How to Make a Wedding Seating Arrangement Chart

Wedding Seating Chart

Heavenly Hydrangea Seating Chart 18×24 $70 by TypeandLovePaperie

With 17 days to go, I have been thinking about the seating arrangement.  First, I am proponent of having a chair for every person and an assigned seat.  I know that this is not always the case – I have been to a couple of weddings this past year in which seating was more limited and unassigned to encourage mixing & mingling.  I do, however, think that assigned table seating gives guests a place to store their coat or purse, prevents hoarding of seats by those that arrive early, and adds a bit of formality to the wedding.  Over the past week my research has discovered a few seating “rules.”   These include:

  1. The Bride & Groom sit together.  They can opt to do a sweetheart table or sit with their Bridal Party.  I strongly prefer sitting with  the bridal party, but to each their own.  Additionally, I also believe in inviting any of the bridal party’s partners or significant others to sit with us (even if this means we need 2 tables).
  2. Parents sit together.   Here, I have seen the Parents of the Bride and Groom each have their own table to “host” or, in the alternative, they both sit at the same table.  Because our parents live in different parts of the country and have barely met each other (our dad’s will meet for the first time at the wedding!) I plan on sitting our parents together with a few close relatives. 
  3. Children sit together.  If they are old enough to attend school, they are most likely old enough to sit at a children’s table.  Ideally, this table is near the side of the room and close to the restroom – and far away from the cake, where kids might be prompted to help themselves early. 
  4. Be cognizant of disabilities.   If your guests are elderly, perhaps reconsider sitting them directly under the DJ’s speakers.   Similarly, if they have limited mobility, then they may prefer to be close to the bathroom facilities or closer to the entryway.    
  5. Common Interests and Friends.   At this point, there is usually a large group of your parent’s friends, college roommates, coworkers, and classmates that have yet to be seated.  Typically, I advocate to sit guests who know each other together.  I assume that guests will mix and mingle during the dancing and will feel more comfortable sitting with people they know during dinner.  Of course, sometimes this is not possible – there will always be a couple or two who really only know the bride or groom.  At this point, I would sit them near other guests with common interests. 
There are different opinions out there, of course.  The Bitchy Bride has a great post about wanting to sit guests by common interests first, so that people could make new acquaintances.   What do you think? As a guest, do you prefer assigned seating? Do you prefer to sit with those you know?
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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?

Quasi-Crafty: Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcakes (Recipe + Tips)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I am not a crafty bride.  I don’t have a stash of markers, hole punches, and tissue paper.  I definitely do not own a glue gun.  Yet, despite these limitations, occasionally I find myself wanting to recreate the gorgeous details of weddings that fill the blog world.  Enter the world of Quasi-Crafty projects.  Somewhat akin to a boxed cake-mix, these projects require little skill yet yield surprisingly close results to the real thing (and at lower cost!).   This series  will provide how-to’s to some of my own crafts & highlight those from other real weddings.  

Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcakes

Considering baking cupcakes for some DIY-goodness at your next shower or wedding?  This weekend I co-hosted a bridal shower for one of my bridesmaids.  To celebrate with hungry guests we prepared a feast that included Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled cupcakes.  Below you will find an incredibly easy yellow cupcake recipe, as well as 4 secrets to making your cupcakes look Pinterest-worthy.  

Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcake

Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcake

 

4 Secrets to Awe-Inspiring DIY Cupcakes:

1. Bake your Cupcakes.  For this project I recommend a classic yellow cupcake that’s dense enough to support a jam filling and a mound of frosting.  The recipe I posted below is a slightly modified version of one from a Fannie Farmer Baking cookbook.   It’s incredibly versatile, relies on just a few ingredients that most everyone has on hand.  Best of all, it’s written to only make 12 cupcakes – which is great when you (1) only have one cupcake pan, and (2) only need to feed 10-12 people.  

2. Fill them with Jam.  Seriously ignore everything that you see about “simple syrup” and “whipping egg whites until stiff peaks” and folding into ganache/mousse/etc.   Instead grab your favorite jar of jam (bonus points if it’s homemade or from a farmer’s market!)  Using either a paring knife or a cupcake corer (best registry gift ever!)  Everyone loves the surprise and no one realizes how insanely easy it is to scoop pre-made jam into a waiting cupcake.  

