Category Archives: DIY Wedding

Co-Blog: DIY Wedding Table Markers and Other Paper Project Tips

If you’re interested in DIY wedding, then you’re interested in watching your budget. Details can add the “Ahhh!” effect to a beautiful table setting, but incidentals and paper projects can easily cost from $5 to “much more” per table. That multiplied by the number of tables can really add up. Being thrifty and creative can cut those expenses.

For Heather’s wedding I have some creative details I really want to add, but I don’t want to tie up a lot of money into these projects. Soooo, using swap meets, thrift, discount and dollar stores, coupons, as well as some recycling, I was able to make 13 Table Markers, a couple dozen tags for the Hankie Flowers, Lacy Envelopes for a guest game and a couple dozen more table markers to let the guest know they can eat the candy and play the games. Here is a sampling of my projects:

For the natural brown base in all my projects I used recycled file folders; no cost there. For the Capri blue background I found packages of blue shimmer cardstock for $1.49 each at a discount store; I used 2 packages. For the white Linen printing paper I used an online Staples coupon for $25.00 free merchandise on orders of $100.00; essentially, I got all the paper I need and more for free. The lacy envelopes were made from rectangular paper doilies that I picked up at the Dollar Tree along with three rolls of sheer peach ribbon. Swap Meet and Thrift Store finds included tacky glue for $2.00, mounting tape for .50 cents, lace trims for $3.00, and scrabble tiles for lettering – 3 games for $4.00. Other incidentals needed were: ribbon- $1; glue-dots (needed for the game) $4; and glue-stick $2.

Oh! And I cut out all the shapes with my Cricut machine using their Cricut Craft Room Basic Cartridge which is free online. So here is a summary of my paper product costs:

Brown paper Free
Blue paper $3.21
White paper Free
Dollar Tree $4.31
Thrift/Swap Meet $9.50
Incidentals $7.54
Total Costs $24.56

I also picked up a few used scrabble games from yard sales for a few extra dollars. Here is a pic of all my loot:

Here are a few ideas of what you can do with some paper supplies and scrabble pieces:

I estimate that full retail cost for these projects would be $100 plus; add the cost of a Cricut Cartridge and the cost jumps above $150. My cost was less than $2.00 per table and the effect is…well…Ahhhh!!!

Let me know what great paper projects you come up with!

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Co-Blog: DIY Card Receptacle

Hey Everyone! I am so excited to have the first of hopefully many to come co-blogs with my mom. What a talented mom I have been blessed with! I have been onto her for months to share with you all some of the fantastic DIY wedding ideas she has come up with. Today, she finally sent me her first completed blog post. Today’s blog will show you how to turn any container into a card receptacle by using an old chest my mom found and used for a friend’s upcoming wedding. Simply choose the container that best matches your wedding theme and follow the steps below to create a fantastic DIY Card Receptacle. FYI:

she also created this bird-cage receptacle which I featured on my blog not too long ago:

And without further ado, here is my Mom’s first blog:

I love weddings. I love a wedding with a theme. Long story short, when a friend (Heather) asked me to plan her wedding, I was hooked when she told me her theme. Her wedding ceremony will be on the beach, and her reception will take place on a Steam wheeler. Her idea was to use games at the tables to entertain her guests. Since it was such a playful and interactive idea, I suggested using candy jars as center pieces.

I thought “Sweets and Treats by the Sand and Sea” was a catchy phrase to pull it all together.
With her permission I will be featuring different projects that I have crafted for her big day. Heather’s colors are Capri blue with peach accents and a natural tan to compliment.

For my first project I chose a card receptacle. Scouring swap meets, garage sales, and thrift stores, I chose a beautiful chest I found at the swap meet for $20 to compliment her beach and ship venue. The great thing about this DIY is that you can apply these steps and turn almost any container you want into a card receptacle. Here is what the chest that I chose looked like:

To modify the chest into a card receptacle, I did the following:

1. Take inside measurements of your container. Add an inch and a half on the right and the left side. These sides will eventual become fold down flaps. Also, you will need to add a third fold down flap to the front side. This front flap should equal to the length plus the depth of the chest.

2. Draw your measurements onto a sturdy piece of cardboard. It should resemble the shape of a cross like so:

3. Fold down your flaps (writing out the line first will help make a clean fold).

4. Insert card board piece to test the fit. Make any adjustments needed. The piece should be snug, but not too tight. The top should be flush with the chest.

