3 Important Wedding Planning Lessons Learned

Last weekend we celebrated my dear friends Teresa and Andrew’s wedding.  The weather cooperated, the rain held off and a fabulous time was had by all.  I’ll have a Real Weddings post soon, (since I was in the wedding and didn’t get many pictures, I’ll have to wait for the photographer) but today, I wanted to share some wedding lessons learned that came out of the event.

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  1. Hire a day of coordinator.  This is the first wedding I have planned where we did this, and wow what a difference it makes.  (Especially since I was in the wedding party, I was able to troubleshoot big issues without having to manage every single detail of set up and event management.)  This will probably be my biggest recommendation to brides and grooms from now on.
  2. Do a full dry run of your centerpieces.  As we were putting the centerpieces together the afternoon of the wedding, we realized that the buckets we had gotten to hold the flowers were not fully waterproof. We found a solution, but we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and energy if we had done a test run before the wedding. (But, another perk of having a day of coordinator: we were able to discover and solve this problem without the bride ever knowing there was an issue or having to stress about it.)

    Those buckets are not waterproof! (But they were a great deal–$3 for 2 on the Target dollar rack. For that price, I’m willing to work around the water holding issues.)

  3. Keep in mind the size of dresses when planning the width of your ceremony aisle.  The mother of the groom and the bride almost caught their dresses on fire from the luminaries lining the aisle.  When planning to use fire in your wedding decor, be mindful that you need more room to walk and sit with long dresses and trains.

But overall, wedding=success!

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Teresa’s Handmade Navy and Coral Wedding Garter Set

Last year I shared how I made my own garter for my wedding.

handmade teal and peacock feather garters

Handmade peacock feather garters for my Nov. 2014 wedding.

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The garter toss. (Nov. 2014)

This week is my good friend Teresa’s wedding, and I have had the pleasure of helping her plan her wedding.  As we are wrapping up the final details before the big day, I wanted to share another set of handmade garters with all of you.

handmade coral and navy garters

Handmade coral and navy garters for Teresa’s Sept. 2015 wedding.

These are very simple to make, all straight seams except for the flower and camel embellishment (a running joke with the family about having a camel included in the wedding festivities), which are all basic hand sewing.

Supplies used:

  • 5/8″ wide (I think) coral ribbon for garter base. (I got all my 5/8″ ribbon at Michael’s on sale, but you can get it from whatever your craft store of choice is.)
  • 5/8″ wide coral, navy and burlap ribbon for flower accents.  I used this awesome tutorial from Ravings of a Mad Crafter that I found on Pinterest to figure out how to make them.
  • Eintsy thin navy ribbon ( I had this left over from another wedding, but I think I got it at A.C. Moore for 50 cents a spool originally.)
  • Thin white lace and double layer fluffy lace (bought by the yard at JoAnn Fabric)
  • Camel charm (from Etsy, but the shop appears to no longer be open.)

In addition to my original tutorial directions, I looked at this tutorial from Something Turquoise.  The only difference is I put the ribbon between the two layers of lace instead of on top and added another piece of ribbon as a lining of sorts on the back to keep the lace from itching the leg.

Wedding Flowers On A Budget

According to Statistics Brain and Wedding Stats (yes, there is an entire website devoted to statistics about weddings!), the average cost of flowers in an American wedding is between $1,800 and $2,101, approximately 8-10% of the wedding costs.

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Many factors may impact the price tag of wedding flowers.

A number of factors can influence the actual cost of wedding flowers, including the time of year and location of the event, the size of the event, the number of different types of flowers (and the flower types themselves), the size of arrangements and how elaborate they are, how far in advance you place your order, etc.  Snippet and Ink, a wedding planning blog and resource, explains very clearly what exactly can effect the cost of a bouquet, and the factors discussed apply to most other floral arrangements as well.

