Posts in the 'Guest Bloggers' Category

Say “Thank You” the Right Way with These Tips from Emily + Rachel

Confession: I suck at writing thank you notes. It wasn’t something that was a thing, really, as I was growing up — I suspect my mother wrote them for me. Though, admittedly, this is NO excuse for not extending appreciation for someone else’s graciousness. I’ve recently been trying to change my stubborn ol’ ways (30 does that to you, y’all) and I found that if I have super awesome stationery, it helps because I really want to show that shizz off. However, when you’re writing thank you notes to dozens, if not hundreds of people — as you will in the days preceding and following your wedding — it can easily get overwhelming. So, BAB homegirls Emily and Rachel, who have literally written the book on thank you notes, are here to give us some pointers on how to get started, what to write and how to streamline the process.

In Unison Thank-You Card from Minted

In Unison Thank You Stationery from Minted

Happy Thanksgiving Week everyone! It’s hard to believe the day we set aside for feasting with family and friends and giving thanks for all our blessings will be here in a few days. We know this time of year is extremely busy for everyone, especially brides. To help save you time saying “thanks” for the gifts you have received or will receive, we’re sharing some thank you note ideas today.

Below are some sample thank you notes adapted from our book, “Something New: The Bride’s Complete Guide to Writing Thank You Notes.” These samples are geared toward popular gifts an engaged or newly married couple might receive during the fall season. The notes may easily be adopted for anyone’s use, though! Let us know if they help you.

Sample #1:

Dear Mrs. Oksan,

Thank you for the pie server you gave Matt and me for our wedding. It is the perfect size for serving pie slices without tearing them. I also love that it is dishwasher safe.

You were so kind to remember Matt and me with this wonderful gift we will be using frequently over the holidays. We both appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Fondly,

Mary

November 11

 

Sample #2:

Dear Mrs. King,

Thank you for the casserole dish you and Mr. King gave Jace and me for our wedding. It will be great to have a dish in our everyday china pattern for serving casseroles. I know we will use this often for the monthly potluck dinners we have with our friends.

Thank you also for coming to our wedding. It was wonderful to have you join in the celebration of our marriage.

Sincerely,

Stacy

November twenty-third

 

Sample #3:

Dear Mrs. Carmichael,

The handmade quilt you gave Ben and me is lovely! Pink is my favorite color, and the design on the quilt is so intricate. It will be a wonderful heirloom to pass on to our children.

Thank you and Mr. Carmichael again for such a beautiful and special gift. It truly is one-of-a-kind.

Most sincerely,

Dana

November 31, 2014

 

Here are a few other tips to help you write your thank-you notes:

1) If in doubt as to whether or not you should write a thank-you note, go ahead and write one. People always love receiving personal mail!

2) If you feel overwhelmed and are not sure how to start writing, just set aside 30 minutes to an hour one day to start writing. If you need to, start with a draft or two. Once you have written a few thank you notes, you will probably find them easier to write. You can then start fitting your writing into smaller time slots, like on your lunch break during the week!

3) Write thank you notes for the same gifts or similar items at the same time, when possible. Did you receive 8 dinner plates from 8 different people? Write one thank you note and consider copying it for all the other people who gave you dinner plates; just change the names in the notes and slightly change the wording. It is unlikely that people will compare thank you notes, even if they live in the same area. Save yourself some time!

4) It’s never too late to write a thank you note. We don’t mean that you should purposely wait a long time to write your thank you notes. However, if you have accidentally forgotten to write one or two, or if you have gotten behind on your thank you notes due to life events that often pop up at the most inconvenient times, you should still go ahead and write those thank you notes. People would much rather receive a late thank you note than no thank you note at all.

5) Organization helps when it comes to writing thank you notes. It’s ideal to gather the supplies you will need before you start writing to minimize any frustration. This includes choosing your stationery, making sure you have a pen that works well and gathering the names and addresses of your contacts.

