Cheap 'n' Quirky Wedding

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Pin Smart February 28, 2013

Filed under: etc — clln @ 3:11 am
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I wish Pinterest had been around when I was planning my wedding. I feel like I’m going to need to renew my vows in a couple of years to try out all of the beautiful DIY centerpieces and fun photo ideas that I’ve seen since joining the site. Pinning your dream wedding is tempting when you’re single, helpful while planning, and just kind of sad when you’re already happily married (damn it, why did I have to marry the right guy on the first try?) So if you’re pinning your dream wedding, here are a few warnings from someone whose wedding is behind her.

One tip for dealing with Pinterest while planning a wedding is to try out pinned projects before the big day. Have you ever seen Pintrosity? Many Pinterest don’t work out. Actually, they fail miserably. Before you commit to including a DIY project in your wedding preparation, make sure it’s something you can do then work out the bugs in the instructions (or, with some pins, the lack thereof.) You may have noticed from past blog posts that I did a practice run on many things that I didn’t even end up including in my wedding, like when I tried DIY floral arrangement (it seems like a great idea, but there’s a whole bunch of warnings I could give you about trying that one on your own!) Though I did my own hair for the big day, I practiced that hairdo nearly every weekend for months. Plus, have you ever tried a hairstyle you saw on Pinterest? They rarely turn out. You have to test them waaaaaay before you plan to wear a style outside of the house. A few months in advance, try the planned projects.

Because of the post-wedding let-down many newly married people experience, I suggest making a separate Pinterest account for wedding planning. If you’re following a lot of wedding-centric pinners, you’ll be bombarded with images of spectacular wedding ideas after your nuptials – ideas you could have used if only you’d known about them! You’ll drive yourself crazy if you see tons of brilliant wedding ideas after you can no longer use them. If you don’t have a separate Pinterest account for wedding planning, consider unfollowing wedding-focused pinners after the big day.

Be critical of some of those wedding photo shoot ideas. Those boudoir wedding-day shots? Where are you going to display that photo? Is that something you want your nosey mother-in-law to spot when she’s visiting? Sure, it’s not too racy, but think about whether you really need the added cost and whether you can budget the time for boudoir photos. How about those photos of the wedding party sitting in a movie theater/wearing mustaches/swapping accessories? What are you going to do with that photo? Does it have anything to do with your wedding? Still, they’re more fun than photos of sad-looking bridesmaids staring off into the distance, trying to appear dramatic. Think about how you want to remember the day, not what’s trendy.

I feel like I say this a lot, but it’s so important not to let the wedding industry make your day (or your budget) seem inadequate. Your guests were invited because you love them (or in a couple of cases, you’re forced to invite them) and they’re attending because they love you (or in a couple of cases, they feel obligated.) It’s a day about love and beginning a new chapter of life together. Your guests should love you enough to want you to start your new chapter without wedding debt. I’m typing this out because I think it’s important to not get lost in the Pinterest dream wedding. The pins with links to money-saving ideas and DIY projects are great, but those extravagant photos are just as dangerous as the flashy wedding magazines. Wisteria-covered walkways are pretty, but expensive. Just because it’s on Pinterest doesn’t mean you need it, stick to what you can afford. With all of the other tips you find on Pinterest, you can make your venue beautiful without hiring a team of florists to build a tunnel of flowers. There’s nothing wrong with getting some inspiration, but there’s definitely something wrong with blowing your budget.

Happy pinning!



Peplum Dresses June 5, 2012

Filed under: the dress — clln @ 4:10 pm
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Carolina Herrera peplum dress, photo credit Thomas Iannaccone

Peplum is all the rage right now so as you’re trying on wedding gowns with hip flaps (as Jezebel calls them,) you should probably keep a few things in mind:

1. It’s all the rage right now, but it’s a trend. Eventually it won’t be all the rage, it will be “so 2012.” Just think of all of the fashion-forward brides of the 1980s. These photos are going to be in your home for years to come, treasured by your children and grandchildren. That is, unless your outfits are so dated that the photos are just laughed at by your children and grandchildren.

