Saturday, May 31, 2014

First Birthday Party - Rockets!

A few weeks ago my nephew celebrated his first birthday with a "Shooting up like a Rocket" themed party. He's such a cutie with his adorable smile and little laugh.

As guests arrived they were greeted with a buffet of fruit and veggie snacks and chips while lunch was being prepared. My sister served Rocket Dogs and fun sides that I "named" for lunch which makes the table fun. She even served up a real rocket in the backyard. I must say, it was pretty cool!  I was able to bring along the desserts and smash cake. It's so funny to watch the birthday boy question what to do with a whole cake in front of him, especially this little guy who loves to eat!

I provided the theme design and prints and had lots of fun with my husband's rendering of my nephew flying to the sky on a rocket.

Because I know everyone loves photos - here are more!

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Sister's Wedding :: Small Budget, Big DIYs (Part 2)

As promised, I'm sharing photos and the story of my sister's wedding reception! Missed the first post? Click here. As I mentioned previously, we had a very small budget and an even smaller time frame for this DIY wedding. If you find yourself in a similar circumstance, I hope you'll be able to glean a bit from our experiences.

After a lovely ceremony the guests were directed to the building we prepared for the reception. The venue included a sound technician for music, thankfully. My husband was the emcee and I coordinated during the reception, along with my mom. There were many who helped with setup and prep, especially the week of and particularly the day before and morning of the wedding. It was pure mayhem and I am so grateful for everyone who pitched in!

The Hall We originally planned the reception for a smaller banquet room, which would have made decorating easier, but due to that room's renovation schedule we were moved to a much larger room on the property - a gym that doubles for a banquet hall. Without the added expense of outside linens or drapery vendors a gym can look so uninviting - I searched for inspiration and came across one wedding where the cake table was in the center of the room with tulle draping in from the outer corners. Figuring out the logistics of supports 'on the cheap' was challenging but it worked well for us also, though the photo doesn't do it justice.

The Escort Tags - As you may recall, I mentioned how addicted my sister is to candy. The groom is pretty fond of it as well. At the last minute we came up with "ring pops" to accompany our escort cards. The tricky part was figuring a way to set them out, without having to spend the money on the clear boxes often used. I came up with a type of jewelry case idea so we ended up unwrapping and rewrapping each one with plastic wrap to keep them sanitary and tagging them. The day before the wedding (or was it the morning of?) I took a moment to prepare the shallow boxes from my inventory with foam blocks previously cut, hot gluing them to the bottom of each box so the guests wouldn't pull the whole block out when removing their 'ring', adding padding and silky material and then the rings were put 'on display'! 

The Well Wishes Table - I have an old typewriter that I had been dying to use and this was my grand opportunity. My dad and I worked on the ribbon and got it working again and I prepared the cards for guests to use. I found an old 8-track cassette box at a thrift store and added a mini banner inside to collect the finished notes.

The Guest Tables - In the center of each table was an alternating teal or brown rosette ball, as we used in the ceremony, placed in a glass vase found at a local hobby and garden store. The challenge was getting the lanterns to sit firmly over the small hole in a way to not have a support rod show through the vase. Each vase was filled with teal or brown sixlets. In hindsight I'm sure there were easier ways of accomplishing this, but in the moment we went with a styrofoam "cork" on the top of the vase, hooked a stiff wire around the frame inside the lantern and pushed it through the foam cork. (Think vertical bobby pin.) We then covered that with matching material. The napkins also alternated between teal and brown. 
Each table had a number, of course, and also had a small welcome sign that included details of how to share their photos of the event. The stands were reflective of the couple's sports fields.

Table settings were personalized with guests' names on a straw flag. Favors were traditional candy coated almonds placed in a small jar, along with an additional coach's whistle symbolic of the bride and groom's coaching and passion for sports.

In each napkin was a menu and a mad libs card for guests to fill out while waiting for the bride and groom to arrive, along with a small pencil.

