It's All About Birds and Blossoms

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2005

Nature provides such wonderful motifs for weddings. A fern frond can be a lovely symbol for an invitation, the shades of a favorite bloom can inform the color palette, and almost any natural detail -- berries, flowers, even the swirling pattern of wood grain -- can decorate a cake. There are always fresh flowers at weddings, of course, but blossoms are surprising (and timeless) when they're made of paper or fabric. And they are perfectly paired with little birds, longstanding symbols of love. The projects here are graphic and playful; use different colors for a more formal or gardeny look. Everything can be done ahead: Cut all the components, then make them assembly-line-style while watching a movie. It's all about creating details with things you love.

Modern Wood Centerpiece
Millinery birds perch on branches blooming with handmade paper blossoms. Blue vases (positioned between seats so conversation can flow) match the color of the plates, which also have a blossom motif. A crepe-paper bloom decorates each place card. Create this extra-special setting for a head table, and set others with smaller paper-blossom arrangements or candles only. You can get branches from a florist or your backyard. Use slightly varying shades of white or pink paper for natural-looking flowers -- or bright colors could be fanciful. Gravel inside the vases keeps them steady. Cut holes in place cards with a small flower punch; the points will secure the bloom.

Stamped Seating Cards
These colorful envelope designs utilize clip art. Find bird and blossom images you like, and have them made into rubber stamps (they cost between $12 and $20). The stamping looks random, but actually we repeated the same 12 compositions over and over for a nice rhythm. Put the finished envelopes in order before giving them to your calligrapher (include a few extras).

Stamping Tips
Cut the point off the envelope's flap so it will stand at an angle and be easy to read (use scalloping shears for a finished edge). Lay flat on top of scrap paper. Stamp so images run off edge of envelope. Leave space for calligraphy, though it needn't always be centered (some names can be higher or lower).

Spring Favors
Plain boxes are easy to personalize with punched paper shapes. A flock of die-cut birds tops yellow boxes. The pink ones, below, mimic a scattering of cherry blossoms on the ground (represented here by green paper). Fill them with wagashi (beautiful Japanese confections, available at www.hidemi-co.com), which come in coordinating motifs. Shaped soaps or chocolates would be sweet too.

Bird Boxes How-To
First have a calligrapher write out the bride's and groom's names and a message, then have the writing made into rubber stamps. The boxes come flat: Stamp the lids as shown; let ink dry overnight. Poke a small hole in the center of the lid with an awl (available at hardware stores). Fold box and lid. Slip bird's foot through the hole.

Blossom Boxes How-To
These favors are made using just four flower punches. Punch flowers from white card stock; trim the edges of the large blooms with mini pinking shears to resemble cherry blossoms. Stamp centers of the large and medium-size flowers. We had rubber stamps made with two designs; you could also draw in a design with fine markers. Attach two or three flowers to each box. Some are affixed flat on the box using adhesive dots; others are attached with adhesive foam discs so they're raised.

Whimsical Ring Pillows
Millinery birds, linen blossoms, and printed fabrics make these pillows cheerful and lighthearted. You may also find great motifs in handkerchiefs, table linens, even pillowcases. Ask a friend who sews to stitch the simple pillow; the care that goes into creating it is what makes it a keepsake.

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