Broke-Ass Tag: DIY

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Affiliate Disclaimer NewI knew BAB and I were going to get along when I saw the tagline “Creativity is our Currency.” Creativity is something I pride myself on, and when I can glean from the imagination of other awesome people, I’m usually set to create something truly impressive.

The hand-craftedness of the majority of my decorations was something that began as a ploy to save some major cash (oh, and save, I did!), but as the months went on, I developed what I can only describe as a deeper connection to my wedding day. When all of those projects and ideas came together in one place for one purpose, I was able to look out across this scape that I not only imagined, but crafted in many ways from scratch, and feel a whole new level of love. I remembered my now-husband peeking over my shoulder as I finished up signs, trips to Michael’s for more supplies and spending time with my family and friends making sure everything came together. There is plenty of love in any wedding regardless of how much you hand make, but for me, making something for someone has always been my highest level of love.

The largest DIY undertaking by far was the flowers. All of the flowers. Every centerpiece, bouquet and boutonniere started as a cardboard box FedExed to my house, before being unpacked, stripped of thorns (THE. WORST.) and eventually trimmed and arranged. It was an undertaking. There were tears. It was worth it.

Bridesmaids Bouquets || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

I’ve always been pretty big on flowers and having beautiful designs within my budget was more important to me than a lot of brides. The arrangements were a mix of cymbidium orchids, Picasso calla lilies, pink garden roses, Burgundy Moonlight carnations and dahlia (which was actually a substitute when the blooming kale didn’t arrive). Rather than purchasing wholesale greenery, I filled everything in with rich, ruffly kale. From the grocery store. $1.89 a bunch. Eight centerpieces, a bridal bouquet, three bridesmaids bouquets, six boutonnieres and a lot of flowers left over for miscellaneous decorating cost me just over $700.

Bridal Bouquet || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Of course my centerpieces were arranged in my very first DIY (not to mention what got me started with BAB in the first place): the faux mercury glass compote bowls that came out to around $4 each. I’m still in love with them!

Shannon's DIY Centerpieces || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photo

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

In lieu of traditional favors, we purchased boxes of 12 wine glasses from Bed Bath and Beyond for 10 bucks a piece, then I hand painted them with alcohol ink in several colors that complemented my palette. I bought four packages of three colors and those tiny bottles took care of 108 glasses and 18 different candle holders (did you see the fun video on Instagram?) BEFORE they got sent to a friend to help her paint votive holders for her wedding. Each piece had three colors that blended together to create a gorgeous (not to mention trendy) watercolor effect and there are guests STILL commenting on how gorgeous they were.

DIY Painted Wine Glasses || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photo

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Having a deep, inexplicable attachment to handwriting, I definitely wanted to do all of my signage. Keeping with the watercolor motif, I used a wet brush technique to create a splatter design on an easel canvas that’s slanted so it stands on its own before writing over in gold paint pen. If I had to do it over again, I would have used more muted colors so that the gold popped a little more, but I still loved the final product.

Hand-Painted and Lettered Signage || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Keeping with the handwritten, watercolor theme, I also hand-wrote my envelopes with a calligrapher’s pen, but swapped four watercolors for traditional ink. Yes, a great many of those went in the trash after they were opened, but the number of people hanging onto theirs for a keepsake makes me feel completely validated in spending all of that time and effort overachieving.

Hand-Lettered Envelopes || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Of course, there was the last minute DIY that I wasn’t expecting when I realized I’d messed up ordering my cake. It wasn’t planned and it was a total pain, but you know what? I kinda like the way they turned out. Gold, glitter and pearls make everything better in my world. After my amazing crew of helpers topped two cakes and a homemade creation with some of the left over flowers, I think they turned out wonderful!

Target cakes made beautiful! || Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photography

Credit: Shaina Sheaff Photography

If you love to create, create for your own wedding. It feels so personal and it’s an amazing bonding experience with those you love. If you don’t, talk to the people in your life who do. For most of us, the opportunity to contribute our talent is a real honor.

I’ll be back in two weeks with some step-by-step information on how everything was made. In the meantime, remember that creativity means a lot of things and it is totally a valid currency!

