Broke-Ass Tag: wedding decor


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Nick and I wanted to DIY a lot of aspects of our wedding, not just to save money, but also to make the day feel more authentically “us.” We’re both creative people, and wanted to use this opportunity to have fun with ideas and projects. I also define DIY success as being able to complete all our projects without having a mental breakdown – blood and sweat, yes, but we got through the process without tears. A lot of our guests commented how beautiful our wedding was because it wasn’t fussy, but simple and authentic. In deciding on DIY projects, we chose a few aspects of the wedding that were really important to us, and spent our time and energy on those specific things, rather than feeling like we had to make EVERYTHING or risk the disapproval of Pinterest. In fact, I stayed far away from Pinterest during the whole DIY process. If it wasn’t already my idea, then I didn’t need to complicate my life with trying to figure out how to do it. Our three big DIY items were our ceremony backdrop, our table centerpieces, and our photobooth. I also designed all of our paper goods (save-the-dates, invitations, and programs) but there’s really no “how-to” for those – it’s just what pictures you think are pretty, what fonts fit your vibe, and how you arrange them on the page – so I won’t talk about that today.

One of my most favorite wedding venues of all time is a place in Tennessee that has basically set up the elements of a cathedral in the middle of a grassy field, complete with pews, Gothic arches, and grand entrance doors. Our ceremony site was pretty enough, but we really loved the idea of bringing the indoors outdoor. The original idea was to set up three vintage doors with a vintage chandelier hanging across, like so:doors

Photo: Forever Vintage Rentals

However, vintage doors that actually looked cool and weren’t $300 a piece were proving very hard to come by, despite regular haunting of our local architectural salvage shops, resale shops, and Craigslist. While on the hunt one afternoon we came across a 36 piece of stained glass gleaming through the window of an antique store, on sale that week for only $100. By this point we knew this was a steal and bought it before we’d even figured out how to use it. Luckily my now-husband is a savant of the hardware store, and had the genius idea of framing the piece out using tongue and groove boards. We cut the boards to make a simple overlapping frame, lined the inside of the grooves with wood glue, and used a rubber mallet to make sure the metal border of the stained glass fit snugly into the groove. Once all four sides were on, we used an industrial staple gun to connect the four sides. To make the frame sturdier and cover up the staples, we attached redwood fence slats to the front of the tongue and groove boards. Nick then screwed in two heavy L-shaped brackets to the bottom of the frame to serve as

Since our paper goods were developing an “old book” vibe, we decided to go with a library theme for our indoor/outdoor feel. We used more redwood fence slats to build very simple bookshelves for either side of the stained glass piece. Using 24 pieces of 6-foot fencing at $1.49 a piece, our two bookshelves cost a grand total of $36 and took about an hour to assemble. The step-by-step is a little complicated to type out, but we basically used two full-size slats for either side, and cut the remaining slats in half to make four, three-foot-long shelves.


The day of, we attached the three pieces together using a drill and one-inch metal brackets. We then loaded the shelves with a collection of colorful old books we’d bought from our local used bookstore’s $1 bin, some knick-knacks that were meaningful to us, potted flowers, and most importantly, framed photos of our family members who couldn’t attend the wedding. It was so neat to look over at the smiling faces of our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins during the ceremony and know that they were with us in spirit.


Image credit A Sight of Love Photography

Nick loves gardening (and I love enjoying his handiwork), so filling our wedding with colorful flowers was a must. Again using $1.49 fence slats, a power drill, and a SKIL saw, he built a 18” by 6” wooden box for each table. We lined each box with landscaping fabric, and the day before the wedding he and my dad bought $40 worth of assorted perennials from our local nursery along with two big bags of potting soil, and planted each box with an assortment of flowers. We encouraged our guests to take these home with them as window boxes, and about half of them were gone by the end of the night.


To continue the garden theme, I bought a giant roll of 3’ by 100’ gardening burlap for $40. Normally used to protect plants during winter freezes or prevent soil erosion, I decided its rustic look was perfect and decided to sew up some table runners on my recently acquired sewing machine. We had 18 six-foot-long rectangular tables, so I measured out nine, eight-foot-long sections to give the runner one foot of overhang on each side of the table. I then folded each section in half lengthwise and cut along my fold, to create eighteen 1.5’ by 8’ runners. I folded a one-inch hem on each runner, ironed the hem flat, and sewed it up using a very basic stitch. Each runner took about 20 minutes to do, but the worst part was then trimming the edges off the back of the hem. Because the weave on the burlap was so loose, I had to be very careful not to cut through to the front of the runner as I trimmed off each edge. Nothing about this project was hard to do, but it definitely felt tedious; I made it a goal to make at least two runners every night for a week, and finished off the rest on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A few turned out a little janky, but some of them were nice enough that friends asked if they could take one home for their dining room table.

Since the original roll was 100 feet long, my other idea was to use it as an aisle runner. We didn’t end up wanting one, but it would have been the perfect width and could have been cut to any needed length. The downside of the burlap though was that it smelled like a barn for the first few weeks I had it – if you buy this I’d strongly recommend letting it air out in the sunshine for a few days.

Our DIY photobooth was literally a piece of particle board that we painted with two coats of chalkboard paint, framed out in more fence slats, and leaned against a wall. We got a $10 box of paper props at Michael’s and provided a universal selfie stick for our guests to snap their own photos with, and as the sun went down we strung up some Christmas lights to provide a light source. Our intention was to have friends draw pictures and write messages to us on the chalkboard, but our chalk got misplaced somewhere at the venue. C’est la vie! Judging by the photos on our hashtag, our $40 investment ($10 for the selfie stick, $10 for chalkboard paint, $10 for the board and fence slats, and $10 for the props) was a hit.