Usually, taking all of those things into account, the flower budget breaks out to something roughly like this for the average-priced wedding:

  • Bride’s bouquet: $50-200
  • Bridesmaids’ bouquets (each): $20-50
  • Corsages and boutonnieres (each): $8-30
  • Toss bouquet for the reception: $20-50
  • Church altar flowers (each arrangement): $50-75 or higher
  • Pew flowers (each): $10-40
  • Reception centerpieces (each arrangement): $40-150
  • Flower girl bouquet or petals: $20-35
  • Floral cake topper: $30-100
  • Extras you have like floral hair decor; decorations for outside of the church like a wreath or stair decor; extra arrangements for the cake table, gift table, etc.

I don’t know about you, but 1) I didn’t have that kind of money to spend on just flowers for my wedding and 2) I can find a way to do flowers for cheaper than that.  Here are some options to keep your flower budget under control.

    • Use silk flowers or other non-floral materials. Some people think silk flowers are tacky, but I think they are a great alternative.  While they may not always be a huge cost saving measure (although you can do them for extremely low prices if you are smart about it), they have many other benefits that make them much more practical than fresh flower in my opinion.  Check out my tutorial for silk flower bouquets and the Real Weddings gallery to see pictures of silk flower weddings I have been involved with in the past.
    • Share your budget with your florist. Be up front about your budget as well as your dream wedding flowers if you chose to work with a florist.  They are trained to marry the two, and as long as you are flexible about your ideas, they will be able to create something beautiful in your budget.
    • Multi-purpose arrangements. With a little careful planning, nearly all of your arrangements from the ceremony can do double duty at the reception.  Bridal and bridesmaid bouquets can become centerpieces for the head table, the alter flowers can become decor for the cake or gift table and pew decor can line the walkway to the reception site.
    • Shop seasonally. Chose flowers that are in season where your wedding will be.  Getting flowers that are not in season where you are will cost you premium prices.
    • Larger blooms. Choosing flowers with large blooms means that you will have to buy less stems to create the same effect.  A single hydrangea or a couple of peony blossoms can do what it would take a dozen smaller blooms to cover.

    • Less expensive blooms or greenery. An alternative to using large blooms is to use lots of less expensive flowers or greenery and filler to create a large statement piece for less cost than an arrangement of the same size made totally from flowers or from more expensive flowers.

Love to Know and Colin Cowie both also have good run downs on how to save money using fresh flowers.  The bottom line is if you are flexible about your flower dream, you can have gorgeous wedding flowers for a fraction of the cost most people pay.

How To DIY Wedding Bouquets

I have made bouquets and arrangements for three different weddings, and today I want to show you how to make a super easy bouquet. By altering the number of flowers in the bouquet to change the size, you can use this tutorial to create the bride’s bouquet, bridesmaid’s bouquets, toss bouquet or any other type you might need. I have used silk flowers in this tutorial, as that is my personal preference, but all of these techniques can be used with real flowers instead of silk flowers if you prefer to use them.

The tutorial photos are pictures of the bouquets I made for my sister-in-law, Sarah’s, wedding and I didn’t have my real camera with me, so please pardon the really crappy cell phone pictures. Here we go!

Supplies
  • flowers
  • scissors, wire cutters or stem cutters
  • floral wire (the thin gauge)
  • floral tape
  • hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • ribbon or a bouquet wrapper
Directions

Step 1: Gather and prepare your flowers and supplies.

If you bought your flowers as a bunch, you’ll need to cut them off into separate stems.  You can buy wire cutters or special floral scissors, but I use a regular old pair of scissors to cut and hack through the rubber on the stem and to score the wire underneath.  Then just bend the stem back and forth a few times until the wire breaks.  (Note: if your flowers have really thick stems, this may not work.  In that case, or if really jagged edges will bother you, invest in a really good pair of wire cutters.)  If you want leaves in your bouquet you can leave them on the stems, but I wanted a cleaner look for these so I removed the leaves.

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Step 2: Form your bouquet.

In the case of SIL’s bridesmaid bouquets, the flowers were all the same so this was really easy– just stick them together and make sure nothing was sticking out funny.  It gets a little more complicated when the flowers aren’t all the same type or size.  My personal method of arranging is trial and error.  I start with a big flower and start sticking other flowers around it until I’m happy with the way it looks.  Sometimes I get it on the first try, others it takes several rounds of starting over with it until I’m happy.

