Posts in the 'DIY' Category

Real Bride Shannon: Be Honest with Yourself

Affiliate Disclaimer New

As I and many of my fellow Real Brides will tell you, DIY is a great way to save some dollars.

IF you’re crafty.

IF you know where to get supplies on the cheap.

IF you’ve got buttloads of free time.

I tossed around the idea of designing my own save the dates, but when MagnetStreet was running a great sale (and they do that a lot), I ended up ordering save the dates and invitations at the same time so I could take advantage of $150 off a $500 purchase and got the whole shebang for under $400 for 75 save the date magnets, invitations, RSVP cards, guest info cards and all of the envelopes.

Shannon and Woody's save the date

The ordering process was a breeze: Most of MagnetStreet’s designs are completely customizable from the colors to the fonts and when Woody and I couldn’t decide which of our engagement pictures to use, there was a great design that used two images. The package was delivered in a lovely box, neatly packed with all of my stationery pretties. I probably could have saved a little by designing and printing myself, but the estimated $50 savings wasn’t worth the sanity I would have lost. Remember the super-trendy engagement party invite I told you about last time? Yeah, that took me over a week to design and cost me over a buck a piece to print.


BUT I still wanted to leave a little DIY mark as I addressed the envelopes and mailed our save the dates. I felt like something wedding-related needed a little more pomp than regular ol’ black pen scrawled on the envelope. “Let’s do calligraphy in gold!” I said to myself. Let’s be honest, myself is a bitch with no respect for my time.

Shannon Calligraphy

As lovely as they turned out, I spent five hours on a Friday night before my hand was cramping and I was so cross-eyed that I had to employ reading glasses (when up to this point I thought I had perfect vision). Four hours isn’t that bad for all that writing, you may think. Honestly, four hours in and I had 24 out of about 70 envelopes written on … but that was just names. I began to develop an affinity for my loved ones with short names with “i”s and “l”s over ones with “M”s “C”s and “G”s, which is adorable seeing as my last name is McConathy and I’m marrying a Graham. This text to my best friend sums things up well.


I had visions of ornately calligraphed names and addresses taking up the front of the envelope, but in the end, gold gel pen filled in the address part. Because, time. I started looking through the list and figured single guys couldn’t give two shits about gold calligraphy and just started writing their names. Because, time. My handwriting got decidedly less neat. Because, time.


Once I got all of the writing done, I noticed all the fine pencil lines directing my pen in a straight line. So used up an entire eraser deleting those and trying not to ruin the gold paint pen.

Then I had to stuff.

Then I had to seal.

Then I had to stamp.

Then I began to wonder whether I was ever going to hand-write anything again. I signed my name on a bar tab and it gave me flashbacks.

All in all, I spent about 24 hours on save the date addresses. It was a labor of love for about 10 percent of that. The rest of the time I think I was just keeping up appearances and being bull-headed about finishing what I started. But what did I save by addressing them myself? I looked up calligraphy services and the prices range between $4 and $6 an envelope! So yes, it was a huge chunk out of my weekend, but I also didn’t have to spend $300. I twitch a little when I think about the fact that now I have to do that all over again with the actual wedding invitations, but I’ll sacrifice my time for something pretty and almost free. (Three pens cost me about $12.) Hey, at least I ordered those bitches three months ahead of time!

So has anyone else bitten off more than you can chew with DIYs? Do you pay a professional or settle for less? Let us know how you handled it in the comments!

Real Bride Elissa: The $20 Cake Stand that Didn’t Break a DIY Sweat

It took me infinitely longer to write this post than it did to DIY a crucial piece of my reception decor: The cake stand.

We’re doing a dessert table in lieu of a large cake for a few reasons: One of my guests is a trained pastry chef and is making us a tiramisu as our wedding gift; a number of family and friends are gluten-free, so we’re ordering a handful of awesome gluten-free cupcakes from Pasadena bakery Confexion to put out for them; we wanted to include Porto’s cheese rolls (basically a glorified danish and one of our absolute favorite sweet treats in L.A.) somehow in our wedding … so why not as part of a dessert buffet? In addition to the tiramisu, cupcakes and cheese rolls, we’re also going to buy a few pre-made cakes in various flavors from Porto’s cake counter. Pre-ordering the cakes would have cost about three times as much, so we’re going to show up right when they open and get the prettiest ones.

