Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Custom Map How To

So for those who know me it is no secret that I love maps. I collect antique maps, dream of someday wallpapering my craft room in maps, and my dissertation research is centered around maps. Therefore I wanted to have an awesome map for out wedding invitations.

Well as discussed in an earlier post about our invitations how I really wanted a custom hand drawn and colored map. This wasn't in the cards so I improvised and put my map making skills to work. I cannot freehand draw at all and won't embarrass myself by showing you a scan of my initial freehand draft. But I can for some reason trace using a computer mouse. It is sort of an extension of my own arm. Matt and I worked on this project together and was definitely a successful joint effort.

click to enlarge

To do this map I used Adobe Illustrator- an easy to use vector based graphic design program but unfortunately expensive. I started with a Google Map of Phoenix and then traced all of the essential roads. I then used symbols to mark the landmarks. I got the symbols from the Illustrator symbols library, downloaded some new ones, and designed and drew some of my own by tracing over scanned images. For several landmarks such as Camelback Mountain I imported a photo and traced over the outline. I then colored in the symbols. For a handmade feel, I downloaded a handwriting font from Free Handwriting Fonts to label all of the roads, etc.

I took my file to Office Max and printed color copies onto white cardstock, 4 maps to a page. I then cut them down to size and printed driving directions to our Fiesta Reception site on the back. The total cost was about 4 hours of work to make the map and only $0.11 each to print which included the paper. Yeah student discount! Normally they would be about $1.20 per page and depending upon the size of the map you could fit 3-4 per page. I am no "expert" using Illustrator but if you were just starting out with this program it would take a lot longer. Most of my time wasn't really drawing but design decisions. I drew inspiration from other wedding maps I have seen on the internet.

If anyone out there wants some additional advice or some help with their own custom map - send me an email and lets talk. I wanted to incorporate tons of other ideas into our map but this was just a 4 by 5.5 card! I would love to design maps for other couples.

We wanted a map that was useful, accurately showing how to get around town, as well as gave some insight to our personality and relationship. I think we did a great job and this is my favorite wedding DIY project to date. I can't wait until we graduate and move to do a similar "We've Moved" postcard to inform our friends and fam of our new address.

Flowers, Feathers, or Both?

It seems like big beautiful hair clips with flowers feathers, or both are a close second to colorful shoes as the most trendy bridal accessory. Well this gorgeous trend is definitely a bandwagon I want to jump on. Wait a minute - is there a wedding trend I haven't adopted yet?
I have been waiting to do too much research on a hair accessory because I haven't actually seen my dress yet (argh - con of custom orders), therefore I am not sure of the shade of ivory. And there is the color of shoes I will go with and if I have any strong feelings about other jewelry to consider as well. The decision making never ends. But here are the results of my first serious recon mission.

Examples from Fancy Smancy Designers

From K. Autumn
(the photo on the left is from a great blogger and wedding Rebecca from Oh So RB).

So at a hefty price these may not be the best option for me. But I found several other great alternatives on Etsy. I love Etsy - a wedding planing goldmine. Below are some great designs that I am thinking about.

Examples from Etsy Sellers

Anybody have a favorite?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wanna an Invite to a Party?

Before we left town for the holidays we finished our DIY invitations to the Fiesta. This was a big goal of mine because I knew the next few months would be full of small projects and I didn't want this big one to be drawn out and up all hours of the night addressing them. The goal with the invites was to translate the vibe of our reception - fun and festive with lots of color.
I have been supper jealous of all of the great Gocco stationary projects I have seen out there in the blogoshpere. But this wasn't feasable. Both becasue of the cost and that they are no longer making some of the supplies :(. But I think I made good use of our home laser printer and colored card stock. I used several different edge punches (via Martha of course) to make little papel picado banners and the address labels. These patterns appear all throughout the reception decor.
I wanted to have a pocketfold design of some sort but wanted to keep the amount of paper per invitation down. It seems that some pocketfolds out there are the size of a book. Lots of paper and postage expenses with those. So instead of a pocketfold ours is more of just an invite with a small pocket on the back for the inserts. Also in an attempt to Go Green without Spending Green we asked that people RSVP via our website rather than including a reply card.

The map printed on the back of the Directions insert is my special pride and joy of this project. I really wanted a custom map by Laura Hooper Calligraphy or Couture Maps by Stephanie Barba. I wanted one so bad I was even considering cutting my dress budget down to dollars to make it happen. Then I realized that "Hey, I draw maps and figures all day long. I can do this." I don't make hand drawn maps and couldn't free hand anything like these ladies but I do have some mad skills using Adobe Illustrator. I will have a detailed DIY post later on how I designed the map but for now check out this post from Elizabeth Anne Designs.

