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‘my DIY wedding’

Our wedding photos (finally!)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I can’t believe it’s been more than three months since the wedding. It went by in a flash. All the more reason we are grateful for our photographer, Heidi Geldhauser with Our Labor of Love.  She captured the entire experience and we will forever have breathtaking photos to memorialize our special day.

I know I’m long overdue posting proper photos and details of our wedding day, especially since I documented every single bit of the planning process and the prep work involved. Well, I was waiting for a very special reason. Style Me Pretty, one of my favorite wedding blogs, decided to do a cover feature on us!

So here it is, our wedding day, in all of its sweetness.

Style Me Pretty: Georgia Lake Wedding by Our Labor of Love

I won’t lie; I’ve looked at it pretty much all afternoon.

And here are some of my personal favorites.

Words can’t express how proud we are. We pulled it off! Our vision became a reality and we were able to share it with our most beloved friends and family. It will undoubtedly remain one of the best days of our lives!

Letting go of Dress Stress

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Well, I’m back and officially a married woman. Hooray!

The last couple of weeks have been really wonderful. The wedding was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I can’t wait to share all the details and photos. But before I do, I want to tell a story that I’ve been dying to share…

I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m quite the tomboy, so shopping for a wedding dress wasn’t the same experience for me as it is for most brides. I’ve also mentioned the lovely dress that my sweet friend sold me for only $100. I was so excited to not have to shop around for “the” dress anymore. I never really believed in that concept, anyway…

The dress was a few sizes too big, so it underwent a few rounds of alterations…and along the way, I decided to take it from an a-line skirt and make it more of a mermaid shape. I obviously had NO idea how difficult it is to change the shape of the dress. With each dress fitting, I became more and more concerned.

A few weeks before the wedding, I took several of my bridesmaids with me to the alterations shop. They needed to get their dresses adjusted and I needed to get their opinion. At this point, the dress had undergone four rounds of alterations and I still wasn’t in love with it. I tried it on and when I walked out to the main room and stood in front of the three-way mirror, I could see their expressions from multiple angles.

It just wasn’t right. It wasn’t that flattering. And it was obvious that I wasn’t comfortable in it.

So….we piled into Amanda’s SUV and headed up to Bridal Sense, a bridal consignment shop that was conveniently right up the road. We walked in and I was greeted by Nancy Culotta, the owner. I handed her the dress and told her she could have it; sell it or donate it, whatever she wanted to do. Then I told her that I needed a dress…and that the wedding was in 5 weeks.

She told me to look around, try on as many as dresses as I wanted and she’d look thru some catalogs to see what she might be able to order for delivery within my timeframe. I didn’t really have much luck with any of the dresses on the rack, so Nancy brought me a few bridesmaid dresses to try on. She told me they could be ordered in an ivory color and with rush delivery; would arrive just in time. I tried a few on and found one that I liked. I wasn’t overly excited about it, but the girls really liked it. It was lightweight and comfortable and would certainly do the job.

Nancy went to check the delivery schedule and came back to tell me that if the order was placed that same day, and with super rush delivery, it would arrive the week of the wedding….as in three days before we were leaving Atlanta to drive up to the lake. Eek! I was extremely nervous about such a slim grace period…and no real time for alterations…but we all agreed that unless I were to find a dress off the rack, all delivery times would be cutting it this close. So, I agreed to place the order and decided to simply think good thoughts for the next several weeks.

Nancy took my measurements and debated sizes. She wanted to get as close to my actual size as possible so we wouldn’t be doing rushed alterations or, God forbid, pinning the dress the day of the wedding. She told me that she was going to bring me a dress from the same manufacturer to try to gauge the fit. When she brought the dress to the fitting room, we all looked at it and then looked at each other and the girls said, “Oh my gosh, try it on!” I tried it on and loved it instantly.

I mean I actually, really LOVED it.

It fit me perfectly, it was incredibly comfortable, it had the right amount of sparkle and I really didn’t want to take it off. I stared in the mirror with a big ol’ grin on my face thinking to myself, “So, this is how it’s supposed to feel…”

It is really simple with a vintage feel to it…and other than some minor adjustments; hem, strap length, bustle, etc…no alterations needed to be done. And…the best part…it was only $300! Heck yea!

