Sunday, November 15, 2009

Card Box - Easy!

Card boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and even themes. Bird cages are popular, but there is the fear that cards can easily be slipped out through the cage bars (although, seriously, who are these people being invited to weddings who would steal from the bride and groom???).

I wanted a damask-like box to tie into our wedding's theme. Etsy had some wonderful selections, but they were rather expensive for, well, a box - not to mention that this box would then have to fit in the car at the end of the night with the other gifts.

So, with only a few weeks to go, I decided to make my own box. Because we had received many of the wedding gifts prior to the event, there were several box of varying size hanging around the apartment. I decided on the box our new knife set came in (awesome Calphalon knives, by the way!) and wrapped it in white-on-white paper from The Container Store. I then wrapped a band of light blue chiffon ribbon (also from the Container Store) around the box about 1/3 of the way down from the top.
I made the bow following these instructions from, who else, but Martha:
Don't forget to cut a slit on the top of the box! (An Exacto knife will help to make this more accurate.)

Box (find a used one): $0.00
Wrapping paper: $6.99
Chiffon ribbon: $4.99
TOTAL COST: $11.00

Monday, November 9, 2009

The To-Do List

When Hubby and I got engaged, it is safe to say that he did not have a clear understanding of all the things that needed to be done and made in order for a wedding to take place. About a month into the engagement, he asked, "I am having a hard time visualizing the to do list. Can you print it out and tape it to the wall for me?"

He thought it would be a regular sized piece of paper. Yeah, well, those fantasies were dashed when I brought home this and taped it to the wall:

That's right. Good ol' Martha Stewart had provided us with upwards of 100 (way upwards) tasks to complete. And those were just the starters... add in the various handmade items we were making and we had lists for months!

Needless to say, when Hubby came home from work that day, he exclaimed, "What is THAT?" "The list you requested," I calmly replied. "Um. I can't do anything with that," was his honest answer.

After that, we had two lists taped to the wall: the giant Martha Stewart list and Hubby's week-by-week (or month-by-month, as it later evolved) list. Two distinct lists for two distinct personalities!

What lists have you found that are proving to be helpful (or a hinderance?)

Back in the Saddle

I took a hiatus from blogging for awhile there. My apologies. But now I am post-wedding and rested and ready to go!

Sneak Peak for future blogs:
  • Bouquet monogram designs
  • Handmade earrings for bridesmaids
  • Handmade gifts for groomsmen
  • Tissue paper flower posies

Sunday, September 6, 2009

eBay Part II: The Sniper Bid!

I am currently waiting to place a sniper bid on eBay. What is a sniper bid, you ask? Just one of the more fun (and sometimes anxiety-causing) aspects of eBay!

(There are thirty-three minutes left on the auction I am watching.)

Behold: I am looking to purchase at least 7 pint-size, blue Ball canning jars to hold one hydrangea blossom each along the front of the sweetheart table. To buy clear jars is simple (I recommend eBay vendor Denny and Kathy's Super Store). But to purchase blue jars is a little more difficult because a blue Mason jar means an old jar, thus an antique and more expensive. Sometimes. However, sometimes you can find the blue jars at a great price on eBay... if you know how to bid properly. *enter evil laugh*

Here's how it works. Find an item you would like to purchase on eBay. If it has the "Buy it Now" button, then by all means, buy it right then and there. However, some items require bidding. Rather than entering a bid with a few days left, simple click on "Watch this item." Now you can see how high the bidding war goes without actually perpetuating it yourself. Once there are approximately twenty minutes left in the bid, simple keep a window open on your computer and watch the time tick down.

(There are twenty-seven minutes left on the auction I am watching.)

I won't lie. This waiting can cause anxiety and tempt you to bid too soon. But as Mel Gibson ordered in "Braveheart," HOLD... HOLD... HOLD!!! Depending on your typing speed and eBay ability, enter your bid with five minutes left in the bidding war. That should give you enough time for the bid to process and for you to find out if you have been outbid by a previous bidder's maximum bid. If you have been outbid, quickly consider how high you think the other bidder's maximum bid might be, determine how high you want to bid, and type that new amount in!

(There are twenty minutes left on the auction I am watching.)