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Jam Filling

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Jam Filling

3. Tint your frosting.  You can naturally tint buttercream frosting by adding 2-4 tbsp of your favorite jam (the same jam you just used in the filling!)  Simply cream the butter, add the powdered sugar and then add the jam last.  Beautiful, natural, slightly flavored buttercream is incredibly impressive for very little effort.

4. Use Frosting Tips & Bags.  This part is key to presentation.  An inexpensive decorating set can make the difference between awe-inspiring results and those that elicit comments a la ” it’s the taste that counts!” I use these, but you can find them cheaper at Michael’s (make sure to print off and bring in the 40% coupon).  

Versatile Yellow Cupcake Recipe  

This cupcake will be dense and moist.  It’s great because it works every time, holds up well to fillings, and needs so little time and ingredients. 

  1. 1/2 Cup butter, room temp (read: leave it on the counter for 10 minutes)
  2. 2/3 C White Sugar
  3. 3 Large Eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  5. 1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1/4 C Milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a regular muffin pan with liners.  

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Sugar Pearls

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Sugar Pearls

Place the butter and sugar into the mixing bowl and cream until a smooth, light-colored, fluffy consistency.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.  Add the vanilla extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture (the flour + salt + baking powder) until combined.  Alternate adding milk and flour, both starting and ending with flour.  (For me this took three rounds with the flour divided into thirds and the milk in half.) 

Spread evenly into muffin pans and bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 17-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack (or just your counter) and frost when finished.  I like this buttercream icing recipe (just add the jam near the end).  Once cool core the cupcake, fill with jam and decorate using icing, sprinkles, and sugar pearls.


Quasi-Crafty: DIY Wedding Photobooth Tutorial

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I am not a crafty bride.  I don’t have a stash of markers, hole punches, and tissue paper.  I definitely do not own a glue gun.  Yet, despite these limitations, occasionally I find myself wanting to recreate the gorgeous details of weddings that fill the blog world.  Enter the world of Quasi-Crafty projects.  Somewhat akin to a boxed cake-mix, these projects require little skill yet yield surprisingly close results to the real thing (and at lower cost!).   This weekly post will provide how-to’s to some of my own crafts & highlight those from other real weddings.  

DIY Photobooth

Oh, Photobooths.   The darling of wedding blogs, they are fun, stylish, and sure to leave you and your guests with awesome pictures.  And like many blog-chic details, I fell head-over-heels for them.  Unfortunately, like many things in wedding-land, however, they are expensive.  A simple photobooth can cost $895 and up!   Luckily, it’s not too hard to create your own wedding Photobooth experience.  All you need are three things: a camera, a backdrop, and your friends.  (If you want to make it more complicated, then you should check out here and here.  I will warn you – these may require a hammer!) Here are my 3 easy steps for an affordable Photobooth:

Polaroid Camera $69 on Amazon

Retro Polaroid Camer

1.  Photography.  For this step you will need a camera.  You have several choices.  

  • First, if you already own a digital camera – Great!  Place it on a tripod and let your guests take pictures.  No tripod? No problem – you can buy one for $25.  I would consider hanging a sign on the tripod with instructions on how to shoot on a timer.  
  • Looking for a more retro, authentic feel?  Then an inexpensive Polaroid camera is a great option!  A combination of a digital camera and Polaroid camera is also a great way to allow guests to take small prints with them while preserving all the photos for your own enjoyment later. 
  • Lastly, if you know you want premium quality photographs, you should look into hiring a photographer to attend the photobooth for the reception.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to find a budding photographer who would work for 3-4 hours of the reception for $200-300.   You could ask your wedding photographer for recommendations, place an ad on Craigslist, etc.  
2.  Background.  One of my favorite things about a DIY photobooth is that they are both entertainment and decor – win!  Your backdrop needs two things: a support system and a fabric backdrop. 
  • Support System:  If your venue has two walls, a post and a wall, or something similar, consider simply hanging a clothes line to hold your cloth backdrop.   This is definitely an economical option!  Another budget-friendly option is to buy a photographer’s backdrop stand from Amazon for about $40.  

