Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Affair to Remember - a Homemade Wedding

My daughter married her fireman fiance this past Saturday, and this post summarizes the last installment of my series on wedding planning - the day prior to and day of the event!  It was a casual, homemade wedding, with mostly family and a few close friends attending (approximately 150 guests).  As mother of the bride, I was privileged to have done most of the planning, coordinating, and execution of detail, along with the help of the bride, her sister, and Aunt M (my sister).

Let me just say this - it couldn't have been more perfect in my mind, and my daughter said the same afterward (the highest compliment for me!).  There were lots of positive comments on the whole affair and its details, from beginning to end.  There were truly some memorable moments, and I hope I can highlight those here.  Without further ado......

The day before - 9 am to 4 pm - I spent decorating the reception venue with my older daughter and sister M.  My son-in-law took the lead in placing the decor at the actual wedding site - a local lakeside park. The wedding site was decorated the morning of.

Following is what our vehicles looked like, ready for the work ahead, and how the event shaped up.
Reception decor
Lakeside (wedding) decor
We didn't waste any time getting to the tasks at hand.  My daughter, B, did the climbing on ladders to hang lights and wreaths while sister M and I worked on tablescapes for welcome & gift stations, as well as guest tables.
B, on a ladder much too high for me or sister M to even consider climbing!
Here are finished results of our homemade wedding efforts:
The Welcome Table
Right side of welcome table:  the sign in - a Jar of Hearts (cut from vintage sheet music, for guests to sign and/or write a message; "note" spelled with vintage marquee letters and flower head, vintage jar with chalkboard painted lid)
Vintage photos of the bride & groom in doorknob picture holders; Scrabble "I DO"
Guest Favors:  Drink Koozies "To Have and to Hold, and to Keep Your Drink Cold", with date and bride & groom's names, all contained in a galvanized tub and coffee bean grain sack
A section of the guest tables, looking toward the bar area (which was already decorated for an event the next day and we left untouched, except for the masks on the wall sconce lights, which were removed)

Table top detail:  three-part arrangements with quart mason jar & faux flowers, pint mason jar with tealight on vintage doily, burlap wrapped Wet Ones for sticky fingers; twine pieces and butter mints scattered about
The dessert table
A very large cooler, camouflaged with a dropcloth, coffee filter flowers, banner, pumpkins and lights
A portion of the gift table display:  vintage suitcase for gift cards, "MOUNTAINEER" sign made from salvaged barn wood and WV license plates, purchased from a local Etsy dealer.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the buffet line setup, which was prepared for five different flavors of chicken wings, BBQ meatballs, cheese and veggie trays.

Saturday, I met my daughters at the local salon where the bride was getting hair and makeup done.
My baby girl, after hair and makeup
Older sister B, getting ready
I picked up the bridal bouquet, a European hand-tied concoction of Dutch lilies, red roses, sunflowers, hypericum berries and some foliage, all in Fall colors.  I decided on my mother's angel brooch for the memory of her presence, and had it pinned on the ribbon-wrapped stems.  Daughter M was touched.
Before heading to the wedding site, I snapped this photo in the morning light on the stairwell of the salon:
And this one, my favorite, perhaps my all-time favorite of daughter M:
On to the wedding site we went for official family photos prior to the ceremony.  My son-in-law did a fine job of setting the decor.  As simple as it was, the beauty of the site was really the only decor necessary.
Gazebo on the lake
Gazebo with part of lake in view
The lake, with sun glistening on the water
There were no ushers, just this sign, made from an old, framed poster, chalkboard painted.  The basket held the programs, designed by sister B, printed at Staples.
Photos were sanpped by the hired photographer, but I snuck in a few of my own:
The bride and groom
"I DO" paddle signs made from vintage sheet music glued to paint stirrers
And although the day was gorgeously sunny and near 40 at the time of the ceremony, the night before dropped to 29 degrees, and the wind was gusting to nearly 15 mph, making it feel colder.  Here is a picture of the bride which I captured after most of the photos were taken:
Bride in her pearls, WV garter and cowboy boots, wearing her fiance's uniform jacket.
The bride and groom entered in the most unique way I have ever seen for a wedding procession.  Here's a video of their entrance (just one minute long):
  The Entrance:
The ceremony was short and sweet:  The Bride & Groom Arrived, The Bride & Groom Got Married, and then Everybody Partied!