A few weeks ago I also shared my DIY cake stand. It turned out beautifully as long as you don’t look at the puffed-up Gorilla Glue holding the mirrored plate and the candleholder together! That’s kind of the way I feel about all of our DIY projects, to be honest: they look really awesome until you start examining the small details, and noting the ways they’re not perfect. Since I love my metaphors, that’s kind of the way the entire wedding process is. Lots of small details get overlooked, or don’t turn out as envisioned, or look kind of ugly underneath. But no one saw that except me! Our guests were looking at the big picture – the newlyweds, in love, and creating an extended, new, happy family. Overall I’m thrilled with the way everything turned out at our wedding, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Elissa Stooker
  • 11/13

    Hello again!

    I’m back, this time to tell you about the reasons why wedding professionals are awesome.

    I came into this process thinking that — since I’d done it before — I knew everything about how to do this whole wedding planning thing, and exactly what I wanted.

    Imagine my surprise when I walked into a vendor meeting and went “Uhhhhhhh … ”

    Crap! I’m sitting there with a florist, and all I know is that 1) even though we’re aiming at Halloween and fall, I don’t want any orange, and 2) I hate calla lillies (it was pointed out to me that they have a certain … Georgia O’Keeffe kind of feel, let’s say, and now I can’t see anything else). So I’ve got these two really pretty restrictive rules, and nothing else.

    “No problem,” said the florist sitting in front of me.


    Picture provided by KMB Floral

    Kari of KMB Floral is a friend of a friend, and someone I was pretty excited to meet. She had no trouble showing me lots of different ideas and pictures from previous weddings she did, helping me to narrow down what I want. Turns out I’m also not big on greenery, and I like mostly round shapes.

    After talking for a while, we settled on this for me:

    2014-11-11 11.30.41

    Photo by Nicole Spangler Photography, provided and designed by KMB Floral.

    This is the inspiration, but some of the ivory roses will be light purple, and there will also be some very dark purple carnations mixed in. I’m in love with these orchids!

    I didn’t end up being able to get the lanterns I talked about in my last post (long story short, Target made the raven and the owl have the same item number, and so almost every time we ordered one for in-store pick up, they pulled the wrong one. AND I’m afraid of owls, so that was *not* going to fly!), so we picked these for the bridesmaids.

    2014-11-11 11.30.38

     Photo by Kaptured by Kristina, provided and designed by KMB Floral.

    Probably with a little less greenery.

    I like that the orchids are a little bluish, not just purple. I’m not particularly married to a shade of purple — you’re not going to see me posting about scouring the Internet to find something in just the right color. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for us, I’m more focusing on mood and our general color scheme of black, creams, grays, and purples. All shades are welcome here! It takes a little bit of stress off, and I think it can help add depth.

    Kari also helped us think about centerpieces. We plan to do most of them on our own, but are considering having her do them for the six tables that are on the ground floor of our venue. This is the inspiration:

    2014-11-11 11.30.36Source: KMB Floral.

    We’re also considering using this as a jumping-off point to create a curly willow centerpiece all our own. Time and budgeting will tell! Kari has been kind enough to provide us a quote with and without the centerpieces, so that we can make the decision, and we’re going to be kind enough to not steal her design directly, but rather use it as inspiration only, if we choose to go that route. Andrew was pretty excited about the curly willow as a way to bring in some woodsy touches, so we may explore that further.

    We haven’t booked KMB Floral yet, as we want to shop around a bit before we make up our minds, but she’s definitely someone we know we’d love working with. Her work is beautiful and her prices are BAB-friendly!

    How did you figure out what you liked for your decor, BABs? Did you know going in to the meeting or did you kind of figure it out as you went along?

  • 11/3

     Happy Monday, BABs! I hope your Halloweekend was wonderful and amazing and so wildly full of fun and candy. For today's Get Inspired styleboard, I thought I'd get a jump on the holiday season and the soon-to-be abundance of greens and reds and holly jolly that will surround us everywhere we go. Jade is a really striking color of green that will pop in photos,…

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    Thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I often convince myself that I can create ANYTHING. Even though my brain and my severe lack of patience tell me otherwise. Even so, my wedding crafting to-do list reached about 10 items too many. To resolve this problem, I turned to my best Internet friend, Etsy. BABs, if you are unfamiliar with Etsy, get outta town! But keep…

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    In honor of the premier of the new season of "Doctor Who" this weekend (and because I have a serious obsession), it's a perfect time to holler out to my Whovians and give a nod to those space-lovers out there for this Five for Friday. These are all fairly subtle accents, so it's not like you're going full geek -- not that there's anything wrong…

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  • 8/22

    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…

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    Spencer's Giveaway Redux.jpg

    OMG. YOU GUYS. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am (and clearly, a little jealous) about this giveaway. Images provided by Spencer's. Collage made on PicMonkey. Because of my v. steadfast rule opinion that every wedding should have a disco ball, I busted my butt to try to make this happen for one very lucky Broke-Ass Bride. And thanks to our seriously fun…

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    I was over the moon when Jessica emailed me to say that she'd won free wedding photography from Beyond the Ordinary Photography's contest because she'd read about it in our newsletter, because it's always exciting when the work I've done has helped to make a real difference in someone's life. If you're already subscribed to our newsletter, you know that Beyond the Ordinary Photography is…

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  • 3/14


    Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon was inspired by the famous premier signs of old Hollywood  movies for this project. There’s something so glam and exciting about big flashing twinkle lights! For the inside of the frame, you could feauture a photograph, or follow Tiffany’s lead and create a chalkboard. It’s the perfect canvas for adding your own creative stamp to the wedding décor and just oozes old Hollywood style.…

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