Last Fall, my dear friends Andrea Fritsch and Sam Withrow organized a huge party and parade at the Experimental Station in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. It also happened to be their wedding. It was by far the most adventurous wedding I've had the pleasure of attending. Also in attendance was bridezilla, a couple of polar bears, and the our entire solar system. In addition to making numerous costumes for the parade, Andrea also made her wedding dress - which stole the show. With a clean elegant cut, it's best feature was it's brightly quilted train - a total stunner.
After the wedding dust had settled, I asked Andrea to tell me a bit more about her dress and ceremony. Enjoy the conversation and all the pictures! Look out for those polar bears...
REBECCA MIR GRADY: Can you tell me a bit more about your dress? Where did you get the inspiration for it? What was the hardest part about making it?
ANDREA FRITSCH: I was married in a dress I was lucky to make with designer (and my future sister-in-law) Lydia Withrow. Lydia and I worked out the design details over a long weekend, armed with my rough drawings and a vintage 1970s vogue wedding dress pattern. Lydia provided all the design, patterning and construction skills, and I quilted the patchwork train.
Originally, I wanted to make a wedding dress with a bright pattern, like the amazing style of the Moroccan motorbike gang, Kesh Angels. When I couldn’t find the fabric I was looking for, I started thinking about quilting as a way to pull together bright colors, like designer Jay McCarroll (Project Runway, Season 1). Once I had the materials for the train, working with the patches reminded me of stained glass and architecture, like the Almudena Cathedral’s ceiling in Spain, and the great patchwork in the Bottega Veneta fall dresses. Putting together the patchwork in the train so it would lay correctly with the drape of the dress was a little tough, and I ended up altering the shape of the patchwork so it would move more naturally even though it was 4 layers thick.
At the wedding I wore blue opal earrings borrowed from my aunt, an heirloom freshwater pearl bracelet from my great aunt, turquoise cowboy boots, my brand new wedding ring, designed by Rebecca Mir Grady, and a dinosaur hat and tail during the art parade (bridezilla). So many artists attended the wedding -- my train wasn’t even the best quilting at the event!
RMG: Could you tell me a little bit about where your inspiration for your wedding came from? How did you arrive on the theme?
AF: We’d had lot of conversations about the meaning of life and the beauty of the natural world. We wanted to connect those ideas with creativity and our community. As we created the save the date and invitation, our designs ended up being about space and science. We titled the event “Human Wedding” as a joke about how we, like everyone else, felt like our wedding was hugely important and unique. That it was human was the most generic thing we could say about the wedding, and we thought that was funny. The title ended-up being great though; it inspired a performance of orbiting planets, a wedding parade of extra-human costumes, and our give-away pint glasses with a portrait and quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson: "The Universe is in Us".
RMG: What was your favorite part of the wedding?
AF: Overall one of the big successes of the wedding is that there were so many opportunities for people to contribute creatively. We provided the framework, but a huge amount of the wedding was actually imagined and carried out by our family and friends. That really made the whole thing better than anything we could have planned on our own.
The improvised planet performance that kicked off the ceremony set the tone for the event. Until the moment the planets took the stage, it felt like the wedding was all in our heads. We were standing in a balcony when the music started. Watching the planets spin out onto the stage was totally sick.
RMG: What was the most unexpected thing that happened?
AF: We knew a contingent of Wisconsinites at the wedding were planning a polka set. By the time they took the stage there had already been a lot of weird stuff, but for those who weren’t expecting it, the set came out of left field. It was pretty charming.
RMG: And the funniest?
AF: The best laugh of the night was when our friend’s chamber-pop band, The Fancy, played their song “Having Kids” for our first dance.
RMG: What was the biggest reveal?
AF: The best surprise was the cake, created in secret by cake wizards Ilana Percher and Aay Preston-Myint. The three-tier cake was decked in homemade lavender marshmallows and futuristic gelatin molds. We knew it would be a cool cake, but it totally blew our minds.
RMG: Who had wildest costume at the parade?
There were a ton of great costumes at the parade, but my favorite costumes were the giant homemade costume heads. Sam’s sister, Lydia Withrow, made fish and falcon heads, and Susie Seidelman and Laura Maker dressed as a pair of polar bear dandies. All the costume heads had crazy expressions. It was great.