Low-Budget Bachelorette

I’m trying to finish out the wedding blogging – two years have passed, it’s time, plus I’m helping out with a June 2013 wedding, and I’d love to put some projects up here without having weird two-year old wedding posts hanging around.


That was easy. While I wanted to have a fun night, I also wanted something low-key. My sister had a ton of ideas, a night on the town, etc, but in the end, she was doing SO.MUCH.STUFF. for our wedding, that I didn’t want her to have to plan another thing, and I didn’t want her to have to spend any more cash. I decided to plan my own bachelorette! My sister and cousin helped, and most of my ‘maids and friends came over to my apartment to enjoy drinks and snacks, in-house mani-pedi-mini massages, and a movie night, with candy.

In the end, it was a good plan, because I got super-sick with a cold.

Bar Setup

I had only been in our apartment a short while when I hosted this little party (actually, Jam and I were still adjusting to living with each other after only a few weeks, and we had a massive blowout before the party. As he headed to NYC for his bachelor bash, I cursed his car as it pulled out of the driveway and wished him a massive hangover. Let’s just say, wishes come true, and I spent the next day wracked with guilt as he tried to drive his hungover ass home. OOPS.)

ANYWAY. We moved furniture around and used my desk/bookcase for a bar and food table. Because this was after my shower, I did have enough glasses for everyone! Critically important!

The traveling spa troupe provided manis, pedis, and chair massages. I had hired the group after extensive googling. They were nice enough, but super-freakin’ shady. Weird about set-up, weird about getting paid (cash only, after telling me over email cash/checks/credit cards were cool) – they weren’t unkind, just SHADY. Needless to say I can’t find their business online anymore, so I guess they don’t do this sort of thing anymore. I will say that the idea was decent, and the services were OK. All in all, my girlfriends were just kind of like ‘whatever, it’s fine, we’re here to hang out and have fun’ so they were cool with the experience….especially after the mobile spa peeps cleared out, ha ha.

My cousin put together some pudding shots with chocolate vodka. Delish!

We chillaxed, all barefoot and casual – no club lines, no binding party clothes!

And yes, we drank out of fish martini glasses!

OK, that may not have been the most inspirational bachelorette party ever, but I had fun. We finished the night by munching on popcorn and a basket of movie box candy while watching “The Hangover” – good stuff!

If you do live in the Boston area, I do have two bachelorette recs. These never get old to me (though I’m sure others are like ‘yuuccckkkk not again’)

Pole dancing lesson at Gypsy Rose. So fun! The lady over there is nutso, but hilarious. Just don’t book the last class of the night because all the good clothes and shoes will be gone and you’ll end up looking like I did, a sort of deranged, pole-dancing pirate.

Fancy light limo optional! I went to this bachelorette with my sister. We had a blast, and I loved not worrying about driving home at the end of the night, even though I didn’t drink that much and I really went for the post-bar pizza 🙂

Jacques Cabaret Drag Show. It’s totally raunchy. The performers will bring you up on stage. They will grab your boobs. But they’re totally fun. I love Jacques!








Another Wedding in the Works!

Well I am still behind on getting all the wedding how-to posts up here, but they’re coming. In the meantime, I am helping friends plan their Spring/Summer 2013 nuptials, so now and then you’ll be seeing DIY/how-to’s for their wedding as well. They’re also a bride-bride wedding and I really hope they’ll let me blog about their process here. Exciting!

More about planning: When I was planning our wedding, I turned to the interwebs. I had a significant amount of wedding blogs in my google reader. These were helpful to me – I saw what others were doing, was able to find inspiration in other weddings, and saw mistakes others were making and tried to avoid them. This time around, there’s Pinterest! I recently read an article written by a bride-to-be about how Pinterest is “ruining” her wedding because she sees all these DIY projects, cute/quirky/whimsical inspiration, and she can’t do it all or have it all or afford it all and that makes her sad. Boo hoo.

Sigh. Really?

Maybe it’s because now I’m 30 and I’m trying not to sweat the small stuff (though I was 28 when I got married) or maybe I just try to approach things with a combination of practicality, common sense, with a slice of imagination and a “I can do that” attitude, but blaming blogs and Pinterest for ruining your wedding is, in my opinion, a little insane. I knew my budget. I knew what I wanted. My husband and I prioritized carefully. We balanced priorities (food, music, photography) and pulled off DIY stunts for the things that were less important to us (decor -though it turned out just lovely, favors, choosing not to have cherubs and unicorns precede us down the aisle, etc). We had the wedding we both imagined.

In planning with my friends E and K, I told them to think about their wedding in a similar fashion. While E is the dreamer and K is practical, they both have very concrete visions of what they want, and in areas where they haven’t been 100% sure, blogs such as Style Me Pretty (which to me, isn’t usually practical, and tends to trend towards the “frankly unaffordable” scale but is very, very pretty) and Pinterest have been great tools in the planning process. I put together an inspiration board for my friends, and it was so easy for them to look through things in that format – yes, yes, no, I hate that, I love that, I can recreate that project as a DIY – these are the kind of decisions that we were able to make in just a few days…and since we have less than a year to plan this wedding, decisions must be made! Based on a combo of blog-inspiration and Pinterest, we were able to narrow down venue choices to four, my friend E chose attendant gifts, a guest book alternative, a potential color scheme. She did not like any of the decor I pinned – but that’s OK, now that she has an idea of what she likes, I can look for things that will appeal to her. Trust me, brides and grooms, the internet is your FRIEND. Let it guide you if you need, but don’t let it get to you.

