Monday, November 29, 2010

DIY Wedding Bubbles, or, Making the Most Out of Dollar Store Finds

I found this picture while randomly surfing the internet one day, and I fell in love. Bubbles during the first dance. How pretty is that? I was trying to find a fun place to add bubbles into our wedding, this is perfect! As an added plus, I asked our reception coordinator if we were permitted to have bubbles during our first dance, and she gave the okay. Yay!

Now the only thing missing is, well, the bubbles. A simple Google search will tell you that a variety of websites exist that sell bubbles, and they also sell them in a variety of shaped bottles and colored bottles. I almost purchased some with purple bottles, but after reading the reviews and discovering that they were in fact hot pink, I opted to decorate my own. That's when I made a discovery, my local dollar store sells wedding bubbles! 9 bottles for a dollar! The only problem, they were a bit on the plain side. Nothing fancy, just a clear bottle with bubble stuff inside. So, I grabbed a couple of supplies, started decorating, and came up with this:

Cute, simple, and straight to the point. First things first, I made the tags on my computer with Open Office, and they are available for download under the "Templates" tab above. I printed mine out on ivory cardstock. The poem is adorable, it reads "To fill the air with a little romance, Please blow these bubbles while we have our first dance."

You will need: 
  • Bubbles
  • Curling Ribbon (also from the Dollar Store)
  • Tags (if you want to use them)
  • Scissors

What you do:

1.     Cut a 12" length of ribbon and snip down the center of each end             about 1/2 an inch. 

2.     Thread the tag onto the ribbon.
3.     Wrap the ribbon around the neck of the bottle of bubbles, be                 careful to keep your ribbon below the lid of the bubble bottle.                 Secure with a square knot.
4.     Using the blade of your scissors, curl each length of ribbon. 
5.     Tear each ribbon down the center, using the snips you made in               step 1.

Repeat for each guest. I have 45 of them made right now, I plan to make 150. This is a really easy project, it can just get monotonous so be sure to have a good tv program or something to keep you occupied. 

On a final note, I am storing all of my bubbles in a shoe box. I have a box that contains all of my wedding crafts in one central location, but I keep having this re-occurring thought of one of the bottles of bubble solution leaking and ruining everything else that I have made. As a sort of insurance policy, I figured if a bottle leaks within the shoe box, the mess will at least be contained.

Are you planning to use bubbles at your wedding?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Candles, The Win-Win Favor Option


The answer to my wedding favor dilemma finally came to me one morning with the help of a DIY message board that I follow. Candles! Plain, simple, frosted glass votive candles. There is a great website, called Candles4Less that sells votive candle holders with candles in a variety of colors in a case of 72 for $35. I am going to order purple ones with ivory candles to decorate the reception, and I am going to order two cases of frosted glass candles to hand out as favors. Along with the candles, each guest will also receive a personalized matchbook. This serves dual purpose, by including a matchbook, guests will be able to enjoy the candles in their hotel rooms if they want, at the same time, for those guests that plan on keeping a candle as a keepsake, it will have some sort of personalization on it. For everyone else, they will have a simple, neutrally colored favor that can easily blend in to any decor. As an added bonus, any candles that are left behind can be used to decorate our home after the wedding. Although, I have already had several members of my wedding party calling dibs on leftover favors. 

Each candle and matchbook will be wrapped in a cellophane baggy with purple curled ribbon. I made custom favor tags through Vistaprint with our monogram and a little message of thanks that will be attached to the ribbons. To make the favor tags, I made a design in OpenOffice Draw. For my design, I used one of the monograms that I made a few months ago. I looked for a little poem to put on the tag as well, but I could not find one that I liked, so I wrote a simple note of thanks instead, with our names. I uploaded my completed design to Vistaprint as business cards, and they should be arriving sometime before Christmas.

I have had this idea for favors for a couple of months now, and I have gotten a lot of positive feedback. In addition to the candle favors, I am also planning to have a candy dish full of purple Hersey kisses on each table to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. We are also planning to do bathroom baskets and out-of-town bags, but those will be saved for a later post. 

