Saturday, August 30, 2014

Goodbye to Beacon Street

We said goodbye to Beacon Street Manor today, and it's bittersweet. On the one hand, we're very excited for what comes next. Our closing has been delayed briefly, so for now we're staying in a pet-friendly motel in the suburbs. We're hopeful that we'll close very soon, and as soon as we do I'll share an update about the home-buying process. I just don't want to jinx it or share too much while the final stages are still unfolding. For now, I'll just say that it's been stressful but we've been so grateful for the incredible support from our friends and family, as well as our broker and attorney who are doing all they can to ensure that in the end this all works out.

But it's also sad to leave. We lived there four years, the longest we've lived anywhere since our childhood homes. Some wonderful things happened there and in our lives during that time -- new and deepening friendships, new jobs, graduate school, getting engaged, getting married, families gathered for Thanksgiving, countless race bibs amassed, loved ones embarking on exciting life adventures, untold gallons of paint and unauthorized improvements to the apartment, and all the intangibles that leave us very different people than when we moved in. It's where my passion for DIY began and flourished, and I put so much time and energy into making the space our own. It's hard to say goodbye.

I snapped some photos as we finished packing and moving -- it's amazing how different a space can look with or without furniture and decorations.




Living room


Study (and our final picnic lunch in the apartment)

So that's it, goodbye to Beacon Street and we're ready for homeownership!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wedding DIY: Decor

I think this is the last wedding-related post, with an assortment of DIY decor I haven't written about yet.

Seating sign

Weddings are full of traditions, many of which we embraced, and others we threw to the wind because it wasn't what we wanted or it didn't work for our families (since both sets of our parents are divorced). For instance, I had both my parents walk me down the aisle:

I didn't have a maid of honor, just five wonderful bridesmaids:

And both our brothers and dads gave toasts during the reception:

We didn't do a father-daughter dance, but I did grab my dad during the reception for an informal dance:

We also didn't do a bouquet toss or garter toss.

Anyway, one of the other traditions we eschewed was having "bride's friends and family" sit on the left during the ceremony and "groom's friends and family" sit on the right. We thought people might be uncertain, though, so I made a sign to put out at the ceremony letting people know.

I knew I wanted to make a sign, but wasn't quite sure how I would do it. Then one day in the spring I was walking to school, and saw a used and partially broken kids' easel on the sidewalk:

It definitely was not looking good, but I thought it was easily (easel-y? har har) fixable.

First I sawed the legs off, to make it a little less unwieldy and easel-like:

Then I applied a few coats of turquoise paint that I already had from past projects (and the same paint I used on the basket for the ceremony programs). Here's the photo I took when I realized that it matched my nail polish:

Then I used a chalkboard pen (which is bolder than regular chalk) to write on the chalkboard side of the sign (I just painted over the whiteboard side). I used an online photo I saw for inspiration. Here's how it turned out:

 And here it is at the wedding:

Wish Tree

For our guest book, we made a wish tree -- branches in a vase and tags that people could write wishes and comments on and then hang on the tree.

For the tags, I bought plain ivory gift tags off of Etsy, and then some turquoise string and pink string (in line with the color scheme) that I tied on each one to hang them:

The branches I found in my neighbor's brush pile, which had been there for months (and after the wedding, I returned them to the same pile...). I put them in a vase I already had, and filled it with decorative stones I also already had to keep the branches in place:

We got some really sweet messages. And some confusing ones.

Once we move, I'm going to find a way to display the tags (maybe laying them all out in a grid and framing them).

Table settings

For table decorations, we went fairly simple. We used the rectangular tables that came for free with the venue, so I wanted something that would but long and low (whereas many centerpiece ideas are good for circular tables). From the beginning, I liked the idea of a burlap table runner down the center. But then I decided to go with brown craft paper runners, which were easier and less expensive. I bought it in big rolls (from Michael's), cut it in half down the middle to get the right width, and then cut 8' lengths for the 6' tables and 10' lengths for the 8' tables.

Then I used the colored and patterned scrapbook paper I mentioned here to add some color. I used three pieces per table spaced evenly and turned diagonal to the craft paper. We had a small flower arrangement on each of the outer two pieces (the flower arrangements were very simple and done by our awesome florist in pasta sauce jars that I'd been saving/hoarding for about  year). Then on the center piece of paper, we had a candle holder (I collected blue glass candle holders from goodwill over the course of 22 months), a table number (which I made out of turquoise cardstock), and photos of each of us at the age of the table number (so us 3 years old at Table 3). We also had a few additional electric votives scattered around that the caterer provided (we weren't allowed to have actual votives for fire safety reasons).