While waiting, I recommend finding something else to keep your mind entertained. Try checking your email or playing a solitaire game... or doing the dishes or blogging... or... oh, just count down faster!!! See? Fun, isn't it? :-)

(There are fifteen minutes left on the auction I am watching.)

There are other options, too. AuctionSniper allows you to enter you maximum bid at any point during the auction and the computer automatically enters your bid at the last couple seconds. But what fun is that? Also, you better make sure your maximum bid is high enough to beat out everyone else's. (Another similar website is EZ Sniper.)

(There are five minutes left in the auction I am watching.)

I enter a bid. I am outbid. I enter another bid. Again, outbid. Hmmm. Now I have to ask myself, "How much do I really want to pay for these jars?" Plus shipping. After trying one more bid, which fails, I decide to pack away my auction paddle and call it a day. Too rich for my blood.

Oh, but look! Another person has listed his/her blue Mason jars. Let the watching begin again...

Ring Bearer Gift - Doorknob Hanger

Our ring bearer is Future Hubby's little nephew, who will be three at the time of the ceremony. Besides being the cutest little tow-head ever, he is going to be so handsome in a tux!

Being the little brother to two older sisters can be rough, so having his own room is important for Jack - at least it will be when he is old enough to know better! This patriotic door hanger will let everyone know just whose room it is!!!

From Michael's, I purchased a door hanger, mini stars, and alphabet tiles by Lara's Crafts in unfinished wood.

I then planned where I would place the paint, stars, and letters.

I taped off different sections for the field of blue and red and white stripes. The small stars just needed a quick layer of white paint. (I used some old tubes of Utrecht paint I had left over from another project.)

Finish by gluing on the stars and letters using a hot glue gun. (Note: If you tend to use too much glue - like me - let the glue dry and use an Exacto knife to CAREFULLY cut and remove the excess glue bulges.)

Door hanger: $0.89
Mini stars: $2.99
Alphabet tiles: $3.99
Paint: free (left over)
TOTAL: $7.87

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thank You Notes for Each Guest

So many people have helped, offered to help, and provided such support to Future Hubby and I during all this planning, that we wanted to let each wedding guest know how much we appreciate them and their presence at our wedding.

The easiest way we could think we doing this, in addition to going from table to table and greeting our guests, was to tuck a thank you note into the napkin at each place setting. The message also thanks those who traveled to join us, including both sets of my parents and the groom's grandpa.

To see how to assemble these notes, click here. And since we already a ton of paper left over from making the invitations and inserts, this project only cost us the price of three roller adhesives: $6.00!

What other methods of "thank you" have you seen at weddings (or that you used at your wedding)?

Fabulous, D.I.Y. Cupcake Stands!

Good riddance to a traditional cake - let them eat cupcakes! That's right, our guests will be able to choose from three delicious cupcake flavors: chocolate raspberry, chocolate abuelita (like a cinnamon chocolate), and lemon raspberry.

We are expecting approximately 160 guests. Well, if you have researched cupcake stands, then you know most stands don't hold that many. The reception venue usually puts some of the cupcakes out at the beginning of the reception and continues to fill the stand as guests help themselves. Furthermore, to rent a stand can be expensive ($80-$150 per stand). So, we asked ourselves, why not make cupcake stands able to hold ALL of the cupcakes and then sell them after the wedding?

Future Hubby has a friend who owns his own woodworking studio, and the two of them cut long planks of paint-grade plywood (purchased from Lowe's) into smaller squares. They then used a special woodworking tool (that's the technical term - ha ha ha!) to add a decorative edge that resembles crown moulding. After getting the measurements of one cupcake from our cupcake vendor (Betty's Sweet Dreams), we determined how many cupcakes would be able to fit on each layer. Here is the schematic we designed:

Each stand can hold seventy-six cupcakes, times two stands, that's 152 cupcakes. That leaves eight cupcakes leftover, plus the six-inch cake we ordered to have something to cut during the reception. Solution: a two-tiered stand for the cake and remaining cupcakes!