Did you have a plan for leftover favors at your wedding?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Starting to Think About Favors

My newest project as of late was to determine what sort of favors I wanted to give our guests. Something I did not know prior to planning our wedding day was the level of controversy surrounding the subject of favors. The wedding industry has produced a literal plethora of favor options, simply google the term "wedding favors" and you will receive a nearly endless list of possibilities. For example, it seems that nearly every trinket imaginable can be personalized, such as shot glasses, coasters, and wine stoppers; then there are the cutesy favors with their little poems; and then don't forget the endless array of edible favors, ranging from grandma's cookies to individual packets of tea. There are also the less traditional options of skipping favors all together, or donating money to charity in lieu of favors. There are a variety of arguments for and against charity favors, and it's really not something I want to get into. I also definitely want to give my guests favors, there is just something about a little box with ribbon and a "for you" tag that completes the wedding table setting. Our guests are also travelling a significant distance to join us for our wedding, so I want to do something more than feed them dinner and provide a DJ. I then got to thinking about past weddings that I have been to, and the favors that they used. One friend gave out little trinkets, that I held onto for a little while, before throwing them out because they just collected dust; then another friend handed out personalized CDs of a rather odd mix of music; finally, my cousin, who handed out little scrolls of paper with poems that looked like tampons. Yikes.

My first thought was to hand out edible favors. I was going to make cookies or brownies for each guest to take home. Then the reality of baking 300 or so cookies the week before my wedding kicked in. So I looked into purchasing chocolate lobsters or whoopie pies. The prices for both were prohibitively expensive. I also started looking into the before mentioned pre-made favors. My problem here is that I wanted to hand out a favor that guests would actually want to keep around their homes and use. I nixed the idea of anything personalized, because it increased the cost, and not everyone would want to display something in their homes with our names and date on it. I was looking at cookie cutters and bookmarks in the shape of a starfish, but I was really uneasy about that idea too. What if a large portion of guests opted to leave the favor behind? What would I do with several dozen cookie cutters?

This is definitely something that is going to require more thought and creativity than I had originally planned.

Did you hand out favors at your wedding? How did you decide what to give out?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tom and I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season. We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my side of the family this year at my grandmother's house. It will be Tom's first time meeting my extended family.

This post is slightly different than previous posts in that it has very little to do with our upcoming wedding. I am a member of a blogging community, and their featured blogger last week was Eof737 from the blog Mirth and Motivation she wrote a post about "How to Show Gratitude Before Thanksgiving Day" and I really liked the content of it, as a result, I tried my hand at one of her blogging suggestions. Before I get to that, I just want to be honest with everyone and explain that this post was written last Saturday (11/20) and I decided to have it post on Thanksgiving since I figured I would too busy with family to actually log on and post.

Without further ado, 10 things that I am grateful for.

  1. My fiancĂ© Tom. We have been friends for almost 12 years, and he has stood by my side through everything. We have been a couple for almost two years, and I can honestly say they have been the best two years of my life. This is the first time in a long time that I can say that I am looking forward to my future.
  2. My family. I have been around long enough to realize that not everyone has the luxury of a loving family that they want to spend time with. The first time Tom met my mom, step-dad, and sister, he compared us to the Waltons. My extended family is pretty cool too. I am blessed.
  3. My friends. These people are right up there with my family, they are definitely some of the best people around, and I would do anything for them. 
  4. My pets. I just recently redesigned my blog, and added a whole tab about our "kids." We have one dog and two kitties, and they are some of the biggest joy of my life. There is something about the look in their eyes when they look at you, or the softness of a kitty when they jump into bed with you purring, or the excitement of my puppy when we play games; it just warms my heart. 
  5. My health. So many people that I know are affected by cancer and other illness. Our health is something that everyone seems to take for granted until something horrible happens. I am thankful for the health of myself, my family, and my friends.
  6. The love of my parents. If it wasn't for my parents sharing their home with us, I have no idea where we would be right now. There are simply not words to express my gratitude towards them.
  7. The country that I live in. I don't consider myself overly patriotic, and don't even get me started on my political views. Truth be told, there are some truly awful places to live in this world, places with rampent illness, war, and extreme poverty. We are given an education, our homes have power, the water that comes from our pipes is safe to drink, and we can go to the local market to purchase food without fear of serious bodily injury. 
  8. Nature's beauty. Whenever life gets me down, I like to go for a walk. There is something awe inspiring and soothing about the outdoors, whether it be a simply walk through the woods, or the opportunity to stand beside the ocean. I have driven from Maine to Missouri and back again twice, and the thing that stands out the most out of both trips is the landscapes.
  9. Love. The Beatle's said it best, "All you need is love, love, love is all you need."
  10. Laughter. My mantra is if you can't laugh at yourself, what do you truly have? Life is too short to be taken seriously. I am grateful for my ability to smile in the face of adversity, and make the most out of bad situations. Tom has always made it his personal goal to make me laugh when I was upset. Could you imagine how wonderful the world would be if everyone acted this way?
That is my list. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dress Shopping- The Bridesmaids

