Friday, June 19, 2015

Welcome Back from Club Wed

Oh hey there.  It's been a while.  As much as I can multi-task, blogging was one of those efforts that got swept under the rug while I spent three months prepping for the wedding and one month recovering.  I had hoped that I could come back with a bang and have professional wedding shots to share with you, but alas they take a while.  Maybe in another month!?

I spent the majority of my time in non-blog mode creating as much as I possibly could for our wedding--which was totally bloggable!  But in project-mode my focus was on getting it done, not sharing the process.  However, most of my creations came from other bloggers' tutorials which I figured I'd share.  For this post I'll just focus on the ceremony as there's so many crafts to post.  SO.MUCH.DIY.

To start we had to get married and we did so under the crafty arch I tutorial'd way back when.  I got the know how from following this tutorial from A Practical Wedding and made it my own to match the garden vibe of our venue.

Before this, our guests found their seats and did so around our aisle banner that was tied between the last two chairs on the aisle.  I found this idea and customized it based on this tutorial from Something Turquoise.

Guests were accompanied by programs fashioned into a fan....thank god.  Our wedding day was the hottest, stickiest, muggiest day of May peaking at about 95 degrees and humid.  There are so many program ideas out there and I just happened to find one that had a free template that I customized to our ceremony.  I even used the monogram created for us for our wedding invitations.  Printed these on cardstock, folded in half, and used packing tape to get a craft stick inside and then glued down the edges.

These were picked up on a little refreshment table done up with signage that offered tissues and vintage handkerchiefs I had picked up at a flea market for a song.  I clothes pinned them around an "apple picking basket" bought at Michaels.

Our bridal party rushed down the aisle as things got started late, and our ring bearers carried this down the aisle.  I made this DIY up as I went, creating a shape on burlap that I had leftover from table runners, folding it in half and sewing the edges together with a zig zag stitch.  Then I sewed the top together with enough space for a dowel to fit through.  The verbiage was puffy painted on in my best imitation calligraphy.

My niece was meant to follow the boys, but the line-up got out of whack despite rehearsal efforts.  I don't think anyone really's amazing how much chaos is behind the scenes of "running smoothly".  Her little sign was an impulse $1 buy at AC Moore that I wrote on with chalk marker.  But her flower crown is based on a tutorial from one of my fave blogs, Honestly WTF.

One of the most fun projects, had it not been done at the last minute, was putting together the flowers for myself and the bridesmaids.  Such a valuable DIY!  It saved us at least $500 and now that I've mastered it I'm just waiting on friends to call on me to create something special for theirs.  I was inspired by this tutorial on Green Wedding Shoes and got the majority of my flowers from Produce Junction.  Whole Foods provided the peonies.  I also created charms for all the bridesmaids and myself so they could identify their bouquets later on.  I got the instructions and the idea from this tutorial at Something Turquoise.  Incredibly easy and very satisfying.  To boost the savings, I used faux succulents in the bouquets!  By adding wire and floral tape, I just clustered them into the bouquets.  I wrapped the girls' bouquets in black ribbon and used the cut hem of my dress to wrap my own (the seamstress gave me the idea!).

As for the boys' "flowers" I made them all pinwheel boutonnieres using the actual maps that guided Chris & I through the European adventure that ended in our engagement.  By following an easy pinwheel tutorial I figured out what size they should be.  Mini pinwheels went to the ring bearers.  Using hot glue I secured the paper and then glued a pin to the back so they stayed put the whole night.  You can kind of see Chris's pinwheel bout in the pic below.  So wish I had my professional ones!  Chris was the only pinwheel made from our map of Paris since that's where we got engaged.

Faux succulent right there!

And lastly, Chris and I read handwritten vows to each other that we had in our own little notebooks.  This was another really good project, because for the life of me my head was just one big buzz the entire day, and I can't remember what Chris said AT ALL.  Horrible I know.  But luckily we still have our books and I can read it anytime I want to kill him.  We each read our own summary (is that the best word?) that we individually wrote and then read joint vows/promises that we wrote together.  I used a free template from Something Turquoise to put ours together.  We also wrote our own ceremony that we guided Chris's grandfather through as he was our "officiant" though we used a Quaker self uniting license.  Totally the way to go for any non-denominational fiancees out there.

 And that was the ceremony!  So much work for 20 minutes--but that's why I was away and not posting updates.  For those wondering if I included Harry in the events, I did!  He was there pre-ceremony and we took some family pics together with his own DIY sign (of course).  He had his babysitter come get him (which we found through Dog Vacay, click on Services up top to learn more) right before things got started and spent the rest of the day frolicking.  I really wanted him to be in everything but knew that he might talk throughout the ceremony...which in hindsight probably would've helped me relax until I realized it was bugging people.  I'll post another update in the next couple weeks of the rest of the projects, and then back to what I really love writing about...HARRY!