A trip to Home Depot resulted in three lengths of wood dowel used to hang clothing in a closet. These poles would serve as the center posts in the middle of each stand. But how to attach each layer of the stand to the pole? Just use the brass caps that normally attach to the closet wall and hold the pole in place! After many frustrating attempts to keep each layer level (seriously, this was not as easy as you might think!), Future Hubby was able to attach a brass cap under each layer and screw them into the center pole for support. (He discovered that assembling them upside down was easier.)

And here are all three stands ready to paint!

But wait! What are those cute little feet holding the stands off the floor? Michael's has an entire row of unfinished wood products, including little hexagonal boxes. After digging through all miniature boxes (the Michael's staff must think I'm a pain in the butt!), I purchased twelve boxes, ditched their lids, and Future Hubby attached them to the bottom of the stands using short screws.
We used semi-gloss white paint (there is a new line that is a combination of primer and paint) purchased from the Home Depot to paint the stands. Since these would sit on a table at the reception, we also painted the undersides for when short people (like me!) came forward for a cupcake.

If you are interested in purchasing these after mid-October (and live in the Los Angeles area), leave a comment on this posting and let me know!

Paint-grade plywood (2 pieces of 16"x72"x21/32"): $28.48
Paint-grade plywood (1 piece of 16"x36"x21/32"): $7.23
8' of closet dowel/pole: $10.80
14 brass closet pole holders: $23.66
12 mini boxes made into feet: $12.00
1 quart of white paint: $14.98
TOTAL COST: $96.15

Wedding Favors: Mint Tins

Wedding favors come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one purpose: to give your guests a small, personalized token of appreciation that they can take away from the wedding. Future Hubby wanted to give jordan almonds, I wanted mini breath mints, and we both liked M&Ms. In the end, mini mints won out!

Here's how to make these favors in a cost-conscious way. We purchased the white, 1.75"x1.25" hinged tins online from Clay Alley. Most online candy stores sell various mints by the 5-pound bag. We purchased one bag of Mighty Mini Mints (I didn't make up that name) from A Candy Store. Turns out, the mints are smaller than I expected, so we ended by purchasing a second bag. The stickers were designed using Avery I.D. permanent labels model 6570 from (I used the rest of the labels - 480 come in one pack - for the stickers on the back of the invitation envelopes). I cut and pasted part of our dandy damask design onto each square on the Word template (all Avery product template can be downloaded here.) It took me an evening to stick on all those stickers, but with the TV on in the background, the time flew!

After the wedding, guests can reuse the mini tins for things like carrying vitamins or other pills, or storing little desktop items like pins or paperclips.

175 white, hinged tins: $182.00
mighty mini mints (two 5-pound bags): $53.88
Avery labels: $15.44
TOTAL COST: $251.32

Friday, August 14, 2009

eBay (A.K.A. One Woman's Trash is Another Woman's Treasure)

Let me just tell you how much I love eBay. Seriously. And let me tell you how much I love eBay now that I am planning for a wedding on a budget!

Early summer is a peak time for weddings, which means late summer/early autumn is a peak time for eBay deals on previously-owned wedding stuff. Now is the time to find great deals on all those items that only get used for a little bit, never to be seen again. Here are some items I highly recommend you buy on eBay, rather than buying new:

Card box
Cake knife set
Ring bearer pillow
Flower girl baskets
Archway/arbor (or rent one)
Table linens (custom-made overlays that the venue doesn't provide)
Unity candle holders
Cake/cupcake stands (mine will be on sale on eBay following our wedding)
Ribbon, tulle, and all that swag
Favors boxes
Artificial flowers
Easels (for displaying photos and seating charts)
Unused guest book
Guest book pen sets
Paper lanterns
Cake toppers
Shoes (I always buy my Steve Maddens off eBay)

Think of all the savings! For those of you who are extremely practical, you can buy wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses on eBay or other online stores, too. Part of me wants to sell my wedding dress on eBay after the wedding - that's the part of me that resembles Steve Martin's character in Father of the Bride (recall the hotdog/hotdog bun scene). I most likely won't, but it's tempting, especially when one considers the cost to have the thing cleaned and stored after the wedding.

Happy bargain shopping!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Invitations - Final Product (Some Assembly Required)

Here they are! Our wedding invitations. I just LOVE saying that! (Fun fact: If you send an invite to the White House, you will receive a congratulations from the President! For a list of VIPs to invite, click here.)