Introducing my sister, Laura. She is my maid of honor, and she happens to be in town from Tampa for Thanksgiving. We took full advantage of her visit, and spent all day Monday doing wedding stuff. Our first stop was at the bridal shop so that she could see me in my dress, and so that we could pick out the bridesmaid's dress. I picked out a couple of dresses when I went shopping with my mom back in August, but I held off on choosing one until my sister would be available to try them on. The first dress she tried on was this pink dress, which matches my dress perfectly. It is also very flattering on her figure. So without further ado, more dress pictures!

This was the second dress she tried on, it did not fit her as well, and it did not have the clean lines that the "pink" dress had.

So we ultimately decided on the pink dress. Here it is hanging next to my dress, the go together really well. Both dresses are A-line cut, with organza over satin. Both dresses also have the split-skirt detail, and the bridesmaids dress has just the right amount of beading to match my dress.

The actual dresses will be made in "thistle" which is almost an identical match to Alfred Angelo's Victorian lilac. This is a better idea of what the actual dresses will look like. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dress Shopping- My Dress

Just like so many brides before me, I started looking at pictures of wedding dresses online shortly after Tom proposed. After a bit of searching, I discovered Alfred Angelo and I knew that I wanted to be an Alfred Angelo bride. In August, I called around to the local bridal shops to find one that carried Alfred Angelo dresses. I found this little shop in my home town, and booked an appointment with my mom. My original thoughts were that I wanted a simple, white dress, with a splash of color and a halter top. I didn't want something that was overly ornate, and I did not want lace. When we got to the store, the attendant insisted on having me try on several different styles of dresses just so that I could see how they looked on me. I went on to try on several dresses. The second dress stood out to me. It's ivory, strapless, satin with a layer of organza, with pearls and rhinestones. I thought it was ugly on the hanger, and I almost did not try it on. Then I did, and I was in love. But first, let's see some runners up.

This was the first dress I tried on, I loved the split skirt, but the beading was a bit much, and the dress did not have the splash of color I was looking for.

This is actually the dress I fell in love with online. But once I put it one, I discovered that white does not work with my skin tone, and I hated the dress. 

This is a another style of dress. It gave me an amazing figure, but (as you can see from my face) it just wasn't me.

Then I tried on a halter top dress. I liked this dress, I would even be willing to say it is my second choice. By this point in time, every dress was being compared to the second dress. Finally, the attendant asked if I wanted to put the second dress back on. I immediately obliged.

So, on it went. I'm in love. The dress is so elegant and flowy. They pinned a Victorian lilac sash over the champagne sash so that I could see how my dress would look. I got all the more excited. We also played with headpieces. This was before I opted against a tiara. 

My mother was not able to get a full length picture of the dress. So here it is, Alfred Angelo style 2086 in ivory with Victorian lilac trim. 

