Harry Potter Wedding – The Scarves

Nothing is as quintessentially Harry Potter-ful as the iconic house scarf. I wasn’t very deep into wedding planning when I decided that scarves needed to happen.

Jeremy’s Mom and Stepdad rocking their scarves

It started when I was thinking about the wedding pictures. I wanted pictures of all of us in our scarves. Originally, all of us meant me and Jeremy. And then the definition expanded to include the boys. But just like the guest list went from the two of us, to the four of us, to the four of us and our parents, to the four of us and our parents and families, to the four of us, our parents, families, and our friends, the scarf plan got a lot bigger, too. I started fantasizing about a group photo, where everybody had a scarf.

And not just a scarf… I could’ve gone the direct-from-China route, and bought thin nylon Harry Potter scarves for cheap, or dug out the ol’ sewing machine and whipped together a few lackluster squares of fleece, but if my primary motto is Why buy it when I can make it, my secondary motto is if I’m going to go to the trouble of making something for you, it’s going to be something worth keeping. It’s go big or go home in Brittanyland.

The thing is, my scarf fantasies involved homemade scarves, reminiscent of something Molly Weasley might’ve made. Hand knit beauties that would be fun, and warm, and actually practical. And I was going to make every single solitary one of them. Great idea! Wonderful! Awesome! The best wedding favor EVER!

Except for one teeny, tiny, insignificant detail…

I didn’t have the slightest idea how to knit. Or crochet. And if you know me, you know that numbers and I do not have even the remotest working relationship. There’s a very good possibility that I have dyscalculia (numerical dyslexia), so counting stitches and remembering where I was in a numerically lined pattern was unlikely to go well.

But I was determined. And as Ginny Weasley once said, “You sort of start thinking anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve” (and youtube tutorials.)

Some people would say I love creating work for myself. I say that at my best I’m a planner, but at my worst, I’m a psychotic, micro-managing demon spawned stress basket, and during the lead-up to my wedding, it was probably a good idea to keep myself good and occupied. So I made a goal for myself.

  1. I would teach myself to knit a scarf – on a round loom – less room for error that way.
  2. And I would knit 4 scarves. One for me, Jeremy, and the boys.
  3. If that went well, I would knit more.
  4. But I wasn’t making any promises.

I tried out a couple of YouTube tutorials, and wasn’t successful. My scarf-knitting attempts were dismal, I couldn’t understand the instructions, and I was growing frustrated enough to start looking for fleece scarf patterns.

My best friend’s family

But one day I happened upon the Loomahat channel and this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdxFdqy6u1s

I do not know who this woman is, but she is an angel sent from loom knit heaven. Under her tutelage, I successfully knit one scarf…two scarves… ten scarves… and finally 30 scarves. I was knitting at all hours. Up at 4:40am, knitting. Up at 11:30pm, knitting. Knitting in the car. Knitting on the train. If I wasn’t at work, I was knitting. What I wasn’t doing was stressing about the wedding. I didn’t have time.

This glorious YouTube knitting genius taught me how to switch colors, bind off a nice edge, and even add fringe to the ends. They turned out exactly the way I’d envisioned.

They are pretty spiffy, right?

But have you read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Things have a way of starting off simple, and then morphing into something bigger and crazier. And so it went with the scarves.

The first thought I had was pretty logical. If I’m giving people scarves, I need something to put them in. I could have put them in a clear plastic bin and called it a day, but where’s the fun in that? I got it into my head that I needed an antique trunk, because let’s be real here, no self-respecting Hogwarts student was going to pack their scarves in anything else.

The hunt was on. I found said trunk at the massive yearly yard sale in Warrensburg, NY. It was hideous when I got it, painted a monotone brown, and really looked very much the worse for wear. But we snagged it for about $25, and at that price, I was willing to work with it. Over the course of a weekend I gave it a magical paint job, but the inside was still a disaster–peeling contact paper from many decades ago plus some water staining. I had been hanging onto an old, rotting crazy quilt, that was visually beautiful but literally disintegrating and didn’t know what to do with it. I revisited it, and discovered it didn’t look unlike Harry’s invisibility cloak, so my next project was lining the trunk with the quilt. Problem solved.

The scarves in the magical $25 trunk.

But then, I got to thinking that passing out house scarves to our friends (who knew Harry Potter, knew their houses, and cared very deeply about their scarf’s color) and our family (who didn’t know, didn’t care, and had no idea how important being ___insert your house of choice here___ meant to some people) might end in bloodshed if I didn’t intervene.

So I made name tags. Specifically, I ordered 3 dozen antique-look owl pins off ebay, and then I made envelopes for them to carry from sticky notes. But that looked really boring, so I drew an air mail border around them, because they are carried (in the air) by owls. And for my final embellishment, I dug out my dymo that hadn’t seen the light of day in about six years, and made labels with everyone’s names that looked like post office stickers.

