DIY Bouquets

My hopes of having a peony bouquet died when I received my fake flowers in the mail from Afloral.com. The entire shipment was a disappointment and I had to start all over again.

Everything was too sparse and unacceptable for a bridal bouquet. They actually look better in the pictures than in person. It would have worked fine if I ordered another bouquet of peonies, but they ran out. What are the chances, right?

My sister and I hunted for better fake flowers at Michael's and found white hydrangea stems ($4.60 each after coupon) that were a good size for the bridesmaids. They needed a little bit of color so we grabbed a few light purple flowers ($1.09 each bunch).
I got the glass vases from Dollar Tree, by the way.

For my bouquet, we used two stems to make it fuller and added red accents.

The bottom of the stems were first padded with napkins to make the handles thicker and easier to hold. They were then wrapped tediously with brown satin ribbon. I also sewed on the monogram charms that I shared with you before.

Cost of bouquets if I had purchased them from the florist: $330
Cost of flowers from Afloral.com (which I'm going to return): $50.30

Comparison of Afloral vs. Michael's flowers

Final cost of flowers from Michael's: $32.95
Amount saved: $297.05


With This Ring

Brandon is going to be marrying a cheapo wife. I didn't want to invest in a lot of money for his wedding band because of the nature of his job. He crawls in mud, climbs ropes, does pull ups and push ups, carries ruffles and other hooah stuff.

In comes titanium rings, which are lightweight, durable, hypoallergenc, affordable and comfortable. I ordered his from Etsy seller titaniumknights for $45. They made it and shipped it within five days.

Brandon asked for something classically simple and thin.
My rings came out for another photo shoot, too. I placed them on one of the bridesmaid's bouquets. My Christmas gift three years ago was a promise ring with round diamonds on the band. It will serve as the ring Brandon places on my finger at the altar. The ring has too much sentimental value for me to stick in a box somewhere.
Let's hope everything fits when Brandon gets home on the 18th.


DIY Failure and DIY Success Stories

I had marvelous plans for making sugar cookies decorated with royal icing as thank you gifts for attendees of my bridal shower.

In my mind, I had imagined them to look like the picture on the left, but, instead, they were a bit of a tasty disaster.

I spent about four hours making the cookies and was not at all pleased with my results.

Here are my reasons why I think I failed:
  1. I do not own a rolling pin, so instead I used a can wrapped in saran wrap.
  2. I do not own a sifter or a measuring scoop, resulting in my royal icing being a clumping mess.
  3. I had never worked with actual tips and piping bags before.
  4. There was no room in my fridge to cool my cookie dough so my cookies did not retain their form very well.

I will perfect you one day, Royal Icing. You just wait and see!

But at least my little tags came out adorable! Flower art found from here.
I couldn't let my guests go home without sweets, so I made brownie balls dipped in chocolate instead. I forgot to take a picture of them, but they look similar to the ones on the right, except I drizzled with pink icing so that they would match my tags.

Use this recipe if you want to make them yourself (makes 48):

Ingredients: 13x9 cooled brownie sheet, half a can of chocolate frosting, one bag of chocolate chips, icing (or caramel) for drizzling

Procedure: Crumble brownies into a large bowl. Eat the yummy crispy edges because they won't crumble finely enough. Mix in half a can of frosting. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and place onto wax paper. Melt chocolate chips over a double broiler. Dip the brownie balls into the chocolate to coat completely. Place coated balls onto wax paper. Refrigerate until completely cool.

The following project when much more smoothly and was pain absolutely pain free. I am going to have water and snacks available for the bridesmaids(man) and groomsmen when they get to the Nixon Library the day of the wedding.
I made personalized water bottle labels by using this template and this bird image.
Materials: water bottles, paper, ruler, razor, tape roller
Cost: $2.50 for 12 bottles of water at Target
1. Design your labels using PowerPoint and print onto regular printer paper. You can print them on waterproof paper, but it is unnecessary unless you are going to chill them in ice.
2. Cut labels using razor and ruler to get straight lines.
3. Remove original label.
4. Put adhesive on one end of the label.
5. Wrap and secure onto bottle.

Brandon and I went on a candle shopping spree at Ikea the last time he was home. We left with a lot of goodies, including red candle holders that were on clearance for 29 cents compared to 99 cents a piece.

I put them all in a box and moved them from one corner of my room to another and cringed when I heard these red beauties clanking together. My solution for this involved digging in a trash can next to the pear station in the grocery store.
The same packaging used to prevent bruising on pears can be used to protect glass objects from breaking.

Cost: $0

Dumpster diving for your wedding? That's dedication there, yo!


Showered With Love

With the help of my lovely bridesmaids, my amazing sister organized a wonderful bridal shower for me this past Saturday at Brandon's mom's house.
We ate yummy food, played silly games, and opened great gifts. I received plenty of gift cards to my favorite store, Target.

