Cheap 'n' Quirky Wedding

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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.


Paper Carnations December 9, 2010

I love carnations and I love paper flowers. Combine the two and you clearly get paper carnations. These can make great decor at your wedding; you could carry a paper flower bouquet, put paper wreaths up on walls or hanging off of chairs/pews along the aisle. Not only can you prepare these as far in advance as you like, they’ll last much longer than fresh flowers as a memento of your big day.

Martha Stewart's cupcake liner wreath

I was watching Martha Stewart this morning and she made this wreath out of coffee filters or cupcake liners (personally, I liked the larger, softer folds of the coffee filter version, but the photo shows one made with cupcake liners.) While they didn’t mention it, I found that it bore a striking resemblance to carnations. This is not only gorgeous hanging on a door, but it would be adorable hanging with a long ribbon in your wedding colors along your aisle.

You can also create these adorable tissue paper carnations from Folding Trees. These would be super cute in a bunch as a centerpiece or even held as a bouquet.

My wedding flowers were all carnations so I want to make these paper flowers as a sweet reminder of my wedding and as a nice piece of decor. I’ll let you know how it goes. Have you tried either of these crafts or have another way to make paper carnations? Let me know in the comments!


Things Learned: Over-Explain Your Tosser! October 29, 2010

Filed under: crafts,diy — clln @ 7:25 pm
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As I proudly blogged, I made 100 ribbon wands with pieces of ribbon, wooden dowels, and hot glue. It took ages but I kept my spirits up by imagining how beautiful all of the wands would look as they were waved to cheer us back down the aisle. Sadly, I never got the photos of our tightly-packed guests all waving ribbons at the same time. Due to rain, the ceremony was moved indoors to the reception area and the guests were seated at their assigned tables as we were married on the dance floor. The crowd wasn’t arranged properly to get a good shot of everyone waving them but that wasn’t even the true cause of the problem. Very few people waved them. I don’t even have a photo for this blog post. We forgot to ask the officiant to explain that they should be waved as we exited; our guests didn’t realize what they were supposed to do with them. So I learned the lesson for this “things learned” post.

While the wands’ purpose seems obvious to you as you’re gluing them together (and losing your mind,) it may not be obvious to those who haven’t spent months reading wedding blogs. This goes for all confetti alternatives including yarn pom-poms, birdseed (you never know when a guest will assume it’s a snack,) seeds, and even bubbles.

You have different options when it comes to spreading the instructions for your tosser:

  • A simple and free option is to ask your officiant to instruct the crowd on what to do. Your officiant has probably announced something like this before and will be able to figure out an appropriate way to word it.
  • If you have programs (something we nixed) you can make a note in the schedule, something like “Recessional – Shake your ribbon wands!”
  • If you have children in your bridal party, they can announce that it’s time to shake, throw, or blow with a sign similar to this one on slide one. Most energetic kids would love the opportunity to run across the altar with a sign. The sign could read “Throw your pom-poms!”
  • These two options work if you’ll have the guests pick up the tosser as they walk in: you can have someone hand out the tosser to guests as they arrive and explain that they should be thrown/shaken/blown at the end or if you display the tossers on a table at the entrance, you can include a sign that says “Please take one and throw it as we exit.”

Don’t assume your guests know everything. In fact, assume they know nothing. If you’re reading this, it means you have an acute, temporary condition known as wedding brain. You think about weddings, you read about weddings, you watch TV shows about weddings, your world revolves around weddings because wedding planning has temporarily replaced your life’s purpose. When you see a ribbon wand, birdseed, or pom-poms, you’ll instantly think about the recessional and the adorable photos these tossers will result in. Put yourself in Uncle Frank’s shoes now. Think he’s exited about tossers? You’d better over-explain it.


Something Old Becomes New: The Recycled Hanky August 14, 2010

I was reading a book in which the author had an epiphany. I, in turn, had my own epiphany. Spoiler alert: I will reveal something that happens in the book Sleeping Naked Is Green, but it’s more of a great idea than a plot twist. While I’m getting warnings out of the way, here’s my full disclosure. I used to work for the publisher of the book. Now back to the fun stuff.