The reception was a beer and wings event (hence, the Wet Ones on the tables), cupcakes for dessert, and lots of fun with dancing, and a Crazy Corner photo booth!
The coma-inducing cupcakes
Crazy Corner with my husband's family
Crazy Corner with a portion of my family
I had some great help with my serving staff hired, who broke down all of the reception decor and leftovers, and by Sunday morning, my sunroom was filled with the aftermath of a good time had by all (not shown is the laundry room, full of vintage tablecloths and doilies).
Most definitely, it was an affair to remember!

If you missed other posts in this Wedding Planner series, you can find them here:
The Wedding Planners
Wedding Decor on a Dollar (Tree, that is)
Wedding Planners Part II - a Mother's Thoughts
This entire wedding - including invitations, bridal attire, venues, photography, music and catering - was done for less than $6,500, casually and homemade.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wedding Planners Part II - A Mother's Thoughts

It's T-minus six days until my daughter M's wedding and I'm getting just a little bit nervous. Wedding planners are hired for a reason - so mothers and sisters of the bride don't have to be, and so they don't have to get nervous.  But we wanted to be the wedding planners; for me it was simply because I loved the idea of using vintage goods for what was going to be a simple wedding, regardless; for my older daughter who's helping, it's what she pretty much does in her job.  And because we want it to be a memorable occasion.
Even for a simply planned wedding, the details are ridiculously numerous, especially in this last stretch, although I consider my ability to organize a strength.  Also, because accounting is what I spent most of my working career doing, I have kept an actual to budget expenditures spreadsheet throughout.  Once engaged, we allowed M and her fiance a set budget, and told them they could use the money for a wedding here, for a destination wedding, or for a future home, etc.  

I am happy to say this wedding will come in well under budget.  Approximately 50% of the actual expenses are in the dress, the dessert, the photographer and the DJ (all combined).  The other 50% has been spent on the venue rentals, invitations & postage, flowers, food and beverage (combined).  Any amount under the total budget will be gifted to the couple, consistent with how we treated the older daughter.  I am excluding the vintage item expenses, as I will recover those expenses by either renting or selling the items once the wedding is over.  

In keeping with tradition, we made sure to have something old (a vintage wedding hankie), something new (her gown), something borrowed (she'll be using my pearl necklace and bracelet, which her older sister also wore), and something blue (her WV logo garter).  I wanted to somehow incorporate my mom into my daughter's wedding, so I came up with the idea of attaching either a lone earring or brooch that were my mom's onto M's bouquet the morning of.
The earring is sooo my mom - family used to joke and say she WAS the color purple - she wore so much of it - and very well, I might add.  She wore these earrings a lot (my sister M has the mate).  The angel brooch is also something my mom wore a lot, and she believed in angels - I do too.  In fact, she used a variation on the word as my middle name.  Somehow I think it appropriate to used the angel as a symbol of my mom's presence on M's wedding day.  I've been thinking of my mom quite a bit through this process, as she was the age I am now when I first married.  I am feeling her presence intermittently, and I really hope it will be a keen sense next Saturday.

Now that we're heading into the home stretch, my only [obvious] hope is that my daughter has a happy life ahead, but also that she will have a day full of memorable touches to mark her special occasion.  And even if she doesn't notice all the little details that I am so meticulously trying to cover, perhaps the photographer will capture the little things so that when she does look back, she will then perhaps be proud of the occasion that we helped orchestrate.  I certainly hope she feels the love that her sister and I tried to convey to her, along with the family and friends that will be there to share it all with her and her fiance.

If you're so inclined, your positive energy and uplifting thoughts would be appreciated, and certainly a little prayer is welcomed, as we work toward this special day.  I've been feeling a little under the weather these last few days, but have kept a steady pace, so as not to feel an overwhelming amount of pressure later in the week to come.  It's all been positive, but my natural tendency is to try to make things perfect.  Perfectly imperfect would be ideal.

If you missed first installment of The Wedding Planners, you can read about it here.  I also blogged about the thrifty Wedding Decor here.  I hope to have plenty of happy moments to share in a couple of weeks, if not sooner.

