Christina and Dan Request the Honor of Your Presence

You had a sneak peak at our wedding stationery style last week when I showed you our guest book. Here’s the actual invitation:
 

Dscn1729

The invitation is the first wedding-related item that your guests will see if you don’t send save the date cards (which we didn’t). It sets the tone for your big day. The invitation needs to match the mood you want at your wedding. If your wedding is super fancy, you shouldn’t be using an ink pad and stamp to be making your invitations.

Dan and I wanted a playful, fun wedding. My instinct first shot me towards looking up invitation on Wedding Paper Divas, but then Dan had the truly wonderful idea of designing the invitations ourselves. Could we do such a thing?

Dan is a senior copywriter at an ad agency, so he has quite a knack with words. He would need a helper though, an art director. One of Dan’s co-worker’s, Lauren, stepped up to the challenge and what they came up with far exceeded any expectation I had for an invitation.

Let’s start at the beginning. First thing is deciding your wedding colors. I always knew black and hot pink would be featured on my big day. I found it to be an elegant, but modern combination. We threw in lime green for an extra pop of color.

We hightailed it over to Paper Source to see what we could find in the colors we liked. We ended up going with the Open End Envelope in fuchsia for the outer envelope and the 4 Bar Envelope in black for the response card. For the invitation itself, we used Luxe Fino Paper in cream. We took full advantage of the bulk order discount too. It saved us a few pennies.

Dan and Lauren designed every piece of the invitation themselves. Along with the actual invitation, we also sent the response card,

Dscn1730

and my favorite piece – the timeline/reception card/map all in one.
 

Dscn1731

I just love the map key that shows where the church, reception hall, and hotel are. Those icons are adorable!

Speaking of icons, Dan and I had a sort of logo that we used in many elements of the wedding. It was this:
 

Dscn1734

Can you see what it is? Yep, the ampersand symbol is actually an interlocking pink “c” and a white “d” – our initials. Clever, huh? That came about thanks to Dan and Lauren. What a great design! We printed the symbol on label paper and stuck one on the back of each invitation to close it, which worked kind of like a  modern day seal.

When all was said and done, we spent about $400 on our invitations. Compared to the $900+ it would cost to get custom invitations designed and printed, I was very happy for our savings.

Now if only I could come up with a way to cut the time it takes to stuff the envelopes and get the invitations out. That would be a real accomplish.
Advertisements

Actually Using Your Engagement Photos

The engagement photo session. Many photographers are offering this service that was virtually unheard of a few years ago. I loved the concept. Sure, I have plenty of photos of Dan and I from various events, but I wouldn’t exactly call them good shots. Case in point:

Dan_004

Yep, the typical, “We’re in a bar. Let’s take a picture!”

We wanted some better shots of us.

Dan’s friend/co-worker, Natalia, and her husband, Tony, are extremely talented photographers. We were lucky that they both agreed to follow us around on a Saturday morning and take some engagement shots for us. You already had a small preview from my wedding scrapbook post.

I’ll spare you the details about where we went to take the photos, where I got my wardrobe, and how early in the morning we started (ok, 7am). Instead, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Picture_9
Picture_21
Picture_10
Picture_23

Dan and I were beyond pleased with how the photos came out. I felt Christmas morning-type glee as I scrolled through the photos when we got them. They were gorgeous shots. But how could I display more than just a few of them without our home looking as obnoxious as the photo spread of Mark and Vanessa in Juno?

Using his creative mind, Dan came up with an awesome idea. Why not use the engagement photos to create a guest book? Genius!

I sparked to the idea, because a plain book with lines was just not going to cut it for me, and I had already looked far and wide for a guest book alternative, but nothing was striking my fancy. I first turned to etsy, one of my favorite places to find unique homemade crafts.

I saw this thumbprint tree from Love from the Thumb. I liked that you could actually hang this and see it everyday.
Guest_book_-_tree

I thought something like this note card guest book set from Cut the Cake Designs would be fun too.
Guest_book_-_file_folder

But a guest book made from the perfect engagement photos with space for guests to sign sounded great.

Dan started by researching some photo book companies online. He liked Blurb the best. We sifted through all the wonderful shots and came up with our favorites. Then, Dan designed each page. He discovered that the simple and easy way to make a beautiful photo book is to just pull every photo to the edges of the page (they call that full bleed). Then he added lines for the guests to write their names and any messages they wanted.
Img_0690

It was a bit time consuming, but the guest book turned out great.