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In my experience, the easiest way to hold flowers while you arrange is to grab them in your non-dominant hand between your thumb and palm/fingers.  Hold them loosely as you ad in flowers.  If you want to turn the bouquet to look at it from a different angle, close your fist and use the other hand to turn the stems.   If using silk flowers with wired stems, bend the stems as necessary to create the shape/look of bouquet you want to have. Keep going with this process until you have the bouquet bunch looking how you want it to look.

Step 3: Secure the stems to hold the flowers in place to hold the shape of the bouquet.

You can do this one of two ways: rubber bands or florist wire. The rubber band method works best if you have fairly short stems on your bouquets or a rather long rubber band– otherwise the rubber bands are a bear to get around the stems.

If you are planning to have loose, uncovered stems (this works best if you have uniform stems with no jagged ends), use the floral wire or rubber band to secure the stems tightly about an inch under the blooms. I would recommend covering it with florist tape to give it a little extra hold if you opt to use this method. After securing the stems, cover the securing material with ribbon or something else decorative and your bouquet is done.

If you are going to have covered stems, the techniques differ for rubber bands or wire (pictured below). The wire criss-cross method only works if you plan to cover the stems with ribbon (or some other kind of bouquet wrapper that will cover the ugly wire).

To use rubber bands (this really only works for bouquets with short stems), get two rubber bands and wrap one around the top of the stems (close to the flowers) and one around the bottom.

My preferred method of securing the stems is wrapping the stems with floral wire.

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I start at the top of the stems, make a loop and secure the end of the wire.  The I wrap the wire all the way down to the bottom and back up again to form a criss-cross pattern (it doesn’t have to be exact, since you’ll cover it up with ribbon anyway).  Cut the wire and make another loop to tie off the end of the wire.

If you are planning to leave the bottom tips of the stems uncovered, at this point you will need to make sure they are all trimmed neatly to the same length.  If you are planning to to do a square end that covers the end of the stems, you don’t need to worry about how neat they look, as long as they are roughly the same length.

At this point, you can cover the wire with florist tape or move directly on to the ribbon wrapping.

Step 4: Wrapping the stems.

There are as many ways to wrap a bouquet as there are types of bouquets, and for the most part it is up to personal choice to determine which you will use. You can search bouquet wrap and see any number of kinds of wraps, but if you are looking for tutorials, I recommend Martha Stewart Weddings or a You Tube search once you decide on the type of wrap.  I am going to show you a basic ribbon wrap.

You’ll need a hot glue gun (or some other type of adhesive) for this part.  Personally, I think the glue gun works best, but a good, strong fabric glue would also work.  Starting at the top of the stems where your rubber band or wire wrap starts, glue the ribbon tail to the stems.  Make one pass around the stems to make a loop and glue the ribbon on top of the tail you just glued down.

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Continue wrapping and gluing all the way down the stems as far as you want to go.

If you are leaving some green stem showing at the bottom, secure your ribbon ends just below the bottom of the wire and tape wrapping. Y

To cover the ends totally (pictured below), fold the ribbon around the bottom of the stems and glue it to make a pretty edge on the bottom of the bouquet.  I wrap back up the bouquet stem before finishing, but that is personal preference.

No matter which option of stem coverage you use, the end procedure is the same.  Whenever you are done wrapping, cut your ribbon leaving an inch or so of tail.  Fold the tail under to make a pretty folded edge to have showing (rather than the ratty cut end of ribbon) and glue it down securely.

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Step 5: Finish the bouquet.

After you have finished the wrapping, you can be done with the bouquet (like the bridesmaid bouquet from my wedding, shown below left) or you can add some pretty finishing details.  On SIL’s toss bouquet (shown above) I tied a pretty bow at the top and used the hot glue gun to secure it.  For my bridal bouquet (below right), I put a piece of lace from my Mama’s wedding dress on top of the ribbon wrap.

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If you are a visual learner like me and need a more in-depth visual tutorial, this video gives a fantastic tutorial on making a basic bouquet.

What do you think? Would you ever DIY your wedding flowers?  If you have, what did you do and how did it go?