5. Now make the slit for the cards to go through. Use a straight edge to mark the slit. The slit should be about ¾” wide by about 6”-7”. At this point, the chest looked like this:

6. Use a piece of batting, liner in a cool pattern or color or even spray paint to cover the top of the cardboard. If you choose to use liner, be sure to leave a little extra to go over the edges. For my liner, I chose to use a piece of leaf embossed white sheer liner which I had found at a garage sale for $2. I used spray adhesive to attach the liner that I chose in addition to fabric glue around the outside edges.

HERE’S A TIP: To make the corners around the card hole look seemless, cut the center of the slit to about one inch from each end of the slit and cut diagonal to each of the corners. Fold the material through the hole and glue to the back side. I reinforced this edge with a hot glue gun.

7. For the inside top of the chest, measure the dimensions and make a pattern of its shape with tissue paper. Using your tissue pattern, cut the material and lining leaving a ½” edge for overlap. I sewed the lining and material together around the edges and then straight lines vertically (so the material would not sag). Use spray adhesive on the back and fabric glue around the edges to make a secure hold.

8. Trim the edges with ribbon and piping. I used fabric glue for the delicate ribbon and the hot glue gun for the heavier piping. (If you want your chest to close, be careful to keep your trim inside the chest.)

9. I decorated with appliqués, including a place to insert a sign for cards.

10. The final touch was a cross-stitched “Cards”.

Thanks so much mom for blogging with me. Let us know how your card receptacles turn out!

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Cap Sleeves: A Short DIY “How To”

As I mentioned in a previous post, the one thing I wished my wedding dress had that it did not was some sort of sleeve. Instead of trying to find a more expensive dress that already had sleeves to my liking (I am VERY picky when it comes to gowns with sleeves), my Mom agreed to work on the sleeves, tailoring them to my style. We ended up nabbing a great deal on the dress and I loved the sleeves my Mom came up with.

DSC_1327To get the cap sleeves as shown on my dress, we did the following:

1. Find a material that matches your dress perfectly. Take your time choosing the material. You want to look flawless.

2. Cut out the shape for each sleeve. The shape is a straight line along the bottom side with a curved edge on the top. Specifically, the top of the curve should be about 4 1/2″ from the bottom at its highest point, 2″ from the bottom at its lowest point and 6-7″ long from start to finish (This may vary depending on how you are built so measure where you want the cap to start and end on your sleeve to ensure the perfect length). I used a protractor to make sure the lines were perfectly spaced and straight. PLEASE NOTE: leave at least 6″ long, 2″ wide tabs on the end of each curve. I think I ended up leaving an 8″ tab on the back portion since I wanted my sleeves to come deep into the back, middle of my dress. The tabs are what you will attach to the inside of the dress. Making them longer gives you wiggle room to determine where you want to place your sleeves so don’t be afraid to leave them long.

3. Hem the edges of the entire piece. The size of your hem should be determined by how much you want the sleeve to cap over your shoulders and how wide you want the straps to be. (I used a 1/2″ hem) Also, note that because of the rounded edge hemming sounds easier said than done. Just be prepared to have to rework the hem a few times to prevent puckering.

HERE’S A TIP:Pin your hem and then iron over it to keep your hem in place while sewing.

4. Attach the end of each tab to the inside of your dress. Make sure you have the dress on and have someone else pin the sleeves into place. You want to make sure the sleeves fall exactly where you want them to. For me, I wanted the sleeve to envelope my shoulder, so we placed the back straps deep into the center of the dress to get that cup.

HERE’S ANOTHER TIP: To get the sleeve to cap more and hide any slight puckering, we made a 1/2″ fold where the cap hit the top of my shoulder and sewed the fold down. This allowed the sleeve to cup around my shoulder for a more “cap” style.

My mom also added beading down the center of the sleeve similar in style to the belt on my dress. She simply used a needle and thread and threaded each bead into place. It is somewhat time consuming but she worked on it during a long road trip and had it completed before the trip was over. Here is a closer picture showing the beading and the 1/2″ fold I mentioned above:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. When we made the sleeves, I had no idea I would be blogging about them so we did not take pictures of each step. Hopefully, the written directions are sufficient to get you the perfect cap sleeves! What a great way to add some sophistication and uniqueness to your special dress. Let me know how yours turn out!


The Dress: A Bride’s Guide to Nabbing that Dream Dress and Keeping Cash in the Pocket

The Dress. Need I say more? Oh, the pressure to choose the “perfect” dress. It has to be perfectly you yet be a dress that everyone else will love as well. It has to fit you like a glove months before the wedding yet all the while you are planning to lose a “few” pounds. It has to be within your budget yet the one you truly “love” is just a few hundred (thousand!) more. The Dress and what stress it is.