And my favorite part, all the little details. The embroidery is a silver metallic, and the rhinestone and pearls add just the right amount of sparkle. It has a chapel length train that I will have bustled for the reception.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DIY Paper Flowers

Tom and I had our engagement pictures taken this afternoon at Portland Headlight. The weather was a bit chilly, but that just meant I had an excuse to snuggle up close to him. It was perfectly clear, and the sky was a nice shade of blue. I love our photographer, he was very professional, but we also seemed to "click" really well. The photographer said that he will post our pictures online in about a week, I can't wait to see how they turned out.

In other news, I have noticed on many of the wedding message boards that brides are opting to make their own flowers instead of having real ones. Some of the alternatives to real flowers are really cute, for example, I have seen brooch bouquets, butterfly bouquets, and bouquets made of fabric flowers. As far as our wedding goes, we are having the real thing. I love roses, Rose is my middle name, and I want to be carrying real roses when I walk down the aisle. On the flip side, I am a crafty person, and I wanted to try my hand at making "flowers."

In my internet surfing one night I came across The Scrap Shoppe and directions to make "ceramic" paper roses I followed the directions exactly, and created a bunch of lavender roses, just like the ones that will be in my bouquet. Then I got creative, and decided to make some leaves to go along with the roses. To make the leaves, I prepared the cardstock the exact same way as described in the directions above, and then I simply cut out leaf shapes once the cardstock was dry. To add more dimension, I folded each leaf in half and creased down the middle.

For the three-rose piece, I cut a strip of left over lavender cardstock and simply attached the roses and leaves with hot glue.

I think I am going to attach pin backs to the back of my roses so they can be worn as corsages at the rehearsal dinner. Right now my plan is that I will wear the three-rose corsage and my mother will wear the single rose. This project is simple enough that I am considering making some more corsages for my bridesmaids, but we will have to see where that goes.  The roses are absolutely gorgeous in person, they mimic the look of porcelain roses.

Did you use handmade flowers in your wedding?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What to Wear?

As I mentioned in the previous post, our engagement pictures are scheduled to be taken tomorrow. Now for the real challenge: figuring out what I'm going to wear! Tom is a manly man, and the majority of his wardrobe consists of jeans and t-shirts. I have nothing against dressing for comfort, but I don't quite think it is appropriate for a photo session, especially with the predicted 30 degree temperatures and possible snow showers, and did I mention we were having our pictures taken on the ocean? Engagement pictures are supposed to be on the casual side, it's more of an opportunity to meet with the photographer than anything else, so I am cool with both of us wearing blue jeans. I'm going to wear my black loafers, and he will wear his black boots, I'm not sure if the photographer will take pictures of our shoes, but at least we'll coordinate if he does. As far as shirts go... Tom owns one long sleeve shirt that would look appropriate to wear with jeans. It is the same shirt that he wore for our first engagement session that my mom shot. I love the shirt, I picked it out, and I must say, I have good taste. Now what should I wear? A black top? A coordinating (but not matching) purple sweater? A different top completely? Decisions! I need to find my winter jacket too...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pro Engagement Pictures are Booked!

So, I finally tracked down the photographer. Or, more appropriately, I found a different photographer. I loved the first photographer's pictures, but I could have cared less for his complete inability to return my phone calls or e-mails. My original intention was to have our engagement pictures taken in mid-October, when fall foliage would have been at it's peak. I guess that was not meant to happen. By the time November rolled around, I finally talked to the manager of the company and expressed my dissatisfaction. My concern was that if I was having such a hard time tracking this photographer down for an engagement session, would he be reliable enough to show up at the wedding? The manager allowed me to change photographers. So, back to the drawing board. I looked at a variety of portfolios and ultimately decided on this one. I have to say, I'm already impressed.

The manager of the photography company forwarded my information to the photographer, and less than a week later I received and e-mail and a phone call to schedule our engagement pictures. The photographer asked that I provide three dates that we would be available, and then worked with our schedule to fit in a session. I am happy to say that our engagement session is scheduled for this Sunday at Portland Headlight. The location is gorgeous, I only wish that the weather would cooperate. Right now, the temperature is expected to be in the 30's, and the wind off of the ocean is not going to help anything. Now to figure out what we are going to wear...

