I was married in December of '09 to my high school sweetheart. Talk about a dream come true. I paid for a large portion of the wedding myself and didn't want to heavily burden my parents with an expensive wedding, so I did a TON of DIY projects to help cut costs!! A couple factors played in my favor: 1. I was temporarily unemployed, so I had the time for these projects, 2. I spent 4 months of our year long engagement in Europe where it was basically impossible for me to prepare for the wedding, so I used that time to brainstorm ideas and research diy projects. This, my friends, is the glorious result (I'm biased, but I think most would agree)...DIY Projects:
Save the Date video
Lantern bases (for centerpieces)
Poker sets (Adam)
Cake stand (mom)
Light pillars with Chinese lanterns
Thank you cards (Aunt Laurie)
Boxes for thank you chocolatesThings that I bought or had made that are interesting
My husband’s ring
$10 BM dresses
My dress custom madeDIY Projects
We made our own Save the Dates
... in video format! We then emailed them to our guests and received GREAT feedback! Check it out here: http://vimeo.com/5531877
were designed by me and assembled by hand. An obscene amount of time went into these. We're talking probably at LEAST 10 minutes per invitation. The invitation in the pictures isn't quite complete. The complete invitation was closed with a silver snowflake wax seal and had several inserts inside, which were behind the center panel, with a silver ribbon bow extending out so that they could be easily removed and replaced. It's a little hard to explain, but I don't have pictures. I was working on these for WEEKS. I even made the stamp
which is seen on the cover of the invitation (a&a) using Photoshop, an old mousepad, an exacto knife, and a block of wood. See pictures
My MOH made the invitations for my bridal shower
(one of three bridal showers! It was great fun). This is the computer file (sorry, I had to blob out a lot of the personal details), and they looked WAY nicer in real life. There was ribbon on them and sparkly embossing... it was quite the project and they were GORGEOUS. These were mostly my MOH's project, so I can't really take credit. :-) Total time: 4 hours+
My mom did the calligraphy
on the invitation envelopes. She hasn't done calligraphy for a while, but I'd say her skills are still phenomenal! At one time back in the day, she did all of her invitations (not just the envelopes)! Wow. It took her several weeks to do this, working for about 30 minutes to 1 hour most evenings.
were designed in Photoshop by me and then printed at a local printer. Cheap and simple. Total time: 1 hour
did double duty. Our guests rang them as we left the church, and they were also favors, meant to be hung on people's Christmas trees as ornaments. The poem on the tag (written by me) reads: Every Christmas hang this bell, and say a prayer to wish us well, so every year God above, will shower us with His bountiful love. The reverse side of the tag had our monogram (also designed by me) and the date of the wedding. Bells were purchased at Walmart (they come in packs of 24 for about $8). Total time of making the tags and tying them to the bells: Approximately 4 hours
The aisle runner
was another fun project. I designed the quote and picture I wanted in Photoshop, printed it REALLY big, laid it out under the aisle runner, traced it, then painted it. Hence, the gorgeous, hand-painted aisle runner. Total time: probably 8-10 hours
The unity candle
was SUPER easy. I designed what I wanted on it in photoshop, printed it on clear adhesive paper, adhered it to the candle, and covered the edges of the paper using ribbon (pinned on the back side into the candle wax). The candle wasn't really that dark, but I had to darken the photo so you can see the monogram better. Total time: 30 minutes
The crystal tree centerpieces
(they were 6 of them, on about 1/4 of the tables with the remaining tables decorated in lanterns) were made by me. The branches came from our yard, then we painted them and set them in the buckets (using some cement to keep it sufficiently weighted in the base). The buckets were actually white popcorn buckets from the dollar store that we painted with stone textured spray paint (available at Walmart, etc...). We hot glued the approximately 6" strands of "crystals" on. The crystals were cut up beaded curtains: http://www.shopwildthings.com/clgecu.html
One curtain was easily enough to do all 6 centerpieces. Finally, we stuffed black tulle in the bases to cover the ugly cement, roped strings of battery rice lights up the trees (battery packs hidden under the tulle as well), and sprinkled extra strands of "crystals" on the table around the tree. This was a big project as well and it was broken up into steps over a long period of time, so I'm not sure the exact amount of time this took. All in all, probably 10+ hours.
I wanted to create levels with the centerpieces, so I made some bases for the lanterns
to stand on. They were boxes that measured about 10"x6" with the box lids removed. I used battery rice lights again, and I taped the battery pack inside the box. Then I flipped it over so that the open side was down. I roped the lights around the exterior sides of the box, taping it in an up-down pattern. I then covered this with quilt batting, with the edges wrapping underneath the box and being taped to the insides. This created the snowy lifts for my lanterns! That was a little tough to explain. Hopefully it made sense. You can sort of see one in this picture. It's on the background table. Total time: 1 hour tops.
were my biggest project, and I am most proud of them!! They turned out AMAZING if you ask me and no one could believe they were made out of COFFEE FILTERS. I made a post earlier about these. Check it out. It's titled something like "Pinecone and Pearl Coffee Filter Rose Bouquet". The smaller bridesmaids bouquets were done slightly differently. I used a thick dowel cut short to approximately 10 inches (or however long you want the bouquet to be) and covered in floral tape. Then I used floral wire attached to the roses, pinecones, and pearls to fasten them tightly to the dowel. I also used some hot glue to secure them. I also secured stems of fake greenery (purchased at Michaels) around the base to finish the bottom and cover the dowel and wires. Then I wrapped the dowel in cotton pads, taped those into place with purple duct tape, and then wrapped ribbon around it. I hot glued the ribbon in place and also put pearl tipped bouquet pins in to further secure it and to add a nice touch. All in all, this project took me months of small steps, so I really can't put a time line on it. For the first 25 roses it took me about 2 hours per rose just to make the roses. For the final 15 or so roses it went a LOT faster. There's no way to put a time estimate on such a huge project.
were fairly simple but somewhat time consuming as well. I made ten of them. They probably took me about 8 hours total.