Here’s my tip to you as you start your dress shopping – Have an open mind and see this for what it is, an experience to be enjoyed.

Start somewhere you can really afford. Be honest with yourself. No one wants to be practical when it comes to their wedding but impracticality has a way of following you for much longer than you would like. My dream was not to start at some chain store. We have all seen the shows where girls walk into boutique bridal shops and just choose their “love it” dress no matter the cost. But, most likely, that is not where most of us are. My bigger dream was not to spend my entire wedding budget on the dress. So, to the chain store I went and I am SO glad I did.

Try to time your shopping around sales. I hit this particular chain store as they were having their $99 gown sale. Although I did not like any of the $99 gowns that they had to offer, I found out that they also offer $100 off all their other gowns in stock – meaning off the rack and untailored. So, I chose from a selection of sample dresses and luckily grabbed my dream dress for $399.00 including a steam cleaning and extra poofy slip. Not all sample dresses will fit just right, so also look into costs of tailoring and see if that is still a more affordable route to go.

Be cautious of using online dress makers. I originally started out ordering a dress from a China wholesale company. The deals they had were just too good to pass up. Although the dress I received was well made and quite beautiful, the way it fit me was not at all like the picture. The picture made the dress seem light and airy and in reality, the dress was boxy and quite heavy. I tried it on and almost started crying. I hated it and I felt horrible for hating it. I ended up not using that dress and selling it on Craigslist. I got almost all my money back but the disappointment was disheartening so be careful if you choose that route and know that you may end up not using it at all.

Be willing to try on different shapes and styles to determine what really looks best on you…not just what you think will look best. I surprised myself. I knew I wanted a more fitted dress, but the final two dresses included one fitted and one ball gown dress. Who knew I would love a ball gown?

Make sure you wear a strapless, nude bra and nude panties. It’s hard to tell how much you truly love something when your bra straps and panties are showing through.

Think creatively. If you love the dress except for “this one thing” then is there a way you can take off that one thing? I loved everything about my dress, the beaded belt, the pearl buttons all the way down the back, the shape…everything except that my dress did not have any sleeves. My family is very conservative and out of respect I did not want a strapless dress. But I HATED the sleeves that this chain store had to offer. They just did not go well with my dress. They seemed clunky with the sleek shape of the dress I had chosen. So, I thought creatively. After a short conversation, my mom confirmed she could come up with something elegant and simple to match the dress so we bought it. Here’s my dress with the sleeves my mom what crafted from scratch:

To make similar sleeves, called cap sleeves, see the post above.

I could not have loved my dress anymore and the fact that I got it for such a steal made the experience that much better. I promise, a little research and creative thinking can take your dress shopping from laborious to a day of dreams coming true. Let me know how your dress hunting goes!


Antique Bird Cage: Makes a Unique Card Holder Instead of a Card Box

We found this partiular cage at a local swap meet (we also found some smaller ones for accent decor at local yard sales and thrift stores). Simply wash it off and apply a new coat of paint. Voila, a great decor piece and card holder in one. Seriously, one of the easiest thing we made for our wedding!

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Flowers: Save big and still have the real deal

In the midst of wedding plans, flowers are one expense that can add up quickly and unexpectedly. How much does it cost just to buy a nice bouquet of quality flowers on any given day? Now imagine that you have to buy 10 or 12 of them at one time and they have the label “Wedding Bouquet” attached to them (which almost always means that they will costs even more). Well, if you have been married or are planning a wedding, you don’t have to imagine how expensive that can be because you know all too well!

But I have great news! If you can limit your choices to only a few variations of flowers, you can save tons of money without any sacrifice. Even better news, I researched and chose flowers that were easy to work with so that we could make all the bouquets and arrangements ourselves but that’s another blog for another day. Today, I want to focus on how to save money when selecting your wedding flowers. In the end, we ended up spending about $375 on all the flowers used in the wedding. And boy did we have a lot of flowers in our wedding. Here’s how I did it:

1. Choose 3 or 4 different flowers that you love. I loved calla lilies, dendrobium orchids and white roses.

2. Research the cost of each type of flower. The flowers that are in season will be your best budget bet. Also, I found that buying flowers from local and online wholesale retailers was the best way to get flowers, in bulk, for the least cost. My favorite bulk supplier, surprisingly, was Sam’s Club. You can order an array of flowers from them, in bulk, off of their website for very affordable prices. I bought 140 mini calla lilies from Sam’s for under $200, They were beautiful and perfectly bloomed when they arrived. I also found a local wholesaler who sold dendrobium orchids in bulk so I was able to pick up 100 stems for $130. That same wholesaler also sold yellow calla lilies, large white calla lilies, a beautiful flower I had never seen (It’s the flower pictured on my wedding cake below) and greenery, so I spent my remaining budget (about $50) and grabbed about 12 stems of each flower and one bunch of the greenery.