In Sleeping Naked Is Green, author Vanessa Farquharson tries to make one green change each day for a year. One of her changes is not to use disposable facial tissues; she switches to reusable cloth hankies instead. Needing more hankies while suffering from a cold, Farquharson takes a pair of scissors to an old set of bed sheets that were too worn for use and creates many hankies. Brilliant, no?

This is where my epiphany came about. I’d been trying to figure out what my something old would be and was having some trouble. Most brides carry some sort of hanky with them and I had the perfect set of sheets for this. My hoarding mother kept my childhood bed sheets with tiny pink and green flowers, my favorite colors when I was young. They’re nearly threadbare in the middle of the fitted sheet and the pillowcase is discolored so they haven’t been used in years. Here’s their chance to have new life! These sheets have great sentimental value since I slept on them nearly every night for my entire childhood; one’s bed is a place of comfort and security, things people look for when feeling stressed (uh, wedding planning) or overcome with emotion. Plus it’s eco-friendly! I’m recycling the material, it saves all of the packaging on buying a new hanky, and I even hand-sewed it so I didn’t use any electricity from a sewing machine. The top sheet was still the original color and was suitable for using (as the fitted sheet looked like it could rip if you breathed on it.)

My recycled bed sheet hanky.

The hems are differing widths because I used a corner piece (so I wouldn’t have to hem as much) and the side hem and bottom hem of the top sheet were different, so I tried to match those.

This project is simple: cut a square of material and hem it. I suggest folding the edges twice before hemming so that the raw edge is never exposed. You don’t necessarily have to use a sheet, you could use an old dress, curtains, a blouse, a baby blanket, or even new fabric. If it’s a fabric that you can cut, sew, and dab your tears of joy with, it’ll work. If you’ve got the gift of embroidery skills, you could embroidered your wedding date, your names, or a little message onto it or even make a nice little edging for it. Since we’re all busy brides, planning our brains out, just a quick hem might be the extent. That’s just fine; it’s cute, ridiculously quick, and can be done in front of the television.

So thank you, Vanessa Farquharson. You unknowingly gave me my something old and you gave my old bed sheets a new life.


Ribbon, Ribbon, Ribbon, Part 3: Ribbon Wands August 12, 2010

Filed under: crafts,diy — clln @ 6:19 pm
Tags: ,

Everyone has that image of the bride and groom leaving the church, being showered with confetti. The confetti gives this beautiful, magical, snow-like effect and looks lovely in photos. Of course, it also creates litter that is difficult to clean, so difficult that many venues will not allow you to use it (or face a fine if you do.) So how can you have a confetti-like effect, sans confetti?

Ribbon wands! Your guests can each shake a ribbon wand in the air as you exit your ceremony, creating the image of many streamers flying through the air.

These are super easy to make, it just requires a dowel, some ribbon, and hot glue. I took a very thin, 36″ long dowel (available in the craft section of Walmart) and cut it into three equal pieces of 12″ each. They can be cut with a saw, or even worn down with an Exacto knife or a strong pair of scissors. Take a 24″ (or whatever length you prefer) piece of ribbon, apply hot glue (or double-sided tape if you don’t do glue) to the end of the ribbon and wrap it around the dowel until the end of the ribbon is covered. And you’re done! Another variation involves tying the ribbon around the dowel, although I fear that it would fall off as your guests wave them.

You may also want to hold the end of the ribbon over a candle or use a ribbon-finishing glue to prevent the edge from fraying.

I used wide ribbons in sage green and ivory, and thin ribbons in moss green and ivory. I think the variety of colors will add to the confetti feel. Here is a photo of all of the variations I made for the wedding:

Ribbon wand variations

Other variations you can make include painting the dowel, attaching rhinestones to the ribbon or to the top of the dowel, or anything else your heart desires.