6) Be yourself. Genuine is always best. If you are usually a more direct and to-the-point type of person, don’t write a thank you note that is exaggerated and elaborate or vice versa.

In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are offering a discount exclusively to The Broke-Ass Bride readers for purchases made through our website! Our print books and aluminum giftware will be available on our website at 20% off from now through Monday, December 1st. Please enter code THANKS14 during checkout in order to receive the discount. Quantities are limited, so be sure to place your order early if you are interested in something specific.

Something New: The Bride's Complete Guide to Writing Thank You Notes

Our eBook price is also reduced this week on Amazon from $7.99 to $2.99.

If you have any questions about wedding thank you notes, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Ask Heather: How Do I Even Start Planning a Wedding?

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Image courtesy of Larry Donoso

Dear Heather,

Is, “where the heck do we even start?” a sufficient question?

Jessica

Dear Jessica,

Absolutely! I suggest starting with the trifecta of guest list, venue, and budget, as all of them directly impact the other in non-negotiable ways. The absolute first thing I recommend doing is making an all-inclusive, “if we get to invite absolutely everyone we want,” all-out guest list. Have your parents contribute, if they desire. This is basically your dream guest list, and your actual list will likely end up being smaller.

Once you have your dream guest list, pare it down as much as you can, to those you truly would love to have in attendance. You might end up having to cut it down further, but at least this gives you a ballpark. After all, there’s no sense even looking at venues that have a maximum of 75 guests if your realistic guest list is 150. The opposite is also true — if you and your partner want a very small wedding, don’t bother with venues that have ballrooms for 300 people.

Now that you have your list, talk to everyone who might be contributing financially to figure out a budget. There are all sorts of pieces of advice out there when it comes to choosing a budget, but I suggest simply calculating what you can afford to spend and doing your absolute best to work within those constraints.

At last, you’re at the point where you get to consider venues. Depending on how many people you want to invite and how much you have to spend, you might need to be flexible in regards to dates. In general, Fridays and Sundays are less expensive than Saturdays, and off-season rates are obviously cheaper than more popular times. When it comes to off-season, though, that’s definitely a local preference. For instance, July in a northern state might be lovely, but in a southern state, it could be a sweltering hell.

And now, my lovely readers — where did you start with your planning process? Did you take the “trifecta approach”? Let us know in the comments below!

DIY or DIE: Terrarium Centerpieces with PopShop

Have you guys heard of PopShop? Well, it’s a really cool little design fair where you can browse around for arts and crafts and other goods, as well as get your mitts dirty with a little DIY craftiness of your own. This weekend, PopShop Houston is hosting a Handmade Weddings event, where you can get down with some rad crafts with a wedding-y slant, find other fun doodads for your big day and maybe even find your wedding gown! In honor of their awesomely DIY-centric event Sept. 20-21, in Houston, PopShop shared this rad little terrarium how-to with us. If you’re in the Houston area this weekend, be sure to stop by PopShop Houston and get your craft on with the lovely ladies there! And keep an eye out for PopShop events in your ‘hood!

Looking for a hip and minimal way to bring the outdoors to your wedding table? Try terrariums. They could even be a fun gift for your guest to take home. They are easy to make, easy to care for and quite affordable. You can use colored sand rocks and seashells in a million different colors and match any terrarium to the style and color palette of your special day. A terrarium with multiple plants, like in the video, will cost about $20 to make.

How to Make Terrariums from Pop Shop America on Vimeo.

Ingredients:

1. A Shallow Bowl

2. Rocks for Drainage

3. Cactus Soil or Regular Potting Soil

4. Several cacti and succulents

5. Colored sand, crystals, or seashells for decoration to fit the color and style of your wedding

6. A sunny window

Start with a shallow bowl. A shallow bowl allows the plants to absorb water easily. Add a layer of rocks on the bottom. This will help the soil to dry completely in between waterings. Gently pack and firmly place the succulents in the soil. You can add all kinds of decorations like colored sand, crystals, seashells or miniature toy like objects such as birds or deer. Place your terrarium near a sunny window and water once or twice a month. Let your plants dry out in between waterings. Succulents will start to look sunken in when they’re dehydrated. Look for visible signs to know when to water. Feed every three to six months.

