Planning a DIY Wedding
*-* This post originally appeared as a set of posts on my original LiveJournal account – before I realized that website journaling was a fine outlet as well. I thank Wil Wheaton and Jenny “the Bloggess” Lawson for that. *-*
After many interrupted starts, I am finally going forward with the wedding plans. This is going to be the low key family only no vendors/rentals/halls/etc type of deal just so we can say we DID IT! The entire wedding was decided with 6 weeks notice, no savings, a single income, and my own insane self.
Next year I’ll do the “everyone and their drunk cousin with the whole hoopla multiple locations 8 hour party” thing. This year, it’s a simple ceremony at the Renaissance Festival. The kind of thing you can’t easily do for extended family (grandparents plus dirt and no where to sit = grumpy!).
I’m doing a no budget wedding – this means getting married in public, and the reception will be at my house. Since it’s just close family and a few friends, I decided a potluck would be ok, and allow me to splurge on some nice main course dishes for everyone.
So forgive the next few weeks of posting, as it will be entirely mushy and wedding related.
So when the subject of food came up, I certainly couldn’t do anything catered. Instead, since I know I’ve got great friends and patronizing family, haha, I decided to do a potluck wedding. Some people are making the face again, I know, but honestly if you’re not doing it for a fancy 200 plate affair, I don’t see anything wrong. All my friends have potlucks whenever we have get-togethers, so it’s nothing new to them. Family pretty much does the same, with everyone bringing the dish they do best.
It was at one point even TRADITIONAL this way! Communities came together and all helped to shape a celebration. Now though, it’s become its own commercial beast, with industries profiting on every aspect, which can be just FINE if you are ok with that and can afford it. I, however, don’t have the desire or luxury of doing so.
So I sent the invites (discussed below) and very discreetly mentioned the potluck aspect. No one had any problems at the request, and I’ve tried to be loose with direction on what to bring (one person gets “drinks” one gets “snacks” etc).
Crescent roll cups with Chicken
This is so yummy, and a family recipe from the Groom’s side. It’s chicken, cream cheese, onions, spices, put into crescent roll pouches/cups with buttered bread crumbs on top and baked till the cream cheese melts.
Stuffed cabbage rolls
Great dish for large quantities, hard to do a small batch! This comes from the my family. We prefer a tomato sauce rather than gravy, and otherwise it’s your fairly standard mix of cabbage leaves, meat, rice, onions and spices.
Whatever the guests bring!
Brownies (groom’s “cake”) and Lemon cake with a lemon buttercream icing.
Yes, I plan on making it myself. The trick is: the cabbage rolls cook up and freeze ahead of time REALLY well. I know this because it’s been a staple recipe in my family, and when my dad makes several trays they get frozen so I can pick some up later. This is a great money saving tip, if you can pre-make any of the food items (even for a shower, if you’d rather leave the wedding day to the caterers) and just reheat or finish the day before/day of. Make sure that you test it ahead of time though.
Testing is a good rule of thumb for new recipes. We originally thought of doing a white chili, which my dad makes very well, but my first attempt not so much. Then I hit upon the chicken pouches instead. Those don’t freeze finished, but I can do the filling ahead of time and do the last assembling and baking the crescents the day of.
I am quite fair skinned, though I do tan, it’s not without some decent burning first. I love silver, never cared for gold jewelry, and I’m sure that part of it is that silver is just more flattering with my skin tone. The other part would be my allergies. Most alloys in gold irritate my skin, and even with silver I have to make sure there is no nickel.
With that in mind, I knew a ring would have to be at least silver (and luckily fiancee’ is fond of silver too), but likely platinum or titanium to stand up to daily wear. After researching, I found that titanium has less additive metals and is the least likely to react (hence its use in medical applications) so I focused on that.
Both Chris and I prefer simpler designs. Clean lines, small profile, nothing fancy. So we started looking at matching wedding bands. Well, what we both liked didn’t come in one or the other’s size, so we ended up with similar but not quite “matched” bands.
HOWEVER! When budget allows (anniversary?) we are both totally smitten with these:
Kanji Ring – Pick your Words
Beautiful designs, custom and unique possibilities, and the color option lets it stand out, but not too much.
(Authors note: Several years’ on, and I don’t know that I’m so keen on the rings linked. Nothing against them but 1. What was I thinking? Swap out the rings we were married with?? Pshaw. 2. We went simple for a reason, and those rings are pretty outspoken and definitely not timeless.)
With the short timeline I’d given myself (and good grief but I’m nearly just a week away as of this writing!), invites had to be quick and simple. Since I’d used VistaPrint.com before with good results I decided to turn to them again.
