DIY Wedding Invitations on a Budget

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When it came to deciding what to do for our wedding invitations, I did a lot of research on prices, styles, sizes, inserts – you get the point. I had no idea going into it just how many options were available and decisions were needed to be made in regard to invitations. It came as quite the surprise. I was overwhelmed. We are inviting 150+ people to our reception!, I thought, as dollar signs flashed through my mind.

Once the reality of the costs involved had sunken in, and I knew that we had to think outside the box due to our very tight wedding budget, I made up my mind that I would make our own wedding invitations – one of the many DIY projects that I decided to take on. After surfing Pinterest for what felt like eternity, I didn’t really see anything that stuck out at me. The invites I saw were crafted to perfection, don’t get me wrong, but the design and overall feel just wasn’t what I was thinking. I just felt like I could go a little bit further in my own direction and create some kickass invitations with a uniquely personal feel.

Before I get into the different tricks I used and tips I have, I want to say that making your own invitations does take quite a bit of time. And I highly suggest that you are familiar, if not proficient, with certain computer publishing and design programs. I used Microsoft Publisher because I already had it on my computer (see also: free).

First, I began the design on the main reception invitation using Publisher. I wanted it to have a semi-rustic feel, but a simple, yet meanignful, visual appeal. Being a poetry-crazed freak (no, really, I am), I wrote a little poem to include here. Since my husband and I were having an intimate, immediate-family-only ceremony, I wanted to make sure that, upon reading the invitation, people knew that our ceremony was private, but also, more importantly, that we truly wanted to share in the moment with them at a party right afterwards. Once the poem was included, and I designed the header of the invitations, I added all of the necessary information (our names, the date, location, etc.). When I was satisfied with the final product, I saved it and went on to the next task.

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Next, I started work on the ceremony information card that I would include for the few people that we were being invited to the ceremony. Knowing that I would be attaching the “inserts cards” that I would be making to the main reception invitation, I made the cards all smaller, close to the size of business cards. Again, I added the necessary information, while this time opting to include one of my favorite love quotes instead of a poem. I also found a free cartoon wedding image online (I made sure that I had the right to use it for my invitations). The picture I chose worked out way better than I could’ve imagined because I swear we have the exact same picture of us from our wedding, pickup truck and all! I used DUMPR Photo Pencil Sketch to turn it into a sketch and – voila! – a snazzy ceremony card.

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Early on in this process, I created our wedding website (I used MyWedding.com) and did some research on online RSVPing and decided that it was something that I wanted to do. I set our website up so that our guests could go right on and RSVP. I created a card that listed our website, directions on how to RSVP and the food options that would be offered. The website even allowed our guests to choose their food options! We saved a lot of money not having to pay for an extra set of enevelopes and stamps for guests to RSVP through the tradtional mail. I also added a sketch image of a mason jar and using the “text” tool in Publisher, overlaid our names onto it.

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Then, I made a card to inform guests that all of the hotel and guest information was on our website. Though I imagined that this would be somewhat assumed with the online RSVPing and all, I also knew that a few of our guests were not tech-savvy and I wanted to make sure that they knew where to go to get all the details. A fan of my new picture-to-sketch tool, I found a picture of the entrance sign to the town where we got married and I turned that into a sketch too.

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Just for fun, I added a card that listed the “celebration rules”. These weren’t meant to be real rules, but just funny, little quips that I thought might make people laugh. But even more so, I added it to try to get across to our guests that we were having a very casual, informal wedding, short of saying “the groom is wearing jeans”. Keeping with the theme, I added a sketch of a funny picture of my husband and I.

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Once the cards were complete, I saved copies of each part as PDFs (you can do this right in Publisher “Save As”). Then I printed them. Please be warned that, if you decide to go this route and make your own invitations, it might take a few tries before you get them to print just right. I had mine set to print two per page, but I had to do some tweaking. If you just focus for a bit, I promise that it’s totally doable.