About Pop Shop America:

DIY means something to us. We think that everything in life should be meaningful and made with care. At Pop Shop America, you’ll find a curated series of events and online boutique that showcase handmade & vintage fashion, art, and indie products. Our goal is to create a super fun setting in which artists can earn a living and shoppers can find products that they’ll love for a lifetime.

The High Cost of Wedding Fear

Former BAB advice columnist / current wedding planner extraordinaire Liz Coopersmith, of Silver Charm Events, stopped by to give you guys a boost this week! Guys, there’s no reason to feel fear about or shame toward your wedding. Really, honestly and truly. It should be a very happy time in your life, because hey! You’re in love! And you’re getting married! And yes, there’s a lot of bullsh that can surround a wedding day, but don’t let that get you down. Liz explains why:

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From Bridget & Steve’s Intimate, Beautiful Palm Springs Wedding. Credit: EPLove

I talk to a lot of brides every week, as you can imagine. I’ve watched a lot of you exhibit two very disturbing emotions when it comes to your weddings: Fear and Shame.

It’s in the way it takes me at least a couple of tries to find out how much your budget is.

Or, in the reverse, getting upset that you’re spending so much of your/your parents/whomever’s money on one day, when you could use it on a downpayment on a house, instead.

Or, the sideways look you and your fiance give each other when I ask how you met.

Or, when you tell me how much certain family members need to be kept away from each other, or, kept away from you. And then follow up, five minutes later, by saying it’s not that bad … but seriously, everyone has to be on opposite sides of the room.

Or, how you keep giving in to what your parents or your friends want you to do, instead of standing up for what you want. Are you being a doormat?

Or, not giving into what your parents/friends want you to do, and standing up for what you want. Are you turning into a Bridezilla??

You can’t win, because you won’t let yourself win. You’re ashamed of where you are, so you won’t allow yourself to be happy with what you have, whatever that is right now.

Researcher Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Shame is built out of the fear that you won’t be understood. And I’ve noticed that a big reason that people don’t feel worthy of acceptance and belonging is that they don’t really think that they can ever get what they want. Not really.

I understand – there is a lot of pressure to make your wedding the best and most perfect and most beautiful day of your life. And (GASP!) there are not supposed to be any limits – financial, personal, logistical – on the best day of your life! That’s what makes it such a great day, right? Poor people don’t have beautiful and perfect days, only people with unlimited budgets do. You can’t have a beautiful and perfect day if your families are always at each other’s throats, only people with close, well-behaved relatives can. Do you deserve to live happily ever after if you met online and not through a Random Act of Fate? What will happen if you tell the truth? You want to impress your family and friends, and most of all, you want to impress yourself. It is a lot of pressure, and completely unrealistic.

The cost of wedding fear is that it focuses on what you don’t have, and on hiding what’s not there. It’s a waste of time. Plus, it makes you feel like crap.

So, what’s the cure?

1. Be honest, with yourself and with anyone else you’re dealing with, wedding-wise. Just … be honest. The more you try to hide what you’re afraid of, the more control you give it. And, eventually, it’s going to have to come out. Are you worried about being judged and rejected by potential vendors … who don’t know you? It’s business, not personal. If they can’t work with you, for whatever reason, then you can’t work with them. If they are going to be mean or snooty about it, then you really don’t want to work with them, right? Which brings me to …

2. Don’t go in looking for a fight; don’t walk into the room expecting resistance. What you look for, you will find. I’ve met with many brides who will, in one sentence, tell me they have a limited amount of money, and then tell me that’s not enough for them to have the wedding they want, and then ask me, “You can’t work with that, can you?” This is before I’ve even opened my mouth to reply. I get it – you’re rejecting yourself before I get a chance to do it, but don’t assume. Same thing with your family and friends. Tell them what you need and what you want, and then see what happens. Don’t be defensive, just have a conversation.