3. Cut down on the more expensive flowers. I had originally wanted white roses in my wedding. But once I got the pricing info together, I could buy twice the orchids and lilies for almost the same amount it would cost me for half the roses. So I went with more of the orchids and lilies and cut out the roses. I didn’t miss the roses for a second.

4. Practice, practice, practice: For each type of flower I had chosen, we bought a few stems months before the wedding. We wanted to make sure we could work well with the flowers we chose, that they looked perfect with the decor and that the wholesaler we were using would deliver quality flowers. I was more than pleased with what we got months before as well as the day of.

5. Store the flowers until the day of: Have flowers delivered or picked up the day before your wedding. Store them in a room with the AC set as low as possible. If you are in a hotel, ask if they can deliver multiple mini fridges to your room. The key is to keep them as cold as possible to prevent wilting.

6. Enjoy your beautiful and budget friendly flowers for years and years and years! Pictures capture every beautiful angle.

HERE’S A TIP: Here’s another way to save money…White carnation petals look almost identical to white rose petals. I used white carnation petals for my flower girl to throw and no one knew the difference!

Here are a few pictures of the flowers and how we used them:

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DIY Whimsical and Romantic Wedding Arch

I love the natural and whimsical look of tree branches. I think there is something so romantic about woodsy decor in a wedding. For my wedding, I wanted to incorporate a bit of the woodsy feel to compliment the light and delicate flowers we chose. After sharing some ideas with my mom, she went to work. One way she was able to incorporate the woodsy feel was by creating an arch out of manzanita branches. The manzanita branch is a beautiful rich, red color. Their shape is wild yet conformed. Perfect for an arch. And even better, they’re free if you can find a tree (and legally cut the branches off. Otherwise, you can always purchase them online). Here’s how to make the arch:

1. To begin, locate local manzanita trees and make sure you are legally allowed to cut branches off of them. If you are able to locate a manzanita tree and can cut branches off, the bottom branches are the best to cut off because these branches are the branches that bend into an arch shape in search of water. If you cannot locate a tree or cut off the branches legally, a simple google search will show multiple wholesale retailers for manzanita branches.

2. If you cut the branches from a tree, remove the leaves from the branches and hang the branches in a shady area to dry out. You want to keep the branches out of the sun otherwise the sun will bleach out their beautiful color. You also want the branches to be dried out completely, otherwise the wood will crack when you set it in the plaster.

3. Once dry, get a metal coffee can and plaster of paris. In the coffee can, position the branches into the shape you want.

4. Once positioned, pour the plaster into the can and hold the branches still until the plaster dries enough to hold the branches up (about 10 to 15 minutes). Let the branches go and let the plaster continue to dry overnight.

5. Once dry, decorate your arch. To cover the coffee cans, we used tall, square shaped planters. We first spray painted the planters in a cream color. Then, on top of the cream, we placed a piece of lace and spray painted white over the lace to give the planters a whimsical and textured look. Once completely dry, we added some ribbon along the top edge, below the ribbon we added three pearls that look like little tuxedo buttons, and below the buttons we added ribbon and a letter magnet, one with A and one with J for my and my husband’s names. Here’s a close up of the planter once completed:

6. Once the planter was completed, we placed the coffee cans inside the planters and added coffee beans on top to cover the can and plaster. We also added a few sprigs with pearls attached to the ends to give the arch a more whimiscal feel. And lastly, to give the arch height, we place the planters on top of pillars covered with lace and silk. Here is a picture to give you an idea of the height and drama the arch brings:

So simple yet stunning. All the pictures we have from our sand ceremony and vow exchange are dramatized by the height and whimsy of this arch. I hope you have fun making your arch! Let me know how it turns out!

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Venue: Set the stage for your wedding

The first and most important decision made when planning a wedding is where the wedding will be. This will be where at least half your budget is spent. Any budget conscious bride will be most concerned about the venue when planning a wedding because she knows her dollar will have to go far but she doesn’t want to have to turn around and spend a ton of money to cover up the venue because it feels cheap. Every bride wants her venue to add to the decor and, in the end, potentially save her money on decor.

