Tag Archives: Wedding design

Handmade Wedding: I lied!

Handmade Wedding: I lied!

Yes, It’s true…I thought I was done with the wedding posts but nope, got one more in me…

7 a.m., Nov. 15th, I got this Facebook message from a very dear friend who shared with me a couple of months ago that she had found a very special “beau”, “Do you plan to be in town November 30th?”.  I had a feeling what was coming.  She was getting married!  Very excited for her as she deserves every bit of the happiness she has found.  What could I say, other than “Do you need some paper flowers?” wedding2flowers She had two weeks.  I had lots of sticks and flowers (and spreadsheets!)  Let the turbo-planning begin!   Made that four month timeline for the first wedding seem extensive!  Although that quick turnaround presents all kinds of obstacles, there is also a wonderful simplicity in planning and designing a wedding with a tight timeline. Obviously there is stress, but it is not a prolonged stress.  Decisions just have to be made.  You have to work with what you have.  You cannot worry about that which you cannot change.  And for the most part, it turned out absolutely perfect.wedding2back

Starting with the theme of joining hands to become family, we wanted to be sure that we hit the main features that the bride felt were important. Creating an intimate space, just for the two of them, was the most important with a bit of drama and a dash of glamour. Look familiar?


Since the groom was a great friend with their pastor, who also served as the best man, the venue was set. The bride’s four grown children along with her sister formed the bridal party.


A hand blessing read by the matron of honor, sister of the bride, had special meaning for the bride and her family. Gotta love that hooplah!

DSCN7741In order to include the children of the bride in the ceremony and create the family bond, the couple presented each child with a special necklace to commemorate the day.DSCN7760It was a wonderful gesture that along with their family sharing in communion together, symbolized the new oneness of their family.DSCN7762The look on her face here says it all…wedding2toast

There was a sparkling cider toast..(how do you like the giant flowers’ new role? Pretty cool way to fill up wall space.)wedding2cuttingcake….a wedding cake to cut….

wedding2ladies…great food…(I see black and white engineer prints!)DSCN7765friends and family to witness and share it all…wedding2prekiss…and a honeymoon in the mountains.   .

As we were breaking down the wedding decorations in April, some of the helpers( let’s be honest, mostly the menfolk) asked, “What do you want us to do with this stuff? Put it in the dumpster!?!?!”  WHAT!?!? ARE YOU INSANE?!?!  However, truth be told,  we really had no idea what we were going to do with them. They have been in storage ever since. To be able to reimagine and share them with this couple on their special day made the decision to hang on to them a blessing.

Now, who’s next?

Handmade Wedding: Wrapping up the details…AWK!

Handmade Wedding: Wrapping up the details…AWK!

Finally….the day all (three) of you have been waiting for…the last of the Handmade wedding posts!  This wedding and the ripple effect that it had was such a huge factor  this year, both physically and mentally, that I felt it had to be thoroughly documented.  And believe me when I say, I am doing everyone a favor by editing it here.  I have hundreds, possibly a thousand, pictures of everything in every stage of production that I have determined are really just for my benefit and will remain in my vaults. So here goes..