We borrowed the font and some design elements from our invitations, so everything matched perfectly.
Dscn1720

We received many complements from guests, saying they had never before seen a guest book quite like ours. And they enjoyed looking at the engagement photos they otherwise would have never seen.

We also used the guest book as an opportunity to try out Blurb’s custom books. We liked Blurb so much that we even used it to make our wedding album. It is a gorgeous coffee table book, and it saved us quite a pretty penny compared to buying an album from our professional photographer.

I’m so glad we got to showcase the engagement photos in a fun and unexpected way. How did you use yours?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Pomander Power

I got married in the same church where I was baptized and at the same parish where I went to grade school. It’s what you think of when you think of traditional Roman Catholic churches.
0347

When I started thinking about how to decorate such a large space, my priest gave me some advice. He told me that he’s seen it all – weddings with a ton of flowers and decorations, and weddings that had nothing. In such a big space, no matter what you do, there won’t be enough to make a huge difference. He is a wise man.

He was totally right. The wedding party (especially the bridesmaids) add a ton of color to the altar. No matter how many floral arrangements I could have put up there with us, they wouldn’t have been noticed. I’m glad we politely said no thank you to the florist when they asked if we needed altar decoration arrangements.

However, I knew the aisle needed something. At 84 feet long, and with everyone looking down it, leaving the aisle undecorated was not an option. I knew flowers would be expensive, so I tried to figure something else out that would be economical, that would fit in with our flowers/theme, and would be pretty. That’s when I turned to pomanders.

Originally, I tried to make them out of tissue paper. I took 3″ styrofoam balls, made tissue paper flowers, then used floral wire to attach the flower to the styrofoam. I made many flowers. It took a long time. In order to make the pomander hang from the pew, I attached a thick black ribbon. Here’s what I got as an end result.
Dscn0777

I didn’t love it. It looked blah and very homemade. So I kept searching. I came upon this wedding blog post, and my eyes lit up. These were perfect! Pink daisies were already going to be in the bouquets, and I loved the clean and uniform look of the daisy punches. They seemed so easy to make too. I think I found my pew decorations.

After a few trips to JoAnn Fabric for the seam binding and some hot pink scrapbook paper, three wonderful friends of mine and I got to work. Becky, Claire, and Mary each began wrapping styrofoam balls with seam binding while I began punching out what felt like thousands of hot pink little daisies. Once we had a few of the balls ready to go, I switched jobs and started pinning the flowers onto the now black styrofoam balls. We modified the pomanders from the blog post by adding a sequin to each flower. Just put the sequin on the pin first, then push the pin, sequin, and flower into the styrofoam. I love that extra little bit of shine.
Dscn0884

Hours later, we completed all 12 of the pomanders. The only thing left to do was to find a way to secure the pomander to each pew. At this point, it was 11pm and we were all tired. The solution would have to wait for another day. One of my bridesmaids, Becky, was my savior and volunteered to take all 12 pomanders home and solve the problem for me.
Dscn0886

Yeah, Becky rocks.

I saw the finished product at the rehearsal. What an ingenious idea! She used over the door hooks! She cut each hook down and used the top part of it as the hanger for over the pew. She covered each hook with black ribbon and for added cute-ness, she bought black ribbon with sparkly dots to make bows. She’s quite the crafter.
 

Dsc00977

On the wedding day, they were hung on the pews with care by the groomsmen. 
0196
Every other pew, Scott. 

They looked fabulous.
0263

Looking at photos later, I was beyond pleased with the results. Don’t tell anyone, but on wedding day, I didn’t even notice them. While walking down the aisle, I was looking at all my family and friends, and of course, at Dan, so I didn’t notice them as I passed them. But, they definitely added some pizazz to the long and boring aisle. And other people noticed.
0320

This was actually one of the wedding crafts I enjoyed making the most, probably because I made them with friends. Do you think I can make a living as a pomander maker? Maybe if I supplement my income by becoming a wedding planner too. Oh, and a cupcake shop baker. Dare to dream.

Mini Memory Books and Bridesmaid Dress Cookies

To kick off my wedding posts, I’m sharing with you how I made the small tokens of appreciation I gave those wonderful girls I called my bridesmaids before our first big dress shopping trip.

Bridesmaids do a lot for their brides. They should be thanked. I was lucky enough to have 6 fantastic bridesmaids with me on my big day. I’m even luckier to have them in my life.
 

0151

They are all busy women. Two have small children. All have some form of a higher educational degree. Even though growing up, none of them lived more than 10 minutes from me, getting together now can be a challenge. So when I arranged a date for us to go bridesmaid dress hunting, I was thrilled that 4 bridesmaids could be there.

