October 1, 2023

Advice for Newlyweds told through a LEGO® MOC

I recently got a special request. I was approached to build a cake topper out of LEGO® bricks for a wedding. That was a first for me, and I jumped at the opportunity. However, the project soon grew into something bigger and more extravagant. The simple cake topper grew into 48×48 stud baseplate reaching almost 40 cm high. Along with it, a story took shape subconsciously as I built, with a little advice for newlyweds told through LEGO® bricks.

I rebuilt the gazebo from Rivendell with a few minor modifications for my Advice for Newly Weds MOC.
My advice for newlyweds was born through building the LEGO® Rivendell set.

I learned early that the bride and groom were into fantasy series like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones. In fact, their honeymoon took them on a Game of Thrones tour of Ireland. That stuff is right up my alley, so I was keen to put something geeky together. This project came hot on the heels of building Rivendell. While contemplating the commission, Rivendell sat before me. I was marveling at the gazebo and thought it would make an amazing cake topper. And there it was. Very little for me to do but duplicate that gorgeous structure. Of course, I needed to make sig figs for the bride and groom. Additionally, the base of the gazebo required minor modifications to suit the intended purpose. I added a splash of gold to the roof, and voila. It was a hit.

Elf maiden in my Advice for Newly Weds MOC.
I sprinkled my Advice for Newlyweds MOC with fantasy characters.

The Rivendell gazebo was a hit and spurred a much bigger build.

The gazebo was basically a Bricklink order and night of work. Incidentally, if you want to simply build the gazebo from Rivendell, you can do it for about $80 CAD. But it quickly turned into something bigger. Instead of a cake topper, the couple asked if I could put together a centerpiece for the dessert table with the gazebo in it. They decided they only wanted to borrow the LEGO® bricks for the event, so size was quickly not an issue. That was no problem for me since my LEGO® selection is fairly vast at this point. So, with two weeks to go before the wedding, I put my personal MOC projects and blogging on the backburner.

My advice for newlyweds MOC features a journey up a mountain.

Since the bride and groom are fantasy buffs, I decided to build a forested scene sprinkled with typical fantasy characters. I knew the gazebo and sig figs had to be the focus. They needed to be on the summit of a mountain. Additionally, I wanted a path winding up the mountain from the forest floor. Water was also important. I bought parts from the Pick-and-Build wall years ago with a waterfall in mind, but never built it. My time had come. It started with a small waterfall from a pool on a ledge of the mountain. I decided another waterfall would flow into that from a cave above. The technique for the water is one I’ve seen to build round walls. When clear bricks are used, it gives watery energy to the build. The combo of 1×1 round plates and 1×2 plates also creates a nice curve.

Waterfall structure in my MOC.

I built waterfalls using clear 1×2 and 1×1 round plates.

I used two colors of 1×2 trans-blue tiles over blue plates for the water in the pools. This technique is pretty well known thanks to the Ninjago City series of sets. However, a waterfall does not simply flow into a calm pool. I built up some layers of white plates and 1×2 jumper plates along with white and clear cheese wedges to make the foamy splash. Then I placed 1×1 round plates as bubbles. 1x1x1 modified bricks with side-studs hold the waterfall in place and also form part of the white foam.

After the basic design for the flowing water was complete, I needed trees for my forest. I pulled on my long history of set building to help me. One tree design came from the Winter Village collection Toy Shop. Another was inspired by a custom build I saw someone do on YouTube once upon a time. The Tree of Souls from Avatar inspired my willow. Another tree pulled on ideas I got from building the Botanicals Collection Bonsai Tree. Finally, I finally employed my own custom tree design in this build. I am fascinated by mangroves and stilt roots. Consequently, two of my trees are up on prop roots. The willow reaches down to the pool below. Meanwhile, one large tree supports its heft on the mountain side on large roots.

I pulled inspiration from a number of LEGO® sets to help me design nice trees.

The layout and design of the mountain was the trickiest part that took me the longest to build. The inside is pretty much all structural support for the large number of BURPs (big ugly rock pieces) that I used. Despite their common name in AFOL nomenclature, I actually don’t find them ugly. Details hide BURPs too. No one is playing attention to the BURP when there’s roots or water cascading down the side. With that said, there are two caves nestled into all the structural support. One is under the first plateau. It houses a goblin and a treasure chest… hidden surprises for our newlyweds on their quest. The other is simply an outlet for one of the waterfalls from the mountain.

Surprises lie hiding in wait for the newlyweds on this fantasy quest…

The path was difficult to place too. It took me a while to figure out the proper layering of plates and bricks. Additionally, the steps along some of the cliff faces were interesting to place. Once again, Rivendell helped me in that regard. The steps up to the gazebo in the set inspired most of the stairs in my build. I originally intended for the stairs to wind all around the mountain. However, in the end, I settled for a steep flight up one side because it fit the narrative of newlyweds journey better… but more on that later.

A winding path leads through my Advice for Newlyweds MOC

Near the end of the build, the story really hit me. I am actually a certified LEGO® Serious Play facilitator. During my training, we learned how building artefacts often reveals the meaning behind ideas and concepts. You know the answer or idea sometimes without knowing it. Your subconscious guides your hands to create what lies buried in your psyche. As I began work on the last flight of stairs, I realized I had built a blueprint to a successful marriage in my fantasy MOC. No longer was it just a scene for a dessert table. It came together to tell a story of marriage and give my advice to newlyweds. Incidentally, my wife and I celebrate our 10 year anniversary this month, so I’m not a complete novice in that department. A rhyme even flowed out of this build, but we’ll get to that at the end.

I subconsciously built a story of marriage and advice for newlyweds.

Marriage really is a journey. You start somewhere new and fresh. Everything is an experience in the beginning. Then things get real, and you struggle a little to reach a new normal. You gain a new perspective, and let me tell you, hindsight is 20/20! But don’t to hang onto things that have come and gone. Remember them, learn from them, move on. You will meet all sorts of interesting characters and creatures along the way. And you can be sure there are more struggles to come. But the only way out is through. You’ll hit tough times, but as long as you stick together, help each other through, and take time to find the beautiful in even the toughest places, you’ll come out on top. The view will be incredible and you’ll marvel at everything you managed to do… all in time to jump right into it again together.

My advice for newlyweds told through a MOC and rhyme:

In the end, the only way to tie off my Advice for Newlyweds story was to add another waterfall. Thankfully, I had a lot of clear plates. There is one giant leap for the newlyweds to take off from the gazebo that brings them right back to the start for a new adventure. And what an adventure it is. So here’s to the newly weds. Best of luck to you in all that the future holds in store. It’ll be a ride, but it’ll be worth it. I wouldn’t trade a moment of my first 10 years with my wifey. Thanks for letting me be a little part of the introduction to your story.

Until next time,


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