Have I mentioned that there was no shortage of creative ideas for this wedding?  And I am not just tooting my own horn. The groom, despite the fact that he was on another continent except for a couple of weeks at Christmas and the two weeks he had at the time of the wedding, was totally “in” for all aspects of the decisions and contributed his graphic design skills via the internet. From the proposal – recreated here as part of the invitation photo shoot…IMG_2063 2 …to the invitations… DSCN7566 and the program (which included the lyrics of a song the bride had written for the groom as a Christmas gift! How creative is that?)…Program Outside4…to the poster for the elevator lobby to let folks know where to go once they arrived at the venue….DSCN4227and the clever photo boards for the ladies’…    DSCN3858 DSCN3861and mens’ rooms…DSCN3860 …so fun, a guest politely took this one home as a souvenir….    DD7_7967  … to the interior of the cigar box for the ring bearer…note the paper flower inside….wounded warrior…the buffet markers and gift donation cards attached to the sparklers for the guests to light as the couple left after the reception…Groomsmen dock1 …to the t-shirts worn by the groomsmen under their tuxes…Groomsmen dock2Hooo-ah!dog tag start (2) …to the oversized dog tag…  DSCN4001…that he made the day before the wedding as a prop for… group Lindsey …the photo booth – That man was busy!!!  Being involved in all of the creative, and manual labor, was something that he not only wanted to do, but insisted that he be involved. We would have easily given him a pass.  Love that about him! Day 77 A few more projects we felt gave the wedding it’s extra special personal feel were the cake plates and cocktail glasses for the new Mr. and Mrs.  Some paint, stencils, stickers along with a little Mod Podge and we were able to customize them for very few dollars. IMG_4578The Mrs seems happy enough!    DSCN2799We had some of the most fun creating moments in some of the most unseen places – like the men’s bathroom.  This “floral” arrangement was a kick to put together.  Some silver sticks and bamboo, accented with little green Army men hot-glued to bamboo skewers….IMG_4308along with cigars, photos and some mini-bar bottles of “Jack Daniels”.DSCN3965 Actually, we filled them with iced tea so as to not cross any ABC license lines but don’t you know, all of them were empty before the reception even started!!!!  That must have been a disappointing surprise! DSCN2686One of my absolutely favorite transformations has to be the very first spot guests saw when they exited the elevator into the venue space. This is the “before” shot. Actually that was a bare  beige Formica topped table with a chrome pedestal base. The basket and tablecloth were added by us just to get an idea of how it would work.  We knew we wanted to have something dramatic to set the tone as the guests entered.   This was not it!DSCN2784That giant round basket got hit with the silver/chrome spray paint that we used on all of the sticks. Then we placed one of our hot pink napkins along with a round mirror in the center of the basket and added a floral arrangement with all of the bride’s colors. raw monogramsThe new couple’s monogram was our choice for the wall where that tropical painting was hanging. We found these paper mache’ letters at the craft store. They were probably 18 – 24 inches tall and a couple of inches thick. They had a presence. This configuration of the letters in their names actually ends up being the groom’s initials. Thankfully, wedding etiquette dictates that the bride’s name is first in the lineup so it wouldn’t come across like it was all about him! A with black paint After priming them with gesso, a coat of silver paint was added mostly to all of the edges and sides.  monogram 2 Then several coats of flat black paint were applied and allowed to dry. Using some fine sandpaper, the edges were made to look worn as the silver underpainting was revealed. A little added silver paint, a little more black, sanding off, then adding some more and they really ended up looking a lot like aged metal. Didn’t they?  We like to think so.DSCN3060So much so, that we went ahead and added the date as the perfect finishing touch.  The only difference was the numbers were wooden but the same technique.  DSCN3152Again, pretty close to looking like aged metal.DSCN2686 Remember this before?final awkAnd here is the after!  The black and silver with the hot pink and the flowers really made a dramatic statement when the elevator doors opened  It looked much more expensive than it was and we had the ceiling spot directed right at it.  It was a focal point. The basket held cards and gifts were placed around the basket on and around the table on the floor. The proper line-up of the couple’s initials, their monogram, spells “AWK”!  which has now become a family term of endearment.DSCN3096 Last but not least, the get-away vehicle (Colonial Beach is a golf cart community) was decorated using repurposed  fringe from a banner at one of Amy’s bridal showers…  DSCN4275 …as well as a poster that read …”We Be Wed” which is a call back to my wedding at which my dear word-challenged husband misunderstood the officiant and repeated “I be Wed” instead of “I Thee Wed” . Now, a family term of endearment, as well.  The poster was created with the words “Kent loves Amy” repeated in the border around the whole sign inside the black and white checkerboard.  Super cute!IMG_4765 Unfortunately, the pro photographer was long gone by the time the couple were ready to leave and we were all pretty excited – maybe it was the excessive bar tab – as the couple left the reception to “get-away” so we didn’t really get any great pictures with the cool effect of the sparklers and their top-hatted driver.  Here’s our best shot.  Sad but true.DSCN4269Oh well, the next day we made them pose for this parting shot.  Their smiles sum up the joy that the whole event brought to everyone involved.  From all of the gluing and the the planning to the dancing and the blogging, it has been an honor to help them celebrate their love for one another.

The creative energy was fueled by our love for the couple and their sweet dedication to not only one another but to our country. They continue to make sacrifices and delay the usual pleasures a newly wed couple enjoy building their new life together in order to serve and protect our freedoms.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

Love you guys!


