A Celebration 37 Years in the Making

the sweet story behind our wedding celebration spot & how it inspired a hand-painted invitation suite

hand-painted wedding invitation suite by Michelle Mospens, Mospens Studio

The idea arrived on a warm spring Saturday in 1981. My parents were house-hunting for their second home in preparation for my arrival later that year, and decided to take a peek at an old farm home in New Canaan, the town just next door. 

An antique home sitting on the forefront of a sprawling backyard, it was previously owned by a dairy farmer, and to this day I like to imagine what it all looked like before the rest of the land was divided into lots, the maple trees low and young, the hills peppered with cows. My parents had the warm fuzzies the second they stepped foot into it's wood-paneled front entrance with the typical low-slung ceilings of old colonials. (My mom said the only thing it lacked was a "grand staircase," something she'd always wanted but was clearly willing to forgo... the house has an innate charm which captivated them from the first moment.) It needed work though — lots — but it would become a labor of love and life for them. They looked past the dated wallpaper, floors that need refinishing, '30s kitchen, lack of storm windows and insulation and thought it could all be completed over time. (They are brave souls!) 

The realtor led them outside to what was historically called the Rose Garden, a partially covered terrace with old-fashioned green and white striped awnings, providing a sheltered vista from which to enjoy views of the topiary garden and backyard (which at the time had a dozen apple trees growing on it). 

It was the icing on the cake of a home they were already falling in love with. My dad was breath-taken and his mind immediately reeled toward the future as he imagined lively gatherings (there have been many) and peaceful summer nights alike out there. Looking at my mom and referring to the approaching arrival of another child, he said simply if not hopefully, “If it’s a little girl we’ll have her wedding reception here.” 

The rest is history. 

If only he could be here to witness a dream that was 37 years in the making. They moved in early July, and our wedding will be just a couple of weeks past that anniversary. A simple comment and fleeting moment grew into what will surely be one of my best memories materialized in my favorite place.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the wedding invitation we designed is infinitely more than just an invitation.

It is a portrayal of a father's dream, a mother's tears of joy, both of their green thumbs, and a girl's life. Its aerial point of view is the vantage point my dad will have of the celebration. And it represents the best that's yet to come: the start of a new family. 

That little piece of hand-painted paper is truly a piece of art.

Every summer my parents put two blue hydrangeas in planters flanking a couple of stone steps down to their al fresco dining table, which was also my dad's favorite outdoor reading spot. I made no requests as to the artwork on any card besides the invitation, but what should appear on the reply card? Two blue hydrangea stems, one on each side of the bottom of the card.

Despite the fact that my dad can't walk me down the aisle or give me that strong and silent gleam of confidence I have depended on so much in the past, I know he will definitely — and always — be by my side.