Tomorrow’s Post: DIY Ceremony Decor

How To: Stamps and Envelopes

After putting so much effort into the wedding invitations, I wanted the accompanying envelopes to look as pretty as possible. While I already owned an envelope liner template (Paper-Source, AGAIN!) I had to decide whether I was going to use just one envelope with the invite enclosed, or go fancy with two envelopes, an outer envelope with the invitee’s name and address and an inner envelope with just the invitee’s name. How could I resist being a little bit fancy?! After consulting Martha regarding some etiquette questions I had about addressing the envelopes, I went to work.

I decided to go with navy inner envelopes and eco white outer envelopes, both from the Paper Source. I used the same pearlized filigree paper from the belly bands to make the envelope liners for the inner navy envelopes

Pearlized filigree paper lined the inner envelopes – it coordinated with the invitation belly bands!

but decided to leave the outer envelopes unlined.

While the whole “print out script and retrace in fancy pen to look like calligraphy” plot did NOT work on the STD’s, given the color and size of the navy envelopes, the result was much more satisfactory for the inner envelopes. Once I had set up a word template to the dimensions of my envelopes, all I had to do was print (and print, and print, and print again) each envelope (using Scriptina font), then retraced with a gold pen.

I used three fonts during this whole wedding process: Albemarle swash, scriptina pro, and copperplate gothic. The names here were printed in albemarle swash, with black ink on the navy envelope, then retraced with a gold pen

I love the contrast of the navy and ecowhite envelopes!

I decided to use the same printing strategy on the outer envelopes as I did for the STD envelopes – navy font, with names in Scriptina and addresses in Copperplate Gothic Light. Not only did this 1. save money (no calligraphy cost) 2. save time but also 3. kept a theme going. Yes, this is just a small detail, but it was nice to continue the use of the Scriptina/Copperplate font combo.

sorry for the less than stellar photo – this was taken waaay after the fact….after I dug my invitation out of my scrapbook. The originals were prettier and uncreased!

Once again, return addresses were stamped and embossed with the stamp I purchased on etsy. Do note the awesomeness of calligraphy in the picture below, however. If your budget allows and that’s what you’re into, I say go for it! Even better if you have nice handwriting and can pull off doing your own calligraphy. The results can be super-gorgeous.

When it came to stamps, I was in a conundrum. I wanted something special (of course I did, ha) – you know, something delightful and whimsical like the invitations featuring vintage stamps that you see featured on wedding blogs these days:

Vintage stamp look

The problem was the fact that I did not want to pay more than face value for my stamps (OK, not too much more than face value) and I wanted them to be relevant to some sort of theme. Since birds were already a part of our wedding, I began searching the internet for bird stamps. I found this link, which featured all the US-issued bird stamps – and I noticed that smack in the middle, was a US state birds series. YES! 50 stamps to a set. Since I had been to the Post Office for a pre-mailing-weigh-in, I knew each envelope, with the exception of the one going to England, would cost $1.00 to mail. I had 70 invitations to mail, which meant I just needed to track down 7 sets of the state bird stamps to mail all my invites. The same site also featured some tropical bird stamps that would be enough to cover the RSVP post cards. If I could find enough stamps for both the invites and RSVPs, I could stick with my nice little bird theme.

State Bird Stamps!!

eBay became my new best friend (and remained so through more than one search for the perfect wedding-related item!). With a bit of strategic planning, I was able to buy enough bird stamps to cover the postage for all of my invites and RSVPs. This often took patience – I couldn’t (budgetarily) afford to get caught up in a bidding war that would push the price of the stamps to more than face value. Since I was looking to send out invitations in July/August for an October wedding, I did have time to bide my time waiting for people to post bird stamps for sale.

When it was time to put the envelopes together, the Tape Runner XL was my friend once again – it saved me from stamp and envelope licking. I loved the effect of the bird stamps too!

Once again, I turned to my etsy-purchased return address stamp and trusty embosser for return addresses on the back of the envelopes. I found a platinum-colored stamp pad at Paper Source that I just loooved, and used some clear embossing powder to complete the look.

Return addresses

More invitation tips:

– when assembling invites, write the RSVP # (if using) on a mini post-it and stick it to the outside of the invite. That way you won’t have to re-open an assembled invitation to check the RSVP #

– keep track of RSVP #’s on a spreadsheet – I created a new column next to everyone’s names I had on my address spreadsheet and filled it in accordingly

– ask if you can hand cancel your own envelopes at the Post Office. The PO near my office promised to hand cancel, and the lady there even hand cancelled the first few envelopes in front of me. Then the rest were dumped into a bin as soon as I left because they arrived streaked with black (from the sorting machine I assume) and generally beat up and crappy looking. I KNOW #firstworldproblems but seriously, if you or a calligrapher puts that much work into something, you want it to arrive looking decent, even if your guests are tossing the envelope in the recycle bin the next day.

– make sure everything you need to include in the invitation is in there! We found out a few weeks after sending out our invites that we would need menu selections ahead of time after all (we had been told that guests could choose their meal at the reception – but to be fair, we were told that nearly 2 years before our wedding and things change! We should have double-checked!) In the end it was ok, we scrambled, made menu cards and got back everyone’s meal choices, but it would’ve been far easier to have sent out those menu cards with the invitations!!

How To: Make (sort of) Your Own Invitation Suite Pt II

Ok, Pt I left off with the anticipation of some manual labor (and a word-heavy post – this one is picture-heavy and therefore, more fun!). Pocket folds, colors, and envelopes had been chosen, CatPrint had finished out printing order. Time to assemble!