Handmade Wedding: Rock, Paper, Sticks

Handmade Wedding: Rock, Paper, Sticks

The building blocks of a fashionable yet frugal wedding….


wedding rocks When’s the last time you pulled out your wedding guest book, or any guest book for that matter, and read all of the heartfelt sentiments your guests took the time to leave there? Uh-huh, that’s what I thought.  Guest books are sooooo last century! .wedding rocksThe guests at this wedding were invited to pick a special rock that they liked from our pre-sorted collection and leave their wishes, signature, caricature, whatever, on them.  Some made more sense than others…just saying.  “Leave each”? “You kids are totes vegates”? I am sure it must mean something incredibly special to the bride and groom.DSCN2837These were just landscaping rocks we purchased by the bag from the Home Depot, cleaned with much TLC and complaining, and placed in a nautically-inspired oyster basket with some fine-line Sharpies.wedding rocks boxGuests then dropped them in a special patriotic themed box in honor of the groom’s military service that will hold them all, along with extra blank rocks and a Sharpie to sit on a credenza for when they entertain at their new home….whenever it is that they finally get to live together as a couple!

Ugly ACSmall white rocks – again, landscaping rocks from Home Depot – in mason jars held down the sticks we used as camo for the u-g-l-y air conditioning units on the roof interrupting our wonderful river view.We did not want that hulk of machinery to be the focus of the ceremony space!!sticks in jars

Not a perfect solution but they kept your eye at the plane of the window and kept you from focusing on the obstruction outside of it so much.

DSCN2922Tumbled rock tile was our hot glue gun trivet as we made our paper flowers and also the base of the black and white photo take-aways.

IMG_2241There is more about them here.



This roll of Costco butcher paper about $15 –  and a hot glue gun were the backbone for our paper flower projects…


Giant paper flowers overhead…


…as well as lots and lots of smaller paper flowers in different sizes to adorn the space in different ways…

DD7_7863…on reserved chairs in the ceremony space…

Banner10 (2)…mixed with book text paper for a vintage feel in the chalkboard bannerbanner9 (2)…along with book text paper mixed with fabric to bring in a punch of color with the vintage.

cigar box

On and in the ring bearer’s ring box …


…paper envelopes from love letters written by the couple for the base of the groom’s cakeIMG_4309…the huge paper engineer print photos everywhere we could think of…DSCN3891…fun fluffy colorful paper pom-poms for the dance floor…( Say that fast 3 times!)buffet tags (2)…down to the menu cards designed by the groom, emailed from Germany and printed on paper cardstock for the buffet line. More of his awesome graphic design work in the next post.


My absolute favorite paper project were the floor vases we created out of cardboard concrete forms from Lowe’s for about $4 each, spray painted glossy black and banded by a field of our paper flowers. You can read more about the process of making these here.


branches tape measure

This room needed drama to liven it up and camo to hide those hulking AC units.  Our inspiration was metallic sticks we had seen at a Christmas display with, of course, tiny white lights.  We gathered a truck load of sticks, literally, cut from the woods and then set about measuring and trimming them to the varying heights so that in the end, our window sticks would have the suggestion of a wave pattern, naturally, since we were on the water.

branches smiles

We sawz-alled, trimmed, remeasured, and labeled all of our groups of sticks in the different heights.

branches spray can

Twenty four cans of this metallic silver spray paint later, we had these…

Day 62

Using the chrome metallic spray paint, as opposed to just a normal silver paint, made all of the difference.  These branches almost hurt your eyes reflecting the sun, they were so shiny and metallic.  There was tons of overspray, since the branches are so narrow, so we had some pretty nicely painted metallic cardboard under them all when we were done! If we had a few more ounces of creative energy left, we probably could have come up with a re-purpose for those! DD7_7841

Later, we gathered two huge black yard waste bags full of pine branches, not technically sticks, I suppose, and sprayed them, as well, to prop up the black and white photos in the table centerpieces.


This was the garage, booby-trapped with hanging bicycles, pine boughs, silver sticks, riding lawn mowers and stretched out white lights on load-in day.

truck branches

This was just truckload number one.


It was then up the ramps…


…and into the elevator. Fun stuff!