This outing would be the first wedding-related event that my bridesmaids and I would be doing together, so I thought a small gesture to thank them for all they were doing for me was in order. I decided making them a mini memory book and dress-shaped cookies was the way to go.
 

Dscn0340

Here’s how I made the books.

I started with 3 pieces of double-sided scrapbook paper. I cut each piece into 3 even strips, each strip being 4″ tall and 12″ long. Using clear tape, I taped two paper strips together, making one long strip that is 2 feet long. I did that 4 times. you should have one 4″ strip left over.

I folded each long strip of paper into 6 even folds, which is a fold every 4 inches. Your strip should now look like an accordian.

Now came the fun part. I searched my archives for the funniest and oldest photos I had of me and each of my bridesmaids. Considering I’ve been friends with these girls since we were young’ns, I had quite a few good ones.

I started with the oldest photos and worked my way to the present day. For added contrast, I had the pictures printed in black and white. I used 5 photos for each mini book, and on the last open panel, I wrote each bridesmaid a small note of thanks.
 

Dscn0335

To keep the books together, I bought the thinnest ribbon I could find in hot pink, since I  knew the dress we were searching for would be that color. Using a hole punch, punch two holes close together on the front cover of the book. Loop the ribbon in the holes, then wrap the ribbon around the books 3 times. Cut the ribbon and tie a bow. I printed out each name and added it to the front of the mini book as the final touch.
 

Dscn0334

Now on to the edible part – the cookies! Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or ready to make sugar cookie dough if you’re in a time crunch) and roll out the dough. Take a cookie cutter and cut out a dress-shaped piece of dough. I used this dress cookie cutter. Bake them according to the directions. When they’re done, take them out of the oven and let the cookies cool completely.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can frost them. I preferred to use frosting that hardened, so I could stack the cookies when I wrapped them. Here’s the recipe I used to make the icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pink sprinkles

Mix the powdered sugar and vanilla together until thoroughly combined. Next, add corn syrup and the vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Add in the gel food coloring until you get the color you want. Ice the cookies quickly, as this frosting is made to harden. Quickly sprinkle, if desired. Leave the cookies alone until the icing hardens. Once the icing is dry, the cookies can be stacked.
 

Dscn0336

Note: Do not make this frosting until the cookies are ready to be iced. If you make it too early, the icing with harden and will become unspreadable.

I gave the bridesmaids the books and cookies after we got back from dress shopping, but before we headed out for a night on the town together.

Dscn0361

Thank you, ladies!

Wedding Scrapbook Fail

I can’t believe it. My anniversary is coming up quickly. It’ll be one year since I became a Mrs.

Time flies when you’re having fun!

0551

To mark such a momentous occasion, I’m taking a small break from home decorating and baking/cooking posts. Instead, I’ll be recapping some of the crafty DIY wedding details in the two weeks leading up to our anniversary, June 5.

As you probably could have guessed, I was very much into cutting costs where I could for the wedding. The average wedding costs something like $30,000 these days, so I was looking to save where possible. I was also a DIY bride, which not only helped keep costs down, but really helped fill the wedding with personal touches. As one guest later told me, you could see Dan and I in every little detail. Just as we had hoped!

In the next couple weeks, you’ll see all those little details we created for our wedding.

Post-wedding has been a bit of a different story. There’s one item I still haven’t gotten around to doing, almost a whole year later. The wedding scrapbook.

The scrapbook wouldn’t be of the wedding itself. No, we paid for a professional photographer and for a professional (looking) album. That’s enough for me.

No, I was going to scrapbook the wedding-related events up to the big day. You know: engagement, showers, bachelorette party, dress fittings, etc.

Ever since a few Christmases ago, when my mother-in-law gave me a ton of scrapbook supplies and introduced me to the concept of scrapbooking, I’ve really enjoyed making scrapbook pages. It’s a great way to remember a special event, and it seems more meaningful that just shoving all your photos into an album.

I’ve made some pretty good pages in the past, if I do say so myself.
Dscn1689

Here’s a Girl’s Day Luau I hosted.

 

Dscn1687

Here’s New Year’s Eve, celebrating with my friends and Dan.
 

Dscn1688
And here’s a family Easter.

 

Anyways, I planned the whole wedding scrapbook out. As a birthday gift, my mom got me some of the supplies I would need.

I looked through the photos I had from each event and printed my favorites. I even went so far as to separate the photos and put them each in envelopes I had labeled with the event description.