 I was not compensated by any company for this post.  I have no affiliation with any stores or brands mentioned in this post.

The Case Against Fresh Flowers

Somewhere along the history of weddings, the floral industry (and the wedding industry) has convinced us that the elaborate and lush arrangements of fresh flowers we see in magazines and on TV is the proper, traditional wedding floral choice, and silk flowers (or no flowers) is cheap and tacky. I can see how silk flowers seeming tacky might have been then case years ago when you couldn’t get high quality fake flowers, but today you can get beautiful, high quality silk flowers at nearly any craft store, or flowers and decoration arrangements made out of nearly any material imaginable.

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Here are some pitfalls when using fresh flowers.

  1. Having fresh flowers means that you cannot have your floral decor made more than a day or two in advance of your event (as opposed to other options, which can be made months in advance and stored until the event day).
  2. With fresh flowers, someone has to be responsible for going to get them the morning of the wedding, ensure the order is correct (and heaven help you if it’s not), transport them to the event site(s) and make sure they are all where the should be, or  you have to pay an exorbitant fee to have the florist deliver and set them up.
  3. You have to store them from the time they are picked up until the event begins.  In most cases, this is a whole lot of flowers that have to be kept cool and hydrated anywhere from a few hours to 2 days. (I know, I know, if you store them properly blah blah proper care blah blah they will be fine.  But that is one more moving part on an already hectic day that someone has to worry about.)
  4. They wilt.  Fast.  I have been to weddings where the bridesmaids bouquets were already wilted before the walked down the aisle.
  5. You can’t save them unless you dry them, and if you don’t dry them properly they crumble.  I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounds like big pain in the hiney!
  6. People are allergic to them and you end up with half of the bridal party sniffing and sneezing with puffy red eyes, runny noses and red blotches all over them.

All of these issues can be avoided by choosing to use something other than fresh flowers for your floral decor at a wedding (or any other event).

Here are some alternatives to fresh flowers that still make an impact.

Silk Flowers. Silk flowers are a great alternative to fresh flowers, and make it easy to make your own DIY bouquets and arrangements.

Candles.  Nothing can create atmosphere like flickering candles, and your money will stretch a lot farther towards votives and pillars than for beaucoups of blooms.  Be sure to check the sales after the Christmas holidays, this is a great time to get candles at a deep discount.

Lanterns, Bird Cages, Lucite Risers, and other Non-Florals. There are plenty of eye catching decorations you can use that don’t involve of any type of flowers, or when combined with flowers will greatly reduce the number of blooms needed to make a stunning display.

Non-Floral Bouquets.  Who says flowers have to make up bouquets and centerpieces?  Flowers can be made out of paper, broaches, seashells, fabric; anything can become a bouquet if you get creative. The Overwhelmed Bride has some great ideas for alternatives to flowers in bouquets, and Nine to Five offers a great source for flowers made out of old book pages.

How to Make a DIY Family Heirloom Veil

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One of my absolute favorite things about weddings is the tradition and heritage associated with them; anytime I can incorporate family heirlooms into my wedding, I am.  I’m so incredibly excited to show off my homemade (on the way cheap) wedding veil today.

My mama had offered me her veil, and while it is gorgeous, it just didn’t look good on me.  The flower wreath just didn’t work with my face shape and curly (*ahem* frizzy and wild *ahem*) hair, so I knew I had to come up with something else.

DSCF0378My Mama at her wedding.  Isn’t she beautiful?

Since you should all know by now that there was no way on this earth I was going to pay $100+ for a veil from a store, Plan B was to make my own veil completely from scratch like my sister-in-law Sarah did, only using lace accents instead of crystals.

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Plan C (the plan I actually used) came into being when I happened to find an ivory veil at Michael’s; with the 40% off coupon it ended up costing me $9.  I also convinced my Mama that since neither my sister nor I were going to be able to fit into her size-2-sample-size-cut-down wedding dress, that we should take the beautiful lace appliques off of it and use those for my veil (and other places).  You can see the lace appliques better in these pictures (and you get to see my handsome Daddy!).  They are all over the collar and bodice, with a few on the sleeves, plus there are little lace medallions on the sleeves and skirt of the dress.

parentsweddingThe streamers coming off of the bouquet are streamers that were attached to the Bible that my Grandma (Daddy’s mom) carried in her wedding in the 1950s.  I’m still trying to figure out how I can use them in my wedding.  And don’t you just love the awesome 80’s photo treatment of superimposing Mama’s picture over the silhouette of Daddy’s face?

laceTaking the lace off the dress.

