A 'magicool' outdoor wedding.
Carla Morales and Phil Valois were eager to bring their professional talents and personal style together as they designed their June 4, 2011 wedding. And as graphic designers, no aspect of their DIY ceremony and reception was left untouched.
Carla, a house rabbit mom who designs under the name Carla Rabbit, and Phil, a graphic designer who loves goats, quickly decided on a Goat Groom and Bunny Bride theme — especially fitting since they wed in the Year of the Rabbit.
“Phil and I are makers,” says Carla, who designs with her now-husband under the moniker Reptiles+Rainbows. “We are always working on art and design projects, be it for ourselves or for a client. … Our DIY approach to the wedding is just the way we work.”
The ceremony and reception were both held at the Oak Ridge Lodge in Mount Airy Forest, tucked away from loud noise and busy streets.
“I loved the giant trees, so we set up the ceremony on the grass and used the woods as our backdrop,” Carla says of the venue. “Mount Airy Forest also has a really cool, big treehouse that I always thought would be fun for photos, so Phil and I took some of our portraits in there.” Photographer Johanna Virta captured the day.
They transformed the outdoor venue into a “50 shades of lavender" affair with 36-inch purple balloons, tissue paper puffs and paper garlands and incorporated their style as a couple and as individuals with unique touches of rabbits and goats.
“Everything had to comply with the Goat Groom, Bunny Bride identity we created,” says Carla, “even the scent and color of the bathroom soap — lavender. We brewed two kinds of beer and designed the label on the bottles. Like the bride’s ‘Bunny Brew’ was light and sweet with traces of lavender; ‘Goat’s Milk’ was dark and heavy like Phil.” Their wedding program even doubled as a goat/bunny mask and a fan.
The ceremony commenced with a modest wedding party strolling down grass to Elvis tunes. The bridesmaids wore various hues of purple while the groomsmen wore furry Lamb’s Ear leaves on their suits. In lieu of a ring bearer, Phil and Carla had a ring bear: Carla’s five-year-old nephew wore a furry bear hat and carried the rings on two wild carrots. Phil wore a hand-died bowtie courtesy of local design studio, Brush Factory. And then Carla made her entrance in a short Anna Sui gown with gold glitter Vivienne Westwood plastic heels.
“My first (and only) stop was at Anna Sui, one of my longtime favorite designers and the inspiration behind our black and lavender wedding colors,” Carla says. Her hair was a work of art all its own, styled by Jessie Hoffman of Parlour salon, with a real rabbit skull attached to a gold netting birdcage fascinator Carla made herself.
Before the walk down the aisle, Carla was eager, not anxious. “My sisters couldn’t believe how calm I was,” she says. “I wasn’t nervous at all. I couldn’t wait to walk down that grass. I remember thinking, ‘All my friends are here, my family is here, I’m about to marry Phil, let’s do this!’” The ceremony closed with "Wouldn’t It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys.
The reception was just a hop away from the nuptial site. Guests found their table numbers listed on lavender-flavored rock candy and followed them to glass table numbers cast from numbered birthday candles, courtesy of the friends and family who created them at Brazee Street Studios, where Carla acts as visual director. The dinner was vegetarian, perfect for a rabbit and goat, and Carla's sister baked the wedding cake, which was complimented by gelato from Dojo Gelato.
Suiting up as centerpieces were plaster goat and bunny heads with jade succulents sprouting from the eyes. “Phil and I don’t like flowers; we like plants,” says Carla, who carried a purple artichoke bouquet from H.J. Benken florist. So the groom’s mother grew and grafted each centerpiece for the event. After the guests found their tables, the new duo hit the dance floor.
“Our first dance was a swing routine to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ crazy rendition of the classic "I Love Paris" — our rabbit’s name is Paris,” she says, “Everyone danced and sang with Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke.”
Capping off the night with a torrential downpour, the newlyweds and their guests danced under the rain while the band continued jamming. “Those guys were so cool to keep the party rolling,” says Carla. The couple and their partygoers ended their blissful day indoors enjoying one last acoustic tune.
Photos by Johanna Virta