Assembling the pocketfolds was a decent amount of work, but we only had about 70 invites to pull together, so this was done in a day. I set up a little wedding-invite-assembly table in my parent’s porch:

It helps having all the supplies you need in one place!

And of course after falling in love with the copper paper from Paper Source, I realize that in order for it to even show, I’d have to cut down the excess edges on my invites. Argh! Luckily, my sister lent me her great paper cutter.

Cutting down the edges

Oh, another important note here – adhesive. Let this become your new best friend:

Taper Runner XL – be sure to choose the “Permanent” adhesive so your wedding invites don’t fall apart!

This little thingie dispenses adhesive when you roll it along the edges of whatever paper you’re planning on sticking to your pocketfold. You don’t have to worry about the lumps and bumps glue and glue sticks leave behind, plus there’s no drying time. When you’re doing a big project like wedding invites, it may seem as though the tape runner doesn’t last very long, but it’s totally worth it. Stock up on a few refills while your in the store. I still have a couple of these babies (of course I bought multiples in my planning-induced fog) and I use them making cards and gift tags – they’re great!

Make sure everything is centered! You can reposition a little once the adhesive is on the paper, but it’s not a good idea to be moving everything around.

I decided to put a navy piece of paper in the pocketfold to serve as a backdrop for our inserts

Once the main invites were in place, our inserts were ready to placed in the pockets. We included RSVP cards, an Additional Info card, and of course, our map.

Our lovely RSVP cards were part of our invitation suite from A Printable Press:

A Printable Press’s “All Lit Up” RSVP

RSVP – We stuck with postcard format so people could just drop the card in the mail. We did all we could to maximize RSVP’s including giving people a lengthy cushion for sending it back to us!

I saw a tip online about using an invisible ink pen (readable with a UV light) to number each RSVP in case they were sent back blank. Though I thought this was a little silly I did it – which came in handy when we received multiple RSVP’s back without names!

I used some flat card packs from Paper Source to print up the Additional Information card and ceremony/reception maps.

We included this “Additional Info” Card in the invitation – it listed the address of the reception site, hotel information, and the address to our wedding website

Our wedding map was a labor of love (more on this later) – since the distance between the ceremony site and reception site was less than three miles but not exactly direct, I decided to include the map along with the other inserts.

Wedding map! I’ll explain how I made this in another post….

Completed wedding invitation suite – I thought it looked snazzy!

With the pocketfolds complete, we just needed to add the finishing touch. As I mentioned in the Pt I post, I took a wedding invitation class at The Paper Source, which is the first place I had ever seen/heard of “belly bands” – a piece of ribbon or paper that goes around your pocket fold to keep your invitation closed. Totally unnecessary, but very pretty nevertheless. I thought I’d go with the paper I had used to make the vellum STD envelope liners, but I found a piece of flat paper at The Paper Source that kind of blew my mind – pearlized ivory filigree paper that was just the right combo of subtle and elegant:

Pearlized Ivory Filigree paper from The Paper Source

It looked wonderful layered on top of a navy piece of paper. We completed the look with a gold piece of DMC thread.

Is it vain to admire your own handiwork? Probably. But I have to say, I loved the finished product so much, I made one for myself to scrapbook.

Spare invite for me to scrapbook

I was going to talk about envelopes, calligraphy, and stamps next, but if I’ve managed to hold your attention this long, you deserve a break. More on the rest of the invite details later!

Our photog took this fabulous picture of our finished invite – make sure you send your photographer an invitation (or have one on hand for them) – this is the first page of our album!

How To: Make Your Own Hair Flower

I absolutely loved the veil I picked out when I bought my wedding dress. It was the perfect length and style, and I thought the beaded lace trim matched my dress perfectly. Recently, when I was preparing my dress and veil for cleaning and preservation, Jam noted that while my dress probably wouldn’t be worn again as a wedding dress (another story for another time), I should make sure I keep the veil preserved, because it’s “so pretty, it could become a family heirloom.”

View of the Veil

Another reason to love the veil: I could drape it strategically across my arm to hide a little flab

All veil love aside, the thing I didn’t love about it was that it was a little weighty. I imagined my head tilting backwards by the end of the night, weighed down by beaded lace…plus I wasn’t in love with the headband I had bought and insisted that I’d be ditching that after the ceremony (which I didn’t, but whatever), so in one of my many self-indulgent moments, I went to etsy and bought myself a hair flower:

Hair Flower from Brenda's Bridal Veils on Etsy - isn't Etsy the BEST?!

The plan was to have my friend Jen put the flower in my hair early so no one would have to carry it or remember it pre-reception, placing it low enough in my hair that it wasn’t a distraction. I think we pulled it off just fine in the end.

Hairflower, headband, veil - rockin' everything at once...

My sister saw my hair flower and really liked it, and she might’ve even hinted around that she wanted one. We-ell, what she did know is that I wanted her to stand out and feel special as my MOH, and if that meant having a hair flower, I was all for it. What she didn’t know is that I had bought her a special clutch for her MOH goody bag:

MOH clutch, also an Etsy purchase

and, as much as I love my sister-bestie-MOH, I had kinda stretched the budget and couldn’t swing a $50+ hair flower….but…I really wanted to make it happen, so I hunted for hair flower tutorials. Luckily, I only had to look as far as weddingbee to find this fantastic tutorial by Mrs. Pineapple. Simple, straightforward. I could totally do this (oh, and at this point we were t-minus 7 days to the wedding I think) – and do it fast.