2. Think of where most peplums are placed. Now think of where you’ll be holding your bouquet (if you choose to hold one, this is your wedding, do your thing.) It’s the same place. The one plus side is that it will keep your arms away from your sides, making them appear slimmer in photos, but you’ll lose the whole peplum effect. What’s the point in wearing it if it adds bulk but will never be seen? See the above photo for reference and keep in mind that the model is holding a smaller-than-average bouquet.

3. Are you wearing the dress or is the dress wearing you? For some people, the dress is the most important part of the wedding. If you’re cheap ‘n’ quirky, I assume you’re different. For me, the most important part of the wedding was that I was marrying my soul mate. I wanted the photos to reflect us, not the fancy outfits we wore once. Now, if you’re a fashion-forward couple, maybe peplums do reflect who you are. In that case, rock it. But make sure that you’re the center of attention, not the fabric you’re covered with.

As you may have guessed, I am not on the peplum bandwagon. I acknowledge that they create curves and sometimes they add to a very interesting, architectural dress. But on top of being cheap and quirky, I am also practical. I want wedding photos to stay classic forever. I’m not dumping all over peplums though, I have some solutions!

Elizabeth Fillmore peplum gown

1. A peplum dress for the reception! I know, before my own wedding I vehemently opposed reception dresses because it’s an added expense and you only get to wear your gown once for a few hours anyway, BUT, at my own wedding, I realized how difficult it was to walk around and dance in my dress (which wasn’t even very big.) So if you’re really set on a peplum, why not wear it after you’ve put your bouquet down?

2. Choose a dress with a soft, not-so-voluminous peplum that hangs low like the Elizabeth Fillmore gown to the right. You’ll get the peplum look you crave and it can easily share your hip area with your bouquet.

3. Make the bridesmaids wear the peplum. They get to be trendy, you’ll look classic, and your wedding will have lots of peplums.

Keep in mind that none of the dresses listed above are in the Cheap ‘n’ Quirky price point, they’re for reference only. While I am a peplum-hater, I support your choice to wear a dress that’s just as quirky as you want it. If you choose peplum, keep the above notes in mind and choose wisely. Then wear the heck out of that dress and look radiant! Do you love peplum? Do you love it for brides? Let me know in the comments.


Buying Used June 2, 2012

I wish I had found this site when I was planning my wedding! Ruffled features a classified-like section of items from weddings past called Recycle Your Wedding. There are wedding dresses, mason jars, centerpieces, pinwheels for cupcakes, and so much more! While you’re trying to find the lowest prices on vases and veils, might as well check this site out. You may be able to find something similar to what you were about to pay full price for!


Pretty Pretty Pretty Invitations May 19, 2012

Filed under: invitations — clln @ 3:13 am

Now that my wedding has passed and more of my friends are getting married, I find myself looking at wedding invitations in a whole new light. I scoff at the fancy overpriced ones, kick myself for not thinking of the cleverly worded ones, stare in amazement at creative ones, and question whether any invitation should ever need velcro on the overly ambitious ones. I feel like you can’t truly appreciate a wedding invitation until you’d made/chosen/produced/paid for a batch. That is why I’d like to present some pretty, pretty invitations to you.

Awesome invitation from Grace la merveille

These invitations from Grace la merveille on Etsy have made me kick myself for not thinking outside the box with layouts. They’re so clean yet rustic, clever yet simple, just gorgeous. And because they arrive as a PDF, you can still get your own creative flavor in them with the selection of paper and such. This program makes me wish I’d actually used programs (well, I have other reasons too, as will be outlined in a future blog, but those programs are so pretty.)

Full disclosure, the super talented lady who makes them is my cousin, but you can’t deny they’re beautiful invitations. No matter how closely related we are, I’m not putting in on the blog unless it’s awesome.