We borrowed a friend’s paper cutter and we spent $0.99 on a single-hole puncher. It took my husband and I a few hours to do the cutting and the hole-punching, but it allowed us to spend a lot of time together, using our hands to – literally – put our vision onto paper. Once every piece was cut and punched, we used some twine that we already had to tie all of the pieces together for each invitation. With only about ten invitations left, we ran out of twine. My husband went to the store to get more and came back with a roll of candle wick (pictured here). Hey, not what we planned, but it turned out looking nice and was far easier to tie and knot!

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I designed our invitations so that the guests could untie them and all of the cards would fall to the side, but still remain attached, to make sure that all of the pieces of the invitation stayed together, but that the main reception invitation was able to be seen. Note: I would suggest adding another small card that says “untie me”, or some other direction that helps the guest know that it’s okay to untie it. We found that almost none of the guests we asked untied theirs. That was a small oversight on my part, though, no biggie!

My favorite part of this whole process was, not surprisingly, seeing the final product. I was, and am, pretty damn proud of myself for this particular wedding project and I got a little boost of DIY confidence. Stuff these babies in envelopes (we bought ours for very little at Staples) and you’ll be good to go. At the end of the day, from all of my research, I’d say we saved about $300+ with our DIY invitations and the online RSVPing.

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Save a Shrunken Sweater in 4 Easy Steps

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So I shrunk the sweater I wore in my engagement session. Oops! BUT I made it even prettier by using the material from an old cardigan that I had laying around and adding a few different embellishments. These details allowed me to “widen” the sweater so that it would actually fit me again!

Note: I always keep old sweaters and cardigans if I think that they’re something that I could use in the future for crafts and sewing. It’s just something I’ve always done. If you don’t do this, start. You never know when an old gem might come in handy!

Read on to find out how to fix a shrunken sweater in 4 easy steps:

1) Grab Your Shrunken Sweater and Another Old Shirt of Your Choosing.

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On the left is my shrunken sweater and on the right is an old cardigan with ruffled trim. You can choose any old shirt you like, depending on the embellishment you want and the look you’re going for.

Note: Turn both shirts inside out, since that’s how you’ll need to sew.

2) Cut Along the Seams of Each Shirt Then Start Pinning.

First order of business is cutting the old shirt you chose so that you can maximize the material that you’ll be able to use from it. Your best bet is to cut along the seam so that everything looks neat. Make sure to keep the back piece intact, as it will give you the most material. Next, cut the trim off of the old shirt. The picture on the right below are the ruffle trim of my old cardigan.

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Now it’s time to cut the shrunken sweater. Since the sweater doesn’t fit no matter how much you suck it in, the only realistic option is to add some extra fabric to the side seams of the sweater. To do this, you need to cut along the side seams, all the way up to the armpit.

Then take the back piece material from the old shirt and cut it into two rectangles, of the same size. You will have to use your best judgement for this, as there are so many variables (some shirts shrink more than others, etc.). Once you have cut along the seams of the shrunken sweater, take the rectangles and line one of the edges up against one of the bottom edges of the sweater side seam [see bottom left picture below].

Note: My post assumes that you have basic sewing knowledge (aka you know what things are and you can work a sewing machine). If you have no idea what you’re doing or if you just need a refresher, check out this Dwell on Joy post on sewing machine basics and this Simply Modern Mom post on sewing tool basics. I frequently refer to these both.

Start pinning along the edges, but you will have to begin to pin the fabric unevenly as you move toward the armpit of the sweater because you have to create triangles where the seams meet at the armpit [see bottom right picture below].

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3) Sew Triangles to Sweater.

Bust out that sewing machine, it’s time to get sewing!

Sew along the pinned edges, making sure that the triangle tips will end up in the armpit when it all comes together. Once you’ve sewed a one side of one of your rectangles to the sweater, take a look at the seam you made. Inspect it. This is your chance to make sure the machine is working correctly and nothing is out of place with the thread [see middle picture below].

Do the same thing you just did – pinning and sewing – with the other side of the already-sewn rectangle to the other edge on that side of the sweater. When done, all of your seams should meet at the armpit and one triangle addition will be complete!