My sister and I went to Michael’s and JoAnn’s for supplies, and found the fake flowers at each place were gross. We ended up at AC Moore, on the hunt for the perfect navy flowers. Ugh. Horrible selection. In the end we decided to go with cream colored flowers instead – better selection by far – with navy beads in the center. This was one of the cheapest DIY’s I did for the wedding – I bought silk peonies, beads and a barrette. I had clear beading line at home that I was planning to use for the assembly, so the final price for this was less than $10.

I wish I had taken pictures while doing this project, but I didn’t 😦 the good thing is it’s SUPER easy 🙂 I took apart the silk peonies (I think I bought 2) and arranged the pieces of the flower by size. I just stacked the pieces, one on top of the other, rotated the petals here and there, added some small pieces to the top, ’til I had the look I was going for, then glued them together with a glue gun. While you could finish the flower with a glue gun, I don’t trust glue, so I chose to sew the rest. We chose a bunch of navy crystal-like beads and sewed them in the middle of the flower. Here’s another tutorial from wedding be that explains the sewing process a little better. Once the beads and petals were secure, I sewed the flower to a barrette with some clear beading line. I went over the barrette with as many rows of stitches as I could without adding bulk to ensure security!

It took less than a half hour to make my sister a hair flower, but we both loved the results. Everything came together so beautifully, and I loved the fact that we were the only two rocking hair flowers on the wedding day:

You can see my sister's hair flower peeking out of the side of her head...

Here's a better view of the flower (she's cracking us up, clearly)

As you can see, the hair flowers stayed put. We are probably gossiping here, tee hee.

Knowing now how easy it was to put this flower together, I would’ve probably made my own (not that mine wasn’t absolutely lovely, but I could’ve made one for a fraction of the price I paid!). You can really dress up a DIY one with feathers or rhinestones – or better yet, a really fabulous rhinestone button or sparkly pin for the middle. If you have the time, why not make one for each of your bridesmaids? If they don’t want to put it in their hair, you could put a pin on the back and your girls could put it on their dresses or purse…the possibilities are really endless for this fast and fabulous DIY project. Plus, now that you have the skills, you could make a coordinating hair flower for any fancy occasion!

How To: Make a DIY Cardbox

Oh the cardbox. This was a project that I left to the absolute last second. I was gluing and hammering this together about four days before our wedding.

Now I don’t think you need anything fancy to put cards in – one of my friends had a lovely birdcage, a simple custom made box, and I’ve been to plenty of weddings where you just throw a card on a table and that’s that.

My city-savvy (NYC born and raised) mother-in-law told me that I needed to have something to put cards in so “people wouldn’t steal them.” The sad truth is, this happens. So I added “card box” to my list of DIY projects.

The great thing about the card box I pulled together was the fact that I had everything already except some floral moss, which cost maybe $3.00 (always save your Joann’s, Michaels, and AC Moore coupons!). I think if you take a look around your kitchen, pantry, apartment, house, etc, you’ll be able to come up with something quick and useful!

Jam and I were the lucky recipients of a “Spicy Wedding” gift crate from Penzey’s Spices (and just to take a moment here – 1. This was one of our most awesome shower gifts, 2. Make spice gift crates your new go-to gift for your cooking friends, they will LOVE you for it, 3. Penzey’s is awesome in general and they ship sooooo quickly). Because I keep everything, I kept the crate, thinking that I’d have a use for it one day. Four days before the wedding, I realized this would be a perfect card box:

The Penzey's Wedding Crate

I wanted to have a lid on the box, but didn’t want guests to have to take the lid off to throw cards in. I have only basic tools in the apartment, and while I know my dad would have lovingly sawed a slit in the lid, I didn’t want to haul over to my parent’s house with yet another project (they were already doing sooo much), so I decided to take two nails and hammer them halfway down into each corner at the front of the crate. This way, the lid was propped open in the front, but rested on the back of the crate. Here’s a cropped picture of what it looked like:

You can see the nails propping the front of the lid up

The crate looked nice like this, but as you can see from the above picture, it came with some stamps and stickers on it. This was fine, except you had to rip the red sticker off the top to get the crate open, and the leftover bits were ugly. Hummm, what to do…then I remembered I had these:

Owls from Etsy!

I had bought these off Etsy shortly after I started wedding planning. I have a thing for birds and owls and thought they’d make a great cake topper…until we picked out our cake and realized these wouldn’t look quite right. They had been hanging out in a desk drawer. Since we had a casual bird theme happening, I figured we could put these little owls to use on the top of the card box.

I still had to deal with covering the box. I decided to go with floral moss. My dream was to find this kind of moss:

squishy, pretty, cushion-y moss

You know, that pretty moss-like stuff that’s all cushion-y and pretty and green…well…IT DOES NOT EXIST…just kidding, I’m sure it exists, but four days before your wedding on the south shore of Massachusetts? It just wasn’t happening. While there were many moss alternatives on the interwebs (like this adorable moss made of yarn!) we were dealing with major time constraints. My local JoAnn’s Fabrics provided this:

Sheet Moss - literally dried moss in a sheet the size of a piece of paper

but beggars can’t be choosers..plus it was cheap and prettier than reindeer moss…well more or less, because it was kind of ugly and bald in spots, but WHATEVER.

I bought it, brought it home, cut it to size. I had to cut two different pieces to get full box coverage. I glue gunned the sh*t out of it and got it to stick to the crate lid. I threw the two owls on top. It.looked.dumb. In a moment of inspiration (or maybe sheer desperation) I ran outside, found a stick that was just big enough and bent enough, sewed my owls onto said stick with clear sewing thread, and glue gunned the stick to the crate lid. A printed sign completed the look.

We had a card box:

DIY Card Box!