And then I rolled the scarves up, added a wedding program, tied them with ribbon, and attached the little name tag.

I was quite satisfied with how they turned out, until my friend (and photographer extraordinaire) Kira said to me one day, “You know what would be cool to do? Give everyone a wand, so we can do a wand bridge as you enter or exit the church.”

So I made wands. (I’ll add that blog shortly)

And this was the finished product that greeted all our guests when they entered the church.

Wands, Owls, and Scarves. What is more quintessentially Harry Potter?

Just as an aside, because I’m sure someone out there wants some numbers, I made 30 scarves in total. I got all the yarn at Walmart for $2.97 a skein, and it took two skeins to make each scarf. The owl pins were less than $1/ea. The wands are made from thin dowel rods, hot glue, and paint. Not a bad favor considering they cost less than $10 each.

Oh, and I got my picture!

A Harry Potter Wedding – The Bouquet

I have a confession to make. Even before I met Jeremy, I probably had about a dozen secret Pinterest wedding boards.

Remember when I said I like to plan? Well, whenever I was feeling stressed out or needed an escape, I’d log in to Pinterest and plan a wedding. I have boards for the sunny, yellow-themed beach wedding, the Adirondack lake wedding, the treehouse wedding, every __insert your favorite book here__ wedding, medieval weddings, fairy weddings, Shakespeare weddings, and of course several Harry Potter weddings (the I-just-won-the-lottery Harry Potter wedding, the Harry Potter winter wedding, the Harry Potter Christmas wedding, the Harry Potter in England wedding, the Harry Potter in a treehouse wedding…). I’m sure you get the idea.

One photo I pinned over and over and over was a wedding bouquet made of roses, made from the pages of a book. When it was time to plan this wedding, before I knew anything beyond location and time, I knew I wanted a book page bouquet.

Again, I had never folded a paper flower in my life, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

I watched approximately 900 YouTube tutorials on the subject, and decided that with my mathematical/spatial issues, advanced origami style flowers were out. I may be optimistic, but I know my limits. I needed simple, and I needed no folding. Wrapped roses fit the bill.

I got online and ordered 2.5 inch boutonniere pins, ribbon, a styrofoam ball, and a thick dowel rod. As the wedding theme took shape, I found myself gravitating to anything owl-related so on a whim I started looking up feathers that I could possibly incorporate in the bouquet and boutonnieres. I found these crazy, curly Nagori goose feathers, and bought them without having a clue what I’d do with them.

The not having a clue thing was the overarching theme of this project. I had a general idea of the mechanics of paper rose bouquet making, but usually I work from some sort of vision I have for the finished project. I really had no plan for this bouquet. My plan was to wing it. As it happened, though, Jeremy and I were heading to NC to have Thanksgiving with my best friend, Nicole, and her family. I figured I could enlist her help and we could figure this out together.

The first step was to completely destroy a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The irony here is she is a librarian and I have a MA in English. We are the last people who’d normally deface a book.

After that, we cut circles in the pages like this.

We had to experiment a bit with the size, because the diameter of the circle determined the size of the finished roses. We ended up making roses in two sizes, using smaller roses as filler between bigger roses.

Then we cut a wide spiral pattern in each circle. The wider the paper the less cursing you will do later when you start curling it.

The next step was the hardest. It’s really important to use a very thin metal guide. I started with a pencil and it didn’t roll well and the center wasn’t tight enough. Starting at the outside cut, roll the paper tightly until you reach the center of the circle. Don’t curl the last little bit. Allow the paper to unwind slightly and then put hot glue on the center part, and press the rose against it.

Wait for the glue to dry, then stick the boutonniere pin through the center and attach to the styrofoam ball. I didn’t need to glue the styrofoam at all because the pins were very long. Long boutonniere pins are key, so use the 2.5-3 in ones.

At this point I started playing around with the feathers. At first I wanted them to stick out from the bouquet all over in random spots. It was a terrible idea! The paper roses weren’t flexible enough to wrap around the feathers, and the feathers themselves were too long and dwarfed the roses. I wanted to incorporate them though, because the bouquet seemed a little lacking in wow factor.

Now that I knew what wasn’t going to work with the feathers, I started experimenting with putting them on the bouquet in various positions that would compliment their length and not make the bouquet look like a chia pet gone awry. And then this happened.

I thought to myself, this is so weird looking, it just might be awesome. So I went with it, tossing out any preconceived notions I had about how a bouquet was supposed to look. Normally bouquets are small and tight, or they cascade. This bouquet insisted on height. So tradition, be damned. I made it higher.

This was the finished product.

My crazy bouquet.