Did you experience any difficulties with any of your vendors? How did you resolve the situation?

Monday, November 15, 2010

DIY Pearl Embellished Bobby Pins or Starting to Think About my Hair

I have long hair. I always have, and I probably always will. It currently goes about halfway down my back, and I have no intention of cutting it, with the exception of an inch or two, before the wedding. The whole point of having long hair is that it is fun to play with. I love doing stuff with my hair, like putting it up in a pony tail, or wearing a fancy barrette or headband. I guess it only makes sense that I am putting so much thought into how I want to wear my hair for the wedding. I mean, for a hair stylist, it is literally a blank canvas. It's long and straight, no prep work needed.

I knew from the beginning that I want my hair to be in a complete up-do for the wedding. My hair is baby fine, and unless I brush it every couple of hours, it goes stringy really quickly. My hair also likes being straight, and refuses to hold a curl for any amount of time. I used to dream of someday having ringlets, I have learned to accept that will not happen in this lifetime. So, an up-do it is. I started looking at the plethora of pictures of bridal up-dos online, and I fell in love with the look pictured at the right. Look at all the loops! Now, imagine my cathedral length veil pinned underneath (and easily removable for the reception!). The next step was finding a headpiece to compliment everything. I originally was thinking tiara, I mean, come on, when else does a grown woman get to wear a tiara? A couple of problems came up with that. Firstly, Tom told me straight out that he doesn't care for them. Okay, I need to impress my groom. Then the next issue, the dress I picked out (more on this later) has some really ornate beading on the top of it, and a tiara would likely pull the eye away from that. Also, my hair is so thin, that I would not be able to pull off a tiara with any sort of height to it. Then I started looking for combs, but that went nowhere. Everything I liked was over $100 (for something I would wear 1 day?!?) and everything I could realistically afford looked too much like a mini-tiara. So, then I started looking at Etsy. I love Etsy, it's an like Ebay, but for handmade stuff. I like to look at other people's ideas to get inspiration for my own crafts. I found a listing for pearl embellished bobby pins, and they were really pretty. The listing only had one pearl per pin, but it was enough to inspire me, and my pearl embellished bobby pins were born!

What you will need for each bobby pin:

  • 25 gage wire
  • bobby pin
  • three pearls
  • needle nosed pliers

What you do:
  1. String your first pearl on the wire and bring it to the center. 
  2. Fold the wire down on either side of the pearl, then using your pliers, pinch the two wires together. 
  3. Holding both wires firmly with the pliers, use your other hand to twist the pearl around several times. 
  4. Repeat steps 2-4 on either side of the center pearl with your two additional pearls. Be sure to keep a firm grasp on the wire while twisting your pearls.
  5. Once all three pearls are wired in, bring both wires down so that they lined up with the center pearl.
  6. Grasp the wires with the pliers 1/8 of an inch below the pearls, with your other hand, hold all three pearls together and twist. This should twist the wire directly below the pearls. 
  7. Now it is time to attach the pearls to the bobby pin. Using your pliers, wrap each wire around the top of the bobby pin. Be careful to pull the wires tight so that the pearls are firmly attached to the top. I wrapped each wire around two-to-three times.
  8. Cut the wire, and use the pliers to pinch the cut end tightly up against the bobby pin. 
  9. I found if the pearls are a bit wiggly on the top of the bobby pin, I could just twist them a couple times to tighten everything up. 

I've made ten bobby pins, which should be enough. I don't want to have the pearls look crowded. I played around with the bobby pins in my hair on Saturday, I had my hair in a bun with the bobby pins securing it in place and my veil underneath. Everyone (including Tom) approved. I also like just holding them in a group. The wire looks so intricate, and the whole look is just pretty. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vistaprint love

I got an e-mail from Vistaprint a couple weeks ago that stated that items in my design portfolio would be expiring soon and that I needed to order them or they would be deleted. Not wanting to lose out on the Welcome Brochures that I spent the better part of an evening designing, I immediately dug through my e-mails and the coupons in my wedding planner to see what I could find. I like to think of myself as a good shopper, but this time, even I think I out did myself.