Was it the prettiest card box ever? Uh NO. The type-A crafter part of me thought that it even looked a little bit sad. But again, you kind of let things slide when you’re in desperation mode, and it was what we had to work with, so in the car it went with the rest of the wedding decor. I kept in mind two things I have learned as a crafter: 1. other crafters will think that it is cute and even if they see flaws they will appreciate all the DIY you’ve done and let it go and 2. non-crafters will think you are an effing genius for coming up with it. Yes. It’s true.

On the wedding day, our brilliant day-of coordinator, Angie, put the card box on a table with our other bird-themed decor and it DID look cute. Not sad and sloppy homemade, cute and whimsical homemade:


See? DIY doesn’t have to be over the top and perfect with straight lines and hand-sewn layers of tulle or whatever. It can be as simple as some found objects, a JoAnn’s coupon and a loaded glue gun. With a little DIY-skillage and some soft lighting, you can pull almost anything off.

How To: Bejewel Your Own Shoes

One of my favorite DIY projects for the wedding was “bedazzling” or “strassing” my own shoes. I meant to put up this tutorial right away, but was lazy and didn’t 🙂

Recently, someone saw my shoes on flickr and asked if I would write up a post for their website, http://www.wedding-ideas-on-a-budget.com – thought strassing your own shoes might not be the most co

st-saving project on your craft list, it’s fun and you’ll be complimented all night on your patience, craft-savvy and style.

Here’s a copy of the post, which you can find here. I added in some more photos so you can see the progress. Of course, I don’t have too many pictures of the shoes on my feet, but let me assure you, they sparkled the whole night long.

“I’m a self-proclaimed shoe addict, and when it came to wedding shoes, I wanted something that made a statement…a big statement. My problem was that I was attracted to outrageous designer shoes, particularly embellished Louboutins, but simply lacked the budgetary freedom to go all-out and drop upwards of $3,000 on shoes! I resigned myself to wearing a perfectly lovely, though less-unique-than-hoped-for pair of shoes.

I poked around the internet for a nice pair, and one day stumbled upon a shoe forum that took designer shoes and altered them. One page on the forum was dedicated to the “strass” shoe – Louboutins bedazzled

with sparkling sparkliness. As I clicked through pages of glittering shoes, I thought “I can totally do this!” – I was diy-ing a ton of other things for the wedding, what was one more project!!!

Before I get into the details of this “how-to” project, I want to warn readers that this isn’t necessarily a huge money-saving project, and might even be the type of project that people roll their eyes to and declare “excessive” or even “dumb.” I am OK with that  “Strassing” your own shoes can be pricey, especially if you want to use Swarovski crystals, have big feet (like me), and/or have a lot of shoe to cover, so before you commit to DIY strassing, you’ll want to do your research. I will tell you that this was my favorite project of all DIY projects I tackled for our wedding, and though it was hard work, I loved the sparkly goodness of my shoes. If you have designer shoe taste without the designer shoe budget, you’ll love this project too.

I started with a pair of shoes from Payless. Yup. I paid a total of $15. I figured if I hated the results or messed something up, I may as well mess up on a cheap pair of shoes! I then relied heavily on Google to provide information and resources for undertaking this project. I decided to use hotfix Swarovski crystals – these are rhinestones with a layer of glue already affixed to the back. I purchased a hotfix tool at JoAnn’s Fabrics (with a coupon!) – this tool heats up, picks up each crystal, melts the glue on the back, and then it’s used to affix the crystal to your item. If I ever strass a pair of shoes again, I wouldn’t recommend this method, simply because I don’t think the hotfix glue is the strongest option, and rhinestones flew off my shoes all night long. I’d use E-6000 glue and tweezers to affix regular rhinestones instead – tedious, yes, but definitely more staying power. I purchased the hotfix rhinestones from rhinestoneshop.com. They had coupon codes on Facebook and carried the best selection of anyone I found online. I hear that you can get better prices if you shop around on eBay, or if you chose to use non-Swarovski crystals available at craft stores. I knew ahead of time that this project would cost at least $200-$300.

In my opinion, this looks "richer" than a $300 pair of shoes!

I chose to use Crystal AB, Crystal Moonlight, Crystal and Silk AB Swarovski crystals, because I wanted to give my shoes some dimension with the different colors.

The "depth" effect I was going for was really visible when light reflected off the various colored crystals.

I also liked the rainbow shimmer of AB (Aurora Borealis in Swarovski-speak) crystals. I ordered four sizes, 20ss (largest), 16ss, 10ss, 6ss, and I ordered them in “gross” form – sets of 144 pieces, except for the 20ss, where “gross” equaled 72 pieces. I actually had to order additional crystals to finish my second shoe, and I spent a total of $275 in crystals, but buying everything in shifts made this expenditure a little less painful. The final numbers looked like this:

1 gross 20ss Crystal AB
1 gross 20ss Crystal Moonlight
1 gross 16ss Silk AB
1 gross 16ss Crystal AB7 gross 10ss Crystal Moonlight
7 gross 10ss Crystal AB
4 gross 10ss Crystal
7 gross 6ss Crystal AB
7 gross 6ss Crystal
For a grand total of 5,040 crystals!

Honestly, finding the right tools and ordering the crystals was the hardest part of this project. Once you have your glue or hotfix tool, shoes, and rhinestones, find some good dvd’s or stream something from Netflix and go to it. I finished half a shoe watching televised coverage of the Boston Marathon. My process for covering each shoe was to place the 20ss rhinestones randomly, then fill around those with 16ss, then with 10ss, and finally, fill in all the blank spaces with 6ss rhinestones.

