New Wedding Recap Post is Up!

I’m back with the leading-up-to-the-wedding events I hadn’t yet covered in my very first recap on Weddingbee.

It was pretty much a bunch o’ yardwork as we prepped a long-neglected backyard for a wedding!

Here’s an “after” shot of the ceremony site:

Photo courtesy of Tanja Lippert And:

Photo courtesy of Tanja Lippert But just a few weeks earlier, it’d looked like this:

Personal photo

Starting a year before the wedding, my Dad and I began to prep the acre-large property for reseeding.

Long story short long, we should have started completely from scratch and torn up the old lawn, because there were just too many weeds. Spring of ’10 was an epic rainy-weed-season in NorCal, with rain comin’ steady all the way up to the month of June! For some reason, the seeds we planted in August ’09 didn’t take. Nor did the seeds we planted twice in the spring.

Morning glory, hollyhock, delphinium, zinnia, cosmos and other seeds planted at just the right time in March/April barely grew an inch by the time the wedding rolled around in late June. Even the 80+ lavender bushes and plants we kept in our greenhouse didn’t fare well. It was just cold and unsunny all winter/spring long! Equaling NOT a good gardening year for even the greenest of thumbs.

Lesson learned–if you’re planning to landscape your backyard for a wedding, just be prepared for anything Mother Nature may have up her malicious-wedding-ruining-weather sleeve!

What ended up–somewhat–saving the day? Emergency fast-growing grass seed planted two weeks before the wedding (when the sun had finally decided to shine again). And some last-minute cosmos to hide ugly spots by the rosemary bushes on the lawn terraces we built (where we had the chairs for the ceremony lined up):

Photo courtesy of our friend, Allie Gergley

The terraces:

Photos courtesy of Tanja Lippert

Oh, btw, since I’m sure it will be helpful to somebody, somewhere … you know how long it takes two people to build 10 lawn terraces out of a huge slope completely covered in overgrown rosemary, that will fit at least 100 wedding chairs? About five days.

We didn’t bother with seeding grass right by the lakeshore. The grass looked OK there (in a natural, rustic kinda way):

Photo courtesy of Tanja Lippert

And so did the piles of tule reeds. (That I had considered removing, until I scooped some up and realized the pebbly sand underneath covered with rolly-polly bugs was far less pretty than the dried reeds!)

Photo courtesy of Tanja Lippert

It truly was a labor of love, fixing up the property. We even worked it into part of the ceremony, lest any guests forget all that damn work we did to help tell the story to our guests:

“They are blessed to share their wedding day with you, their family and friends, And thank each of you for making the long journey here. They have invited you to this beautiful place, to Clear Lake, where the bride grew up. She played on the lake shore here at her grandparents’ house, and had a special bond with her grandfather, Grandpa Paisley. Miss Paisley spent many days, weekends and summers with her grandpa–baking pies, gardening and taking the rowboat out on the lake. And most important, the two of them were always sharing a good laugh or inside joke. If there could be one person, other than Professor Paisley and her Dad, who meant the world to Miss Paisley, it was her grandfather. During their years together, Professor Paisley and Miss Paisley have come here many times, on days like today, together, so humbled and awed by the purity of their surroundings. Mt. Konocti became a shelter, a respite, and a temple to them. In the past year, they have enjoyed restoring this property to a portion of its former glory. A garden the bride’s grandfather envisioned more than 40 years ago when he built this house, but since his death four years ago, the garden had fallen into neglect. So it was with great joy that Professor Paisley and Miss Paisley brought it back to life. They wanted to show you the beauty of these lakes, fields and ancient oaks. They wanted you to get away from LA, or Utah, and breathe in not only the cleanest air in the state, but the third cleanest air in all of the United States.”

That last bit about the air elicited lots of laughs from our guests. I was proud of my comedic writing!

Some of the words above, though, we stole borrowed from Mrs. Cherry Pie’s ceremony vows. Thank you, Mrs. Cherry Pie for the inspiration! We weaved in words and meaning to help make it our own. Mrs. Cherry Pie’s vows were so great, Mrs. Cowboy Boot also used them as inspiration for her personalized vows.

Funny, I just realized that means those vows (or very similar ones) were used three years in a row by Bees! Mrs. Cherry Pie in ’08, then Mrs. Cowboy Boot in ’09, then Mrs. Paisley in ’10. Who will be the Bee to use them in ’11, I wonder? ;p Them sure is good vows, and I’m not joking. Loved. Them.

Now. Just because. I have some old-timey photos of the property to show you. Since I grew up here (we lived in the same town as my grandparents), and have so many great memories, I just have to share them! So, if you will, let’s rev up the DeLorean and wisk ourselves back to the heyday of the early ’90s!

But first, check out the lakeside lawn on the day of the wedding, won’t you? Because this shan’t be a good time-travel without due comparison of lawns then-and-now:

Photos courtesy of Tanja Lippert

And here is that same area 20 years ago. About 15 yards of lakeshore eroded over that time, so the lawn was much, much bigger! And oh so much smoother-looking, boo hoo!

Yes, that’s little Miss Paisley at age five or so, on the left in the red shorts.

For perspective, directly above my head and up from the alligator head is where the base of the dock ramp starts (just out of the picture). When the lawn eroded, we had to build an extension to the dock ramp! (Which much to her chagrin, was NOT weathered enough to Miss Paisley’s liking by the time of the wedding. Gasp! So, yes, the day-before-wedding-day also involved some beige paint to help the new-and-old railings all blend in together.)

