This past September, I married my best friend on a beautiful fall afternoon. When setting out to plan the big day, the first task we wanted to cross off our list was finding the perfect venue. We were looking for something historical yet accessible; in the heart of Philadelphia while still feeling removed from the "hustle and bustle" of Center City. The Woodlands Mansion & Cemetery in Philadelphia fit the bill perfectly. With its neoclassical architectural style and rich history, I knew I would have a lot to work with when it came to inspiration for our stationery and website.
I don't typically get to work on projects that span across print and web, but our guest list ranged from web-savvy millennials to elderly relatives who were less accustomed to internet etiquette. That said, I was excited to get my hands dirty in Adobe InDesign, something I hadn't done in a few years.
We leaned heavily on the history of the venue for the printed stationery and website, borrowing illustrations and drawings from the Historic American Buildings Survey & Historic American Landscapes Survey provided by the Woodlands historians.
Because of The Woodlands relationship with early American botany and landscape design, I knew I wanted to incorporate florals and trees that were significant to the estate. The Norway Maple was believed to be first introduced to the United States by William Hamilton, who inherited The Woodlands from his father. He also introduced the Lombardy Poplar and Ginko Biloba tree to the country. I fell in love with botanical prints from the late 19th century and ended up utilizing the Norway Maple leaf as a staple for our website.
We took a few passes with copy and typography in order to get the layout and feel just right. The font used for the invitations are Mrs Eaves set in Roman and Small Caps, designed by Zuzana Licko from Emigre. The invitations were printed by Paper Presentation on Fabriano Medioevalis stationary.
All photos courtesy of Love Me Do Photography
We wanted the website to be simple and elegant while still clearly communicating the event details. We had a lot of out of town friends coming and wanted to give our guests both context on the venue (it was a cemetery, after all) as well as ample travel information. It was important to us that our guests' day-of planning be as least stressful as possible.
I avoided photographs instead of illustrations and architectural drawings and focused on writing concise copy over long wordy paragraphs. We built the site using Jekyll and GitHub pages and styled it using atomic CSS classes.
RSVP form powered by Formspree
A big part of our choice in venue was the history behind it. That said, we didn't want to go over our heads in giving our guests a history lesson. Part of the beauty of Philadelphia, at least from my perspective, is the humble display of its rich beginnings. The Woodlands became a microcosm of this feeling for me. I'd lived in Philadelphia for almost 6 years, and grew up right outside of the city as a child. How had this magical place slipped under the radar? In the middle of this very busy city exists 54 acres of historical landscape and Victorian-style cradlegraves, centered around a Neoclassical estate that's barely been touched since it was reconstructed in the late 18th century.
The past year has been a chaotic whirlwind of DIY planning, celebrating family, and enjoying every minute of it. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to style this event in parallel to creating its printed and web counterparts. It was truly a labor of love and I'm so happy to be able to share it here as well.