Our Wedding

Why We Chose A HUGE Head Table


Our head table          Photo: Misty Como at Focused Photography
When Patrick and I were planning our wedding, I was a bit at a loss.  I hadn't attended a lot of weddings, so I didn't have much for a frame of reference about traditional weddings.  The more I researched about wedding tradition, the more the norm just didn't really seem to fit with what we pictured our wedding to be like.  Designing the head table was no exception.

At every wedding my husband and I had both been to, the head table was up front highlighting the couple as they ate.  That was a little uncomfortable to me.  I mean... seriously? You want to watch me as I eat my dinner?  Nothing exciting is going on there.  Plus I felt it was a little awkward to not let couples sit together.  Since we had a fairly large wedding party and almost everyone had dates, it would have made a lot of people uncomfortable if they were not able to dine with whomever they came to the wedding with.

Patrick and I opted to have a large, double-sided head table.  When I tried to explain it to the person that was helping us set up tables at our venue he more than made it clear that he thought the idea was a little weird.  We went with it anyway and I am certainly glad we did.  The conversation at the head table was a lot livelier than I had ever seen at the other weddings we attended and everyone was comfortable.  We were eating comfortably surrounded by all of our friends - what more could you ask for?


The head table seated during the best man speech
The head table seated during the father of the groom speech.




 15 Non-Traditional Choices We LOVED at our Wedding


Since I've been a little overwhelmed with the packing and the loading and the preparing for a new job and getting ready to move and everything else life has brought up in the past few weeks, it's been a while since I've written a post about our wedding.

From some of the pictures I've posted before, Patrick and I opted to go for a rather non-traditional wedding- and we loved it.  Here are a few things that we did that were slightly different from the norm.  If you're planning your own wedding I urge you to incorporate a few into your special day, too.

Enjoy!

1. Have your dad AND mom walk you down the aisle.  

I never understood why the dads got all the glory with walking their daughters down the aisle at their weddings.  I mean... what about Mom?  She raised you, too!  I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle, but it just didn't feel right if I didn't have my mom there too.  It was a bit of a tight squeeze to get us all down there, but I'm so glad we did it.

Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography

Photo: Misty Como

 2. Opt for a tea-length dress

Most weddings happen tend to take place in the summer - which generally means sweltering heat.  Since Patrick and I decided to get married outside in an amphitheater, I decided to go with a tea-length dress that wouldn't end up dirty, snagged, or damaged while I was walking over the rocks.  Plus it just wasn't my style to have someone carry my train for me or fluff it once I got to the front.  My dress allowed me to move freely, it was cool in the heat, and it didn't seem too overly "princess-y" or high maintenance.  The bonus was my dress was cheaper than a lot of the longer dresses I tried on, too!

Photo credit: Misty Como Dress: Oleg Cassini for David's Bridal

Photo credit: Misty Como Dress: Oleg Cassini for David's Bridal Personalized hanger: etsy

3. Take your mom AND dad dress shopping 

Both of my parents came with me when I went dress shopping - and I'm glad they did.  Trust me, my dad isn't much of a shopper, but I'm glad he was there to offer a man's point of view.  Plus it was another special moment to share with him.  Again, you don't have to fall into the normalcy of taking your mom with you to get your dress and have your dad walk you down the aisle.  Plus, because I chose not to wear a veil - it went back to the seeming too "fussy" issue for me, my dad picked out the accessory to wear in my hair, which made it all the more meaningful.


Photo credit: Misty Como Hair Accessory: David's Bridal

 4. Wear your hair down 

Since my hair was short, there weren't too many options with what I could do with it, but I didn't want a style that was going to need so much hairspray it would attract bugs or would need to be fixed a million times after hugging everyone.  Trust me - there will be a lot of hugs and your hair will take a beating.  Opt for something that you won't have to worry too much about.  I went with a half-up waterfall braid crown that was done at Blaze Salon in Coralville, Iowa.  All of the bridesmaids had their hair done that morning and they did a great job of taking care of us.

A front/side view of the hairstyle I chose for the wedding.  Hair: Blaze Salon

5. Wear flats 

One reason I chose to wear flats was because my husband and I are close to the same height.  Also, I knew I would be on my feet all day and I didn't really want to trip and fall on my way down the aisle.  I searched forever for the perfect flats to wear with my dress and I finally found them on Etsy at a shop called Becca and Louise.  I was able to pick the color I wanted and the girl through whom I ordered them stitched the daintiest beautiful vintage lace on the heel and toe.  I couldn't have been happier with them.  My feet couldn't have been happier by the end of the night that I had worn flats, too.