I had a few friends offer me the stands from their wedding, but I felt like I needed my own spin on the standard (pardon the pun). Plus, with so many desserts on one table, I wanted my little two-tier wedding cake to stand out from – and above – the rest. Turns out that tall, 14” cake stands are not easy to find, especially on a budget. I found several beautiful wooden ones on Etsy; I was even a click away from ordering one, until I saw the shipping for the bulky wooden object was half the price of the item itself. I couldn’t justify paying nearly $100 for an item I am definitely only using once, so I decided to look into DIY.

cakestand etsy

Gorgeous, but this costs half as much as my wedding dress. (via Etsy)

A lot of DIY cakestands are old candlesticks, cups, or goblets flipped upside down and glued to a platter or plate. We were told to get at least a 14” cake stand, which rules out a lot of awesome plates from the local Goodwill. Plus, many platters have some sort of angled side or lip that might not hold the cake correctly. In my quest to find something relatively flat, pretty and cheap, my first stop was the wooden shape section at my local craft stores. I found a 14” wooden plate (similar to the one below) but it was pretty plain for what I had in mind. I wasn’t sure if my cake was going to go directly onto the plate, either, so I didn’t want to mess with finding food-grade paint.


ArtMinds Country Basswood Plate (11″), $14.99 at Michael’s

Finally, inspiration struck. After searching through the aisles of Michael’s, I found a 14” round mirrored candle tray for $7.99, and a beautiful stained wood candle holder. It’s tall but very sturdy, and cost a whopping $12.99. The shorter size was just as nice, and only $9.99. Knowing wedding crafting was coming up, I had signed up for Michael’s email program a few weeks before, and used my new-subscriber 20% coupon to buy the two items. Total cost after taxes: $18.29.



ArtMinds Beveled Round Mirror, $7.99 at Michael’s



Ashland 8″ Wood Pedestal Candleholder, $12.99 at Michael’s

At home, I put the mirror face down on a table and marked the center with a dot. I put the candleholder upside down in the middle, and traced a circle with a pencil around the edge so I knew where to put it once I’d applied the glue.


I squeezed a line of Gorilla Glue around the lip of the candleholder, and placed it firmly inside my traced circle. I held it down for a full minute, just to be sure it attached.


Voila! Cake stand complete. I let it dry upside down for the rest of the afternoon.


I even tested it out later with a few Ho-Hos (crucial step).


I may paint the black bottom teal to match my wedding colors, or I may not – it looks fine as is, so we’ll see how motivated I feel in a few weeks, when crafting really gets going.

Real Bride Meg: Keeping it Budget-Friendly for Your Brigade

You guys. I recently read that the average bridesmaid spends $1,700 for your broke-ass wedding. Wait, what?!

As it turns out, this number is pretty real. Check out this breakdown:

  •  Average cost of bridesmaid dress: $200 (without alterations!)
  •  Average cost for bacholerette party: $400/bridesmaid
  •  Average cost for wedding day hair and makeup: $100-180
  •  Average cost on gifts (engagement, shower, wedding): $200
  •  Average cost for traveling expenses (shower, bachelorette events): $600


Photo courtesy of

I think we can all admit that the average cost of being in your darling friend’s wedding is outrageous — totally unacceptable! While I wasn’t aware of this number until recently, I have been doing all I can to keep the costs down for my favorite girls — mainly by letting them choose what they want to spend on.

My brigade’s adventures started with dress shopping … or lack thereof. My girls range in size, shape and color, so I always had the idea to mix and match their dresses. I had my eye on a few different styles pretty early on in the planning process, and had an even closer eye on when they would go on sale. At first, I thought about having 2-3 options for the 7 of them to choose from, but I quickly realized that there were a ton of pretty options out there! I was sure to alert them of any new styles I liked (especially when there was a sale!) and they ultimately all chose and ordered their own dress online. To pull it all together, I recruited my crafty mom to make some crystal belts. They looked amazing!

Everyone benefits when you let your ‘maids chose their own dresses. They get to pick what they like, how they want to look and the price range that fits their budget. It was a bit of a headache for the bride as far as coordinating went, but in the end, I believe my girls will be that much happier when it comes to wearing their dresses. Worth it!


