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Staying sentimental: Creations to celebrate your big day long after saying 'I do' 


Flowers? Check! Dress? Check! Cake? Check! Besides a venue, some invitations, and a few (OK, many) other details, I'd say we have ourselves the makings of a wedding! While the actual day-of inevitably flies by in a flash, every wedded couple wants special reminders of their bond beyond the rings. Dusting off the wedding album once a year is great, but with some clever ideas, experts who know the peaks and pitfalls, and plenty of opportunity to add your own flair, there isn't just one right way to remember your big day.

Flowers create the subtle detail and backdrop to a picture-perfect day, but what to do with something already on its way to death when you want it to last a lifetime? Pressed-botanical artist Sarah Presogna, proprietor of Ecobata on Etsy, offers a beautiful solution with her framed creations. She sees the beauty of the medium for many reasons, and while she doesn't hold it above other preservations, she does favor the method.

click to enlarge DELICATE BEAUTY Ecobata owner Sarah Presogna creates one of a kind artwork by combining beautifully pressed pieces from her clients wedding bouquet and other sentiments such as photos, vows, and song lyrics. Her work is available through Etsy. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF SARAH PRESOGNA
  • Photos Courtesy Of Sarah Presogna
  • DELICATE BEAUTY Ecobata owner Sarah Presogna creates one of a kind artwork by combining beautifully pressed pieces from her clients wedding bouquet and other sentiments such as photos, vows, and song lyrics. Her work is available through Etsy.

"The advantage of pressing the blooms is that they become a two-dimensional keepsake. When bouquets are preserved in 3-D, you need shelf space to display them, they need to be dusted often, and there is not usually a way to protect them from light damage," Presogna said. "With flat pressed flowers, they become a piece of framed art on your walls."

Many couples choose to include a wedding photo or vows, and even private jokes get incorporated. One thing she wants all those interested in having their flowers pressed to know: Plan ahead!

"If you start looking into it after your wedding, you have very limited time to get them to the artist in the best shape. I will often get emails from brides who want to preserve their flowers but got married last week, or are just returning from their honeymoon. By then, it's too late to press them," Presogna said.

A little planning is well worth it for an incredible and delicate reminder of your beautiful day.

Asked what it is she loves the most about her unique line of work, Presogna said: "The thing I love more than anything is that I'm able to take these incredibly important symbols of someone's wedding day and let them shine for a lifetime. I know the cost that goes into creating the perfect wedding, not just financially but emotionally as well. I was married myself last year, and I did not understand how much of yourself you put out there to organize a wedding until I went through the process. There are all these decisions you make, from colors to dresses to decorations and then, poof, it's all over. By saving these flowers and preserving them, you can at least hold on to one of those decisions. You get to enjoy the flowers longer than the appetizers, than the table cloths, than the DJ. And I'm honored each and every time a bride trusts me with saving one of those decisions."

Wear it more than once

While there are plenty of options if you simply want to preserve your wedding gown as is (aka—in a fancy box in the back of your closet), there are more creative ways to reuse the dress and give it a second chance to be a star. Teresa Leigh of T.Leigh Couture recommends opting for several separates instead of one new piece.

click to enlarge RENEWED SENTIMENT Teresa Leigh transformed a mother-of-the-bride's outdated gown into a chic masterpiece. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF T.LEIGH COUTURE
  • Photos Courtesy Of T.Leigh Couture
  • RENEWED SENTIMENT Teresa Leigh transformed a mother-of-the-bride's outdated gown into a chic masterpiece.

"Out of the average dress I could get a combination of two things—a top, a skirt, shorty dressy shorts, a jacket, and a clutch—depending on how much fabric I had."

The reasoning behind her advice is both practical and sentimental: "Wear it in separates until it wears out, making the most of what you have for yourself, re-invent it for a vow renewal for you and your honey, or pass it down to a daughter, niece, or loved one and give her the opportunity to re-invent it—before-and-after pics are wonderful!"

Leigh is no stranger to reinvention, tasked by an indecisive bride to revamp her mother's straight-from-the-'80s wedding gown complete with over-the-top shoulder poof and 10-inch ruffles, she finally got to the heart of the matter—the bride really just wasn't a dress wearer, so things she didn't like came to mind much faster than those she did.

"I had a heart-to-heart with her, away from mom and friends and sisters," Leigh said. "I asked, 'What do you like clothes to feel like? What is the aesthetic you are going for? Do you like wearing things with movement or prefer the stiffness of corset?'"

Ultimately, by eliminating what the bride didn't like, the designer was able to create a picture of what she would look like on her big day—a scoop neck, sleeveless A-line with satin detailing at the neck and waistline. Not even a hint of the '80s was left, but the bride still got to enjoy the sentiment of wearing her mom's dress on her big day. Whether building a dress from the top down, reinventing an heirloom, or having your gown turned into something else, Leigh reminds brides that these things take time.

"I need a month minimum to alter a dress, and at least three if I'm building a custom piece," she said.

The sewetician travels far and wide to find the best fabrics and has swatches sent in from New York. Only the best because, after all, this is a piece meant to last a lifetime, however you decide to preserve it.

Keep that cake

The idea of cutting into the top tier of your wedding cake on the first anniversary of your vows is sentimental gold, but the practical reality of it can leave you with a stale mess of freezer-burned regret. One option? Ask your bakery of choice if they will include a miniature replica of your cake top in the bid, fresh and ready for pickup on your anniversary. Fresh cake and a year's worth of freezer space? Yes, please!

If this isn't an option, professional bakers recommend you make sure your cake is wrapped well in several layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and stored in a tightly fitted box until the time comes to celebrate. Many catering companies and bakeries offer this as part of their services. Be sure to ask if you plan on preserving your cake for future celebration.

No matter how you decide to remember your wedding day, take the cliché but truthful advice everyone offers—enjoy every minute, it'll be over in the blink of an eye. Δ

Contributor Anna Starkey is all about cake. Send comments through the editor at

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