Photo: Misty Como Shoes: Becca and Louise
Photo: Misty Como Shoes: Becca and Louise

6. Give your bridesmaids some freedom

I wanted my bridesmaids to be comfortable in what they were wearing - meaning their make-up, their dresses, their hair and their shoes.  After much deliberation and consultation with my bridesmaids about what dresses they wanted to wear, they all actually ended up liking the same one in the same color, with the exception of my maid-of-honor, who wore a different dress.  I LOVE how our pictures turned out when all of the girls wore their hair differently and wore different shoes.

Photo: Misty Como

Photo: Misty Como

7. ... And let your groomsmen be comfy, too!

Patrick and I got married in July... and for those of you that have experience July in Iowa it's hot, and it's not a dry heat either, it's a sweat like a pig because they humidity is 80% kind of hot.  There was no way we were going to make the groomsmen die in tuxes... or in suit jackets for that matter.  We ended up having our guys wear white shirts, black pants, black belts and black converses because, according to my husband, no one wants to wear uncomfortable men's dress shoes.

Photo: Misty Como Shoes: Converse All-Stars

Photo: Misty Como

Photo: Misty Como

8. Let your groom wear a suit

Patrick and I got married the summer after I graduated and this was about the time we were both starting to interview for jobs, so Patrick needed a suit anyway.  We decided to buy that he could wear at the wedding and use later on.  Every guy should have a suit that fits him well, and by the time it was all over, the purchase of the suit cost about as much as it would have to rent a tux.  There are usually deals between David's Bridal and Men's Warehouse, too.

Photo: Misty Como Suit: Men's Warehouse

9. Get your flowers through a flower farm 

One aspect of wedding planning that motivated Patrick and I was price.  Purchasing wedding flowers through a florist is pretty expensive.  We found a beautiful little flower farm near us that had exceptional prices.  Plus the bridesmaids and I were even able to go out and have a "flower shower" before the wedding where we created the centerpieces with the help of the florist/flower farm owner.  I LOVED the idea and the way our flowers turned out.  I was even able to pick out what flowers went in the centerpieces and bouquets!   

Photo: Misty Como Flowers: St. Bridget's Flower Farm
Photo: Misty Como Flowers: St. Bridget's Flower Farm
Photo: Misty Como Flowers: St. Bridget's Flower Farm

 10. Have a wooden box ceremony 

Most weddings seem to have a unity candle or sand ceremony.  This just wasn't quite what Patrick and I wanted.  While planning the wedding, I ran across the idea of a wooden box ceremony.  The general idea is that you write each other letters before the wedding and place them inside the box.  We asked my dad to make our box.  He even included a place to hold a bottle of wine for us to drink on our first anniversary -which we did last Saturday.  We're going to continue the tradition by writing each other a letter every year and purchasing a new bottle of wine to place in the box.  Trust me, you'll appreciate the sentiment when you open it a year later.

A photo of the top of the wooden box my dad built

11. Have a first look moment with your dad

This is a moment that I'm so glad I included before the wedding.  My dad isn't one to show a lot of emotion, and a "first look" moment was a great time to share a little one-on-one time with my dad during the hectic day.  I love the picture our photographer was able to snap, too.  It ended up being one of my favorite wedding pictures and we have it framed in our living room.

Photo: Misty Como

12.  Include some of your favorites

I love cotton candy.  So Patrick and his dad, Joe, came up with the idea of having a cotton candy machine at the wedding.  It was a HUGE hit.  We had people from the wedding next door crashing ours just to get some cotton candy.

Photo: Misty Como

13. Don't make dinner too formal

At our wedding we served pulled pork, baked potatoes, mac and cheese and salad.  It was simple, it was summery, and it was tasty.  People enjoyed it and we ended up only spending about $7 a plate, way cheaper than the $20-$30 for a more expensive meal that people will enjoy just as much.  For catering we went with A Guy and a Grill based out of Muscatine, Iowa and the food was fantastic.

14.  Capture the imperfections 

Some of the pictures that I love the most from the wedding are when things went wrong.  An entire room full of women couldn't find the clasp on the back of my dress, then during the first look Patrick asked "Why didn't you clasp this?" and clasped it without a problem at all.  Capture the awkward comments, laughs, and the bride and bridesmaids stuffing their faces with bagels.  They're the parts of the wedding you'll remember.

Photo: Misty Como
Photo: Misty Como
Photo: Misty Como

15.  Get your outdoorsy man a wooden ring 

Patrick is an environmental scientist and he loves anything and everything outdoors.  He was intent on getting a wooden wedding band.  At first I was pretty skeptical - we sized his finger, sent in the custom order, and when it arrived it fit perfectly and was beautiful.  Plus, they're more sturdy than you think!  A year later Patrick's band still looks brand new.  He gets compliments on it constantly.

