Wedding Finery 2.0

Two sons.  Two summers.  Two weddings.  Two entirely different celebrations.  But the same flower girl and ring bearer for both.  And the same seamstress – me.

Each wedding clearly reflected the individual tastes of the respective brides (let’s be honest here, they do set the tone!).  As the plans unfolded this year, it became clear that Katie and Erik’s wedding would be a formal and elegant affair.  Glitter and sparkles also reigned.  It seemed only fitting to dress the little attendants accordingly.  I was up for the challenge, and Katie loved the idea.

Simplicity 1507 Mya dressI started with the flower girl dress. Eager to impress Mya with her finery, I showed her the pattern.  Big mistake.  She was excited all right.  “I want the purple dress!” she exclaimed.  What you have to understand is that 4-year-old Mya is very strong willed.  And doesn’t forget.  That phrase would haunt me up until the day of the wedding.

Materials for Mya's dressThe simple looking dress on the pattern disguised its complexity.  In addition to a silk skirt with an organza overlay, it also entailed a double-layer petticoat and lining underneath.  But it was well designed, and those additional features clearly distinguished it as a special dress.  The extra effort was well worth it.

The defining detail came about fortuitously.  Needing extra fabric to alter one of the bridesmaid dresses, there was enough left over for a sash to trim Mya’s dress.  That not only tied it perfectly into the wedding party, but gave the Sash and buckledress the zip it needed.  Struggling to get it to tie into a nice bow in the back, I turned to glitz and Hobby Lobby.  Using a diamond studded buckle and pin back, I fashioned a fitting anchor for the sash in the back of the dress.

Mya and Isabel's dressesIf one dress is good, two is even better.  Although not part of the wedding party, I saw no reason that baby sister Isabel should not match her big sister.

Next I turned my attention to 6-year-old Ben.  His attire was to be a suit that I carefully matched to the fabric and style of the rented tuxes for the groomsmen.  To be honest, I did briefly inquire as to the viability of renting a suit for Ben.  But the $200 cost quickly sent me back to my sewing machine with renewed determination.

I had made one tailored suit coat before, and relied on knowing that I had once mastered the required techniques.  I soon learned that sewing for little people presents its own challenges, creating the same level of detail on a much reduced scale.  Slacks with a fly front and side pockets was new to me, and went together quite nicely.  However, the trick came in scrunching the waist down to Ben’s skinny measurements.  With multiple try-on sessions and Ben’s patience, I finally got it right.

Ben's suit coatBen's pants







Glittery hair bows, tie, and pocket hankie completed the ensembles.  I finished all my machine sewing with only a few hand details left just over a week before the wedding.  And that night the big storm tore through Duluth and took out the power – for four days!  That was a close call.

Wedding morning, Mya dons her dress under protest at first.  But finally overcomes her objections when Katie whispers that she wants her to “look just like her” in a white dress.  Ben asks Daddy to get him dressed in the room with the groomsmen, and emerges looking just like the rest of the guys.  Isabel, wisely, is outfitted in her dress at the last minute.  And I’m swelling with pride at seeing them in their wedding finery for the second time.  Then I turn my attention to being Mother of the Groom.  It is, after all, Erik’s wedding day.

Molly with Grandkids at Wedding trimmed Ben and Mya before wedding trimmed Katie Erik Wedding Vows

The Wedding Cocoon

Weddings, funerals and the birth of a baby. In my limited experience, those three life-changing events stop the world. While life goes on, news events happen and the clock ticks forward, for those closely involved all that ceases to exist. Only the event at hand matters.

That certainly was the case for me this weekend during the wedding of our son, Carl, and his new bride, Chelsea. From the moment we arrived at our hotel until our trip home, I happily surrendered email, board responsibilities, writing assignments, coffee dates and my to-do list. All that mattered was on the detailed schedule developed by Carl and Chelsea – my life was theirs for three plus days. And it was a wonderful ride.

Reception TentIt was easy and exciting to get pulled into the final preparations for the outdoor reception to be held on the lawn of Chelsea’s family’s farm. Despite being kept in the loop as plans progressed, nothing could have prepared me for arriving two days before the wedding to see the final production in full swing. Everything was carefully staged in Chelsea’s parents’ expansive great room, with Table Settingarmies of friends and family pitching in to put it all in place. The large white tent stood majestically in the expansive manicured yard, surrounded by trees, a wall of cornstalks and large shed lined with sunflowers. The dance floor was under construction, tall tables were being moved into place for the social hour, and large scale photos from parents’ and grandparents’ weddings were being mounted on trees. Flowers had just been cut from the garden where they had been planted specifically to grace the dining tables. Boxes containing the lace tablecloths, unique china plates and hand-made napkins were labeled for distributing to each table. And the pièce de résistance, 15 red vintage tractors carefully restored by Chelsea’s grandfather stood as lawn ornaments among the trees. It was magic in the making.

Events began in earnest with the rehearsal. Having met at Wartburg College nearly ten years ago, it was entirely fitting that Carl and Chelsea chose the college chapel for their wedding ceremony. Dinner was in the “Castle Room” of the college, a warm wood paneled room reserved for special events where we shared a memorable meal with those closest to Carl and Chelsea.

