“We’re going to keep things simple,” said the reasonable bride and groom.
Reality, however, is complicated. Add the word “wedding” or “bridal” to anything you’re trying to sell, and you can up the price at least 10%. Do it yourself, and that’s money in the bank. Right?
We should have known we had our work cut out for us when we decided we’d have a “casual” reception that was “really us” and booked what was basically an empty room in an old car repair garage turned glass blowing studio (Third Degree Glass Factory, if you’re interested). It was a blank slate.
We knew from the start that this would not be a black tie affair and hoped our save-the-date cards and invitations would convey that. We wanted a hand-crafted look. So why not screen print them ourselves? Screen printing is a lot of fun, and I recommend you try it sometime. Just don’t make your wedding invitations your first foray into silkscreening. High stakes, people. (They turned out fine in the end, but we ruined a few screens along the way.)
For the sake of simplicity and frugality, we held our ceremony and reception in the same venue. Its warehouse-y feel was charming but stark. We had work to do. First, behind the altar were several windows that overlooked the parking lot. As proud as Peter’s brother may have been of his ’78 Datsun pickup, it had no place in our wedding photos. I found some fabric at a bulk fabric store, and sewed 3-inch pockets on the top. We slid some PVC pipe through them, and tied them to some conduit on the wall. (Classy, eh?)
As for the altar itself, Peter scavenged old wood from a place called, simply, “Junque” and the dumpster behind our house. (Like I said, classy.) He built the altar in his garage then disassembled it and labeled each piece for easy on-site reassembly. Simple enough, right? I made a few fabric flowers to soften the look. Add some Christmas lights, twine, and a cross from Hobby Lobby, and BAM, altar! And a pretty darn good one, if I do say so myself.
Since we basically captured our engagement frame-by-frame, and it happened to involve some amazing scenery, we displayed the pictures for all to see. We put 2×2’s in buckets, filled the buckets with sand, screwed in some hooks and strung twine between them. We hung our pictures on the twine with clothes pins. Easy peasy!
We figured a guestbook would collect dust, but a photo guest book, well, that’s worth a look every couple years. And we wanted to remember the people who celebrated with us, even the ones we didn’t invite:
We had a little space in the garage and a few bucks left over, just enough space and bucks for a DIY photo booth.
How we did it: We used two 4’x8′ sheets of hardboard and tacked them to a 2″x4″ frame. We nailed faux wood paneling to the bottom half, a bit of chair rail, and some self-adhesive wallpaper that incorporated our wedding colors. We cut three openings with a jigsaw and framed them with some garage sale finds. We draped fabric behind the booth for a clean backdrop and added furniture to complete our little scene. This thing was not built to last, so we (sadly) trashed it at the end of the night. Budget was key in this extra.
We had tons of costumes and props (thanks to my mom who can be a bit excessive, in a good way) and some chalkboards. The pictures got better as the night got later! Our friend, Phillip, was kind enough to be our photographer. He did an amazing job of taking posed pictures, but we’re most appreciative of the candids he managed to grab between shots.
Those turned out to be some of our absolute favorites! I think we had more fun looking through these pictures than our actual wedding pics. We compiled the bests into a coffee table book:
These were a really simple money saver. We’re talking mason jars filled with stones, candles and flowers. We bought some small orchids from Trader Joe’s and plopped them into metal buckets. Half the tables got the mason jars, half got the cheap-o orchids. Done and done.
We love us some sweets. If we could live in the Gumdrop Mountains with Princess Lolly and the Duke of Swirl, you’d better believe we’d do it.
Peter and I had nothing to do with the candy bar. It was 100% my mother. My dear, sweet, can’t-stop-herself, if-it’s-worth-doing-it’s-worth-doing-big mother. It was amazing! It went on for miles. When our wedding comes up in conversation, the candy bar is the first thing people mention. (And the 104º heat.)
We served a mountain of cupcakes (Peter had more than one).
And just in case the cupcakes and candy bar didn’t satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, we had cookies and milk for our guests as a parting gift. Let’s just say a few more diabetics walked out of our wedding than walked in.
Here’s a tip for anyone who might be getting married in July in the Midwest in a building with less-than-adequate air conditioning. Don’t invite this guy:
It sounds charming when you’re booking the venue, but remember: IT’S JULY. AND HE HAS FIRE.
Most of these amazing photos are courtesy of Nicole Welch Photography. She is fabulous.
I’m loving your new blog/website! Great job you guys. Happy New Year!