Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wedding DIY: Guest Favors and Escort Cards

For our guest favors, I did a lot of research into various ideas that seemed to represent us as a couple, or our wedding. We were originally thinking of doing a lobster bake, so we could have given lobster crackers (those metal things you use to crack open lobsters) or custom lobster bibs (so classy). I also thought about a bottle of some spices or something since we like spicy food. But ultimately everything gets pretty pricey when you contemplate doing it for 120 people. Sorry guests, but we thought it was better to spend that money on things that would make it a better party (like good food) than gifts you might not even really want....

So instead I decided to make magnets. Magnets are boring, yes. But most people have magnets on their fridges, so I thought at the very least they could hang around in everyone's kitchen as a little reminder of our special day. And I thought I could use them to display the escort cards (the little cards that tell everyone where they're sitting), thus killing two birds with one stone. I found a tutorial for making magnets out of glass stones, gathered my supplies, and set to work.

Here's how it went down (and I will confess, I made these in November for our June wedding...I just wanted to start getting tasks out of the way):

For supplies, I needed colored craft paper (I used 6 sheets of paper: 3 shades of turquoise, and 3 shades of pink/coral), strong clear glue, decorative glass stones (the kind that are rounded on one side and flat on the other), and strong magnets. I found all of this at Michaels. I also used the rubber stamp that I bought on Etsy and used for a lot of our wedding decor.

The basic process was to first stamp each sheet of paper a bunch of times:

Then I used one of the stones as a guide, traced its shape around each stamp, and cut out each resulting oval:

Next I used the glue to adhere a glass stone to each paper oval:

(If you look closely, you can see the camera and my Harvard sweatshirt reflected in the glass...don't look closely)

I was able to squeeze out any air bubbles in the glue just by pressing the stone down firmly. The glue dried pretty quickly -- within a few minutes. Since each stone was slightly different in shape, I tried to pick one for tracing that was fairly representative and then once they were all glued together I trimmed off any excess paper that stuck out from under the edges of any given stone.

I completed all these steps for each one so I was left with a pile of stones with paper ovals glued to the bottom. Then I flipped all the stones over, dabbed glue on the back of a bunch of them, and quickly pressed down a single magnet on each one before the glue dried. I put glue on about 10 at a time before adding the magnets.

I let them dry upside down for about 15 minutes. As the glue was first drying, sometimes the magnets would slide off to one side (visible on a few stones in the photo above) -- I just made sure to keep an eye on them and push them back into place until the glue firmed up.

Then I popped all 120 of them in a tupperware container to await the wedding 8 months later. All told (not counting the stamp, since I used that for other things), they cost 33 cents apiece...not too bad!

To display them with the escort cards, I found magnetic boards at Michaels, which I painted turquoise with paint I already had on hand from past projects. I calculated that based on the size and number of escort cards, I needed two boards of the size they had at Michael's.

(sorry for the poor photo, this is the week before the wedding and I was moving fast)

I bought white wire contraptions on Amazon meant to display decorative plates or books etc, which I used to prop up the frames (you can see one at the bottom of the frame in the photo above).

For the escort cards, I mail merged each person's name and table number into a Word document using a label template in Word that put the names into three columns and 7 rows. I right-aligned the text so that the magnet could sit on the left edge of each card and not block the name. Before doing the merge, I sorted the excel spreadsheet I was using by meal preference so that everyone who wanted each meal type was grouped near each other in the mail merge. This is because I wanted to color code the escort cards according to meal selection, since people often don't remember and the caterer said this really helps. I bought three colors of washi tape at Staples (which is just thin decorative tape) -- pink for salmon, orange for beef, and yellow for polenta.

Then I printed the escort cards on white cardstock, and ran a strip of washi tape down the left side of each card (the point of grouping the names by meal preference was so that I could run the same color washi tape down entire sheets of cardstock). Then I used the paper cutter at Kinkos (for free) to cut each piece of cardstock into the individual escort cards. I'd thought about using pre-perforated business cards, but it was cheaper to just use the same cardstock that I was already buying for the ceremony programs.

Lastly, I mounted the escort cards alphabetically on the magnetic boards using the guest favors. I just alternated pink and turquoise. Here's how they looked at home:

And at the wedding:

And here's a close up:

I liked that the washi tape was definitely visible and gave the escort cards some interest once they were removed from the board, but not too overpowering when sitting under the magnet so the final result didn't look too jumbled.

We ended up having extra magnets because I made excess back in November not knowing for sure what our final headcount would be (and not wanting to have to rush to make a few more right before the wedding). As you can see two photos above, I put the extras in a basket (which my aunt made and gave to us as a wedding present a few days before the wedding -- the colors were too perfect not to immediately use it) with a little note telling people to feel free to swap for whatever color they wanted or to take extras.

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