  • 10/14

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewI have to say, I’m pretty proud of how my wedding invitations turned out. I didn’t realize invitations were even something I cared about … until I did. Here I had come up with a whole big list of priorities and not-so-importants to try and be sure that I properly focused my efforts, limited funds, and time, and suddenly I realized super late in the game that something that was on List Two belonged on List One.

    A shifting set of priorities isn’t always something that’s easy to acknowledge when you’re a Broke-Ass. It can mean you might be stuck paying more for something than you originally hoped and planned to. Our invitations were all set: They came with our wedding package from our venue. All we had to do was pick them out, send them our details and slap a stamp on them. Now, as we looked through the invitations available from our venue, and while they were all very beautiful none felt like us. If we didn’t use our venue’s invite, we had the option of receiving a credit instead, so we looked elsewhere but everything we looked at seemed to run in the thousands of dollars — way more than the credit we’d be offered. We seemed to be stuck. We’d have to compromise our vision.

    Then I remembered something: Way back when we purchased our memorial candle for the wedding, we went out right after the fact and grabbed a couple of sets of printable invitations in the clearance section of Walmart. They were $4 a piece with 50 invites in each box and contained the envelopes and RSVP cards. We had bought them just in case. We figured if we didn’t use them, we’d sell them in a Facebook Yard Sale. Time was getting short s,o we decided we’d just use them. Matt loaded them into our printer, we chose some some nice wording and after weeks of ironing out our ceremony details, we printed out the invites and the RSVP cards.


    When they were all printed, I realized that they didn’t really solve our problem: I still wasn’t really happy with what we were sending out. So I improvised! I looked around online for ways to dress them up. The simplest way seemed to be a pocketfold. I found a place nearby that sold them but couldn’t get to it before I’d need to send the invites out. It would’ve cost us about $70 more with them, but that’s not including the added weight that might’ve ended up costing us extra postage. Instead, I decided to take a trip to the craft store.

    Matt, one of my bridesmaids and I took a trip to Michael’s craft store after work one night. I was in a straight-up panic. I wandered in a frenzy through the aisles looking for anything that might dress the invites up just enough to stave off my mania. And then I found books of red cardstock. They were all different shades. I was a little bit iffy on using them … I mean you’re supposed to order your bridesmaids dresses all at the same time to make sure they’re the same hue. Shouldn’t it be the same with invites? But here’s the thing: Not all your guests will see your invites at the same time. Even the most eagle-eyed observer might miss the difference in coloring. So we grabbed it. There were 50 pages of cardstock in the book, and the book itself was $5.00. We got two. Suddenly a plan was forming. The cardstock wasn’t big enough really make a pocketfold, but we could mount the invites we’d printed on it and go from there. I still wasn’t satisfied though. My bridesmaid brought up the idea of putting a ribbon around it, and suddenly it all came together. We searched through the ribbon and found just the right one and bought some spools of it (when all was said and done, that cost us around $15).

    At home, we put our supplies together. I found some double-sided tape lying around (I looked it up, it would’ve cost us around $8 for what we used). We grabbed the paper cutter and some scissors and went to town. We set up an assembly line. Matt cut the border on the invites down and then cut the cardstock to fit around it.

    Julie's fiance hard at work on their invitations

    I put the cardstock and the invite together using the double-sided tape and then put the ribbon around it and secured it, also using the double sided tape. It was beautiful … but there was still something missing.

    Enter Real Bride Shannon’s post about her invites! Even before we had any idea we’d be in this position with our invitations, I had bought the Epson printer she mentioned in her post because I knew it would come in handy somewhere. Yes, another impulse buy but it paid off in the end. The machine prints out beautiful printed personalized ribbons and it turned out to be just the right touch to make me feel sated in my search for the perfect invitation. The small details do indeed pack a big punch. We printed out 4-inch ribbons using the spool of beige ribbon that came with the printer and stuck them on top of the ribbon that was already encircling our invites. Voila! it was suddenly exactly what I was looking for. We did have to buy a second spool of ribbon (we mixed it up and did red with gold lettering this time), but all in all it worked out perfectly. The total cost of the printer was $69.99 on Amazon, and the ribbon was $20 a spool separately, but we still have a ton of ribbon to use and a printer that we can use for other wedding items and beyond. Without these ribbons, our invites had cost us around $40 so far. The last detail we added were some business cards a friend of mine designed with wording I gave her. I got them printed up for around $15 on cardstock and cut them down to size myself. They included the directions to the church and a request for dietary restrictions. Depending upon what you count for the cost of the invites themselves, we spent between $85-$150 total for  gorgeous set of invites we could really be proud of.