Photo:Misty Como     Bride's Ring: Helzberg Jewelers     Groom's Ring: Stout Woodworks




One Year Later

Happy one year anniversary to my amazing husband!
The pod is finally loaded... and there is literally nothing in our apartment.  It looks like the cat, dog, and I are going to be pretty bored for the next 9 days until we start our trip back home.

We were really lucky that my husband's family was able to help us load the pod.  Otherwise it would have taken FOREVER!  Our pod was 8x8x16 and it was packed almost to the brim.  I guess we forgot last year when we moved we had no furniture...  It took a lot of finagling, but I think everything is finally secure.  My body and my brain hurt by the time we were done.

A picture of our pod right after delivery.  The loading and unloading system is pretty ingenious! 




After loading the entire day on Saturday, we finally decided to complete the last two loads on Sunday.  Since the pod is a little inconvenient to place in one of the coveted parking spaces near the apartment, we had to put it at the end of the parking lot, load the vehicles, and drive the boxes down to the pod.  Usually someone would ride on the tailgate of my husband's truck to make sure we wouldn't lose anything on the way.  We loaded the last few items into the truck while it started to sprinkle and we were hoping we wouldn't get more than a few drops.  We were wrong.  About halfway down the parking lot those sprinkles turned into a full fledged monsoon downpour and I was drenched.  Patrick ended up pulling into a covered spot at the end of the parking lot where we waited an hour until the rain finally stopped.  Luckily all of the items in the truck were lawn chairs, patio furniture, and bikes - all items that can get wet without being damaged.



Me after being completely drenched by the rain on the last trip to the pod.
Saturday was also our anniversary so we didn't necessarily celebrate in the traditional sense, but what is better than spending the day with your husband surrounded by family that was there at your wedding?  Plus we're loading everything we own so we can move back home.  I think it sounds like a pretty great way to honor our first year of marriage.  Besides, the day before our wedding last year we loaded everything into a U-Haul so we could leave the day after our wedding to move to Arizona.  Maybe in a few years we'll find ourselves not moving on our anniversary again.

A picture of the cake topper I created for our wedding last year. 

Saturday morning Patrick and I were able to open our wooden box from our wedding.  I referenced our wooden box in my post about my dad.  (You can read about it here.)  As a brief explanation, our wooden box was an idea that I saw online and my dad created for us with some adaptations.  The general idea is that my dad crated this beautiful oak box with space inside for letters and a bottle of wine.  Before our wedding, Patrick and I wrote letters to each other, which we placed in the box during our ceremony (kind of in lieu of a sand ceremony or a unity candle.  My thinking was honestly, what am I going to do with those after the wedding?)  My dad also created a space to put a bottle of wine that we would drink on our first anniversary.  I am so glad we decided to go with the wooden box.  This year we had it placed on a table in our bedroom so I got to see it every day and once Saturday rolled around I was so excited to open our letters.  We opened them right away in the morning before we packed the box.  When Patrick handed me mine he confessed that he had re-written his letter.  Before the wedding, he had been too stressed to write a letter that included everything he wanted to include so he re-wrote the letter three days ago, back-dated it to 07/17/2012, placed it in an envelope and put it in the box.  I did get to see what he had written last year - a list of some of the items he wanted to include in the letter that had been so difficult to write.  It is true, though, in the hustle of everything before the wedding, it's hard to clear your mind enough to think of exactly everything that you want to say.  I wasn't upset that he had re-written the letter, but it was classic Patrick to try to make sure everything was just right before I saw it and a reminder of another reason why I love him so much.  We've decided to write letters to each other and purchase a new bottle of wine every year to continue the wooden box tradition.

A few of the items we kept in our wooden box, including our letters and wine. 


After the day was over, we ordered some Dominos and enjoyed our bottle of wine.  The only dishes we opted to not pack were the plastic two-person set in our picnic basket, complete with two little plastic wine glasses.  We were getting a kick out of "clinking" the glasses together.


"Clinking" our plastic glasses together.
Sunday evening we did have a chance to drive around for a bit and enjoy some of the scenic parts of Tucson again before we leave.  I snapped a through shots as we were driving through Saguaro National Park and we even saw a little wildlife.  

Photo taken in Saguaro National Park

Photo taken in Saguaro National Park 


Can you spot the deer in this picture?  Sorry for the blurriness... I had to zoom in and increase the color intensity to make the deer more visible. 
Now I'm off to clean the apartment to make sure everything is spotless for the next tenants.  You would not believe how many dust bunnies, or clumps of cat fur, there are in your apartment until you move all the furniture.  I'm excited I get to enjoy my beautiful flowers and pumpkin scented candle from my husband.  I created a mixed pack of beer for him last week and he made me promise we wouldn't get each other anything else for our anniversary.  What a stink to go and get me something anyway.  I'm in love with these light lilac daisies though!