Tea Towel Favors November 20, 2011

If you have a whole lot of time for crafting before your wedding, you might want to consider stamping tea towels as favors for your guests. You can pick up some inexpensive flour sack tea towels, a rubber stamp that fits your theme (every so often, Michaels has 40% off all of their stamps) and some fabric ink/dye. In the right colors for your wedding, they’ll look beautiful wrapped in a matching ribbon at each place setting. Plus they’re actually useful, your guests will use the tea towel long after the wedding and they’ll remember your special day every time they see it.

Here’s a blog from Jen Jafarzadeh, Redbook’s lifestyle editor, with more details on executing these reusable gifts.


The Bouquet Toss November 19, 2011

Filed under: flowers — clln @ 4:25 am
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As I was signing into WordPress the other day, I saw a Freshly Pressed blog about the ridiculousness of the bouquet toss by Girl on the Contrary. She’s right, the toss is pretty ridiculous, hair has been ripped out in the name of bouquets. I did the bouquet toss at my wedding; I had a few eager friends who were anticipating it and I had some family members not take kindly to other attempts at the non-traditional (did I ever blog about the favor fiasco?) The only change I made to the bouquet/garter toss was to not force the two catchers have any contact with each other (no dance, no putting the garter on the woman’s leg, no awkwardness.) I wish I’d thought about it a little bit more.

It seemed like the bouquet toss just had to happen so I never thought of alternatives, but there were some amazing ones suggested in the comments section of Girl on the Contrary’s post. Here’s a few of my favorites:

1. Call the single ladies up to the dance floor and give them each a shot. Cheers to being single!

2. Give the bouquet to a woman who means a lot to you. You could make it a big deal by giving a little speech about why you’re giving the bouquet to this woman, thanking her for all she’s done, why you love her so much, etc. etc. Or you could be discreet and just take a private moment to give it to her (though that’s very hard to do at a wedding, you will be pulled in different directions all night.)

3. Just don’t do it! Tell the DJ you don’t want it,(s)he won’t announce it, and I’ll bet most guests won’t even notice it’s not happening until after the reception is over (except for the keeners who planned on poking other women’s eyes out to get closer to the bouquet.) Most of the guests don’t like it anyway. This way you can keep your bouquet if you want to dry it or whatever people do with their old bouquets.

If you met your fiancĂ© at a wedding after you caught the bouquet and he caught the garter, I expect that you’ll keep the tradition alive at your wedding and that’s just fine. But if you’re questioning it, you’re not alone. There’s no wedding law that says you have to throw your bouquet, so remember that the choice is yours. If you do throw your bouquet, make sure you tell your photographer to get good shots of it. One of my favorite photos of my wedding is of the bouquet toss where the bouquet had landed on my friend W’s feet while she stared at it in disgust and my husband’s cousin M ran away. The photo literally shows her running away. It’s a classic and it shows you that no one really wants to catch the bouquet, they won’t miss it if you omit it.


DIY Return Address Labels September 15, 2011

Unless you’ve embraced the paper-free wedding, you’re probably mailing things all the time. Not just invitations and save-the-date cards, but many, many, many thank you cards, shower invitations, checks and contracts to vendors, etc. While I was in the midst of writing out my return address on what seemed like my billionth envelope, I wished I had registered for mailing labels (not such a bad idea, by the way.) It wasn’t until today, almost 13 months after my wedding, that I realized I could make my own and so can you. If you can make an address label in Microsoft Word, you can make yourself custom return address labels.

To make a simple address label in Word for Macs 2008, go to “Tools,” then “Labels…” and fill your address in the box. Make sure that you select the right label size or your labels will print all over multiple stickers. Label sizes can typically be found on the top or bottom of the sheet of labels, as well as on the package. To create a sheet of identical labels, click the option “Full page of the same label” under the heading “Number of labels.” See, that wasn’t so bad.

If you want to get all fancy and you have design software, open up your InDesign, Publisher, or your preferred program and set the document size to the size of your labels in inches. Design your dream labels, but keep in mind that it should be clear and easy to read. You may consider using a serif font for the address but a sans serif for an initial on the left. The options are endless, you could use a symbol from a font like Wingdings or place a photo on the left-hand side. Here’s a quick label I made in InDesign for Fakey Fakeperson; it only took a few minutes, it’s really that easy.

