Friday, February 27, 2009

DIY: Polaroid Photobooth

Like many who have come before us, we really wanted a photobooth at our wedding. But, the cost of renting a "real" booth was far too high, so we went diy.

We wanted people to take pictures for us to keep, but also be able to take some home, so we decided to go the Polaroid route. We already had the camera (we found it by the side of the road, in a junk pile, right after we started dating).

Of course this came right around when they decided to take the film off the market, so the price of Polaroid film shot way up. We bought some of the film before the crisis, but we ended up scavenging eBay for most of it. All in all I believe we purchased around 200 shots worth of film for 100 people (we didn't use all of it). I've also heard that Fuji is now making Polaroid 600 film, so that should make it easier for those of you who want to try this.
While some people have a designated picture taker, we knew our friends would be all over taking Polaroids so we figured they could switch off being picture taker and model. That worked out just fine and the booth was literally full all day while people were setting up, all night, and into the next day as we were cleaning up!
To make the backdrop for the photobooth we purchased two sheets of fabric (three yards of each). One was a regular sized fabric, and the other was upholstery fabric from Ikea. I'd recommend upholstery fabric because the heavier weight hangs better and the extended width allows more people to stand in front of it.

To our advantage, we were able to just tack our fabric to my parent's deck and use their porch lights to light it. You could also make a wood frame to attach the fabric to, hang a line from trees and attach the fabric to that, or nail it to a wall.

On the deck we put a table with the film, a board for people to post pictures on, and several costume items. For the costumes we used things I had lying around my house, plus a few purchased pairs of crazy $1 glasses. And yes, I have hats and fur coats and eye patches just lying around. The felt mustaches I made.

And of course, as some of these pictures exhibit, our photographer couldn't help but snap a few pictures of people using the booth as well. They loved it!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

DIY: Gocco Invitations

How did I not write about our invitations? Perhaps I blocked them out because they were so. much work. After they left my house I was happy to have them out of sight, out of mind.

Our invites were entirely designed and created by little ol' me (using purchased art...I'm not an artist!). P. bought me a gocco for my birthday so the invites were really my first project using the gocco. I highly recommend practicing a bit more before you create your invites. The gocco isn't hard to use once you get the hang of it, but we burned through several frames and lots o' ink before we figured out how to burn the screens to create clean, crisp pictures on the other side.

Gocco, straight out of the box, with computer tutorial.

There were papers everywhere. Everywhere.

Our invitations had four components. The actual invite, the response card, an info sheet, and the envelope.This image is probably the closest to the actual color of the paper (which came from Paper Source). For the envelope I handwrote a screen using the gocco pen and then printed them so we wouldn't have to handwrite a return address on each envelope. As a sidenote, we no longer live at that address so good luck stalking me there :)

While I wanted to use vintage stamps, that ended up being a cost that I couldn't justify. My way of getting around using the flag stamps (the only stamps available when I was sending out invites), was to use a variety of smaller amount stamps. This involved running around to four post offices who looked at me like I was a crazy person for buying hundreds of 5cent stamps.

Our invitations were simple, using an image from Nikki McClure, one of my absolute favorite artists. The text is in a dark brown color, with gold ink for the image.

Our info cards used two screens: one for the image done in gold ink and another for the text, done in a raspberry color. We intended to have driving directions on the back of this sheet, but for some reason could not get the screen to print clearly so after several ruined screens we just scrapped the idea and stuck directions on the website.

You may notice that on our reply card we didn't really make it clear that people should still write their name if they weren't planning on attending. Several people responded with "no" responses and no names. We had to guess based on postage and process of elimination who those people were. Kind of a pain.

So all in all I really liked how they turned out. They aren't professional. They aren't letter pressed. But they were fairly cheap. For save the dates, all the gocco supplies, paper, and stamps we spent a total of $310.

And, since I'm sure someone will ask, here is our save the date. We made my sister take the pictures of us lying under my parent's apple trees holding blank pieces of paper, but wouldn't tell her why. She thought we were crazy. I added in the text after the fact. We printed them using VistaPrint, with a discount code, and I think we paid around $15 total.