3. Remember that you are not alone. Not even close to being alone. If you’re facing a wedding planning problem, there are tons of other couples facing the same thing. Find them online and and seek empathy and sympathy. And solutions, too.

4. Some things will not change, but they can be worked around. If your parents couldn’t be in the same room with each other before you started planning your wedding, odds are then they won’t be able to on your wedding day. You’ve been managing your family for years, and you know how to deal with them — or not deal with them — so they don’t drive you insane. Keep doing that. The historic house you love is not going to drop their rental rate by a couple thousand dollars on a Saturday night. You are probably not going to win the lottery before then, either. Accept it. You might not have Ivanka Trump’s budget, but you’re not so broke that you can’t have a beautiful wedding day, and the love surrounding you will be free (Aww!). It is what it is. If you can’t afford Saturday night, what about Friday or Sunday? Less guests? What about a cocktail or dessert reception? Figure out what you feel comfortable with and go from there.

5. Use what you have to get what you want and need. You think you don’t have anything, or not nearly enough? You’re so wrong. If you have access to the Internet, you can find a local bridal show and see what’s possible. If you’ve picked your venue, you can ask for photographer and florist recommendations. Don’t know how to do something? Google it. If anything, you have too many choices. Keep looking until you find the best option for you.

6. Be grateful for what you do have. A fiance who loves you, and who you want to spend the rest of your life with, no matter how you met them, or what type of reputation either of you had during the Bush administration. Friends and family that are happy and eager to help, even if they won’t back off (they mean well, I swear). One day to celebrate that with all your favorite people in the world. Pollyannish? Sure. True? Totally.

7. Don’t twist yourself into knots. Many a bride has overextended her budget, her patience, and her good will trying to overcompensate for a perceived lack of … whatever. Pull the brakes anytime you hear yourself saying, “I don’t want them to think … ” or “I know it’s still not going to work, but … ” Full stop. Turn around. Find an option that doesn’t make you hyperventilate. Ask for help if you need it. Take help when it’s offered.

8. Finally, give yourself some credit. You’re sitting there thinking, “HowamIgoingtodothishowamIgoingtodo thisHOWAMIGOINGTODOTHIS?”Look around! You are doing it, the way everyone does it: One step at a time.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith

Liz

Ask Heather: Non-Spendy Alternatives for Flowers

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Image courtesy of Photo Pink

Dear Heather,

I refuse to spend big bucks on flowers. What else could I use?

Brittany

Dear Brittany,

The possibilities are endless, and I love non-floral decor. I even have a tag on my business blog dedicated to this very topic. Because I have faith in your ability to Google for images, I’m only going to include a handful of links in this answer. Mostly, I’m just going to throw out options.

When it comes to centerpieces, my favorite floral alternative will always be candles. They can be floating candles or clusters of candles or only a couple of candles surrounded by petals (yes, flowers, but way cheaper than whole flowers). The key here is to make sure your venue allows open flames. Some do not, and it would suck to get your heart set on something that’s forbidden.

Other centerpiece options are stacks of books, feathers, silk fake flowers, paper flowers (there are *tons* of tutorials out there for making paper flowers, including one on my blog involving coffee filters or this one in The Broke-Ass Bride archives), or vases with glass beads or other items (maybe ornaments with your wedding colors for a Christmastime wedding) inside them. Or, heck, you could just use pretty colored vases, sans filling.

For bouquets, I found a Pinterest board devoted to eco-chic floral alternatives. There’s also a lovely post on Offbeat Bride devoted to nontraditional bouquets. For those who don’t feel like clicking on those links, some of the options include ornaments (again!), brooches (BAB’s own Christen had a brooch bouquet!), feathers, and paper flowers.