First things first, I ordered my brochures for out-of-town guests. I will probably post more about these when they come in, but basically they contain a welcome message from me and Tom, as well as useful information about the area. I got 25 of them for free with a coupon with a $2.50 photo upload fee.

As a general rule when ordering stuff from the internet or a catalog, you want to order as much as you can each time, because it's substantially cheaper to ship one big box instead of three or four little ones. So I looked into what else I could add.

I made postcards to put in my out-of-town bags with directions to Fort Popham so that guests could have the directions close at hand while they are driving. With a coupon, I got 100 for free. Then I made another personalized pen for the guest book. I'm hoping to order a free pen with each Vistaprint order so that I have a bunch. I also ordered a personalized tote bag that says "The Future Mrs. *insert new last name here*" with our wedding date, of course, that was free too.

Finally, I made invitations for my bridesmaid's tea (more on this later), and got ten of those for free too. So, for anyone keeping count, I got everything for $2.50 plus $9.00 shipping. That's $11.50 total. I couldn't make this stuff for that price.

Just in case that wasn't enough, I also ordered a wedding sample pack so that I can have physical samples of all their wedding products. I can't wait until my orders come in, I love getting packages of wedding stuff in the mail!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DIY Card Basket and Preventing Wedding Gift Theft

Of all the things to stress about when it comes to wedding planning, some things are plain silly. For example, I stressed over what to have guests put their cards in at the reception. Many girls have made these gorgeous, elaborate card boxes out of stacked paper mache boxes. They look nice, but I really did not see them fitting in with my classic, nautical reception. On top of that, the budget savvy part of my brain could not justify spending $30 in supplies for a piece of decor that no one will remember. To go along with that, what would I do with a card box after the wedding? Throw it away? Attempt to sell it? Store it in a closet? I talked to Tom about a card box as well, he agrees with me completely. Again, nothing against the ladies that decided to make card boxes, they just aren't for us.

So if I'm not going to have a card box, what do guests put their cards in? A bird cage? That looks cool, but again, doesn't really fit in with our theme, and what would I do with it after the wedding? Then I visited our reception venue, and the event coordinator gave me a good idea: a basket! This got me thinking, I could get a fishing basket! That would fit perfectly within our nautical theme, and, even better, I could definitely use a basket after the wedding. Problem solved!

The next step was finding the perfect basket. I visited a couple antique shops and found gorgeous antique fishing baskets for $50+, not exactly what I was planning to spend on a basket. I visited several craft stores and found some nice baskets, but nothing that was distinctively nautical. Then I went to the Christmas Tree Shop and found the perfect nautical style basket.

All that was left was decorating the basket to match our wedding colors. I started by wrapping some left over ribbon around the basket, then I added a sign that I made on Microsoft Paint that simply says "Cards" followed by our names and the wedding date, and finally I added a left over shell for an added detail. I attached everything with minimal amounts of hot glue so that it could be easily dismantled after the wedding.

Now back to the why I was so stressed about the card situation to begin with. Wedding gift theft is a rising problem at reception venues across the country. I'm not accusing any of my guests of having sticky fingers, but problems happen when receptions are held in locations that are easily accessible by the public. My reception is being held at a hotel, and while we have our own entrance, it is easily accessible from the main lobby. In fact, any hotel guests that want to use the hotel pool will be walking past the door to my reception. I'm not trying to be paranoid, but common sense warns against leaving cards that commonly contain money out in the open for anyone to grab. For this reason, many wedding sites recommend a card box or some other sort of locking container. My coordinator suggested a basket because it would be placed at the guestbook table at the beginning of the reception when guests are arriving. This way, guests can simply drop their card off in the basket. Once all the guests have arrived, my coordinator will personally place the basket in a secure space, preferably in our honeymoon suite. The gift table will be on the opposite side of the ballroom from the door. This is just another security measure, as would-be wedding crashers would have to walk clear across my reception to get anything. I'm hoping that this is all silly and that I'm worrying about nothing, but at the very least, it's one less thing to have to worry  about on our big day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 months to go!!!