The Sweetheart Table Backdrop - The ceremony and reception were both held at the same venue and it was nice to not have to travel elsewhere for setup. Because of this, rather than create a second backdrop for the "gym" reception area, we simply transferred the one from the chapel to the gym during the time the bride and groom were being photographed off site. I was worried it would appear a little awkward but I don't think anyone really paid any attention to it being moved in and it made for pretty photos with less work.

The Cake + Desserts - My mom really wanted me to make the cake, both to save money and because she liked my work. Hmmm. I've heard the first rule is to not make the cake for a wedding you're actually in.... but you have to listen to your mother, right? :)  Honestly, I am very pleased with how it turned out, especially as the design I was creating came together at the last minute (4:30am) that sealed the deal. Actually, I remember finishing some of the brush work before leaving, making me super late for my hair appointment but hey, it all worked out! :)  Thankfully my talented sister-in-law did the styling at the church so she took care of me last.

Even more special was being able to use my parents' cake topper. We wanted it to be more of a display piece and decided to add it to the 'side' of the cake rather than put it on top. I just love that we were able to show it, being almost 48 years old at the time. Above the table hung a pretty chandelier in an attempt to add more elegance to the room.
guest photo

Our aunts/uncle made traditional, delicious, Italian sweets in addition to the cake and the groom's cakes were made by my mom (which she also finished decorating after the rehearsal dinner that was held at her house the night before), so the table being in the middle of the room was a nice way for them to be displayed. It also allowed a larger area for guests to gather all the way around the table for the cake cutting.

Photo Portrait Wall - This was so fun! I had 'pinned' this board a LONG time ago and I was finally able to create one with the help of my dad! (He actually did most of the work.) I love the idea of a wall of photos and this turned out great. We used contact paper instead of wallpaper and frames from thrift stores. My aunt sewed the bottom curtain and voila! My brother prepared a camera with laptop setup so guests could see their portraits after they were taken and their photos were emailed to them.

The Party - My sister has always been a sports fanatic, playing just about anything you can imagine. Basketball is her first love and she coaches all ages. Josh played baseball and coached track and field. It was only fitting that, considering we were in a gym for the reception, we include a basketball shoot-out contest. I will not say who actually won... :)  Guests also joined in on the fun and took a few shots of their own.

It was truly a wonderful, albeit long day (2 months) and I was so honored to play a big part in my little sister's big day. Love that girl. :) 

In case you were wondering how far one can go with paper goods, here is the list of most of the paper items I designed, printed and prepared for the wedding. Lots of little things to think about!
• Bridal Shower Invitation and party extras
Monogram design
Invitation, Reply card, Accommodations card, handwritten envelope and printed reply address on return envelope.
"Reserved" signs for pews 
"Aisle restraint" sign
Programs (with fold up side to hold a tissue "for happy tears")
Tags for ceremony recessional "hooray" sticks
Large Pennant boards (3) mounted on foam/sticks for boys in ceremony
Individually hand cut letters for "RECEPTION" directional framed sign
 Bunting for head table "Mr. and Mrs." 
Escort Cards (tags for ring pops)
"Notes for the Newlyweds" 4x6 cards for typewriter
Mini Pennant Banner for "Cards Here" box
Guest MadLibs Cards 
Stickers with monogram for little golf pencils at each placesetting
Placecard flags for striped straws
Favor Stickers
Whistle Tags
Dessert Table Title cards
Welcome card sign for 14 tables
Table Number signs for 14 tables
Sign up sheet (to have portrait booth photos emailed to guest)
Photobooth props 
Photobooth wall photos (scanned, printed and framed for the backdrop board.)
Thank you Sign for newlywed photos
All manor of smaller signage: Escort Card directional sign, Typewriter table sign, Mad Libs directional sign, Photobooth prop table sign, etc.

Whoa! It all came together so nicely and as I said earlier, so many family and friends pitched in that week leading up to the wedding, words cannot express how extremely thankful we are.

A wedding is hard work and very time consuming, scoping out the best deals, but my mom (as always) was fabulous at finding and figuring out what worked best for the best price. From centerpieces, tableware, linens, favors to just about everything that needed purchasing, she amazed me with the deals she found! 

