September 12, 2010

47 days!

It's getting so close!  After spending months twiddling my thumbs and wondering what wedding planning I could be doing, I have so many things to do that I'm not sure what to do first!  Luckily I have deadlines for meetings and payments, so that helps keep me organized.  

A few days ago my mom and I met with the florist to finalize the details of my order and also the "day of" schedule--when and where to drop everything off.  Linda brought a sample bouquet and two boutonnieres with her so I could have a look and add/drop any flowers.

I had originally told Linda that I wanted a lot of orange, with fuschia and purple and some lime green mini hydrangeas.  The bouquet that Linda brought was very much a fall bouquet--lots of orange, but also red and green.  I liked it, but I was going for more of a wildflower look.  Luckily my mom made some suggestions that I think will help achieve that look.

Another thing we did was hold the bouquet up to the plum colored napkins that we bought to put under each centerpiece.  Since the flowers will be the same, it was nice to see the contrast between the flowers and napkin.  The dark napkin really makes the flowers pop.  

All in all, for my bouquet plus three BM bouquets, nine bouts, four coursages, 10 small arrangements for the pews in the chapel, and 10 centerpieces, I am playing about $1000.  I think that's a pretty good deal.  My mom kindly decided to pay for two large arrangements for our stark white chapel, and that set her back $150.  I thought that was kind of a lot, but she said that was what she was expecting to pay.

I am nervous about the florist, though.  I recommended her to a friend who got married a few months ago, and the bouquets and boutonnieres looked a little under the weather.  It was a hot, July day following a massive rain and that isn't really an excuse for slightly browning and sad looking flowers, but I think the florist may think it is.  So I am concerned that I will not get the most stunningly perfect flowers that I can imagine, but I guess I care more that I'm not paying an arm and a leg for them.  I just need to keep that in perspective.

August 25, 2010

DIY cake topper

So, remember the cake topper that I was in love with?  Well, I decided that I should at least try to make one myself before ordering one online.  The materials are so cheap (or you can buy a kit here from Goose Grease), and it's not a very time consuming project.  And I found a great tutorial here which helped seal the deal.

So I headed to Michael's to buy my little wooden people, some paints, and paintbrushes.  All in all I think it cost me about $10!  The wood figures come in packs of two, so I bought a pack of boy figures and girl figures.  Then I had extra in case I messed up!  I bought a couple paints--brown for our hair, cream, beige--and I got lucky because my mom already had black, and I already had a little pot of silver paint. Oh, and I got some clear varnish to seal it all up.

Here is the how-to:
Step 1 - draw the outline of the hair and clothing on with pencil.  I thought about adding faces, but I think that would have been too challenging for me.

Step 2 - paint!  I started with the black tux because the was the paint I had at the time, and it was basically the whole boy figure.  Remember to leave bare spaces for hands!

Step 3 - varnish.

Step 4 - make base for the little guys to stand on.  (This is the step that I am at now.)

Step 5 - glue the dudes on the base.

Step 6 - admire. (I have skipped ahead to this step a few times already!)

July 28, 2010

DIY invitations, part 2


  • I printed the invitations on our HP ColorJet printer.  I only needed to buy a new color ink cartridge before printing and it lasted for all 300 cards!  
  • The printing took me a few hours on a Saturday.  
  • I found that the printing looked much better if you printed in small batches (10 cards or so) at a time.  Once I set the printer to print 15 at a time and the color began to fade on the last one.
  • With the 4 bar cards, I had to feed each one through individually because the printer would shoot two through at a time.
  • Practice stamping!  Because the white enclosure card (the card mounted onto the slightly larger blue card) was slightly textured, the stamp rarely turned out "perfect."  Now I think they look just fine, but I was a little disappointed at first.
  • Ink your stamp every time!
  • You can stamp and powder several (we maybe had 15 sitting around at one point) before heating them.
  • Wash and dry the stamps frequently so that you get nice sharp lines and don't have much bleeding of ink.

July 21, 2010

DIY cocktail napkins

I was inspired by a friend of a friend's custom cocktail napkins which were printed with trivia style facts about the couple.  Fun!  And then I bought one of the DIY Bride's books where she made simple version of the custom cocktail napkin using rubber stamps.  (PS-This is a great book for those brides looking for easy and interesting projects.  The instructions are great and she even gives a cost approximation for each.)

Hello, I already ordered rubber stamps for my invitations.

