Austrian-inspired Sound of Music Styled Wedding Shoot

I have loved the film The Sound of Music since I was a little girl. I know the movie by heart and sometimes watch my Blu-ray copy with the sing-a-long lyrics turned on. My dream is to one day take Fraulein Maria's bicycle tour through Austria and witness the Alps in person. Julie Odum, Illinois Certified Professional Florist, and owner of Flora Design Studio, LLC (my main collaborator on this project) first experienced Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music in the home of George Kerasotes former owner of GKC Theaters. Talk about the ultimate movie experience! From that moment on, Julie became a huge fan of this phenomenal film.

A few months ago while I was watching the movie, I suddenly had the thought that the story and movie were the perfect inspiration for a wedding styled shoot. I immediately began jotting down ideas, browsing Pinterest, and thinking of potential vendors to contribute. A few Google searches turned up very little in the way of Sound of Music themed weddings or shoots and so the planning began. When I approached Julie about doing a Sound of Music inspired shoot, Julie didn't even need to think about her answer! Yes, yes, yes! We went right to work planning every detail of the shoot. We both agreed to put a modern spin on the classic film but maintain hints of the film throughout the shoot. The selection of the couple was really important to us. We wanted a real couple to capture true intimacy and we also wanted a groom with a military background. We decided to go with Julie's niece and her soon to be nephew-in-law, Adreana Foster and Devin Waterstradt.

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When scouting for locations for the shoot, we considered many in the area but decided to go with a private residence in the area. The owner of the home is a successful retired Los Angeles interior designer, so the home was perfectly appointed with beautiful designer furniture from around the world and perfect accessories. The home opens up to a lovely landscaped yard overlooking a beautiful lake and creek. The home created the perfect backdrop for the shoot and it also set the tone for the color scheme and floral selection. We decided to focus on soft neutrals of ivory, white, light blue and green tones. When it came to selecting the flowers Julie wanted to create a soft garden feel with fresh picked and locally sourced flowers. Julie and her husband John, in addition to owning their flower shop also grow most of their own flowers from March through October. So Julie knew she wanted to focus on seasonal product with most of it sourced directly from their garden. She focused on Kousa dogwood as a focal, peonies, campanula, lisianthus, light blue delphinium, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace and mixed greens for texture. Julie carried this look throughout the shoot from dressing the Restoration Hardware farmtable with Kousa dogwood, peonies, fresh peaches for a pop of color, mixed greenery, gold-gilded bird cages and crystal candleholders. We were delighted to use the owner's personal collection of Lennox fine china which was hand painted with 24K gold and gold cutlery provided by Palace Events. Our ultimate goal was to bring out the essence of the von Trapps, the musical film, and Austrian culture without being too over the top. The already present chandelier, gold mirror, and authentic art on the wall made the room design feel genuine. Brown paper packages (tied up with strings!) were placed on each plate as a favor for the guests. The table design bears a striking resemblance to the dining room in the movie.

Music obviously was a very important aspect in the film. Austria was the birth place of Mozart, Strauss, & Haydn to name a few, so we brought in Rachel Elizabeth Norton whom is an accomplished area musician. Not only did she fill the shoot with beautiful music, but I was able to capture some elegant shots of her violin accompanied with the bridal bouquet. I also took some detail shots of the homeowner's baby grand piano with fresh floral accents.

We recruited Emily Cavanagh from dash/wood shop to design an invitation suite for us. She came up with a gorgeous design with navy, cream and gold with some tea staining for an extra layer of detail. We especially love the envelope liner she chose because it reminds us of Captain von Trapp’s ballroom walls. She also created sweet little name place cards with rich blue tassels, a vellum vows booklet with sheet music, cotton paper name tags, a paper banner with a verse from “Edelweiss,” and delicate blue silk ribbon accents.

Sarah Heller of Sugar by Sarah contributed with the authentic dessert spread. We of course needed a cake, but with all the other desserts, we decided to keep the cake simple with two tiers, buttercream, and Edelweiss gum paste accents. Sarah chose mini apple strudels as they are featured in the lyrics of “My Favorite Things.” Through research on authentic Austrian desserts, we knew we had to have linzer cookies, which look almost too pretty to eat! Another popular item is a very dense chocolate torte cake, so Sarah baked chocolate cupcakes with buttercream to accompany the main cake. Sarah is a master of French macarons, and these dark chocolate versions included edible gold leaf on top. We wanted to keep the floral simple on the sweets table so they decided the main bloom would be branches of Kousa dogwood placed as simple accents.

The attire was provided by Michelle’s Bridal & Tuxedo. We felt that the bride’s gown needed to be modest with some lace and little to no sequins or beading. We love the cap sleeves of this dress, combined with the light and airy skirt with a short train. The bridesmaid dress was chosen because we felt it was something that Maria would have worn when she returned from the abbey. The dress again features cap sleeves and a figure-accentuating belt in the same coral color, which tied in with the peaches on the dining room table display.

The beverage tables started with a dispenser of pink lemonade for the younger guests — not too sweet, not too sour, but maybe too pink as Uncle Max might say! And for the adults, we created a full bar of top-shelf liquor and assorted beers, including an Austrian grapefruit radler, a trappist bier and the aptly named Georg Schneider’s Weissen Edel-Weisse ale from Germany. Copper mule mugs were added for one of the signature drinks, a grapefruit lingonberry mule.

Adreana’s hair and makeup were done by Jen Schlueter of Shear Excellence Salon. Jen focused on natural skin tones for the foundation with a smoky blue eyeshadow. She styled Adreana’s hair in soft curls with it pinned up on one side. Adreana’s brother Kelly stepped in as the best man. Champaign Jewelers supplied bridesmaid Cayla, who chose the jewelry for the shoot. The jewelry consisted of a diamond tennis bracelet, pearl earrings, and a set of wedding bands for both the bride and groom. Two of the children are twin siblings of the bride, and the other is my daughter Hadley!

The ceremony site was set up in the backyard, among some tall white pine trees. The floor of fallen brown needles softened the look overall and set the ceremony apart from the rest of the yard. We decided to create an early evening ceremony with string lights hung overhead to create a glowing ambiance, and they lined the aisle with copper lanterns and handmade wooden benches. The altar area was enhanced by hanging ivory chiffon from overhead branches and more copper lanterns. They used up-lighting provided by Ryan Reid of Crash Events to further enhance the ceremony area.

Prior to the mock ceremony, they travelled to the neighboring county to the grounds of Robert H. Allerton Park to a white gazebo and meadow to pay homage to the von Trapp’s gazebo and Maria’s singing on a hillside. We live in the flatlands of central Illinois so there aren’t many hills to work with! We continued the portraits in the backyard with mature evergreen trees, rays of sunshine filtering through the trees, and a winding rock creek.

We invited friends, family, and neighbors to attend the ceremony and sit in as guests. Sugar by Sarah’s husband Sid Majumdar stepped in as the officiant. A guitar case served a different purpose as a cardholder and place for “love notes,” and a retro navy suitcase was a nod to both the von Trapps’ escape through the mountains and Maria’s arrival as governess.

Following the ceremony, everyone was invited inside to partake in the abundant food spread, prepared by John Odum. The colorful appetizer menu was both savory and sweet with a little something for everyone.

So long, farewell!