Thanks for all the questions! Keep them coming!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

BYOB Drinks

A few people have asked about what we did for drinks, so y'all get another post. Actually, you can keep having posts if you keep asking questions! Ask and you shall receive.

Since we were not hiring someone to watch the drinks, we didn't want to make them too complicated. We decided to do bottled drinks for non-booze drinkers, and beer, wine, and one special drink for those who wanted to get a bit crazier.

We actually had plans to use wine we'd made ourselves for the wedding. They even had cute, custom labels just for us, but it wasn't quite done in time. We put a few bottles out, but they are pretty horrid and headache inducing. So instead we made a last minute run to Trader Joe's where we picked up four cases of red wine and one case of white. We didn't do the Two Buck stuff, although I don't think it's a bad option if your guests don't really care about wine. Ours were all around $5-7/bottle, which seems to buy you decent wine if you are on a budget.

We had a few people bring their own, fancier bottles of wine to share at their tables. Our table had a few bottles of expensive wine that I'd saved for the wedding, though we also ended up drinking some of the cheap TJ's stuff (it wasn't bad).

The rest of the wine was set up on our drinks table, with all the cups and a few bottle openers. The kegs were in buckets next to the table (we had two pony kegs of local microbrews), and the non-alcoholic drinks were in a steel bucket on the ground next to the table as well.
For our extra drink we made vodka spiked sangria. All of our friends are big sangria drinkers so we knew it would go over well. Plus it's incredible easy to make. We threw several of the big juice bottles from Trader Joe's into a punch bowl with boxed wine, several glugs of vodka, and some frozen fruit. There was no particular science to it. One of my brideswomen made it pre-ceremony by tasting it as she went along until it seemed right. I did do some research before buying the boxed wine to find the good stuff.

For non-alocholic drinks we accompanied my mom and her CostCo card to CostCo to buy bulk Mexican Cokes, sparkling water, and Izze sparkling juices.

We also did regular and decaf coffee with dinner which we made in two regular drip coffee makers (my parent's and a borrowed one) and then put in the pretty press pots seen in the far corner of the picture below.
You can see in this picture that we had a box under the table for people to put empties in for later recycling. For the most part people were good about keeping the table clean, putting empty bottles down below, and generally keeping things nice.

Any other questions about drinks? Let me know!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I ran out of things to talk about!

If anyone has questions, I'll write up more posts to answer them. And I might occasionally post about friend's weddings or other things I think up. But I'm really not sure what else to write about.

But, you are more than welcome to head on over to my regular blog to see what I'm up to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

DIY: Making Mason Jar Lamps

Several people have asked how we created the mason jar candle holders. While I don't have the tools here to do a good step-by-step with pictures, here's what I've got using one of the already made holders.

-Empty jars with labels removed
-Wire (I *think* the wire we used was mostly 20 gage...we found two different spools of wire in my parent's garage, so we used that.)
-Wire cutters or planting sheers (something that will cut through the wire you have).
-Needlenose pliers

1. Wrap the wire around the jar, under the lip, leaving about an inch of slack in the wire and cut.
2. Twist the wire together to close the loop, but still make sure that the wire is a bit slack.

3. Cut another length of wire to use as the "hanger." Mine were all around a foot long, maybe a bit longer. We did different lengths so they'd hang at different levels. Bend the wire into a big "u" shape.

4. Twist the ends of the hanger wire so that they form a "u" facing out. The pictures show the ends closed already. I felt like having the hooks face out made them more securely attached to the lip wire, but maybe I was being crazy.

4. Hook the hanger wire onto the wire around the lip of the jar (this can be slightly tricky if you don't leave enough slack in the wire around the jar).

5. Tighten the lip wire by twisting it more with the pliers until it feels securely on there.
6. Close the hooks on the hanger wire with the pliers (the pictures show this step already done).

7. Fill with about an inch of sand and stick in a candle!

Let me know what questions you have. We used one of the long lighters to light everything so we could put the candles in ahead of time, but if you don't want to buy one of those you could just stick the candles in as you light them at the wedding.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Q&A: How do you light a backyard?