To sum it up, my word of advice for any DIY bride - Give yourself PLENTY of time and don't procrastinate! Better yet - hire a planner and let them do all the work. hehe

Photography: Amy Dobson Photography & myself
Venue: Victory Church, Lakeland, Florida 
Invitation and Paper Goods: Intrigue Design Studio 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

My Sister's Wedding :: Small Budget, Big DIYs (Part 1)

I'm so excited about this post. I started it SO long ago, I have tweaked this many times and have finally hit the publish button. Of course you know there are so many photos taken at a wedding and I wanted to share them all. It was really hard to narrow them down, so many of the reception I want to share, so I'm splitting up the posts between the ceremony and the reception with this one about the ceremony and prep. I'm hoping to "pay it forward" by sharing some of what we did after getting inspiration and help from others around the web! Here we go!

The Time Frame.
It was June and we got the news, my little sister was to be engaged. Unfortunately Josh lived in Pennsylvania and Gina lived in Florida. We also heard that Josh, being in the National Guard, was scheduled to go on tour to the middle east that September. So, my sister, mom and I got together and we talked budget, style, colors, options, guest list, favors, etc. I had a pinterest board started and we all oo'd and ah'd at the many possibilities.

By the middle of June I'd helped confirm the availability of a venue for both ceremony and reception, found a photographer and my mom found a caterer. Deposits were made the middle of July.

It wasn't decided until the latter part of June that the wedding would happen on August 11th. Say What?! Not even 2 months! Panic set in. This is completely NOT recommended, especially in a 'do it yourself', small budget scenario. We quickly narrowed down theme and style preferences and I went into action and designed the invitations, hand wrote the addresses and mailed them by the middle of July while she and my parents were visiting with family in PA. I must say - I love how they turned out. A kind of Victorian-vintage.

The Design.
Not including the invitation, we officially started the DIY projects on July 27th. As I mentioned, I'd started a pinterest board for another friend of mine who was getting married in January but quickly started adding inspirational pins in the vintage, DIY style I thought my sister would like. Considering the budget we decided to make rosettes for both the decor and the bouquets and that became a mainstay in the overall look of everything. This was an unimaginably difficult task as it was the greatest time consumer of all. In less than two weeks my sister and I (and the several other friends recruited including my mother-in-law) made more than 1200 material rosettes covering 28 8" Chinese lanterns (cheaper than styrofoam), each taking more than an hour to simply glue on the rosettes, not to mention my mom had sewn enough roses for 7 bouquets. The bouquets turned out so lovely and her bouquet will be such a memorable keepsake.
(If you'd like to buy some of the decorative ones - I'm sure that can be arranged!)

Oh! And it was an honor to be her Matron of Honor!

Then there was the backdrop for the ceremony to plan for... The chapel and reception decor... The agenda and design pieces... The menu... The photographer's list... The video... The music... The hair... The bridesmaid dresses! All to be done in less than 4 weeks. My sister is the first to admit that she loves the look of (but has little patience for) event crafts and planning, especially on this scale, so she relied heavily on my mom and me. We were happy to do it but it was overwhelming for all of us, to say the least.

The backdrop was a bit time consuming but I LOVE the way it turned out. Kind of like a pretty rain, wouldn't you say?

Though there wasn't enough time for a wedding shower I insisted on at least throwing my sister an intimates shower and the only time that all of her bridesmaids would be in the same place was after the rehearsal dinner Friday night so that's what I did. My sister-in-law Gabby was extremely helpful (and I used several games from the shower I threw for her many years ago, hehe.) Gina LOVES candy (see the birthday party I planned for her here) so I had a candy and lingerie party for her. It was so fun embarrassing her. LOL (printable set available.)

So for now, I leave you with a few more photos of the ceremony and decor for it. A fun little deviation from tradition - instead of 2 little people, my 3 neices and nephew, along with my son were also a part of the ceremony! So cute!!!

^^ me and my son ^^  :)

Part 2 will be more about the reception so stay tuned.
(Did I mention I made the wedding cake?)

Did you know I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Hop on over to see up to date info. :D

Photography by both myself and Amy Dobson Photography
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