An early draft of my attempt at coordinating mixing and matching while meeting everyone’s needs using dresses from BHLDN and Loft

To piggyback off of the dress situation, I also gave my girls the option to have their hair and makeup professionally done the day of the wedding, and they can buy whatever shoes they’ll feel comfortable in. As far as hair and makeup goes, they have lots of options (including airbrushed makeup!), and I’m not requiring them to wear their hair any which way. I gave them a variety of colors for shoe preferences, and I’m trusting them to chose whatever they want. They ought to be able to pick if they’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on it all!

I don’t have too many requests for my favorite gals, but there is one thing I do require — no gifts, please! Between their bridesmaid duties, dresses, hair and makeup, and all of the party planning, it is absolutely unnecessary for them to then buy me a gift when all is said and done. What kind of BAB would I be if I accepted their gifts?!

Now, I’ve given my brigade some guidelines for the day-of attire, but as far as the shower and bachelorette party goes, I’m 100% hands off! The good thing about having 7 bridesmaids is that there are more gals to the share the costs of planning these things. I’m excited to see what they come up with!

With all that said, one of the best parts of having your 7 best friends join you on your wedding day is having 7 extra pairs of hands to assist you leading up to it! Your ‘maids will (hopefully) be thrilled if you ask for their help on something that doesn’t require a monetary cost. I recently had 6/7 of my girls over for a DIY day, and it was so productive! I feel 10 times better about my to do list thanks to their willingness to help. Next on the list– recruiting my favorite shoppers to help me pick out outfits for the shower, bachelorette party and rehearsal dinner. No purchase necessary.


I made my ‘maids work!

Not the DIY bride? Here are some other ways you can help keep their costs down:

  • Don’t shop for bridesmaids dresses at a bridal store. Anything with the “wedding” label will definitely cost you more
  • If you have something specific you want them to accessorize with, give it to them as their “thank you” gift
  • Have a ‘maid who always looks amazing? Assign her to hair and makeup duty the day of the wedding
  • Chances are your girls don’t all live close to each other, so cut down on party planning and travel costs by having your shower and bachelorette party a 2-for-1 deal

So, when it comes to assigning duties and having requirements, be mindful of how much your bridesmaids are spending on you, and not just how much you’re spending on your wedding. When all is said and done, it’s who you chose to have stand by your side when you marry your prince charming that counts!

Cool Wedding-y Shizz Around the Web

We’ve shown you how to make your own deodorant, now Classic Bride is sharing how to make your own coconut and honey conditioner … they say for your ladies, but I’d probz just keep it mahself.

Classic Bride DIY Coconut Milk Conditioner

Glitter + cupcakes already wins, but you add in Mickey Mouse? Yep, that’s a solid victory. Inspired by Dis shares a how-to for making these sparkly cupcake toppers.

Looking for a great alternative to the traditional bridal show? Budget Fairy Tale has a writeup of her experience with the awesomely offbeat (it is partially run by Ariel of Offbeat Bride, after all) LoveSick Expo.

Budget Savvy Bride strikes with Budget Wedding Tip #25.

Budget Savvy Bride Budget Wedding Tip #25

Help your guests beat the heat during your summer wedding with these tips from Knotsvilla.

If you’re worried that your wedding is going to look like a mish-mash of ideas, head to Aisle Perfect for a guide on creating a cohesive wedding theme.

We love punchy colors on BAB, but Brenda’s Wedding Blog has a beautiful inspiration board featuring softer, more romantic colors that you’ll totes swoon over.

Brenda's Wedding Blog Soft Romantic Spring Wedding

Wanna get fancy? Check out this amazing DIY floral napkin ring on Tidewater & Tulle. Probz better (for your sanity) for an intimate dinner wedding.

Do you know what to pack for your honeymoon? Kiss My Tulle compiled a fantastic list to help.

Kiss My Tulle Honeymoon Essentials

Newly engaged? Marry Me Tampa Bay has a list of post “yes!” steps.

This rose gold and black wine bottle DIY on B.Loved is gorgeous and toooottallly easy.

Get Inspired: A Blue Budget Winter Wedding with Tons of Sparkle

Winter may be nearing an end, but it’s still fairly frigid through much of the US. Austrian photographer Karin Ahamer schemed up this gorgeous, intimate sparkly shoot that brings a whole new beauty to even a dreary snowless winter. Using items found, thrifted or bought for very little money, this styled shoot epitomizes the BAB idea living up to your wedding vision on the budget you have by thinking creatively. Here’s what Karin has to say:

Hair and MakeupThe inspiration for this shoot came from our own love for blue tones – especially Tiffany blue – and the beauty of all things sparkly.  Winter can be bleak at times, missing colours and sunlight – but it is also full of beauty, strength and the perfect time to enjoy the company of loved ones. We wanted to show potential brides that getting married during the winter can be beautiful, even if there is no snow and no blooming flowers on the ground.