Anniversary gifts from the best husband ever.
Have a great day!  




Finally Saying Thanks


First look picture with my dad on the day of my wedding.  A memory that I will never forget.  Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography.
Ok

, I realize this post is a little late considering Father's Day was on Sunday, but, hey, it's never a ba
d time to appreciate Dad.

I will admit that I probably wasn't the easiest child to raise.  Sure, I didn't get into much trouble, but I was certainly headstrong and opinionated - even when I wasn't knowledgeable enough to form a decent opinion - and I always thought I was the authority on decision making.  Whenever I was set on making whatever poor decision I was about to make, my dad would frequently redirect me and say "you're frontal lobe isn't fully developed until you're 21."  This was my dad's way of saying I was too young, too stubborn, or too uninformed to make the best decision and this was why he was offering his guidance.

And he was right.  I never fully appreciated everything that my parents did for me until, probably, long after I was 21.  About the time I was getting married was the time I was starting to realize the part they played in helping me through life, college, and becoming the adult I am today.  Our relationship is a lot different now, and I would like to think it's a lot better.  After teaching second grade for a year, I now understand how difficult it is to pour your heart, soul, and a lot of effort into something and have a child not appreciate the outcome.  Granted lesson plans and child rearing are on totally opposite ends of the effort spectrum, but I understood a little bit about how it could be so difficult to reason with a child with an "under developed frontal lobe."

So, since I've been blogging a lot about my wedding, let me tie this in.  I struggled for a long time figuring out what to give my parents on the day of my wedding.  No tangible item could really express the appreciation that I had for them, but I wanted to try.  I opted for books.  I have an affinity for books, being an English major, so it was fitting in that aspect.  A lot of that affinity likely has to do with the memories I have of trips to the library and reading stories together with my parents.  But, regardless, I picked out books, the one for my dad being "My Father, My Hero."  Now, my family isn't a super emotional, over the top family, so this expression of emotion was probably a lot as far as my family goes, but on the pages of the book, I decided to write my own thanks.  I didn't get the opportunity to see my dad open it, but my mom said he cried.  I would like to think partially because I was finally an adult, and finally able to say thank you for everything he had done.  In other words, my frontal lobe was fully developed.

Another thing I wanted to do the day of the wedding was a first look with my dad.  If you're a reader that is planning your wedding, it is absolutely a moment that I urge you to fit into your pre-wedding events.  The moment that I was able to share with my dad was priceless and our photographer Misty was even able to snap an amazing picture of the moment.  It's honestly one of my favorite pictures from the wedding and we have it displayed on the wall of our living room.  I hope if you choose to fit this idea into your wedding you treasure the moment as much as I do.

First dance photo with Dad.  Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography

It's also customary that the father of the bride gives a speech at the reception after the wedding and my wedding was no exception.  A few weeks before the wedding I had asked my father to make a wooden box for Patrick and I that we would use in lieu of a sand or candle ceremony.  The idea was that Patrick and I would each write each other a letter that we would put inside the box and read on our first anniversary.  During our wedding ceremony, we put the letters into the box and sealed the box.  The box also contains a bottle of wine that we will drink while we read the letters.  The box my father made was beautiful, but I didn't make the connection until he gave his speech.  When I was born, my father made my crib - a task which took countless hours of what he called "love and labor."  The box was another work of "love and labor" completed by my dad.  The box now sits on a table in our bedroom and I can't wait to open it in about a month on my first wedding anniversary.

The top of the wooden box my dad made for our box ceremony during the wedding. 








Showered With Love (and two easy peasy paper pinwheel tutorials)


Overall, make sure you cherish your family and fit this into your wedding.  They are the ones that make the memories you'll remember. 

My girlfriends that helped so much to make the bridal shower and wedding a success.  Ignore the bad haircut... I, not so smartly, decided to get my hair cut and colored by someone new right before my sister-in-law's wedding and what you're seeing in this picture is the aftermath.  At least it was growing...
Like I've mentioned before, we have amazing friends that helped us IMMENSELY with our wedding as did our family members.  Another amazing thing they did was plan a bridal shower at my parent's church and a bachelorette party the weekend before the wedding.

First of all, I have some amazingly talented people that I hold close to my heart.  They came up with games to entertain people of all ages, helped decorate to make everything absolutely gorgeous, pulled together food and snacks, and showered us with a lot a lot of love.

Because we didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on the bridal shower, we used a lot of items that we could re-use for the wedding.  As you look through pictures, a lot of the wedding decorations were vintage thrift finds, Etsy scores, and DIY projects.