When it comes to general decor, I love the look of fabric pennants or streamers. I did tissue paper pomanders for aisle decor at my own wedding, which is what’s pictured at the top of this post. There are also many options for using balloons, or fabric back drops (think photo booth), or tulle hanging from the ceiling, tied in a stylish way. Gah! So many beautiful options!

Are you a fan of non-floral options? What are you planning on using? Let us know in the comments below!

DIY or DIE: Pretty Personalized Bunting with Daydreaming Bride

BABs, I’m so excited about how rockin’ the DIY or DIE projects have been lately, and today is certainly no exception. Nodlaigh, aka Daydreaming Bride, is in da hizzy to show us how to make super easy (and cheap!) personalized bunting. Guys, this could work for anything from your engagement party to wedding decor to a banner for a thank-you card photo to general home decoration. And since it won’t cost you a pretty penny, you could easily make a few of ‘em! And keep an eye out, because Nods is going to be joining us to give us some great wedding inspiration from time to time. And without further ado …

For those of you watching your pennies for the big day, today’s post is one for you. I’m going to show you how to make personalised and colourful wedding bunting for next to nothing!

DIY or DIE Pretty Personalized Bunting with Daydreaming Bride

You can use whatever colours and fabric styles you wish to suit your theme — I’ve gone for an eclectic and vintage vibe using luxe velvet and cord fabrics mixed with colourful accent patterns.

What you’ll need:

  1. Fabric scraps to match your theme: I actually used fabric samples I’d ordered for free when I was looking into decorating our living room last year. For the lettering I used an old pillowcase past it’s best. If you needed to buy some fabric then you could certainly source some samples for less than £1 (~$1.67).
  2. Ribbon: I sourced mine from Ebay. It’s £1.88 (~$3.14) for 25 metres but I only used 1 metre.
  3. Iron-on adhesive: I used Heat n’Bond no-sew adhesive. It is £1.50 (~$2.51) for 0.5 metres but I only used about a quarter of that.
  4. Sewing kit: just a needle & thread is fine.
  5. Good scissors and a pen.
  6. Access to a printer and an iron.

Even if you had to buy the fabric, Heat n’ Bond and ribbon new, you’d still only be looking at just over £1.50 (~$2.51) per metre of bunting — cheap as chips!

And it couldn’t be any simpler to put together, taking me less than an hour all in. For those sewing phobes out there, you could very easily make it a complete no-sew project by using iron-on adhesive for the ribbon instead of sewing it.

Instructions for Pretty Personalized Bunting

  1. Cut your fabric to size and lay out to gauge which pieces are best to use.
  2. Type out the text you require for your bunting. I went with “Mr + Mrs”. It’s crucial to make sure the text is oriented back to front so that it’s the right way around for the finished product (You can do this in PowerPoint using the 3D rotation function under ‘Format’). In terms of font, I’d advise to use one that’s easy to cut out — some of the script fonts are lovely but not the easiest to work with. I used Aharoni.
  3. Arrange the Heat n’ Bond over the text, paper side up.
  4. Trace around the letters onto the paper side using a pen or pencil.
  5. Cut out your letters and place paper side up on the fabric you’re using for the lettering.
  6. Apply the iron to the paper side of the letters in order to bond them to the fabric. Use a medium heat, no steam and place the iron on the letters, as opposed to swiping it back and forth, to avoid moving the letters.
  7. Cut out the letters with the fabric now adhered to the back.
  8. Map out where you want the letters on the coloured fabric squares and peel back the paper.
  9. Apply the iron to bond letters in place, once you’re happy with the placement. Ensure the shiny side of the letters is facing up.
  10. Arrange your fabric pieces for one final check to ensure you’re happy with the final design.
  11. Cut ribbon to size to allow enough room either side to affix the bunting.
  12. Pin in place and sew the ribbon onto the fabric squares.

