Thursday, May 31, 2012

Light it Up - DIY Paper Luminaries

One of the elements that seems to really set the tone at weddings is lighting: candles, strands of lights, luminaries, uplighting, you name it.  They all have that same "intoxicating" effect where everything starts to look prettier with the more you have.  :)

Luckily for me, a chronic mistake maker, I love them all.  But this post is just about one:  luminaries.

I've been eyeballing different luminaries for quite some time.  There's something romantic but also something profound about them.  I think of the Relay for Life luminaries, and while my wedding will be much more self-centered than a Relay for Life ceremony, there is just something very powerful about them that I love.

Thus, I knew I had to make these for our wedding.  I found a lot online that had designs or lace, but what I really wanted was for it to spell out our names, like these:

I know the middle one was made using a Cricut machine which makes the task a whole lot easier.  While I am drooling over the machine, I haven't quite justified the need to spend $199.  So, I set out to make my own, slightly more imperfect luminaries.

Lindsy's Slightly More Imperfect Luminaries

white large paper sacks
vellum paper
glue sticks
craft knife
cutting surface
letter template
tealight candles & sand

1.  I typed up some fonts that I thought would look nice and let Adam pick.

2.  Adam picked the most difficult of the fonts:  Papyrus (as you can see its kind of splotchy).  I enlarged the font to 300pt and then printed off the template.  Since it was patchy, I filled in the gaps with a sharpie and then cut out each letter individually.

Note:  If you leave some white space around the letters when you cut them out, it is much easier to position the paper inside the bag on Step #4.

3.  With each white paper bag, I measured 3.5" from the bottom and marked it so that my letters would be the same height on each bag.

4.  I arranged the letters from the template the way I wanted them inside the bag and then started to trace it (keeping in mind that my 3.5" line was at the bottom edge of the letter).

5.  With all the letters traced, now it was time to start cutting!

6.  Sorry no picture...shame shame!
In order to not cut through the entire bag/side flaps, I slid a "cutting mat" inside the bag, underneath the top layer.  I did not have a self-healing mat on hand so I cut a plastic, pliable cutting board that I bought at Dollar Tree years ago down to the width of the bags.  With that in place, I started tracing the pencil lines with my craft knife

7.  After I cut out all of the letters, I cut vellum paper to the size of the bag front (3 3/8 x 8 1/2).  I wasn't sure if you would be able to see the edges of the paper when they were lit up with candles, so I just chose to cut the vellum to be the same size as the bag.

8. I applied glue to the edge of the cut vellum paper.  I also ran the glue stick along the inside of the bag - around the edges of the letter to make sure that they would stick.

9.  With glue on both the bag and the vellum, I slide the vellum inside the bag along the left edge (shown below). By running along that edge, it helped to line up the vellum correctly, and avoided touching the bag and sticking before it was in the right spot.  Then I just smoothed it out until there weren't any creases from the front.

10.  And repeat!  Until you get your finished product.
11. With tealights:

 What I learned/extra info:
- I don't cut very well with craft knives.
- If you're going to do anything fancy with the top of the bag, I would do it first.
- Check to make sure that the bags open before you spend lots of time tracing and cutting!  I had one bag that was very difficult to get open because it was glued to the bottom of the bag.  I had to very carefully rip it apart without destroying all my hard work.
- I am going to need a larger place to display these:  with 11 bags/letters it turned out quite big.  I haven't quite decided where they are going in our reception hall - either in the main entrance, at the gift table or maybe outside.  Our venue has a marquis sign out front, so I'm not sure how necessary these will be out front.
- I am deathly afraid I am going to burn the venue down with these.  They're durable, but I'm paranoid.  I think I am going to buy LED tealights to use instead.  I could put them in a glass votive, but the cost would be about the same.

Price Breakdown:
white large paper sacks  -  $2.99 at Hobby Lobby
vellum paper  -  $2.39 at Hobby Lobby for 10 sheets (I only used 5.5) with a 40% off coupon
glue sticks - $0.97 at Wal-mart for 3
craft knife  -  $3.49 at Jo-Ann (50% off sale this week!)
cutting surface - on hand
tealight candles - on hand
lighter  -  $1.00 at Dollar Tree (I only had matches and small lighters to I bought this "long-reach" one)

Total: $10.84

Overall, I think they turned out pretty nice considering you can pay $50 for these on Etsy.  Mine aren't as super awesome, but they'll definitely do the job. What do you think?  What types of lighting are you including in your wedding?

Monday, May 21, 2012

DIY Personalized Bridal Hangers

I've been waiting to reveal my DIY bridal dress hangers, not merely to keep you all in unbearable suspense, but rather because I had several "difficulties."