I am not exaggerating when I say that Nancy and her team at Bridal Sense saved this bride. Not only do I LOVE my dress, but I felt the way a bride is supposed to feel on her wedding day.

If you’re a bride-to-be in the Atlanta area, you really should  pay them a visit. They are friendly to you and to your budget…and in the wedding business, that’s not always easy to come by.

Bridal Sense
6600 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30328

They are a true consignment shop, so if you have a dress that’s been hanging in your closet and you are interested in selling it, give them a call. Not me though. I’m keeping this dress forever. I love it too much to part with it.

I know…weird, right?

Here she is…

pretty little girls with bows in their hair

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

I am always happy to see how contagious crafts can be…rather, how excited people are to indulge in them. Take for example Eric’s cousin, Eve. Her daughter, Amberli, will be one of our flowers girls! We’ve been emailing back and forth about dresses for the girls to wear, options for shoes, accessories, etc. Eve has taken on a very crafty approach and I’m thrilled at her handiwork! She recently sent me photos of the adorable bows that she made for the girls.

Eve actually sells her bows and she can take custom orders! Feel free to contact her at

I’m pretty sure our flower girls are going to be the most beautiful, ever. I can’t wait to see them all dressed up!

my DIY wedding – handmade programs

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

As we get closer to the wedding date, I’m actually making progress on my to-do list which at times seemed endless. One of the remaining projects that was staring me in the face for months were the wedding programs. We actually debated having them at all, at first. We really want to maintain a casual and modest feel to everything and there’s something about wedding programs that just felt a bit too ceremonial. But, as we continued to design the wedding ceremony, we both agreed we wanted our guests to be able to follow along…and I found a really beautiful poem that will be one of our readings and I wanted everyone to be able to get to know it. Also, of course the music, which I really think will be the highlight of the entire experience, needed its own spotlight. Eric has been working on the music program diligently (actually rewriting lyrics and rerecording songs) and I want everyone to be able to appreciate his efforts.

So, yea. Wedding programs were obviously going to be the best way to let everyone follow along with the ceremony and be included in the special touches we have planned. With the guest list holding strong at 180+ I knew I needed to find a way to make them without feeling guilty about all the paper I’d have to use.

In a seemingly unrelated note, I recently transitioned from one job to another. It was a very big and exciting change for me, professionally!! While I was cleaning out my old office, I stumbled upon two boxes of blank stationary that had been left over from an office move. My boss at the time had told me to just throw it all away, but being the thrifty person that I am, I stashed the boxes in a drawer and only stumbled upon them as I was packing up to leave the company. Well, there you go. I now had paper for my wedding programs!

Once again, Eric worked his design magic and using elements from our invitations, created a program design that I fell in love with. They required assembly, but I’m blessed with wonderful (and patient) friends and family who were willing to help. Twice over the course of two weeks, I found myself sitting around a big table with Eric, my mom, dad, sister, her fiancée Chris and my lovely girlfriends, Amanda and Kathy. (What did I tell you? I am blessed BIG time) We worked in an assembly line measuring, marking, punching holes, threading yarn and tying little bows until all of the programs were complete! They are beyond adorable and I’m so proud that they were made by some of my most favorite people.

I couldn’t have done it without help and I’m endlessly grateful for the help I received. Here’s what the process looked like:

starting supplies (incl. yarn from an old knitting project)

cutting the back page

cutting the sections apart


measuring and marking...

hole punching...

bow tying...

assembly line prep

Godsend Friends

our precious programs!

I think they are absolutely perfect. Plus, the memories of the time spent making them are even better than the money we saved by making them ourselves!

my DIY wedding – give me a sign

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

One of the things we like most about our wedding venue is its location…tucked into the corner of a lake in the North Georgia Mountains, it is sure to offer a picturesque backdrop for our fall wedding.

It is also pretty hard to find.

We knew right away that we would need to create a map and give clear directions to our guests, so they’d actually be able to find us! Since so many of the roads surrounding the lake are small and winding, we also thought it would be a good idea to have directional signs posted along the way to keep everyone heading in the right direction.