So, while I had my fabulous friends over to work on my invitations, I put them to work stamping 600 (!) napkins as well.  Now, I only had four friends come over but let me tell you, every single invitation was made and every napkin was stamped.  I was blown away by their motivation and hard work.  

We used the silver pigment ink with the monogram stamp on navy blue napkins.  I ordered the napkins from My Paper Shop for $18.  What a steal!  My friends were digging this project so much that one friend may use the idea for her January wedding.  With friends like these, she'll be able to make 1200 napkins in just a few hours!

I hope 600 napkins is enough for about 200 people.  I figure once it gets later in the night no one will notice if they have a white cocktail napkin or none at all.  It's the first impression that counts!

July 17, 2010

DIY invitations

After attending the Paper Source wedding invitation workshop, I have been thoroughly set on making my own invitations.  I priced it out, and it would save a few bucks doing it myself.  Plus, I love crafts and I have a bunch of wonderful friends who immediately offered to help.  What more can a girl ask for? :)

So I created an invitation layout with a friend who is an editor (thanks, Deb!).  She helped me line everything up right and get all the spacing set.  I spent hours trying to find the right font color only to decide that it will never match perfectly so I should not worry so much.  Then I bought all the supplies and the girls headed over for a surprisingly quick and painless night of stamping, embossing, and taping!
I decided to go with a layered square invitation.  I also kept the stamping idea and ordered a monogram stamp and an address stamp.  The monogram was heat embossed onto the invitation, and the address stamp was used for the return address on the main envelopes and the main address on the response card envelopes.

Here is a price breakdown for 100 invitations.  I bought all the supplies at Paper Source.  On some items I got a 10% discount for buying 10 or more packages.

$24 soft white 4 bar cards (8 x $3)
$27 night 4 bar envelopes (10 x $2.70)
$21 luxe white fine square enclosure (4 x $5.25)
$17 night 5.5" x 5.5" card (4 x $4.25)
$38.30 night 5.75" envelopes (10 x $3.83)
TOTAL $134.50

$3 silver ink pens (2)
$8 embossing powder
$24 heat tool
$6 midnight ink pad
$8 silver ink pad
$12 tape runners (2)

I ordered two 1.5" square monogram stamps from for $10 each.  And I ordered two return address stamps from tickled pink paper ink for $18 each.  Since once person pretty much did all the envelope stamping (thanks, Meghan!), I probably didn't need to order two of these.  

I did need to get two more tape runners and also a new heat embosser while we were working on the invitations.  The heat embosser just crapped out after about 20 min and we are not sure why.  But I have the warranty and the receipt, so I can return it for a refund.  I got the second heat tool at Joann's, and the clerk used a 50% off coupon for me, plus I was able to use a friend's (thanks, Claire!) teacher discount for another 15% off!  The cost of all of this came to $24.  

GRAND TOTAL (without tax and shipping) $251.50
For 100 invitations: $2.51 each

July 10, 2010

Cake tasting!!!

Tomorrow is our cake tasting.  I have been looking forward to this for months!  Our cake is included in our package with the caterer, so all we have to do is head over to the bakery and taste some samples!  (I think)  

I really am not totally sure what we get with this package.  The bakery (Rolf's Patisserie) has a few different types on their website, but I am not sure what we are allowed to pick.  Also I do not know exactly how much I can dictate what design I want.  I do have some in mind, though…

(source: 100 Layer Cake

(source: Style Me Pretty)

(taken at a friend's wedding)

I love that rustic look of the frosting, and the glam of the sparkly rock candy and silver dragees (does anyone know how to pronounce that?).  I also saw some gorgeous cakes at Sweet and Saucy Shop, a bakery in California.  I think I linked to their website through another wedding blog, but oh my god.  They make the most gorgeous desserts!  

I made a presentation using google docs, and I think I am going to print it at FedEx Kinkos to bring with tomorrow.  Hopefully they'll see what I like and they'll be able to accommodate me, or at the very least suggest something similar.  

I'm so hungry right now…time to make breakfast and put away these sweet dreams!

June 17, 2010

Suit yourself? Too expensive.

From early on we knew we wanted the guys to wear suits in the wedding.  Since we are keeping things slightly casual, we thought tuxes would clash a little too much.  So we had decided: charcoal gray suits.  

But suits are expensive!  We felt terrible asking friends to spend $300 or more on a suit that they may not ever wear again.  And we couldn't ask the guys to just wear a suit of their own because some do not even own suits at this point.  Now, I know that this is a little ridiculous considering women spend hundreds of dollars on BM dresses and rarely wear those again. But I think most of my friends have done a good job of choosing an affordable dress, and some of them I will [hopefully] wear again.

