The dark side of DIY

It’s almost a given for every couple getting married that they will do some DIY. The type, style and amount of DIY projects is up to the individuals involved, but gettin’ crafty and saving a few bucks is the norm these days.

However, it’s not always a sunny day in Martha Stewart’s craft room. Glue guns can burn you. Paper really can cut you. You may run out of a supply before you are finished, or realize halfway through a project that you are doing it wrong and need to start over. Or, such as in my case this week, technology can fail you.

Two weeks ago we received a package in the mail. Our invitation paper supplies had arrived!

Tree-free, recycled, handmade cardstock from sweetinvitations.com

I’ve been very excited for this- we just passed the 100-day mark, and putting the invites together and getting them in the mail really sends a clear message of “this s#!t is gettin’ real.”

We chose to assemble them ourselves at home because a) it would save us money, b) I wanted design control, and c) I thought it would be easy to do. I. Was. Wrong.

I spent hours getting the layout just perfect. We deliberated over the wording for a few days. We spent three evenings cutting the gatefolds, in preparation for the big assembly, and even had a friend who has fantastic hand writing come over to address all our envelopes.

we cut the gatefolds from handmade Hemp paper from Thailand

Then, when we tried to print a sample on the vellum paper, the printer didn’t like it. It pulled it through, but wouldn’t print on it. Angrily beeping, crunching noises coming from within, the warning on the screen read: Paper loaded incorrectly.

A quick google search and I discovered that vellum is notorious for being difficult with home printers. I called the lady who I purchased our supplies from, and she suggested we try it on a friend’s laser printer, that maybe it was the ink-jet printer that was the problem. One woman online said she had to tape it to regular paper and then it worked. We tried that, and it worked once, and then continued to chew up the others. As well, that one good print we got turned blurry after 10 minutes of drying. And really, I didn’t want to have to tape 70 invites- too finicky. Overall, it was a complete bust.

Was I upset? Did I cry and throw a tantrum? Surprisingly, no. I knew that I could eventually troubleshoot this problem and figure it out, and I wasn’t stressed about the time because we were doing this early.

Therein lies one of my best pieces of advice for all DIY brides: get things done early. If you want something done by a certain date, start it a month, or months, before. Pay no mind to your bridesmaids or co-workers who tease you for working on your wedding crafts/decorations/favours 6, 8, 12 months ahead of time. Who wants to leave it all to the last minute? You want to be able to enjoy your engagement, so spread out the work load (and yes, that means delegating tasks to your hubby-to-be-too!).

Fortunately, this warning tale of the Dark Side of DIY has a happy ending. Turns out, the business owner was right, and my friend’s laser printer worked perfectly. My fiancée and I went home and right away spent the 45 minutes it took to glue the vellum to the card stock.

Then we tested the Celtic knot rubber stamp on the invite.

putting our personal “stamp” on our invites

Here’s how it will look inside the gatefold, and then sealed with our monogram sticker.

our finished invites!

My other fabulous pieces of advice in regards to DIY-ing your invites are to have extra; address the envelopes while they are empty; and don’t stamp them until they are addressed. We did one and two, but eagerly stamped before they were all addressed, and one goof and you waste a stamped envelope.

Despite the bit of stress at not being able to print them on our own printer, I am glad we chose to DIY our invites. With the right supplies, time, and some imagination, you can create truly unique invites that reflect your wedding style and even, in our case, your environmental values. Best of all, these were affordable! 70 invitations cost us $137: that includes the cardstock and vellum paper we bought from sweetinvitations, the gatefold paper we got at a local paper store Ya-ya Paper, and the monogram stickers from Vistaprint. Add postage and our grand total is $168. That’s $2.40 per invite.

It’s been such a crafty week here at our place. I’ll leave you with a little teaser of the other DIY wedding decor we’ve been working on… heart strings!

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Co-ordinated mismatched saves the day

Choosing our wedding colours was not a simple decision that we made early on and never changed our minds. Before I got engaged I didn’t even know you had to choose wedding colours! And I had never heard about weddings having themes. Maybe I’ve only been to traditional weddings. Or I didn’t notice.

We have changed our colours quite a few times. Our first choice, Mango Orange and Aqua Blue, was the result of us trying to play up the “beach” theme. Our venue is a big ferry boat docked on the ocean, but we are not on a beach. A girl can dream, no?

After I was informed by one of my bridesmaids that she refuses to wear blue, we switched to Persimmon and Plum. That’s wedding-speak for orange and purple. It was less “beachy” and more “tropical” and I thought I could live with that. I was having a hard time letting go of the aqua blue however, because we had already started down the path of the seashell theme in some of our decor DIY, and it seemed an obvious match.

Now, I’m happy to say that we have made our final decision on our colours AND our theme, thanks to weddingnouveau.com

‘Enchanted Summer Evening’ in Blue, Green, Purple and Pink.