This lace was a bear to get off, let me tell you!  The little medallions on the sleeves and the skirt weren’t too bad- they were just held on with fabric glue.  But the collar and the bodice lace was not only glued down, but sewn down on top of the glue.  Once I FINALLY got all the lace off the dress, I was ready to sort out which pieces I wanted to use for the veil and start making it.

Step 1: Buy or make your veil base.  You can get plain veils to embellish at the craft stores.  They tend to run about $15, but don’t ever buy anything without a coupon to bring the cost down even lower. If you want to make your veil base by buying tulle or lace at the fabric store to use, here is an excellent tutorial on how to construct it from Bean in Love that also shows how to add lace trim to the edge of your veil if you want.  Since my veil came with a nice, clean pencil edge on it, I chose to let the other lace be the focus.

Step 2:  Choose and arrange your appliques.  I decided to use one of the larger appliques at the comb of the veil and use the small medallions from the sleeves and the arms scattered over the rest of the veil.  When I was initially arranging them, I pinned the lace in place because I was planning to sew them onto the tulle (see step 3).  This is also a good idea if you are like me and will need to change your design around several times before you are satisfied- it’s not permanent like the glue would be (or should be-again, see step 3) but it keeps your pattern from getting all messed up and forcing you to start over.

IMG_2541Lace pieces laid out and pinned on the veil.

Step 3: Attach Lace to Veil. This is where things got tricky.  My first plan was to sew the little medallions on; ha ha ha.  Yeah right- I would still be there sewing.  So then I went and bought some fabric glue and spent an evening gluing the little medallions to the tulle.  And the next morning when I picked it up, they all fell off.  Apparently, not all fabric glues are created equal.  So back to the craft store I go to buy a second kind of fabric glue.  This time it worked and those little suckers aren’t going anywhere. SO my reccomendation is for your fabric gluing needs, use Beacon Fabri-Tac (pictured below) and NOTHING ELSE!  (I have received no compensation or anything else for this recommendation; I’m just trying to save you a whole lot of frustration and headache.)

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And you’re finished! This veil cost my $9 to make!  You can’t beat that with a stick, as my Nana used to say.

Here’s my finished veil.  I’m quite proud of it, and it’s extra special because the lace came from my Mama’s dress.

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And here it is on while I tried on dresses.

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What about you- did you have a veil or not? Did you make your own?  What other cool wedding headpieces have you seen?  How did you use family heirlooms in your wedding day festivities?

Choosing Menswear for Your Wedding

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So guys.  I ordered my wedding dress.  Pretty cool stuff!

I’m not going to post any pictures of it so that no one who isn’t supposed to see it will see it accidentally, but  it’s ordered and it’s gorgeous — very simple and we are going to embellish it with lace from my Mama’s wedding dress (since she was a size 2 or something like that when she got married and neither my sister nor I will ever be able to fit into it).

So once that was done, it was time to dress the menfolk.

Mr. C and I decided to go with Men’s Wearhouse for tuxedo rentals because they had the best coordinating color to the bridesmaid dresses.  And since we ordered some of the bridesmaid dresses from David’s Bridal, we get a discount on the tux rentals as well.  We decided on tuxedos for a couple of reasons.  One, none of Calvin’s groomsmen are really suit wearers, so to get the quality of look I wanted, they would have all had to go buy a suit, which they would probably not have a whole lot of occasion to wear again, so that would be a waste of money.  Second, the size of people wearing needing matching suits runs from a 5 year old, to 110 pound Mr. C to built like a football lineman.  There was no way we were going to find something that matched and would fit all of those sizes.  Third, everyone (including Calvin and I) is traveling to the wedding.  There is a whole lot less potential for forgotten or lost items of clothing when it all comes in a big black bag together from on place.  You pick it up on your way out of town headed to the wedding and you take a group field trip to the Men’s Wearhouse just down the street from the hotel the morning after the wedding and turn it back in.  Easy peesy!

