Bridal Shower and Wedding Decor

If you’ve been following my blog posts the last few months you’ll know that I got engaged and have been planning a wedding. You can read about the planning process thus far in my posts Wedding Planning on a Budget Part I and Wedding Planning on a Budget Part II. In this post, I will be sharing how my mom and I have been using doilies, paint, scrapbook paper, ribbons, “K” stickers, picture corners, string, and old farm windows to make some really personal touches for both the bridal shower and the wedding.

Our world has looked something like this the last few weeks…

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First, I LOVE being Irish and this was maginified after my trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland 2 years ago. Our wedding is ironically SO traditional that people think we’re being UNtraditional! One of the traditions that I fell in love with is hand tying or handfasting.

The Handfasting Ceremony is an ancient Celtic tradition symbolizing the joining of two people in marriage. There are many versions of this gesture illustrating the union of husband and wife and is the origin of the phrase “tying the knot.”

In the Celtic tradition, the Handfasting Ceremony includes 13 ribbons, each with its own meaning.

Hand fasting is an ancient Roman and Celtic wedding tradition which involves tying the bride and Groom’s hands together to symbolize coming together and remaining together. During the Roman Empire, the couple’s hands were tied together with grape vines and rope which explains the origination of the phrase “tying the knot.”

Handfasting was also later used as a form of marriage in the British Isles during the early Christian era. The couple’s hands were tied together with a cord in front of friends and family and were then considered legally married. They would have a formal wedding ceremony later when a priest was available to officiate.

Colors

Red – will, love, strength, fertility, courage, health, vigor, passion

Orange – encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction, plenty, kindness.

Yellow – attraction, charm, confidence, balance, harmony

Green – fertility, luck, prosperity, nurturing, beauty, health, love

Dark Blue -for a safe journey, longevity & strength

Light Blue – tranquility, understanding, patience, health

Purple – healing, health, strength, power, progress

Black – strength, empowerment, wisdom/vision, success, pure love

White – spiritual purity, truth, peace, serenity and devotion

Gray – balance, neutrality

Pink – love, unity, honor, truth, romance, happiness

Brown – for healing , skills & talent, nurturing, home & hearth, the earth.

To begin, I got 12 rolls of 1 inch satin ribbon. I made 4, 3 strand braids.

  1. Dark blue, light blue, gray.
  2. Orange, red, yellow
  3. Pink, purple, green
  4. Black, white, brown

 

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From those 4 braids, I braided them all together in a 4 strand braid. This is the pattern I followed, which was much easier than I thought it would be. dd2a85afe3973c777e6a755377a77cd3.jpg

It took about 10ft of each ribbon to make this strand. After braiding it all together, I took it all apart. The ribbons will be laid out to have well wishes, blessings, and love, written on them by women who attend the bridal shower. Their love will literally be braided into our vows.

I love old farm house windows. I like old things in general more often than not. We had a few at our house, my future MIL had some, and she found a few on the side of the road from people redoing their house. Each mom made a window with pictures of Ethan and I, and a window of us through the years.

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We used the windows, pictures, acrylic paints, clear picture corners, and window/chalk markers. They will be used to decorate both the shower and the wedding.

Other windows will be used for the hot chocolate bar at the wedding, favors/guest book, a memorial window, and one with a saying on it that we just like.

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My mom wanted to have something to string across the front of some tables, and on the wall to create a little backdrop while I open gifts. We were really struggling to find something pre-made that we liked. The shower is pastel colors, I’m not really into gold or rose gold, so finding something to go with our theme was non-existent. Using doilies we got at Michaels, rainbow twine, and some square scrapbook paper, my ma made this really cute swags. All she did was fold the doilies and paper over the rainbow twine and secure them closed with a single piece of double-sided sticky tape. BOOM! Quick and easy AND they match the shower stuff perfectly! Each doilie pack came with 40, so we have more than enough to give each guest a doilie for their tea cup at each place setting as well.

You can see they made a great little addition and cute place to snap some photos!

Each guest is getting a jar of homemade strawberry jam, a honey stick from a local bee keeper, and 2 tea bags. I am all about the personal touches. I found these great “K” stickers at Michaels for a little more than $1. Each jar got a “K” just to add some personalization.

