DIY – Our Wedding

September 29, 2010 07:56 by ehouston

Before wrapping up September and getting on with fall, I thought I would send out a little tribute to the one I love.  This month actually trumps February as the month of love around here since it’s the month The Mister and I tied the knot.  I never expected to be saying I just celebrated my 12th year of marriage a couple of weeks ago, but here we are!  I was not one of those little girls who planned out my wedding from start to finish all the while dreaming of the perfect gown.  In fact, I originally suggested a quick trip to Vegas and nuptials any where with Elvis as the officiate.  Fortunately, my soon to be Mister wanted to have a true celebration with family and friends…many friends.  Oh let’s face it, we were young and this was going to be one hell of a party!

Since we were young, in our mid-twenties to be exact, we had all of about two sticks to rub together and nothing more to make this day happen.  So, with part time jobs and side jobs under our belts we took on the task of hand making all the parts that we could handle.  The invites, the dress, the cake, flowers, decor…we pulled it all together for roughly $4400.00.  This was a monumental task when you consider the fact that we had no idea what went into an event like this.  Also, this was the late 90’s and I was barely able to turn on a computer.  Of course the internet existed, but was nothing like it is today for gathering ideas.  So, I pulled together a couple of Martha Stewart Wedding edition magazines, along with some other home and fashion magazines and the yellow pages.  This is what we managed to come up with.

I had decided early on that I make that LOVED a butterfly headpiece that I had found in one of my random bridal magazines.  After some research I found out that said headpiece cost $5000.00!  Hey, that was only $600.00 more than we spent on the whole shebang!?!  Yikes!  So, I ended up finding some butterflies on wire at a local craft store and inserted them into my loose up do to create a simple crown. 


I also snagged some extra butterflies to poke into the flowers and cake decor.  After spying the mega-bucks butterfly headpiece in the magazine I also decided that the butterfly would be something I carried throughout the wedding plans.  Representing rebirth it seemed appropriate for a wedding and the start of a new life together.  For the invitations, I created an envelop that folded in from the sides and around our invite, plus directions, meeting in the middle.  Each side of the envelop had a wing shaped tab and when you slide them together they made a little butterfly on the front of the card.  (Unfortunately, over the years I have misplaced the copy I saved, otherwise I would have included it in the post.  Oh well.)  We were able to print our simple invite, which was on cream colored card stock, at home then cut them down to fit into the butterfly envelops, which were in pale blue.  Remember this all happened at a time when scrapbooking had not really come into it’s own and a lot of the tools that make this work super simple now did not exist, or were very hard to come by.  So, each one of those little envelops was traced out and cut painstakingly by hand.  (I don’t know what I was thinking.)  Invites, check!

The next DIY item on our list was my dress.  After combing through magazines, a few online catalog sites, and every pattern book in every local fabric store, I came up with a design I thought would be perfect.  I created a larger, loose fitting over dress in white raw silk with tank style straps and an empire waist.  There was a thin band of super pale pink that went just under the bodice and the back was open from the bodice down, tapering slightly away from the center.  The idea was that the over dress would hint at a different dress underneath.  I then created a completely different garment in very, very pale pink chiffon with pale pink satin ribbon trim around the hem.  This under dress had several layers, but was still very slim fitting with thinner tank straps and empire bodice.  It was essentially a thinner, lighter weight version of the overdress.  The main difference being that the back was gathered and scrunched just under the bodice, creating a layered ruffle look down the back and into a barely there train.  This part spilled out of the back of the over dress.  It was sort of ethereal and dreamy (at least that was what I imagined in my head.)  The idea I had was that I would wear the whole get up for the ceremony and then take the over dress off for the reception. 


However, I got so caught up in all the action that I never did get around to making that change.  No biggie…the party went on.  Dress, check!

We were lucky to stumble upon a little gem right outside of the city, Athens, GA, that we were living in at the time.  Watkinsville, GA is home to The Ashford Manor Bed and Breakfast, a quaint little B & B with lovely grounds.

(Pictures taken directly from the Ashford Manor Website)

The owners had just purchased the property the year before and were in the process of restoring the home and grounds to their former glory.  What that meant for us was an affordable rental rate and lots of perks like candles provided and lit at dusk throughout the garden and on all the tables.  Great Location, check!  The place was already wired for music and they kept simple classical CD’s in constant rotation.  Music, check!  Although fall was right around the corner the grounds were still quite lush and the pool out back, equipped with a large fountain, was crystal clear.  Decor, check! 

Nothing had to happen inside the house because the gentlemen that owned the place had already decked it out in wonderful, and very quirky antiques.  (See this pic from an earlier post.)

They were also kind enough to include the little separate guest cottage around the side of their home, which sits just across the yard from the main house, as a place for us to get ready for the big moment. 

Although we took full advantage of what the grounds and house had to offer for decor we did try to brighten up the brick wall at the back of the property, where the ceremony took place.  All the flowers we used came from either Lowe’s or Kroger and we bought them the week of the event.  We decided to go this route because we are pretty handy with planting and wrapping up some bouquets and boutonnieres.  Plus, using what was in stock at the time meant saving a ton on the cost of flowers.  We planted small mums and pansies in little metal paint cans that we purchased from Lowe’s.  We used them to line the staircases and ledge of the ceremony site.

