3 Tips for a Lazy, Do-it-Yourself Wedding

Yesterday my friends Ryan & Jenna were married.  I was fortunate enough to not only attend their wedding, but to also help them assist them with flowers and set-up.  Tomorrow I will have a tutorial for the 6 hydrangea + peony centerpieces for $50, but today I wanted to give a recap of tips I learned for a diy-wedding.  

1. Please use disposable wares.  When you’re hosting a crowd, it’s so much easier and faster  to toss the plates, cups, napkins, etc. then to have to wash and store them.  If you’re having a caterer, it will also be cheaper to use disposable wares.  If you’re not having a caterer, your friends and family will thank you for sparing them hours of soapy water and dish rags.  There are a ton of uber-affordable yet still classy options – look for substantial plastic, as in here and here.  A great eco-friendly option is to use biodegradable forks.  Regardless, when clean-up and break down time comes around, your friends and family will thank you when they are able to simply throw much of the mess away.

2. Pick a Pretty, Convenient venue.  Here I’m talking about the basic logistics: does your venue include ample, nearby parking? Are there bathrooms on site? Sufficient kitchen facilities?  All of those things are expensive to bring in and can add stress to oversee.   Also, consider the overall feel of the room – is it pretty as it stands?  The general “look” of the venue will dominate about 80% of your decor. (A highly precise number that I pulled from here.)  You can add flowers, of course, but unless you’re planning on re-carpeting the floor or replacing the artwork, the overall look of the room should be pleasing.

3.  Add Lighting.  I believe that lighting is often overlooked as a decor element.  Warm, inviting lighting can truly transform the feel of a room – much more so than expensive flowers.  Warm lighting is created with up-lighting (about $750 for a small room to be professionally lit, or about $225 if you rent the pot lights yourself).   Another option is to add candlelight, to open or close blinds on windows, and to dim any light that is directly overhead.  If you add candles, however, plan on adding a lot.  A single tea light is puny, but grouped in clusters of 8 or 10 they appear magical.  Inexpensive tea lights are available at Ebay or the Dollar Store, are easy to set-up (simply need to place them in a holder), and easy to clean-up (simply blow out and toss in the trash).   Below I have a before and after picture of the fireplace we decorated last night – it’s clear that the candles we used make the fireplace a warm focal point for a room for very little expense or effort.

Adding Candles to a Wedding Altar

Before and After: Adding candles to a Stone Fireplace


3 Reasons Why you should Hire Professionals for your Hair and Makeup (even when you’re on a budget)

Yay, it’s Friday!  As I mentioned before, I had a hair and makeup trial a couple of weeks ago.  I loved the makeup but I am not sure I want to wear my hair up.  Next week I am going to have bridal portraits and have my hair styled half-up, half-down to compare.   I thought I’d share these pictures in case anyone needed up-do hair inspiration.  For the curious, I relied on the pros at MakeupforyourDay.  Also, because I think this is something that budget-conscious brides struggle with, I thought I would include my 3 reasons to hire professionals, even when you’re on a budget. 

3 Reasons to Hire Professionals for Wedding Hair and Makeup:

1.  Reduce stress.   I have crazy curls and basic makeup skills, yet I have high expectations for my wedding day hair and makeup.   An easy way to ensure that I have the “bridal” look is to simply have someone with the appropriate tools, skills, and experience style my hair and apply my makeup.  Not to mention that a little extra pampering on your wedding day is always a good thing :-). 

2.  Ensure professional results.   I believe there is a difference between doing makeup for a night out on the town and being able to apply it for wedding pictures.  Below I have a comparison picture.  The first is an amateur shot by a friend after I had my makeup and hair professionally done.  The second is a professional engagement photo in which I did my hair and makeup – and it looks like I am not wearing makeup.   Applying makeup for film or photography is a skill, as is knowing which products to use on different skin types and colors.  Of course you can learn how, but if you’re not someone who wears a lot of makeup regularly, it might be a bigger time or money investment than it appears at first. 

Bridal Makeup Before and After

Bridal Makeup Before and After

3.   Save money.   If you’re like me and have a limited makeup bag that’s better suited for Bobbi-Brown-goes-to-work than blushing-garden-bride, then purchasing all the make-up for a wedding can be expensive.   Purchasing foundation, blush, the perfect shade of lipstick, waterproof mascara, etc. adds up quickly.  If these are items that you don’t use regularly  (and you will uncover in your makeup drawer a year later covered in dust…) than perhaps it’s less expensive to  have a makeup artist instead of purchasing everything yourself.  This is certainly true for me, as my version of foundation is a tinted moisturizer. 