To cover the tables, I bought light blue plastic table cloths from Oriental Trading Company for about $1 a piece, then threw down lengths of burlap to act as a runner (purchased from Michael's) and used vintage handkerchiefs found at various thrift stores around town and on E-bay to add some color to the tables.  Patrick and I spent a lot of time wandering around thrift stores in the Iowa City area collecting items that we would be able to use for the wedding.  We found a TON of inexpensive glass and milk glass vases to use as our centerpieces for both the wedding and the bridal shower.  Here's where I'll tell you something that definitely surprised me - sometimes buying your own items is cheaper than renting them.  I was a little stunned to learn that it was cheaper for me to buy mason jars and own them than it was to rent them through our venue.  What?!  It certainly seems a little backward, but the best part is you can either make money off of selling them after your wedding, pass items along to your guests, or another person that might want to use the items at their wedding.  So a word to the wise - definitely check out how cheaply you can find items elsewhere.  In our case, it was cheaper to buy nearly everything, and we definitely lucked out that we were working toward a more vintage-y vibe to begin with.  If you're looking for thrift stores in the Iowa City area, we had luck at Goodwill, Artifacts, Stuff Etc, Houseworks, Crowded Closet, and Decorum. 

Table cloths, paper plates, and napkins from oriental trading company for cheap, cheap, cheap!  Also, a few of our thrifted cake stands and borrowed platters.

A few days before the bridal shower, my mom and I started working on some paper centerpiece ideas.  Again, if you haven't noticed, I'm all about strangely whimsical pieces, so we made a ton of paper pinwheels and flowers and tied everything together with paper flowers and vintage buttons my mom and I had hanging around.  I also made a few banners using hearts from a paper pack I bought at Michael's, a white Sharpie paint pen, a single hole punch and some twine.  Pretty simple, right?  Since I've used the same idea with any paper I choose by making a cardboard heart template first - to date I've used the template to make birthday banners, graduation banners, and a going-away banner.  It's a super quick and easy way to make a party a little more festive.

A glimpse at one of the pinwheel centerpieces my mom and I made using paper from Hobby Lobby, paper flowers, and a few buttons.  (A simple tutorial for how to make a traditional pinwheel is located at the bottom of the page.)

A different approach to the paper pinwheel.  (Tutorial posted at the bottom of the page.)

Like I mentioned before, I have a lot of talented friends, like Kelley, who made these scrumptious scones and cupcakes.  We were certainly well-fed that day!

Cupcakes made by Kelley
Amazing, savory brunch scones made by Kelley

So, if you're looking to make your own paper pinwheels for a bridal shower, wedding, or just for the heck of it, the steps are actually fairly simple.  First, let's start with the traditional pinwheel.

HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL PAPER PINWHEEL

MATERIALS: 
Decorative scrapbook paper (I found mine at Hobby Lobby) 
A wooden dowel rod, straw, pencil or object to hold your finished pinwheel 
Buttons
Paper flowers (found in the scrapbook section at Michael's) 
Scissors or a paper cutter 
A ruler 
A pencil 
A high temp. hot glue gun 
Hot glue sticks 


1. Start with a square piece of paper.  I used an 8 x 8 piece, but any size will work - just remember that the smaller your paper, the harder the project will be to work with.  You will see both sides of whatever paper you use.  Since the back of my paper was white, I chose to use adhesive scrapbook tape to tape two pieces together.

2. Using a straight edge and a pencil, faintly draw a line using pencil that connects two corners of the paper. Repeat on the other side.  You should end up with a "x" across your paper.

3. Using a ruler, measure in approximately 1 inch from the center "x" on the paper.  Repeat on each line.  When you are done your project should look about like this.



4. Using scissors, cut along each of the lines from the corner to the 1 inch mark.  Repeat on all four sides.  Once you are done cutting, you will see four "flaps."  



5. Put a small dot of glue in the center of your paper (where the x makes a cross.) Fold the left side of one of the flaps to the center.  Hold the end of the flap on the glue with the tip of the hot glue gun for approximately 30 seconds or until the glue sticks.  Repeat on each "flap," folding down just the left side. DO NOT fold down the right side.  I don't worry about being too neat with the hot glue because I always decorate my pinwheels with flowers and buttons, which typically cover up any unwanted goobers.  



6.  Attach any buttons, paper flowers or other decorations to the center of your pinwheel.  I find that these decorations dress up the project a bit more and also help hold everything together.



7. Because I wasn't worried about whether or not my pinwheel would spin, I hot glued the finished product to a wooden dowel rod.  I did, however, recreate this project with a group of second graders using construction paper, straight pins, and cardboard straws.  After completing the pinwheel, we used carefully poked the pin through the pinwheel and both sides of the straw.  We then bent the end of the pin parallel to the straw.  I hot glued the pin to the straw so the kiddos would not poke themselves.  Make sure you leave a little space between the pinwheel and the straw and you should be able to make your pinwheel spin.