After much research and falling in love with so many different invitation designs, weeks of designing on our own, and finding paper at a bargain, we were ready to print and assemble. Our goal in making our own invitations was two-fold: save money and use as little paper as possible. As a means of saving money, we designed all the printing to be in black ink, and used our own printer on high quality. It actually ended up using less ink than I had originally expected. In order to save paper, we ditched the traditional inner envelope and number of inserts used. Rather than have our guests mail an RSVP card back to us (which uses more paper and costs more in postage), we included a small insert that read,

"The favor of your response is requested by [date]. In order to RSVP and
read more about the details of the wedding and reception, please visit our
website: [URL address]."

Because the wedding venue is a down a country road, we included an insert that had a map on one side and the venue's address with driving directions on the other. I was able to print two invitations on one 8.5"x11" piece of paper, eight RSVP inserts on one piece, and four maps on one piece of paper. That meant just under 100 sheets of blue paper for all invitations and inserts. Using my nifty Martha Stewart paper trimmer ($24.99 at Michaels), I sliced all the pieces apart in one evening.

I used permanent adhesive tape designed for scrap booking to attach the blue paper to the black. eBay comes in handy for buying this adhesive tape in bulk. I bought six Darice Permanent Adhesive Rollers from eBay store Wholesale Craft Outlet for $11.98 plus $4.92 in shipping. These rollers are like those correction tape rollers, only larger. They take some practice getting used to, though.

I was stumped, though, when it came to putting all three pieces in the envelope. Do I just toss them in the envelope in descending size order? That seems a little too unceremonious. Do I tie a ribbon around all three? Eh. That's when Future Hubby came up with a brilliant idea: cut two slits in the back of the invitation's black backing and tuck the inserts into the slits!

What a neat little package! I purchased Avery labels (model #6570) from eBay store Buy for $9.14 plus $6.30 shipping and used our damask design to create fancy stickers to seal the envelopes.

Now all I have to do is monitor our website for RSVPs! (Fun fact: Some of our friends RSVPed online weeks before the invites were sent out. Yep, those are my peeps!)

Aspire Petallic Juniper Berry paper (350 sheets): $37.97
Aspire Petallic Juniper Berry envelopes (250): $45.97
Shipping for Petallic paper: $12.73
Wausau Astrobright Eclipse paper (250 sheets): $24.57
Martha Stewart paper trimmer: $24.99
Darice Permanent Adhesive Rollers (6): $16.90
Avery I.D. Labels (#6570): $15.44
Printing (used own printer and black cartridge): free
Calligraphy on envelopes: $14
Postage for 100 envelopes: $44.00
TOTAL COST: $236.57

When you consider that it would have cost at least $600 for 105 invitations (without postage), that's a great savings!

Do-It-Yourself Invitations - Paper

Looking to save money on your invitations? Make them yourself! But beware: paper can cost a pretty penny and before you know it, you have spent almost as much as if you had purchased invitations from a vendor.

In my quest to stay within our wedding budget, I did what any good sleuth would: I perused the aisles of a local fine paper store, wrote down the names of papers I liked, and then went online to find them for a cheaper price! (What did we do before the Internet???)

Future Hubby and I decided that the invitations should be light blue and black to match the wedding colors. I also had a few other criteria when picking out paper:
1) affordable
2) made from 30% recycled material
3) recyclable
4) awesome looking

During my hunt in the local paper warehouse, I found the following potential papers:

Classic Crest, 80 lb. cover, 8.5"x11" with matching envelopes by Neenah in Welsh Blue
Exact Index, 80 lb., 8.5"x11" with matching envelopes by Wausau in Blue (Azul)

But then I stumbled upon this beauty. It's made by ASPIRE and is called Petallics in Juniper Berry. (Petallics is ASPIRE's metallic-looking paper. Get it? Metallic+Paper=Petallic.) The color isn't an exact match to the light blue of the wedding, but it's close enough and looks FABULOUS with black damask and wording printed on it. Don't forget the matching envelopes!