 It is a simple concept that conveys beauty, romance and the love for nature, all in one. Various shades of blue — the colour of harmony, faithfulness and infinity — combined with sparkles and silvery elements symbolize elegance and sophistication.  And lets be honest, what bride doesn’t love a little bit of sparkle on her special day? 



The bride’s look sparkles with Swarovski crystals set around the eyes and glistening blue branches in her hair. The beautiful secondhand, vintage dress was only $100 and is perfectly rounded out with a gorgeous blue chiffon shawl. The complementing dark blue shoes with crystal elements were bought at a discount shoe store for only $30. And would the exquisite earrings are handmade and still will only set you back by around $40 – $80!




The groom wears his own slim-cut blue suit and suede shoes, with only the blue shirt as a new purchase for the wedding day – still a very handsome and perfect match.


Flowers and Champagne

The wedding ceremony is being held at a beautiful open field near the woods – just have a look around your area where you live, you might be able to find an area where you are allowed to hold your reception or maybe a friend or relative has a big back yard you can use.



The table is set on a big granite stone, beautifully decorated with a gleaming blue tablecloth made from the same inexpensive blue chiffon we used for the bride’s shawl. Set with white dishes and silverware from our own home, and precious crystals and silvery-white fir cones that we dug out from our Christmas decoration Box. Soft candles and rustic lanterns, set along the pathway to their wedding ceremony, emphasize that usually hard and edgy colours and materials can indeed be romantic.



All decorative elements were either sought out from inexpensive stores like IKEA, collected during walks through the woods, borrowed from friends and family or dug out from our own collections.




The only splurge was the contemporary white wedding cake that thrones majestically over the table setting.  Beautifully tied blue ribbons bring a little bit of romance and the clear-cut and airy decoration completed with the stylish stationery in its various shades of blue and its silver crystal elements.


Wish Tags



And whilst the newlywed couple enjoys a few loving moments alone, guests can write their wishes  on the Wish Cards are fluttering from the perch of the nearby lodge.

Photography: Karin Ahamer

Decoration: Raphaela Ramler

Hair & MakeUp: Alexandra Condopoulos

Stationery: Cordula Weißensteiner

Wedding Cake: Christina Krug

Accessories: Yerida Göschlberger 

Models: Lily & Christian

Cool Wedding-y Shizz Around the Web

Have a few spring weddings to attend? Dress for the Wedding compiled some gorgeous dresses for those nearing nuptials.

This UP themed wedding on Inspired by Dis is just ridiculously awesome. The Dolly Couture dress, the sprinkle cake … and look at her ring!

Inspired By Dis Up Themed Wedding

Photo: Chris + Jenn Photos 

On Hey Wedding Lady, a husband surprises his wife with a vow renewal on a lake, a gorgeous gold gown and a freaking flower crown. Guys, take note.

You guys know I have a thing for mugs. Aisle Perfect found 10 more liquid of life (read: coffee) delivery vessels to show off your status.

Want to seriously save on your wedding flowers? Kiss My Tulle has a great step-by-step on how to makeover those supermarket bouquets.

Kiss My Tulle Supermarket Bouquet


Credit: Kiss My Tulle

One of our tried and true BAB tips is to opt for a sheetcake vs. an ornate tiered wedding cake. The BrideLink has a great tutorial for a faux tiered cake for display.

If you’ve thought about convertible bridesmaid dresses for different styles but the same color scheme, check out this post on Emmaline Bride that breaks down why it may be your best option for your gals.

For a whole ‘nother twist on bridesmaids bouquets, check out these great options on Chic Vintage Brides.

The Budget Savvy Bride offers up another one of her brilliant budget tips.

BSB Budget Tip #24Credit: The Budget Savvy Bride


Cool Wedding-y Shizz Around the Web

Budget Savvy Bride strikes again with her amazing budget wedding tips. This time? Edible favors, because #duh.


Love Inc. has a super cute tutorial for a dreamcatcher cake topper.