And you’re done!

I told you — it’s so easy!

Would you give this a try? What colours would you go for?!

 

Happily Invites You to Its Crazy Cat Party + Mega Giveaway!

Guys, I’m interrupting your regularly scheduled Five for Friday because our friends over at Happily are stirring up some major awesomeness re: wedding planning. And they’ve been doing some pretty baller giveaways, but today’s is by far the mostest bestest. I’mma let them explain, but first, there’s this:

You good? Good. OK, now we’re going to let them tell you allllllll about the fluffy goodness that’s in store!

Happily’s in the midst of developing a top secret wedding planning app — and one that’s being powered by the largest collective of top wedding planner professionals. Ever. (As far as we know.) So instead of getting a pretty-but-not-quite-pragmatic app designed by an established wedding empire looking to expand into tech, it’s being designed by wedding planners for anyone is in need of planning his or her wedding.

The result: a powerful app that’s pragmatic, super easy to use and even a little on the addictive side. And guess what? They’ve just hit a major milestone and are celebrating with a crazy cat party, giving out a slew of glamorous and cute objects featured in their recently released Ultimate Cat Wedding Video. {You watched it above. Because I would never make you wait for that.}

happily-white-bluebg

But they’ve saved the best for last.

Today, Friday, they are are offering a $3,000 wedding planner package for brides and grooms alike.

Friday happily - 01

What it includes:

• 12 monthly planner meetings with an experienced, top Happily wedding planner

• 12-Hour Day of Coordination Team on your wedding day

• Customized Wedding Planning Templates

• Rehearsal Coordination (one of the few things brides think they don’t need until it ACTUALLY HAPPENS)

• Vendor Concierge

• Venue Concierge

• Personal Assistant (4 hours/month)

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Give them some love! Socially. No, really, freak them out. Every like, regram + @happilywedding tag, follow, re-pin, #HappilyFreakOut comment and subscribe counts as an entry into the contest. Contest runs until midnight 8/15/14.

Happily Wedding Feeds

Twitter: follows and comments #HappilyFreakOut EACH count as an entry into the contest

Instagram: follows, regrams + tag @happilywedding and comments #HappilyFreakOut EACH count as separate entries for the contest

Pinterest: follows, re-pins and comments with #HappilyFreakOut

YouTube: subscribe and comments with #HappilyFreakOut

Facebook:  likes and comments with #HappilyFreakOut — each count as an entry!

Want to sign up to become an alpha tester for their new app? Go HERE.

Go forth, ye Broke-Asses, and comment/follow/like/pin/repin until your heart’s content!

Ask Heather: Tipping Vendors – Who and How Much?

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Image courtesy of Randy Hershfield

Dear Heather,

I’m reading mixed messages about tipping vendors! Help!

Tiffany

I’d like to know about the vendors as well! Photographer, DJ, baker …

Charlie

Dear Tiffany and Charlie,

I’m of the opinion that the only vendor you truly need to tip is your wedding planner, ideally around 40%.

Okay, just kidding. Well, sort of ;)

Technically, you don’t have to tip any of your vendors, in the same way that tipping waiters, waitresses, baristas, hair dressers, etc, is not required {Eds note: TIP YOUR SERVERS/BARTENDERS at restaurants, damnit. They live on that shit.}. But it’s a really nice thing to do and it helps you to not look like a jerk. One thing to watch out for, though, is whether a tip is already included in your contract. Caterers will often include a gratuity in their fees, so unless they provide truly exceptional service, watch out for tipping twice. Note that “service fee” and “gratuity” are two different entities, though. The former usually goes straight to the company, whereas the latter is distributed among service staff.