Preparing the CeremonySite

(My mom adding some last minute touches to the flower buckets while the band gets warmed up in the background.)


(Here I am with my mom, and maid of honor, scoping the chair and flower placement before the long march to matrimony.  The metal sculpture in the foreground was one of many sculptures “planted” throughout the garden around the B & B.)

Later, the flower buckets were carried up to the main house by our wonderful and hard working family, to use as table decor. 


At the end of the night we asked guests that were interested to take a bucket home as a favor.

The wedding cake was also on my DIY list and we ended up using an Amish Friendship Cake recipe for both the cutting and for serving the guests.  I made one large Bundt cake that we cut and shared.  Then I made what seemed like a million mini-Bundt cakes for each guest.  The result was a sweet treat at the end of a nice meal, plus no one had to stand over the cake table and play server.  We placed the mini cakes on a tiered stand provided by the caterer and around the table.  Once placed we used an extra mixed flower bouquet from Kroger to add flowers to some of the cakes, make a small bouquet to place inside our larger Bundt cake and around the table, and up the tiered stand to help coordinate everything a bit. 


(The B & B had a cute little gazebo just off the front yard, where we had the tent and tables set up.  It was the perfect spot for the cake table.  My mom made the romantic netting to place over everything and to keep the bugs away.)


(Here we are moments before The Mister shoved cake up my nose.  What is with guys thinking this is a cute thing to do on your wedding day?)

Along with the flower buckets, we also made extra mini cakes to give as favors.  As per usual, I over estimated what we needed for the wedding cakes and ended up with so many extra mini cakes that we were eating them regularly for months.  When it came time for our first anniversary and the traditional bite of cake from the original ceremony we could barely stomach the taste.  I think we ended up wrapping it up, putting it back in the freezer and hoped to forget about it.

The only regrets of the day, if we can even say we have any, are that we did not get a professional photographer.  Hence, the crummy photos.  We hired a friend that made wonderful photographs, but it turned out she was way to mousey to orchestrate the typical scenes for wedding photography.  We specified that we wanted a more casual take on the day, but when we got our batch of shots a week later, I cried.  Things that should have been shot in full color were in black and white.  Most of the pictures of us were with our mouths open, talking or eyes closed due to the flash.  Some of the best shots came from my aunt, who went around along side the photographer to snap shots of family as they gathered together for the more formal portraits prior to the ceremony.  I thank God that she took the time to make those rounds because they ended up being much better than what our hired help provided.  (We have always been grateful for that Auntie B!  Thank you!)

Photography aside the only other issue was that the caterer ended up being crazy.  This is mostly a memory that sends us off into hysterical laughter, but there were moments when I just wanted to say, in the words of Donald Trump, “You’re Fired!”.  I made her acquaintance at a business function and her set up was gorgeous.  The business that had hired her was very complimentary of her work as well, so we took the plunge.  The red flags went up as soon as she decided to forgo the tasting as planned after we narrowed down what we were looking for in a buffet.  We only continued down the path with her because I had technically tasted her food before and it was delicious, plus all other caterer interviews had almost sent me over a cliff.  In a small town, it’s hard to find a really good caterer and the couple of well known companies in the area cost a pretty penny.  Since this was a DIY wedding, there were no pretty pennies to be had.  So, we went with the more affordable lady with the beautiful vegetable set up.  At the time The Mister and I were not big meat eaters and a large portion of our friends were vegetarian, so we were very excited about providing a large buffet with tons of yummy veggie treats.  Unfortunately, our caterer decided to change the plan the day of the reception and did not provide the set up we had agreed upon.  Again, I let it go because, hey, this was my day and I was not going to let this crazy lady ruin it for me.  Plus, what could I do about it at that point?  Even the three times she pulled me away from pre-ceremony portraits to ask questions about things we had already gone over in great detail weeks before, were not going to get my goat.  But, I finally laid down the law and told her we had finalized these decisions before hand so that I would not have to worry on the big day, and not to come to me any more.  I guess she got the hint because I did not hear from her again.  The additional red flags went up early on the day of the wedding when her “helpers" started laying out the tablecloths, china, glasses, etc. and you could hear them bickering over the rumble and thrum of all the busy beavers working away.  With all that was going on to get ready they were gossiping about their family, fighting with each other, talking about fighting with other family members and generally cussing up a storm.  It turns out the caterer only “hired” her family to assist and apparently she was not paying them well to help out.  Again, we can laugh about this now, but at the time I was mortified that we had not taken on third jobs to pay for the better catering company.  Chalk it up to you live, you learn.  Wah-wah…


(The kiss that sealed the deal that has lasted 12 years!  WhooHoo!)


Here we are immediately after the ceremony and just as we were thinking then, so far so good!  Hope to have waaaay more than 12 years on top of what we have already shared.

XOXO, Babe!

Kitsch Krafts

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The Longest, Hardest Week....

