Anwuli + Patrick

Over the last couple years we’ve been fortunate enough to work with clients and oversee weddings locally here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not only is it a perk to work with vendors we know and love in our home town, but for me and my team coming home to our own beds and families at the end of a long day is a relief and blessing.

As you can imagine, last Christmas when Anwuli first approached me about her July 2018 wedding, I was delighted to learn about her and her now husband Pat’s desire for a romantic, summer-inspired, and formal wedding celebration at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Andrew and I met with the two of them over a festive dinner downtown and enjoyed getting to know more about the couple, their young son, Tobe, and of course what they hoped their wedding would encompass. With family and friends hailing from various parts of the Midwest and Nigeria, where Anwuli’s family lives, this wedding celebration was truly a melding together of two families.

We don’t often take on weddings with stand alone design services, but it’s one of the areas where my team and I flourish and as such, this was a highlight of our summer season. And I think you’ll agree too, Anwuli and Pat’s wedding was picture perfect on a beautiful Michigan summer day just like we had envisioned and hoped for. Enjoy some of the stunning images below from Kelly Sweet Photography and on Martha Stewart Weddings. The couple’s love story is wonderfully woven throughout the feature the MSW editors created and it’s absolutely worth a read!

One of the elements with this event that I wanted to really challenge myself with as a designer, was the escort card display. Because the museum is first an active museum and second an event space, there were (and are) a lot of mechanical obstacles to work around. From placing nothing less than six from any wall or within a specific distance from the ceiling, no flame of any kind, and nothing adhered anywhere, not to mention a very wide open space that feels a little sterile, I had to get creative and intentional (which is never a bad thing but still).

So my vision was to create a lush, vertical, and interactive escort display that felt layered but still simple and understated. The display was the first thing to greet guests at this particular wedding and would need to help get people their tables efficiently since there was no cocktail hour and dinner service was the begin immediately. The display was also positioned in a part of the venue where the ceilings are the highest so our vertical metal screens were perfect statement pieces, adorned with fresh flowers in glass test tubes, and calligraphed name tags placed in with each tube. The design was much like a vertical garden, a little whimsical with great movement, but again, very structured and clean to give us that simple aesthetic complimentary to the venue.

It’s one of my favorite installations we’ve ever done because it not only exceeded our client’s expectations but it allowed us to flex our creative muscles a little too! I remember many people commenting on this via my Instagram story from the day, remarking on how unique the display and that’s exactly what we strive for with every wedding. Unique and personalized details that really stand out in classic and tasteful ways.

And the tablescapes! I was looking forward to this wedding all year for these tablescapes. The custom rose gold linens which reminded me of abstract art (a nod to the museum), lush centerpieces full of beautiful product including stunning peonies from Alaska (in late July!), custom foiled calligraphed stationery and formal tablescapes (from our favorites Alex and Robyn), not to mention rose gold votives and the most convincing LEDs that flickered like the real deal; it was a really lovely scene as the late summer sun poured in the floor to celling windows.

Anwuli and Pat, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your special day and trusting us with your treasured vision and wishes! We greatly enjoyed making magic happen for you. Congratulations and may this next chapter in your life together be the sweetest one yet. All of the vendors who helped make this wedding come to life are tagged below. Thank you to everyone for your service and outstanding professionalism (as always).

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Photography: Kelly Sweet Photography / Design, styling and florals: Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations / Ceremony: Cathedral of Saint Andrew / Reception venue: The Grand Rapids Art Museum / Stationery and calligraphy: Prairie Letter Shop / Videography: Second Mile Video / Catering: Yo Chef’s / Bride’s ceremony gown: Hayley Paige / Shoes: Badgley Mischka & Rachel Simpson / Veil: Ariel Taub / Bridesmaid’s gown: Dessy / Wedding cake: Connie’s Cakes / Entertainment: Blue Water Kings / Grooms tuxedo: The Black Tux / Make up: Allison Bower / Hair: Pomp & Artistry / Vintage car: Detroit Class Car Rental / Rentals: The Rental Company / Linens: Special Occasions West

Eight Weeks With Everett Drew

Remember this post? Talk about long days and short years. Here we are living that truth out all over again.