Follow the same steps to complete the triangle on the other side of the sweater.

triangledone4) Pin and Sew the Trim on Sleeves and Bottom Hem.

Next, take the leftover embellishment or trim (or, in my case, ruffles) and cut to the size you will need to become the trim around the sleeves of the sweater and, if you have enough, the bottom hem of the sweater. Pin the edges of the trim to the edges of the sweater sleeves and bottom hem, making sure everything is still inside out. When completed, go ahead and admire those hems… I can wait.

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Now that you’ve done all that, it’s time to admire the finished product!shirtdone

Ho-Ho-How to Make a Tree Skirt for Less Than $5

Seeing as it is only 2 days until Christmas, I am feeling rather festive today – in the Christmas spirit full-force! So, to keep the spirit going, today’s post is a tutorial on how you can make a tree skirt for your fabulous Christmas tree for less than $5 and just a couple of hours of your time.

My husband and I got our tree (and by got, I mean CUT DOWN!!! That’s been on my bucket list forever!) pretty early this year. But unfortunately, we have not had a tree skirt – that is, until today! The materials that I ordered were sitting in a box in the corner for a week or so. I woke up this morning and decided that today was the day. I was going to make a tree skirt for our tiny, awesome tree. The following tutorial is for a basic tree skirt, and it assumes that you have access – or even better, you own! – a sewing machine with thread in the color of your choosing. Here’s what you will need:

  • Material: I got 2 yards of 72″ red crafting felt and I had plenty leftover for other crafting needs ($2.50/yd x 2 = $5.00)
  • Scissors (free)
  • Sewing pins (if you need to buy them, they’re under $1.00 for a bunch)
  • Permanent marker (most likely free)

Now, you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll:

1) Draw out the tree skirt. First, lay the fabric out flat on the floor. Then, you have two choices. If you’re pretty artistic, you can draw out the shape of your tree skirt onto the fabric. Or, you can do what I did and use an old tree skirt as a stencil.

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Use a permanent marker for this so that you are able to see the outline better when it comes time to cut the shape out. Keep in mind that you should allot an extra inch or so in all directions when drawing your outline because you will lose some of that when making a hem with the sewing machine.

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2) Cut out your tree skirt. Next, using a good, sharp pair of scissors, cut along your shape until you have your tree skirt outline. This is the part where you can start to see your tree skirt really come to life. Don’t worry if you can see some of the marker outline – this will go away once you hem it!

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3) Pin the hems along the outside edges of your tree skirt. Get the pins out and within easy reach because you’re going to need a bunch of ’em! This is where your eye for detail comes in handy. Decide where you want to make the hem along the outside edge of your tree skirt and start pinning away. If your outline is a bit uneven – as mine was – then this is your chance to correct that. If you have to pin a little bit more on one side of the skirt, then go for it. Do what looks right to you.

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4) Sew the hems! And the bliss that comes with the actual sewing begins! Or maybe it’s only considered bliss by crazy crafty geeks like me… Either way, the time has come to get your hands dirty. Sew along the outer hem, removing the pins as you go, trying to keep the skirt as steady as possible. Using a thread color that is very similar to the skirt material is a great idea here, as you can hide mistakes easier. Once the hem is complete, cut the loose threads because they could get in the way later.

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Now, go ahead and start pinning the inner edges, just as you did the outer edges. Again, overcompensate for mistakes here if you need to.

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Once pinned, sew the inner hem just like you did the outer hem, making sure to cut any loose threads away.

5) Cut away any extra fabric along hemlines. You’re almost there! Now take the scissors and cut away any extra fabric that remains along the hemlines. This will eliminate bulk and give the tree skirt a more finished look.

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Once the extra fabric has been trimmed off, take a minute to admire your hems. It’s okay to feel proud!

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6) Set your tree skirt up and enjoy! Stand back, ooh and aah, whatever you want – this is your time to enjoy the finished product. If you want to go one step further, you can decorate your tree skirt with anything you want. The sky is the limit! I chose to add a simple burlap “N” to mine, using some super glue. If you can think it up, you can do it!