Well, apparently there are no suit rentals in Chicago.  Now, I didn't go out of my way to search for vendors but I was told that no one rented suits.  And when I did a Google search the only results were for tux rental companies.  So we did what we had to and picked out the most basic tux you could find.

We headed over to Men's Warehouse the other night and made our reservations.  Joe wears suits everyday for work, so he knew what he was looking for.  Unfortunately the only color options were black, white, and light gray.  So we opted for black.  I think it will look really nice with the navy blue BM dresses and really, why would we choose white?  Light gray is great if it were a summer or daytime wedding, but for an October afternoon not so much.

(source:, After Six tuxedo)

The tux really looks like a suit.  The only difference is that there is a shiny stripe that runs down the sides of the pants, but I don't think it is very noticeable.  I could barely tell it was there.  

The cost of renting the tux was $125 and that included:
  • Tux (jacket and pants)
  • Shirt
  • Shoes
  • Tie and vest
We want to provide the ties for all the guys ourselves, so we wanted to opt out of that.  And the vest.  And the shoes.  Because really?  I'm sure all guys have black shoes to wear with a suit.  The girl helping us told us this would only save us (really the groomsmen) a few dollars but we stuck to our guns.  Turns out the cost went down to $87!  That's a big savings!  And Joe got his tux for free, so that's a big bonus for us.  

It feels so great to check another thing off the to-do list!

May 18, 2010

I'm torn.

When it comes to the wedding decor, I thought I had it all set right at the beginning.  I had thought for a while that it would be cool to do the floral centerpieces in a terra cotta pots painted with black chalkboard paint.  Then I could write the table numbers on the pots!  Sort of like this:
(source: Martha Stewart)

The florist was so in with this idea.  I was stoked.  And I was planning on using these lanterns from IKEA on half of the tables, so I thought these really worked together.

Then, to complete the look, I could create chalkboard canvases a la The Roddy Bride for the drink menu and the seating chart.  


But.  After getting my fantastic dress, I thought it might be best to go a more formal route.  Well, formal isn't really the right word.  I guess I mean not so casual.  So my mom bought a bunch of glass taper candle holders, only to discover that we cannot have open flames at the reception.  Damn me for not being thorough!  Soooo we're now planning to use some of those candleholders on the altar at the chapel since there is very little risk of those candles being knocked over and starting a fire.  

And then my mom got some glass hurricanes to put on half of the tables instead of the lanterns.  I do like this idea because I love candlelight and I think that the lanterns would prevent a lot of light from getting out.  Would it clash too much to do the glass hurricanes with chalkboard pots and the other chalkboard accessories?  

May 13, 2010


We booked it!  We decided to stick with Hawaii and we're so happy about it!  Though it's more expensive than a lot of places, Joe realized that he cannot sit by the pool or on the beach for a whole week, and Hawaii will have tons of things to do.  We're really excited to rent bikes, go hiking, kayaking, and [maybe, for me] take a surf lesson! 

We decided to use a travel agent after speaking to one back in March.  Neither of us have used a travel agent before, so we weren't sure how it would work out, but we got a great deal!  Here is a rough itinerary:

Day 1 - Direct flight to Honolulu.  Check into hotel in Waikiki with oceanview room, free breakfast, and third night free (!).
Day 2 - Rent car and visit Pearl Harbor and other Oahu sites (aka some of the locations where Lost was filmed).
Day 3 - More Oahu.
Day 4 - Fly to Kauai and rent car.  Check into Sheraton Kauai Resort with oceanfront room, 5th night free, and $50 hotel credit per day.
Days 5-8 - Explore Kauai.
Day 9 - Fly back to Oahu and then back to Chicago.

We went through Hawaii-Aloha travel.  We had a basic plan for the honeymoon in mind, but we did need some help.  The agent we worked with was great!  She lives in Honolulu, so she knows a lot about where we're going and even things like where to eat.  We originally only wanted to stay in Oahu to see Pearl Harbor and then leave, but she convinced us that there is a lot to see there and that if we stayed a couple more days we still wouldn't see everything.  And she was able to get us the third night free at the hotel, so we were sold.
We knew we wanted to go to Kauai and spend most of our time there.  After talking to friends who have been there, we decided to stay on the south end of the island where it rains a little less.  Joe wanted to stay at a resort, so we found two resorts in that area.  We told the agent that we'd like to see what the Sheraton cost, and we actually went through a few options with her.  At first she put us in a gardenview room with a guaranteed upgrade to partial oceanview with every third night free and free breakfast.  We thought it over (for about 20 min) and then decided that we wanted to see how much more it would cost for the oceanfront room.  When we called back, she looked and saw that we could get the oceanfront room with the fifth night free and lose the free breakfast for about the same price!  But we do get a $50 hotel credit/day, and since parking will be $20/day we will still have $30 each day to spend on food or other things at the hotel.  And the travel agent thought this was a great idea because we might want to go out for breakfast one or two days, and we can use the hotel credit for lunch or dinner, not just breakfast. 