So how do you get a great venue for a discounted price? Here’s what I did. First, I shopped around…alot. Most venues that were advertising within my price range were the venues that needed alot of covering up. Instead of settling, I sent out emails to venues that I loved but that were out of my price range. In the emails, I was up front with them. I explained that I was looking for a venue, that my date and time were flexible and that I was looking to spend about $5000 total for between 100 and 125 guests. I was also very specific that I needed this price to include wedding and reception venue, meal, cake cutting fee and non-alcoholic drinks. I was surprised at how many venues were willing to work with me within that budget. Once I had all my replies, I narrowed my options down to three. Even though I had three options, the moment I drove into the Dove Canyon Country Club community in Orange County, California, I knew it was my venue. The wedding area was surrounded with glass walls, the building was set atop of a canyon overlooking the ninth hole on the golf course and there was a waterfall on a rocky cliff offered for pictures after the wedding. Nothing in this venue needed to be covered up. It was beautiful and it embodied everything I wanted my wedding to be. The advertised cost for a wedding at Dove Canyon was between $15,000 and $25,000…no where near my budget. But because I was up front in the emails, they began to work with me to create an a la carte menu to help cut costs. In the end, we scored the weddding venue (complete with chairs and sound machines), reception area (complete with full set china), two meat options, two salad options, two side options, rolls, non-alcoholic drinks, cake cutting and serving, cappuccino bar, wedding coordinator and snacks for the wedding party before the wedding for 100 people for around $5,500.00. In addition to our great deal, we also loved our wedding coordinator. She was super sweet and took such good care of us. The whole experience was wonderful and I would not have changed a thing. Here are a few pics of the venue:

HERE’S MY TIP: Don’t let advertised costs stop you from inquiring into a venue. Send out a few emails and be specific (and polite) about your budget and what you want your budget to include. Also stress that you are willing to be flexible to fill in what would otherwise be an empty day for the venue. Show that you are willing to work with them to keep costs within your budget. Hopefully, this tip helps you score your dream venue for a fraction of the cost! Let me know how it works for you!


DIY Weddings: A series of tips and ideas to help you save money and still have the wedding of your dreams.

Today, DIY weddings are huge! I am so proud to be part of a generation of weddings that encourages beauty and individuality while still focusing on thrift and creativity. When I first started planning my own wedding, my dad gave me a very small budget. I guess he hadn’t realized the extremity of the inflating costs of a wedding since he had gotten married to my mom almost 30 years ago. Even though my budget was small, I come from a “make it happen” kind of family. A small budget never once meant to me that I would have to cut out things that I truly wanted in my wedding. No, a small budget simply meant I would have to find ways to save everywhere I could so that I could have everything I wanted in my wedding. We did almost everything ourselves from making our own bouquets, wedding programs, centerpieces, aisle decor and much, much more and we made strategic decisions to save even more money such as having a Friday evening wedding and using priceline to bid on hotel rooms for our wedding party. Sounds time consuming? Well I had most of my wedding planned for and done while I was attending law school across the country. I promise, with some good help and budget friendly ideas, you can do the same. It is my plan to focus once a month, at least, on a DIY item or tip that really helped me cut back on the costs. When the wedding costs were all said and done, we ended up saving over double what the wedding actually cost us and I had everything I had dreamed of on my wedding day.


DIY Wedding Programs…With a Twist

When planning my wedding, I knew I wanted my and my husband’s personalities to be in the details. My mom is a fantastic designer. I simply told her what I wanted and she took it somewhere I couldn’t have imagined. I will be posting some of those details from my wedding in blogs to come in hopes of inspiring some of you for your own upcoming weddings!

For the wedding programs, I knew I wanted something more than a paper folded program. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but again, my goal was to let my personality come out in the details. My mom and I collaberated and came up with the pictures above.

To make: we simply took wood cutouts which we purchased from michaels (Using coupons we got in the mail and our emails) and popsicle sticks. We spray painted the cutouts and sticks with a cream color spray paint and then glued one posicle stick on each side of the wood cutouts. We then printed out a sepia picture of me and my husband in the shape of a heart and our ceremony program and docoupaged them to the wood cutout, picture on the front and program on the back. Add a little ribbon, feathers and bling and tada, you have a low budget program that gives a big impression. We displayed the programs in an old planter that my mom scored from a yard sale for $10. We spray painted the planter to match and had an eye stopping display for minimal cost.

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