10 months to go! This is going to be the first of a series of posts that will count down the last 10 months of wedding planning. My goal is to summarize all my progress of the previous month while at the same time setting goals for the next month. In the end I will have a countdown to the wedding.

This month was spent visiting with vendors, signing contracts, and window shopping for future projects. The biggest accomplishment was depositing the reception venue. Tom and I also visited a potential baker and designed our wedding cake. Other accomplishments include booking our photographer, choosing our men's attire, and setting up hotel blocks. In regards to DIY stuff, I designed our invitation mock-up and put together all of the save-the-date cards.

Goals for the next month include putting the deposit on my wedding gown, picking out the bridesmaid's dresses, creating a wedding party newsletter, having our professional engagement pictures done, and depositing the florist. I would also like to finish up the pinwheels, make the ribbon wands, and decorate the wedding bubbles. The wedding is really starting to come together, and I am getting more and more excited by the day. If the last two months are any indication, the next ten are going to fly!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Staying Organized While Planning a Wedding

As many of you may recall, last month I posted about my wedding planning website to help my wedding party keep track of various ideas that I have and the vendors that I have booked. Now it's time to discuss what I do at home to keep the bride (me!) organized.

Wedding planning can be a hectic time, and there is nothing more stressful than needing a phone number or a copy of a vendor contract and not having it readily available. Or, for that matter, trying to explain the exact shade of your wedding colors. For all these little things, I created a wedding binder.

It is possible to purchase a pre-made wedding organizer for $40 or so at most bookstores, I personally found this to be a waste of money. Yes, the pre-made wedding organizers offer plenty of helpful tips, but these tips can also be found online for free through various websites such as The KnotGet Married, and various other sites. I have an account with The Knot and it has a customizable checklist that I can access from my phone, a guest list manager that is connected to my guest website, a budgeter, and a seating arrangement designer; and those are the toys I have found so far! I digress, as I was saying, yes wedding organizers have helpful tips, but these tips are readily available elsewhere. Another thing I did not like about the pre-made organizers is that they are not customizable to your specific needs. Every wedding is different, so why pay for something else that has sections you will not use and is missing sections you need?

I created my binder this past summer. I took advantage of the Back-to-School sales and made the whole thing for just under $10. Although, I admit that I am quickly outgrowing this binder and will likely be replacing it in the next couple of months.

My shopping list:

  • Binder (look for a 3", 1 1/2" is too small)
  • Pencil Case designed to go in a binder
  • Set of Dividers (I'll be buying a second set shortly)
  • Clear Page Protectors
  • Notebook Paper
  • Pen
  • Post-It Notes
  • Pocket Planner/Calendar
  • Small Calculator
I'm not going to give step-by-step instructions on assembling a binder, it's really quite self-explanatory. I use my pencil case to house my pen, pocket planner, post-it notes, calculator, paint chips in my wedding colors, and business cards for all my vendors. The front pocket of my binder contains coupons and post cards from local bridal shows, the back pocket contains honeymoon information. My dividers are currently labeled: Attire, Ceremony, Reception, Flowers, Catering, Music, Photography, and Stationary. I keep copies of every contract, as well as receipts from all payments. I also keep brochures for vendors that I haven't booked yet and any other paper that has anything to do with the above categories; such as pictures of everyone's attire and a copy of our wedding ceremony. My stationary section contains mock-ups of my programs, invitations, and save-the-date cards, as well as some free samples that I ordered from an invitation catalog. I also have notebook paper in each section to jot down notes when I talk with a vendor, or to write down shopping lists, etc. When I upgrade to a larger binder, I am also planning to purchase another set of dividers so that I can have a section for the honeymoon, guest accommodations (room blocks), the guest list, the budget, and wedding party contact info. Like I mentioned before, the joy of making your own organizer is that you can continually improve it to better fit your needs. 