Now, that said, here are my up-do hair pictures – I’ll be sure to share the half-up/half-down next week!

Bridal Hair Low Up-do

Bridal Hair Low Up-do

Are you planning on diy-ing your hair and makeup or bringing in a professional?

24 days to go and the Wedding Nightmares begin…

Wedding Zen

Wedding Zen

Now that final exams are essentially over (one paper to go!), I unfortunately have had time to realize that its only 24 days until the “Big Day.” (Please, read that with irony.)  Which most likely explains my nightmare from last night.  It seems that all my repressed fears of our wedding are bursting out now that I have finally took a moment to sleep:  the food never showed up, my parents decided to go watch basketball instead of attend the reception, half the guests were lost in the half-mile trek between the ceremony and reception venue and –  worst of all – no one danced.

Thankfully, I woke up.  Despite the fact that the Knot cheerfully told me this morning that I still have 38 items on my to-do list (design ceremony programs, make a kids plan, get a marriage license…) I realize that it will be okay if we don’t cross everything off our to-do list.  (Except maybe the marriage license – we’re going to get that tomorrow!)  Our guests have been to a wedding and can figure out our traditional ceremony without reading the subtitles.  As for the kiddies, all they really need is cake and a dance floor to be happy.  

In the next 24 days it would be nice to figure out my “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”  But, I also have to write a final paper, move out-of-state, start a new job, and be a bridesmaid for one of my best friends.  Somehow, those things are taking a bit higher priority than writing out my seating chart…

So for my friends that are so graciously inquiring, yes, I am excited.  But no, it’s not all done yet.  Sometimes I have nightmares, but usually when I am awake I replace them  with a certain degree of wedding zen.  I have a ton of things on my to-do list between now and May 27, but most of them are Life Things, not designing programs things, so we’ll see how those programs turn out. 

Free Wedding Photography Contest!

Today is my last final exam! I promise that I will have a longer post for tomorrow, but now I am cramming all the last-minute details I can into my already-drained brain.  I did want to pass along this awesome opportunity for those getting married in 2013 – Charlotte wedding photographers Meet the Burks are hosting a contest for free wedding photography.   All the details are found here, and if you’re curious about their super awesome pictures then see below!

Meet the Burks Wedding Photography

Meet the Burks Wedding Photography

12 Affordable, Modern Mother of the Bride Dresses

Last  week I posted 50 wedding dresses for less than $1000.  A reader asked if I could search out elegant, modern mother of the bride dresses that were also budget friendly.  Finding a mother of the bride dress is a tough act – you want to avoid dressing like either the grandmother of the bride or sister of the bride.  Below I have listed my six favorite cocktail-length dresses, as well as my six favorite full length gowns.  Hopefully these affordable frocks will help you (or your mothers!) in their search!

Mother of the Bride Dresses Cocktail Length

Mother of the Bride Dresses Cocktail Length (neutral colors)

  1. J.Crew Silk Organza Melanie Dress for $99.99
  2. Nordstrom Maggy London Stretch Satin Dress $168
  3.  J.Crew Regine Silk Dress $99.99
Mother of the Bride Short Dress (festive pinks)

Mother of the Bride Short Dress (festive pinks)

  1. Dillard’s London Times Tiered Dress $90 
  2. J.Crew Ramona dress in Cotton Taffeta $225 
  3. Nordstrom Black Halo Alexander Crepe Sheath $345
Mother of the Bride Long Gowns

Mother of the Bride Long Gowns

  1. Nordstrom Tiered Chiffon Gown $198
  2. J.Crew Adelle Silk Taffeta $99
  3. Neiman Marcus Tadashi Chiffon Gown $350
Mother of the Bride Long Gowns (Classic Navy)

Mother of the Bride Long Gowns (Classic Navy)

  1. Bloomingdale’s Amasale Ruffles for $260
  2. Nordstrom J.S. Boutique Beaded waist gown $158
  3. Dillard’s Adrianna Papell Beaded Ruched Body Gown $238
What do you think?  Is there a dress here your mom will love? Found an even better deal? Leave a note in the comment where you found it!