With a perfect weather forecast, the wedding day went off without a hitch (well, if you don’t count best man Erik’s missing pants – but even that ended well). The chapel quickly filled with family and friends and the moment we’d all been awaiting finally arrived. From my front pew, I could clearly see Carl’s eyes fill with tears as Chelsea entered the back of the chapel with her father. His emotion triggered mine, and I’m sure many others as we witnessed the love of this young couple as they came together to be joined as man and wife. From there flowed a veWedding Partyry personal and meaningful ceremony performed by Pastor Steve, a long-term friend of Chelsea’s family.  It was gratifying to see our entire family involved with Erik as best man, Karen and Matt singing, Katie as an usher, and Ben and Mya as Ring Bearer and Flower Girl.

By the time we arrived at the reception, the Iowa heat had broken for the day and in the Carl and Chelsea's entranceshade of the trees and tent it was delightful. Guests filled the lawn and mingled as they explored every detail of that special venue. Snacks were artfully arrayed, wine and beer were flowing, lawn games could be played.  It wasn’t long before the wedding party exited their party bus, following the requisite stop at Dairy Queen (a Hoeg tradition…), ready to celebrate.

Molly's ToastAll the important elements flowed flawlessly – the Iowa barbecue dinner, the toasts, the couple’s first dance, cutting the wedding cake and special Twin’s hat groom’s cake.  In the warmth of the evening air it could not have been more perfect.  And yet, there was one more detail to be revealed.  A secret planned by Chelsea’s parents aCake Cuttingnd not revealed to a single sole, including the wedding couple.

The band announced they were taking a break, and asked guests to clear the dance floor.  Just moments later, the first burst of color exploded over the cornfields.  It was followed by additional pops and flashes as an extraordinary display of fireworks proceeded.  We Reception-Night-6were treated to ten minutes of non-stop sparkle as the night sky lit up with continuous tributes for this special occasion.  It gave me goosebumps just standing there as the brilliant illuminations reflected off the faces of Carl and Chelsea and the assembly of guests.

Fireworks-4 The whole weekend was memorable.  Snapshots of time, faces and emotions will remain with me forever.  Now that I’m back home, I’m having trouble picking up the pieces of “life as usual” and resuming my normal routine.  I’m still basking in the joy of the moments of that wedding cocoon, when all else paused for Carl and Chelsea’s marriage.

Wedding Finery

For weeks I’ve been working under wraps. I eagerly volunteered to sew the outfits for my grandchildren’s roles as Ring Bearer and Flower Girl for my son Carl’s wedding. And like many wedding plans, it meant staying mum about the details until the big day.

Finding sewing patterns turned out to be a lesson forMya dress front me. While I naturally began with Simplicity, McCalls and Butterick, my daughter took a different route. In short order, she sent me an email with links to dress, vest and tie patterns online – all through Etsy. I’d never gone that route before, using patterns created and shared by creative sewers that I could downloadBen vest and tie and print right at home. I was a little concerned about the quality and fit of the patterns, but soon found that they were well designed and included excellent instructions.

Selecting fabric was also informative. With the bridesmaids wearing yellow sundresses of their own choosing, my daughter, Karen, and I sought coordinating prints in yellow tones. We found a few at a chain fabric store, but before finalizing the selection, I checked out Hannah Johnson Fabrics right in Lakeside. There I feasted my eyes on beautiful prints all displayed in color families. I quickly honed in on a brilliant floral piece and several good options for companion fabrics. Knowing that these fabrics were 100% cotton aimed at quilters, I expressed my concern about sewing a dress for a toddler that might wrinkle easily. The helpful owner of the shop quickly allayed my fears, explaining that quality cotton would wear beautifully without wrinkles. I took her advice, paid the premium for the beautiful fabrics and didn’t regret it for a moment. She was absolutely right, and I know I’ll be a repeat customer.Isabel dress and panties

Half way through the creative process, it was a great joy to finally begin the sewing. Clothes for little people go together quickly and are so darn cute. I couldn’t resist snapping photos of each piece as I completed it, sending it to Karen and bride Chelsea to see. One project led to another, and as soon as baby sister Isabel Flowers for haircame along, I sought out patterns for her wedding outfit as well – all on Etsy, of course. To my delight, I found patterns for a newborn dress and diaper cover for free. It was hard to stop, so I went one step further and created fabric flowers for Mya to wear in her hair, and a matching headband for Isabel. I’m sure given more time I’d have found more details to add.

IMG_3865Flower Girl and Ring Bearer from the back


IMG_2298During one of my try-on sessions with Ben and Mya, they took off outside to show their mommy. Running around the yard, romping and chasing each other, they wiggled and rolled in their “fancy clothes.” To my own surprise I was not worried at all, thrilled with their delight in their wedding clothes.

The good news is that the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer performed their roles beautifully and charmingly – an outcome by no means guaranteed. And I think they were as excited as the bride and groom to don their wedding finery that day.IMG_3862