I designed an invite in a 4×8 format so it had the feel of a ticket, since the ceremony would be at the Faire. Then I updated and reprinted the announcement postcards to send to family who might hear about the whole thing after the fact and wonder what the deal was. I have a guest list of 300 for my “formal” wedding, and I wanted them all to know that I really wanted and looked forward to celebrating with them, but really felt the need to get married in this fashion this year.
These were done with a front and back, and the front was glossy. These are under their postcard options. All in all I spent about $50 for 300 some notices, with envelopes. A $3 custom return address stamp kept me from losing my hand from writing. I do recommend them if you’re: not pressed for time, and not overly picky. I didn’t need the 3 layer vellum and ribbon enhanced typical wedding invites. Just something to get the word out, and be worthy of scrapping later.
Front and back of the announcement:
Front and back of the invite:
I hope next year to do something nice and unique* and have it coordinate with whatever I decide for the location.
*Unique being “a design that fits my personality” rather than “never been done before”, cause odds are whatever I decide on will have been influenced by all the great DIY brides out there!
Besides the cost of real flowers being prohibitive (and the tendency for me to be picky, and the season putting most varieties out of reach…), I also always liked the fact that my mom (when she remarried) was able to keep her wedding bouquet and have it look just like when she walked down the aisle. (I know there are ways to dry/preserve fresh flowers too, but it’s only really pretty to the bride for sentimental value. I’m not a big “dried flower” person, and I’d like to have my bouquet on display somewhere…)
So, all that in mind, I went the same route and decided on silk flowers. Now, some of you might have seen the horrible pre-made displays in your local mega-mart and are scrunching your faces right now. Trust me though, when I say that you CAN get lovely looking (and for the right price, even “hard to distinguish from the real thing”) silk flowers. I didn’t mind if they didn’t look perfectly authentic, but I didn’t want them to look plastic-y either. I also wasn’t keen on paying someone to do it (refer back to my being picky!) for both budgetary reasons (again) and the fact that I wasn’t sure what I wanted.
Luckily, my finances were saved because the local Michael’s had all of their Fall Floral 50% off!! Woo! I went through and picked out flowers that I liked the look of and had the nice deep jewel tones of autumn. It was a lot of picking up, sticking into a bundle and seeing how they meshed, and switching things out. Once I had something that looked decent even just thrust together like picked wildflowers I knew it was right. I let my MOH choose her flowers, but she was more than happy to leave assembly to me. I picked out all of the rest.
Now, I’ll be honest here, I consider myself very crafty (I’ve got a craft room with half of JoAnn’s and Archiver’s in it to support that claim) and pretty patient when it comes to my crafts. So, yes, there was a learning curve, and I made sure to start on this WELL before the wedding date, because I did spend HOURS and assembled and pulled apart several times (and walked away for a bit a few times) before coming to the final look. So this might not be the way for everyone, but I was VERY pleased with the result.
I’ll post pictures later!
Hair and Makeup
Things to know: 1. I don’t do makeup. 2. “Hair” = clip or ponytail
I don’t know the purpose of most makeup components, don’t own much, and feel like Mimi (from the Drew Carey Show) when I put it on. Ok, ok, maybe not THAT bad. But you get the idea.
So what’s a non-makeup-experienced-gal to do? Learn that the MAC store does FREE makeup sessions. Go to said store. Actually LIKE makeup for the first time, and learn how to put the stuff on. Walk out with more than expected.
I’ve been following Miss Chievous for some time, and love her looks. She’s a huge fan of MAC and I can see why. I have sensitive skin (I still remember trying makeup for the first time, and having such an allergic reaction my eyes swelled up… haven’t touched THAT brand again and now do a skin test before buying!) and their makeup remover wipes are AMAZING. No alcohol dried skin feeling, SOFT cloth, and does the job wonderfully.
So I’ve got “Young Punk” for the eyes, and a Viva Glam for the lips, and a subtle coverup. The coverup was HILARIOUS… I’ve said I’m fair skinned. Like – goths envy me. We went through EVERY coverup color and style in the store before finding one (a liquid) that worked.
My hair: Well firstly I decided that I should go with my favorite look: Purple. Yes, the color. Yes, my hair will be purple for the wedding. Honestly, if they ever get nano tech to the point where I can permanently change it, this would be the color for me. Dark, deep, royal purple. I get tons of compliments on it when it’s this shade too, it just seems to look right on me.
I’m still tossing around whether I want it up in a clip (I found a really cute one that looks kind of like carved wood) or not…. Then I realized that down would be the one concession to be “Different and Wedding-like” and at the last minute went to the salon (the day before – who does that? I know, right!) :
I have been going to the same fabulous stylist for a while now though, and trust her implicitly. I loved the look she gave me! No, you don’t get to see the purple early, nice try.