Now that they are all done we can begin the tedious task of addressing them. In the beginning I had high hopes of learning calligraphy. Well as with several other projects - that had to go. So instead we are using our trusty laser printer and a package of full sheet labels cut down to size. We designed them so they wrap around the back of the envelope with our return address on the back and we are using the same font as the rest of the stationary (Merceed). Matt is getting in on the action and printing and punching them out. The plan is to print a sheet of labels a day and they should be all good to go for mailing in no time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Projects

I am home for the holidays, hence the lack of posting. First we are in Houston with Matt's parents and next in Nebraska to see my family. From about 70 degrees to -30 windchill. Yeah winter! Just because we are on vacation doesn't mean the wedding planning takes a break. We spent a few hours having a great time looking though old photos for a blast from the past album to display at the Fiesta and NE reception. Instead of a wedding slide show we are going to have a couple of photo albums - M & M In the Begining, M & M Fall in Love, and M & M Get Married. The last one will have photos from the ceremony for people to see because they won't be at the actual vow exchange.

Aren't we cute? Always the academics.

I found some great albums in our wedding colors for only a couple of bucks. They have space in the margins for labels and comments. I also will add a pen and a note to the albums instructing our guests to feel free to leave comments - facebook style. Hopefully we get some great insights from our guests. I am also excited since this isn't a traditional slideshow we can have the albums on display in our house. Since I spend so much time on the computer it will be nice to have actual, tangible, non-digital things to look at.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Project REUSE: Ex. 2 and 3

Continuing along the green them this week I will share two more wedding projects highlighting how we are "reusing" some of our decor.

I wanted to make several signs for Fiesta recpetion such as the bar menu, Bienvenidos sign for the guest book table, and a few others. I thought about a dinner menu for each table but then weighed the pros and cons. Pros - they would look awesome and "classy". Cons- only about 3 of my friends would notice (you know who you are Martha wannabes), and with less than 3 months to go - they gotta go. So one dinner menu at the begining of the bu

I am turning these frames already displaying artwork from a recent trip to Vancouver

into this sign for the candy buffet. After the wedding we will transform all the signs back into wall art. The cost was basically 0 because I already had all the paper for the invitation projects. Ahh, green and budget friendly.

Also for the candy buffet I purchased a few apothecary jars (only $6.99 from Ross!!!) which I am also reusing for Christmas decorations.

Other things from our wedding I can use every year and pause and reminise. I love being sentimental. But do you think it is kinda weird that I am anticipating the memories attached to these things before the wedding???

Monday, December 15, 2008

Project REUSE: Example #1

In an effort to make our wedding a little greener, we plant to reuse several items. I really didn't want to end up with 500 votive candle holders or other wedding related crap...eh I mean decor.. after the whole thing was said and done. So every new purchase for the wedding I try to think of how I will reuse it later or if we already have something that could work. This is really cutting down on our consumption and is also great for our budget. :)

I hope to transform our Card Box from this

into a ribbon box (like this from Martha Stewart Crafts at Michaels).I originally purchased the fuchsia box from IKEA for $1.20 on clearance. The ribbon and paper were already on hand for other projects and I can't wait to have a cute place to store ribbon! I am an extreamly sentimental person so I hope to surround our home with all sorts of wedding keepsakes. I prefer these more sublte keepsakes and everyday items. You don't really need a set of engraved champagne glasses gathering dust to remind you of a special moment.

So what do you think? I realize the giant Card Label may be a little much and pretencious. Our venue has this adorable metal cart for gifts. Since we are not expecting many gifts I wanted jazz up the cart somehow.

More Project REUSE to come!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Going Green without Spending Green

After seeing this post on Earth Friendly Weddings about a giveaway for a new book called "The Green Bride Guide", I got to thinking about how we are trying to green our wedding. My graduate research focuses on issues of sustainability and human impacts on the environment in the prehistoric past so naturally treading lightly on the earth today is how I like to live. Having a Green Wedding or Eco-Wedding is definitely a big trend in weddings and there are numerous resources and blogs out there for tips and tricks. As I started looking into how to green our wedding I came across all sorts of ideas from hemp paper and soy ink for invitations, biodegradable confetti, and organic champagne.

To be honest, most of the ideas I have seen on how to green your wedding just seem to be encouraging couples to consume more and spend more money. As if the wedding industry doesn't try to suck you dry enough as it is, they have to capitalize on popular social movements. Whatever happened to the good ol' fashioned REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE?

We are going to try to green our wedding by just trying to consume less, forgoing many of the unnecessary (although some would argue essential) things found in many weddings. Today I will focus on ways we are trying to REDUCE and the next few posts will be about how we are REUSING and RECYCLING. I am not claiming that we we have a zero-ecological footprint wedding by any means. The mroe you investigate any choice the more environmental impact do you uncover. But we are trying to do our part by making smarter environmental choices where we can.

1. Less Paper. Why is there always an inner envelope in wedding invitations? This always seemed to be unnecessary, wasteful, and now that I am addressing our own invitations - time consuming. We are forgoing the inner envelope, large pocketfolf invite, place cards, and return RSVP notices to reduce our paper usage. We are asking guests to RSVP via our wedding website rather than send us back an RSVP. Not only is this less money for us but saves an envelope and the ecological cost of delivering mail. Our webiste service Nerlyweds has a built in RSVP feature. I thought about forgoing the invitations altogether and exclusively doing email invites, but I have too much Martha in me.

