Michele Ronsen & Tony Marcell’s extremely DIY (Delight In Your) wedding

[Alyson Kuhn] Modern brides have begun to embrace custom rubber stamps as an artful element of their wedding invitations, accoutrements and other papery accessories. This trend gets our stamp of highest approval, so we set out to find a DIY high practitioner to interview. Creative Director Michele Ronsen, who had never rubber-stamped before her engagement, describes herself as “certifiably craftalicious now.”

The Bride’s bouquet and The Groom’s boutonnière both included bromeliads, the ultimate sustainable bloom. Photos: Marla Christina Aufmuth.

I chatted with The Bride about her moodboards (16 in all!), her “individual eco-system” terraria (70) and other deluxe DIY details (myriad). It’s worth keeping in mind that Michele and Tony became engaged on May 8 and were married October 8 — because they wanted an autumn wedding. The entire event, including finding a supremely sustainable venue, came together at “wedding warp” speed.

The floral moodboard: After the wedding, The Couple deconstructed the 50 terraria centerpieces unclaimed by guests and planted the succulents in their garden.

As a trained graphic designer, did you consider designing your wedding invitations yourself?
I did, but Michael [Osborne] was one of my instructors at the Academy of Art University, and I worked for him in the mid-’90s … and as soon as I told him Tony and I were formally engaged, he insisted. I was honored and flattered, and I knew it would be fun to work together again after all these years.

The “layers” moodboard, evoking the many textures and patterns desired in the stationery suite.

Have you created moodboards for other projects?
Yes, for years, for my residential interiors projects as well as for work on branding and experience projects. And my husband is in the food and wine industry, where he uses moodboards a lot, too. Moodboards have always been a great way for us to collaborate and communicate easily — especially on restaurant concepts. Most of the time I assemble, but he often describes: “very warm, sunflowers on the table, Moroccan tile-ish.” I might ask “modern Switzerland or traditional Switzerland?” I’ve found that moodboards provide an excellent storytelling framework.

The “tablescape” moodboard. Michele Ronsen combines fabric, imagery she finds online, and photos she takes with bits from magazines, menus and brochures.

In this case, they helped us develop a shared vision and experience, and also saved us tons of time and effort with our vendors and suppliers. The vendors perhaps benefitted the most. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

The save-the-date cocktail coaster was letterpress-printed by Rocket Caleshu at the SF Center for the Book, with help from The Bride. (The invitation and RSVP card were letterpress printed at One Heart Press.) Photo: Marla Christina Aufmuth.

How would you describe the mood, or the message, evoked by all your bridal moodboards?
“Upscale urban picnic.” We wanted to truly delight our guests with a local evening — using as many local ingredients and local suppliers as possible. My #1 was that the location had to be unique. Tony’s was that he wanted full control over food and beverages. And we wanted everything to feel warm, intimate and homemade — and to be as sustainable as possible.

Laser-printed sheets provided details and directions, customized by guest demographic — locals (residents of SF), bridge-crossers (Bay or Golden Gate), out-of-towners, wedding party/immediate family.

What happened when you and your 16 moodboards arrived at MOD?
Michael almost had a heart attack. He laughed, though, because he knows me! I said I thought they would go a long way toward illustrating the look we were after. I walked him through them, and we started to sketch right there. Ten days later, MOD came back with three options, all of which we loved. For all Michael’s joshing about the moodboards, they saved everybody a tremendous amount of time and energy.

Ronsen experimented with various decorative papers from Flax. This pattern was the winner.

And then?
We combined two of the three options into the invitation, and used the third for the save the date. So the moodboards worked. Then I went to Flax to select some decorative papers to play with. We definitely wanted color — particularly orange, which we both love — against something neutral. Tony envisioned a wooden, rustic, warm combination.

Art for the floral rubber stamps came from the decorative paper. MOD e-mailed files to City Stamp + Sign and several days later, the stamps were delivered.

I’m guessing you were the primary invitation assembler. Did you have any assistants?
Yes, I was, but Tony and I assembled them together. It was funny! We wound up with very specific roles. He liked cutting the leather laces [which Ronsen bought on a spool at Michael’s Art Supplies], and he liked layering the sheets, but he didn’t like stamping or tying. We kept track of how long it took us to assemble them: over 40 hours to put together 120 invitation packages, including the rubber stamping. I thought it was a bonding experience! He joked about divorce, though! LOL.

The postage stamps also add to the envelope ambiance. The invitation envelope (foreground) received a pair of stamps, since it weighed over an ounce.

Did you use your floral rubber stamps anywhere else?
On the water bottle labels. I bought the water at Trader Joe’s, because the bottle had a small label, so we would save paper and reduce stamping time. We removed the existing labels, rubber stamped new ones, and wrapped the bottles at my bachelorette party. I had always known the bachelorette party would include craft activities. Most of my closest girlfriends are designers and/or crafters!

The bachelorette party was actually a two-day slumber party. We also designed and assembled the ceremony programs, the margarita swizzlers, coffee stirrers and welcome packets for out-of-town guests. And we stamped the napkin rings and utensil roll-ups, made the flower girl halo headpiece and props for the photo-booth. And lots of directional signage.

Tip from Ronsen: “If you try this at home, make sure not to place the newly wrapped bottles in ice to chill. The paper labels are not waterproof!” Photos: Marla Christina Aufmuth.

Napkin rings are kraft paper rubber stamped with the [heart] TM [heart] logo. Photo: Marla Christina Aufmuth

If you had to describe your favorite aspect of the entire creative process, what would you say?
I cannot pick just one! The whole experience was a creative and collaborative process — for Tony and me, and for our guests. We’re seriously blessed to have such generous and creative people in our lives, many of whom contributed in unforgettable and imaginative ways. Designing our wedding has made me realize how much I love doing event design. Tony and I are currently collaborating on events — with moodboards! —  for Wayfare Tavern. I would love to design other people’s weddings, parties or business events!

Branded Champagne bottles were a surprise gift from graphic designer Andrea Jenkins, who is also an independent artisan wine consultantPhotos: Marla Christina Aufmuth.

Lead photo & all attributed photos: © 2011 Marla Christina Aufmuth

To read about how The Couple met, click here.

To reach Michele Ronsen, click here.



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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by sarah on 02.6.12 at 12:21 am

    some very lovely details 🙂

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