Here’s what we settled on:

For Calvin and Braden we are doing ivory vests and ties.

Groomsmen will have teal vests and ties to match the bridesmaid dresses.

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I think the Father’s are just going to wear suits, but we put them on the group just in case they change their minds.  If they do wear tuxes, I’m not sure what colors we will go with for their vests and ties, but probably the ivory.

A few tips I discovered while we were in this process:

  1. Don’t go try to sign up for your rentals during prom season.  We really didn’t think this one through and we ended up waiting a really long time before we were helped. That could have been avoided if we waited a few weeks until after all the local high schools had had their proms, but we just didn’t think about it.  And we were excited to go pick out the tuxes. Oh well.
  2. Take advantage of the deals. Nearly all tux places have some kind of deal where if you have so many rentals, then the groom gets a free tux rental or a free suit or something like that.  If you get your bridesmaid dresses at David’s Bridal then you should get a discount on your tuxes, at least at Men’s Warehouse.  If they don’t mention it, ask about it.  Be sure to ask if you are getting all of the deals and discounts you are eligible to get.  And if someone else offered you a better deal, tell the sales person.  If they are a good salesperson, they would rather work a deal with you so that you spend your money at their store (and on their commission) rather than say no, we don’t run that deal and lose your business to someone else.
  3. Don’t let the salesperson push you into picking a more expensive tux than you want your groomsmen (and other tux wearing men) to have to spend.  They are , obviously, going to push you toward picking the most expensive tux they offer, but there is no reason you need to do that one if you are picking black tuxes.  (If you are going with another color, you might have to go with whatever price that is available in, and I can almost guarantee it will be one of the more expensive ones.)  Stand your ground and don’t be afraid to say “That is too much money.  What are some less expensive options?”.  Note:  We ended going with a mid-line tux because it came with a slim fit which is a necessity for Mr. C — he would be swimming in his otherwise.  It was a little more than we wanted to ask the guys to spend since they are all having to travel as well. We decided that since Mr. C will get his tux for free (see tip #2) we would pay for $25 of each groomsman’s tux to help bring the cost down for them.
  4. I don’t know about other rental sources, but we discovered that at Men’s Wearhouse in addition to renting tuxes, you can also rent just the coordinating vest and tie for around $35.  This is a great option for ushers, Fathers and other special people in your day that you don’t want (or need) to ask to spend the money on a full tux, but would like to give them the opportunity to match the rest of the wedding party and feel special and included.

What have you seen guys wear at weddings?  What other tips and advice are there for navigating this process?

Menswear images from the Men’s Wearhouse website.  I have no affiliation with Men’s Wearhouse, nor did I receive any compensation, monetary or otherwise for this post.

How to Make a DIY Garter

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Last week I showed you how I made the wedding bouquets for my upcoming wedding.  This week, let’s talk about the garter toss tradition.

I did a little research about the history of the garter toss for this post (and by research, I mean I typed “wedding garter toss history” into the search box on Pinterest and read what came up).  The general consensus seems to be that the custom originated as a way to ensure the bride’s virginity before the wedding night.  Wedding guests would accompany the happy couple back to the bedroom as witnesses to the act and take the garter as proof of the consummation.  Because the garter was considered to be good luck, this somehow evolved (around the 14th century) into guests ripping pieces of the brides clothing, including the garter, off of her so that they would be lucky. In order to avoid an all out brawl, some smart bride and groom decided they would remove the garter (and other bits of clothing) and throw it to the guests to avoid them tackling the bride.  (Sources: The Garter Girl, Absolute Soiree and Wed Alert).

I’ve seen a lot of chatter about the garter toss and whether it is scandalous, immoral, passe, etc. and there are all kinds of ways to do a garter toss everythign from the groom removing it with his teeth to having the garter pre-placed on a football and the groom throwing it.  And there are so many beautiful garter sets on Etsy!