September 19, 2008 13:28 by ehouston

  What is it about the week after a vacation?  No matter how relaxing the vacation was, the week after seems to bring you back to soul-crushing reality so fast that you seriously start to rethink your path in life.  Then, finally the week settles down and you realize things are not so bad, you simply miss that little piece of heaven you were just immersed in the week before.  I have to say, that this has probably been one of the worst versions of that "week after" a vacation I have ever experienced.  It started with meetings, continued with more meetings and speaking engagements and ended with me sucking down a bottle of wine (or is that whine?) with my significant other by 5:00 PM on Friday.  Don't get me wrong, the week in St. Maarten that ended in 8 hours of flying in circles over a lightning storm at the Miami airport, only to miss our connector flight and end up spending an extra night of vacation at a hotel by the airport (which always sounds like "in a van down by the river" to me)-not so good.  The evening ended with eating almost everything on the room service menu at 12:00 am, that wasn't so great either.  There was also the extra day in Mexico because our flight was canceled early on our last morning, which we did not find out about until we showed up to check in for our flight.  That was also the moment in which the customer service lady boldly asked, "Didn't you know?".  My husband and I deliriously looked at each other and simultaneously thought, "Of course we knew the flight was canceled, we always get up in the morning, pack our bags, load up our golf clubs, lug them through a resort, pay an extravagant price to be taxied up the coast and then wait in line for 45 minutes when we know our flight was canceled.  Doesn't everyone do this on their vacation?"  Even those chaotic vacation endings did not take away from the fun we had experienced the week before or compare to the feeling of sadness I had this past week back at work.  All this to say, we had the most glorious week of do-nothing-unless-you-wanted-to vacation time at our family lake cottage that we could ever imagine and I sorely miss it!  So, the complaining will end now and the reminiscing will begin.

I will start by saying that any time you tell your co-workers you are going on vacation, etc, etc they inevitably ask, "So where are you headed off to?" and when you tell them Michigan their expression is priceless.  So, I had a lot of fun with that up until we left and I will further explain that my family has owned a cottage on a small lake right next to Lake Michigan since the early 1950's.  It is somewhat dated, wood paneled, funky, full of hand-me-down furniture and wonderful memories.  I will never be able to completely explain the feeling of anticipation I get when driving down the bumpy dirt road through the woods to discover the little gray, shake shingled cottage on the lake.  Or, the way the musty, sandy, watery scent of good times past forms a comforting embrace as you push open the back door that is never locked.  Only to walk across the kitchen, the dining area and out onto the little deck and gaze across the mirror-like surface of one of the clearest, prettiest lakes you can imagine. 


I realized the picture I blogged just before our trip does not do this place any justice.  Especially after I was able to capture the sunset from our first night (pictured above).  The week we vacationed was the end of the summer and outside of this little lake world the bay cities were slowly closing down for the winter.  It was nice to walk the streets in brisk, but comfortable weather and to miss the crowds completely.  To peruse the tiny, kitschy shops with their T-shirts and good luck Petoskey stones.  Things have changed so much, not only since I lived there, but since all those summers while I was growing up, spent making the long drive to the cottage and then back home.  A lot of the same families are still living in the area, but there is also a new crowd, a younger crowd, that like me, have some kind of connection to this place that is almost ingrained, or instinctual.  We are drawn to this place and have to find a way back a often as possible. 

Even though the shops were bundling up and getting ready to hunker down for the long winter, my absolutely favorite place was still in full swing.  That place is the tiny little small town bakery.  I remember going there as a very young child with my dad when he would drag me in to town to buy supplies at the little hardware store on Main St.  If I was good, which meant, I was patient while he placed his orders, or sifted through the itty-bitty drawers of nuts and bolts, he would take me to get a treat at the bakery.  I remember taking my time, looking through the glass case at every type of donut, smashing my face and greasy little kid fingers on the glass before finally making my selection.  And, every time I would come back to the same thing...the nutty crescents.  Cake donuts, glazed and then rolled in finely chopped peanuts.  Dunkin Donuts has a version, but the treats at this little, family-owned shop have always been far superior.  I was so scared that when I arrived they would no longer have my favorite donut and this trip would end in terrible tragedy (Yes, they are that delicious!).  It had been six years since I had been there and you just never know with little coastal beach towns what will still be there and what will have completely changed.  The last time I had saddled up to a stool at the curving, diner style bar was when I took my ailing father for what I believe was his last trip to the cottage before passing.  I remember talking with him on the way and reminiscing about all the fun times he had experienced here as a child with his parents, and as the head of our household.  I also clearly remember us both agreeing in unison that the bakery was our first stop when we finally decided to head in to town.  The reason the choice was unanimous was because we both had a secret love of those delightful peanutty donuts.

Well, after ten years of marriage (celebrated the week of our vacation) I managed to get the Mr. up to the cottage for his first trip and after six long years I was able to satisfy my donut fix.  It may seem silly, but some cravings just never go away and for some of us, no matter how many times we move, or places we live there is always some far off place, seemingly insignificant to everyone else that calls to us as home.


Our little cottage in Heaven....

and the view from the front porch....


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