Belinda gave me a ShamWow set, which seems utterly silly unless you know my personality. I'm a sucker for infomercials.

Of course, I received plenty of Victoria Secret goodies for the honeymoon.
And plenty of kitchen goodies such as a kitchen tool set, blender, waffle maker and cupcake carrier to fill our new home.

My sister decided to get me a onesie instead of lingerie. The following is me exclaiming, "Just to clarify, I am not expecting! We're not going to have kids until eight years after we get married!"

Someone made me a ribbon and tissue paper bouquet for the rehearsal.
But best of all, I will gain two new loving moms, Becky and Amy, after the wedding.
And a little sister, Lauren.
And celebrate with my beautiful mother and sister.
Thanks to all the ladies who made me feel more loved than ever.
Stay tuned for a guest post by Debbie on the planning process and shower games.


A Month and a Day

I had been doing so well with blogging every week, but the last few weeks have been nuts.

We have 31 days until the wedding to get everything together.

I took a picture of my color coordinated dry-erase calendar to share with you my organized chaos.

Note to future brides: Do not plan to get married a week after finals.


Dollar Store Love

Edit: Final results here

Finding a stand to hold our cupcakes has proven more difficult than finding a man to marry.

The stand that our baker wanted us to rent for $25 was really awful. It was made out of cheap acrylic plastic that was wobbly and dirty. It seemed impossible to purchase one that was large enough and cost efficient.

I won't go into how many different options I was considering (because there were dozens), but this stackable stand from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $19.99 was the top choice. I would have to buy two of these stands and a single stand to hold our six inch cake in between.

Luckily for me, the closest B, B & B did not have the stand in stock. Instead of ordering one, I decided to make my own.

I made three separate glass stands by using six 10-inch plates from the Dollar Tree, two 8-inch plates from Target, and seven candlestick holders.

I put on my Martha cupcake liners to see what it would look like and how many cupcakes I could place on the stands. I haven't decided if I want to put the cupcakes that won't fit on the table or just in the back until the caterers can serve them.

The top layer on the middle stand will be used to hold our six inch cake.

Final cost of project: about $16

I glued the pieces with a hot glue gun, meaning that after the wedding I can detach them all for easy storage.

Thanks, Dollar Tree!


Meet the Groomsmen

Brandon met some truly amazing people at West Point, and he chose five of them to stand up there with him as we get married. Over the past four and a half years they have become my friends, too.

We consider these guys family, and I have sent them enough cookies, brownies and candy to prove it.

Since Brandon has no time nor the interest for blogging, I am going to try to do these soldiers justice with their short and sweet introductions.

(From left to right of the bottom picture)

Kyle (aka Kodo) is Brandon's very tall and considerate best man. He likes to tease us, but we know it's out of love. Kyle just proposed to his girl on Halloween, and I couldn't be more excited for the two of them.

David (aka Rico) is amazingly friendly, speaks Mandarin better than I do, and is incredibly polite. He always greets me with a great big smile and a hug.

Henry (aka Hank) has a brilliant mind and likes to break awkward silences with witty sarcasm. He also dreams of owning a Beaglier because they are like Beagles, but Beaglier.

Paul will be a newlywed by the time he attends our wedding in December. We will be spending plenty of time with him and his new wife when we both make our way to Fort Hood, Texas next year.

Jonathan (aka J.Lo) was Brandon's second roomie. He has a tough exterior, but is actually an absolute sweetheart. Brandon describes him as one of the nicest (and strongest) people he knows.

I am so thankful for these five men because they have proven to be wonderful friends to Brandon. They also tolerated all of Brandon's late night phone calls with me almost every night along with Brandon's inability to sleep at night without keeping the fan on and windows open, even during winter.

I can't wait to see them again in December.

Sappy Stuff

Groomzilla will probably not like this post as it may make him blush, but I think that my wedding blog should also include things that have to do with marriage and our relationship.
After being with him for five and a half years, I have adequate evidence of why Brandon will make an amazing husband.
He makes sure that I eat and drink before I do. I never ask him to take out the trash, but he just does it so that I don't have to. He is neater than I am. When we walk on the sidewalk, he always takes the outer side where the cars pass. He knows that when I say, "You don't have to," it actually translates to "Yes, that would be nice if you did."
Brandon fixed our toilet when he was home a few weeks ago and I was so proud of him because I'm sure we will be encountering similar problems in our future homes. He still reaches for my hand when we walk and is not shy about giving kisses. I am constantly reminded of how much he loves me and how beautiful he thinks I am. He's also an amazing daddy to Bella.
Things are just better with him around, and I know he feels the same way about me.
And these are the reasons why I am marrying him on December 27th.
"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible"-When Harry Met Sally


Change of Plans

According to costofweddings.com, "On average, couples that live in Hacienda Heights spend between $21,265 and $35,422 for their wedding." Crazy, right?