Whenever I meet with a vendor, my binder comes with me. I like having the ability to show versus tell. For example, rather than describing the shade of purple or green I am looking for, I simply show the paint chips. I can also show the florist what my cake looks like, give my reception coordinator the phone number to my DJ, etc. As far as wedding planning goes, my binder is my brain. 

I also have a digital planning binder on my computer. In my documents folder, I created a folder called "wedding planning" where I keep all the templates for stationary that I've made, inspiration pictures, and anything else that I find and want to save. I also set up a wedding folder in my e-mail where I save every message that I have received from my vendors. 

Finally, I have all of my DIY projects packed away in a plastic bin that is stored in a back bedroom to protect them until my wedding. I fully intend on taking a picture of my wedding pile, but I want to wait until it gets really out of control first. Or maybe I'll start doing monthly pictures so I can watch it grow over the next 10 months... we'll see. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Found a Baker! (We Think)

Tom and I met with a baker yesterday and we had an absolute ball. Tom and I have been spending our evenings looking at pictures of wedding cakes online as of late, and the baker was more than excited to see our leading contenders. Our primary inspiration was the cake that I have pictured to the left. We absolutely LOVE the star fish, the simplicity, the clean lines, and the "seaweed" piping on the sides. My only change was that I wanted sugar shells in place of real ones. The baker was completely willing to work with us on this, and even had some fondant shells on hand to show us. We want the cake to be frosted in ivory butter cream, so she suggested decorating the shells with pearl powder to make them stand out against the cake.

The next step was figuring out how many layers of cake we would need to feed all of our guests. The baker was attempting to do the math in her head, but then opted to pull out the actual cake pans so that we could get a visual. Tom and I were originally set on having a square cake because we really liked the clean lines. While the baker was digging out her square pans, she pulled out a set of hexagons. Tom immediately commented, "Those are different." We eventually asked the baker to stack the hexagon pans just to get an idea of how they would look. Hexagons stack like a traditional round wedding cake, but have the clean lines of a square. We loved it! So we changed our idea a bit, The baker was right along with it. We want to have our tiers stacked off center like the picture to the right.

The picture to the left is another one of our inspirations, we loved the rope border between tiers, and the baker is going to add that detail to our cake. 

It turns out, to feed 150 people, we would need a 4 tier cake (awesome) but even then, that would only feed 136 people. The baker suggested a simple sheet cake for the remaining 14 people, I asked if she could decorate it and we could have a groom's cake. She was right on board with that idea. So, we are having two cakes! The only thing left to do was to pick the flavors. Tom and I are both a fan of lemon cake, so we really did not have to take much time to pick. We also decided to use butter cream frosting instead of fondant, which the baker also recommended because it would further emphasize the clean lines of our hexagons. The wedding cake will be lemon cake with an almond butter cream, and the groom's cake will be lemon cake with a chocolate fudge butter cream.

All that is left to do now is tastings and a deposit. Another check! We now have the showpiece for our reception! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inspiration Board- Pulling together the Reception

Back in September, when I was first starting to plan the wedding, I put together an inspiration board for the wedding reception. I was still in the early phases of planning, I was still thinking that I was only going to have about 60 people at the wedding. I also had this bright idea that I would make cheesecake in place of a traditional wedding cake. It's amazing how things can change once you have a realistic perspective on things. Since we booked the reception venue, I have been really looking into and planning the reception decor, and it's finally starting to come together. So, without further ado, here is our Nautical/Classic Elegance inspired wedding reception.

My Reception

Seriously, I'm in love. The cake is our leading contender for wedding cake inspiration, only we want to use chocolate starfish in place of real ones. The "Mr and Mrs." shells were made by yours truly back when I made the table numbers. The frosted glass votive candles are going to be our favors, I found a great deal online for them (more on that later). We are going to have two centerpieces; half of the tables will have wooden sailboats, the other half will have fishbowls filled with green seaglass and a pillar candle. Oh, and my favorite part, bubbles during the first dance. How fun is that? And I already got the okay from the reception venue.