Now to find this paper online for cheaper. I compared prices among The Papermill Store, Kelly Paper, and Paper Works. For the quantity and shipping costs, The Papermill Store was the clear winner! For 350 sheets of 8.5"x11" paper in 80 lb. text cardstock, I paid $37.97. (To read more about paper weight, click here.) I paid $45.97 for 250 matching envelopes.

Future Hubby thought the 4.5"x6.5" invitation would look awesome on a 5"x7" black background (he was right, of course!). Waussau makes a black cardstock (Astrobright in Eclipse color, 80 lb. cover weight) that, like the blue paper, is made from 30% recycled material. A paper distributor called epedx had the best prices and, as luck would have it, has a physical store located near Future Hubby's work. (FYI: The Papermill Store had the best online price for the black cardstock.) For 250 sheets, we paid $22.39 + tax = $24.57.

With this much blue and black cardstock and blue envelopes, we now have enough for all the invitations, thank you notes at each place setting at the reception, and thank you cards for gifts received. Woo hoo!

Cost for all the paper (invitations, thank you notes, thank you cards):
350 sheets, metallic blue: $37.97
250 envelopes, metallic blue: $45.97
Shipping for metallic paper: $12.73
250 sheets, black cardstock: $24.57
TOTAL for paper: $121.24

Check out the next blog to see how to assemble the invitations and check out how much we saved on this Do-It-Yourself invitation project!

Invitation Envelopes - Handwritten Calligraphy

While printed mailing labels provide a uniform appearance to your invitation envelopes, nothing is more personal than receiving a hand-addressed envelope. Many brides often hire someone to handwrite all those hundreds of names and addresses in fance calligraphy. Depending on who you hire and how many envelopes you have, this can be costly, ranging anywhere from $3.25 to $5.25 and on up for each envelope set (outer and inner envelope). Wow.

If you're anything like me, the Do-It-Yourselfer in you is shouting, "For that price, I'm doing it myself!" Now, not everyone knows how to write in calligraphy. Have no fear - there are many styles of fancy writing, some of which are simpler and easier to learn than others. Think you have poor handwriting skills? Irrelevant! Calligraphy is more art than writing. And even if you doubt your artistic skills, you can still learn to produce fancy letters. They are lines, shapes, images. Once you learn how to deconstruct and apply the various lines, you can create many types of calligraphy.

Now, with that said, I learned how to write in calligraphy in elementary school. Since then, I have tried different fonts and pens. I have become rather comfortable using a Sheaffer cartridge pen and writing in a modified version of Old English. Sheaffer pens are good for beginners and experts, comfortable to hold, and the cartridge style pen uses inexpensive refill cartridges.

Now that my envelopes have arrived (YAY!), I have begun the long process of handwriting each name and address. Thankfully, I have ditched the tradition of having an inner envelope in order to save money and reduce the amount of paper we are using. Since my envelopes are opaque and not white, I cannot simply slip a paper with dark lines inside the envelope to guide me. Instead, I have to draw very faint lines on the paper, which I will later erase using a plastic eraser after the ink has dried.

It takes about eight to ten minutes to measure the lines on the envelope using my template, draw the lines (again, lightly), and hand write the guest information. I am able to address ten to twelve envelopes in one sitting; after that, my hand and wrist cramp into a wicked witch position. Let's see... I will need to address 105 envelopes total... that's about ten sittings to get them all done! And if I don't have arthritis before I am done, I might be able to make some decorations (and type)!

Here is an example of one of my envelopes. I am sending a couple out to VIPs, such as the President (long address!), the CA Governor, Mickey and Minnie, and possibly Harry Potter.

If you are still interested in hiring someone to hand write your invitations and/or envelopes, here are some links: Calligraphy Lady, Craigslist, Lettering Elegance Calligraphy. You can find many more sources by typing, "handwritten calligraphy envelopes," into Google.

Cost for handwriting your own calligraphy:
1 Sheaffer Calligraphy Mini Kit (from $14
Online calligraphy font instructions and templates: free
Time to learn and practice: name your own rate
TOTAL: $14 + your time and energy

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Invitations - Design Process

In a previous post, I walked through the research process I underwent before deciding on the wording, font, and layout for our invitations. It was now time to design the darn things.