    Photobooth Fabric Backdrop

    Bed sheets for a Backdrop

  • Backdrops: Here is where your wedding’s style and personality can shine.  Amazon sells photograph backdrops for $35 and up.  For more economical alternatives, try discount fabric stores or an Ikea Shower Curtain.     You could even use ribbons, crepe paper, or saris! If you create a backdrop out of fabric plan on purchasing 4 yards of fabric and some fabric glue.  Simply fold over the top of the fabric to create a loop and glue it down – it will slide right on the backdrop stand like a curtain!
100 Layer Cake DIY Streamer Backdrop

100 Layer Cake DIY Streamer Backdrop $40

3.  Friends & Props.  What makes a great photobooth the best photobooth? Props & friends!  You can purchase inexpensive Props from Etsy, make some cute paper ones with these free downloads from Onewed,  or even make your own clay props with this diy tutorial.  And don’t forget a cute, customized sign to direct your guests – $12 on Etsy.    

LittleWeddingWorks Customized Photobooth Sign via Etsy $12

LittleWeddingWorks Customized Photobooth Sign via Etsy $12

The day of your wedding give your background, camera equipment, signs, and props to a trusted friend to set-up at the reception venue.   The bottom line? Depending on your exact choice of options, your Quasi-Crafty DIY photobooth will cost $50-300 –  well under the cost of a traditional photobooth!
I hope our mini-Wedding Photography series has been helpful.   Know someone who could use a little Quasi-Craftieness?   Please share!
How to Make a Photobooth

DIY Wedding Photobooth Tutorial

Quasi-Crafty: Thrifty Calligraphy and Stamping Return Addresses

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I am not a crafty bride.  I don’t have a stash of markers, hole punches, and tissue paper.  I definitely do not own a glue gun.  Yet, despite these limitations, occasionally I find myself wanting to recreate the gorgeous details of weddings that fill the blog world.  Enter the world of Quasi-Crafty projects.  Somewhat akin to a boxed cake-mix, these projects require little skill yet yield surprisingly close results to the real thing (and at lower cost!).   This weekly post will provide how-to’s to some of my own crafts & highlight those from other real weddings.  

Stamping (Return) Addresses

Let’s say that you love calligraphy. L.O.V.E. it.  The traditional choice is to have someone hand-write your lovely invites.  However, at $1.50/return address, you’re looking at $150+ for 100 invites.  If you add-on return addressing for your R.S.V.P.’s that amount doubles to $300.  Ouch!  

At this point you have a few options: learn to write calligraphy by yourself (the diy kit will run you around $20-30 on Amazon) and hope for the best.  Personally, I don’t recommend it.  My attempts turned out something like this

 A better option?  Enter the personalized, calligraphy stamp!  

Stamp by Calligraphy by Hillary

Stamp by Calligraphy by Hillary

Calligraphy by Hillary on Etsy offers this stamp for a reasonable $40.  We actually opted for the self-inking stamp from Love to Create Stamps for the ultimate in convenience.  A couple of hours of stamping (I recommend while watching Glee…) or so of stamping is all that stands between you and this beautiful result:

Finished Envelope by Calligraphy by Hillary

Finished Envelope by Calligraphy by Hillary

Feeling fancy? Kelle Anne McCarter at Designsgirl creates beautiful works of art.  Each stamp comes complete with a custom door knob and makes a beautiful desk ornament when you’re not using it.  Another fun touch is to stamp in a color other than black – pink, blue, purple, etc. would all be beautiful!

crystal door knob calligraphy stamp

Crystal Door Knob Calligraphy Stamp by DesignsGirl

Designs Girl Calligraphy Stamp in Pink

Designs Girl Calligraphy Stamp in Pink

With a $250+ savings you’ll have enough left over to cover the costs of postage for your invites AND a medium-size bridal bouquet AND your Maid-of-Honor’s Bouquet!  Or you could spend the $260 to cover 4 small-to-medium florist made centerpieces – win!

What would you spend the extra $260 on?