For most readers, this next part on the sequence of events leading to this point will bore you to tears, so just skip it.  But for anyone about to undertake planning a similar occasion for a loved one, the timeline is worth reviewing.  The timeline for the October date went like this:

February 2012 (20 months prior) -
  • daughter engaged, vintage decor collection begun in earnest (had some items already)
December 2012 ( ten months prior) - 
  • wedding gown purchased
February 2013 (eight months prior) - 
  • venues, DJ, photographer and dessert maker booked
April 2013 (six months prior) - 
  • ordered my dress
July 2013 (three months prior) - 
  • wedding shower planned (first week)
  • wedding shower invitations mailed (third week)
  • venues visited, photographs taken to refer back to in planning, details discussed (fourth week)
August 2013 (two + months prior) - 
  • wedding shower given (second week), 
  • invitations designed & ordered and caterer booked (third week)
  • wedding dress first fitting (fourth week)
September 2013 (one + month prior) - 
  • wedding guest favors designed & ordered (first week)
  • invitations mailed (second week),
  • final dress fitting with gown & veil steam pressed (third week)
  • taste test with caterer completed for buffet selection (fourth week), 
  • gathered and inventoried vintage decor and spent all weekends except Labor Day pacing the creative process (arranging table decor, fleshing out ideas and executing necessary crafting activities)
October 2013 (one + month prior) - 
  • met with and fine tuned timeline for wedding day (first week).  There will be no rehearsal or rehearsal dinner, so that whole process is a non-issue.  
  • finalized guest list by calling non-respondents (and still guessing final count as of this writing - grrrrr), my dress to drycleaners for steam pressing (second week)
  • finalized food & beverage orders, hired wait staff and bartenders, based on the guesstimated numbers of guests - grrrrr, and purchased disposable utensils, coffee and tea service supplies from Sam's (third week)
  • program designed (by older daughter) and printed at Staples (third week)
  • spent all weekends continuing the creative process at a steady pace, and divided chores with my older daughter for some, with checklists for any and all decor items we need to pack and take to the venues
  • planned activity the day before the wedding - decorate the venues, starting early, with help from older daughter and sister M (my partner who styles with me weekly at the antique mall)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green....

(Thank you, Dianne for featuring this post in the DIY Decorating Addict January 2014 issue!)
It's not easy being green when I walk through the neighborhood with Mr. P. and I'm like this:
And he's like a horse with blinders, continuing to walk, as if he sees nothing but the path ahead.

I swear, especially on the day before trash day (which is Tuesday in my neighborhood), there is some really good stuff going to the landfill - unless someone rescues it.  Mr.P. used to get downright embarrassed when I would even look at the curbside treasures, but I will say he's come around quite a bit in the last five years. He's even recently made a comment or two as we loop the neighborhood and asks if a certain something is still in the pile.  But he is never with me when I rescue anything.  We go home, and I go back out to get things.

Following are some photos I've taken just this year of curbside treasures.  I have gotten a few treasures from trash, but many more have gotten away.  I am happy to report, though, that probably 50% or more get picked up by someone else, and not ever get to the landfill.  That's the next best thing to snagging the items myself.

It's like any garage sale or flea market - you just have to want to go through the stuff....
Look at these puzzles!  Great wintertime activity!  I only took two.  And the lampshade frames!
This looks to be a perfect, small-yard sized lawnmower!
Poor Sparky - he probably just needed a new spark plug!
This one got away!  I went back for it and it was gone - BEAUTIFUL!
I snagged this one - Home Goods price tag still on back - $59.99
It's even fairly clean on the inside - AND, it matches a towel stand in my bath!
Snagged these maple cabinet doors too - sold them at a yard sale (though not for the price stickered).
Wouldn't these windows make a great greenhouse?  And those old water skis are project-worthy too!
This pile is pretty much picked over by passers-by, but still a few good pieces left!
There are other items I've taken photos of and messaged to friends and family, all the while in disbelief of what some people consider trash.  They've included two very large boxes FULL of classic rock albums, mostly from the '70s, that got soaked in the rain before they could be rescued; plant stands and flower pots, and countless architectural wood remnants.  There were also a few other items I did rescue, including a 42" beveled-glass tabletop, and numerous chippy cedar fence posts.

Yes, it's hard being green in my neighborhood.  I want to rescue it all.  How about you?  What's in your neighborhood?
EDIT UPDATE 10-21-13:
After one reader shared this website with me in her comment, I would like to spread the word and share with you, too:  I'd never heard of it!  From their website, here's how they describe it:

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,118 groups with 6,521,848 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them's good people). Membership is free. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Scentsy Fall Favorites

I am not big on fragrances in my home, mostly because Mr. P. is hyper-sensitive to odors, even good ones, and is borderline asthmatic.  I am also not big on burning real candles, mostly because I don't want to burn the house down.  But when I do want a fragrance in my home, I am pretty much in love with Scentsy brand plug-in warmers and scented wax bars (and no, this is not a subsidized endorsement!).  I discovered these warmers  a couple of years ago, and I have found a few choice fragrances subtle enough that Mr. P. can tolerate, if warmed just long enough to get a waft of the aroma in the air.