To print it as a sheet of labels, you’ll have to turn your label into a JPEG or TIFF and use Word. To make it into a JPEG, the easiest way I’ve figured out so far is to export it as a print-quality PDF, then open the PDF and “Save As” in the JPEG format. Once in Word, go to “Tools,” then “Labels…” and click “OK” without entering any other information. Copy and paste your JPEG design into the first label. if it looks good and is formatted properly, paste it into the remaining labels on the page. You’re now good to go and print your snazzy labels, you fancy label designer.

If you’re super busy, as anyone planning a wedding usually is, you’ll probably benefit from the convenience of ordering mailing labels like the ones from Vistaprint, but if you want custom, low-cost labels, you can do it. The DIY bride can have her finger in every metaphorical pie, even the mailing labels.


Think You Have It Rough? August 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clln @ 1:22 am
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As your wedding approaches, you’re bound to be hit with stressor upon stressor until you wonder why people even get married. As you feel your inner bridezilla starting to emerge, keep in mind that the goal is (or should be) to marry your sweetheart, so as long as that happens, you’re golden. Our officiant canceled two weeks before the wedding, but we handled it. It rained on my wedding day and one of my friends who saw me before the wedding remarked that I was much calmer than she expected. But really, what could I do? I can’t control the rain. I was going to marry a fantastic guy, it didn’t really matter if I did it outdoors as planned on indoors on the dance floor. But really, a little rain is nothing. I heard a wedding story today that blew my mind. Names have been changed for privacy.

Martin and Sue’s wedding took place about 30 years ago. A week before the wedding, Martin developed kidney stones and had to be hospitalized. As he had planned most of the wedding, the last-minute details were now dropped into Sue’s lap. Sue was told that the venue had a little snag, but they worked it out so there was no point in even explaining it. Turns out the venue double-booked. So the day of the wedding, Martin got a day-pass to leave the hospital so he could get married. At the reception, as soon as the guests finished eating (or even before some of them had finished) they were rushed into another room of the venue so that the next party (the double-booked one) could be moved in. At the end of the night, their wedding night, Martin had to return to the hospital. He had to spend the next week (their honeymoon week) in the hospital until he passed the kidney stones. Utter craziness, eh?

The plus side is that Martin and Sue are still married all these years later. Weddings are great and all, but it’s the life that follows after the wedding that’s important, not the perfection of that one day. As Sue pointed out to me, most people probably don’t remember that they were moved to a different room halfway through the evening or that Martin had to go back to the hospital, but they remember they had a good time and that Martin and Sue have a lasting relationship. That’s what counts. So when it seems like stuff is falling apart right before your wedding, remember that getting married is the important thing. Also, remember Martin passing a kidney stone (they didn’t blast them with lasers back then.) Your day isn’t as bad as his was.


DIY Music August 9, 2011

I’m planning a surprise 60th birthday party for my mother in about 2 weeks and we still haven’t thought about music. For my wedding, we found a reasonably priced DJ through a recommendation (I think the person who referred the company got a discount, if you’re trying to save, consider hawking your DJ’s services for a price cut.) For this cocktail party, it’s a lot more low-key so I’m going to go with DIY. But how?

I’ve heard a lot of people use their iPods in place of a DJ during their receptions. My mom reported that my second cousin did this at his wedding, actually. From what I’ve heard, this method works pretty well but it’s less polished than having a DJ: the songs don’t blend together smoothly so you may be left with a brief silence, it’s hard to jump in and save the situation if your pre-prepared playlists aren’t getting the crowd pumped up, and you’ll have to get a friend or relative to take on the unpaid position of MC. These aren’t really problems at a small family cocktail party, but it could be a bigger issue at a wedding. If you’re willing to risk it, it’s a great option. My one concern with this option is that it’s not free if you have to buy songs on iTunes (I can’t condone or promote piracy, but you know, it is out there.) You can always upload songs from your favorite CDs for free, but odds are that you’ll have to drop some money. Still a lot less than a DJ, but you do have to keep in mind that it won’t be totally free. Also, you’ll have to think about where you can plug your iPod in. Sound docks are great, but they may be on the tiny side in a large reception hall. Ask your venue what they have to offer in terms of A/V equipment to see if this plan is feasible.