But then the supplies and envelopes kind of just sat there. At first, I told myself I was busy wedding planning, and I would get to scrapbooking after the big day. Then, I moved. Then it was summer time, and I wanted to enjoy the warm weather while I could. Before I knew it, Christmas was nearing. Then we got the dog. And I kept making excuse after excuse every time I thought about how I meant to make the scrapbook.

In my defense, I did get a few pages done.

Dscn1690
I scrapbooked our engagement night.  
 

Dscn1691
And the night I asked 6 of my closest friends to be my bridesmaids.
 

Dscn1692
And I made a spread from some of our engagement photos.

My goal had been to finish the scrapbook by our one year anniversary. That is clearly not happening. My new goal is to finish it by the end of summer. Check back to see how I do.

For now, be on the look out for my wedding recap posts starting Monday.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers and Fries

With summer right around the corner, I’ve been looking for new grill recipes. Call it wishful thinking, but I’m hoping it soon gets too warm to cook indoors. But last night, the grilling was out of preference, not neccessity. We made portobello burgers with a side of fries.
Dscn1675

Making the mushrooms is really easy, which is another bonus of grilling. Hardly any prep time. I did a slight modification of this recipe from Mayo Clinic. Who would have thought this recipe is actually good for you?

Here’s what you’ll need:
4 bun-sized portobello mushrooms
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil

I started by cleaning off the mushroom caps and taking out the stems.
Dscn1660

Mix the rest of the ingredients together.
Dscn1658

Put the portobellos gill side up in a shallow dish/pan and drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms.
Dscn1662

Put the mushrooms in the fridge for 30 minutes. Flip them, then let them marinade for 30 minutes more.

Next, fire up that grill! Put the mushrooms on the grill, and save the marinade in the pan. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms while they cook.
Dscn1668

You only need to keep them on the grill for about 8 minutes or so. Too long and the mushrooms will dry out.

Put the portobellos on buns, and top with your favorite toppings. We added cheddar cheese to ours, which definitely took the healthy factor down a notch. I think we still came out ahead though.

While the marinading and grilling is going on, start your fries.

For the two of us, I usually cut up three potatoes and end up with zero leftovers. Modify that as you want.

I cut them up into thick slices and leave on the skin. I get out a cookie sheet, line it with tin foil for easy clean up, and spray it with cooking spray. Put the potato slices on one of its sides, being careful not to stack them. Drizzle olive oil on them, just until each piece has some on it. Then, sprinkle salt, pepper, and rosemary over everything.
Dscn1664

Bake the fries in the oven at 400 for about 25 minutes. Be sure to flip the fries after 12-13 minutes, or else you will have a heck of a time getting them off the tin foil.

Take them out and serve immediately.

As there are only two of us eating this meal, we had two extra portobellos. Chop up the leftovers and throw it in a spinach salad with feta, cranberries, and pecans. A whole new meal for tomorrow’s lunch.

Sunday Night Homemade Pizza

Growing up, my dad always made pizza for us on Sunday night. It was tradition. The dough was made from scratch. The veggies he used were grown in his yard. The only item that came pre-made was the pizza sauce.

Yesterday, we made our own, with just a few modifications.

Dscn1647

First, we made whole wheat pizza dough. As we don’t have a go-to recipe for whole wheat dough (we only do for regular dough), we googled it and ended up with this recipe from allrecipes.com.

Once we mixed the ingredients together, we put the dough mixture into the mixer and kneaded it with the dough hook for about 10 minutes.

Dscn1638

Put the dough in an oil covered bowl and place it in a warm, non-drafty place for an hour so it can rise. We put it in the oven.

Dscn1639

Here’s how it looked after an hour.

Dscn1642

Roll the dough into a ball, and let it rise another 45 minutes. We weren’t ready to make the pizza yet, so after the 45 minutes, we wrapped the dough in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for a couple hours, until dinner time.

We rolled the dough out onto the pizza stone and sprinkled it with sugar.

Dscn1644

Next, add the pizza sauce. Then, we chopped up the veggies for toppings. Here’s the onion.

Dscn1640

We loaded the pizza. We ended up putting onion, yellow pepper, jalapeno, mushrooms, black olives, pepperoni, cheese, and pizza seasoning.

Dscn1646

We put it in the oven for 10 minutes, flipped it, then cooked it 10 minutes more.

Ooey, gooey, and incredibly cheesy.

Dscn1648

On a completely unrelated note, we finished the frame gallery in our office. Here it is in all its glory.

Dscn1621

U of I’s Quad, goldfish, a bird printed on a vintage Chicago map, a Marimekko print, and some random images we found and liked. An eclectic mix, huh?