Color Inspiration: Chocolate Brown
Chocolate Faux Bois
Faux bois, French for "fake wood," is a lovely decorative motif. A wood-graining tool creates the white-chocolate markings on bittersweet chocolate panels -- they're then pressed into the chocolate ganache that envelopes the cake. To make the leaves, tempered bittersweet chocolate is brushed onto real lemon leaves, which are peeled off after chilling briefly.
Glorious Peonies in Nests
Large open peonies settle into nests of twisted fern vines in a deep shade of chocolate brown.
Enchanted by Nature
A crystal-and-freshwater-pearl dragonfly brooch by Jose and Maria Barrera perched in a bridesmaid's tresses is a bewitching alternative to a flower. An earth-tone pleated scarf by Han Feng is worn as a shawl.
Boxes of pecans are given as favors at Susan and Peter's wedding; each is decorated with a vintage illustration indicating the table assignment.
The calligraphed cards at Melinda and Jesse's wedding are rubber-stamped with butterflies (table numbers appear on the reverse side) -- to dress up the pins, glass beads in jewel tones were slipped on and secured with glue.
Gifts for the Bridal Party
Handmade woolen sacks hold the bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts at Maria and Robert's wedding.
The nineteenth-century English pottery that inspired this cake was known for intricate scenes and border patterns. Here, a border detail is repeatedly piped in chocolate.
There are worse fates than getting lost in a box of chocolates, but a map naming each treat's filling is a thoughtful inclusion; write it by hand, or have a rubber stamp made at a stationery store (for neat stamping or writing, lay the open lid flat on the edge of a table, and allow the box to hang off). A personalized ribbon is the finishing touch.
Brown Bridesmaid Dresses
At her New Jersey wedding, Jeanette knitted quirky shawls for her bridesmaids, who chose their own chocolate-brown dresses and carried bright autumnal bouquets.
Inspired by Nature
Adorn your stationery with images from nature, and the vista you send your guests can be a welcoming landscape rich with meaning.
Iced Coffee Frappe with Cotton Candy
Easy to make, this inventive drink is certain to be a hit at your reception.
Pinecones separate rows of place cards; each dinner table -- instead of having a number -- was named after a different Oregon coniferous tree.
Paper Wrapped Favors
A cuff of scrapbooking paper secured with clear tape dresses up prewrapped taffy.
Large conch and murex shells with cattleya orchids nestled in their openings and smaller marlin spike shells surround a vase filled with tiny shells and a pillar candle. Painted manzanita branches stand in for real coral. Capiz shells (sold with predrilled holes) are tied to napkins with ribbon; a small branch rests on top. The white-and-brown color scheme suits any season.
A trio of festive, jewel-toned roses, 'Black Magic,' 'Red Devil,' and 'Black Beauty,' combine to striking effect with plumes of garnet astilbe and bunches of pink pepperberries. The stems are wrapped in a cone of brown satin ribbon almost 3 inches wide.
A mountain of childhood dreams covered in chocolate curls. Beneath are disks of vanilla meringue layered with chocolate mousse.
Address Book Favor
Give guests a useful gift that also helps them to stay in touch with you in your new household. Choose inexpensive address books and order a custom stamp with your name and address. Make sure the stamp will fit in the space for a single entry. Stamp each book on the proper page. Cut a thin strip of decorative paper to an inch longer than twice the height of a book. Fold it over the cover and around the pages preceding your address. Glue ends of the strip together to form a loop. Use only a drop of glue so it doesn't leak out and stick to the book's pages.
A Brown Bridesmaid Dress
A fall 2008 bridesmaid dress from Watters and Wtoo (972-404-0143).
Stamps can be used to create seating and table cards so guests can find their places. Instead of labeling each table with a number, give each a constellation (for instance, Orion). Stamp it on a card, and place in a holder. Then guide your guests to their tables by making them seating cards with their table's constellation inside. Stamp the card and fold it; on the bottom half of the outside, hand write the names, and stamp a few stars in silver ink.
Mini Fudge Cake Favors
The sugary sparkles on these sweet little cakes are sure to be reflected in the eyes of your guests when they take their first bites.
Wrapped in pretty paper, store-bought chocolate bars make elegant gifts for guests. Slim bars look especially lovely (these are from Dean and Deluca). Choose patterned wrapping paper that coordinates with your wedding palette; cut to the same size as original wrapper (slip one off to use as a template). Carefully remove outer wrappers, leaving just the foil. Cover the candy bar with the wrapping paper, and secure with double-sided tape. Using a computer, print the bride and groom's names and wedding date onto card stock; cut into strips, and tape in place. (Papers by Neisha Crosland and Print Icon.)
