Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Always Loved a Photo Booth

One of the trends that I've become a big fan of is the Photobooths. I looked at renting one ... $800 for 4 hours...OH MAN that's way too much for this frugal bride. 

Another friend had done a "photobooth" by setting up a digital camera with a remote and taping off the area in the photo. This would work for me! I have a nice digital SLR  and could easily buy a remote. 

Next to figure out was how to do a back drop. I thought "how cool would it be to have a 'big top' backdrop!?" I came up with a simple pattern...oh gosh...fabric is expensive when you use this much! In walks Save-The-Day-Mom. She just happened to have extra fabric- tons of red with white polka dots and sewed it to a white tablecloth. Within a few hours, she whipped this bad boy up!

I figured what's a photo booth without props? A quick google search returned dozens of ideas. I printed some colorful ones on cardstock, cut out black and white ones with the pazzles.

Then, I started getting creative and decided to have speaking and thought bubbles that you can write on. I just cut chipboard that I got out of the trash at work, sprayed it with chalkboard paint, and stuck them on a dowel rod. Perfecto!

Everyone had such a great time with this. Due to the weather during set up, the photo booth got move to the inside a little hidden but we had a good number of photos turn up that were hilarious. 

And some that were adorably cute. 

Total cost: (Backdrop-Nothing) + Camera (Nothing) + Remote ($17) + Dowel Rods ($4 for 24) + 20 sheets of paper ($0.40) + Chalkboard Paint ($3.50 after using a 50% off coupon) = $24.90

I think I saved $775 on this one! 

Sit your butt then sign your name

If you couldn't tell, I don't want to like to throw money away and I like stuff to be practical. One thing I couldn't get over is spending money on a guest book I'm going to store away and never read. I searched for practical ideas and stumbled upon this one.

A guest bench seemed like such a fantastic idea! 
       A) It would give my fiance a wedding project
       B) It would give my parents a place to sit at the wedding
       C) It would be something my friends would get to decorate
       D) I would be able to smile seeing said bench everyday

It had to be done! I didn't give my fiance a budget for this project because...my future father in law gets the most amazing deals at Lowes and Home Depot. He got $200 worth of plywood for $40 months prior that we used for so many random things. Using leftover 2x4's and plywood, they made a beautiful bench. I painted it white and used the pazzles to cut a stencil for our names. All the paint was leftover from previous house projects. 

Everyone loved the idea. We put it on a work stand covered with fabric and made it counter height. We threw a sign on there and some sharpies and ended up with a treasured bench. 

Total cost for an awesome bench and sign: Nothing
Total cost for the sharpies: $2.75 on clearance at Michael's for 4. 

A good popcorn bag is hard to find!

I searched everywhere looking for 100 bags for cheap. I could find 1000 bags for 20 bucks or so but I would have about 920 too many.

Luckily, I have a Pazzles and it cuts paper and does awesome things. I found paper on sale 10 for $1. I bought about 50 sheets. Using the pen tool, I drew on red lines at the top and dots on the rest.  Using the cutting tool, I cut out our names and the box itself. I was able to draw and cut 2 boxes out of each sheet. For $5 bucks, I had 100 custom made popcorn boxes!

Our friend lent us a popcorn machine and gave us the popcorn and oil for the party as well saving us well over $75. It looked fantastic with the whole wedding!

Total Cost: $5.00 for 50 sheets of paper + Glue (Free)= $5.00 for 100 or $0.05 each!

Every Cupcake Deserves a Pedestal.

We were going to go for a wedding cake but neither of us could decide on one. Eventually, we figured a cupcake would be better since it's portion controlled and cute. How else should you have a cupcake displayed other than it's own stand!

Instead of spending hours contemplating how to make a stand, I bought a digital file and edited to fit our personality. Each stand used about 1.2 sheets of paper. I also found polka dot cupcake wrappers on sale at AC Moore randomly.

For 26 stands: Wrappers $0.35+ Paper $1.28 + Digital File $3=$4.63 or $0.18 each!

I LOVE balloons

To make things even more special, I wanted for every person to have a balloon in their cup. I love balloons. I know there's a helium shortage and I shouldn't have done this but I LOVE balloons. So all 26 guests that came to the wedding got a balloon.

To weigh it down, I wanted to use gummy bears. I cut boxes with the pazzles and had it draw our faces on one side and a heart cut out on the other with the lid shaped like a heart. I didn't have any acetate sheets so I used a ziploc bag and used the clear parts to make the window on the box.

Total Cost: Paper $2.60 (On sale 5 for $1)+ Plastic (free) + Glue (free)+ Balloon ($26.00)=$28.60 for 26 or $1.10 each!

Sweet Tea Cups!

I wanted each person to take home something that was memorable and unique to our wedding. Since my fiance and I love sweet tea, I decided to paint Sweet Tea Glasses.

We used Vetrea 160 paint. I printed their names in a font and size I liked. Taped it on the inside of the glass and painted over it. Then I printed various size dots for the glass and painted over them. They took about 10-20 hours each since I made sure each dot dried flat before painting the next one.