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DIY Wedding Photobooth in 6 Easy Steps: How I Saved $650

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive. As a brand new bride, I spent the past year and a half planning my wedding and agonizing over every little detail. I was a budget bride dealing with the ideas, opinions and advice of a not-so-budget peanut gallery. It wasn’t until a few months before my wedding that I decided to stop letting all of the traditional ideas discourage my creativity and my fear of all things generic. So I decided to come up with aspects of the wedding where my husband and I could save money by doing things ourselves.

One incredible way that I found to save money was by making our own photobooth. Prices vary for professional photobooths depending on your location, but near Boston where I got married, prices were upward of $700 for four or five hours. By making our own, we saved about $650, after materials. If you want a photobooth at your wedding, but don’t think you have room in your budget, or perhaps you just want to add your own personal touch to your wedding, here are 6 easy steps you can follow to make it happen:

1) Decide on a vision.

It might seem a little cliché and overkill, but a photobooth adds a lot of character to a wedding. It acts as the meeting spot for guests; a place where guests go to let loose and pretend they’re someone else, even if only for the blink of an eye (or the flash of a camera). Decide what kind of photobooth you want. Do you want a standard square frame or would you rather one that is more rectangular? Do you want it to be flat-edged or have beveled edges? Or maybe, like I did, you want it to look like the frame of a Polaroid picture? This is your chance to make your wedding stand out!

2) Gather and buy your supplies.

Materials you will need:

  • Skinny wooden dowels
  • A few pieces of sturdy felt in any color
  • Piece of plywood large enough to fit your frame
  • Glue for glue gun
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper
  • Rope
  • Old tablecloth or bed sheet
  • Scissors
  • Spray paint
  • Acrylic paint and small paintbrush

Tools you will need:

  • Glue gun
  • Straight-edge
  • Skill saw

3) Make the frame for the photobooth.

With your supplies in hand, you are finally ready to make your vision a reality. Take a pencil and the straight-edge and draw the frame out on the plywood, so you have a line to follow when making plunge cuts with the skill saw (How To Make a Plunge Cut). Once you’re happy with it, cut the frame out (wearing your safety glasses of course). Sand down the edges to make them smooth and spray paint the entire frame. You will probably have to do a couple of coats to make it look just right. Once the frame is dry, take a small paintbrush and some paint (I used acrylic because I had it on hand, but most paints would do the trick) and write whatever you want on the frame. You could paint your names, wedding date or a meaningful love quote. This is the perfect opportunity to get creative with it!

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4) Make the props.

When the frame is completed, you can begin to make the props for the photobooth. Decide what shapes you want to use. I chose mustaches, beards and lips. Fun, right? Cut the shapes out of the felt. Use the wooden dowels as handles for the props and glue the felt shapes onto them. There you have it, easy yet stylish props! Often times even dollar stores carry fun masks and hats, to add some variety.

5) Be sure to have a sign with directions for guests.

I found this to be super important. I decided to create a wedding hashtag on Instagram for my wedding. This allowed guests to take pictures at the photobooth with their own phone cameras and, using our unique wedding hashtag on Instagram, tag them online so that my guests and I are able to see their pictures in one location. This works in other areas of the wedding, too, not just the photobooth. It is worth noting that not everyone uses Instagram, but it is fun to see the pictures from the people that do! Once you decide on your hashtag, or another way to link guest pictures, make sure you have some signs to put out to let guests know how to share their pictures.

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6) Set everything up and enjoy.

Finally, the photobooth is ready to be put together! Use the rope to tie the frame up to the ceiling, or whatever structure is available, and make sure that it’s secure. Next is the backdrop. Use an old tablecloth or bed sheet and hang it up behind the frame, leaving enough room for a group of people to stand behind the frame, but in front of the backdrop, for pictures. Set up a table for the props, put your signs up and take a couple of test shots to make sure that the lighting is good. Adjust if needed. Now you and your guests are finally ready to enjoy your very own DIY wedding photobooth!

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