This is slightly embarrassing to admit, but Brandon and I set our budget before thoroughly looking at our finances. I do not recommend this to future brides as it will just cost you a lot of grief later on. Some unexpected costs also came up so we had to make some changes.

Remember my post about passed hor dourves and open bar during cocktail hour? Well, we had to scratch all of that, which saves us about $1,000. A cash bar is still going to be available for guests if they choose to drink and we are serving plenty of food during the reception. We will be placing bottles of wine/champagne along with sparkling apple cider on each table to drink with dinner.

After the ceremony, guests will be directed to the hallway to mingle, drop off any gifts and sign wish cards while we take family portraits and recompose ourselves.

Without any food or free drinks, I feared that our guests would get bored waiting for the reception to begin so I made a crossword puzzle to keep them busy.

It tooks hours due to formatting problems, but I am proud of my results. The clues included things like "A lovable Labrador with sensitive legs" and "The number of years the couple have been happily in love."

We also made cuts with our florist. Our original invoice for flowers was about $1800, but we trimmed it down to about $900 by only asking Flower Allie to do our centerpieces.

I am going to make all of the bouquets and my dream of having peonies will be possible if I use fake flowers. Weddingbee blogger Miss Labrador made her own by purchasing her flowers through Afloral.com.

With fake flowers, I will be able to make them far in advance instead of the morning of the wedding. Another advantage is being able to keep them forever.

A fake peony bouquet is $17.99 plus shipping. A real one is $90. Score!

I will post about my results when I order and put them together.

50 Day To-Do List

There are only fifty days left until the wedding day and there are still a few things left to do:
  • Purchase a veil and crenoline to complete the dress. Make a decision about shoes.
  • Find someone to do my hair and makeup.
  • Get a haircut.
  • Get a mani/pedi.
  • Get my ring cleaned and polished.
  • Set rehearsal and rehearsal dinner plans. Make invitations.
  • Create bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids.
  • Set decorations for seating card table, cake table, guest book table, and sweetheart table.
  • Design and create programs.
  • Order Brandon's wedding band.
  • Set songs for DJ.
  • Purchase parent gifts and wedding party gifts
  • Set seating chart and confirm guest count with caterer.
  • Write names on place cards and seating cards.
  • Make decisions about cake/cupcakes.
  • Make a gajillion payments.
  • Assign things for people to do the day of the wedding.
  • Make a list of what needs to be brought to the Nixon Library and what needs to be brought back home after the wedding.
  • Figure out how we're going to get from the reception to Laguna Beach for our honeymoon.
  • Find/make thank you cards.
  • Go to counseling courses with our officiant.
  • Hit the gym because there are only 50 days left.
  • Pass my classes so I can graduate in December.
  • Get a marriage license.

And that's it! Just a few things...

Invitation Suite: The Breakdown

Here is the breakdown of the costs for our invitations:

70 envelopes from Paper Source: $22.63
Wraparound labels: $3.63
Stamps: $18.91
Liner: $10.00
Glue stick: $1.79
Total: $56.96

Belly Band:
Card stock from Big Lots: $1.00
Ribbon: $0.69
Doily edge punch $14.99
Tape runner: $1.00
Total: $17.68
RSVP stamp: $8.25
Paper when calculated by per piece: $6.30
Total: $14.55

Total cost: $89.19
Total invites: 55

Cost per invite: $1.62
Compare to this invitation from Wedding Paper Divas that costs $185.90 for just plain white envelopes, the invitation cards, and response cards alone.
Take that, ridiculously expensive wedding industry!


Invitation Suite: The Little Details

All of the little details put together is what makes our invitation work. These things might be overlooked by others, but they are things that I would notice if I saw them myself.
Traditional and more formal invitations house all of the contents with an inner envelope and maybe some tissue paper to prevent smearing. I decided to use a belly band to hold it all together instead. I made these using heavy cardstock (a pack for $1), a Martha Stewart doily edge punch ($7.50 after coupon), chocolate brown ribbon ($0.69 for a roll), and a tape runner ($1). Unfortunately, the edge punch broke less than halfway through so some people received straight edged belly bands
Guests are supposed to mail back both the RSVP card and a comment card in a pre-addressed envelope by December 1st so that I can have an accurate guest count for the caterer.
I intenionally created the RSVP card to be in a similar format as the save the date by stamping the letters "RSVP" in gold ink. I made sure to note how many seats were saved for each guest in order to limit numbers.There was no room to ask about entree choices or to give more information so I made a separate card. On it, I asked guests to give us songs they like to dance to and asked if they have any dietary concerns we should know about in order to "make the night as merry as possible."

I also gave guests the option to save a stamp and RSVP through our website our through my email account.

I also wrote a reference code on the back of each card in case guests forgot to write their names so that I could still identify them. The code "B8" means the eighth guest on the bride's list.