There are some folks who maintain that if a person owns their own business, there’s no need to tip them since they’ve already charged what they wanted for their service. As a business owner, I think this is nonsense. The fees I charge are based on how much time I think I will invest in doing a particular event times an hourly rate I think is fair. If I go above and beyond a couple’s expectations, a tip on top of that amount is always appreciated. And I always try to exceed expectations.

With all of this said, there are still no official guidelines. In general, I’d definitely go with 15-20% for your hair stylist and make-up artist. Those are two of the most often tipped pros. If the gratuity is not already included in your catering bill, I’d also go for 20% of your food bill, to be split amongst the catering staff (host, waiters/waitresses, etc). Bartenders also deserve a tip, but if you intend to provide a tip, perhaps you could politely request that they not have a tip jar on the bar, to avoid double-tipping. Other folks to maybe tip include photographer, videographer, transportation, musician/DJ, officiant (often ends up being a donation to their place of worship), and planner. Alas, I cannot tell you exactly what to tip, since every single person tips differently. Give my best friend and me the exact same restaurant bill and we’ll likely tip the waiter a different amount. So, the exact amount is up to you, but if anyone goes above and beyond expectations, they deserve a little something extra.

As you likely are realizing, tipping really adds up! In addition to forking over some cash, another way to show your thanks is with gushing, enthusiastic reviews posted on sites like WeddingWire. If your vendors aren’t listed on any review sites, go ahead and email your appreciative feedback to them and give them permission to post it on their website (social media shout-outs are great, too!). Every review you give one of your vendors increases the odds that the next couple who comes along will hire them. And never underestimate the value of a well-written thank you note with an excellent photo of you and your new spouse. Trust me – vendors will be touched by the gesture. Especially if it’s accompanied by a glowing review. *Ahem.*

Which vendors are you planning to tip? Has the amount you’ll need for tips been a shock to your budget? Let us know in the comments below!

DIY or DIE: Make Your Own Damn Wedding Cake with Lizzy Pancakes

All right, darlings, it’s time for one helluva DIY or DIE sesh up in this bish. Put away the scissors and tape and glue, grab an apron and get your booty in the kitchen to make your own damn wedding cake. Yup, you read that right. We’ve got Lizzy Pancakes here getting elbow-deep into some confectionary awesomeness to show you how to rock your wedding dessert the broke-ass way: By taking it on yourself. It’s no secret wedding cakes are pricey, and you can absolutely go the route of having a “display” cake to slice ‘n’ smash, with a variety of other desserts for actual consumption or having a big ol’ sheet cake hiding in the back. But even those tiny l’il display cakes will cost you a pretty penny, where as these bad boys (if you have most of the basics on hand) should only run you around $27 for the ingredients. UM. HELLO, SAVINGS. Let’s do it!

Make Your Own Damn Wedding Cake with Lizzy Pancakes

Hello, Broke-Ass Brides, my name is Lizzy and I’m the blogger in chief over at Lizzy Pancakes. I’m getting married in just a few weeks and have committed to make my own cakes. Yes cakes. To save money and to make things way more interesting, the cakes I’ll be making are bride and groom cakes, and our main dessert is going to consist of doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts here in Denver. The cakes are for aesthetic and traditional purposes — you know, when I lure my fiance into a false sense of security and smush the cake in his face while our family and friends watch.

 photo 5a75adf6-0382-430d-899a-6fbf3260123a_zps3ca04f09.jpg

If you’re having a small wedding, or if something like this would be a good fit for your party, making your own wedding cake is super easy. You know that smooth, beautiful layer of fondant? Not difficult. You’ll breeze through it and spend the rest of the day absorbing compliments.