At Susan and Peter's wedding, the save-the-date card, schedule of weekend events, and invitation are done in letterpress with a headdress motif.
Fortune Cookie Favors
Share romantic wishes with your guests in homemade chocolate cookies. Handwrite or photocopy lines from classic love poems, or make up your own fortunes; the strips of paper should be about 6 inches long and a little less than 1/2 inch wide.
Pick a Pair
Wrap seasonal fruit in tissue for a sweet (and healthy) gift for guests. Have an office-supply store make a rubber stamp with your names, wedding date, and a drawing or clip-art illustration (the entire design should be 3 inches in diameter or smaller). Stamp image onto squares of tissue paper. Cut off stems, center fruit on tissue, wrap, and twist.
Chocolate-covered espresso and coffee beans are stacked in hexagonal boxes tied with silk ribbon. Use rubber stamps (made at an office-supply store) to identify the treats.
For a guest book, Sheila and Steve followed a Japanese custom by asking guests to tie their sentiments to tree branches with ribbons. Here, branches are adorned with crepe-paper buds and blossoms and placed in a porcelain vase. Expressions like "Prosperity" and "Good Marriage" were written in Korean and Japanese and hung ahead of time to decorate the branches.
A Brown Bridesmaid Dress
A fall 2008 bridesmaid dress from Watters and Wtoo, 972-404-0143
In Bermuda, couples top their wedding cakes with tiny saplings, which are planted and grow along with the marriage. Here, a milk-chocolate figurine, formed in a replica of a 1920s mold, stands on a faux top tier of Styrofoam coated to match the cake. The flowering quince branches above were painted with chocolate (choose pesticide-free foliage). Chocolate modeling dough makes a balustrade and miniature roses. The rolled fondant is tinted pink to pick up the hue of the quince.
Brown Silk-Flower Hairband
Silk flowers never wilt or fade, which makes them a fitting memento of your wedding. Share them with your bridesmaids by making these pretty hair bands. Begin with a full-bodied silk flower, such as camellias, and attach a metal-free hair elastic with a twist of the flower's wire stem. Clip off any excess wire. Cover the wire by sewing a bit of 1-inch wide ribbon, ends folded under, to the base of the blossom using a few stitches
Invitations and reply cards are letterpressed with a pinecone motif to reflect the Oregon-in-autumn theme at Maria and Robert's Wedding. An illustrated map to the festivities is included.
Mini Cupcake Cake
Surrender yourself to sugar: Miniature chocolate and vanilla cupcakes line the white-fondant tiers of this playful cake. Brown- and pink-hued paper flags bearing the newlyweds' names wave from the cupcake perched on top.
Wedding breads, made as gifts for Darcy and Andy by Poilane, a favorite Parisian bakery.
Petits fours, white-chocolate-dipped strawberries, and handcrafted chocolates were served alongside the wedding cake at Susan and James's wedding.
Shannon and Nathan's wedding invitation combines an image from an old postcard and a print that recalls the motif from the ruffles in the back of Shannon's dress.
Bird's Nest Favors
In these lovely favors, sugar-coated Jordan almonds masquerade as robins' eggs in a delicate faux nest; parchment paper threaded among them acts as a simple place card.
Tasha and Sanders's wedding stationery incorporates several personal touches. The invitations feature a map of Wisconsin's Apostle Islands, of which Madeline Island is the largest. The programs are calligraphed with the couple's initials and "Redcliffe Farm," the name of their property, which sits atop a cliff of red earth. The design on the envelope flap is a tribute to their beloved weimaraners.
Playful three-dimensional shapes are made by pouring melted chocolate into molds. There are so many variations, you can select an assortment to match the mood of your wedding -- consider a "bouquet" of different flowers at a garden reception, starfish and seashells for a beachside celebration (just be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight), or a pairing of X's and O's to symbolize the sentiment of the day.
Instead of one large wedding cake, Maria and Robert offered a number of choices for their guests. "I wanted a country bake-sale kind of feeling," Maria said. The main cake was a square layered tiramisu decorated with Lady apples dipped in either caramel or chocolate. Other baked delights included (from left) a chocolate sour-cream pound cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache frosting, miniature cupcakes with apricot filling and topping, and a round layered spice cake with cream-cheese frosting. Hand-painted, calligraphed signs listed the names of the desserts.