This is the beginning stage of my strassing project. You can see my randomly placed 20ss crystals throughout the shoe. My mom said "the shoe looks great like that!" which was sweet, but they reminded me of keds I had in 1992, so no, the full strassing job would have to be completed!

Filling in with smaller crystals; I'm sure those who have strassed before me may have different strategies, like doing one region of the shoe at a time, but this worked well for me.

More "fill-in" detail.

Almost time for the smallest size of crystals!

It’s actually quite simple once you get going, and only a little bit mind-numbing! If you find at any point that you lack the inspiration to go on, bring your shoe outside into the sunlight, and stare into the sparkly-sparkleness. I promise it will bring back your motivation.

If you're lacking motivation to finish, put your shoe on, take it outside in the sunlight, and watch it sparkle!

My motivation petered out after finishing one shoe, but I found the first shoe was the hardest, and the second moved along very quickly.

I LOVED trying on the finished shoe....

Because I was strassing slingbacks, I wasn't sure how the heel strap elastic would look, but it came out OK

As cheesy as it may sound, you will feel really special wearing this one-of-a-kind, labor-of-love pair shoes on your wedding day. They might even make you a better dancer.”

Better dancer? OK maybe not, but the shoes did make the dip even snazzier!

At the end of the night - note: foot petals are a great investment!

So there you have it. If you have a couple of months before your wedding, don’t be afraid to take this kind of project on. As a DIY bride I obsessed about place cards and invites and favor bags – all appreciated but pretty much forgotten by guests. The things that still come up 10 months later are the DJ/awesomeness of music and dancing, me crying through my vows, the “fun-ness” of the wedding, and “the shoes.” YES!

As for the shoes now – yes, I still have them. They need a little bit of rehab, but I’m hoping that I’ll have the chance to wear them again someday. Even if I never do, I’ll be keeping them for a long time. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my dress, but the shoes will remain as is, and if I have a daughter that loves shoes as much as I do (and has sizeable feet) that may be what’s handed down to her at her wedding…unless I’m wearing them, of course!

Wedding ReCap with Pics

Hey peeps!

I’m back!

I did disappear under a mountain of “real work” work and a mountain range of wedding stuff, but I’m back and ready to recap (because I promised DIY pics, tutorials, etc) all the wedding fantastic-ness.

For now, I’m trying to get back into the work groove. Luckily the cancer hospital stood tall without me (read that as “they did not miss me at all”) but there are some things I still have to tackle here at work before I get down to the nitty-gritty recappin’

For now, enjoy some pics I hijacked off of our friend’s facebook pages:

Coming out for the first time in my dress. My bridesmaids went "awww"

My DIY strassed shoes were DONE! They're so much more kickass than this. Hopefully someone has a shot of the sparkliness!

My MOH/Sister and Me. She looks so beautiful!

Both parentals walked me down the aisle. Which I loved. I needed them both there 😀

We wrote our own vows. I ugly cried - it was worth it though!

Us on the altar


Talking to my grandparents - they've been married 58 years!

My high school peeps

My Smith girls. I love them SOOOO much!

The grounds at the Barns are AMAZING

Getting dipped by husbando - sweet deal 🙂

The music started after dinner - guests were on the floor ALL NIGHT!

So it was a great day, and a wonderful night. Gah, so fun! So perfect! I can’t believe how fantastically awesome everything was! I know that probably sounds a tad obnoxious to be all “my wedding was perfect.” On paper, it wasn’t perfect. There was drama beforehand, two groomsmen got lost between the church and reception, and a few other minor things were out of place BUT they were overshadowed by everything else that was just right, that I won’t even remember these things as time goes on, I’ll just remember all the good stuff!

How To: Make Tissue Paper Pomanders

I recently sent a fellow weddingbee user tips on making tissue paper pomanders. I figured it was about time to post a tutorial on this blog for all of the interwebs to see 🙂 I think I’ve mentioned that I love sharing ideas and do not mind if anyone copies any of my projects. Some things I’m saving til post-wedding – if any of my guests are reading this, I’ll want them to be surprised, but this is something I’ll share with you all now.

So pomanders – yep, I’m not the first person to do them. I got the idea from Vintage Glam (which is now Ruffled, I guess), then I used Mrs. D’Orsay’s tutorial (yes, she is my weddingbee dress twin, almost ring twin, pomander twin…and yes, it feels creepy, but I decided these things before I knew weddingbee even existed LOL, I am not an internet stalker, I promise!!!)

As with most craft advice/tutorials, I use directions as a starting off point and usually add my own interpretation, unless the craft is precise, like knitting or something, and that means I usually get a variation on the final product. That’s what happened with my pomanders, but I LOVE the way they turned out:

Eh – sorry the lighting isn’t the greatest in these pics, but you’ll get the basic idea. Please feel free to do the same with this tutorial – use it as a starting point, add your own variations and improvements…then link to pics so I can see 🙂

First of all, I decided that tissue paper poms would be the ideal pew decoration. We’re not getting married at either of our home churches, and we’re paying a hefty sum (in my opinion) to get married at the church in Middletown. That’s fine – it’s just that we signed a very specific contract about what we could and could not do in the church, including what we could put on the pews…or what we could not – tape, glue, tacks, hooks, etc. We don’t want to get charged for damaging anything (oh, and naturally, we don’t WANT to damage anything just on principle!) so I needed something that we could secure to the pew without damaging it in anyway. I also needed something that we could adjust during the rehearsal, because I couldn’t really measure the height of the pew or bop down to Connecticut every couple of weeks to see how the pew decorations would look. Basically, I was winging it.