There are a few lessons I learned through this project that I should share (or warn you about.) You will go through TONS of ribbon. Even if you think you bought enough, buy more. I started out doing lots of wands with one wide ribbon and two thin ones per dowel, but my ribbon consumption was way too high, so most of them are just one wide ribbon or 2-3 thin ribbons per dowel. The more ribbons per dowel, the more stunning it is and the bigger effect it has. It’s a trade-off, you have to budget how much you’re willing to spend on ribbon. I’d seen some photos where the ribbon wands in a crowd looked sparse, but I’m also tired of making trips to Walmart to buy more ribbon. This leads me to my next lesson: stores don’t stock that much ribbon. We’ve bought every inch of sage green ribbon from our local Walmart and Michaels. We’ve also cleared Walmart out of the moss green and most of their ivory. Finding ribbon is now becoming a challenge. If you want to do this, do it early and stock up on ribbon! I found out the hard way that our local Walmart doesn’t replenish their ribbon section often.

Now I have to figure out how to present them to the guests. Left on each chair with a note to shake them at the end? Handed out with greetings and a quick word of instruction from the ushers? Left in a pretty vase? I’m concerned that people won’t grab one if they’re in a vase, and I want to make sure they’re all waving in the wind as I’m walking away from the altar. Have you tried this or seen it at another wedding? Share your presentation tips or variation ideas in the comments!


Ribbon, Ribbon, Ribbon, Part 1: Money Box August 9, 2010

If you love white satin, lace, beads, tassles, quilt batting, and treasure chests, then you can easily find the money box of your dreams for your wedding. However, if you’re like me, you’re looking for something simpler that allows for customizable colors, feast your eyes on my DIY money box:

My DIY ribbon money box

Not only do I think it’s prettier than the money boxes I’ve seen in stores, it was cheap! The box was $14.99, and the ribbon was $1.99 and $0.47 for the rolls of the wide and thin ribbon, respectively. Approximately $17.50 definitely beats the $44 for which the puffy white treasure chests are going.

This is the first of my many DIY ribbon projects that I’ve been doing for this wedding, the photos of the others will follow soon. Ribbon is practically our wedding theme now. It’s pretty, it can be reasonably inexpensive, and it comes in a plethora of colors (so you can match it to your wedding color palette.)

Here’s how I did it (and how you can do it too!) I used one cardboard craft box (tips on choosing one can be found below,) two styles of ribbon (one thick and one thin, in different shades of green), a hot glue gun, and an Exacto knife.

I got an oval-shaped cardboard box from Michaels. They have a wide variety of shapes and sizes and they typically come in ivory or the traditional cardboard brown color. Make sure it’s a big box because one ill-placed card can take up a lot of space (they don’t all fall in perfect formation, unfortunately.) I went with ivory so that I wouldn’t have to decoupage or paint it, but these are options. Tissue paper could be torn into pieces, coated with hodge-podge glue, and attached to the box to give it any color you wish.

Once the box is the color you like, you must make a hole in the lid that can accommodate standard card envelopes. Use a few of your engagement and bridal shower cards, as well as a standard letter envelope, to test the size. Make sure the hole will be wide enough to accept a fat envelope (have you seen some of those cards in the card store with all kinds of pretty things attached to the front? Those envelopes aren’t thin.) Mark your desired hole size with a pencil, then take an Exacto knife and cut it out. Push your knife in from the top of the box lid instead of the bottom. In case the paper covering the outside of the box rips, it will be hidden on the inside of the box.

Now to the bow. For this, I cut one piece each of the two styles of ribbon I wanted to use in the same length as the circumference of the lid. I used hot glue to place a few beads of glue on the wider piece of ribbon, then placed it around the lid, trying to center it. I recommend placing the ends of the ribbon on what will be the back of your box (so that no one will see it.) Once that was glued down, I did the same thing with the thinner piece of ribbon but glued it on top of the wider ribbon that had been previously glued down.

The bow is optional; the box looks pretty sleek without it, but the bow is the way to go if you want cute and sweet for your decor. I cut a piece of ribbon from each of the ribbon styles I wanted to use (the length will depend on how big you want the bow to be, you can figure it out before cutting by tying a bow with ribbon that is still attached to the spool.) Place the thinner ribbon in the center of the thicker ribbon, then carefully tie a bow. You can ensure that the thinner ribbon will stay centered by gluing it in place in the middle of the thicker ribbon before tying the bow. When your bow is done, glue the bow in the center of the ribbon that encircles the box.