I just received a new plug-in unit that I'm gaga about, and wanted to share it with you. Look at this super-cute plug-in for Fall, called "Whoot".  He's in my laundry / mud / bathroom.
Sentsy "Whoot" plug-in burner turned on, lights off.
There are other brands of these wax warmers, but they all basically work the same.  You plug them in, either with a table- or counter-top, corded version, or you use a smaller, night-light plug-in version.  I prefer the smaller, night-light sized ones, keeping them off of surface areas.  They use a single, 15 watt clear light bulb (comes with), and the smaller plug-ins use just one cube of the wax bars that come much like the prepared cookie dough bars you buy and separate before baking.
Scentsy "Whoot" (reflection in mirror shows the rear hall entry of the house and back wall of room).
Speaking of baking, the fragrances are numerous - I think 80 in total - and I just purchased pumpkin marshmallow.  Oh my gosh, it smells soo good!
Scentsy packaging and wax bar
A few of my other favorite scents are Honey Pear Cider (all-time favorite), Baked Apple Pie, and Winter Pine.  I have purchased Lemon Chiffon from Wal Mart, which I love in summer.  I've tried other burners, but none are as substantial in weight and as level once plugged into the wall at the Scentsy brand.  These have an on/off switch, and an adaptable 3-prong plug that can be rotated to fit most any outlet, maybe all.  It's easy to get the wax cubes out once they're either no longer fragrant or you just want to change them out.  You just place the burner unit (it comes apart from the base piece you plug in) in your freezer, and the wax disc slips right out. :)

I wasn't planning on purchasing any more Fall decor, but this owl was too cute to pass up in white ceramic. I have several other burners in my collection, including "Gingerbread" and "Heavenly" for Christmas holidays, "Shasta Daisy" for summertime, and "Leopard" because anything leopard makes me smile, and reminds me of my mom.

I always shop the Combine and Save packages for a slight discount, and the items ship directly to your home without hassle of a consultant or party.  I just look around, and read the descriptions of the fragrances I find interesting, and choose accordingly.  But you can usually find a local consultant and attend one of their parties if you enjoy that kind of thing.   My daughter became a certified consultant for Scentsy about a year ago, finding it more economical to sell it and save on something she uses regularly, but I just go to her Scentsy link page for a no-party, no-hassle shopping experience and do my own thing when I want something.  Check it out, but be warned - if you like fragrance, it can be addictive.  They make great gifts for hostesses, hairdressers, teachers, etc.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wedding Decor on a Dollar (Tree, that is)

I've been gathering vintage items for my daughter's wedding decor for about a year now.  She decided on a casually simple, Fall wedding and accepted my offer of help since I deal in vintage and antique items.  It's been a lot of fun.  But what really made the wedding planning fun was seeing how thrifty I could make the decor for the wedding, and let the rest of the budget go for items that mattered more to my the dress, photography and food.  Keeping a watchful eye for deals all through the past year was my ticket to keeping my self-imposed budget in tact, and I'm sharing the various online and brick-and-mortar vendors I tapped to accomplish my goal of decor on a dime.

Back in August, I saw another blogger post about spray painting faux flowers that came from the Dollar Tree, so I trekked over to see what was in stock.  BAM!  They had just gotten in their Fall flowers, and I think I purchased almost every single realistic sunflower they had.  With a filler frond added to each multi-stemmed sunflower, the promise of some nice table floral arrangements looked feasible without worrying about high-cost grocery or florist real flower availability and last-minute arranging.