We chose to get married on August 1st since it’s the midsummer full moon; an auspicious and magical night to celebrate our love. These colours fit perfectly with our desire to have an earthy, whimsical aesthetic with our decor, since we are creating a Celtic-inspired ceremony with our Reverend. Also, the seashell decor won’t be entirely out of place since we are, as I mentioned, right on the ocean.

One of the most stressful parts of planning this wedding has been deciding the wedding party attire! When you are too definitive (THIS exact dress, in THIS exact colour) you come off as controlling, bossy, and (gasp!) a bridezilla. When you’re too sensitive to everyone’s feelings and try to please everybody, you usually end up not pleasing yourself.

At last we have discovered our saving grace. Co-ordinated mismatched! I think it’s a new trend, and for good reason.

We’ve decided to take ONE of our colours, purple, and have them in varying shades. Once my girls decide on their dresses, then my fiancée will match the shades for the ties on her butch-maids. So she gets her colour-coordination (with variety) and my bridesmaids get more freedom in choosing the dresses. Happy Happy. This is one wedding trend that I hope is here to stay.

Here’s some of our inspiration pics.

If you want to see more examples of coordinated mismatched wedding parties, and even some completely mismatched, I started a dedicated Pinterest board on the subject. Check it out.

More wedding DIY: Making flower crowns

I was very excited to start my second wedding DIY project- making flower crowns for my flower girls! Or in my case, flower faeries since they’ll be wearing cute little wings!

I knew early on that I wanted them to wear flower crowns (a tradition that dates back to ancient Grecian times, as it turns out!) and I also knew that I wanted to make them. They are fairly easy to make, and are not very time consuming. I’m very pleased with how they turned out, and happy to share how I made them. So without further adieu, here is my

Flower Crown Tutorial to make your Flower Girls Even Cuter

I purchased my supplies from Michael’s craft store. I was lucky in that they were having a 20% off sale that day, so my total for the two crowns was $25. I bought an ivy garland for the base, four peony flower picks, green waterproof floral tape, craft butterflies, and two spools of ribbon (not shown).

Using the wire cutter on a pair of pliers, I cut off the blooms from two of the peony picks. (I’m so glad I didn’t cut all four up- and I’ll tell you why a bit later on.)

I found that I also needed the pliers to bend some of the stems, so they could align better with the garland and be easier to tape on.

Here is the ivy garland, unraveled. I used this for the base of the crowns. I cut it in half, since it was 6 feet long. I folded it back on itself to make a ‘U’ shape. Having an open back is easier to wear, since it adjusts to head size and hairstyles. I fastened it in place with a few pieces of the floral tape, you don’t need much because you’ll be using lots of tape to fasten the flowers to it.

Here I’ve laid out all the supplies, ready to start attaching the blooms to the garland. I played with the flowers a bit, arranging them and re-arranging them to see where I wanted to place them. I started at one end and worked my way around, using the tape to fasten the blooms to the garland.

Before I knew it, I was done! I was so excited I showed my fiancée, who at first appeared to be as enthused as I was. Soon after however, she expressed some concern that the flowers were too… big. Defensive, I disagreed, I thought it looked fine. After examining it for another minute however, and looking at myself in the mirror, I had to agree. I mean, if it looked big on me, how was it going to look on a six year old?

This is why I was happy that I hadn’t cut up the other two floral picks! I went back to Michael’s the very next day and returned those two for smaller white roses and pink rose buds. And they were even cheaper than the peony bunches so I got money back!

Here are my new supplies, ready to try again. I was much happier with the flowers and their colours!

Here’s a close up of the tape used to attach the flowers to the garland. Use as much as you need. Best thing is, you can easily unwrap it, re-arrange the blooms as needed, and re-use the tape. And don’t worry how it looks because…

…once you cover it with the ribbon wrapping it looks great! I love the shimmery green ribbon I found- on sale in the dollar bin!

Et voila! Flower crown version 2.0 a success! I love how they look and I must say I am very proud of my handiwork.

See the butterfly? So cute! I know that our flower fairies will look adorable, and hopefully these flower crowns are something they keep and love for years to come.

Let me know if this inspires you to make your own flower crowns!

Getting to the heart of the matter


This week my fiancée and I finally had the pleasure of meeting our marriage officiant in person. Not that we had any doubts, but it’s nice to affirm that you’ve made the right choice. Sometimes, you can just feel when fate is on your side, and this was one of those times.

Back in November, I hadn’t given much thought to who would officiate our wedding. I’d done some minor preliminary research online, but I didn’t feel like I needed to rush; our wedding date seemed so far off, and after all, it’s on a Wednesday evening. I did get a little worried about the cost- we hadn’t budgeted very much to pay for the officiant plus the marriage license, and it seemed that the ‘going rate’ was double or more what we had planned.