There you go, there’s the money box. If you have any questions or any suggestions for variations/improvements to this, share them in the comments. Stay tuned for more ribbon wedding crafts in the very near future!


Christmas Came Early July 16, 2010

I’ve relocated to New England and I’ve discovered Christmas Tree Shops. I thought they sold Christmas decorations year-round, but I was pleasantly surprised to find tons and tons of items for wedding decor. My FH and I went in for tissue paper and came out with tons of affordable decor ideas. It takes a creative mind to start putting everything together, but definitely worth it. We’re talking cheaper-than-Ikea-centerpieces here.

We were feeling pretty challenged by the centerpieces because our venue doesn’t allow any open flames and we aren’t willing to pay for floral arrangements. FH and I agreed not to pay anything extra for colored linens, so the centerpiece must follow our green color theme. Then we found this:

Our Christmas Tree Shop lantern centerpiece

Yep, that looks like a candle, but it’s actually a battery-powered candle. It even flickers to give the illusion that there is a real flame. Here it is “lit”:

Our centerpiece with the candle on

The best part is the price. The lantern is $3.99, the candle is $1.99, and a bag of sea glass (of which we only used half) is $1. That brings our total cost per centerpiece to $6.98 (if we use the entire bag of sea glass on each one by spreading the remaining glass around the table, or $6.48 per centerpiece if we only use one bag of sea glass for every two centerpieces.) Another option for filler in place of the sea glass was green sand with thick grains, which is also $1 per bag. There were signs around the store that said if you need a bulk amount of everything, you should speak to the service desk at the store. I don’t know if this is just so they can get you a box out of the back room, but I’m hoping it’s so that they can offer an extra discount. I’ll update on this.

They also had bags of sea shells and starfish that we might get to spread around the tables since each lantern is kind of small (they had other sizes of lanterns, but we preferred the small one, at least for our sample.) We didn’t have a theme until we went into the store and saw the sea glass; now we’re trying for a green, minimalist beach. We’ll see how this plays out and if we actually stick with it.

With the extra sea glass from Christmas Tree Shop and a small candle holder and battery-powered tea lights from Dollar Tree, I made this little arrangement:

Sea glass and tea light centerpiece arrangement

I think these could go on the head table between the bridesmaid bouquets, along the bar, or on the guestbook or escort card tables. I created them by putting the tea light at the bottom of the candle holder (turned on, of course,) and then piling sea glass on top. It looks like glowing rocks, so I’m still undecided on whether to use this. I feel like a more blue-ish LED light would be better suited to this project to maintain the green tones in the sea glass.

Our last decor element that I’m working on right now is white versions of the paper spider mum flowers that I started in my last blog post. I’m thinking that we could put them in green paper cones hung over the last chair in each aisle at the ceremony site, or they could be in a vase at the reception… Ah, decisions, decisions.

White paper spider mums

Yes, they’re in a Tostitos salsa jar right now, I’m just storing them in there for now. Don’t worry, they won’t be in that vessel at the wedding.

We’re going to the venue for a meeting to hammer out the menu and everything this afternoon, so we’ll figure out exactly what needs decorating. I think that will really help us to figure out exactly what we’re going to use. It’s getting close, we need to get on this. Wish me luck.


More Paper Flowers June 30, 2010

It’s been a long time since my last post, I made the journey to visit my long-distance fiancĂ© so the packing took up a lot of my time. Well, I’m here now and I’m crafting.

Jar of paper spider mums

I’ve been long-intrigued with spider mums and fell in love with the Flowery Swizzle Stick craft on Martha Stewart Weddings. I’m not looking to make swizzle sticks (at the moment, maybe I’ll change my mind later) so I turned it into a faux flower by attaching the flower head to floral wire.

The materials are all available at Walmart and are very inexpensive. For crepe paper, I bought a roll of crepe paper streamers from the party section for $1.25. I purchased the floral wire for $0.77 and floral tape (in a 3-pack) for about $3, both in the floral and craft section. I cut each wire in half because they were much too tall, plus it gives me twice the amount.