A couple weeks before the wedding, I made another trip to Dollar Tree to pick up a few items I scouted online beforehand, pictured below:  tulle ribbon roll for bows, 'Thank You' butter mints to scatter on tables, frames for signs, baskets for napkins & utensils, and extensions cords (each item $1).  I made signs for the buffet, beverage, dessert and guest tables on my desktop computer and then framed them.
Some of the items already on hand and supplemented through the year included old Christmas light strings, vintage luggage, blue mason jars and quilts, not to mention a gazillion white damask tablecloths and doilies. I'm intending to use an old picture print to paint over for a chalkboard sign at the wedding venue.  You say you don't have antique or vintage blue mason jars?  No worries!  Target sold a limited edition of the blue (reproductions) this year to commemorate Ball's 100 year anniversary (although you may have to scout eBay to score them, as stores sold out quickly).
I made a trip to the antique mall to pick up several of the linens and things already cleaned and ready to use (E is the couple's surname initial, so I picked up these architectural letters I also had in the mall).
A couple of estate sale purchases here and there, like this galvanized tub, rounded out the mix of potential decor props.
A couple other vendors' sites I used included Factory Direct Craft, for these small grapevine wreaths I had purchased previously and want to incorporate:
And these preserved boxwood wreaths from Decor Steals:
I also picked up some brown coffee filters at Kroger's, along with white ones at the Dollar Tree, and made these super-easy flowers after combing through several versions on Pinterest.  These required no glue guns - just the filters, stapler and masking tape.  Here's the video I watched for the coffee flower tutorial:
Wal Mart and Sam's Wholesale were where I shopped for the napkins and utensils, and one other very important item for serving wings - Wet Ones!  I used a roll of burlap garland (Michael's, with a coupon) that was the perfect width.  I cut a strip and wrapped it around the canisters in order to disguise the manufacturer's label, yet leave the sunny yellow lid to blend with the decor.  I simply placed a rubber band around the wrap for a no-sew, no-glue, easy approach, and then tied a brown & ivory piece of vintage seam binding around it.
Once the Wet Ones were wrapped, the flowers arranged, and the tea lights placed into the mason jars, I envisioned the tablescapes looking something like this:
When my daughter said she planned on giving drink koozies as her token favor to guests, I scouted online services and found Kustom Koozies in North Carolina that were half the cost of what she initially found.  They were a very easy vendor to work with, and even provided a  tutorial on KOOZIE® Can Koolers ordering process on their web page to help new customers design and place an order.  Here's what we went with:
Other, reusable items I previously purchased from a local artist who upcycles coffee bean bags were these:
I blogged about our local artists' fair with recycled materials back in April, and you can read about that Earth Day celebration here.  I plan to use this banner near the entry to the reception, and the tote will somehow get used too.  I also purchased additional banners that spell LOVE (for the cupcake tables) and MR. and MRS. (for the bride & groom table).

And, as I mentioned in previous posts, any outdoor Fall decor I purchased for my landscape or home decor that wasn't already planted would become fair game for the wedding:
Pumpkins, hay bale, Indian corn & mums
White sweater pumpkins
Deer antlers
Fallen birch logs, cut to graduated heights, used as risers
So many ideas racing through my head....vintage sheet music confetti and/or heart cutouts for guests to sign (jar of hearts), flower frogs and doorknobs with curled wire to use for signs, chalkboard trays as signs, and the list goes on!  Some ideas are already in play, others are still dancing around inside my head, but the supplies are on hand.  I guess the time deadline will determine which ideas play out and which ones don't.  I'm not sure what I'll do with all the props once the wedding is over - whether I'll opt to rent them out, or resell them or even keep some and/or give some to my daughter if she's interested for her new home decor.

I will be sure to do another post after we decorate to let you see how it all turns out.  I hope I remember to take photos - it's on my list of things to do!

To recap my sources:
Dollar Tree - faux flowers, frames, tulle, masking tape, coffee filters, extensions cords, butter mints
Factory Direct Craft - grapevine wreaths
Decor Steals - preserved boxwood wreaths
Michael's - burlap wrap for Wet Ones
Kustom Koozies - wedding guest favors
Kroger's - brown coffee filters
Wal Mart - Wet Ones
Sam's - utensils and napkins

A couple of other great sources perused, but not used:
Oriental Trading  - inexpensive party supplies, now including wedding supplies
Save-on-Crafts - DIY elegance on a budget

Already on hand (from estate sales, private picks, antiquing trips and nature):  antique and vintage mason jars, doilies, damask tablelcoths, quilts, Christmas lights, tea lights, vintage luggage, deer antlers, pine cones, birch logs

A Stroll Thru Life's Inspire Me
Confessions of a Plate Addict's The Scoop
Savvy Southern Style's WOW
City Farmhouse's Link Party Exchange
No Minimalist's Open House
Common Ground's Be Inspired