Enjoy your finished pinwheels!

HOW TO MAKE A ROSETTE PINWHEEL

MATERIALS: 

Decorative scrapbook paper (I found mine at Hobby Lobby) 
Buttons
Paper flowers (found in the scrapbook section at Michael's) 
A ruler and pencil OR a paper scoring board
A high temp. hot glue gun 
Hot glue sticks

1. Create a square with decorative scrapbook paper.  I used one that was 5 1/2" square.  Using a paper scoring board (or a ruler and pencil) score the paper in an equal pattern.  I chose to score the paper every 1/2", but depending on the size of your paper, you may choose to score the paper every inch or even two inches.  If you are using a ruler and a pencil, make a mark with the pencil in the same pattern.



2. Following either the score lines or the marks you made with your pencil, fold the paper back in forth in an alternating pattern (just like folding a fan.)  Your paper should look like this:








3. Once your paper is completely folded, fold both ends together.



4. Using your hot glue gun, glue the sides together to create a "fan" shape.



5. Repeat steps 1-4 to create another "fan."  Depending on how squished or stretched you want your final rosette to be, you may need to create more than 2 fans.  For this project I used only two.

6. Using your hot glue gun, glue the sides of the fans together to create one rosette.  You will need to hold the paper for a few seconds to make sure everything sticks.  

7. Decorate your fan using paper flowers or buttons.


Happy crafting!




We Got By With a LOT of Help From Our Friends


 Choosing bridesmaids is a tricky business.  Let's step back a few steps.  My husband and I met while he was working as a cook and I was working as a waitress at a little place called the Bluebird Diner in Iowa City.  It's actually a fantastic little eatery in downtown Iowa City right in the middle of all of the cultural happenings the city has to offer.  Yes, it's Iowa, but you would be surprised how interesting the little microcosm of Iowa City is.  Anyway, essentially, I worked with a ton of my best friends.  Couple that with being in the English Education field and you end up with quite a few girlfriends.  So, regardless of the fact that we limited our guest list so we would have a small wedding we had an enormous wedding party.  While it was a little difficult to manage at times, I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

After we asked everyone to be in the wedding party, they all graciously offered to buy their own attire.  After a lot of deliberation, the girls pretty much settled on the same dress (my maid of honor chose to wear a different style).  Because I didn't want everything to be too matching, I asked the girls to pick out their own shoes, accessories, and do whatever they pleased with their hair and makeup.  I mean... come on... I'm already asking them to wear a dress that they may not like... it's pretty rude to dictate that they feel even more uncomfortable.  Truth be told, I LOVE the way it turned out.

Photo taken by the talented Misty Como at Focused Photography.  Check out her website at http://www.focused-photo.com/
Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography.   Strapless tulle embellished tea-length wedding gown is Oleg Cassini from David's Bridal http://www.davidsbridal.com/Product_Tulle-Embellished-Tea-Length-Gown-CPK437_Bridal-Gowns-Shop-By-Trend-Vintage-Inspired


Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography.  Dresses worn by the bridesmaids are Alfred Sung D438 in Mango.  Dress worn by the maid of honor is Alfred Sung 462 in Garnet.  All bridesmaid dresses were  ordered from Bridesmaids.com http://www.bridesmaids.com/d438.html.  Personalized hangers for the bridesmaids were ordered from Etsy.
For the groomsmen, we knew it was going to be hot - and let's face it- asking everyone to buy a suit or rent a tux is asking them to incur a pretty big expense.  So our gents wore black pants, fitted white button up shirts, black belts, and black Converse sneakers.  We purchased light blue skinny ties and I made black LEGO tie clips for them. 

The dashing gentleman in their black pants, white shirts, black Converse sneakers, blue skinny ties, and LEGO tie clips.  Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography.
The groomsmen and ushers.  Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography.  The groom's grey suit was ordered from Men's Warehouse.

The men sporting their sneakers.  Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography.
We really could not have been more thankful to everything that all of our friends did to make our wedding the best day ever (in my opinion.) Many of our friends had to travel to get to our wedding, showers, rehearsal and everything else in between.  And the best part was they did it with a smile.  Who could have asked for a better crew. 

If you're looking to make your own LEGO tie clip, the steps are as simple as can be.  I ordered 6x1 LEGO pieces from the LEGO website and blank tie clips off of Etsy.  Use your hot glue gun and in seconds you have LEGO tie clips.  Pretty snazzy, right?