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Marry your Dog in your Kitchen...or DIY Wedding Arch

One of the more intimidating projects for the upcoming nuptials was figuring out our ceremony decor.  Our venue is kind of a blank slate for the ceremony as it's just nature.  Essentially all we really have reserved for our ceremony was chairs, and we need a little bit more to make it look like a wedding beyond a bridal party. 

Being inspired by the natural setting I wanted to have an arch of some sort, but I didn't want to overpower the greenery.  I had a bunch of inspiring examples:

Three Piece Wedding Arch - Chuppa /Birch Poles

And I also found a tutorial at A Practical Wedding that gave a how-to to create a super bohemian one complete with poms and rainbow ribbons.  I followed the step by step guide to create the structure and then decorated to my own style.

You'll need:
3 7 foot Birch poles
Zip ties
PVC pipe
Cement Mix, mixing bucket, and water
2 Silver buckets (about $20 each at Home Depot)
Fake Moss
Decor (use a silk flower garland like I did, or your own idea!)
A stepladder, unless you're not as vertically challenged as me

To start, we had to create a base that would hold the birch poles in place.  I got my birch poles on Etsy  and had to wait until they arrived to buy the supplies for anchoring them so that I could measure the diameter of the pole itself.  Two buckets, a bag of cement mix, and a PVC pipe later, we were ready to start assembling.

Foo was super helpful and hands on setting up a cement mixing station in the basement.  He cut the PVC and set it in the center of the bucket, and then filled the sides in with cement.  After curing the result was a 25 pound bucket.

We topped the cement with decorative moss found at AC Moore and we'll have to turn them backwards so we're not showing the stickers that we can't get off the buckets!  Inside the PVC are wood shims that we'll use to wedge the poles in so that they stand straight.

After setting the poles in their holders, we had to place the third pole across the top.  We screwed two eye hooks into the tops of the side poles, and then used a zip tie to secure the poles.  We're hoping that this kind of assembly is easy to do day of.  Hoping really hard.

Here's an up close shot of how we secured the poles together.  The zip tie is hidden by a tied satin ribbon.

Instead of going nuts with ribbon (I had originally wanted to tie a bunch down the center), I picked up two silk flower garlands at AC Moore (40% off yo!).  I secured them in the middle with floral wire and then again on the sides.  Day of, we'll just have to re-attach the sides after the structure is secured.  The above shot is taken pre-purchase of extra shims and ribbon where we were using a paint mixing stick and my stash of ribbon bits for last minute gifting.  Will you marry Harry?

Excuse the pile of recyclables and focus on the end result here.  I think the flowers look pretty realistic...and our audience will be sitting back a few yards.  Beats paying for a florist to do similar work!  After making the buckets, the assembly and decorating took 20 minutes tops, and that included me mulling over how to cover the zip ties and where to start and end the garland.  We're going to leave the garland secured to the top piece so that assembly is even faster for the ceremony.  

Hoping this helps any other DIY or budget brides hoping to do something similar!  At the end of the day this project cost just about $100 which was mainly the buckets and birch.  A rental of something similar or paying a florist to decorate a rental would be a pretty penny more! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

DIY Wedding Invites (Yes, it's gotten to this)

We took the longest break we've ever taken between September and now.  It's safe to say we're very busy and though we're accomplishing plenty of bloggable things, I've been bad at documenting.

What have I been working on?  Oh just wedding things every single solitary weekend.  Expecting it to be like this til May.  Originally I didn't want to write about this stuff because it's an audience limiter and most of the time I'm ashamed at how excited I get over a wedding craft (mainly because nobody cares except me and Harry and only because I use a really enthusiastic tone of voice when I finish).  But then I realized there is a small margin of people that might benefit from shared information and a lot of the wedding stuff can be duplicated for house stuff or other projects.  So screw it.  I'm going rogue.

The latest project, due at the end of February, is the invitations.  Dear God I learned so much unnecessary information regarding paper in the past month...also about postage.  I also learned how ridiculously expensive invitations are.  For me, invites are a silly place to blow a ton of cash, so even though I created a reasonable budget to start it was my life goal (for like 2 weeks) to come in under.  Way under.  

When I realized how much an invitation suite was going to cost on a site like Minted ($700 before postage and envelopes--for 100 invites) I reconsidered my approach.   Etsy is a great source for invitations, especially for suites.  Shops offer printable invitation suites that you can print yourself, bring to a print shop, or send to an online printer.  The suites go for a flat rate and you have unlimited printing power.  I used Printable Wisdom for their Elizabeth suite and worked with the artist, Ashley, on personalizing the suite.

