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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / DIY winter wedding-- VERY picture heavy! on: February 11, 2010 10:12:20 AM
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
Shower Invitations
Invitation Envelopes
Aisle Runner
Unity Candle
Tree centerpieces
Lantern bases (for centerpieces)
Poker sets (Adam)
Cake stand (mom)
Chair ties
Light pillars with Chinese lanterns
Thank you cards (Aunt Laurie)
Reception video
Boxes for thank you chocolates

Things that I bought or had made that are interesting
My husbands ring
Bridesmaids necklaces
Bridesmaids coats
Purple shoes
$10 BM dresses
My dress custom made

DIY 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

The invitations 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 Smiley

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.

The programs were designed in Photoshop by me and then printed at a local printer. Cheap and simple. Total time: 1 hour

The bells 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.

The bouquets 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.

The boutonnieres 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 Smiley

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. Sad

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 Sad 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. Smiley 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 Smiley

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.

2  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Coffee Filter Rose, Pinecone, and Pearl Bouquet! on: October 21, 2009 01:55:40 PM
So, I just finished my bridal bouquet!!! So excited!! This was a very time consuming project, but the results are absolutely stunning (But I'm biased...)!

My MOH and I built and hand painted these roses over the summer. It took about 2 hours per rose (1 hour for assembly, 1 hour for painting). I've heard they can be done faster, but I don't know how you could and still do a good job. I used the tutorial from MarthaStewart.com which even includes a video:
These were VERY cheap to make, especially since I already owned many of supplies. I also sometimes used hot glue to secure the stems, because on occasion I'd have a feisty one that just wouldn't stick together.

I purchased a foam bouquet holder (It's a foam ball within a plastic circular, holey frame on a stick). I got this at Hobby Lobby on sale for $2.

I picked up pinecones from the ground. I cut them to size (they can be just the tops of the cones, since no one sees the bottom part), then put a dab of hot glue on the base of the cone (where I cut it) to make sure it holds together well. Then, I wrapped floral wire (about 20 gauge) around the pinecone, wrapping it behind the lowest ring of the cone so that the wire is secured on the pinecone. The result is a pinecone on a wire stem. I then sprayed them with hairspray, then while the hairspray was still wet I dumped an opaque embossing powder over them, covering them. Hit that with a heat gun (careful not to overheat it because the hairspray might be flammable), and then my pinecones were ready to be stuck in the bouquet.

As for the pearls, I just found them in the floral department at Hobby Lobby. It was 99 cents for one stem that had about 8 bunches on them. I just attached each bunch to some wire and they were ready to place in the bouquet.

Then, I placed the flowers, pinecones, and pearl stems into the foam ball, starting from the center and working down in a circular fashion. I tied some of the stems together using twisty-ties in bunches of 3 or 4, because this made them scrunch up tighter, so that way there aren't any visual gaps.

At the end, I wrapped the stem in ribbon and glued that in place as I wrapped.

3  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Wedding veil help! on: August 07, 2009 10:30:50 AM
Hey fantastic Craftsters! Here's the situation... I found the PERFECT veil for my dress, which is so exciting, but I just don't see the need to drop over $100 on a chunk of tulle. So, I've been trying to research how to make the veil myself. There have been a few posts on making veils before, but the veil I wanna make is kind of unique, so nothing quite covers what I'm going for.

So this is what I'm going for:
Two tier/with a blusher
Champagne colored satin cording (not actually important for you to know the color, but what the heck)
Dark ivory colored (again, color is a moot point)
Waterfall/cascade/angel cut style
Fingertip length
The waterfall/ripple effect goes all the way up the veil, framing the facehigher than the shoulders!

This is what a waterfall/cascade/angel cut veil looks like, with the ripples:

According to http://www.veilsbyroxanne.com/shapes.htm:
"Waterfall Bridal Veils are also known as cascade and angel cut bridal veils. The cut of the veil forms gentle waves that flow down the sides. Before its gathered it looks like a large triangle with the point rounded out, so the full width is advised as it tapers to a narrow bottom edge. Waterfall shape works best for elbow, fingertip and waltz length bridal veils. If used with cathedral length wedding veils be aware that it will not have much cascading effect and the train end will be very narrow, almost a point, while traditional shape will form a large circular train. They work best as 1 tier wedding veils and are a great choice for wedding gowns that are detailed on the back as these bridal veils get narrow and sheer toward the bottom."

So, I know it needs to be cut like a triangle. Alrighty. That's a start. Anyone else have words of wisdom? If I'm going to make it two-tiered should I just make two triangles and then sew them on to the comb? How large should the triangles be cut? How do I attach satin cording?

I saw this perfect veil in person, so I know it can be done, but actually figuring out how to do it is the problem. Let's just say I'm a veil novice, so cue the entrance of fellow Craftsters who are full of wisdom and crafty thoughts Smiley
4  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Piano as decoration... picture obese on: June 08, 2009 03:29:40 PM
Hi all. I'm back, looking for more ideas.

I had this idea of turning an old upright piano into reception decor... I know some might disapprove of this because it's an instrument, but putting that aside, I need ideas. I love music as much as the next person. I "rescued" this piano from someone who was planning on disposing of it. Got it free on Craigslist.

My inspiration came from this (sorry, I found this a while ago and can't seem to find the source! It was sitting out from a piano store somewhere or something like that...)

I've modified it slightly to be more representative of the mood and colors I'm thinking:

You can see the upright piano I have here.... it is out of tune, one of the keys sticks just a little, and the suspension peddle is broken, so it's not in the greatest shape to begin with (perfect for what I need I guess):

Anyway, It's not toooooo heavy, so I don't necessarily have to gut it, and it might actually be more work than it's worth to gut it. However, I did think that if I gutted the top section (that's above the keys) I could make it into some sort of shadow box or something to use for seating cards or something.

To give an idea of what I'm thinking for the tone of the wedding, here's the inspiration board I made for my December wedding:

So, the question is... I would love for this to be functional and not just decoration (like the seating card idea, etc...). Any other ideas for what it could be used for in the reception? Any great decorating ideas? If I don't have to gut it, that would be great. And, if I do gut it, it wouldn't be able to be played anymore, which is sad, but I can live with it. Personally, I think this has the potential to be the absolute coolest, most memorable, and focal part of my reception if done right! So much potential!!

Also, if by some off chance someone here has actually gutted a piano before, I would love and adore you if you gave me some tips and directions. From the limited stuff I'm finding online (and it is limited... not many people seem to have attempted this type of project and chronicled it), it is NOT going to be easy if I do go that route...

5  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Shimmering tablecloth? on: June 03, 2009 03:14:14 PM
Hi everyone. I discovered craftser about 1 week ago, and I love it!

Since there are so many creative minds browsing, I thought someone might have an idea on how to create a look similar to this without spending enormous amounts of money.

I stumbled across these fiber optic tableclothes made in France. They're so cool, but also soooo expensive. I'd love to do a similar look at my headtable for my wedding, but definitely don't want to spend $1000 on it. Any crazy ideas on how to do this? I don't want to spend a lot, but I'm definitely willing to put in extensive human labor. :-)

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