I told my former coworker that I intended to make pomander pew decorations, and she told me that was her plan as well, and that she had a membership code at a floral supply wholesaler in Boston, and if I was willing to meet her early on a Saturday morning, we could buy some wedding supplies CHEAP, including styrofoam balls. My advice to anyone undertaking this project: if you can get it wholesale DO IT. The balls cost less than $2 each, but I noticed them for $4.99 in my local AC Moore. Granted you could buy them one at a time with  your coupon and save, the wholesaler’s gave me the chance to buy 25 at once. Rockin’

As we perused the aisles, I noted that while I love the pomanders, I’d hate how they would lay crooked against the pew, but that I’d just have to overlook that little detail. My coworker shot me a withering look, one I was used to from all the years of sharing an office and I said “Ok, what am I being dumb about?” She said “Um, you cut the balls in half if you want them to lay flat.” Oh. Duh. Hey, I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, ok?!!

After procuring my balls (heh heh heh), 22 gauge floral wire (green, but you can use any color) and about a billion yards of 1” navy satin ribbon, I ordered my tissue paper. I know I could’ve followed Mrs D’Orsay’s advice and picked some up at the Container Store, but I like to do things the hard way. OK not the hard way, but my own way. I bought a pack of ‘French Vanilla’  20×30” tissue paper from papermart.com for $23. Yup that’s 480 sheets. Depending on how many pomanders you’re planning to make, that might be an INSANE amount of tissue paper…or it might be just right….look at it this way though, you’re probably never going to waste it, as it can be used for moving, gift wrap, protecting and storing holiday ornaments, etc. It costs like, $4 for a 10 sheet pack of tissue paper at the Hallmark store, so buy in bulk! *steps off tissue paper soapbox*

Once that came in, we were ready to get started…and by “we” I mean my tissue paper flower-making crew. I am a total control freak. I did not necessarily want help with this project. Luckily my sister and my friend EE totally ignored me…and EE kind of took over the organization of the project when she saw me cutting tissue paper like a drunken sailor. She and my sister began an assembly line of sorts. While I honestly don’t remember who did what, this is how we divided labor: someone cut tissue paper squares, someone cut wire, someone folded the squares accordion style and rounded off the edges, and I fluffed.

This is how the folded, wired, rounded flowers looked "pre-fluffing"

It seems like I did the least work. OK I kinda did…but fluffing is time consuming! I went to Target to buy a rubbermaid bin because the fluffed flowers took up so much room.

At the end of the day we must’ve had over 200 flowers! I could not have done these pomanders without Amy and EE’s help, so ladies – I thank you 🙂

We called it a day after cutting and fluffing, and I attacked the assembly a few days later.

First off, I had to cut the balls in half. Ugh, I hate how styrofoam bits fly everywhere, so I googled and discovered that if one uses a serrated knife coated in candle wax, one will not encounter the “bits” problem. So I took a serrated knife, cut into a white votive and ran the knife through it a few times and cut the balls in half, guestimating the center. It actually doesn’t matter if you’re a little off, the size of the flowers will disguise any ball size inconsistency (yes I giggle every time I type something like “ball size” because I am immature like that).

Here’s half a ball. I’m also showing you how to grasp in when gluing or inserting flowers so you don’t wreck the styrofoam. What you can’t see is that I’ve glued an ivory-colored piece of cardstock to the back to give it a more “finished” look. Yeah, I know no one will see the backs of these, but I am anal like that.

Oh actually, I lied, here’s a pic:

First task – gluing the ribbon. I started out by pinning the ribbon in place so I could avoid using hot glue, but the pins slid right out. You could probably Tacky Glue the ribbon to avoid using a glue gun, melting problems, etc, but I had a glue gun on hand, so that’s what I decided to use. Using the grip in the picture above, I placed the middle of the ribbon (think I cut 6-foot pieces since I don’t know how low/high they’ll need to hang) on the top edge of the ball and held the back down. I put hot glue right on the edge of the ball.

Because it melts the styrofoam a little, you have to be speedy. I pulled the ribbon over the glue and over the curve of the ball and held it in place with my fingers, like so:

Careful not to burn your fingers! I know that sounds obvious, but the glue comes through the satin a bit and is hot hot hot. There, I warned you.

Next up, shove some pins in the top, where you just put the glue. Bonus if the glue is still warm!

I placed the pins across the width of the ribbon, with the two end ones in a X shape, and one or two in the middle going straight down. If the glue is still warm, it cools with the pins in, and seems to hold a teeny bit better.

If the glue is super-hot, just grab your wire-cutters and use the handle to shove the pin in:

Now it’s time to stick your flowers in. The wire on the bottom can’t be too long! If it is more than 2”, it will bend going in and drive you absolutely nuts! I gave our wires a good twist to make them a little sturdier, then bent the ends up like this, for added security:

Don’t be shy about putting some muscle behind the “insertion” (eww):

If you’re having any trouble with the wires bending on contact, grab the wire at the base of the flower and ease the wire into the styrofoam ball:

Or if the flower is nearly in and you just need it to go in those last few millimeters, you can grab in by the top where the wire folds over the tissue paper, and press:

I like the start at the top, so I can ensure that I have full coverage of the ball, but still leave enough room for the ribbon to hang properly

Then fill in from there

Each half took between 9 and 12 flowers depending on size and fluffiness. I liked to pack the flowers on, so most of my poms are probably on the 12 flower side.

You can add flowers to a side or to the top or bottom if one side is fuller than the other. Or you can take a pair of scissors and pare down one of the even sides. This isn’t an exact science, so do whatever you think you need to do to make things look right!

Repeat 20 or 30 more times…..and voila! You’re done!

