Broke-Ass Category: Event Design & Reception Decor

1/31

My Pinterest board is filled to the brim with ideas. I’ve considered everything from building an altar from used pallet boards to growing my own rose garden and assembling the bridal bouquet. It’s time for an intervention!

I’ve known for years, well before I was officially engaged that I would be a “do it yourself” bride. Not just because of the cost savings but also because I am a crafty person — or at least I would like to think that I am. I just love the personal satisfaction of seeing an idea become a reality. My only challenge is that creating over 20 centerpieces for the best day of my life might be a bit more time consuming than the seasonal centerpieces that adorn my dining room table. With that being said and considering that I claim to be a time management guru, constantly on the hunt to find my balance, it’s basically required that I find the time to master all of my wedding DIY projects.

What’s the fun in doing it alone? There isn’t any, so I decided to reach out to my bridesmaids and host a party! Below are 4 tips to assembling your gal pals for a low cost and productive crafting session.

Tip 1: Plan in advance. I can appreciate that the favorite ladies in my life are movers and shakers. I decided in November 2016 after several conversations trying to explain my wedding vision that it would be best to corral everyone in the same space and share all of the updates while tying bows and spray painting.  I created a GroupMe event with the date, time and location information for the January 2017 party. You should have seen the look on my face when my Matron of Honor who lives in Austin, flew to Atlanta and surprised me for the weekend. I guess that the pre-planning worked in my favor!

Real Bride Ciji's Matron of Honor

My Matron of Honor is the best!

Tip 2: Be prepared, yet flexible. I have a general idea of how I want the wedding day to look and feel however I haven’t vetted every single idea and that’s OK. When I created the original plan for the day, I thought that we would spray paint over 200 vases. Well in order to do that I needed to confirm if we will have candles or flowers in the vases, what color should we spray paint them and where would we paint them considering that it was 30 degrees outside. So at the last minute I aborted that plan and decided we should de-label some wine bottles and focus on jazzing up the invitations. We didn’t finish every project but it was fun to brainstorm with my bridesmaids and they helped me firm up a lot of the ideas that were floating in my head.

Real Bride Ciji's DIY Project

Soak, apply Goo Gone, rinse, polish and repeat.

Tip 3: Snacks and drinks are a must. What type of host would I be if I didn’t have something for us to munch on and drink while we viewed “making a bow” Youtube videos? I invited everyone to come over after lunch but before traditional dinner hours, so I prepared a Crockpot queso dip and ensured that we had plenty of wine and ingredients for cocktails.

Tip 4: Maximize the time! We didn’t finish every project and that’s OK. The best part about the day was hanging out with my friends! My Matron of Honor was able to meet one of the other bridesmaids for the first time, we spent quality time together catching up and swapping stories, we squeezed in some planning time for the rehearsal lunch and bridal shower and most importantly we were able to just hang out and enjoy ourselves in a relaxed environment.

Real Bride Ciji's DIY Team

The Dream Team!

Do you have some big DIY plans? How are you going to wrangle your team to help? Share in the comments!

  • 1/10

    I mentioned a while ago that we planned to use fake flowers when it came time for bouquets, bouts, corsages and decor. So that’s what we did. Other than my bouquet, every other piece of flowery goodness was made with artificial flowers, and we were insanely happy with how they all turned out.

    We had two separate seating areas since dinner was outdoors, and dancing and partying were in the barn. Because of that, we wanted to do two different centerpieces. Outside, we had three long rows of tables, which we covered in pink linens with cream doily runners and 30 centerpieces made with flowers and carousel horses.

    Rachel's outdoor dinner tablescape

    Rachel's carousel horse centerpieces

    My mom found the bases on clearance and spray painted them aqua. She made all of the flower arrangements, including really cute fabric flowers with buttons in the center. The carousel horses were an eBay find, and while I don’t know the exact price, they weren’t super expensive. Once they were all put together, I was obsessed. They went perfectly with the linens, mismatched china and doilies. We also put boxes of Cracker Jacks and jars of gumballs out, too. My sister-in-law and bridesmaid, Rachel, hand-folded all of the napkins into pinwheels because she is the best ever, and we used homemade cream cheese mints as the centers. I made the actual batter (dough? I really don’t know what it is, lol), but my mom, SIL and a couple of other really awesome helpers made them into edible treats.

    Real Bride Rachel's table settings

    Listen, it was windy. Though not exactly how you set a table, the fork made sure those legit napkins didn’t blow away. After all the work of folding them, that would have been a travesty.

    Inside the barn was our party area, so we decided to go with fun, whimsical centerpieces for the eight round tables we set up. We took some of the best parts of a carnival and rolled them all into one fun arrangement.