I think the garter toss is awesome, not to mention totally hilarious.  I will be having a garter toss, complete with Mr. C fetching it from under my dress and whomever catches it placing it on the leg of the lucky lady who caught the bouquet!  (Side note: if you have met my sister, ask her about her experience with this sometime.  She probably won’t tell you, but then you can come ask me.  I’ll tell you when I finish laughing.)

But (say it with me now!) “I refuse to pay a whole bunch of money for something I can make myself for much cheaper.”  And garters are incredibly easy to make on your own if you have a sewing machine and can sew a relatively straight line.  It doesn’t even have to be perfectly straight since it gets all scrunched up.  I’ll run through the steps I used to make mine below, but here is a really awesome tutorial from the blog Something About Katie with better pictures than mine.  (I forgot to take the step by step photos.  Again.  Sorry!)

So here we go- making your own garter:

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Step 1: Find your materials.  There are all kinds of garters out there and you’ll need some different stuff depending on what kind you make (I ended up making three because I couldn’t decide what I wanted.).  But no matter which kind  you’ll have some variation of ribbon, fabric and lace, thread to match and elastic. Make sure you get your elastic in a width thinner than the ribbon/fabric/lace you’ll be using for the band of the garter — I had an oopsie on this and had to go get a different kind of elastic– and make sure it is sturdy enough to keep your garter on your leg.  You don’t want it slithering down because it’s too heavy for the elastic to hold up. It won’t show, so it doesn’t matter if it’s ugly, just that it will hold the thing up on your leg.I bought two widths- one for the thick garter and one for the thinner garter.

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It really doesn’t matter what kind of stuff you get to make your garter out of, as long as you like it. I used ribbon by the spool in one of our wedding colors in two sizes, the solid one pictured above (5/8″ I think) and a skinnier one with solid and see-through vertical stripes (3/8″ I think) that you can see in the first picture on the right hand garter, and ivory ribbon in the 5/8″ size.  I really love the ivory ribbon because it has a cool thread detail border on it (you can sort of see it in the right hand garter in the top picture).  I got these on sale, but even regular price they are only $3.99 and $2.99 and you can always find a coupon.

I didn’t mind buying the ribbon by the spool at the craft store because I know I will use it for something else; if you don’t think you will use it you can always get your ribbon by the yard at the fabric store, which is what I did for the two kinds of lace.  My oh so scientific way of determining how much I needed was to wrap the lace around my leg in the store and then double that length so that I would have extra in case I messed up.  For the thicker lace, since I wanted to put it on both sides of the ribbon, I tripled the initial amount from around my leg. You can also buy lace fabric off the bolt and use that (which is what the Something About Katie tutorial shows).

Step 2: Put together the top layer of the garter band. I sort of followed tutorials and sort of made up my process as I went.  First you have to measure your materials.  I once again used my super scientific method of wrapping the ribbon around my thigh at the point I wanted the garter to sit.Make sure once you have that measurement you add an inch or two extra length so it makes the pretty scrunches once the elastic is in. Then, use the ribbon to measure and cut your lace or other ribbon. Cut the length of ribbon for the bottom layer of the band now and set it aside for later.

How you sew this layer of the band depends on what kind of garter you are making and how you want it to look.  If you are doing a thicker garter with lace and ribbon, sew those two things together with the ribbon and lace placed like you want it (lace on both sides, lace on one side, etc.).  For the skinnier garters, I just sewed the two layers one right on top of the other using a zigzag stitch to give it a little more hold.  Once you have all your pieces put together, sew the two ends together to make the circular band.  (I did this a little differently than the tutorial from Something About Katie; she doesn’t sew her ends together until after she puts the elastic in.  Her way is easier, but I didn’t want a thick seam digging into my leg, so I hid the seam under the bottom layer.  Either way works.)

Step 3: Sew the top and bottom layers of the band together.  It’s as simple as it sounds; I put a second layer of ribbon behind the ribbon and lace of the top layer and ran a straight seam around each edge of the ribbon.  Make sure you leave a wide enough space between your two seems to run the elastic through.  Don’t sew the ends together of the bottom layer because you need the gap to put the elastic in.