After finalizing the design (final version is not above) I had to order paper products.  Ashley recommended the very affordable site  Their envelopes and high quality papers were the cheapest online, not to mention you could order samples with free shipping.  I was afraid my printer wouldn't be able to handle the recommended 110 lb card stock (yea there's a whole thing about how much paper weighs and the difference of weights between stock types) so I resorted to Staples where I bought 250 pages of 110 lb card stock for $17.99--enough to cover me for all invites and then some.  

Once printed, I had to cut and the paper cutter we have at work was not cutting it...HA.HA.GET-IT?

Anywho I went with the Carl paper cutter from amazon and it does the trick.  It took me about two episodes of Revenge to get through all the cutting and I realized I probably need something to hold all this stuff together....and those things are called belly bands.  I found another thrift-minded person on the interwebs who provided a template which I personalized for my invites.

Another super awesome way to add color and fanciness without adding weight was making envelope liners from wrapping paper.  I followed this awesome guide using a really pretty roll I found at Hallmark.  Papersource had fun wrapping paper but at $7 a sheet that wasn't helping.

This bogus glue was also really helpful and lived up to its reputation of not being a piece of crap.

Briefly -- when it came to minimizing the weight of the invitation as a whole, I opted to eliminate a second large insert identifying all the details of the day and squished this info onto a smaller card.  I also did away with the RSVP stamped envelope which saved on weight and on additional all the time of putting our return address on everything.  Instead we're using a site called which allows you to upload your guest list to your personal URL and when guests rsvp they just search for their name.  It even lets you put a question in like, do you want chicken or fish?  Or what song do you want to hear at the reception?  I like it because it goes straight to my email when someone responds and I can immediately update my psychotic wedding spreadsheet.

So yea, DIY invites are really not that much of a PITA especially if it's freezing outside and there are a ton of Oscar nominated movies to watch pre-awards.  But the best part of the entire thing was that it cost me half (actually even less) of the Minted version, postage included!  Plus I get to keep a sweet paper cutter, address stamp, and have a lot of leftover material for any additional printing needs.  At the end of the day, the only people who are going to hold on to these buggers are yourself, parents, grandparents, and crazy stalkers.  In my opinion, it's not worth spending or stressing over!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dogs in Engagement Photos

House, wedding, house, wedding - right?  Since we're about 8 months away Chris and I have started to dig into the wedding planning.  We've got the big stuff done (all except what we're wearing) and are hoping to chip at the to do list week by week.  Last weekend we crossed off engagement photos and soon we'll be crossing off "send save the dates".
Credit Erin Pitts Photography
When we were first engaged I was mostly excited about thinking about ways to incorporate Harry into the event (see Dogs in Weddings).  I've still got to train him to calmly walk in-between chairs surrounded by the familiar smells of all his people to ensure he can actually be a part of our ceremony, but as a prelude he helped us out in our engagement photos!
Credit Erin Pitts Photography
In an effort to stray from the traditional, Chris and I will be having donuts from our favorite spot in Philly in lieu of a wedding cake.  A well kept Pennsylvania Dutch secret, Beiler's donuts in Reading Terminal Market are donuts on crack.  They're sweet, usually warm, and stuffed with thick sweet cream that will definitely make you sick after half a dozen...but you want to eat half a dozen.  

For our photo shoot I wanted to highlight the donut theme from our wedding (aka I wanted to eat donuts) and I also wanted to include Harry in some shots.  We combined the two to make for a seriously fun shoot.
Credit Erin Pitts Photography

Our pictures were taken by the super talented Erin Pitts of Erin Pitts Photography whom I found through the Philadelphia Improv Theatre (more on that in the future).  She made us feel so comfortable that I didn't feel insecure housing donuts with my dog on the floor of my kitchen.  

Credit Erin Pitts Photography
Credit Erin Pitts Photography
I created our backdrop using crepe paper streamers and painters tape and then used a rolling cart draped in a table cloth to place the donut trays upon.  Our special edible save the date was made using a catering lid and some hot pink Pilsbury frosting that actually came with edible sparkles.  The cake trays are flea market finds that I keep collecting in hopes of using them all on our dessert table spread at the actual they just make regular food look fancy.

I made Harry's bow tie using this great tutorial I found on YouTube.  I amended her ways by using velcro as an attaching device instead of elastic.  Harry had two to choose from for our shoot and chose the green and creme one to match my dress--how thoughtful!

