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Around The Arts

June 11, 2011

Learn to appreciate all the artistry involved in a wedding

It's wedding season! That period between May and September that has your calendar filled with bridal showers and ceremonies. These affairs monopolize a bride and groom's thoughts from the day of engagement straight through the "I Do's" and reception, and can take months or years to plan. No decision is hastily made, and almost every detail is an expression of the couple's essence.

Whether the engaged pair is doing the planning and preparations alone, or has a plethora of familial support and hired assistance, a great deal of craftsmanship is involved behind the scenes. By the time the big day has arrived, the work has been done and everyone, guests and bridal party alike, is able to enjoy the splendor.

I can no longer count the number of weddings I've been to on my hands, but I can count on just one the number of times I have taken pause to appreciate the artisanship apparent throughout a wedding. This is not to say that the ceremony and reception are taken for granted, but there is so much spectacle and moving from one tradition to the next, that there's no time to sit and appreciate the skilled labor and keen eye that goes into creating each individual component.

It's the thoughtful touches by creative artists that bring a wedding to life _ and art is in no short supply at weddings.

It starts with the save the dates and invitations. Whether made by hand or computer-generated, a designer has agonized over the font and image choice or quality of the handwritten calligraphy. This attention to graphic detail will flow into the ceremony programs and even place cards. And in today's visual world, this artistry is probably the most often overlooked.

As a wedding guest, it is hard not to admire the bridal party members' attire as they march down the aisle. However, it is easy to forget the many talented hands that have created their lavish wear. From the designer to the fabric weaver and finally the seamstress, many hands go into making a perfect outfit.

Perhaps one of the trickiest crafts is in the hands of the florist, as there are many factors to consider when designing arrangements. Though the bouquet receives the most attention during the reception when it is thrown into a crowd of single women, it is an accessory throughout the day and must complement the wedding dress while making its own statement. Centerpieces must be beautiful, but should not hinder conversation. And some pieces need to fill substantial halls without being overwhelming. This takes a trained eye and a steady hand to accomplish.

Most ceremonies are marked by traditional music performed by live musicians — typically an organist or string quartet. Many brides walk down the aisle to a little opera piece _ Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin, or as most people know it, "Here Comes the Bride" _ and the happy couple leaves to "Wedding March" from Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" incidental music.

With so many gourmet cake shows popping up on cable television, the desire for a couture cake is rampant. Frosting colors are vibrant, decorations are elaborate and fondant has opened a whole new world for cake artisans. Today's cakes are so elaborate it is a shame to see them smeared all over happy couples' faces. But, every gourmet baker realizes her product is not only a culinary creation, but a visual one as well.

Some artists' work only begins the day of the wedding, but takes weeks after to fully come to fruition. Photographers and videographers run around getting "the shot," and have only one chance to capture the day. Once the ceremony and reception are over they retreat to editing and unifying the day into one comprehensive album or video. This is most couples' most treasured account of their special day.

Perhaps it will be unique handmade jewelry, crafty favors or a carved huppah, but I hope the next wedding you attend will have something that makes you stop and appreciate the artistry surrounding you. Take that moment of pause. The newlyweds would be happy to know you noticed.

June Dzialo is a member of ArtsOtsego, the alliance of Otsego County arts organizations, and marketing and public relations manager for Glimmerglass Opera. Column ideas and questions may be sent to 'Around The Arts' columns can be found at

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