Produced and styled by Rocket Science Weddings & Events
Photography by Cadence & Eli Photography
“It is easy to be inspired by beautiful things, I wanted to flex my creative muscle and find beauty in the darkness,” says Gretchen Culver, owner of Rocket Science Weddings & Events. The inspiration for this styled shoot came from the Francis Bacon painting “1946,” which lends itself perfectly to Culver’s desire to find inspiration in art that isn’t traditionally considered beautiful. In fact, many view his work as disturbing.
Culver’s appreciation for art goes back to her roots as an art history major in college, a path which wasn’t always planned. “A few good professors put me on that path; I have always had an interest in art and design so it was a natural fit,” she says. “After college I didn’t know what I was going to do, but happened into the world of special events. I loved how I was able to use my creativity and background in art to produce one-of-a-kind experiences for people. Now, each one of my events has an art historical context. Art is inspiration for me during the design process.”
Culver shares that there were some elements of this styled shoot that were very literal translations from the artwork. For example, the yellow boutonniere worn by one of the grooms, the oriental rug, the umbrella as a photo booth prop, and the shapes used for the painted panels. The colors were also directly pulled from the painting.
“While at first glance you might not notice the peach and mauve, the painting does have some beautiful interesting colors and tones,” Culver adds. “I also tried to mimic the painterly feel of the work – this can be seen in the painted panels in the ceremony vignette as well as the invitation.”
Some elements of the painting were less literal. The animal carcasses in the painting were the trickiest element to incorporate, Culver says, as she didn’t want to push the envelope too far. This resulted in a roasted pig as part of the escort card display, draped beautifully with flowers. Pig hides were also included in various places (Bloody Mary bar, lounge, dessert table, photo booth backdrop) to allude to the animal carcasses.
“I looked more at the shapes and textures the animal parts were creating in the painting and then found design elements to represent that,” Culver confesses. “Some elements were just fun inspiration. For example, I thought, what would be the signature drink at a Francis Bacon wedding and a Bloody Mary immediately came to mind. Our awesome dessert company, Cocoa & Fig, got creative with the desserts like a bacon cupcakes and blackberry macarons.”
And what would a painting-inspired styled shoot be without real paintings? Local Minneapolis artist Steph Guidera shared her talents with “beautiful, moody paintings that were the perfect addition to the lounge vignette.”
“The painting inspired me to create a same-sex styled shoot featuring two men. It just seemed like a natural fit for some reason,” Culver adds, noting that the models are an actual couple who got married Labor Day weekend at Mill City Museum in 2015. “I knew they would be just perfect for the shoot as they are both handsome and ‘tough’ and so in love. You can really see it in the photos.”
The addition of a flower girl in the shoot resulted from Culver’s vision of the couple as a modern family. She says, “Many same-sex couples I know have children before they are legally married, because getting legally married just became an option! It is a family affair.”
The Machine Shop was built in 1916 as a part of the Pillsbury Mills, which was at one time the largest mill in the world. Now, the building has been carefully restored, keeping the original 1916 architectural details intact, while introducing modern luxury in this industrial space. The building will again be a cornerstone for the city of Minneapolis.
Steps from the Mississippi River, the Machine Shop event venue will host a variety of events in its open, flexible space. From cultural events open to the public, to lavish weddings, the Machine Shop is equipped for them all. With space for over 300 guests, combined with the innate character of the space and the lavish updates, clients and guests will experience grand events like never before in Minneapolis.
The facility was used for a few different storage purposes over the years, but has mainly been empty in recent times. The benefit of this has been that the historical integrity of the space was largely kept intact. “When we saw the two levels of floor-to-ceiling windows and amazing location, we knew it would be a perfect asset to the event scene in Minneapolis,” says Jessica Barrett, the Machine Shop’s executive director. “This summer will be the inaugural wedding season for our venue, but we have a seasoned crew with years of planning extraordinary events under our belts. We truly love when individuals let their personalities, tastes, and personal traditions dictate the day.”