Step 4: Put in the Elastic.  Measure your elastic by pulling it as tight as it will stretch and wrapping it around your leg to get the length.  Release the tension and cut– it will look very short but that’s ok.  The easiest way to put your elastic into the garter band is to thread it through using safety pins.  Put a safety pin at one end that is parallel to the elastic and another on at the other end that is perpendicular to the elastic (this one will keep this end from pulling through the slit in your band).  Start feeding the elastic through the band using the parallel safety pin as a “needle” so that you can feel it to move it through the casing (the space in between the two seems).  Once it is all the way through, pull the two ends way out of the slit with the fabric bunched in the middle.  Remove the safety pins and sew the ends of the elastic together using a zigzag stitch.  Now pull the fabric back around so the elastic is hidden.

Step 5: Finishing the Garter Band. Sew the gap closed at the ends on the bottom layer.  Do any cleaning up that needs to be done (cutting threads, etc.).  Your basic garter band is done!

Step 6: Add the Embellishments. This is the fun part because it is what makes your garter yours.  I desperately wanted to have a peacock themed wedding but Mr. C put the nix on that, although I did still get to use peacock colors. BUt he did say I could have some peacock touches here and there and on of them is on my keepsake garter.  I’m so proud of how they both turned out.

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A few final thoughts on making garters.  I bought the beaded lace because it just creamed bridal garter to me, but when I made the garter it didn’t play so nicely.  Because the pearls were so stiff, it didn’t scrunch like it needed to in order for it to look and fit like it should.  So, as you  chose your materials to make your garter keep in mind that they need to be thin and flexible enough to bend and stretch with the elastic.

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What do you think about the garter tradition at weddings?  Did you have a garter toss at your wedding?  Have you heard different origins of the tradition?

Asking Your Bridesmaids

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I didn’t do an elaborate bridesmaid ask for my ladies- I just asked them, but there are some really cute “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” cards out there.  Here are a few of may favorite; some are funny, some are sweet and some are just flat out gorgeous.  They can all be found on Etsy.

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  a11a5a767d37f2a81914b05cdd6f091ePaperHatDesigns

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Picture1I love these two so much.  They are truly beautiful and could be framed as a special keepsake.   left: firstsnowfall, right:aprilheatherart

How did you ask your ladies (or gents) to be part of your special day?  Did you have an “asking” goodie bag?

How to Make DIY Photo Booth Favors

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I think one of the most fun trends in weddings right now is having a photo booth for your guests.  You get some awesome (and ridiculous and potentially black-mail worthy) pictures of your guests, they get an awesome souvenir from your wedding and you can have a really cool scrapbook/guestbook with photos and notes. Calvin and I are renting our photo booth from the same company that our DJ works for and they have a special deal if you get a photo booth and a DJ, so we came out pretty well on this one.  And we’re going to get little magnetic sleeves for the photo strips to go into and voila!- favors.

On each little photo strip, there will be a graphic that we had to provide.  At first I thought I would use one of the awesome free monograms from The Wedding Chicks. (Check them out for some really cool free downloads and printables, as well as some awesome wedding ideas!) I tried several of the monograms and these two were my favorites that worked with our wedding themes and colors.

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Circle Love monogram in Blue Jean (dark blue) and Deep Ocean (light blue) and Silhouette monogram in Blue Jean.

But they seemed really  flat and monochromatic. So I tried the Silhouette in the brighter, more teal-ish Tiffany Blue, but that looked too bright.

weddingchicks-download-1398973474It was at this point that it occurred to me-“Hey goofball, you know how to use Photoshop! You can combine them.”  Mind you, my Photoshop skills are limited and rather rusty. But after much trial and error, this is what I came up with:

photo booth image

I’m pretty proud of it, if I do say so myself. Obviously in the real version it has our real last name, but I removed that for safety reasons.

And props for the really cool cursive font (the one used for Mr. and Mrs. and the date- not last name though) go to my amazing friend Suzanne.  You can check out her amazing Etsy shop Silver Tree Art and her blog at Reverend Artist Mother.  She also created an amazing planner, A Year of Daily Living: create your way every day that you can buy on Amazon.  Check her out!