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On each bag there is a folded doilie. On the doilie I wrote their name, their table name, and “How Sweet of You to Come!” We got basic white doilies, ribbon in a few different colors, and paper bags in a few pretty colors.

I’ve been to so many beautiful wedding and bridal showers that are just impersonal. You could remove the bride and groom and be at anyone’s wedding or shower. The personal touches are what make a wedding or shower, whether our own initials/monograms, or our guests. It is so easy to make your guests feel special and make your day YOURS.

Stay tuned as more decorations are completed over the next few months! Follow me on instagram@brunetteswithbrains to keep up with the latest posts and news!

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Wedding Planning on a Budget Part II

In my first part of this “series” I went over our basic wedding decisions. I discussed venue, some decorations, stationary and stamps. You can find all the good stuff HERE. I’m going to share a few more things that have come up and expenses that creep in.

DJ:

I love music. Ethan loves music. I sing. I dance. I wiggle. He hums. And kinda has rhythm. And plays a few instruments. I would have a dance party in the corner if I needed too. But a DJ does more than just play music at a wedding, at least, a good one does more than that. We started our search for a DJ, and it’s not easy. You start out with recommendations from others. “The DJ at my cousin’s nephew’s wedding was great! They rave about him. Let me get you their number!” You smile, grin, take the number and stuff it in the back of your wedding planner. You look online. And you find people that are $2,000+, they seem fun, but well…you can tell they just won’t really “work.” And then, your mom goes “hey, we know a guy DUH!” Not only do we know him, but after having done work for the school I attended, I know he’s good. I knew he was REALLY good when I got on his website and he had a questionnaire with really, really, good questions. Everything from who is in our wedding party, special dances and what songs we’d like, what kind of music we want played, what we absolutely do NOT want played, the list goes on. He is a DJ but also an MC. WINNING! And on top of that, he is AFFORDABLE! It’s in the name Affordable Music DJs.

Photography:

This may be one of the most important elements of your wedding. Seriously, you are going to be stuck looking at these pictures for all eternity. Nothing is worse than paying a boat load of money for bad pictures, poorly edited pictures, or a photographer who doesn’t get any of the shots you wanted them too. Photography is not cheap. Your friend might have a camera and say they are a “photographer,” but, call me a snob (maybe it’s because I’m a teacher), I put stock in an education, and I am THRILLED that our photographer not only has a degree in digital media/photography or that she is budget conscious/friendly, but that she is also a friend and did our engagement pictures. You can take a look at some of those HERE. I have no fear that she will do an amazing job because she already knocked it out of the park for those, and she knows what we want.

*Side note idea* Create a private Pinterest board just for you and your photographer if they’re into that kind of thing. I went through and found pictures and poses that I would like to do for our wedding. Giving them a visual and idea to go off of other than “um…you’ve done this before, I trust you,” will help give them a legitimate direction and make sure that you have an idea of what you are looking for as well.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.08.14 AM.pngFood:

I feel like this is one of the more stressful ordeals to go through when planning a wedding. I’ve been to a number of weddings, and there always seem to be fads over the years as well. I tend to have a bit of a selfish mind frame. This is our wedding. You are our guests, and we’re glad that you can come, but at the end of the day, it’s ours. Not yours. I’m not going to kill myself to have 18 different options because you may not be in the “mood” for chicken, allergic to everything under the sun, or have a billion food allergies (unless it’s serious like you start flopping on the floor if you get near a peanut).

We are having an early ceremony and lunch reception for a number of reasons. Everything from we have people traveling from out of town and I don’t want them to have to NEED to stay the night, to I want to not be dead and enjoy my wedding night. There are 3. food positives to this scenario.

1. It’s lunch so there’s not as much pressure to have a fancy sit-down dinner or something.

2. No alcohol. I have nothing against it, I’m not a staunch alcohol is the worst thing ever, but really. If you can’t have fun at a wedding without it, you shouldn’t be there; and if you REALLY want to drink at 1 in the afternoon before driving home there are bigger issues. It’s just something that due to the time of day, we are easily able to skip….and save hundreds of dollars in the process by doing.

