This Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of my wedding to JB. In commemoration, I’m posting the column I wrote two days prior to our Big Day. Imagine prepping for a DIY wedding that was taking up every spare moment meaning I hadn’t had time to pen my vows and, thus, was agonizing over writing them at 9:30 pm the night before, praying I’d come up with something that elicited at least a few giggles from the guests and, of course, would be meaningful to my future husband when all I really wanted to do was fall into a deep slumber from the utter exhaustion brought on by the two days straight we spent outdoors setting up for the event during the 90 degree heat wave–and my column was due just two days before the wedding; ack, it was a hectic time! Included are photos of some of the DIY decor we tackled for our rustic wedding. I’m happy to say I met my deadline (for the column and the vows, although I was editing them down to the last minute while my hair was being curled and brushed into submission). The column ran the morning of our wedding: 9/13/14. Enjoy! 🙂
The day this column appears in print, I’ll be standing at the end of a borrowed carpet runner, poised beneath a makeshift copper arch, and gripping (likely with perspiring palms) my homemade bouquet. And uttering some (hopefully) profound words which will culminate in the momentous proclamation of (gulp!) “I do”. Today is the day I marry the best man I’ve ever known.
If you and I had hours to spare, I’d tell you about the panic attacks, the pages and pages of “To Do” lists that caused me to bolt upright in bed wondering, “Did I…?” and the multitude of design decisions that had us thinking, “Eloping would’ve been so much easier!” Because–everyone was right, planning a wedding is a lot like having a second job–one that costs more than it pays! But along the way we discovered some design ideas we really loved, and since they were DIY, they helped keep the budget down. So without further ado (after all, I have a wedding to get to!) here are some of our favorite homespun wedding decor ideas.
Love signs: Chalkboard signs are a perfect way to convey table numbers, label an unrecognizable dish such as, say, “Vegan Bratwurst” or explain the contents of a drink dispenser containing “Cucumber water”. When marked with the words “Love” or “thanks!” these signs do double-duty as props held by the bride and groom for photos that can later be printed into custom thank you cards. And, unlike so much wedding decor, chalkboard signs can be wiped clean and used for party decor throughout the year. (Imagine “Boo” or “Pumpkin soup” in October.)
To make these, begin with photo frames, preferably ones with slightly ornate, even gilded, frames–if they aren’t gilded, you can spray them to be. (The 99 Cents Only store is a great source.) Remove the glass and spray one side of it with aerosol chalkboard paint. Dry for fifteen minutes then spray a second coat. Let dry for at least two hours, then pop the glass back into the frame, painted side facing out. Important: Do not skip the next, crucial stop of curing the surface of your chalkboard by rubbing its face with the side of a piece of chalk and then wiping it off with a clean dry cloth lest whatever you write be forever etched into its surface.
Paper wedding bands: Decorate any linen or paper dinner napkin that has been folded into a rectangle with a personalized band. Use a paper cutter to slice 1/2″ wide x 12″ long strips from the plain, unprinted side of brown paper grocery bags. Wrap the band around the center of the napkin and secure it to itself on the underside of the napkin with a piece of clear tape. Use your best script or individual letter stamps and a stamp pad to create a special message. Example: “Love”, the wedding date, the first names of the bride and groom connected by an ampersand, or a dot of sealing wax in the center stamped with the couple’s monogram. (For upcoming holidays, this same technique can be used to write, “Thankful” or “Peace”.)
Ceremonial sprigs: For a twist on traditional flowers, use sprigs of rosemary, lavender or sage to decorate wedding cupcakes, a tiered wedding cake, or tuck into the aforementioned napkin bands. Lavender, long associated with love, virtue and devotion, has calming properties which may just come in handy on The Big Day. Sage is linked with wisdom and mortality, but rosemary has the most notable history. Tied to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and also a symbol of fidelity, brides used to weave it into their wreath headdresses, decorate branches to give as wedding favors, or dip into their wine during toasts. Lasses would sleep with sprigs under their pillows to induce dreams portending their husbands to be. Cautious (and superstitious!) brides slipped sprigs into their partner’s pocket to ensure faithfulness. All three of these herbs grow prolifically, so any of these plants can be purchase for the occasion, stripped of some leaves, and then planted in the garden to commemorate the red-letter day–not to mention seasoning many shared meals to come!
This was actually not at our wedding. I randomly saw it a few months ago at a wedding held at a restaurant that I happened to pass by and it was so cute, I could not resist taking a photo and sharing it with you.
Framed!: A large, empty frame from a thrift store or garage sale makes a fun photo prop for wedding pictures. The more ornate, the better. If it’s not already gilded, spray it with gold or silver paint. Guests can take turns holding the frame in front of themselves as they pose. Tip: Attach rows of twine across the back of a large frame, hang it to the wall, and clip plain wooden clothespins to the twine rows. Keep a Polaroid camera on hand (these can be found online) so guests can take selfies and pin them to the twine. The best shots can later be placed into a photo album for the newlyweds.
Take a seat: Look to your local thrift store for old and interesting wood dining chairs for the bride and groom. If the seats need new fabric, see if they can be unscrewed (from below) and popped out. If so, reupholstery can be as simple as using a staple gun to cover the seat with your favorite fabrics. Tip: Painter’s drop cloths are an inexpensive alternative to linen; natural burlap is nice, too. If the wood structure has seen better days, painting it white or gold–or any one of your wedding colors–will quickly refresh it. Just so it doesn’t look too new, you may want to consider strategically sanding the freshly painted wood to give it a gently aged appearance. Tie the chair back with strands of ribbon and signs reading “His ” and “Hers” or “Mr.” and “Mrs.”.
My dress was second-hand, but I loved it. Here are my ladies of honor holding our DIY bouquets. See the tutorial on how to make your own here.
Say “Yes” to a designer dress: Without growing broke, that is. Bridal dresses usually come two ways: expensive and beautiful or cheap and they look it. As of last year, Santa Barbara got another option with the arrival of The White Peacock bridal consignment store. Because these dresses have been worn (usually once) and dry-cleaned, they look brand new. And because most of them are designer names, they’re jaw-droppingly beautiful, which means you can be too, without the price tag to match. Tip: After your wedding, if you’re not inclined to keep your dress for posterity, you can always sell it back to recoup some of that wedding expense!
Stumps and succulents: This project can take some foresight, but if you have time, keep an eye out for any neighbors who are felling trees. If they are kind enough to let you have any of the refuse, stumps make great centerpiece bases for a rustic wedding (add a glass hurricane, candle, and/or flower arrangement on top) and can be used as risers on buffet tables. Instead of renting a wedding cake riser, an extra-large stump adds a touch of nature–and saves you a rental fee! Succulents, in lieu of flowers, not only hold up to the heat of a summer wedding, but need not be tossed. A bouquet or centerpiece of succulents will re-root if planted in your garden and will continue to commemorate your special day.