I made a traditional moist chocolate cake because I knew if it was kept airtight, it could be made up to two days in advance which is essential to maintaining a sane bride. If chocolate isn’t your thing, I highly recommend Amanda’s white cake recipe.

 photo b5bd6e8e-8548-4d21-be07-28d61aa5de8f_zps78b8f69b.jpg

What you’ll need:

For the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the frosting

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla

For the fondant

*Don’t buy pre-rolled fondant. It is difficult to unroll, often cracks, and it’s just lazy, you guys.
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

How you’ll do it:

Prepare the cake:

Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Prepare the frosting:

You really want the frosting to be room temperature. You should set it out before you start the cake to make sure. Don’t try microwaving it, even on low. You risk making it too soft and messing with the consistency of your frosting.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Easy peasy!

*If you really want to skip this step and buy frosting from the store (I’m not judging you), simply add ¾ cup confectioners sugar per container because cake decorating frosting should be a little bit stiffer.

Prepare the fondant:

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To find out how wide your fondant needs to rolled out to, take a ruler and measure the width of the cake (that’s easy! It’ll be 8 inches since we’re using 8-inch cake pans) and the height after the layers are stacked. Add them together. Your fondant needs to be rolled out so that a circle at least that wide can be covered.

Lightly dust your work surface with confectioners sugar. If you’re using using black fondant, pick up your fondant more often during the process because you can’t use white confectioners sugar without messing with the color.

Take the fondant out of the box and wrapper. Knead it on the sugared surface until it is soft enough to roll with a rolling pin. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

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Roll out the dough until it is wide enough and about a ¼ inch thick.

Assemble the cake:

After you have let the cake layers cool completely (I mean it — completely!) take a long serrated knife, place your hand flat on the top of the cake, and cut the natural dome off of the cakes, making them completely flat and even. If you move slowly, this shouldn’t be too difficult!

Put a dab of frosting on a cake stand, preferably a rotating one, but it’s not essential. Place the first layer smack in the middle of the stand. Take a big scoop of the frosting and plop it right in the middle. Using an offset spatula (you can grab it at the grocery store) spread the frosting at least a ¼ inch and up to ½ inch thick.

Place your second layer carefully directly on top of the first layer. You really only get one real shot at this, so look at it from above and center it before putting it down. Take the remainder of your frosting and spread it around the sides and top of the cake. Though you should try to spread it evenly, this doesn’t need to be pretty — it will be covered by the fondant.

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To place the fondant on the cake there are two methods. All of the YouTube videos will show you a draping technique, where you fold the rolled fondant in half over the rolling pin and use that to transfer it to the cake. I’ll tell you what, though, I simply picked mine up and placed it carefully over the top. There is just a tiny bit of wiggle room to center the rolled fondant after you’ve put it on the cake, so don’t panic if it’s off-center.
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To smooth the fondant down and create sharp edges, use your hands to lightly press the fondant up against the sides of the cake. You may need to keep one hand on the excess fondant spilling over the sides so you can really mold the fondant to the shape of the cake without tearing or stretching it. Once you’ve used your smoothing tools to mold the fondant, run your pizza cutters around the bottom edge of the cake. Then use the side of the pizza cutter to lightly tuck the edges of fondant under the bottom to create a nice clean look.

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If you want to add flowers, this is really easy. To avoid sticking stems into the actual cake, take some extra fondant and roll it into a ball. Cut your flowers so that they have ¼ inch to ½ inch of stem and arrange them in the ball of fondant as you please. Use extra frosting to stick the ball to the cake in the position you’d like and voila! professional looking cake decorated with fresh flowers!

Storing the cake:

You should make your cake layers up to two days in advance. If at all possible, you should delay assembling the cake until the day before. I say this because once it’s on the cake stand, there is no moving it to an airtight cake transporter. One way to avoid this is to use a cake stand with a glass dome on top. As long as it’s airtight, you can assemble the entire cake up to two days out.

If you want to give your wedding a homemade feel, this is a great way to achieve that. It ends up being much less expensive than having a professional do it and you can brag ALL. NIGHT. LONG about making it yourself.

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Good luck on your cakes! If you need help or pointers along the way, holler at me at www.lizzypancakes.com or tweet me @lizzypancakes.

LP