Would it sound less miss-snooty-perfectionist if I mentioned I was the one who was workin’ the paint brush? No? Well OK then.

In the front yard, my totally rad maid of honor Morgan helped me prep the dance floor area on the lawn. OK fine. She also helped with the painting of the dock railings. But back in April, she spent about five hours shoveling old dead plants, leaves, a few rotten tennis balls and a badminton birdie:

15 years ago, that exact area where we’re standing used to be my grandfather’s rose garden. He’d clip roses from them for me and leave them on my pillow, along with a chair (yes, he’d put a chair on top of my bed and leave it there for me to find when I got home from school. It was my way of knowing he’d stopped by my parents’ and my house–he was a funny one like that).

That’s me again, this time around age nine, in my Easter bonnet. Here’s another shot of that area at the wedding. We had the band set up on the brick patio in front of the guest house. That’s the carport to the right, completely covered in white canvas painters’ cloth to hide the catering setup:

Photo courtesy of Tanja Lippert

It really was so wonderful to restore the property a little bit. (Non-sarcasm.) I mean, it hadn’t been touched since my grandfather’s death in 2006! It was like the Secret Garden. Most of the plants had died and been overgrown with weeds. I would cry “It’s wick!” every time I discovered some old plant still struggling along.

Check out this clip at about 3:10 to get the reference:

Let me tell you, bride-to-bride, I wouldn’t have had it any other way or the wedding at any other location, but it did take a lot of bride-sweat and bride-hours. A solid four weeks of work (by Professor Paisley and me) plus at least a dozen weekends by my Dad and a few by my maid of honor. PLUS a full four days’ labor by the men in our bridal party, to get that property ship-shape for a wedding!

All that time, and the fact that my grandmother invested $4K on an arborist to trim all the oak trees (to prevent dead branches from nailing a guest on the noggin) and it probably would have been a leetle less expensive for everybody had we gone with our first venue choice, which had been Nestldown in Los Gatos.

But, I honestly don’t regret the time and work it took to have the wedding there. Our friends and family volunteered and enjoyed helping, and while it all seems like a lot of work and stress, it wasn’t stressful at all. It was fun. Honestly, there were no pre-wedding tears involved! We were just worker bees who took the time to sip a beer, have a break, go for a swim or kayak paddle. It was a chance to bond with our friends and families.

Plus my parents viewed our free labor as an investment in the property. (Eeeek, God forbid it gets sold anytime soon!!!! 😦 Professor Paisley and I better start saving our pennies now so we can buy it and keep it in the family after my grandmother passes away!) Furthermore, during those days and weeks of working, I almost felt as though my grandfather was there watching over me, smiling with approval at each shovelful. Ahh, the memories at that place! And oh, how it used to be such a lushly landscaped spot. Here’s one more view of the front-of-the-house steps, back in the day:

Here’s the same area by the house on wedding day. See the front steps? Well, the bushes got bigger. Annd they’re about the only things that survived:

Photo courtesy of Tanja Lippert

OK, I lied. ONE more photo from the early ’90s and I promise I’ll move on! (I can’t help it, I swear! I’m a Cancer, and as we know, Cancers are ruled by their childhood and place great importance on such memories … says the lady who doesn’t believe in astrology but uses it as an excuse for being a nostalgic sap.)

Here is that same area of lawn/fence, minus the old hollowed-out tree, which got removed around ’99:

This photo taken by our friend Allie really sums up the days before the wedding!

It was dirty, dirty work.

A few more pre-wedding-prep photos taken by brother paisley, showing general assemblage of crafts, mason drinking jars, straw flair, lights and our homemade tables:

The catering table we built was perfect for holding all the projects on the day before the wedding:

One of my favorite stories post-wedding was hearing how my Mom, just as guests were arriving for the ceremony, realized her feet were filthy from running around doing last-minute things, and so she went and stood in the day-old bathtub water where all of my DIY wedding flowers had been stored–to quickly give her feet a scrub.

I told her at least her feet–literally–smelled like roses.

Makes you kinda glad you’re not having a country, DIY, backyard wedding, no? Oh, wait, you ARE?!?! Heh. Well, you’ll probably have some broken finger nails, blood, sweat and bruises in your future. Annnd, you’ll probably look like this at your rehearsal:

Photo courtesy of our friend Allie

Barefoot and dirty.

Flanked by a group of ragtag and weary groomsmen/slave laborers.

Well, if the above wasn’t a riot enough for ya, just wait until I come back next with the deets from the rehearsal. OK fine, nothing dramatic or exciting really happened. Hm. So do you want to hear about the night before rehearsal day?!? The one where I stayed up alllll night arranging my DIY wedding flowers? Do ya, do ya? You guys do realize me telling you these pre-wedding-work stories is replacing months worth of therapy sessions for me, right? J/K

Tell me, any other extreme-backyard-wedding-DIYers out there?


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  1. Jessica said

    Aah I love these pictures! Brings me back to the details of the wedding… the birch vases, the pear candles, the cute magnets for our mason jars, the paisley photobooth.. gawd so cute.

    • Thanks Jess! I find myself to this day obsessed with birch and pear things! I have my candles but also some white ceramic pears, cracked-glaze pottery pears, even a beaded pear my brother gave me and a fairly ugly gourd that’s been carved into a pear. There are like 10 displayed on my living room bookshelf. I need help.

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