    The finished product of Julie's invitations
    Our invites with the red and gold … a few details have been blocked out.

    Even more so than that, these were definitely our invites. We had slaved over them for hours (and my cousins helped out too!) and stayed up late working on them. We spent hours watching movies and stuffing envelopes (which were addressed using our regular printer, no need for calligraphy for us), coming up with a whole new set of inside jokes along the way. At the end of the day, it was a much tougher route than just getting them printed elsewhere. But we saved  a ton of money … and even more importantly we did it our way.

    Real Bride julie's invitation suite

    Our final product complete with all information! This one is a little less crisp than the other because it was actually a return to sender that got lost in the mail for a bit.

    Note the extremely important self addressed inner envelope! There is nothing more embarrassing than getting one of these bad boys back and realizing you forgot to include the stamp.

    Not having a perfect plan in place, or having your plan fall apart doesn’t have to be the end of the world or mean that you’re going to end up stuck spending  ton of money (or with something you don’t love). Sometimes having what you think you want completely fall apart is the best way to have things fall together. Now, the RSVPs are rolling in, along with the compliments on our invitations. I can’t help but beam with pride whenever I think of them … not just because they’re pretty, but because they’re something beautiful my fiance and I created together.

    Have you had any frustrations turn into beautiful results? Share in the comments below!

  • 10/8

    Hi BABs! The big day is almost here, and I am super excited! Over the last few weeks I have been surrounded by awesome generosity: El Fiance truly stepping up and doing more than his fair share of wedding prep; a fantastic, hilarious, Hobbit-themed hen party organised by my wonderful 'Maids with 22 absolutely incredible women; and so many random messages of support that it…

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    I make things. It's sort of my deal. Whether it's cooking, painting or Christmas cards, creating things with my hands is something that means a lot to me. I've been struggling to come up with ways to make things for our wedding and still keep an elegant, vintage look. To me, calligraphy is a luxury that's definitely out of our broke-ass budget, but it packs…

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    Before I had a ring on my finger, I had a pretty good hunch that I'd sew my wedding dress. An avid sewer, my Mom made her wedding dress in the early '70s when she married my Dad, and I always admired her choice to do so instead of buying something from a boutique. Granted, the wedding scene is a bit different today than it was almost 40…

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    I’ve always been a sucker for details. Little extras. Special additions. Something nice turns into something great with a little extra oomph and as I prepared to send out my formal wedding invitations, I needed that little something extra, so I armed myself with another calligraphy pen, some awesome vintage stamps I purchased on eBay and the sweetest little way to add an extra personal…

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    My wedding is 35 days away and I am officially over Pinterest. At this point in the game when I open my Pinterest app I start to experience a major case of FOMO and start to stress. "Aw aren't those centerpieces so cute?" I say to myself. "I love that wedding favor idea! Should I change my planned hairdo and go with this trendy braided…

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    Name: Jessica Knowles and Andrew Long Occupation: Jessica - Sales and Marketing Manager for Housing Company; Andrew - Landscape Designer Wedding location: Brickyard at Riverside Golf Club, Macon, Georgia Wedding Date: May 16, 2015 Budget: Around $15,000. The amounts below add up to around $20,000, however my parents paid about $15K, I paid for photography, hair/makeup and rings. Groom's family paid for his tux and…

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    Being a crafty lady I wanted to do something fun and different for my escort cards. My wedding theme is basically summed up in five words: Vintage Victorian Lace and Burlap which goes nicely with our venue. We are getting married in a Victorian-style historic home that is decorated with fireplaces, beautiful pastels and intricate crown molding. In keeping with the vintage theme I found some really…

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