Prior to getting engaged, I had already started following the awesome wedding blog of Kate Miller (do-it-yourself bride extraordinaire!). (Fun fact: Since her wedding, Kate has become a full-time event planner in Northern California! Check out her site: These were her invitation sets:

Wow. Now that's some crazily impressive handy work! Inspired by her abilities (she learned as she went), Future Hubby and I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop and Illustrator, which ended up confusing us more than anything. (He did, however, figure out how to alter the Save-the-Date photo, which was useful considering my hair in that picture.) After the subscription for our trial version for Photoshop and Illustrator expired, I turned to PowerPoint just to see if I could even attempt to design an invitation. PowerPoint can be limited in spacing objects on the page, but with some persistence and the magic of cropping, I was able to design the invitation and inserts.

You may remember that I love toile patterns, but they are a little too feminine and flowery for Future Hubby's taste. So, I introduced him to damask.

Madison Damask

Waverly Damask

We finally agreed on dandy damask, which has just the right balance of floral and swirl without being too girly. It is bold, to match the Copperplate font we are using, but also delicate enough for a wedding and the Edwardian font we are also incorporating.

Dandy Damask

A graphic designer friend of Future Hubby's from college cleaned up the image for us so it prints super clean and crisp. Using several sources of inspiration and after many conversations with the Future Hubby, here is the final design of the invitations and inserts (a link to our wedding website for RSVP as well as a double-sided insert with map and directions).

Check out my next posting to read about where to find GREAT deals on high quality, recycled, and beautiful paper!

Do-It-Yourself Invitations - Research & Etiquette

As stated in a previous post, wedding invitations should represent your best foot forward as the first impression to your guests. The invitation informs the guests of your colors, theme, the atmosphere of the event, and a glimpse into you and your future hubby's personalities.

That's a tall order for a little piece of paper.

But once you have found the perfect match, it's love at first sight. This is my inspiration (from Wedding Paper Divas):

Alas, a bride on a budget can find herself in a quandary. How does one get a fabulous invite and still stay within budget? If you have ever priced wedding invitations, then you will understand. Each pretty little invite can run upwards of $5.00, which doesn't sound so bad until you consider quantity. We have 105 parties to invite, plus a couple extra invitations for the keepsake box. Without postage, thank you notes, or programs, we were looking at over $500. Hmmm. Looks like a job for the D.I.Y. Bride!

I began by researching various wording and layout options for the invitations. If you Google, "wedding invitation etiquette," you will find a host of useful websites, including Wedding Invitation Etiquette, Real Simple, and, of course, Martha Stewart. My parents are divorced and both have remarried. Future Hubby's father passed away a very long time ago, and so only his mother's name would appear. We are paying for most of the wedding ourselves (we aren't spring chickens and both have steady jobs), but our families are contributing. All of this needs to be taken into consideration when wording the invitation. We finally decided on, "Together with their parents," as the host line. It works quite nicely. You may find this to be a good solution for your invitations, too.

Depending on who you ask (and wow, there is a lot of information out there!), most traditional opinions say you should spell out every word on the invite, including numbers. For example:
The first of January two thousand and nine
January 1, 2009
01 January 2009
01. 01.09

five o'clock in the evening
half-past five o'clock in the evening
5:00 p.m.

But don't feel too constricted by tradition. Choose a style that fits the atmosphere of your event. We, for example, have decided to use numerals for our venue address and the date of our event. If yours is the church wedding with cathedral-length dress, you will most likely want to spell out the numbers.

Now that the wording was settled, I began researching patterns online. We found this lovely damask print online at Colour Lovers, where visitors can find and download tons of awesome, electronic color swatches and patterns. It's not the perfect pattern for us, but it's a start.

During my research, I discovered that nowadays many initiations are using a block, easy-to-read font called Copperplate, which I downloaded for free from Font Zone.

I wanted our names, however, to appear more formal, so I chose a traditional wedding script, Edwardian, from 2-Free.

Now that we have these decisions made, it's time to experiment in invitation design. Check back to read more about how we fumbled around with Photoshop and Illustrator before settling on PowerPoint and Excel to design our invitations and inserts.