The poor beer delivery guy got caught holding the door for us with a hand-truck full of beer cases behind him on the elevator.  He was thrilled, to say the least.  That beer was for our reception so we had to be nice and accommodate him!  Actually, he was very nice to us.  It was a win-win.

DSCN3786Then there was this guy, along with his buddy, Obnoxious-Musical- Cotton-Candy-Machine, in the casino entrance lobby, staring and shouting at us every one of our 243 waits for the elevator to come down over the course of about 8 hours. We were all smiling pretty much like that at the end of it all.DSC_0765

Back to the cool floor vases, this glimpse of a shot was taken just as the ceremony was preparing to begin with the entrance of the officiant and the groomsmen. That’s all I have are glimpses of them finished and in place, the result of me wearing too many hats and photographer was not one of them.The two bigger vases were placed on either side of the ceremony space under the draped organza to fill in the corners. 


With a grand total of 17 people in the bridal party facing the guests, it was the only space that needed it up front!


The two smaller floor vases were at the bar and the DJ table filling in some around the glass racks and equipment. DSCN3935Our mason jars filled with white rocks and silver sticks created just enough of an illusion to create a distraction to take your eyes away from the AC units that we were hoping for in the ceremony space.   Wave pattern? Maybe not so much…subtle but still effective.DSC_1032

The illusion only went so far but it didn’t seem to keep anyone from having fun.  There’s that ceremony floor vase in the background.


The caterers ended up canabalizing some of our jars and table branches along with the ceremony chair markers to add to the display for the buffet line….another set of missing photos.  Sigh…next time!  

Rock, Paper, Sticks:  Dependable, flexible, and economical.  What more can you ask for from such basic elements?

NEXT: Wrapping it all up – AWK!




Handmade Wedding: Black and White with Color All Over

Handmade Wedding: Black and White with Color All Over

There is something about me you should know….. I try to live in the moment.  That being said, I am blogging about things in the past.  It’s a conflict.  I am doing many things – creative and otherwise – at the moment.  I promise (to myself if no one else!) I am going to finish up these wedding posts. It may seem like beating a dead bouquet, but I have several posts started in draft form that I can’t leave unfinished. I guess my “clean plate club” mentality from childhood won’t let me.  It would just  be such a waste of the time I have already spent on them not to release them.  And, I need to move on!! The weather has been so beautiful, our life is full of interesting events, and it’s all good.  Just makes it hard to have blocks of time to sit, edit photos and write.

Especially when moments like  this are going on!!!!!  day 273

Or this!!!!!

day 245

or this…day 260

(for a summary of the last 260 odd days in snapshots go here.)

However, I am nothing if not persistent so here goes….

If you’ve been following along at all, you might recall that the color theme for the wedding was black and white along with pops of bright pink, orange and yellow.  Remember this big empty generic space?ceremony space b4   How do you make those white walls more welcoming and personal without major expense?  Well, Hello, Pinterest!

giant flower ceiling (2)

Black and White Engineer prints from Staples for under $5 each! That’s how! So easy!


We hung them with slip-on plastic binder edges we found on Amazon for a couple of more bucks and hung them with push pins.  Bingo!!  Instant, personal, space-hogging and FUN wall art on the cheap! IMG_4296   Plus, we were able to roll them up, put them in a tube and give them all to the couple.They can use them to mount on wood or use them in a fun drinking-game sometime down the road.

We had the most fun in the Mens’ bathroom….Passport photos from the groomsmens’ Asian tour with their band…. IMG_4309 

The groom’s bachelor party in Baltimore the week before….you can tell he had no idea these were going to end up here.  We were sneaky, gotta admit.   We even had photos from the bachelor party in Germany (over the best man’s shoulder there)


A few Facebook captures for your viewing pleasure while you….well, you know!  (I did wonder how the bride’s dad would appreciate some of these.  Too late now!)IMG_4305

They made or great backgrounds for candid shots during the reception.

stacy lee ann background

Lyrics from a special song the bride had written for the groom, hung in the ceremony space along with the photo of the couple’s hands brought in a very personal touch.IMG_4318

Big format pictures were not the only stars of the show….we had smaller ones on ribbons hung in the bathrooms (our favorite place to spike with a little unexpected fun)…DSCN3066