Other than preferred vendors for catering and valet (not required with self-parking available in the neighborhood and surrounding street parking, but recommended), Barrett says couples are free to customize the space using vendors they enjoy. A combination of dimmable lighting throughout, some spotlighting and decorative accent lighting (all included with the rental cost) allow for a look perfect for the big day. And aside from open flames, confetti, or glitter, Barrett and her team are extremely flexible and want to help you create a unique expression of your event.
Two sets of restrooms, which the Machine Shop will help in labeling as gender neutral for your event, and two dressing rooms, both of which are gender neutral, make the Machine Shop perfect for GLBT weddings.
And, couples scouting venues should pay careful attention to the added bonus of a coat check closet (staff available if requested), tables and chairs, and security is provided with the rental fee. Seating on the main floor accommodates 300, while using a combination of the main floor and upstairs allows up to 500.
ATTIREAlthough models Matt Gerber and Tim Mantel wore their tuxedos from their own 2015 wedding, Culver says this styled shoot was easy to dress because the painting expressly has a man in dark attire with a white shirt and yellow boutonniere.
“I always love tuxedos and bow ties,” she shares. “I don’t think there are enough reasons to get dressed up these days, so that is why I elevated the formality and look from the painting. The accessories they wore were complementary, not matching, and the colors were all pulled from the painting.”
Complementary attire instead of matching, Culver says, is crucial. “Bring a bit more personality in to each outfit while still looking good together,” she says. “Don’t wait until the last minute. Tailoring takes time. For example, if you are ordering something custom from Italy remember that they don’t work during the month of August so get your order in extra early if you are having a late summer or fall wedding.”
Gerber’s advice is bring extra, even if you think you won’t need it. “Bring a spare undershirt, underwear, and socks,” she says. “Whether it is summer or winter, you will get excited on your big day and sweat. You will be glad to have the option to change into fresh undergarments before the reception.”
Rocket Science Weddings & Events is a planning and design firm, but will do florals for couples not utilizing those services if desired. Culver and her team created the floral arrangements for this shoot, selecting flowers because of their color and style. “I wanted to blend unique blooms like orchids and amaryllis with luxurious standards such as garden roses,” Culver says. “We’re starting to see a resurgence in the use of color. The soft color palette that dominated wedding florals the last several years is shifting to include more bold colors. This styled shoot is a great example of the trend.”
As Culver notes, spring and summer weddings have the great advantage of using local, in-season flowers. Some flowers, like peonies, are only available in spring/early summer so if you have your heart set on a certain type of flower you should plan your wedding day around their growing season. And, Culver reminds couples to work within the color palette of your venue(s). She says, “If your flowers complement the space, the whole design is elevated and feels seamless, giving you a bigger bang for your buck. Talk with your florist about all of those details: your venue(s), attire, your style, etc. so they understand and can guide you in the right direction.”
Culver’s greatest advice is to be prepared for a bit of potential sticker shock; flowers are not cheap. Letting your florist know your budget up-front means they can help you make decisions that will give you the best look for your budget. “Without some budgetary guidelines, they may propose ideas that are not within your means, setting you up for disappointment,” she says. “No reputable florist will try and gouge you or take advantage of you if you share your budget; rather it allows them to do their job better and give you the best end result.”
Florals: Rocket Science Weddings & Events
Tableware: The Festive Frog, Ultimate Events
Linens: Aprés Party & Tent Rental
Drapery: Avant Décor, Nuage
Catering: Unique Dining Experiences
Desserts: Cocoa & Fig
Stationery: Gretchen Berry Design Co.
Additional Rentals: BeThings, Beverly & Co., Event Lab, On Solid Ground Vintage Rentals
Venue: The Machine Shop, www.machineshopmpls.com
Photography: Cadence & Eli Photography, www.cadenceandeli.com
Planning and styling: Gretchen Culver, Rocket Science Weddings & Events, www.rocketscienceweddingsandevents.com