This super sweet love shoot on Hey Wedding Lady is full of romantic feels and simple DIY details.

Considering a destination wedding in the Bahamas? Head to Brenda’s Wedding Blog for tips on how to pull it off.

What should go on your Save the Date? Kiss My Tulle knows.


If you’ve been married once before, you might have an idea of how to navigate the waters of marriage. But sometimes, you can learn more from Round 2, as A Practical Wedding demonstrates.

Having trouble with your wedding playlist? Take a cue from Offbeat Bride and throw a Stereo Love Party!

For a super budget-friendly DIY, head to Something Turquoise to get the how-to on a sand and flower centerpiece.



Credit: Mike Carreiro Photography

Real Bride Jubilance: When DIY turns into BUY

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the wedding industry – it’s deceptive. And tricky. Wedding magazines and blogs show you amazing photos of the cutest weddings, and the whole thing was done on $3 and full of amazing DIY projects. You get sucked in, you find some how-to’s, you pin some things on Pinterest, and you think “I can do this! No problem!”

Yeah … that shit does NOT always work out like you think it will. I thought I could do these “simple’ projects:

  1. Paper flowers
  2. Chalkboard signs
  3. Table numbers
  4. Escort cards
  5. Our broom for the Jumping The Broom ceremony

I may have gone a little nuts in Michael’s buying stuff for these projects.

So what happened when I tried these projects? Let me tell ya …

My first DIY trial was this relatively simple tutorial for tissue paper flowers. I figured they would be cute in the centerpieces and our high-tops at the cocktail hour. Starting out, they were pretty easy, until I discovered that  unfolding layers of tissue paper without it ripping is hard, like calculus hard. I ended up spending up a couple hours making only a few flowers *sigh*.

Real Bride Jubilance: When DIY turns into BUY

The fruits of my paper flower labor. Could this pass for a real flower for you?

After the paper flower drama I was a little scared to try something else, but I bit the bullet and took advantage of a 40% off everything coupon at Michael’s to get supplies to put together our wedding broom.

Short history – “Jumping the Broom” is African American wedding tradition that began in slavery. Slaves could not legally wed, so they used jumping the broom as their way of signifying marriage, as the new couple “jumps” into their new life together. Today many African Americans jump the broom as a way to recognize their heritage and ancestors. This is a tradition my fiancé and I are both excited to carry on and I was excited to put together our broom.

At Michael’s I got some pretty ribbon, some purple and green flowers … and then I couldn’t find a broom anywhere in the store. Turns out, they don’t carry them anymore except during Halloween. Bummer. And whack. Think about all the money they are missing out on! Anyway, I decided to improvise with some grass looking material that I figured I could secure into a broom shape. It seemed like a good plan … until I tried to actually secure the grass. Turns out, this stuff sheds like CRAZY and it looked really bootleg.

In the words of Sweet Brown: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

And that’s when I decided to support some small business owners on Etsy. I found a lovely shop who sold some beautiful wedding brooms, Romancing Juliet. I placed an order, and in only a week my broom showed up at my door. Color me surprised, I was expecting it to take much longer!

Real Bride Jubilance: When DIY turns into BUY

Our wedding day broom in our wedding colors of mint, lavender & gold

Etsy has completely saved my entire life. I don’t have to worry about getting things done, cause I can PAY people to do them  instead. Who knew? My broom is now taken care of, along with our table numbers and escort cards.

I did finish one DIY projec: the chalkboard signs. That was super easy and actually pretty fun to do. I painted two coats of chalkboard paint onto wooden pieces and then wrote my messages using a chalk pen. I may redo the Escort Cards sign — all I need to do is paint over it!

Real Bride Jubilance: When DIY turns into BUY

Chalkboard signs! Easy to make … or remake if needed

In the end, I ended up trying my hand at a few things, but I also learned that my best skill is finding great vendors who can bring my ideas to life.

Have you had any DIY projects that turned into duds? What about any ideas that were just easier to pay for than attempt to tackle on your own? Tell us in the comments below!

A Cool Casting Call for New York and Los Angeles Spring Brides

Y’all, we posted this on Facebook the other day, but it’s such a rad opportunity, and well, not everyone is on the FaceSpace, ya know?

Casting Call

So, if you’re getting married in March or April of this year and you’re in New York or Los Angeles, you should probz check out this casting call for DIY brides. It sure seems like a great fit for all y’all!