To be honest, when I first saw the finished product I alternated between two conflicting emotions. One was what the hell is this weird, non-traditional, crazy ass bouquet with a feather wall??? What have you been smoking, woman??? Which ran simultaneously with OMG! What did I just make? This is a FREAKING work of art! It’s the most amazing, fabulous, crazy ass bouquet I’ve ever seen!

The more I looked at it, though, the more I loved it. And the more I loved it, the more my mind churned with other bouquet ideas. My friends say I should make these for other brides, and I certainly wouldn’t be opposed. If you want to commission one, just message me. Or check out my etsy shop once I get that up and running later this spring. I might have one or two available, as inspiration strikes.

I also made Jeremy’s and the boys’ boutonnieres using paper roses, a single feather, and the leftover owl pins from the scarf favors.

I love how they turned out, too.

Paper roses, feathers, and owl pins.

I’ve made a lot of crafts in my day, but this one I’m probably most proud of.

A Harry Potter Wedding

DSC_4261

It’s funny how a simple exchange can change your whole world. Back in June 2017, a message popped up on a local Facebook group for singles I’d joined. It was a post like a hundred other posts. A guy named Jeremy, saying he’d recently moved to the area and was looking to meet people and make friends. Nothing very unusual about that.

I thought he was cute though, so like any good detective, I went and stalked his Facebook page. And there it was, the Hogwarts Crest. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. How much will become obvious pretty soon. So that was an exciting find. I sent him a quick message. Harry Potter fan? And when he replied Yes! my heart skipped a beat. 

Fast forward to July 2018, when we decided, mutually, to get married like rational, not-our-first-rodeo 40 year olds. We revisited that very first interaction with each other and concluded that our wedding had to be Harry Potter themed.

There are three fundamental things you need to know about me:

  1. I love to plan. I love lists, and spreadsheets, and thinking about plans, and planning to make plans, and planning to plan to make plans. Some brides might want to weep and crawl under a rock at the mere thought of having to plan a wedding, but it’s truly the greatest joy of my life. If it wasn’t so darned expensive, I’d get married every year because the sheer amount of things to plan in a wedding is the culmination of my greatest planning fantasies. I relished the thought of getting started.
  2. There is nothing I like more than sinking my teeth into a good theme and just going with it. In a former life, I was a middle school teacher, with a dog-themed classroom. I kid you not, my classroom rules began Sit! Stay! Speak! Come! and were printed on bone-shaped posters. Themes require extra planning, so, as you might imagine, my mind was cartwheeling with ideas for the Harry Potter-est of weddings.
  3. I am the DIY queen. I love to work with my hands, love to work in a lot of mediums, and my personal motto is Why buy it, I can make it! I planned to have a lot of Harry Potter details, and I planned to do them myself. 

I just wasn’t sure what details I wanted to incorporate, or what my budget would allow.

So let me just start my saying, if money was no object, I would have flown my guests to England, gotten married in a Gothic castle, spent a small fortune on sumptuous food and costumes, hired character actors for color, an award-winning photographer, a Dumbledore impersonator to marry us, and would have had live owls for the ceremony and reception afterward.

However, I would also like to buy a bigger house at some point in my life, travel the world before I’m old, and live a comfortable retirement, so some of those ideas, ok, all of those ideas, were going to be well out of my budget.

So back to the drawing board.

There were a few things that I felt very strongly about.

  1. I wanted a winter wedding.
  2. I wanted it to be small and intimate.
  3. I wanted it to be fun. For me, Jeremy, my boys, and our guests.

When we started talking about locations, Niagara Falls kept coming to mind. We live almost 5 hours away. Jeremy’s family lives almost 5 hours away but in a different direction. It wasn’t the closest or most convenient location we could’ve picked, but it’s one of my favorite places to visit. There’s so much to do. And it’s visually breathtaking. Plus, people have been getting married and honeymooning there forever, so they have it down to a science. It’s like getting married in Vegas, without the glitter and the Elvis impersonators. Plus, it was someplace where everyone, no matter their age, could find something fun to do. And fun ticked one of my boxes. So Niagara Falls it was.

I searched online for a venue I liked, and picked the Bridal Chapel of Niagara Falls because it was indoors, beautifully decorated, and had a more traditional non-Vegasy feel about it. They provided the chapel, the officiant, and we purchased the photo and video package. They would have provided flowers and a cake if we’d wanted, but those were things I wanted a hand in.

Then we surprised everyone by sending out wedding invitations before anyone even knew we were engaged, because why not? This wedding was going to be fun, non-traditional, and full of unexpected surprises, so it was the perfect taste of what was to come!

Over the next few posts, I’ll take you through all the different aspects of the wedding. Hopefully it will help all you Harry Potter loving brides find inspiration for your own magical days!