Ryan and I got married one year ago today! Fall is my favorite time of year, and we found a lot of inspiration in the season for our wedding. So in honor of our first anniversary, I took a look back at some of the fall flavors, colors, and details that we incorporated into our big day.
We held our wedding at the magnificent Columbus Park Refectory, an off-the-beaten-path Chicago Park District venue located on the city's West Side. The ceremony was in the covered outdoor pavilion that overlooked a lagoon. With dramatic arched windows on three sides of the building, the surrounding trees provided a natural fall color palette of red, orange, yellow, and green.
Anticipating cool weather, the plan was to warm up our guests with some hot apple cider before the ceremony. I never dreamed temps would reach the 80s, but they did, so we served it chilled instead. (While I was ecstatic that everyone would feel comfortable outside, I was mildly disappointed that it was too warm to wear this cozy red crocheted shrug I had bought on Etsy.)
The ceremony felt very mystical and romantic! Golden late-afternoon light streamed through the pavilion and cast a warm glow all around. Many guests later told us that right before the ceremony began, a swirl of sun-dappled leaves blew right in the spot where we would marry. That is a moment I truly wish I had seen.
|Ryan breaks the glass. Mazel tov!|
Apple season peaks in October in the Midwest, so we decided to use the fruit as both centerpieces and party favors. About a week before the wedding, I went apple picking with my mom, sister, and future mother-in-law. We picked hundreds of apples (and rewarded our hard work by indulging in some amazing cider doughnuts).
The empire apples, placed in dark woven baskets on each table, added of a splash of red to the dining room. Since the space already had such distinctive colors and decor - with its Spanish-influenced style of dark wood beams, arched windows, and ornate chandeliers - we kept everything else neutral to let the unique details of the room shine through.
The entire apple project turned out to be quite the logistically intensive DIY undertaking - and only one that I recommend if you have your heart set on the idea like I did! - so I was gratified to see our guests, like my 4-year-old nephew, enjoying them.
I wanted everyone to share a meal together that was as seasonal and local as possible. While our catering choices were limited to the CPD's preferred vendor list, our caterer sourced some of the food from Michigan and worked with us to develop a fall-inspired meal. We featured the menu on chalkboard-painted wooden wine crates at the place card table, where the florist added some gourds, flowers, and leftover apples to create a harvest theme.
The kids were all over the dessert table.
But getting back to the apples, they even made their way into our ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract). Ryan's second cousin, a budding artist, drew a tree with 10 red apples to represent our unforgettable wedding date - 10.10.10. Emily pulled it all together with a precious handmade border and designed the tree along a river of our vows that Ryan and I wrote together. Which brings me to the other inspiration for our wedding.
Paddling. Ryan and I first met when I signed up for one of his kayak classes on the Chicago River. Our huppah poles were four hand carved Greenland kayak paddles.
We chose the Columbus Park Refectory because it overlooks two lagoons in the park (originally, we wanted to offer our guests the option of going canoeing but alas, that didn't work out). Our invitations featured paddles, too, and I even walked down the aisle to one of my favorite folk songs, The Water is Wide, while Ryan waited to become my husband.
A poem about autumn and love that a friend read during the ceremony probably best summed up the spirit of our fall-inspired wedding day.
By Oliver Jenkins
My love will come in autumn-time
When leaves go spinning to the ground
And wistful stars in heaven chime
With the leaves' sound
Then, we shall walk through dusty lanes
And pause beneath low-hanging boughs,
And there, while soft-hued beauty reigns
We'll make our vows
Let others seek in spring for sighs
When love flames forth from every seed;
But love that blooms when nature dies
Is love indeed
(All photos by the effervescent Candice Cusic and her brave assistant Justin, who showed no fear during the hora.)