Tackling Wedding Stationary Without Breaking the Bank  


 I am a Pinterest addict.  Seriously, the number of pins that I have is embarrassing - well, maybe not for me, because I have no Pinterest shame, but I've been told that I have an embarrassing number of pins and all of this began when we started planning our wedding.  My theory: if I think I might make it, be inspired by it, or use the pin later in some way, I pin it. Well, long story short, I fell in love with all the gorgeous letter press wedding stationary I saw on Pinterest and after a quick trip to a few places around Iowa City I decided that the letter press option was going to be WAY too stinking expensive.  With everything else going on, I definitely was not going to have time to craft all of the invitations, save the date cards, and everything else you have to send out for a wedding, so I went with a suggestion from made by my sister-in-law, I checked out a website called Wedding Paper Divas.  Wedding Paper Divas has great customizable templates at a variety of prices, plus I was really pleased with the fact that someone proofreads your invites before they start the printing process.  In some cases, you also have the opportunity to make everything match.  I wasn't too concerned with this, because we wouldn't be sending everything out at the same time.  So, after we finished ordering everything, we ended up with thank you cards, save the date cards for the wedding, bridal shower invitations, and save the date announcements for a second ceremony we had the day after our wedding.  Remember how I told you we got married on a Friday?  We decided to have a second ceremony, the day after our wedding so anyone not able to come on Friday still had the option of celebrating with us that Saturday.

Here's a look what we used: 

Pictured above is our save the date card for the wedding.
Pictured is the design we used for our save the date for the second, separate reception. 
When you're inviting some people to only the second reception, the wording can be a little tricky.  We chose to call it a celebratory reception.  The wording we used on the back was "Please mark your calendars for an open house reception celebrating our marriage." 


Although the prices on Wedding Paper Divas were pretty affordable, we opted to use kits we found at Michael's to make the formal invitations for the wedding and the separate reception the next day.  We decided to use two different invitations so they would be easier to tell apart.  Keep in mind that you can think outside the box a bit.  We used different ribbon and fonts to make the invitations a little more unique.  If you're looking for some great fonts that you can download for free, check out the cute ones posted on the blog Kevin & Amanda http://www.kevinandamanda.com/

If you're having a hard time getting those fonts to a useable point on your computer, there are quite a few handy tutorials on YouTube.  

Here's a look at what we used.  Let us know what you think!

The wedding invitations we made from kits found at Michael's art and craft supply store.

 

 How to Take Engagement Pictures - the cheap way (and directions for how to make a wedding date banner)


Photo taken at Wilson's Apple Orchard, Iowa City, IA.
Once you get engaged, everyone wants pictures and you'll likely need pictures for your invitation or save the dates.  After looking into a few photographers around our area, I learned that having pictures professionally taken is really expensive, especially if you add the words "wedding" or "engagement" into the sentence.  Now, don't get me wrong, photographers have to do a LOT when it comes to traveling to the site of your pictures, supplying props, editing the photos, so they definitely earn their money.  Frankly, another aspect that scared me was whether or not I would get the pictures I wanted.  I was worried that working with a photographer would mean that I wouldn't be comfortable asking for the poses and I had a fear that we would end up with something worthy of the Awkward Family Photos website.  So we opted to take our photos a different way.  After spending hours on Pinterest with Patrick looking through engagement photos that we liked, we met with a few of our friends who agreed to take snap some pictures for us.  Luckily, Patrick had started dabbling in photography and had gotten a decent Cannon DSLR camera for graduation.  We showed our friends Katy, and S.J. what we were looking for and off we were to take some shots.

I'm pretty in love with the way they turned out, plus they didn't cost us a thing.

Below are just a few of the photos we ended up using.  ( I won't bore you by posting all of them.)  

Photo taken at Mormon Trek Park, Iowa City, IA.
We used the picture featured above for almost everything.  I love how simple it turned out and how vibrant the colors printed. 

For editing, we used a website called Piknik, which unfortunately no longer exists.  Piknik allowed us to alter the appearance of our photos (to an extent), without having to pay for expensive software like Photoshop.  Now, Piknik and Photoshop are miles apart from each other when it comes to editing capabilities, but for the few bits we wanted to alter, Piknik worked well.  If you're looking for a similar option, Google + supposedly has similar editing options that Piknik once did.  If you choose to try Google + for some of your photos, leave a comment to let us know how it worked!