For groomsmen gifts
my husband Adam gave poker sets. He bought them online for fairly cheap and then personalized them by going to a local trophy shop and getting nameplates made. He then glued these on to the sets. They looked really great and were a lot cheaper than buying already personalized poker sets. Sorry the pictures don't show the personalization very well. It's the only pictures I have of the poker sets.
The cake stand
was my mom's job. She premade it at home directly in a box. She used a cookie tin, then covered it in a billowy fabric and lights. She also put some battery operated rice lights inside the fabric to make it glow a little. She got it just how she wanted it and then transported the box to the reception site. She just lifted it out and onto the table and it was ready to go! Great job mom!
I really wanted to make the chairs
look nicer, because chair cover sure add a lot of color to a room. However, I couldn't afford $2 per chair chair ties. As an alternative, I purchased many rolls of 6" tulle from Walmart (on clearance for $4 per roll, but they've brought it back now and it runs for $6 per roll). I ended up with about 1,000 yards of tulle, which was the perfect amount for all 150 chairs in our reception hall. We played around with the best way to do it, and ended up using 4 different length strands (2 long, 2 medium length) tied in a clever way to make them look nice. We cut and assembled these at the reception site. With about 8 people working on it, we did 150 chairs in an hour and a half.
I LOVED MY PIANO!
! This was a totally original idea I had and I'm quite proud of it. It was a little bit of a pain to move to the reception site... if you want to do something like this I cannot reiterate enough how important it is for the piano to be relatively lightweight. I got a lightweight piano free off of Craigslist in barely working condition. It would have been very expensive to restore, and it really was worthless at the time I got it. I then cleaned it up and painted it. I first painted it with a white base (I just had the paint around) and then finished it with a lavender coat. I painted our monogram on one end. Using white and black paint markers, I had guests sign it as a sort of non-traditional guest book. The keys were then removed after the reception (cut off), and we are currently trying to come up with ideas on how to make them into artwork for our home. Ideas are welcome!! Anyway, kind of awesome, if you ask me
I also made light pillars
out of chinese lanterns and Christmas lights, which framed the doorway of the reception. These were harder than I expected and didn't turn out as cool as I'd hoped. This is the idea: http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/bright-ideas-for-lighting-up-the-party
The problem was, it was difficult to made them straight and to push the laterns together enough so there weren't gaps. I thought they ended up looking kind of sloppy. Total time, 2 hours tops.
My aunt made beautiful homemade and hand stamped thank you cards
for us. These were a gorgeous touch and the perfect way to leave a lasting impression! I don't have pictures, unfortunately.
During the reception we played a video
that I made. I recorded various members of our wedding party... it's not what you're expecting to I recommend you check it out. It's HILARIOUS. Again, hard to say how much time was put into this. Not my best production technically, but people really loved it. It was very time consuming though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkHSk2-kfU4&feature=channel
Finally, I made thank you boxes
printed on card stock paper. I used a box template, which I decorated on photoshop and then printed. They looked awesome! I assembled the boxes using scotch tape to discretely secure them, and then filled them with little chocolates I'd brought back from a trip to Brugges, Belgium. I tied them with ribbon, leaving excess length, and then used a ribbon shredder/curler to make gorgeous little ribbon curls of the excess. These were given to people who helped out at the wedding to thank them. I made about 20 of these. Again, no pictures
Total time: about 3 hours.Other Non-DIY Details
Adam's wedding ring
is REALLY neat. We purchased it from an etsy artist, Fabuluster. http://www.etsy.com/shop/fabuluster
The ring has our actual fingerprints on the inside of the ring. We had it made in silver, with a centralized super thin line of gold circling the exterior of the ring. Total cost was only $222, including shipping. It's a little hard to see the fingerprints in this picture, but you get the idea.
I gave my bridesmaids necklaces
, which were inspired by the bouquets. The artist who made them for me is IndigoMoonJewelry at etsy.com, My girls LOVED them and so did I! http://www.etsy.com/shop/IndigoMoonJewelry
The bridesmaid dresses
are worth noting because I got them for $10 at a sidewalk sale! It was incredible! Because the dresses were so cheap, we decided to get matching purple coats
as well, so that outdoor pictures would be more fun (a winter wedding in IA= very cold outdoor pictures).
I also wore fun purple heels
, purchased at Payless. :-)
Finally, my wedding dress
was custom made for me. Using other dresses I liked for inspiration, I designed my dream dress, then had it made to my measurements. This was one of my splurges, but the total cost was around $500. Not bad when you consider that it fit me like a glove, so no alteration were needed.
Please note: Almost all pictures are the work of the super talented Rachel Tabron of www.AmbrojaPhotography.com
. If you are in the midwest and planning a wedding, I highly suggest you look her up. She is incredible! As you may have noticed, I've put a lot of time into my wedding, and researching a photographer was no exception. I can say with confidence that she is the best photographer when you compare ability with cost in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA area! Check her out and let her know I (Alina) sent you.
There are a few pictures here that aren't that great. Those are not hers, just so you know. Those are pictures guests have sent me. Everything amazing comes from her
In the end, the wedding was perfect
. The perfect day, and thus far the perfect marriage. I wondered if all the work would be worth it, and I have no regrets. Everything was worth it because it was in every way MY wedding. All that work showed a bit of my personal taste and spirit... it was the most personal wedding I could have asked for. And I'm very proud of it as well. :-) Remember to check out www.AmbrojaPhotography.com
because our photographer is (obviously) amazing and I can't plug her enough! Here are a few more images to round things out.