Then one day I got a Facebook message from an older cousin of mine, who lives about an hour away. She told that she had been the highest bidder in a silent auction for the United Way, and she thought the prize was a wooden Irish goblet (our family is of Irish decent, so the item appealed to her). What she didn’t realize until she got it home, was that it included a 50% off certificate for a personalized, Celtic-inspired ceremony– either for a memorial service or a wedding!!!

I mean, really. What are the chances? We want a Celtic-inspired wedding, but I don’t know where to turn to find the right officiant, and this just falls into our lap? Serendipity fo’ sho’.

I sent the Reverend an email, and received a lovely response. Then we spoke on the phone and I got the same good feeling from her. When I finally got around to addressing the, uh, lesbian issue, she replied that it was no problem at all, that she believes love is love in all its forms, and in fact her first husband was gay. I knew then and there that she was the perfect officiant for us.

A few weeks ago she sent us our first draft of the ceremony. I teared up reading it over because the reality of my imminent marriage really sunk in. Marrying the love of your life and making a lifelong commitment is a big, emotional deal! However, there were of course changes we wanted to make, and that is what we discussed at our face to face meeting.

In person she is just as lovely as I would have expected; kind and sweet. I could tell she was genuinely happy for us and not at all uncomfortable with our lifestyle. She responded positively to all our proposed changes to the script, and it was a relief to know that she is completely dedicated to crafting the ceremony to be exactly the way we want it, not tied to traditions or ‘this is the way it’s supposed to be done’.


Currently, our sequence of events is:
Procession, with silent honouring of the four directions/elements, and casting the circle
Welcoming remarks
Spiritual reading by a friend
Remembrance (acknowledging deceased family and friends)
Marriage address
Statement of Intent and Consent
Vows and Ring Exchange
Blessing of hands/Handfasting
Group declaration of support
Marriage Pronouncement
Signing of the Register
Newlywed toast with the Irish Wedding goblet
Closing words and final blessing

Planning the wedding ceremony has now become my favourite part of this whole process. Because really, this is the heart of it all. Decorations, flowers, what appetizers you have… none of that is as sacred as the ritual you create together to express your love and devotion to one another, to share and be witnessed by your beloved guests.

How did you find your officiant? Did you have a choice, or was it someone that you already knew, either through family and friends or your church/spiritual group? Did you have a set, traditional ceremony, or did you create it yourselves?

“Ring”-ing in the new year

Hello! I hope everyone has been celebrating the holidays as much as I have. Despite all the travel and indigestion, I have thoroughly enjoyed the season with family and friends. I took a 10-day break from planning the wedding, and instead got outside for cross-country skiing, ice skating, forest and beach walks, and imbibing far too much food and drink.

However, my fiancee and I did not waste any time when we arrived home, since she had to return to work and school sooner than I do, and planned a day together shopping for attire and jewelry and setting up our gift registry. My next few blogs will show the results of that very productive day!

Since we both are of Celtic ancestry (she Scottish/British, myself Irish/British) and are planning a Celtic wedding ceremony, we wanted to check out a store in North Vancouver called Celtic Creations.

It’s located in the Lonsdale Quay (pronounced ‘key’) market, quite close to our wedding venue. We haven’t had much luck at the few other jewelry stores we’ve gone into- we just don’t like most of the styles out there, and many rings are simply out of our modest price range. Online shopping wasn’t much better, and I was nervous to make such an important purchase like that without ever trying it on. I am supposed to wear this thing every day, afterall!

To my delight, I was attracted to most of the rings I saw in the display case at Celtic Creations; they were so unique and beautiful! Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, many of them were again too expensive for us. (Two broke university students living on loans and part-time jobs decide to tie the knot- not necessarily the best idea. LOL!)

When my partner and I first talked about it, we briefly discussed the option of having matching rings. However, it soon became apparent that we wanted different things. We have a lot in common, but not when it comes to our personal styles.

My fiancee was trying on the more “gentlemanly” wedding bands and when she tried this one on, I felt a rush. It was a mix of excitement and overflowing love- like my heart was telling me “You are marrying this woman, and this is the ring that she will wear!” Luckily, she felt it too.

I kept on looking at the more feminine, engagement-style rings, but the bling was too much, and unless I subbed Cubic Zirconia for the diamond, we couldn’t afford many of them. My eyes kept gravitating to the one she had on, so I asked to try it too. It looked so beautiful on me, and I realized that it would be really special if we wore matching rings. I thought we wouldn’t find a style we both liked, but I was wrong!

This is the ring we’ve chosen (although this one is not in my size). We couldn’t be happier- it’s beautiful, Celtic, and best of all, the total price will come UNDER our ring budget! Hooray! We won’t buy them until the spring or early summer, and of course we aren’t going to wear them until wedding day. Patience, patience. Arrgh!

It feels great to have made this decision already, and to have found the perfect rings. What’s your ring story?