to find out what makes your client think the way they do, how they find comfort and solace, what gives them pleasure and what makes them the happiest. The relationship comes as close to therapy as any I know, and the process is a mutual one. You sometimes get the opportunity to even take the relationship beyond friends and can call it family.  That’s what happened with this amazing couple.
When we found out a member of their family had decided to hold their wedding in Madison we immediately offered to help. At that point I hadn’t met their niece, their niece’s sister or their niece’s fiancĂ©e. Now almost a year later we look on all three of these young people as extended members of an extended family.
Here ‘s an ode not just to the bride and groom but also to the family of people who came to help us make this wedding a successful work of love. In a new place with a new branch of our business sprouting like a new twig on our company tree, we had to rely on some new friends with a little more knowledge about the event business in Madison. Rick and I have never been short on ideas but implementing them in foreign territory was the element that made us dribble just a little stream of nervous pee.
In stepped Julie Moskal. Julie, a jack-of-all-trades, had saved our butts on more than one occasion and here she was to do the same for the wedding. In addition to sewing all of our table runners, knowing someone who could alter the bride’s dress, being able to direct us to the best donut maker in the area, Julie was also aware of the difference between oasis floral foam and a place in the desert where camels stop to socialize. Julie’s background included a family stint in the floral industry and that’s how the flowers came about.
The final production crew now included Julie, Rick and myself along with the bride’s overly generous aunt and uncle, who not only helped with some under the table assistance but they were there along with a couple of the bride’s cousins to help fold napkins, tie ribbons and scrape some pesky labels off of little tiny bottles of bubbles. Without their help and the help of the bride’s sister and a couple of my relatives the wedding would have ended up a redneck beer fest at the tavern around the corner.


I’m not a big advocate of organized religion. Faith to me is seeing the face of god through friends and family, but the Luther Memorial on the University of Wisconsin campus gave me a glimpse into architectural godliness. Our decorating approach to the church was minimal. We had only an hour before the ceremony to do anything and then the restrictions were lengthy. We settled for some bunting on the altar, a unity candle at the request of the bride and groom and a single rose tied to every other pew.
The church was decoration enough.

The white peonies arrived wilted, closer to their golden years than young exploding buds. We were ten chair covers short of a full set. The donut tier that looked so luscious online came as a folded limp cardboard set of disks and dividers barely capable of holding a cup of sprinkles much less fifteen dozen donuts. Then the time needed to pull all of this together when we thought we were going to be a mere crew of two made the expectation of a successful reception seem like a “what-were-we-thinking” moment.
Then the Memorial Union’s clock struck five and the centerpieces glowed from their lit inner pillars of candle light,
the ten missing chairs evaporated in the sea of one hundred and fifty chairs in sparkling white with their periwinkle bows and sprigs of lavender,
and the donut table scented the room with that sugary smell as fifteen dozen donuts sat on hand-blown glass tiered cake plates tied with lilac ribbon and wedding white roses, but the most beautiful part of the room were the smiles on the bride and groom’s faces, reward enough for a project that transcended the wedding itself and fulfilled on a much sweeter level.


Not all weddings have the opportunity to be equally beautiful and politically correct at the same time
Photo by Tracy Schnackenbeck, another sister looking for a beau with a shorter last name

1 comment:

  1. What a great blog and summary of events! It was overwhelming to walk up to the shop and see my aunt, uncle, cousins, your family and friends working so hard to make this a successful event! We are family.

    Much love and thanks! See you soon.

    Tracy, sister of the bride.