…class pictures in black and white on a windowsill chronicling their childhoods (some actually had the exact same background even though they were taken in different states!)…IMG_4300

…as well as a collection of black and white photos of loved ones who are no longer with us, except in spirit, but sure would have wanted to be included. (That happens to be my p’s – Miss them!)DSCN3848

We pulled out the decorative edge scissors and trimmed up a huge pile of candid black & white photos of the couple…photo scissors

…tied them with charms and skinny satin ribbons in the bride’s colors…DSCN3046

and scattered them around the centerpieces on the tables with a note for guests to pick their favorites to take home with them. (Insert picture of bride’s cute little friend holding her colorful bouquet because you can’t find a picture of the centerpieces!)wynter bouquet

In addition to a donation made to the Wounded Warrior Project by the bride and groom in honor of their wedding guests, (the groom designed the graphics for the cards to be attached to sparklers for the send off  and sent them to us from Germany – ain’t technology swell?)…wounded warrior

…these handmade tiles that my decorating partner made, were offered as a take-away to remember the day. tile photo

  For 150 tiles, she cut all of the photos square with a pattern that resembled a torn edge effect,IMG_2241

…then, using tumbled marble tiles, she Mod Podged each square with one of two photos that were used at the wedding on the walls or in the invitation. (Don’t judge – I was busy gluing paper flower petals!)mementos on stands

They were then sealed so they could be used as photo art on a stand or propped up on a shelf, or as a coaster for your coffee!  Brilliant!

The black and white theme punched with bright color worked on every level and the photos were the personal touch that made the day – big and small, ceremony, reception and even back with the guests at home.ceremony hooplah

The couple just celebrated their six month anniversary on Sunday but have really only spent a grand total of less than a month together as husband and wife.  The groom is in Afghanistan for at least another few months, the bride is still living in Maryland but hopefully 2014 will be a different story!  Thank you to them both for their sacrifice at such a special time in their lives.

Let love be the anthem…

Next: Hooplahs and Jellyfish



Handmade Wedding: The Groooom’s Cake

Handmade Wedding: The Groooom’s Cake

Grooms’ cakes can be a whole lot of fun…this one was no exception!  Traditionally, the cake is a gift from the bride to the groom and in this case it was a gift from my family to the bride to give to the groom. (Did I mention that the groom was stationed in Germany and the bride was traveling 5 hours back and forth from her home to a graduate internship the whole time we were planning this wedding?)


Well-loved photo of the groom from basic training taped to his mom’s dashboard

bridal shower1 (2)

The bride and her future sister-in-law. So cute, right?

We wanted to reflect the groom’s interests, of course, as that is the purpose. The bride and I sat and talked and came up with basically four themes: the Army, music, Jack Daniels and BACON!!! (Not necessarily in that order)

So, we started with that.  We had all kinds of ideas….

  • Army men surfing on bacon surfboards on Jack Daniels flowing out of a bottle holding music notes.  Scratch.
  • Glasses of  Jack Daniels with Army men in them eating bacon all sitting atop sheet music.  Scratch.  
  • Then we thought –  Army men, guarding bacon roses (Pinterest!) around a giant Jack Daniels bottle with a custom label reflecting all of the groom’s musical and Army career highlights all sitting on atop envelopes from the letters they had written to one another when he was in basic training that ultimately led to his proposal during a visit at Ft. Benning.  Bingo!  Now, who to make it?!!?

It turns out, through my husband’s work in the restaurant business, he had someone in mind who does some pretty awesome cakes.  Mill Steet Sweets is part of Charley’s Waterfront Cafe’ in Farmville, VA. Charley’s is a great place to have lunch when you are in town to shop at Greenfront Furniture or visiting Longwood College.  Whoa!  I should work for the Farmville Chamber of Commerce!

All we really needed was the bottle with the label, that was the hard part. We could take care of the rest.