The materials: crepe paper party streamers, floral wire, and floral tape

The one note I would make is that Martha’s directions don’t give a good idea of how much crepe paper to use. With the streamer, I used about 10-12 inches per flower. OK, I actually have another note. The thinner you make each cut, the more realistic the flower will look. Check out the work in progress:

The cut piece of crepe paper, ready to be wrapped around the wire

Wrapping the crepe paper

Wrapping the floral tape around the paper and wire

Fluffing the petals

I’m thinking these could be used as reception decor, perhaps as a bouquet or boutonniere if I perfect it. There’s still time, gotta see what else we come up with for decor and such.


I Dislike Tiny Clutches June 8, 2010

Since I dislike tiny clutches, I’ve been pretty concerned about finding a handbag for the wedding. I want something big enough to carry extra makeup, band-aids, lipstick, tissues, and everything. I realize there isn’t much I should have to carry on the big day, but I go nuts without having everything that I carry daily in one of my giant purses (they bridge on duffle bags.) So what did I do? I made my own giant clutch.

It’s by no means professional; it’s the first handbag I’ve ever even attempted. I used leftover materials from other projects: a sheet of children’s craft foam, an old white t-shirt to cover the bright green foam, the extra ivory voile material from the Martha Stewart flowers I made, as well as the flowers themselves (Emily, the amazing woman altering my dress, has made flowers for my dress and hair out of the excess dress material so I had to find a use for my flowers.)

The foam sheet I used for the purse, it was made of one big folded piece and 2 small side pieces

I would include instructions, but I really went into this blind. I took some photos to show how I constructed the form out of the foam. In retrospect, I would recommend going with a boxier shape and making a pattern for a tighter fit.

Stitching the big piece around the little side piece

The side pieces were 5″ by 2″ and I rounded the bottoms. The big piece is 16.5″ by 9.5″ and I wrapped it around the little pieces on either side. The nice thing about the foam is that you can stitch it with a darning needle so you can sew the pieces together into shape.

Sewing the foam

The basic shape of the clutch (just have to fold the top over)

Another retrospective recommendation is that you sew the lining onto the foam. I didn’t and now my clutch is unlined. At this point, it’s too ridiculous to try and add one (I’ve already attached the outer material to the foam and the flowers to the foam.) No one will be seeing the inside anyway. I pretty much cut the material around the foam clutch as I sewed. Not recommended. That’s why I suggest a more square shape and a pattern.

Sewing the material around the foam

Once I got all of that on, I sewed my flowers on! Flowers on stuff is so in right now.

Flowers on my clutch

And here’s the back. Right now I have it closing with velcro, but it’s not a satisfying solution.

The back of the clutch. It's still a work in progress.

So now I have a clutch that is 9.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″. Looks like it will fit my makeup, tissues, band-aids, camera, phone, eye drops, and more than I actually need on the big day. The moral of the story is if you can’t find something that fits your needs, put on your creative hat and make something that does. Plus I get to brag about how I made it.


OMG I fell in love again June 5, 2010

I just nearly peed my pants with excitement. As a crafty bride, I am so excited to have found the Intimate Wedding Blog’s list of tutorials. So many cute DIY projects!

I definitely want to try the paper or fabric fortune cookies, they’d make an adorable gift tag for a small gift in a Chinese food takeout box (which they sell at Michaels.) I’m thinking of packaging my bridesmaids gifts like this (once I figure out what those gifts are, of course!) I also really like the idea of informing guests about a charitable donation in lieu of a favor with these fortune cookies. Heck, I just like the idea of having random fortunes inside them and finding uses for them. Love it!

My other fave is the paper flowers made of cupcake liners. I love paper and fabric flowers and these look nice and easy, as well as cheap and quirky. I’m going to try these soon. They look like carnations, the flower I want to go with for the bouquets and boutonnieres, so perhaps I can make some cute side paper arrangements if they turn out well.

Carnations made of cupcake liners from Intimate Wedding Blog

There’s also a tissue paper version of carnations on Folded Trees.

So basically I’m super excited about this site! I can’t wait to post some of the projects I attempt from this list of tutorials! Have you tried any of these or similar projects? What is your favorite source for wedding craft tutorials?