Two of my favorite people got married (to each other!) earlier this month, and it was a celebration to make even the most hardened wedding-goer tear up. Kristin and Jim had their wedding at the Chabot Observatory and Science Center in Oakland, Calif., which made perfect sense for a couple who met while getting their doctorates at MIT. There were wonderful DIY touches all throughout the star-themed event, from the lovely seat cushions sewed by Kristin’s mom, Ann Burgess, to the farmer’s market cherries Jim macerated in brandy for the cocktails, and the truly excellent homemade wine Kristin’s dad makes. Ann arranged flowers, Kristin’s friend Charlie did her hair, and her brother Andreas, cousin Betsy, and friend Andrea (all professional photographers and cinematographers) shot the wedding video and photos. It was a stylish affair with a sense of humor and a dash of insouciance.
But the crowning glory was certainly Kristin’s dress, made by her seamstress cousin, Jenny Ampersand, and programmed with LEDs by Kristin herself. More photos after the jump!
It all started with the amazing starfinder wedding invitations Kristin put together. The window spun around to reveal the URL for their wedding website, the ceremony details, and the constellations we’d be seeing on the night of the wedding!
While Jenny was working on the top layer of the wedding dress, Kristin learned to program a Lily Pad Arduino and control the twinkling LEDs on the underskirt. Here’s what Kristin had to say about the idea for the dress:
“I started with several different ideas, which initially didn’t have much to do with one another — I got it in my head from the very beginning that I wanted to make a dress that in some way had stars in it, or maybe a constellation. We were getting married outdoors under the stars at a space science center, after all. So I thought there should be some sort of fiber optics or LEDs or lights incorporated into the dress, but beyond that I didn’t have a specific plan.
At the same time, my awesome cousin Jenny had agreed to sew a dress for me, and we wanted to make something a little out of the ordinary. I really loved the hood/collar from a dress from the TV show Legend of the Seeker, and the more we talked about it the more we realized the entire dress would work really well with a separate skirt later underneath with the lights on a midnight blue fabric background. Then I found the Lily Pad sewable electronics and it was the perfect way to sew lights into my dress … from there the plan took shape!”
The ceremony took place in an amphitheater at the Chabot Center, and Kristin’s mom, who’s an incredibly accomplished quilter, used some lovely starry fabric to make seat cushions for all of the guests. Another friend who’s a judge performed the ceremony, which was narrated beautifully by Jim, who illuminated the development of his relationship with Kristin with passages from a physics textbook and Ulysses, read by other friends.
Jim is the only physicist I know who can also quote Proust from memory, and Kristin is the only astrophysicist I can imagine who would apply her brilliant mind to the complicated world of emergency medical services. It was an amazing wedding that was so true to the unique and amazing people they are, to the love that they share, and also felt like a testimony to the wonderful talents of the friends in their lives.
And as the sun went down, we could suddenly see the stars weren’t in the sky, but on Kristin’s dress.
(Photography by Andreas Burgess and Andrea Dunlap.)