Bacon Roses, you say?  Easy.  Take a mini-muffin pan and drill a pretty good sized hole in the center of each cup.  This allows the copious amounts of bacon grease to drain out.  Take a pound of bacon( or more) and begin by rolling one strip at a time from the end into a flower shape.  Use your imagination…it will take some finessing but nothing too technical.

bacon rose 1

Place each “rose” into a cup in the pan and set the whole thing on top of a broiler pan with the base attached, again, to capture the copious amounts of bacon grease associated with this project. (It’s not that bad but really, you want to do it this way.)

bacon rose 2

Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 mins.then check them.  I found that they were looking pretty good on top but the bottoms were still pretty raw.  Not appealing.

baconrose 3

I just flipped them over and placed them back in the oven for another 10 mins or so. Actually, I ended up flipping them again and making sure the tops were nice and browned for another 5 or 10 mins. If you make them, you will have to judge how long you want to belabor the point.


Although my camera flash made these appear to be almost neon and no means of editing could help, they really did come out perfectly.


Kent is a cavalry scout and this guy just seemed like he was calling in to tell someone he had spotted something GOOD!!


This guy was just standing there whistling trying to hide the fact that he had just had a teeny weeny little green finger full of fondant.  Move along.  The leaves are bamboo in remembrance of the groom’s great grandmother who had tons of it growing in her yard and every important event has to have some bamboo somewhere.


“Stand Down!  Put the fork down and back away from the roses, ma’am.”


The baker nailed the label.   (Please forgive the little bit of smushing of his last name.  That was our fault trying to get it out of the ginormaous box it was in all taped and perfect. The baker did it perfectly.)Kent was the bass player in a band called Fools and Horses and that is their logo on the neck of the bottle.  Both Kent and Amy lived in Maryland before Kent shipped off to the Army but the wedding was in Virginia, where his family is from.  In fact, the venue was on the water in Maryland but you entered the front door from Virginia. They actually had to go outside after their ceremony to get married for real on the beach in Virginia because the officiant was not authorized to conduct a wedding in Maryland! 


Speaking of ginourmous, did I mention that this cake is at least 2 feet long and probably 10 – 12 inches wide?  Those army men are 4 inches tall!  It weighed a good 20 pounds. It was massive. Of course, it had to feed 40 people, which it did beautifully..


How about the attention to detail on the bottom of the bottle, I mean cake?


I had the bride and groom each fill out an envelope using the addresses where they lived during their correspondence while Kent was in basic training.  Then had photocopies made and we cut them out and had them all around the base of the cake.


Not only did it say it all…..

grooms cake bite with rose

…it was DELICIOUS!  Super moist yellow sponge cake smeared with raspberry preserves & filled with French vanilla butter cream. YUM!  The groom’s favorite flavors.  (Awful picture, sorry!  Hard to eat, drink and be merry while holding a clipboard and a camera!)


It looks like someone is helping themselves with a spoon!  And the Army men, well, they are just overcome.  There was very little cake left at the end of the night.  Hmmmm…..

528424_10151565784623024_1338588521_nAND all of the Army men were AWOL by the time we packed up, by the way. I know they have found new assignments as I have seen glimpses of them from time to time on Facebook.  Carry on.

A perfect tribute to the groom and a great ending to a fun rehearsal dinner.

Thanks for checking it out…..





What do extra-large rootie toots (what some call the inner cardboard liners of paper towel rolls) have to do with a wedding?  Well, I would have asked myself that same question a few months ago.  But now I know…


Besides generally just being fun to talk into…they will serve a very important purpose.  We had two 4 foot tubes -actually cardboard forms used to pour concrete pillars for building footings in construction.- one 12 inches in diameter and one 8 inches in diameter.  We cut them in half so there were four 2 foot long tubes.


Next we drew circles on masonite to fit over the bottoms of each tube…

cutting circles

then cut them out with a jig saw.  Fun stuff there!miter box

Then we cut little chunks of wood to create blocking so we would have something to which to glue the circles.

crock of blocks

Lots of little blocks….


Two kinds of glue – E6000 to hold it forever, and hot glue to hold it while the E6000 dried.

wood blocking

After gluing all of the blocks in place around the inside of the tube, the bottom was attached using the double glue method.


A coat of white was applied in a large stripe on the center third of the tubes, taped off and then…



…a thick coat of high gloss black was brushed on to the top and bottom thirds. (I see uncooperative icicle lights hanging in the background on another project!)


That’s all I can share right now….but it’s gonna be good!  Despite the fact that they look like traffic barrels right now.  Gotta run and heat up the glue gun!

Three weeks til the big day!