Luckily, we knew we could call on our good buddy, Hoke, for help with the process. Not only are he and his wife, Katie, some of our most beloved friends, he’s also an extremely talented craftsman. Using reclaimed wood from 19th century barns on his family’s land in South Georgia, he builds tables, desks and other pieces of accent furniture.

a Hoke Howard original

When we told him that we were thinking about making signs for the wedding, he offered to help…and he offered to let us use some of his lumber.

To us, this was the coolest thing ever. Being able to work with such old wood (circa 1840!) with such a rich history meant a lot to us. And, of course, being able to reuse antique heart of pine versus taking a trip to the lumber yard was pretty awesome, too.

The wood needed a good sanding and was then cut into 11×17 sized pieces. The signs were spray painted using stencils that we printed and cut out of cardstock. We’ll attach them to wooden stakes and will have them posted from the main highway all the way to the front gate.


ready for a paint job

this way to the photo booth!

our signs!

Aren't they awesome?

On the big day!

I am beyond thrilled with how they turned out! They are rustic and charming and I absolutely love them. Now, I need to find a way to justify using them for other things…I wonder how our neighbors would feel if we posted one at the entrance of our neighborhood…

my DIY wedding – paper flowers

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

As a way to be ‘green’ during the wedding festivities (while saving some ‘green’), we’re trying to limit the amount of flowers we order. We’ll have flowers, of course; for bouquets, centerpieces, etc. but I’m hoping to be as conservative as possible with the order. Since we’re having the rehearsal dinner and the reception at the same place, I thought about using the same flowers all weekend long, but that won’t work because we’re ordering the flowers early and they’ll need some time to open up so they’ll be pretty on the big day.

I was debating what I could do to dress up the rehearsal dinner a bit, without having to order more flowers, when I discovered Paper Platypus. Karen Block at Paper Platypus creates the most beautiful paper flowers and sells them in her Etsy store. You can buy assembled bouquets as well as DIY kits in a rainbow of colors and an assortment of styles. I stumbled upon her work via Everything Etsy – a really fun blog that I visit practically every day. Paper Platypus was one of the featured Etsy sellers and was offering a giveaway for a DIY Mum kit. I entered the giveaway and lo and behold, I won!

Some floral décor for the rehearsal dinner…for free?? What a deal!

The DIY kits come with step-by-step instructions, so assembly was really easy. And the flowers look great! I’ve actually had them in a vase on the coffee table and they are a really cute addition to the room. And, since they’ll never die, I won’t have the sad task of throwing them out. Genius! 

I haven’t yet decided if I want to keep them in a vase or remove the stem and have them scattered along the tables like in the photo below. What do you think?

my DIY wedding: tree trunk pedestals

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Rustic wedding themes are quite the trend these days and I’ve been gathering my share of inspiration online.  With every concept we are able to design and construct ourselves, I see a few dollars going back into our budget…which inspires me to take on even more DIY projects. This project was all Eric, though…and he did an incredible job.

I have seen countless delightful versions of rustic wedding cake displays and in many of them; my favorite detail has been a wooden cake pedestal.  They differ is shape and size. Some are simple and look to be actual tree trunks. Others are totally chic and look like they could have been ordered from a Restoration Hardware catalog.  

It’s no real surprise that I was determined to make our own. Lucky for me, Eric doesn’t shy away from a challenge. And lucky for us, his parents offered to let us use fallen trees from their spacious 12 acre landscape.

Now, I can’t say that this was an easy endeavor…it involved a chainsaw, after all! Nor can I take any real credit for it. Eric and his dad did all the work…although, I did document the entire process and can now proudly show off how crafty my soon-to-be husband and soon-to-be father-in-law are!

hunting and gathering

I won't lie, this made me extremely nervous.

pedestal tops

pedestal trunks

some sand paper, a good coat of Gorilla glue and, voila!

of course, I HAD to buy a cake to display the final product...hello dessert!

While we were at it, we made three extras that will be used to hold our large beverage dispensers (which will contain my cousin’s amazing rum punch – yum!)

my DIY wedding: party flags!

