Two things you should know about me:
- I am a not-so-secret hopeless romantic.
- I am in love with wilderness. My happiest places normally have lots of trees and an unknown trail.
So when I randomly flipped David Sherwin’s Creative Workshop open, and it landed on challenge thirty-nine entitled “Outdoor Wedding,” I decided it was a perfect choice for my creative engagement assignment.
The prompt challenged the reader to create multiple wedding invitations for the future Mr. and Mrs. Laura and Marty Longerman, using natural material collected from outside.
In typical Courtney fashion, I began the project Thursday night after my meetings (so around 11:00pm). I had selected the aforementioned prompt beforehand and was excited to begin; however, I soon encountered a rather obvious, but forgotten, problem.
It gets dark outside at night…? So walking around finding natural material becomes a smidge more difficult.
“Have no fear,” I thought, “I have just the tool to help in this process.” Whipping out my headlamp, I ran downstairs (quite literally), made a bagel with cream cheese, grabbed a bag for storing natural items found, and headed out.
I spent approximately fifteen minutes outside pulling leaves off of trees and bushes, finding twigs on the ground, and seeing much more litter than I expected. I live in Alpha Gamma Delta, whose backyard abuts the golf course, so I started to go and walk around there to see what I could find to inspire me. However, quickly I became rather self-conscious of the fact that I probably looked a bit creepy, walking around the golf course with a headlamp on at 11:30 pm, so I decided to head back in and make do with what I had.
I found some tan and white paper, a Sharpie pen, some paint, and my friend’s tub of Modge Podge. With all materials gathered, I settled down at a kitchen table to begin my work. I work best while listening to music, so I began this process by jamming to “The Gown of Green” by The Collection and “This Fire” by Ben Rosenbush and the Brighton. I had intended to listen to a different genre of music for each invitation made to see what impact that may have on my work ethic and production; however, I became too engrossed in the project to bother with music.
I decided that Laura Ambrose (simply a maiden name that popped in my head with unknown inspiration) and Marty Longerman were going to get married on my Dad’s birthday, May 23rd, at Shell Cottage in Bar Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Maine. The cottage is a fictional location, yet Bar Harbor is a real town on Mt. Desert Island in Maine–it is one of my favorite places I have been in travels, situated right on the edge of Acadia National Park.
After making these invitations, I attempted to do some basic research of the conception and utilization of wedding invitations. I stumbled upon a research article by Cele Otnes of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Tina M. Lowrey of Rider College pertaining to the classification of sacred and profane artifacts involved in the marriage process. Within their work, profane artifacts were classified as “profane either because brides stated that they simply did not care about these items, or because they made other remarks that indicated these items were relatively unimportant to them” (Otnes and Lowrey). Wedding invitations were included within this definition of profane artifacts. I found this information interesting, especially after the time I spent creating invitations, that brides tend to classify them as rather unimportant. It made me question why this was, and if there was any way to make wedding invitations more personal in their design to become more meaningful to brides and grooms.
Conclusions and Extensions
There were several, rather random, observations I made throughout this process that I believe to be noteworthy.
First, as I was collecting various leaves, some of the plants reminded me of plants back home. For example, I took some sprigs of a type of bush that is also outside of my house, a bush I remember we would always loose softballs in, only to be found when Dad decided to trim the bushes months later. Another set of leaves came from a type of weed that I remember invaded my backyard one summer. I remember spending days out in the heat helping my mom de-weed our yard. Although both of those memories may sound rather negative in nature, I look upon both fondly. They were either humorous or implied quality time spent with my family. It got me thinking about, if this were a real couple getting married and incorporating natural elements into invitations, how Laura and Marty could select particular plants that may be personal in nature. If they had a memorable date to an apple orchard, for instance, leaves from apple trees could be incorporated into the design. If they took memorable trips to certain locations, local vegetation from that geographical area could by used in the production process. It suddenly became a deeply personal gesture.
Much of what Kleon suggests in Steal Like An Artist resonated with this project, particularly the notion that an individual will not create a masterpiece from the get-go, but he or she should still create. I had to surrender much of my perfectionism to make this product, and boy am I glad I did.
It was liberating to create with little to no limitations.
Friends walked by, in confusion asking what in the world I was up to, and I was able to respond, “Homework. Yeah you heard me right, I’m making wedding invitations for class.”
If I had more time or could do it differently, I would, first and foremost, not do it during the night. Instead, I would collect the materials outside, from several locations, and (if weather permitting) create the invitations outside at a picnic table. Additionally, it was difficult to find many living plants at this time of year, so if done again, I would have preferred to do this project in spring, summer, or fall as the vegetation options would have been greater.
Cele Otnes and Tina M. Lowrey (1993) ,”‘Til Debt Do Us Part: the Selection and Meaning of Artifacts in the American Wedding”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 325-329.