Ok, anyone who knows me in person, knows I am not normal, traditional, or mainstream in most any way. So of course, when I start looking for my wedding dress, I’m nowhere near a “beautiful white gown” store.
We chose to do our Renaissance theme, and use the local Ren Fest as our ceremony locale. I had always pictured myself in a renaissance dress, and even located a gorgeous victorian style gown. However, I had trouble communicating with the out of state seamstress (though to be honest, I hate talking on the phone as I worry I’m missing bits of conversation and agreeing to something by mistake, so I could have hunted her down more), and decided to take that as a sign to look elsewhere.
Since the Ren Fest was already in full swing, I figured that was no better way to spend a day shopping. Now, normally I prefer the over the shoulder vest type of dresses, but a friend had talked about how comfortable and flattering a properly fitted corset can be, and with that in the back of my head I walked into one of the corset vendors. Not only did they have one that fit, (I’m a plus size gal), but one with a beautiful pattern perfect for a formal occasion. On top of that, I got THE feeling when they fitted it on. That “I look better than in any outfit ever before, never want to take this off, wow I am beautiful!” feeling.
Well, if that doesn’t scream “buy me!” nothing will. So I asked the price, and for the first time (I’m a known penny pincher, especially on stuff for myself), gave a resounding “I’ll take it” with no hesitation.
What I have: a stunning black (yes, black) corset, with silver embroidery in a diamond pattern and fleur de lis. I paired that with a very full black skirt from another shop, and am waiting on a standard wenches white shirt.
On top of being non traditional, I’m also mostly a tomboy. I can say I own 1 skirt, and it’s my wedding skirt, one pair of shoes, and makeup expires before it ever runs out. That said, I do like shoes, just usually very punk/goth types, and it’s hard to find my size (11/12 wide) so I rarely bother shopping. I did however get sent a link from a friend for a very cool online site that carries just my thing and I found these:
I think those will do nicely.
All the Small Things
Now that I’ve covered some of the major stuff (hair, flowers, dress, makeup, food), I want to focus on the details.
Michigan is not forgiving in its weather patterns in October. My mother can attest to this, now sharing my wedding date (which I TOTALLY forgot when I picked it out, and just made her laugh) she can recall just how every day before and after was bright and sunny, but not the day of. Oh no. Michigan is not having THAT.
Luckily, what she sacrificed for her day, meant a little nudge of luck on mine, and all of the downpours avoided my part of the state. A drizzle in the morning, and between ceremony and photos, but hey, I’ll take it!
ANYWAY! All of this means that I wanted to prepare and have some coverage for the back patio. After scouring craigslist (some good deals if I’d had even a little more budget) and amazon, I thought to email my coworkers just in case. What do you know! One of them had a green and white used once party tent that was taking up room in his garage. After a quick hosedown it was good to go. Better: he said I could KEEP it. Only gathering dust at his place anyway.
I then bargain shopped for some rental tables and chairs, and found a fantastic place: $40 for 2 8ft tables and 15 chairs including dropoff and pickup. Sold!
I watched for sales and bought biodegradable plates and cutlery (I was NOT doing dishes even if I owned enough, and hated the thought of so much plastic being tossed out). The plus side: the “corn” cups and a permanent marker means everyone knows which glass is theirs, and I get to giggle when I clean up later going “Who wrote Trogdor as their name?”
Next was the back deck. We were lucky to have a great huge wood deck off the kitchen, which adds to the entertaining space. As a “housewarming” gift Chris’s grandma had given us a string of lights that are a bronze color and have four petals/leaves. I had Chris finally string them up, and that would be all we’d get to for decoration. It really dressed up the deck though, and made our wedding dance (under the stars surrounded by twinkling lights) that much more amazing. So don’t sweat it if you don’t have all the typical wedding decorations. Little touches really stand out.
Wedding guestbook: I’m a huge scrapbooker, and knew that the traditional guest book just wouldn’t work for me. Who goes back and reads them? So instead, I got some 8.5×11 multicolored cardstock, had the local Office Depot cut them into quarters (which made slightly-larger-than-index card pieces) then took a decorated tin (the kind you put flowers or decorative rocks in) and put the cards, some colored pens, and a sign stating to take a card and a pen and write something down for my scrapbook. This way I can put everyone’s well wishes right with their picture from the day.
I wanted a wedding sign for the front lawn, partially to show guests they were at the right house, and partially for the way that it made the day real. I went to JoAnn’s and bought a pumpkin yard stake (wood, unfinished) painted it orange and in black put Just Married. It now sits in my garden and makes me grin stupidly when I see it.
So don’t feel like you have to have a huge decoration budget. It was just those few things that really stood out and made the day something special for me.