    Rachel's centerpieces inside her venue

    Rachel's centerpieces inside her barn venue

    Icees? Popcorn? Rock candy? Lollipops? Cotton candy? Check. My mom made all of it — from the fake candy to the fabric suckers to the paper pinwheels. I mean, she didn’t go all Ghost on me and make the pots on a pottery wheel, but she did paint them. The little white LED lights were a great addition, too. We used cream linens for the tables, and we put peanuts out for everyone to munch on. Random aside, but my grandma was a HUGE fan. She was snacking all night. The centerpieces were the perfect fit.

    Our bridesmaid bouquets were one of my favorite parts of them entire wedding. I LOVE them. They were one of the first things my mom and I brainstormed about back when Russel and I picked our colors and theme. It was hard to articulate what I wanted, because I really didn’t even know. I wanted different shades of pink, and I like roses, succulents, peonies and ranunculus. Aqua flowers aren’t a thing, so we knew that would have to come in in the ribbon. I remember seeing the first prototype and thinking, “Oh lord, this might not work.” But as always, my mom came through.

    Bridesmaid bouquets made with artificial flowers

    Rachel's artificial flower bridesmaid bouquets

    They were so light and airy, and I loved all of the little pops of pink. We used aqua ribbon and finished them off with one little doily around the stems. I honestly have no idea how much they ended up costing, but I can tell you it was a fraction of what real flowers would have been.

    The boutonnieres were single pink roses with aqua and white flags and aqua ribbon. I wish I had a close up, because they were super cute.

    Rachel's artificial bridesmaid bouquet and bouttonierres

    The bouts for the dads, grandpas, officiant and reader (AKA my brothers) were just simple pink flowers. The corsages for the special ladies in our lives were made with the same flowers as the bouquets. We also had some random floral arrangements throughout the fairgrounds as well. There were two large pieces attached to the gates as you walked in that had our initials in the center, plus arrangements on the guestbook table, cake table, etc. For a gal who can take or leave flowers in normal, every day life, we ended up having a lot of beautiful floral-y goodness all over the place.

    If we had tried to make everything with fresh flowers, it would have cost us a fortune, and then we would have been out there the next day throwing them in the trash alongside bottles and peanut shells. How depressing. I’d rather sell them to a fellow Broke-Ass Bride and help her have a beautiful wedding while also putting some cash in our pockets, so that’s what we’re doing. We’ve already sold a few things, and are hoping to offload the rest in the next couple months. You never know, I may end up at one of those resale bridal shows I attended last year. We shall see!

    All photos by Jenni Bella Photography

  • 12/20

    RR-31

    Our wedding was the best day ever, so naturally we wanted some really fun ways to remember it. I talked about my way too expensive Instax guestbook a while back, and while it did cost a pretty penny, I am SO glad we ended up doing it. I am obsessed. There was a time when we had no idea where the guestbook was going to…

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    12/6

    cake

    On top of having super yummy carnival eats for dinner, we had some sweet treats for our guests, too. Even though funnel cakes and elephant ears are some of the best desserts on the planet, I knew I wanted a wedding cake to cut as well. I can take or leave the actual cutting of the cake while everyone stares. And the whole smashing thing?…

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    11/16

    20161106_152338

    I have always planned on having different centerpieces at each table. I saw a photo of another bride’s wedding that had her escort cards as little ticket stubs with each person’s name on one side and the name of their table on each. I completely fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately, the Etsy seller who made her cards no longer makes them. I found…

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  • 9/13

    DIY or DIE arbor decoration

    We love a good paper project, especially when that project can easily, beautifully and affordably replace a more expensive floral decoration. We're huge fans of paper flowers as a broke-ass decor option, but that's far from the only paper decoration option. For this project, made with the Cricut Explore Air machine for Cricut’s Wedding Campaign, “It’s Your Story, Make It Personal,” I found a beautiful lacy doily design…

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    8/31

    confettipopper

    They add up! I mean when you buy things, they accumulate. Math was never my strong suit, but that is an easy one ... and holy shit. It's adding up. With under a month to go until our wedding, the time has come to concentrate on the little details. My mom and I collaborated on a giant list (109 items!) of stuff we need to…

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    8/23

    agate geode DIY display

    If you're anything like me, you've been mad crushing on all the gorgeous agate and geode details popping up in wedding and home decor lately. With a little investigation, you probably found that lots of these pieces aim to break your budget super-fast, so that's why I'm hear to share the fruit of my trial-and-error labors. A word of warning: this project calls for Mod…

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  • 7/27

    Credit: Maria Burton Photography We did it! On June 4, 2016, we tied the knot on a beautiful (and hot!) day outside of Boston, Mass. After over a year of planning, everything came together just like we wanted, including everything we DIY'd with all of our friends. The biggest DIY of them all was my wedding dress, which was probably the hardest and most time-consuming sewing project…

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