Credit Erin Pitts Photography

Credit Erin Pitts Photography
We had such a great time with our pictures and are so happy with how they turned out.  I highly recommend using Erin for any photography needs be it engagement, family photos, or new baby - she really let us run amuck while providing helpful tips on posing as she found the best angles to get a great picture.

Credit Erin Pitts Photography

Friday, September 26, 2014

DIY Stenciled Closet Renovation

I was hesitant to share my progress of my master closet renovation because it's not 100% done yet.  But I don't think anything in my house will ever be 100% done because like me, the house will continuously evolve...and I'm not superwoman.  First off, I am so grateful to have my very own master closet that I don't have to share with anybody.  From what I've learned in my house-hunting experience, closets in the city are rare creatures.  The fact that we have his & hers in our bedroom is a gift.  A gift from a unicorn.

When we moved in, the closets were each just a room with an open doorway.  There weren't any closet structures that we could immediately hang clothes on.  So for a while we had our clothes split amongst bedrooms and Chris actually used a shower curtain rod in the 2nd floor bathroom as his closet.

Having the closets figured out was my number one priority as far as house projects were concerned (of which there is a very long list) so I began researching custom closet solutions and DIYs of closet solutions.  What I found was that building a closet wasn't going to be cheap unless I had an array of power tools and the woodworking skills of Bob Vila OR lots of time.  I had neither although by this summer I think I'll be a mini-Vila so tried to mesh the two methodologies and self install an MDF board closet system from Home Depot.  First I drew up my measurements and an idea of what I had in mind.

Then, using ClosetMaid software I was able to input my closet's measurements and customize their products to fit my design.  Below is what I came up with:

So off to Home Depot we went armed with housewarming gift cards from our parents and extended family and a Lowes coupon (they take competitor ones there).

While I began painting the interior of the closet, Chris put together the pieces that would eventually be installed.  Everything was flat packed so the entire structure had to be assembled and eventually secured to the wall.

For paint, I chose Behr Beluga in flat to be on the wall opposite the doorway and the wall to the right of the doorway.  The other two walls were to be stenciled, as I wanted my closet to have a boutique feel (even though I'm not Mariah Carey).  I feel that bathrooms and closets are the places to really have fun with patterns and colors while living areas I generally play it safe.  

I had some help taping and painting....

And when everything was dry I was able to begin stenciling!  I found a really awesome company, Royal Design Studio, through Etsy.  I chose Moroccan Starry Night as my stencil hoping it would be more geometric than floral looking...I have a weakness for floral prints.  At first it was my intention to do the stencil in both our closets so we matched...but after a week of stenciling that was not going to happen.

I used a light grey on the wall to start so that my lines would be that color in between the stars.  Then I used the same Beluga black, a darker grey, and gold paint for the stars.  The gold is a Ralph Lauren brand of paint from Home Depot -- expensive, but it's hard to find cheap metallic paint in mass quantities.

I spent about two hours a night for a week stenciling with Spotify blasting Beyonce.  My technique used foam brushes instead of typical stencil brushes because I wanted a graphic look.  Had I gone with one color overall, I would've used a roller.  Here's progress...

The pattern is so eye catching and busy that it's hard to find any mistakes at a looks like I did it perfectly when in reality there are little globs here and there mussing up the clean lines.  After I was finished I used a smaller brush to repaint those lines and get my shapes cleaned up.  

When my stenciling was complete (YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!) Chris and I installed the closet structure he was putting together while I painted.  I pretty much jumped around excitedly taking pictures and thanking him profusely while this was going on....

And then it was all done!  We had to cut the MDF boards to fit perfectly -- and had to take them to Chris's Dad (who's the Bob Vila type I aspire to be) for trimming.  

It didn't take long for me to pack all my clothes into my new closet!  After taking careful measurements of the shelves, I went to IKEA and bought boxes that would fit perfectly.  I also returned to Home Depot for shoe cubes to organize the insane amount of shoes I've collected (it's a problem).  Lastly I hung a mirror I had picked up years ago at a flea market opposite my jewelry storage and installed one of my handmade jewelry holders (you can buy on Etsy friendssss) beneath.

There are still some add ons I'd like to do, like above the doorway putting shelving using brackets I got on sale at Anthropologie, eventually installing doors or making a curtain, and changing the light fixture - but this project is finished for now.  

I'm able to see everything I own and making dressing decisions in the morning is a lot faster than it used to be when I was running up and down the stairs to find my clothes.  I've also made a promise to myself to not stock up on a bunch of items just because they're cheap or on sale and to be more thoughtful about the pieces I add to my wardrobe....also I don't think much more can fit in here!
You did it Mom!
Thanks for taking a look at my project!  Hoping to share more accomplishments as we make our way through the house!