The glasses cost $50 for 36 glasses-so I could make a few for my college friends. The paint I bought one color at a time with 50% off coupons and ended up paying $12 and it covered well over 36 glasses. To make them a little sharper, I used 3 sheets of papers to cut some bow ties for my fancy glasses...

Total Cost: $62.12 for 36 glasses ($1.73 each)

They make straws out of paper?

For us 80's babies, we learn things everyday about how it was in our parent's day. After watching a commercial, I realized I wanted to have mustache straws as decorations and for people to use. I used swagbucks to get an a few amazon gift cards to pay for a lot of the decorations. I bought the straws with these gift cards saving me almost $8.00.

Using the pazzles, I cut out about 150 mustaches out of 9 sheets of black paper (Purchased from Michael's with a %50 off coupon-making it only $2 for a pack of 50 pieces of paper).

Total Investment:

Straws: $8.00 + Paper:  $0.40 = $8.40 for 144 straws (~6 cents each)

Baby, it's hot outside

Being from North Carolina, I knew there was a good chance our mid-May wedding could be ruined with heat, rain, random chills-maybe all of the above! About two weeks prior to the wedding, I thought "I should make some fans for the wedding!" I looked online and they cost $25 for 20 printable ones! I swear if it has the word "wedding" attached, they triple the price.

It hit me, at the state fair last year, Food Lion was giving out fans! I had gotten there early before they realized they needed to unwrap the bunch and gave me 2 packs of 20. They would be perfect to recreate!

I should have taken a before picture. But they were just square on a Popsicle stick with this fun logo:

Using a can of spray paint, I made them all white. I then cut an "L" on the pazzles and some polka dots out of some scrap vinyl. I now had 20 custom fans!

(Sorry this is the only up close photo I took before I put the ribbons on...silly phone camera)

But this one is after the ribbon (after the ceremony)

It ended up being a perfect 70 degrees during the wedding but people loved them at the party-I only had 2 leftover cause so many people took them home with them!

Total Cost: $4 Spray Paint + Vinyl $2.50 + Ribbon $1 =$7.5

A Simple Family Meal

One thing I love about my parents is their creativity and emphasis on family. When we were kids, my dad took a sheet of plywood and a few pieces of wood, added some fold-able legs and made 2 extensions for our dinner table. Each "leaf" is 6' and our regular table is 6'. With the 2 leafs up, we have an 18' table!

For 30 years, they've hosted Thanksgiving for anyone that can make it. One year we had almost 60 people! Normally, the "Adults" get to sit at the large table but it can fit 20+ people at it. This is something I took for granted until I spent Thanksgiving with another family. I saw that normal large family gatherings require people to sit at only 6-8 people per table.

I knew I wanted to share our first meal together as a couple at a table with both of our families. My mom knew buying custom table clothes would never work so she made the tablecloth and the runner for both the family table and the friends table. We used white tablecloths and a black runner with a red ribbon on top. The table cloths and runners can also be used for other functions.

Total Cost: None-all supplies were donated by mom and dad. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm so glad that I have these friends o' mine

I had the joys of growing up in a small town. Oh you know the kind...where everyone knows everyone. I wouldn't trade it for anything and in my dream world, I'd live in that same town surrounded by those I met and loved in college and post-college years.

My best friend from childhood happened to be a photographer. So she helped out...more than helped out. I would not have made it through my wedding without her. She was the calming force when stuff would go wrong. She did my make up, my photos, my photobooth, giving me ideas, giving me support, making christmas gifts for me, working as a waitress at the wedding, setting up the party...you name it, she was there making it happen. I couldn't thank her enough for everything. 

Her husband even married us and did photos and showed up at the party as chuck-e-cheese! 

A family friend (my other bestie's cooler older sister that use to drive us to school in her classic VW bug) found out we were doing a carnival theme and offered us her popcorn machine and cotton candy. She had all the popcorn and butter! Then 2 days before the wedding, she gave me the most perfect pair of sunglasses to match my outfit. 

My hairdresser got sick the day before, her coworker called to say she could do it and even gave us a big discount. Turns out, we were part of a wedding before where she did the bride's hair and I was the maid of honor! 

My best female friends from college helped me plan, execute, and decorate for the wedding. Coming a full two days before and set it all up! 

Save that Date baby!

Since we were engaged for 18 months, people kept asking more and more about it. We had told them a date but even by 10 months out, people wanted something mailed to them.  

We went for a ribbon number but I wanted to do something a little different. I used the sizzix to cut out the tree and card. Used the sizzix to emboss the dots on the flap and used a stamp and heat embossing to do the "Save the Date" We printed on regular 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock and chalked in the color. To add a little flavor to it, we added hearts from a small stamp to act as apples.

If I could have done it differently, I would have hot glued the numbers onto the ribbon instead of laminating them on. The laminating failed sometimes and the ribbon got sticky from it. but they turned out fantastic.

Total cost: around $25 for all 16 made and sent making them $1.56 each

I do it with Swagger and Points

For those who are couponers, you probably know the world of mypoints or swagbucks. I would check almost every day for the first few months to do as many surveys as I could. It would take about 20-30 minutes a day if I qualified for a survey. My fiance also did this and so did my mom. Over several months, we were able to accrue almost $100 in amazon gift cards on swagbucks.

