When Elaine Kendall was planning her wedding, she had her heart set on incorporating a sand ceremony. Although this was achieved easily enough, finding a vessel in which she could store the sand from the ceremony was far less so. Elaine tells us that she spent six months searching for something suitable before taking matters into her own hands. “I bought a shadow box from craft store, drilled a hole in the top and used that,” she says.
The box featured a photograph of the couple in the background, while the patterned sand took up the foreground.
However, although the box worked like a charm during the ceremony, Elaine found that the design gradually seeped away, with the sand patterns melding together and losing their shape. “And since the glass wasn’t sealed, it leaked all over and still does to this day,” she says.
Determined to develop a product that could display the sand patterns from a sand unity ceremony, Elaine and her husband Bill began work on improving Elaine’s initial effort, and after several prototypes they came up with a frame that allows the sand patterns to hold their shape–and without any concerns about leaks or spills.
As couples perform their sand ceremony, the sand that they pour into the frame will settle into the unique pattern created by them–a unique pattern that also represents the uniqueness of their relationship and union.
When purchasing a product from The Forever Frame, customers can select their preferred frame colour, as well as their preferred sand colours. Although the current range of colours is small, Elaine notes that they are those with widespread appeal.
“We chose black, white and cherry as our initial colours because they seemed the most popular in the framing industry and probably the most universal for fitting into weddings,” she says. Some customisation is also available: engraving can be done on the wood itself, the glass, or a plaque.
The company is also expanding their range to include walnut brown, white wash, natural oak and a frame made of bamboo; these colours will be available after January 2012.
When it comes to the DIY side of things, Elaine is forthright about couples turning their do-it-yourself mindset elsewhere. After all, she knows firsthand the time and cost involved in putting together a unity frame from scratch.
“By the time you try to remodel a shadow box or build your own, you’ll have pretty much spent the same amount on materials that you would have spent on our frame and it most likely won’t work the way you want it to,” she says. “We went through 12 prototypes to design a frame where the sand won’t ever mix or leak and the photo can be exchanged whenever you choose without disturbing the sand.”
Elaine has even had customers who have tried the DIY route, but have ended up purchasing a Forever Frame anyway. “They ended up disappointed by their creation,” she says.
Although The Forever Frame has carefully designed to ensure that any potential kinks have been ironed out of the process, Elaine does have some tips to ensure that couples get the most out of both their ceremony and the frame itself.
Humidity and moisture can be an issue, so even though the sand she uses contains a special additive that helps prevent clumping, Elaine recommends keeping the sand in its original unopened bag until an hour or so before the wedding, at which point it can be poured into a special pouring vessel ready for the ceremony.
“It also really helps to have an officiant familiar with unity sand ceremonies,” she says. “When it comes to our frame in particular, the best way to get a really nice design is to take turns pouring a small amount of each color instead of pouring all at once.”
It’s also a good idea to ensure that someone has been given the role of bringing the frame to the reception, and that they know how it works. “They need to know that the included ‘keeper plate’ goes with the frame and shouldn’t be discarded,” she says.
The Forever Frame may be US-based, but it’s so popular with Australians that the company is looking to expand downunder next year. “We have two companies that will be carrying our frames to help save the Aussies the outrageous charges that come with international shipping,” says Elaine, who attributes the popularity of her product to our love of the coast and the increase in destination weddings.