So we pounced on this deal.  The whole package comes to just over $3600.  We think that's a great deal!  I'm sure we could have found cheaper places to stay, but we want to splurge a little on our honeymoon.  This will be our first big vacation together and our only honeymoon, so we want to remember it!

March 2, 2010

Hurricane honeymoon?

What to do, what to do.  Since we got engaged in October, we've planned to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon.  Neither of us has ever been, and it seems to have a nice balance of fun, adventurous activities and beautiful beaches and pools for relaxing.  How could you go wrong?  Well, it's expensive.  At at least $800 per flight, we'd be spending a pretty penny.  

And so we decided to expand our horizons and look into all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean.  If there's one thing I've heard that is a honeymooner's best friend it's an all-inclusive resort.  Tulum, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Costa what?  There are too many to choose from!  Well, that decision got a little bit easier when we discovered that November is the last month of hurricane season.  

So now we have a choice.  Southern Caribbean or Mexico (somehow that is listed as a safe destination for November).  Or should we scrap our budget and head to Hawaii, Europe, or Australia?  Does anyone have suggestions?

February 23, 2010

Playlist #1

I am constantly adding songs to my wedding playlist!  There are so many great love songs and I love songs that aren't in the foreground of the music scene.  One of the things I am most excited about is that we are able to play any music that we want during our ceremony.  The chapel has both a piano and an organ, but also a CD player!  So now I get to make a fantastic playlist of love songs for everyone to hear!  Here are some of my picks at the moment:

Bright Eyes-"First Day of My Life"
Joshua Radin-"Only You"
Meiko-"Reasons to Love You"
Michael Bublé-"Everything"
Ray LaMontagne-"Hold You in My Arms"
Van Morrison-"Days Like This"

January 27, 2010

Top this!

Truth: I would love to have some cute, unique cake toppers at my wedding.  I have seen some great ones on Etsy (of course), but I recently came across this post by Never the Bride.  Some of the commenters suggested that creating the cake toppers could be a game at a bridal shower.  What do you think?  I actually think that would be pretty funny.  And fun. :)

For some inspiration, check these out:

(source: naked peggies)

(source: grace fallen)

(source: red light studio)

January 26, 2010

Can't stop thinking about invitations!

Well, the workshop at Paper Source has made me invitation crazy!  It was a great class!  We were able to assemble four different invitations and learn techniques like heat embossing (everyone's fave), stamping, how to use an exacto knife, and how to use eyelets.  It made the idea of diy invites much more enticing, especially since plain cardstock is so cheap!  I mean, four is much, much less than 100, don't get me wrong.  But as some of my lovely friends have already offered to help, I think this could really work!

So now I'm obsessed.  I don't know exactly what style I want, so I'm going to rely on one of my editor friends to help with that.  But I really want to do the heat embossing!  So now I'm scouring Etsy for rubber stamps.  Here are some of my faves:

(all three images above from Cupcake Tree's Etsy shop)

(source: lovetocreatestamps Etsy shop)

January 19, 2010

Wedding invitation workshop

This Saturday I'm attending a workshop at Paper Source.  I'm hoping to get some good tips and decide if I really want to make my own invitations.  I think I'd really like to go this route, so I'm hoping I get some good advice!

January 7, 2010

What's next?

I have the place, the dress, the dj, the florist, and the photographer.  What do I do next? 

I'm thinking about the invitations.  I'm not sure what the best (read: cheapest) option is.  I want them to be more personal than something that anyone can just buy at the store.  I was planning on having a good friend of mine design the invites and then order them from Vista Print, but I think that might be more expensive than I was hoping.  I can get paper cheaply and then do them myself, but is that too risky?  

(source: Martha Stewart)

What can go wrong?  Problems with the printer.  Ink, paper feed malfunctions, etc.  Crooked lines.  I might end up having to spend more to fix mistakes.  But they'd be all mine.  And look how beautiful those invitations from Martha Stewart are!  

What to do?