Behind the Scenes of SMP: Meet Jess!
September 18, 2013
If you've ever perused the DIYs that grace our pages, or perhaps pored through our photo shoots so planned to perfection. Then you, my dear, have come across the work of our resident crafter, Jess. She's got more creativity in her pinky than most of us could EVER dream of, yet the kind of girl who makes anyone feel instantly at ease. And today we've got a little HUGE treat in store. You see, last year our dear Jess tied the knot and you better believe her wedding was filled to the gills with DIYed details big and small. But before we kick off all the fun, let's look back at some of her favorite SMP projects and get to know Jess just a wee bit better, shall we?
SMP: You're the DIY guru of SMP. How did you get started in a career as an expert crafter?
It definitely started at home for me. My mom is a great crafter so I learned a lot of basic skills growing up. I remember poring over her Martha Stewart Living subscription every month, and brainstorming our plans to decorate for the next holiday, learn cake decorating, or revamp one of the rooms in our house. I majored in sculpture in college and refined a lot of my skills. Since college I've worked everywhere from a flower shop to a reception desk, even as a sign artist for Whole Foods. I've picked up little bits from every job- basic flower arranging here, some graphic design and handwriting training there. So many of the things I do today are things I was working on for fun at age 12. How amazing is that?
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SMP: Favorite DIYs to date?
Oh this is a tough one! I'd say it's a tie between the faux coral candlesticks, because they're just so quick and so elegant, and the marble & copper Ikea side table because it's one of the most transformative pieces we've done. It looks so luxe- you'd never guess it was originally from Ikea!
SMP: You plan a lot of SMP's photo shoots from start to finish. Talk to us about your creative process.
Typically I start with finding the colors & textures that will evoke the mood we're going for. I'll usually make a pinterest board that is filled with anything from images that have the right mood or color, to specific products I know will fit the bill. This helps me look at everything together, to see if each piece works with the other. The day of the shoot, I'm all about styling. I look for details that will look great highlighted in a photo, or ways to arrange the elements of the party that will let them stand out in a post and give the viewer a sense of what it was like to be in the environment.
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SMP: How do you stay inspired?
I stay inspired by looking at other people's work (can you tell I loooove Pinterest?) but I find the trick is to look at inspiring work that's not directly related to what I'm working on. I also try to stay exposed to anything and everything in the worlds of art, design, & fashion, break down what it is I like about beautiful pieces, and think about how I can use those concepts in another way.
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SMP: Now, let's switch gears and talk wedding. Tell us about the proposal. We want deets!
It was really sweet. We were in Florida for a mini-vacay and we decided to go the beach for a sunset picnic. We had our toes in the sand, drinking wine, watching the waves and talking for a few hours, and then he suggested we draw surprise pictures for each other in the sand. I had him close his eyes while I drew a dinosaur in the sand. He covered my face with a t-shirt and when I took it off, he had written Will you marry me? in the sand and he was on one knee! I was SO surprised, but of course I said yes.
SMP: Where did you start when planning your wedding? What was the initial inspiration?
To start planning, I thought a lot about what we both love, and what my favorite design inspiration is in general, so I ended up with a rough list of things like: summer in the Berkshires, old New England glamour, a sense of history (especially family history), gold accents, rambling flowers and vines, loose calligraphy, watercolors, and a-dress-so-big-I-have-to-be-stuffed-into-the-car. Then I thought about the vibe we wanted to achieve, which ended up being a delicate balance of an easygoing summer dinner on the porch mixed with glam gowns and elegant details (kind of tough to pull off, I know, but I think we did ok)!
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SMP: How did you decide what to DIY and what to hire out?
I would have DIYed everything if I could have, but there was only one of me and not that much time. That said, I definitely bit off a (little bit) more than I could chew for our wedding. I'm just so good at making grandiose plans! If I were doing it over again, I would be a little more choosy with what projects I made vs. bought. I would try to keep all your DIY projects for things that can be made ahead of the last few weeks. And I would recommend sticking to things you're comfortable with. Never sewn? Don't get into it now, you'll make yourself crazy trying to teach yourself while doing it. Love baking? Great! Maybe you can bake a bunch of little somethings for a late-night treat ahead of time, and freeze until the big day.
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SMP: Favorite moment from the day?
I had seen another bride on SMP talk about how she and her husband took some time to "hide out" right after the ceremony, and how important it was to her that they took some time to process what just happened in private. Boy, was she right! I told my day-of coordinator to send everyone down to the reception while we went up to the balcony of the church for a few minutes alone. It was such a nice moment- no distractions, no one else to worry about- just us, husband and wife. After a whole morning not seeing each other, that moment made us feel like we were connected and facing the rest of the day together.
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SMP: Biggest piece of advice for DIY brides?
Break down your DIY into its simplest tasks and get groups working on them, assembly-line style. I.e., If the invitations need to be 1) cut 2) folded 3) stamped 4) addressed, assign one person to each of those tasks. People have more energy for a project when they know they're not facing a stack of programs all by their lonesome. Plus, the more people you have, the less time each person has to spend helping, and the more of a party atmosphere you can make!

And for you list lovers, here's a rundown of our favorite Jess crafted DIYs, parties, and pretties galore...
A New England Apple Picking Party
A DIY IKEA Side Table Hack
The Prettiest Sprinkles Themed Party
A Halloween Dinner Party
DIY Abstract Art
A Thanksgiving Fete
A Fun Mexican Fiesta
DIY Calligraphy Signs

We'll be back in a bit with her wedding DIYs AND a look at the full Big Day!