Thursday, February 10, 2011

DIY - Ceremony

We created a very simple ceremony. The guests were led by a bagpiper out into the courtyard. Our celebrant, a good friend, gave a very brief introduction and welcome. We exchanged vows that we had written. We exchanged rings. A good friend read a short blessing. Then the bagpiper played a recessional, and we all headed back inside.

It was snowing lightly throughout the whole ceremony. The guests seemed to very much appreciate the brief ceremony, and many said it was the most lovely wedding they had attended. It was practical for an outside winter wedding, but even more important, it focused attention on the real heart of the marriage-- our vows.

Wedding DIY- Make your own rings

We knew from the beginning that we really wanted to make our own rings. It is just such a beautiful symbolic gesture... using someone else's design just didn't seem right. Research into DIY ring-making turned up some very expensive options, such as working with a jewerly designer to have our drawings turned into rings, or attending a ring-making workshop for couples (and there weren't any in our area, anyway). I was briefly enamored with the process of making rings out of hammered wire and welding, but my sweetie brought up the fact that a welded ring disturbs the symbolism of the endless circle. Silver clay just seemed too "crafty." A local jeweler that we contacted mentioned a couple companies that she sends her own designs to for casting. Jewelers wax and wax carving tools were readily available online, so we decided to try our hand at carving rings.
These are some of my designs. I had become interested in Chinese symbolism, so the design features the dragon and phoenix, which represent the groom and the bride, as well as the lotus flower and five linked bats, which represent the five fortunes: good luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness, and wealth.
I purchased a couple different hardnesses of round tube wax from Contenti, as well as several tools...
We ended up using a Japanese fine toothed saw (which we had from other projects) to cut off pieces from the wax tube, and we used the largest drill bit we had to drill a starter hole. It isn't pictured here, but I also bought a Max ring sizer tool, which was useful for scraping wax from the inside of the hole. I bought a set of cheap wax carving tools and a couple wax files from Contenti, but we also used some small woodcarving tools and clay carving tools that we already owned.
My sweetie carved mine and I carved his! The smaller ring was more difficult... it was very thin, so there were a couple of casualties. Carving the wax was not difficult, but it was time consuming... we did it mostly in a marathon carving session that went on into the early morning.

Then we sent the rings off to RW Manufacturing in Rochester, NY via Fedex. It definitely felt like a leap of faith. We had them cast in silver. They also did all of the cleanup and polishing and oxidized them to bring out the carved detail. Their prices were very reasonable-- just a touch more than the market price cost of the metal, and a fraction of the cost of any of the readymade rings we were considering. And it was quick-- turnaround time was about a week, including shipping times. Doug at RW was wonderful, and very encouraging!
They came out beautifully! Here we are exchanging them at our ceremony.

The only small mistake we made was that we (wrongly) thought there would be shrinkage. It turns out that you can pretty much make your wax designs exactly the size you want the finished project to be. My sweetie's ring fits just right... mine is a little large. I wear it on my middle finger!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wedding DIY- Wedding Wish Tree (Guest Book)

A cup with a few blank cards and lots of pens was placed on each table. The cups are made out of edge punched inkjet cardstock (a Martha Stewart leaf punch that I found on clearance) wrapped around paper cups and held in place with hot glue.

The "tree" was a few bare branches from the brush pile with squares of crumpled tissue paper for flowers.

The cards are actually blank bookmarks, tied with ribbon and punched on one side with the leaf punch.

Rubber stamps and glittery pens encourage guests to embellish!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wedding DIY- Cupcakes

I decided cupcakes would be so much cuter, and cheaper, than a cake.

The cupcake stand is made out of foam core and decorated with tiny paper flowers.

The cupcakes were made a couple days in advance, and frozen (placed on the unheated, screened porch in January!) The night before we iced and decorated them.

We decorated them with hearts made out of rolled fondant (store bought). Two different size heart cookie cutters were used to cut out the hearts, and they were left on cookie sheets to harden overnight. They were brushed with pearl cake decorating powder mixed with a little water. The cupcakes were also sprinkled with white crystalized sugar and tiny metallic hearts that I found in the cake decorating section of the local craft store.

Plastic cupcake holders were essential-- we talked a local bakery into selling us a few.

