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Sherri Richards, Published July 27 2012

Vintage Style: Rustic event themes inspire couples, and new business venture

If you go

What: A Rustic-Inspired Open House, spotlighting Rustic Trunk and other local vendors

When: 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22

Where: Rustic Oaks, 12155 3rd St. S., Moorhead

Info: Event is free. (218) 343.0347





MOORHEAD - Glass panes of a weathered window frame announce the seating chart. A leather suitcase collects greeting cards. Antique lace binds the bride’s wildflower bouquet. Birdcages, glass canning jars and barn wood all find new life as decorative elements for the special day.

A vintage aesthetic, which has seeped into everyday fashion and home décor and dominates the visuals of websites like Pinterest and Etsy, has also become the biggest trend for area events, particularly weddings, local industry folks say.

It’s so popular a new local business that rents vintage and rustic items for events filled its September schedule in mid-June.

Rustic Trunk, a culmination of passions for owner Carrie Brusven of Moorhead, started in March and grew a lot faster than she planned. Her inventory of rustic treasures, including tables, chairs, metal basins and glassware, has taken over her garage, porch and yard, Brusven says, laughing.

Brusven says the challenge of making something new, beautiful and unexpected out of something old and broken is fulfilling for her.

“I’m a do-it-myself girl. That combined with a passion for green living and sustainability led into designing with old stuff,” she says.

She designed her own home in this vein before turning her eye to event décor.

Brusven says the vintage aesthetic lends itself to different events, such as corporate retreats or baby showers, though brides have been her primary clientele so far.

For Brusven, vintage-inspired design is classy, elegant, romantic and charming. “To me, that’s everything a wedding should be,” she says.

It’s eclectic, she adds, with handmade touches. “It’s nostalgic of a time that used to be more simple,” she says. It can incorporate the juxtaposition of rustic and elegant, such as hay bale seating under a crystal and gilded chandelier.

Another reason to like it: “It can be very budget friendly,” Brusven says. Hosts on a tight budget can scour thrift stores and grandma’s attic and make items themselves.

Brusven rents glassware for $1 per piece, and rustic tables for $20 to $50. She says a middle range for rentals plus her design services would cost between $500 and $800, while an all-out package runs $1,200. “Somebody could rent a single Mason jar or the entire Rustic Trunk inventory,” Brusven says.

Sam Mortenson of West Fargo, who is engaged to marry Bob Walz, is planning a vintage-inspired Aug. 4 wedding, and will likely use some pieces from Rustic Trunk.

She’s hand-creating the napkins using paisley fabrics. Guests will sign their names inside a rustic frame. The kids’ drinks will be served out of old pop bottles. The adults will drink from Mason jars, which also are used as the basis for table centerpieces.

“It reminds me of when I was younger, when I was with my grandma,” Mortenson says.

Alicia Weigel, Mortenson’s wedding coordinator, says vintage, whether old Hollywood or country chic, is by far the most popular theme she’s seen this year. One of her brides used milk glass and old books for decorations.

Couples are “looking to make their guests feel like they’re at a country picnic than at a formal event,” Weigel says. “Everything is kind of mismatched but at the same time it works together in a cohesive design.”

Weigel says the vintage theme extends far beyond the decorations. It’s incorporated into the bridal party’s ensembles (linen suites instead of tuxedos), the food (pig roast vs. a plated meal) and the venue.

These aren’t “hotel brides,” Weigel says, and notes the Avalon in downtown Fargo and Rustic Oaks, a turn-of-the-century farmstead outside Moorhead, are two popular choices for these sorts of events.

Emily Finley, sales and marketing coordinator for Rustic Oaks, has seen a lot of rustic décor in its events, such as painted wooden signs, wash tubs, lanterns and tree-branch chandeliers.

Finley describes rustic décor as “beautifully unrefined” with a natural influence, and vintage as more classic and antique, though she finds many people use the terms interchangeably. She thinks there’s a rise in event themes that are “rustic, modern and chic, with a slight vintage edge.”

She points to a wedding at Rustic Oaks last fall as a stunning vintage example. Krista Costin and Ryan Dawes used old sheet music to create place cards, jars for the flowers and old suitcases and books to show their love for travel and reading. Krista wore a 1918 wedding gown, purchased for $50 at an antique shop.

“The idea of vintage appealed to my husband and I because we think old objects have the most character,” Krista says. “To us, the true essence of a wedding is the gathering of friends and family. What better way to represent our heritage and history than tying in threads of our grandparents’ decade?”

Weigel, the wedding planner, says while vintage and rustic are all the rage now, she’s curious how long the phase will dominate.

“There’s always cycles of what the brides want,” she says.