For a very small wedding, or a cocktail party like my mom’s party, I’ve been considering a YouTube playlist. There are definite problems with this, like that you risk an ad being played, a video could be taken down which would result in a long break, there are long pauses between each video as the next loads, and the playlist may stop playing if the browser tab is no longer open. You’d also have to find a way for your computer to be hooked up to a sound system (or bring really fantastic speakers.) Plus side: it’s free. That’s a lot to contend with though.

You could always go a little old school and make your own mix CD, but it’s a lot of work, you have no MC, and you’re screwed if the crowd isn’t feeling your jams. But if you already have the mp3 files, it only costs as much as the blank CDs. Plus you’ll have keepsake CDs of all of the music played at your wedding.

Have you been to a wedding without a DJ? I’m dying to know how they turned out, whether the absence of a DJ was noticeable, and if you’re doing the same for your wedding. Please, please, please tell me! I’ve been thinking about this since I was wedding planning, these questions have been killing me for over a year now! Plus I need to hammer out my music plans for my mom’s party soon.


The Top Layer August 7, 2011

Not everyone is aware of this, but it’s traditional to save the top layer of your wedding cake for your first anniversary. This tradition started back when it was also traditional for the top layer of your cake to be fruitcake. Yeah, fruitcake. Like the one your great-aunt sends you at Christmas and no one eats. While I don’t eat much fruitcake, I assume that one can spend a year in the freezer without it’s flavor or consistency changing much. But what about a marble cake with ganache filling and buttercream icing? How would that survive a year in the freezer?

There are sites with instructions on how to freeze the top layer of your cake. These instructions include tightly wrapping the cake in multiple layers of different wrapping materials. While these methods probably help preserve the cake a lot, I’m also sure the cake would be a little bit “off” by the time you try to eat it.

Our cutting cake and cupcakes.

At our wedding, we had cupcakes with a small cutting cake. As would be expected, we cut pieces out of the cutting cake to feed each other. Unfortunately, our venue was a bit too eager to clean everything up and they threw out all cupcakes that weren’t eaten within the first 10 minutes after they were put out. Many people who got up to dance and expected to eat their cupcake on their return to their table were greeted with an empty space. In fact, the only cake my husband and I got to eat all day was the tiny slivers we fed each other. While the venue threw out tons and tons and tons of our cupcakes, they at least saved our cutting cake (presumably so we could freeze it.) After all that wedding planning, I was really excited for the cake and I wanted to eat it now, not in a year. As soon as we got back from our honeymoon and picked up the leftover cake from my in-laws, we ate it. It was delicious even at a week old, but already starting to taste it’s age. I knew there was no way to successfully wrap it: with pieces missing, it had plenty of surface area to get hard, crusty, and freezer-burned. There was no saving it so we ate the whole thing over a few days. Plus our freezer space is at a premium, we just lacked the room.

Fear not, if you’re not saving your top tier for a whole year, there are ways that you can still partake in this tradition. Friends of ours ate their top layer on their six-month anniversary so that it didn’t have as long a time to deteriorate in the freezer. If you’re doing cupcakes for your cake, maybe save a couple in the freezer in case not every one is perfectly preserved. My plan is to go back to the same bakery that made our cake, order the same type of cake (though in the smallest size possible since there’s just two of us) and eat that on our first anniversary. We get the memories of our wedding and a fresh cake, it’s a win-win.

I’m curious, has anyone successfully frozen, defrosted, and eaten their wedding cake? What are you planning on doing? Remember, you deserve good cake, so make sure that you do something that will have delicious results.