My original inspiration came from the tons of wedding blogs and etsy stores that now sell these cool, but completely unnecessary wedding details. Like this:

So after seeing lots of tutorials online, being the thrifty person that I am, I decided to embark on the personalized wedding dress hanger journey.

The Personalized Wedding Dress Hanger Journey
1.  I bought/rounded-up all of my supplies:
- Wooden hangers
- Aluminum wire (12 gauge and 16
     gauge) - You can get it in the jewelry
     section of a craft store or at a
     hardware store
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Template for "guiding" - I downloaded
     and used the font Little Days from
     dafont and typed out my name in
     Microsoft Word
- Ruler
- Drill
- Drillbits
- Hot glue
- Flower

2.  I measured 1/2 inch in from the edge of the hanger and marked where to drill with a sharpie.

3.  I drilled.  You don't need to go too far, just enough to fit the wire in with some hot glue.

4.  I tested the hole with the aluminum wire.  The first drill bit that I used was actually too small, so I went up a size.
 I broke the drill bit.  Not suggested.

5. With all of the holes drilled, I was ready to get started with the wire. I practiced...
...and practiced...
...and practiced.
I actually went through an entire package of aluminum wire. 

To be honest, I wasn't planning on spending so much time practicing.  I was trying to make the hanger fo' real each time, but kept messing up.  I messed up a lot.  I'm also a perfectionist so if I got a tiny part wrong or plier teeth marks in the wire, I would stop and start over.
6.  I started to question whether or not I would be willing to complete this project.

7.  Since I had used the entire roll of 12 gauge wire, I decided to give the 16 gauge a try. 16 gauge is smaller and weaker so it's easier to manipulate, but also more likely to get messed up later.

8. Success! I bent the wire so that it would line up with the holes and added in a drop of hot glue, followed by the wire. I had some leftover stickers from Jessica's bridal shower gift, so I added our wedding date to the top. 

9. Lastly, I hot glued a flower to the hanger.  I used a generous amount.

So there you have it.  I didn't know if it was possible after so many mistakes, but I am happy with how it turned out. I plan on making these for my bridesmaids too, I just have to pick bridesmaids first.  Hobby Lobby has the 16 gauge wire on sale for 50% off this week, so I grabbed another two packages for .98 each so that I can make 4 more when I get my butt into gear and make some decisions.

Most difficult part? - the letters A and C (sooooo painful!)
Easiest part? - everything except A and C

Price breakdown
Hangers - $5.00 Walmart
Wire (12 gauge) - $3.50 JoAnn (after 40% off coupon)
Needle nose plies - $2.00 Walmart
Tiny Needle-nose pliers - $4.50 Hobby Lobby (after 40% off coupon)
Flower - .99 Hobby Lobby
Stickers - on hand, but $1.49 at Hobby Lobby.

Currently, the hanger cost me $16, but if I end up making 5 of these, the total for them would come to just about $4.00 each or $20 total with the cost of the extra wire.  Not too bad considering you can pay over $20 just for one!

What do you think?  Are you planning on ordering/DIYing a bridal hanger?  What is your unnecessary wedding detail?

Edit: 10/11/2012
Here is an example of how I bent the wire to form the C and the A.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bridal Shower Gifting

It seems like either you are getting married or you know someone that is getting married.  A lot of times, it is actually both.  I have a bridal shower today to go to for a friend Jessica.  She is super crafty and so I wanted to give her something special in addition to the items that I bought off the registry.  I debated doing it for awhile, just because some people don't want gifts that aren't on their registry, but I decided to forge ahead with my idea.

It's a picture frame with their wedding date and names (and my reflection).  I didn't want it to be too big, as I imagine Jessica saying in my mind/with my voice, "where the hell am I going to put this?" Hopefully this 5x7 frame is small enough that she can find a place for it somewhere!

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought the letter stickers for their names and the paper. I found the frame at Wal-mart.  I went home and went to the website Spell with Flickr where you can type anything you want and it will bring up images from Flickr for you to use.

Once you type in your letters, you can click on each one individually and it will replace it with a different image of it, so you can choose the style and color of the numbers and letters that you like.

In this case, I copied and pasted the numbers into a word document, made the images gray-scaled, and printed them off on photo paper (you can also use this website to embed the images onto a blog or webpage).

I assembled everything together with Elmer's glue - which I would not suggest because it didn't turn out as smooth as I would have liked (I couldn't find my glue dot runner and that makes me very sad).

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  You can't really tell, but the blue paper has a white and blue marble effect. I chose that color because it (hopefully...) matches one of Jessica's wedding colors.  The white paper is linen paper, so it helps to class it up a bit.

My only two regrets are:
     1.  Not having my glue dot runner
     2.  Not having a paper cutter to cut straight was very painful to go without one.

