Friday, August 17, 2012

A Wedding Heirloom

     Ahhhh, I love weddings.  I loved every single minute of planning my own wedding, just under 5 years ago.  I made my invitations and programs by hand, designed my own wedding cake (but I didn't actually make it), I researched every flower until I had found the ones that I knew had to be part of my day.  I would be lying if I said I wouldn't love doing the whole thing over again, in fact if I could I think I would have another wedding for my husband and I every couple of years or so.  But since that isn't an option, I'm really grateful for my part time job of wedding decorating and coordinating on the weekends.  But before I get off track daydreaming here, this post really is a craft tutorial, I promise.

     Tomorrow afternoon, my husband and I are renewing our vows, to put it simply.  Although it really isn't that simple at all.  What we are really doing in fact is having our marriage validated in our Catholic church.  It's a very big deal for us and we are so excited to have completed all the requirements and finally be able to bind our marriage in our Church with God the way we wished we would have been able to do 5 years ago on our actual wedding day.  This is a very simple ceremony, just our close family and a couple of our closest friends will be there.  There is no big white dress, bridesmaids, or any of that sort of thing.  It is however in the eyes of our Church, our real wedding and official marriage.  And because of that I wanted something "wedding-ish" for this special occasion, but something special and sentimental, something my own daughter may want for her own wedding someday.  Which brought me to the idea of a growing trend in weddings.....the brooch bouquet. 

     I started this project off with calling my Aunt and Grandma to see if they had any old brooches they were willing to give me, and also spoke to my parents about the same.  I am so excited over the treasures they all put together for me.  I've collected pins and some clip earrings, from my mom, my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother (who would have celebrated her 100th birthday just last week, if she were still with us), and from my great-grandmother, 2 great aunts, and my dad's sister too!  My parent's also gave me their original wedding rings from their own wedding 47 years ago, my dad's Expert Rifleman pin from his time spent as a Marine, and I also had my grandmother's rosary beads that were given to me when she passed away 18 years ago.  I purchased a few of my own to add as well.  I wanted a few in purple specifically to tie the colors together, a couple cameos I couldn't resist, and a wonderful crystal and gold maple leaf to represent my Canadian husband.  

     Want to know how you can add something like this to your own wedding day?  There are so many ways!  You could simply add a brooch or two to your floral wedding bouquet.  Simply mix them in with the flowers or attach them to your wrapped stems, with some ribbon.  You can make a bouquet of just brooches by grouping them together like flowers (I'll show you how I did this), or by using one of those styrofoam bouquet forms you can find at any craft store.  Or last but not least you can make an arrangement of flowers, brooches and anything else you might like to add in there.  I used feathers for mine, but you could add in strands of pearls, ribbons, lace, etc.

Here is a list of items you will need to make one of your own:

Brooches - probably 50-80 if you plan to do a full one like mine.
Floral or jewelry making wire, 20 gauge - I used different colors of wire for each person's brooches, that way I can remember who they belong to down the road.
Green Florist tape
Silk Flowers - for mine I used 3 silk hydrangeas
Ribbon for wrapping the stems - I prefer at least 1" width for this.
Stick pins - I used the small metal stick pins for sewing with just the tiny little silver tip on them.  They are much easier to conceal when neccesary and can easily be dressed up with loose beads or crystals.

     Shop around your favorite craft store for any additional accents you would like to use.  For mine I have plume feather picks, loose Swarovski crystals, and some Swarovski crystal accented charms.

For my bouquet, I didn't use a form.  I love the look of hand tied flower stems at the weddings I do every weekend, over the plastic holder of those forms.  I also wanted to have some floral accents in mine as well.  So I started off with creating a firm stem for each and every brooch I planned to include in my bouquet.  This was the longest, and hardest part of the whole project and I probably spent the equivalent of 3 days wiring all of the brooches.  Be sure to use 20 gauge wire for this part.  You need the wire to be firm enough to hold the weight of the brooches without flopping around in your bouquet, but still need it to be flexible enough to move around as you postion them in the bouquet.  I used wire strands about 15-18" long for each brooch.  However I really didn't measure their exact length. I wrapped the pin part of each brooch with the middle portion of the wire, in sort of a figure 8 to hold them firmly.  I then twist the ends of the wire all the way down to create the stem.  Finally wrapping each one completely in florist tape to give it the look of a green flower stem and to add a little extra stability.

     I used 3 artificial hydrangeas to get the size I wanted for my bouquet.  In person it is about the same size as a traditional bridal bouquet.  Using the florist tape I taped the stems of the hydrangeas together to create a firm cluster of petals.  I then began poking my brooch stems through the petals starting in the center of the hydrangeas working my way out.  Bending the wire here and there to get them in the perfect spots.  I totally recommend that after you get a few in position you wrap all of the stems again with the florist tape to help make it easier for you to hold the brooches in place as you are working on it.  Continue to wrap the stem bundle throughout adding all of your brooches , every 5-8 brooches.  Once I had all of the brooches in place I then finished it by wrapping the stems again from the top down to about 3" from the bottom of the stems. 

     After the final taping I added my feathers.  The feather picks I used were very full and fluffy plumes, about 8" long for the feather.  Think old fashioned caligraphy pen feathers.  Using wire cutters I removed the wire pick so all I had left was the feather.  I weaved the feathers in and out of the brooches and flower petals until I had little pieces of feathers sticking out all over.  I taped the stems again to secure the ends of the feathers that were poking out of the bottom of the bouquet.

     Next, it was time to finish it up by wrapping the stems.  I used a spool of 1" lace ribbon first.  I wrapped the ribbon over where I had taped the stems.  Using a small stick pin to hold the ribbon in place once I was done wrapping.  I then added purple ribbon over the lace.  Purple is my favorite color.  I did a criss-cross pattern with the purple ribbon so that the lace would be peaking out behind it.  I secured the purple ribbon with pins as well.  Since these pins would be visable while holding the bouquet though I dressed them up with Swarovski crystals, and placed a row of them down the whole length of the bouquet stems.  On the front of the stems where I had criss-crossed the ribbons I added some decorative Swarovski crystal jewelry accents I found that matched the vintage feel I was trying to create with my brooches.  Again I used stick pins to secure these in place as well. 

     Last but not least, I wrapped my finished stems with my grandmother's rosary beads, securing them with pins, allowing them to dangle from the top of the handle.  I used stick pins to secure all of the ribbon, lace and decorative accents, because I wanted the option to remove them later to be there.  I'm sure it would have been much easier to glue them in place, but then it would have been permanent and possibly damaging to the delicate jewelry.  My daughter wants to use this as her own bouquet someday, and by that time she may have more brooches of her own to add that came from her father's family.  Also, she may want to change the ribbon to match the colors she chooses for her own wedding someday.

     After quite a bit of work, some calloused fingers and lots of lace, ribbons, and florist tape. Here is my finished result:


1 comment:

  1. Wow! this really is very special Jenny. I'll bet Sara uses it; her daughter uses it and so on for years. Quite the heirloom! Love you, Dad