The Fine Art Wedding Workshop: Nutcracker Ballet in Pittsburgh
When Jenn and I first came up with the idea of planning a series of styled shoot workshops for photographers and planners, we knew we wanted something that lent itself to a fine art type of styling and photography. I don’t remember who came up with the idea of ballets -- (It was probably me. I still have my childhood copy of Dance Me a Story on my bookshelf from when I dreamed of being a prima ballerina), but we both knew that a Nutcracker shoot was an absolute must.
Our goal from the initial conception of the shoot was to have a Christmas shoot without looking too Christmassy or overdone. We decided to focus the theme on the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Land of the Sweets in tones of mauves, blushes, and purples. Luckily for us, the Christmas merchandizers also decided to go with those tones. And of course, the new Nutcracker movie didn’t hurt either.
As always, I gave this shoot a story. The couple named is Clara Marie Stahlbaum and Peter George Drosselmeyer, after the two popular names of the heroine of the ballet and Godfather Drosselmeyer’s nephew. This story is for all of us who dreamed as children of growing up to be in the Nutcracker.
All photos are taken by Jenn Marie Wedding Photography unless otherwise credited.
Peter and Clara’s Pittsburgh Land of the Sweets Wedding
When Peter and Clara came to me, they had a very clear vision of what they wanted for their holiday wedding. Clara wanted luxurious details, saturated colors, and a Nutcracker Ballet theme. Peter wanted a great party and amazing food. Those, friends, are Bespoke & Beloved Events’ specialty.
When we first met to begin planning , Clara told me:
Peter knew he wanted a tux that was more than your standard rental, and The Black Tux never disappoints with top of the line menswear, and by sending in his exact measurements, the tux was a perfect fit all over. In a subtle nod to the Nutcracker prince, Peter chose the blue Midnight Pin Dot tuxedo and midnight vest. He opted for a leather bow tie and pocket square from Nevestica Fashion; the matching leather stick pin instead of a traditional boutonniere was the perfect touch of rock and roll to set this look apart from the traditional groom’s look. Clara gifted Peter with these fun Nutcracker cufflinks for a wedding gift.
Clara wanted to have her hair down for her ceremony, but up and out of the way at her reception so she would be all ready to dance and party the night away. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than sweaty hair sticking all over you when you’re trying to bust your best move on the dance floor. Dominika Bronner Hair and Make Up created two stunning hairstyles, one featuring an evergreen crown and the other a tiara fit for the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
When it comes to choosing details for your ceremony and reception, your save the dates and invitations set the tone of a wedding, since they are the first peek at the event that your guests see. These three-dimensional music box invitations, designed by Cutture with gorgeous individually-created, gold-edged reception cards created by Judith Browne Calligraphy left no doubt that this wedding was going to be one like no other.
We knew that in order to have the amazing details that Clara and Peter wanted to infuse into every aspect of the event that we needed the perfect venue. HIP at the Flashlight Factory was the perfect canvas to build a luxury wedding around. It is what it says it is, a working factory that ran from the late 1800s to the early 2000s when it was turned into the stunning venue that it is today. Raw and painted brick, vintage fireplaces, industrial sliding doors, original hardwood floors and floor to ceiling windows, and the most amazing cake swing ever made this the perfect place to stage Clara’s Sugar Plum Fairy dreamscape.
The ceremony took place in front of HIP’s stunning vintage fireplace mantle styled with candlelight, Nutcrackers, tulle, and evergreen garland created by Holly Hanna Floral. The spruce branches in the bride’s bouquet mimicked the garland as well as the other floral arrangements throughout the wedding. Guests found their seats in HIP’s eclectic collection of wooden chairs and antique church pews.
For the reception, Peter and Clara chose to use HIP’s concrete topped tables to carry out the vintage-industrial feel of the venue and up the wow factor even more by renting the Casper chair from Marbella Event Rentals. The guest tablescapes feature dinnerware from All Occasions Party Rental and table runners from Mosaic linens. Guests found their seats at tables named for characters from the beloved ballet story. Each table number featured a copy of an original costume sketch by Robert Perdziola for the Boston Ballet printed on vellum and accented with gold edging and calligraphy by Judith Brown Calligraphy.
Clara and Peter’s sweetheart table is worthy of every sugar plum dream that went into creating it. This masterpiece is brought to you by Marbella, All Occasions, Holly Hanna, and some wedding magic by yours truly.
Peter’s request for great food would be incomplete with out themed signature cocktails and, of course, the infamous Pittsburgh Cookie Table, all beautifully accented by Judith Browne Calligraphy’s watercolor-washed parchment and decorated mirror labels. Clara and Peter chose personal and local favorite cookies like macarons, gingersnaps, pizzelles, and cake pops, as well as treats like ribbon candy, gum drops, marzipan lollipops, and candied sugar plums inspired by characters found in the Nutcracker ballet’s Land of the Sweets.
The bar selections, featuring his and hers signature cocktails, were also inspired by the ballet. Clara’s cocktail, the Sugar Plum Fairy, features vodka and sparkling grape juice. Peter’s, the Nutcracker, packs a wallop worthy of its namesake with Frangelico, vodka, and almond milk.
Tasty Bakery always creates sugar-filled magic with her cakes, and this show-stopping number is a land of sweets on its own. Suspended in the air on a golden swing, this cake is the perfect ending to a night filled with wonder. Four tiers of sugar petals, bold colors, gold leafing, piped icing, and molded fondant adorn this towering dessert, and the snow globe topper brings just the right amount of cozy charm to the luxurious splendor.
I wish Peter and Clara all the best on their new adventure, and I have no doubt that they will create an amazing life together. After all, “Wonderful things will always be seen by those who have the eyes to see them.” And this wedding is proof that these two can dream of wonderful things together.
This was the largest wedding shoot I have designed and planned to date, and I could never have done it without all of the amazing members of the wedding community who contributed their products, time, and talent.
Design/Coordination: Bespoke and Beloved Events
Design/Photography: Jenn Marie Wedding Photography.
Hair and Makeup: Dominika Bronner Hair and Makeup Artist
Floral Design: Holly Hanna Floral
Cake and Cake Pops: Tasty Bakery
Calligraphy: Judith Browne Calligraphy
Gown: Opal and June
Bridal Footwear: ASOS
Groomswear: The Black Tux
Bow Tie, Stick Pin, and Pocket Square: Nevestica Fashion
Quote from Dance Me a Story by Jane Rosenberg.