The variety of ways we lit the yard are some of my more favorite design elements from our wedding. It's kind of scary to think about lighting a large yard, but it ended up being fairly easy and cheap.

Because we were trying to conserve power for the DJ equipment, we knew we couldn't go overboard with electric lights. So we started with candles. Each dinner table had three candles in jars or other assorted vintage glassware. The dessert table was filled up with candles as well.

Since we were trying to keep people from wandering off into the depths of my parent's yard we created a border around the lawn by hanging candles in mason jars from sheperd's hooks. The mason jars were acquired off of Freecycle, but they were basically used peanut butter and pasta sauce jars. And we found shepherd's hooks at JoAnns Fabric for really cheap last summer (they were something like 75% off). We're going to use both the hooks and the candle jars in our yard this summer.
Since we figured most people would be on or near the dancefloor by the time it was really dark, that was lit a few ways. First, we had torches around the edge of the pool & seating area. In a big tree that overhangs the dance floor we hung up more of the mason jars with candles in them.
My parents already had lights strung up around their patio and around the hot tub deck/DJ area so we turned those on as well. And of course we had the floating candles in the pool and the fire pit, which I'm still on a quest for a picture of!

For the main part of the yard, we rented white lights. We were originally going to buy lights, but renting long strands cost us around $2/strand, which was cheaper than anywhere we could purchase them.

My cousin and P. dug small holes in the lawn and stuck posts in the ground. I've seen people use buckets with sand or some other thing to weight down the posts, but digging holes seemed more secure. He attached the lights to the poles and the house and that was it! I think we rented four strands for the yard. Each strand was attached in three places (two posts and the house).

This last picture really seems to show most of the different lighting elements we used. Nothing was glaringly bright, but it had a nice glow to it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Q&A: Did you have a backup plan for rain?

I've had a few people ask if we had a backup plan for rain, considering our entirely outdoor wedding.

Those of you who have been around since the pre-wedding days will remember that no, we did not have a rain backup plan. Which in hindsight was kind of crazy. Really my only huge wedding panic was when I checked the ten day forecast and saw a 30% chance of rain on both Friday and Saturday. And it wasn't a small panic. It was a full-blown panic where I cried on the couch while my husband and mom tried to call every indoor venue in town to get them to agree to be backup and put a tent on hold kind of panic.

But I did learn a few things from the experience:

1) If you pick your wedding day specifically because it has never historically rained on that day (like me), keep in mind that global warming is making everything funky and still plan a backup. But chances are that it's not going to rain. In fact we were much more worried (and prepared) for a glaringly hot day, but the rain on Friday (it did rain a bit), cooled everything down so it actually ended up perfect.

2) The first tent rental company we called quoted us $3187 and wouldn't hold a tent without a deposit. That created more panic since our total wedding budget was $10k. My mom called our port-o-potty rental company because they'd been really nice and asked them if they knew of anyone else in town who rented tents. They gave us the number of a mom and pop tent rental company who quoted us $1000 for the same tent and told us that they were sure it wasn't going to rain so they'd hold the tent for me up until the day before the wedding for free (at which point they called me to congratulate me and my lack of rain). So call around. I know tents are usually insanely expensive, but sometimes going through referrals from other vendors works.

3) Finding an indoor venue to hold a space for you last minute is near impossible. Nobody who we got in touch with had room (or would admit to it).

If we had needed to, in a pinch we could have fit everyone into my parent's house (we would have put the furniture in the garage). It wouldn't have been the most comfortable wedding ever, but it would have worked.

So the bottom line is that I probably should have had some sort of backup plan, but that ultimately if there is a 2% chance of rain on your wedding day, it's probably not going to rain and you, like me, can probably squeak by without a backup.

Funny enough one of the most memorable things that was said at our ceremony was when our friend remarked that she'd been to several themed weddings that summer and that while our wedding didn't have a theme, if it did she'd say it was the glow of sunshine.