Next time I use fondant as a decoration, I will put them on at the very last minute... probably the day of the event. They got a bit soggy and droopy overnight, and I spent a bunch of time propping them up with toothpicks.

The cupcakes were a big success... our guests loved them.

Monday, February 7, 2011

DiY Wedding - Budget Flower Arrangement

This flower arrangement was made for less than $20. The day before the event, I raided the "Manager's Special" area of the supermarket floral display, and bought an armload of lovely flowers. A few embellishments from the craft store, and it was an elegant and abundant welcome for our guests.

Wedding DIY - Bride's Bouquet

The bride's bouquet was very simple... a dozen white tulips wrapped in white organza ribbon.

The corsages for the groom and special guests were also home made, but once again very simple...just a few flowers and foliage wrapped with florists' tape.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wedding DIY-Bride's Jewelry

I have excellent taste... the jewelry I like tends to be rather expensive. Also, I like quality materials, and so much of the jewelry I can afford is made with cheap materials.

For the necklace, I crocheted fine gage Argentinian silver wire with pearls of several sizes, Swarovski crystal beads, and quartz nuggets. There is a matching bracelet.

The earings are pearls and a cast sterling silver lotus flower charms that I found on Etsy, hung on a handmade sterling silver earwire. The lotus flower is often given to the bride in Chinese weddings as a gesture of good fortune.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

DIY - Silk Flower Hairpiece

The flower hairpiece is made out of layers of silk organza and tulle, sewn together, in a manner similar to this tutorial. The center stamens were made from seed pearls string on wire, and a feather was added instead of a leaf. A spray of crystals on fishing line from the craft store was also added. The flower was hot-glued to a hair clip.

One thing I didn't do myself was my hair! I indulged on this luxury... I even had a full-on trial run the week before. I've had hair disasters in the past, and I didn't want my wedding day to be one of them!

Friday, February 4, 2011

DIY Wedding - Table Centerpieces

Centerpieces were created from lots of recycled glassware of various sizes and shapes, lit with dozens of candles. The candles included floating candles, votives and tealights, all in off-white. The glassware came from the local Salvation Army... I just filled up a cartful, significantly clearing up space on their shelves.

DIY Wedding- Decorations

I haven't made tissue paper pom-poms since I was a kid. I thought the idea of snipping the ends of the tissue paper so that it looked pointy like chrysanthemum petals was very cute. I made dozens of these oversized pom-pom flowers, large and small, and hung them at different levels using fishing wire.

I also bought yards and yards of cheap tulle and organza ribbon and draped it all over the venue.

The lights and green garlands were left over from the venue's Christmas decorations-- we requested that they leave them up for us!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Helleborus Seedlings in January!

I have made a rather embarrassing new gardener mistake. Like the wren that raises the cuckoo, those seedlings below are weeds. I'm not sure which ones... perhaps garlic mustard? But the observation stands that they are some pretty hardy weeds to be coming up in the middle of winter!

Sadly, I didn't get a single hellebore seedling in the dozens of pots I had out on the porch. It could be that the seed was too old... it was purchased in early August. I already submitted my order in for fresh seed this season at Winterwoods. I did end up getting three precious seedlings from a few reserved seeds that I put in coffee filters in the fridge. I nearly forgot about them... I'm unsure how long the radicles were languishing on that moist filter. It is heartening that this method works. However, all three seedlings failed to get free of their seed caps, and my attempts at helping them had no effect (tweezers, misting, droplets of spit!). All three put up sets of true leaves, but they seem to be a bit stunted... we'll see how they do. But at least I KNOW that they are true helleborus seedlings and not pretenders!

After a spell of particularly chilling subzero weather, it suddenly dawned on me that the bit of green in the pots on the porch was no ordinary weed. The helleborus has germinated! There are several vigorous looking seedlings in the 4-inch Helleborus Foetidus pots. No signs of life in any of the other flats, at least not yet.

Then, I remembered the 1 gallon pot where I had put the extra seed (red/purple x. Hybridus). I had left it under a bush by the front porch. Sure enough, under 3 inches of snow and a bunch of fallen leaves there were several tiny seedlings!

What an incredible plant-- the fact that its tiny, tender seedlings don't freeze solid seems to defy laws of nature.