With mypoints, I had scored up thousands of points by clicking through emails every day over the years. I honestly forget I'm doing it until Wednesdays and then go through and click them all. I traded them in for $100 in amazon gift cards.

Pictured below is the first set of things I purchased with the cards. We also purchased syrup flavors, more machines, and cotton candy sticks.

Overall, the total cost of all the machines, using gift cards, and special deals ($25 gift card for $10 things), I ended up only paying about $50 out of pocket for the "entertainment."

A Delightful Gift

While discussing my idea for an invitation, I told my mom about how I really wanted a cricut or something like it to help me. After researching, I decided I'd like a Pazzles.

To my delight, my mom bought us one as a gift and a contribution to the wedding. Now, I don't want anyone to think my parents didn't help because my mom is amazing and my dad is awesome and they both did a TON of work prepping the house and food for the wedding.

This was just in addition. This machine basically helped me accomplish my dreams. I had a sizzix that helped with Save the Dates but now I could do even more!

Decisions, Decisions

I knew we had to have both the families there. With give and take, we were able to get the guest list down to 28 people.

For these 28 people, I wanted them to have something to take home with them.

I wanted to invite my groom's sister to be our Ring Bearer/Bridesmaid. I wanted to make sure it was special for her too since she's 11 (at the time of engagement-12 by the wedding).

I knew I would sew my dress.

I knew I could make the programs.

I knew I could make the decorations.

We're now facing a lot of decision of stuff I never thought about. I played on all the wedding websites. Lots and lots and lots of ideas. I stole a lot of ideas. I came up with my own for others. Nothing could be normal!

It was an addiction. But the more I looked, the more I realized, I really wanted to do something for my friends. My core group from college is like my family. We literally talk to each other everyday-even after 10 years. I couldn't imagine a "Special Day" without my special folks. So BAM. Party was created.

Now we have a wedding, a lunch for the family, and a party for the friends. This is getting hectic. And oh yeah, this party was going to have to be included in the $1800 wedding budget. 

The Budget

Not only were we going to pay for a wedding, we also had to save for a house.  I rented an apartment and he rented a room at his parents house. We aren't rich. I'm a local government employee. He's working minimum wage at a pizza shop. I was debt-free and he had a car loan eating about $350/mo from his income.

We set up a time schedule. We wanted to make sure to be in the house before the wedding but we wanted to make sure to have enough saved that it wasn't tough to do both. To me, that means each of us setting aside $500/mo for the house.I also needed to set aside money for the wedding...my goal budget was $1800 including rings, dresses for me and our bridesmaid, and his suit.

I think EVERYONE needs a budget to live by and to live within their means. I understand tough times. In the past three years, He and I both had been unemployed for an extended amount of time.

For me, my take home pay was roughly $1500/mo. It sounds like a lot but when you're saving for house, wedding, and retirement as well as normal bills, it adds up quickly. I ended up having about 100-200/mo for gas and food.

In walks the joys of couponing, restaurant.com,  swagbucks, and mypoints. I'm not going to go into detail about how to do these three. But I will say that it made life bearable.

I was able to bring my food budget down from $300/mo (we dined out at least 2-3x/week and split costs) to about $80-100/mo. I used restaurant.com vouchers to bring the cost of a normal meal $20-30 to about $12. We ate at home more with cheaper foods thanks to couponing. It took me a month or two to really get into the swing of things but once we started saving. WE STARTED SAVING.

The Engagement

Every little girl dreams of the day that her perfect man asks her to marry him.  The big white dress. The fancy cake. The elaborate plans. They know them all.

Except this girl.

I never wanted any of that! I never desired to get married. If it happened, it happened. If not, no biggie. Then there was the wedding. To me, the perfect wedding was eloping. Small simple. Me and him and two witnesses. It's all I wanted. Then after the elopement, a nice old fashion party at my parents house. We're talking a barbeque or a cookout. Nothing fancy. Just a "congratulations to you guys" kind of thing.

Then walks in Mr. Perfect-For-Me in my life. Our love story was a comedy by all means. Girl meets boy. Girl was told not to hit on boy. Boy gets drunk and hits on girl. Girl keeps trying to throw parties so boy will get drunk again and hit on her again. Boy won't drink around girl again for fear of hitting on her again. Girl gives up and asks the boy out. Just lovely.

The talk of marriage began and he says the dreaded words "I want a wedding. I want my whole family there."  BAM. Elopement was not an option. He finally asked-after I kept sneaking around his room going "where is it? I know you ordered it. I gave you a coupon for it..."  I took pictures of the ring. Texted it to everyone. And within 12 hours, the thrill was gone and the DOOM of wedding planning was on.

I love this man. He is the ONLY man I'd ever even be willing to plan a wedding for.. it still doesn't mean I want to do it. It's a labor of love. Looking back, I wouldn't change anything. The laughs, the fights. It was all worth it and it made us stronger somehow. More understanding of each other...somehow...and more appreciative of our special day...somehow?