Photo taken at  Wilson's Apple Orchard, Iowa City, IA. 
One suggestion I have, if you wish to take your own engagement pictures, is to make sure you have props.  Patrick and I used a small chalkboard with a chalkboard marker (I found that the chalkboard marker was a great investment because the writing showed up more vibrantly on the chalkboard.  Just make sure you bring a wet paper towel to wipe off the writing), and the wedding date banner pictured above.  If you're interested in making a banner with your wedding date, follow the simple instructions at the end of this post.  Also, make sure you look at poses online so you have some ideas for pictures.  Ask your photographer to leave some space around the sides of some of your pictures so you can better size your photo to fit into templates if you choose to use it for your wedding invites or save the date cards.  Also, don't forget to take a LOT of pictures.  You won't use very many, but it's better to have more than not enough.  

Photo taken at Wilson's Apple Orchard, Iowa City, IA. 


HOW TO MAKE A WEDDING DATE BANNER

Ahhh... the joys of back blogging.  Since I made this project almost a year ago, I unfortunately do not have any pictures to post of the process, however, the project is so simple, I doubt you will need them.  

MATERIALS: 

-High temp. hot glue gun 
-Hot glue sticks 
-Wooden numbers corresponding to the scheduled date of your wedding (I found mine at Michael's) 
-Picture hanging hardware (The kind with the triangular loop at the top) 
-Yarn, string, or twine 
-Paint (optional) 

Optional first step: If you would like to paint your wooden numbers, do this first.  I would suggest painting the front and the back to make sure you don't see any unfinished edges in your photos.  I chose not to paint mine because I was comfortable with the natural color.  

1. Plug in your hot glue gun and let the glue warm to a usable temperature.  
2. While you are letting your glue gun warm, lay out your wooden numbers on a large, flat surface (I used my kitchen floor.)  From right to left, lay your numbers backwards.  (Imagine someone is facing you looking at the numbers.)  Space the numbers out on the floor how you would like them to be spaced on your banner.  Make sure you leave more space between numbers that need to be separated (where a comma would appear if you were writing the date.)  
3. Use the hot glue gun to glue one picture hanger to the back of each of your numbers.  Make sure you glue the hanger near the top so your numbers don't droop once you tie them onto your string.  
4.  Once you have glued a hanger to each of the numbers cut a piece of string long enough to hold all of your numbers and still give you space at the end to hold the banner.  
5. When the glue attaching the hangers to the wooden numbers has dried, string your string through each of the picture hangers, tying a knot with the string around each hanger to keep the number in place.  
6. Repeat typing a knot around each hanger until all of your numbers are tied to your string.  
7. Take beautiful pictures with your new wedding date banner!  Enjoy!  




Planning the Big Day - Our Backstory



Well, my husband and I have been married for almost a year now, so, perhaps this post is a little late, but, better late than never I suppose...

Here's our story:

Last year was a crazy year.  My husband graduated from the University of Iowa in December and I graduated in May.  For any of you that have gone into education, you are well aware of the fact that your last year in the education program is a little hectic.  So between practicum assignments, student teaching, working as much as possible, completing competency tests and all of the rest of my coursework, we decided it would be a good idea to plan a wedding.  Let's just leave it at the fact that things were a little crazy...

I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of person and my parents very much raised me to be this way.  Between my handy dad and my crafty mom, I suppose I picked up a few things along the way, particularly the mantra that if you want the job done correctly, be prepared to do it yourself.  Plus, how else are you going to add your personality to something like a wedding when someone else does everything for you?  There's always the money factor, too.  I'm cheap, there's no way to sugar coat it.  So with a lot of help, time, and elbow grease, the wedding planning began.

We started by booking a venue.  I will say that the venue was probably one of our big splurges.  Since my husband and I were partial to Iowa City (this is where we met, went to school, and were living at the time) we decided we wanted to have the wedding there.  While it would have been great to have our wedding at the church I grew up in, it just didn't seem right.  To me it seemed to one-sided.  Patrick had no connection to this church and it was in my hometown, which, nothing on Muscatine, but it lacked the venues for the reception that we were hoping for. This pretty much ruled out the getting married in a church idea.  Since it wouldn't be a church we belonged to, it just seemed kind of wrong, and so did joining a church for the sake of getting married there.  We ended up settling on Celebration Farms, in Solon, just outside of Iowa City.  This may have been a gamble because at the time we were reserving our date, the site was under construction, but we were able to see the site plans and were promised that we would be refunded our deposit if after the site was complete we weren't pleased.  We ended up loving it!  Since we wanted a smaller wedding, we booked the smaller barn and amphitheater on a Friday.  Yes, a Friday.  Honestly, the decision went back to the price and scheduling.  Everything was cheaper and/or more available on a Friday.  Did this make some family members angry?  Yes.  Were some people not able to make it to the wedding because it was on a Friday?  Yes.  I'll get to my solution for this later.

After we scheduled the venue, of course there's the purchasing of the dress, the showers, the flowers and everything else... just so I don't have a post a mile long, I'll break down the planning tidbits into individual posts.  Enjoy! 

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