Tying the Knot to Harper Lee’s Tune

Alison Morris - June 10, 2008

I’ve long thought I escaped conception without the girl gene that says  "PLAN A BIG THEME WEDDING," but I nevertheless gasped with enthusiasm when I saw a reference to a wedding with a To Kill a Mockingbird theme while poking around on the blog of potter Rae Dunn, whose work I enjoy. Rae created beautiful egg-shaped favors for the wedding’s guests. Wanting to imagine in what OTHER ways the bride and groom of this ceremony played off the Mockingbird theme, I did a little poking around, only to find that Rae was in EXPERT company on her work for this wedding. Yes, it appears as though only wonderfully artistic people made contributions to this affair.

Before I go into the details, let me back for one minute and address something first: when I say this wedding had a To Kill a Mockingbird "theme," I do not mean that the happy couple traipsed down the aisle in oversized ham costumes. Nor did they invite a silent and reclusive neighbor to attend or ask their redneck relatives to crash the party and hurl racial slurs. Race was not the topic of the day, nor was justice. But books and childhood treasures were. And family. And bird feathers and trinkets and, well… Can you imagine a book with a more perfect "spirit" to invoke on such a meaningful day? As one of Harper Lee’s number one junkies I’ll say I can’t.

But back to the talented people who contributed to this wedding, AND (by extension) to this blog post. For starters, there’s the bride. Viola Sutanto is a designer who lives in San Francisco and runs a business called Chewing the Cud, through which she designs logos and ad campaigns, books (for Chronicle Books) and clean, beautiful letter-pressed invitations and announcements for events such as her OWN wedding. Pasted here are a couple peeks at the invitations she and husband Phillip Ting came up with for their ceremony.

And then there are the photographs Anna Kuperberg took at the wedding. Let me just say right now that I’m a photo buff but I’m not often fond of wedding photography. I am using zero hyperbole, then, when I say that Anna’s photos are stunning. Truly. Her two photo blogs (Kuperblog, which features a wide variety of photo subjects, and Slobber Space, which features her photos of dogs) have become two of my most oft-visited feeds. Pair Anna’s ability to capture a beautiful ceremony with Viola’s ability to design one, and voila: you’ve got some serious wedding eye candy. All of the photos in this post were taken by Anna.

With Anna and Viola’s permission (thank you both!) I’m including photos here that offer you a taste of what Viola and Phillip’s wedding was all about. The text that explains what’s in the photos below comes from Viola’s captions on ChewingtheCud.com. Want to see more than what’s included here? Visit Anna’s full gallery of photos from the grand affair.

"Viola loves books. Phillip loves movies. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was their favourite story of all time and became the inspiration for the wedding. From child-like bird illustrations to references in book forms and movie elements, the entire event was designed to bring to life this sweet coming-of-age story."

"The bird motif that initially appeared in their bookmark-the-date announcements fluttered in the afternoon breeze at the ceremony location. Guests [were] invited to write wishes for the couple on the bird cut-outs."

"Viola made a mini stack of books that the ring-bearer carried down the aisle and book boxes that held the bridesmaid bouquets. "

"Instead of seating cards, guests [were] invited to discover their names on colorful journals that nestled in the milk crates. The crates were hand-stained and decoupaged with photos of vintage food labels taken by the couple during their travels together." 

"The tables were named after characters from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and corresponding letter grades… Viola made a custom runner that adorned the head table as a gift for Phillip. She printed their vows and favourite poems and hand-drew playful illustrations throughout the piece." 

"The theme of discovery and childhood memories were carried through at the dinner tables where treasure boxes revealed photos of guests and childhood trinkets. The childhood photos of the couple and guests were a wonderful conversation opener. Menus with trivia questions kept the guests entertained as they awaited their entreés."

Of all the photos Anna Kuperberg took at Viola and Phillip’s wedding, I think my favorite is probably the one of Phillip reading his vows to Viola from a handcrafted "book." Both of them look so unabashedly happy. Which is how any wedding, with any theme, should make the couple feel.

So, wedding afficianados AND those of the just-elope variety, what do you think of To Kill a Mockingbird as a wedding theme: a good choice, or no? Is there a book that YOU think would be well-suited to such an occasion? How about the book that would LEAST well-suited to a wedding theme? What book-themed wedding would you be the most keen to attend and/or have for yourself and what details would you include to pull it off?

14 thoughts on “Tying the Knot to Harper Lee’s Tune

  1. Loretta Ellsworth

    I love the idea of tying in a favorite book to a wedding theme. And such creativity! As the #1 fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, I can’t think of a better book, either! Loretta Ellsworth, author of In Search of Mockingbird

  2. Becky

    As a fellow Harper Lee fan, I must say that that’s so… awesome. Everything, each little detail blew me away. I can tell that someone’s a bibliophile. =) I wonder what the cake looked like, though, if they had one. Hmm. Other books that might make a good wedding theme… I dunno, To Kill A Mockingbird is pretty difficult to top.


    This is the most amazing story and wedding I have ever heard of in my life. Talk about starting a marriage and promoting literacy. Bravo! Bravo! I loved it! Since To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time, I am dreaming of this someday as the theme for one of my daughters when they choose to get married. Would you mind very much if I put this up on my literary blog site, http://www.pulpwoodqueen.com? You see I run the largest “meeting and discussing” book club in the world, The Pulpwood Queens, and I think they would be as fascinated as I was on reading about your wedding. I look forward to hearing back from you. Tiara wearing and Book sharing, Kathy L. Patrick Founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of “The Pulpwood Queens’Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life” Beauty and the Book 608 North Polk Street Jefferson, Texas 75657

  4. chewingthecud

    Thank you all for your kind words! Alison, you did a beautiful job with the post. Kathy, you’re welcome to put this up on your blog. If you have any questions, you can email me at hello{at}chewingthecud{dot}com


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