Fold Paper, Win a Wedding: 7000 Cranes for the Crow

Fold Paper, Win a Wedding: 7000 Cranes for the Crow
Abraham Carrillo

Young women have been known to do any number of crazy things in order to cover the price of their nuptials. It's no wonder considering how expensive weddings are these days.

But Rebekah Rutledge and her fiancé Stephen Kirkpatrick went off the proverbial hook when it comes to securing what can be one of the biggest expenses of all -- the venue.

The Crow Collection of Asian Art recently held a contest for brides-to-be. The prize was a free wedding at the Crow. The contest? Fold as many paper cranes as you can. Rutledge and her finance turned in 7,000 and won.

In the Japanese tradition, cranes are a holy creature and are often given as a wedding gift. Japanese legend says that folding a thousand paper cranes will result in a wish being granted. Looks like Rutledge will have her dreams coming true sevenfold.

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Seven thousand is a hell of a lot of paper cranes. We had to find out how Rutledge managed such a feat in just a week. Here's what she had to say via email (after the jump):

How did you hear about the contest and what made you decide to enter? Erin Baltensperger, a friend of my fiance and me, found the contest on the Crow website. She texted me immediately. At first I was skeptical because we had already missed a week of the two-week time-frame for the contest. I called my mom, and with her on-board, I felt like we had a chance. If my mom had been less enthusiastic and Erin hadn't pledged 1000 cranes then I wouldn't have given the contest another thought.

Who did you get to help you make all the cranes? Everyone! My mom sent out e-mails to all her friends and fellow church members. I called all my friends together. My co-worker was very determined on my behalf and made probably 300 cranes herself and convinced her cousins on the East Coast to make 1500 cranes which they overnighted the day before they were due. One of my bridesmaids had planned to visit that week and by chance ended up making cranes for her entire visit. She hardly got to see Dallas at all. A couple of friends are teachers and told their students about the contest and they made probably 50 cranes. It was amazing!

Did you all get together or have a system of some sort? My uncle is a business professor and he suggested an assembly-line system which is the most efficient way to mass-produce something. So that's what we did. We threw a crane-making party almost every evening where people would come and go jumping in at whatever crane-making stage they felt comfortable. This worked out great because making cranes is a lot harder than it seems.

Instead of teaching someone how to make a crane which requires at least 20 folds, someone could come in and learn 2 to 5 folds at any moment in a paper crane's life. Not to mention a repetitive action moves much more quickly than 20 steps building on each other.

My friends were incredible. Some of them came by, learned how to make an entire crane; then we didn't see them until the day they were due when they dropped off hundreds of cranes. My maid-of-honor's grandmother used her quilting square to cut perfect crane-making squares from piles of newspaper donated to our cause. My mom was a machine. She cut paper, folded cranes, and counted cranes non-stop.

Any idea how many you personally made? I have no idea. But my guess would be at least 500. The whole week was a blur, and with the assembly line, most of them belong to all of us rather than any one individual.

Did you ever imagine you'd win? It was an emotional roller coaster the entire time. Because the museum had never done the contest before, there was no measuring stick by which we could compare what we had made to last year's winning number.

Plus, we had missed an entire week, which meant no matter how well we were doing, someone may have made exactly that many in the first week. But the amount we were making was unbelievable. There were a few pessimists (mostly disgruntled husbands who didn't want newspaper everywhere) who said there's somebody out there who has a ridiculously huge extended family or is a college student with a sorority to make cranes 24/7. It felt really good to discover that was us. We had come together to win and I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped.

Why 7000 cranes? 7000 was not intended. My brother and his wife came over on that Friday and counted all the cranes we had collected while my mom continued to make cranes. I got off work early, and when I arrived, we had 6960. I started making cranes for the last hour while my family bagged up all the cranes in trash bags. I was making the 6999th one as we drove up to the museum doors. I guess it was part of my OCD. It seemed unlucky and off balance to give an unrounded number.

What do you think you and your family and friends gained from this experience? I have a very close family and a wonderful group of friends. I think that is apparent in all the hard work they put in even though there was a possibility that we might not win. Making 7000 cranes is tiring and time consuming, but they showed up. I think that's an opportunity that you don't get to have everyday.

I knew how great my family and friends were, but this contest proved those thoughts in their actions. On a personal note, having been a bridesmaid in several weddings in the past, I know how much work it would be and I was reluctant to start making decisions and jumping into full-blown planning mode.

To see all the people who cared about my and my fiance's wedding, enough to sacrifice their evenings so that we could have our wedding at one of the most beautiful venues in Dallas was not only heart-warming but motivating. I felt supported rather than overwhelmed. I'm sure winning helped. :)

What does your prize include? What I won were the venue facilities for my ceremony and reception including the plaza area. I do not have to pay anything associated with the facilities such as staff time or security guards, not to mention the rental costs and the cost of a Bronze level membership. The food, seating, tables, and decorations are at my expense.

When's the big day? April 28, 2012.

How did you and your fiancé meet? We met through a mutual friend, Matt Baltensperger (Erin Baltensperger's husband). Steve grew up with him and I went to school with him at St. John's. Steve and I had a Jane Austenian love story. We couldn't stand each other for years and would avoid each other despite having a mutual friend. Then, at a New Year's Eve party about three years ago, we realized that maybe we could at least have a decent conversation together. Slowly Steve charmed me into loving him and I'm so glad he did.

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