Additional notes:

Because I did not help with the initial steps of flower making, I’m not sure how many tissue sheets were used per flower and how big each square was. I had to cut some of my own squares to finish the project and I’ll tell you what I did for that.

-Cutting tissue: I stacked about 7-8 sheets together and cut up the middle of the paper, so I had 2 10×30” pieces. Then I cut each of the pieces into 4 rectangles, so I basically had 8 10×7.5” squares when finished cutting. I did not measure. I didn’t even cut that cleanly! I stacked these together in a big pile and would cut 3-4 batches at a time.

-Folding: I worked off the big pile. Some of my flowers had 10 sheets folded together, some only had 4 or 5. This makes for a big variation in flower size and look – that’s what I wanted though, it’s the effect I liked best. Variation is the key! I also rounded off some of the folded ends, but sometimes, I made them pointy, like this |> which also makes for variation in flower shape/appearance. For instance, this flower looks rectangular:

but don’t worry, once it’s shoved onto a ball with a 10 or so other flowers, it’ll look fantastic.

So basically just keep calm and fold away! Your pomanders might be time consuming, but they’re totally worth the effort.

Hanging: if you’re going the half-pom route, experiment with different ribbon placement so you can get them to hang exactly how you want. My first couple were tilting forward, so I had to move the ribbon a bit forward so the pom would hang flush against the pew.

Storing: If you have no place to store them, you can smush them into a rubbermaid bin, but be prepared for them to be totally smushed and wrecked looking when you take them out. This isn’t anything to panic about, but it WILL take a bit of time to re-fluff them. I learned this the hard way by totally smushing the first batch. While they look fine re-fluffed, the second batch is being piled in another rubbermaid without a cover, so there will be less re-fluffing to do later.

Hope you found this tutorial even a little bit useful. If you have questions or need help, just ask!!


Here are some more pomander pics. These pomanders were indeed smushed in a rubbermaid for months. I know this would probably horrify most DIY-brides! I was lax about many many things towards the end of the planning period and had the attitude of “if this works, it works, if not, trash it.” That was my approach with the pomanders…I hoped at the end of the day, I’d be able to open the rubbermaid, fluff, tie them to the pews and be done with it.

As luck would have it, this worked just fine.

The family pitched in at the rehearsal and took over fluffing while Jam and I were rehearsing.

That's my grandparentals, aunt and cousin pitching in to fluff!

I placed the pomanders at even intervals on each side of the two church aisles.

I rehearse with Mom and Dad and the evenly spaced pomanders!

I thought it looked great, but while I had my back turned, the photographer rearranged everything, keeping some of the pomanders at the intervals I had chosen, while grouping some on every pew at the front of the church. This was one of those situations where I had to put my faith in our seasoned photographer. He told me the setup he had chosen would look better in pictures. He also had a chance to take some glamour shots:

Our last-minute programs and pomanders

Looking back at the professional photos now, I see that yes, our photographer was totally right, his arrangement of the pomanders was best.

Mom and Dad walk me down the aisle

Here you see the pomanders spaced more closely – there are still pomanders on the back pews though.

Here’s another look at the spacing – they’re spaced tight on the two inside rows of each aisle and on every other pew on the outside rows.

Here’s another view of the rows near the front of the church. Does spacing matter THAT much? No, I don’t think so. I did appreciate having someone do it for me though!

Jam and I walk out on the opposite aisle. The pomanders look good!

Here’s a shot at the opposite aisle.

As you can see from the pro pics, the church was big and kind of dark, though totally lovely. I knew that we couldn’t do a ton to change the look of the space, at least not on a budget, which is why I chose to make pomanders – they were simple, budget-friendly, totally color and size customizable, and pretty, and also fairly easy to make once I had the technique down pat. I think pomanders can make a big impact anywhere – we made half pomanders for the pews, but in the right kind of space, full pomanders in different colors hanging from the ceiling would look amazing.

Hopefully this post has served as a useful guide for making your own pomanders. If you’re still freaked out by the DIY aspect or totally pressed for time, you can buy poms pre-assembled and unfluffed. A source that I really liked the look of was PartyPom’s shop on Etsy. Her poms are made from recycled tissue paper and colors are totally customizable.

Good luck!

Uninvited Guests

Edited 1/16/2011

We fought the battle of the invited guests at our wedding. At the end of the day, we called people and tried to be nice. And then most just did what they wanted anyway. Sigh. In the end, we lucked out and had the physical capacity at the Barns to host these people, thank goodness, since we were nervous about working with a specific limit. Is the uninvited guest thing one teeny tiny element of the wedding that bugs me? Yeah. A tiny bit. Luckily the problem wasn’t a huge one and we had bigger drama to deal with before the wedding (like getting my niece a dress!) that took precedence, so by the time we walked down the aisle, we tried to forgive and forget. How should other brides deal with this? Well Weddingbee has a number of boards dedicated to this issue, and I liked Maggie Mason’s advice (below) – maybe brides could paste other’s quotes on their wedding websites? If the words are not your own, will people be less offended? I don’t know. It’s a very hard conversation, so if you’re faced with it, I wish you luck.

Oh how I wish our guests read Maggie Mason’s blog.

“There are a few guidelines for invitees as well. You don’t get to bring a guest unless you’re specifically invited to do so. You also don’t get to complain about not being invited to do so. It’s time you learned to mingle and socialize like a big kid. If your spouse or significant other can’t make it, you may not bring a friend in his or her place (much as you may not exchange the invitations for the price of your dinner and do something more fun with the money).”

Click here for other interesting wedding etiquette via Mighty Girl.