Total cost:
Don't look Jessica!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Banding Together

Adam and I purchased our wedding bands this past weekend!  Mine was ready to go on Saturday because I have normal lady-sized fingers.  However, we had to leave Adam's to get resized and I got to pick it up today from the jeweler.  They are now safely home in their resting place for the next year.

I find it funny that we bought our wedding bands to have them sit around for a year, but there was a sale!  I originally wanted to wait until this summer, just because it was something we could get out of the way early on, but G. Thomas Jewelers had everything for 30% off from May 1-12.  Adam got my engagement ring from there and he really liked the service and the local feel to it.  So, we decided to go wedding band shopping, without any real intention (I think...) of actually buying anything.

I had an idea of what I was looking for, but I knew that I wanted to see it with my engagement ring before I really decided. I had my selections narrowed down to:
a plain white gold band / Kay Jewelers
a white gold band with a row of diamonds / Kay Jewelers
and I just absolutely love this one / Kay Jewelers

We decided that the plain band just didn't look good with my ring.  We tried on several bands with rows of diamonds and found one that we both liked.  Because I am completely unwilling to commit to something without checking the prices at several other places first, we decided to go around the mall and compare prices and styles.

After running around the mall for an hour, we realized that I was just comparing all the rings to the one I liked at G. Thomas.  The one at G. Thomas was more expensive, even with the sale, but we decided that their service was worth the extra money and that the diamonds are better quality too.

Without further ado, I present to you my wedding band.  You might notice my fancy leather ring box is a step up from the matchbook box! I also hope that you don't notice my wrinkly old lady fingers!

What really surprised me (that I liked) about this ring is that the diamonds on the band are a smaller size than the ones on the engagement ring.  We found a band at the mall that was practically identical in stone size, but I felt like it took away from the engagement ring.  This band is a little more dainty, not really enough to notice, but it does leave the focus on the "big rock".

Okay, so enough about me...Adam did get a ring too.  See his matching box up above? It just makes me smile!

Adam picked out a palladium band.  I had never heard of palladium before, but it has more weight to it than white gold, but mimics the appearance of it.  Adam and I both decided that we liked the lighter color rings instead of the dark tungstens that are rather popular now.  I think that white gold just looks very clean and classic.

(I think blogging is going to force me to buy a new camera.)

The cool thing about this metal also is that we could choose to have the satin brushed finish or the high-polish finish.  Adam chose the satin finish on the edges and then the high-polish for the ring around the middle.

And the best part of it, besides the fact that we saved 30%?  The jeweler telling Adam he had lady fingers.  The sample sizes that he tried on were size 10 and they were just huge on him.  They got him measured and he was a 7.  The jeweler got such a kick out of his ring size that she actually grabbed a woman's ring and stuck it on his finger.  He ended up getting it cut down to a 7.25 just to allow for fluctuation and it is still a little too big!  When I went to pick his ring up today, she said, "tell Adam he has lady fingers for me."  Gotta love a smart-ass jeweler while we're spending our savings!

So now, I just want to wear our wedding bands around.  That might be the hardest part of buying them so early, just thinking about them sitting all lonely waiting around for our wedding. Hah!

So what do you think?  How did you decide on your wedding bands? 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Mash-up Post

As I was browsing Wedding Bee this morning, I came across an awesome idea that I am here to share.

Table mock-ups!  Now, this seems kind of like a no-brainer to me, but what really got me is how to take this idea and make it even more functional.  The "poster"/"postee"??? suggested taking a picture of the desired set-up and then putting all of those items in a box with the picture on the outside.  This way, when the items get taken to the church/reception hall, they are already together and someone can simply set it up.

What a great idea huh?  Considering that I am doing a lot of DIY and we have no designated wedding coordinator, I have been thinking about how everything is going to get set up in a timely manner.  I really didn't want to put all of that pressure on my mom, so if I have everything already organized, I can put our many friends and family members to work. With the pictures, they can resurrect my ideas without having to specifically ask for what I want (and I'm a terribly picky, but nice, perfectionist).  I just know how stressed I get with Prom when I have a lot of hands that want to help, but it takes time to explain to each group what needs to be done (leaving lots of other groups standing around not doing anything).  Problem solved.

In other news, I bought my supplies today to make bridal party dress hangers.
Source (I love the flower on this one)

This is something that I don't feel is necessary whatsoever but I think they're cute.  I spent $5 on 5 wooden hangers and $2.50 on wire after a 40% off coupon.  So if it turns out to be disastrous, then there's no harm.  And seriously, $7.50 for 5 hangers (instead of $20ish) is an awesome deal.

I went ahead and found a font that I liked (called Little Days from Dafont) to create a template for the wire.  I probably won't "trace" the template necessarily, but rather use it to help guide the shaping of the letters.  I love the all-lowercase letter look.

I haven't picked bridesmaids I'm starting with my own.  Wish me luck!