3. Lunch food in general tends to be a bit lighter and more fun. So we are doing pizza. Yes. You read that right. Pizza. We are having a pizza lunch reception. We are offering 3 varieties- Pepperoni, Hawaiian, and Margarita (fancy cheese pizza).  When people RSVP they will be able to chose their flavor so that we have an idea of how many of each we’ll need. We are also having salad and some sides. My parents are not 100% on the pizza band wagon so they will have some small/extra “options” for their own sanity. But it will be less than $500 to have pizza for about 150 people.

Drinks will be water, soda, and a hot chocolate/coffee table. We will make the giant pot things of coffee, and put the hot chocolate in crock pots. Marshmallows, chocolate dipped spoons, mini candy canes, whipped cream, sauces, 3 basic cream flavors, mini chocolate chips, and coconut will be provided to add to the hot drinks. We found awesome disposable mugs from Sam’s Club for a very reasonable price.0009838260822_A.jpgAgain, something super fun that will cost under $200 to do for our guests.

The Restaurant Store is AMAZING! I’m sorry if you don’t have one near you, or you’ve never heard of it. Because it’s the bomb.com. The items we can’t get from SAMs club, we are getting from here, like nice, disposable plates that we can buy by the case for under $100. Buying in bulk is a great, quick, easy way to save money and have plenty of what you need!

 

Favors:

Originally my mother and I thought of this brilliant idea to do jars of jam. But we don’t buy jam, we make it ourselves. And then we started thinking about the fact that we’d have to get about 150 little jam jars. If you haven’t ever made jam yourself let me tell you….it takes a LOT of fruit to make it happen. I mean, a TON! Even with having a strawberry patch in our backyard, there’s no way in the world we’d grow enough. Oh yeah, and it takes a TON of sugar. The logistics and reality of that cute favor hit us pretty quickly. We decided to make it the bridal shower favor instead and start from scratch for the wedding.

We found heart and snowflake shaped cookie cutters from Oriental trade. I love to bake. Everyone knows it. I have a particular affinity for sugar cookies. The cutters come on a card, have a sugar cookie recipe on the inside, and a personalization spot on the front. They’re about $9 a dozen.

They’re cute, but they’re a bit plain. My plan is to use blue water color on the left and right edges to make them a bit more personal and pretty. They come out to cost just a bit more than $1 each.

Hand-Me-Downs:

Weddings are beautiful. Weddings hopefully, only happen once for you. You have one day to make this happen. ONE DAY. Which is why spending an astronomical amount just makes my skin crawl. The average wedding is about $20k. That’s a down payment on a house. That’s a car. That’s a really really really nice vacation to Europe for like a month. It makes my head spin. And at the end of the day, it is only ONE day. The most important part of that day is marrying your best friend and love of your life. Who cares if you use hand me down goodies from other friends or even strangers who used them before you?

My future sister-in-law got married last September. They bought good quality white table cloths and cloth napkins. We have to pick up a few extra but that is a large chunk of money we are saving by borrowing them. The center pieces will pop on the white. We’re using blue ribbon and jingle bells to tie the napkins, that will later be used for our jingle bell send-off.

I was in a wedding in Nebraska last weekend. Her mother spent good money and got a very nice quality isle runner. She sold it to me for $30. There are a few faint step marks that I’ll wipe off with a damp cloth. I’m getting paint markers and am going to write/calligraphy on a Bible verse Ethan and I picked out.

My mother and I have been collecting blue glass for years. We pick them up at Goodwill, yard sales, or even get them as gifts when friends and family see them at yard sales and Goodwill. We’ve spent anywhere for $5 to $0.50 on vases and glasses (with the exception of the blue wine bottles because we had to drink the wine first). Each center piece with the flowers, pine cones, jingle bells, and blue glass will easily cost less than $5 a table.

In Conclusion:

As an English teacher, that ending makes my skin crawl, but it works here. You’ll notice throughout the post that most of the products I’m using, I’m getting through people I know. This does not mean that I am getting discounts. I’m paying the same amount other people would pay for the same services and goods. But it does two things. I can rest assured knowing that the people I am relying on to make our day special will make it happen. I trust them. I would also much rather give my business and money to local people who I know and trust. I spent a lot of time shopping around and looking for decent quality, good prices, and coupons. I’m buying “plain” items and making them personal and our own. Personalization is key. Adding a monogram, adding a picture, adding an aspect that is obviously hand crafted/done, instantly makes things seem more expensive and nicer than something just bought off of a shelf and given.