When I was pregnant with Everett, I imagined his newborn days would be as easy as the ones I had with Lachlan. Lachlan’s newborn days weren’t anything tremendously difficult or far from textbook ordinary but given I had done the new baby boy thing before, I felt ready for Ev and whatever would come our way. I approached my delivery date with very low expectations, feeling a little nonchalant about the responsibilities of another baby. It’s hard to explain it but in hindsight, in my preparing and hoping for a second redemptive birth after such a traumatizing first, I seemed to give very little thought to everything that would follow.

While I know about the dangers of comparison, my experience with Lachlan created a baseline for comparison and as such, we were presented with hurdles in adjusting to our new normal with sweet Ev in the picture. The first week home with Ev was blissful. Constant snuggles on the couch while autumn sunshine poured into the living room, visitors with fresh cooked meals and kind words of encouragement filled our home, hours spent just watching the leaves turn color outside on our trees before falling to the cooling ground, and ample time getting used to new routines and rhythms with two littles under foot and oh yes, a husband and home needing love and attention too. The days felt very long and they were (are) hard but in a slow and savored kind of way.

Earlier this spring, I privately promised myself a sabbatical away from social media and work once our second baby was born, and with the exception of a few photos shared on my personal account for close friends and family, I did just that. I truly rested and focused on the newness around me. But around our third week home it became overly apparent that our sweet snuggly baby was a little different. His movements and development felt off. His temperament was concerning, if not painful to watch. As such, I candidly share how in that first month, I found myself in a battle between loving this new little creature so much it hurts but feeling like a terrible mother because a lot of things I did provided little to no contentment or comfort for him. Even worse for my heart, I found myself thinking what if our baby’s temperament isn’t something for me to ‘fix’ but instead this is exactly the precious human we were blessed with, as is, endless crying and all?

Around Ev’s fifth or sixth week of life my mama intuition told me something definitely wasn’t quite right with him based on not only his non-stop crying but his fussiness and general tenseness (to summarize a long list of things that felt and looked off with him). Diaper changes would bring my poor baby to red-faced screams, most of our awake time brought on panic because they would always lead to endless crying, and anytime Ev was finally asleep I could only find strength to breathe a little and rest my weary soul (and arms). Any photos I shared publicly were merely rare glimmers of a happy baby, slivers of time where I felt like I was doing something right finally. I researched. Googled all the things at 3:00 am. Prayed. Confided in friends. Went to every single doctor, chiropractor, lactation consultant, craniosacral specialist, and finally, a dentist who helped fix a double tongue tie which was creating so many of the problems we were trying to manage.

We’re only two months into the second baby journey and there’s hard days still. I think there’s hard days for every parent regardless of what your baby needs. But over the last week we have seen a new side to our boy come to life and less tears. We’re adjusting to a new season. A hard one but one worth savoring because it’s not forever. Ev is a smiling, vibrant, curious, and mostly calm little (big!) baby. And while we didn’t love him any less when he was the opposite of those things at what felt like every hour of the day, it certainly helps to know he’s much more comfortable and able to explore the new-to-him world without being reduced to screams and endless tears. I find myself feeling so grateful not only for the gift of this boy to our family, but for the last eight weeks and the way they have refined our family, and my heart, in surprising ways. When Lachlan was born so too was a new version of me. And when I thought that might have been the final rebirth of myself, the heavens gave me Ev.

Enjoy some of my favorite scans from our family session when Ev was three weeks new. I remember it being such a hectic day full of tears for everyone except Andrew (who knows, maybe he was crying on the inside haha). The last thing I wanted to do that day was pose for photos in clothes that didn’t fit with dirty hair and kids who were crying but as always, I’m tremendously grateful for the gift of photography and the professionals that beautifully preserve life’s most precious moments like our dear friend Kelly has done for years now for us.

Just two months in and a lifetime to go. We love you so much, Ev.

To anyone who has a colicky or high needs baby, I know how each minute can feel like an hour, and how an hour can feel like an entire day. I know how it feels to see happy babies online, to hear about friend’s newborns who sleep through the night, to watch some mamas move about their days and lives with such grace and ease, while you’re struggling simply to find time to use the restroom without your home or self imploding. I’m not here to tell you it’ll get better because our realities are unique to our private circumstances and I’m still in the thick of it, but I am here to tell you I’m in it with you. And perhaps instead of it getting better, we simply get stronger. You’re a good mama, even on the days, or in the hours, where it feels so very much like the opposite.

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