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Tonight I participated in my very first sewing circle with my neighbor and friend, Kathy. She’s extremely talented and has a line of aprons that she sells in boutiques around Atlanta.

stitching with a friend

I wanted to spend some time with Kathy and I also wanted to keep the sewing momentum going. No real projects in mind, just wanted to break out the machine and work on something. So, I grabbed a bolt of fabric that Eric’s mom had given me and decided to make some party flags for the wedding and/or reception. I’m not sure if we’ll use them, but they could hang in the boathouse at the rehearsal dinner, or by the guest book area, or by the cake, anywhere, really… So, we’ll take them to the lake and see if we can find a use for them.  

In the meantime, it was fun to have a project to work on. And, I will say that having no real end result in mind surely takes the pressure off the sewing process.

I simply measured and cut 6” by 8” triangles from the fabric and roughly hemmed the edges (so they wouldn’t fray). Then I sewed them to some bias tape (that I chose to buy instead of make, thankyouverymuch…) and just like that, I had strands of party flags! 

cut triangles from reversible fabric

using a wide zigzag stitch, roughly hem edges

hemmed flags and bias tape

measuring 12" from the end, pin flags 2" apart

pin twelve flags to the bias tape leaving 12" from end

sew flags where pinned

party flags!!

They are really adorable and I don’t want to wait until October to use them…so, who wants to have a party??

my DIY wedding: A manicure in a jar

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

One of the hidden costs in planning a wedding is gifts for attendants. The editors at estimate that the average bride spends approximately $70 on each gift. Considering the fact that the average wedding has 5 bridesmaids/groomsmen, it can be a significant expense…and one that few brides factor into their budget. 

Many decide to give accessories (jewelry for ‘maids and ties for groomsmen) that they’ll wear at the wedding, while others choose a more personalized gift. I’ve decided to indulge in creativity and make personalized gift baskets for each of my ‘maids. While I can’t go into complete detail (because they are loyal followers of this little blog of mine – and I love them for that) I can show a few of the goodies that I plan to include in the gift baskets. You can bet they’ll utilize my newly obtained sewing skills and will reflect my unique friendship with each girl. 

Realizing how simple it was to make bath salts for my Mother’s Day craft project I thought I’d give the gift baskets a ‘spa element’ and was excited to find a recipe online for a Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub. 

I grabbed some clean, glass jars from the recycling bin, decoupaged the lids, mixed a few simple ingredients and, voila! They will each enjoy a manicure in a jar!

pretty lids

simple ingredients; lemon, sugar and olive oil

mix ingredients until well blended

the finished products!

I plan on packing these gift baskets to the brim, so stayed tuned for more inspiration and sneak peeks into my DIY bridesmaid’s baskets!

My interview with The Wedding Channel!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I have found that planning a wedding at the same time as a friend is really fun…and quite helpful. I am thrilled to share the wedding planning experience with my good friend, Michelle. 

She will get married just a month after I do and I can’t wait to watch her walk down the aisle!  She will be a stunningly beautiful bride.  I also can’t wait to attend her wedding because it is going to be absolutely fabulous. It will be a black tie affair at a beachside hotel in South Florida. Although we are planning completely different styles of weddings, I know they will both be breathtaking and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Throughout the planning process, we have enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other and sending over photos of inspiration (bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers, cakes, etc) that we think the other might like. It’s been really special to share this process with a sweet friend.

Michelle recently approached me about contributing to a story for the Wedding Channel. She had heard they were doing a feature on DIY weddings and she thought of me. The storyline was certainly right up my alley, so I eagerly accepted!

Initially, when I spoke with the producer, I told her about all the ways we’re saving money on the wedding; from choosing the venue, designing and printing our invitations, and making much of the décor.  When I mentioned that I had a friend planning a wedding also, and how fun it had been sharing the process, she had an idea for a new storyline; two friends planning two completely different weddings. Within a week, the camera crew was scheduled for the shoot.

quite the set-up!

focusing in...

getting mic'd

reviewing my notes

smile big for the camera!

it's a wrap!

The story will be broadcasted all across the country, so if you happen to see it, let me know!!