Here be some photos:

The room all set up:

Looking down a table (they don't have plates on them because the caterers served the salads plated right at the beginning of the reception):

More flowers:

Photos and table numbers:
(In case you're wondering, yes those are binder clips holding the photos up)

From above:

And more:

I liked how simple they were, but they still felt elegant.

So...I guess that's it? Wedding blogging over! Now it's time to pack up our apartment, close on our house, and move! So excited.

Monday, August 4, 2014

DIY wedding: Printed materials

Printed materials is one big area that we DIYed for the wedding. This included:

* Save-the-Dates
* Invitations
* Ceremony programs
* Signage
* Escort cards


For the Save-the-Dates, we chose to design something simple in Adobe Photoshop Elements (a more basic form of Photoshop that also comes with a much lower price tag -- I use it for photo editing and it's pretty powerful). We just used one of our favorite photos of the two of us, I applied a depth of field filter that kept the two of us sharp while adding some blur to the background, and then I layered on some simple text with a moderately bad pun:

We chose to email the vast majority of them both for financial and environmental reasons, but we printed a dozen or so hard copies to mail to close family who we thought would want the keepsake as well as older relatives who might not take to the email. We printed them at CVS pharmacy as "cards," so they were on a heavier cardstock with the photo on one side and blank white on the other side. Then we popped them in envelopes to make sure they didn't get marked up in the mail like postcards sometimes do. All told, we spent about $10 total on the Save-the-Dates, just the printing and postage costs.


The invitations I purchased at Michael's -- they come unassembled and blank except for the design (in this case, turquoise love birds -- see post on colors and theme....), and then we wrote the text, printed them on our home printer, and then assembled them. The component parts included an outer envelope (for everything), inner envelope (to return the RSVP card), insert with invite text, RSVP card, folded invitation and RSVP holder, and twine to tie around the holder.

(Note: this photo is after I'd already printed on them)

We printed on the envelopes rather than hand lettering them, but I picked a font that somewhat resembled handwriting (La Belle Aurore, available for free download here). I used an excel spreadsheet to track all our wedding planning including the guest list, so I just used mail merge to prepare the envelopes with the right names and addresses (sending just one per household).

Here's a close up on the various pieces:

RSVP card and envelope

Folder invitation and RSVP holder with RSVP card and envelope tucked inside

Final invitation with twine tied around it

Addressed and stamped outer envelope

I loved the invitations, but unfortunately I also found that the text got a bit smudged by the time it reached our guests in the mail (and by the time the RSVPs made it back to us). I think it's because the printer had a hard time printing on the heavier paper and cardstock, and it would have worked better if I had adjusted the settings on the fuser (these are printer things that I only barely understand). But oh well, you live and learn and there's no use getting too bent out of shape about it.

Ceremony programs

I knew I wanted us to have ceremony programs, and we also needed a printout of the words and music for the two hymns that we sang during the ceremony. For the programs, I designed something simple in Word that was front and back and printed two programs per piece of paper (landscape orientation), and then printed them on white cardstock at home and cut them to size with a paper cutter at Kinkos. Then I used the custom stamp that I mentioned in the previous post to stamp the top of the programs -- half in turquoise ink, half in coral.



For the hymns, I just did a simple layout to print front and back on plain white paper so that when folded in half each one was a 4-sided booklet.

I got a simple basket at Michael's, painted a turquoise stripe around the bottom, and then weighed down the programs and hymn booklets using rocks I'd swiped from the banks of a river near Sam's childhood home in Pennsylvania when I was there in May.


For the various signs throughout the reception, I just designed them in Word using free fonts that I liked and then printed them out and popped them in frames I already had on hand. For instance:

Escort cards

I already wrote about making the escort cards in my post about guest favors, which you can see here.

We didn't do individual menus for each seat, as we decided to have the salads pre-plated when people came in from cocktail hour (so there wouldn't have been a good place to put the menus). So that's about all the printed materials we had, nothing too exciting but we saved a fair chunk of change doing it ourselves -- about $150 all told for everything mentioned above, including mailing the invitations. Not too bad given how much custom invitations, escort cards, and programs can cost!