Our cranes head more than 2000 miles north to Toronto, CA
Don't use masking tape if you're going to ship through the post office...we found out the hard way. (personal photo)
After nearly three months of folding and watching our flock of little white paper cranes grow to 1000 birdies strong, and another several months figuring out what to do with them, we packed them on their way for their final flight north to their new home in Toronto, Canada.
For awhile before our wedding, I had this crazy vision of folding 1,000 paper cranes. Cranes are symbols of great fortune across Asia and according to Japanese tradition, the couple who folds 1,000 paper cranes is granted a long and happy life together. Since my husband is half Chinese, and cranes are auspicious birds in Chinese folklore as well, I thought this would be a great project for our wedding. But with neither one of us knowing how to fold a crane, the thought of folding 1,000 of them was daunting. For a few weeks, I kept talking myself out of the idea, thinking folding 1,000 paper cranes on top of everything else we had to do was just crazy talk!
Then I heard about the Crane Chandelier Project by the Wedding Co. in Toronto, Canada. In celebration of turning 10 years old, the wedding planning support organization is collecting paper cranes from newlyweds around the world, which they plan to display in a massive chandelier at their 10-year bash in 2011. For each crane they receive, the Wedding Co. is committed to donating 50 cents to cancer research. Since we decided to make a donation in lieu of traditional wedding favors, we thought this would be a great cause to donate our efforts to.
So we started with our first paper crane. With my laptop propped on the coffee table, we followed a youtube clip on how to make a paper crane. Slowly but surely, we began our huge task. As we began to get the hang of it, we made it a goal to fold 100 cranes a week. Each week, we put 100 cranes in plastic bags to keep track of our numbers. It took many movie nights on the couch/crane folding to get to that goal. Finally, more than two months later and watching our upteenth rented movie, we folded our 1,000th paper crane! We almost couldn't believe that we had finished 1,000 little birds that we recounted our bags to make sure that we really did have 10 bags, each containing 100 paper cranes. Sure enough, they were all there!
Ironically, folding 1,000 paper cranes wasn't the hardest part. It was figuring out what we were going to do with them that really stumped us. We knew we wanted to display them at our wedding, to show our guests the fruits of our labor. But with limited set-up time at our reception venue, we had to think of a quick and easy way of hanging 1,000 paper cranes. After scouring the Web for ideas, I decided that we would make 10 chandeliers, each containing 100 cranes.
Making our DIY Paper Crane Chandeliers
Using jewelry beads, a needle, and some sturdy, translucent jewelry string (all purchased at Michaels), I followed this DIY crane-hanging tutorial to help me make my first chandelier. I started out by stringing 25 paper cranes on one strand, taking my needle (with string attached) through the top of each crane to the bottom until there were 25 cranes strung up on one strand. I made sure that I left a little slack on top, and attached a bead to the very top of the crane so they don't slide off. I attached another bead to the bottom crane as well so all 25 cranes stayed in one place. I made four strands each containing 25 cranes and tied them all together about five inches from the very top crane. Voila! I made my first chandelier!
Photo by the Wedding Co.
What I didn't account for was how time-consuming making one chandelier would be! We unwisely put off making our chandeliers until the week before the wedding (yikes!) With a bunch of other wedding-related stuff demanding our attention, there was no way we could add making 10 chandeliers to our list. So I enlisted the help of my MOH who thankfully helped us make half of the chandeliers. Seriously, give yourself at least a couple weeks if you want to make chandeliers out of 1000 paper cranes!
When we finished, we handed our birds to our reception venue staff. All they needed to do by set up time was hang each chandelier to the overhead beams in the dining hall.
Photo by Regina Bunye
When I saw them all hanging at the reception for the first time, I was amazed at how gorgeous they all turned out! The cranes became the focal point of the room, adding something truly unique to the look and ambiance of our wedding. Each of our guests received a card at their table telling them about the cultural meaning of the cranes and our donation to the Wedding Co. We constantly heard compliments about the cranes from our guests -- how much they adored them and how many of them appreciated the donation we made for them. Even weeks after our wedding, we still hear the compliments!
Cards explaining the cultural significance of cranes and the donation to the Wedding Co. were placed at each seat. (Photo by Regina Bunye)
But alas, we had to say goodbye to our little friends. We packed them up in boxes and shipped them to Toronto. As a side note, if you plan to ship the cranes, you'll have to find a box large enough to hold them...and the bigger the box, the bigger the shipping cost is. Add in international and postage fees, shipping 1000 cranes can be pretty expensive (it cost us more than $100 to ship from LA). Also, make sure you know about packaging protocol...don't use masking tape (like in the above photo). You need clear packaging tape...yup, that was us pulling off the our original masking tape and repackaging five huge boxes at the post office!
Our boxes arrived beat up and weathered, but our cranes made it just fine to Canada!
Photo by the Wedding Co.
Photo by the Wedding Co.
But really, it was all worth it in the end. One thousand paper cranes will bring in a nice donation going toward cancer research! Luckily, the cranes all arrived safely in their new home in Toronto. Catherine from the Wedding Co. blogged about our donation! They're moving closer to their goal of 10,000 cranes by January 2011 and need just over 1300 more to reach their goal!
A huge thanks goes to the Wedding Co. for putting on this awesome, worldwide effort! Over the months of planning we've come to see our cranes as symbolic of the time, effort, energy and patience we put into planning our wedding. It was a long, sometimes tedious, a little stressful, but overall fulfilling and fun journey. I'm happy to see our cranes' journey end someplace where they'll continue to hold a special meaning and purpose long after our wedding!