2. No Wedding Party. This may seem like we are missing out but it also means we are saving $$ as well as resources by not having to dress, primp, and gift a wedding party. We just want to have a good time with all of our friends at our wedding. By treating all of our guests as special, we are not playing special treatment as well as consuming way less.

3. Less Fresh Flowers. The flower industry has numerous environmental as well as social implications. (see this article) The pesticides and herbicides get into water supplies and are also extreamly bad news for the health of the workers. Many of are banned in North America but not in South America and Asia where most flowers are grown. Then there is also the environmental impact of shipping the flowers to the US. We are not cutting flowers out all together but are reducing. We will just have a bouquet for me and a boutonniere for Matt.

Photo from Flowers by Jodi. This is my inspiration bouquet. Mine will be made with different flowers, unfortunately still not local. But I am in continued talks with the florist if there can be more earth friendly options.

Our reception will be decorated with a few tissue paper flower bouquets which goes great with our Mexican theme. Okay so we are using paper which is cutting down the rainforests. Not ever choice is without consequences. The point is that there are small better choices that can be made that still give us the wedding we want while also trying to reduce our environmental impact.

4. Two Receptions. I see what your thinking. Having 2 receptions isn't exactly REDUCING the number of resources we are using. But in a way it is. We have a few friends from out of town flying in to Arizona for our party. (insert cringe here - HUGE carbon footprint). But having a recpetion in my hometown means that by ginormous extended family wiill not be making the flights to Arizona and staying local. Our immediate families and us will be making the treck to all the receptions but all of these trips is still far less than all the traveling that would occur if we were just having one event. If we just had one event in AZ or in NE there would be alot of travel and therefore increases in carbon emissions, jet fuel, etc. Hosting two events locally means travel impacts are cut way down. Although there are increases in other resources. Argh! Tradoffs.

5. Outdoor Ceremony and Recptions. Okay so this may be a silly way of REDUCING our resource use. But being outdoors for our ceremony and both receptions means we will be using less electricity.

So I don't think our wedding is deserving of any 'Outstanding Green Wedding' nominations. But reducing our impact is something we have tried to incorporate both for the environment and our budget.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mini Cakes are Always Better than Big Cakes

As previously mentioned we have decided on Sprinkles Cupcakes for our Fiesta Reception. We definitely wanted something fun and whimsical for our wedding dessert. A traditional white cake with ribbon and flowers was really not our style. We had wanted to design a cake to look like some of the Southwestern prehistoric ceramics Matt studies in grad school. But this turned out to be a pricey option and we were getting the impression that it wouldn't look that close to the real thing anyway. We have some pretty knowledgeable archaeologists on the guest list that would scrutinize every aspect of the cake, hotly discussing how it was a mix between Tularossa and Kiatuthlana pottery types for example. But that would be impossible because they date to different time periods.

So, Sprinkles it is. Now the hard part is deciding which flavors. Our friends S and S (another adorable initial sharing couple) gave us a half dozen to try for our birthdays last week and we made a trip a week ago to try them out. They are delicious, especially the frosting.
My friend Chris and I enjoying birthday Sprinkles.

I am all for each dozen we ordering being a different flavor. But now comes the hard part - choosing which flavors from thier long list! We are restricted to the flavors that are made on Saturdays. Bad news because no lemon- my fav. But helps cut down on the decisions.
Matt's top choice is peanut butter chocolate chip and mine is chocolate marshmallow. To help us decide the other flavors I am setting up a new poll. Whatever 3 flavors get the most votes will make it to the wedding.


So the last two weeks have been the most successful of the entire wedding planning progress. I am so excited to share all of the progress and completed DIY projects. If you have been following along I took the last two weeks off of blogging and blog reading (well sort of) to actually get some things done. We are at the 4 month mark to the ceremony and Fiesta reception and I was panicking. I love reading blogs of other brides because they give me such inspiration but they also make me feel like I am completely behind!

So here is a short list of what we accomplished and a sneak peak of what is to come over the next posts.

1) Ordered my dress!! So excited about this one. Dress shopping has included lots of stress, anxiety, and tears. Now that I found it I couldn't be happier and can't wait for the 8-10 weeks until delivery to be over.

2) Decided on cake order. Sprinkles Cupcakes it is! I also celebrated a birthday during my hiatus (along with Matt the day after mine) so there was lots of opportunity to try out different kinds.

3) Decided on photographer, flowers, and the specific location within Red Rock Crossing for the ceremony in Sedona with the wedding planner.

4) Finished Invitations for Fiesta! This was a big job and included lots of design and working decisions for all of the inserts. Here is a sneak peak including my DIY custom map design. I am so excited about this map and am considering going into business. Sorry about the poor quality photos - camera was having issues.

5) Completed all sorts of DIY projects including a "Just Married/Thank You" banner for photos and later announcement and thank you cards, stamp for candy favor bags, started photo albums for reception (instead of slide show), card box, and some serious list making toand supply shopping finish up everything else.

More regular posting and updates to come!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Got a Fancy Dress Hanging in Your Closet?

Sarah at the Wedding Hub had a post today about a great opportunity to help out the local Tempe community. The event is the Cinderella Affair put on by the Tempe Community Council. Every year they collect and distribute gently used formal wear for high school juniors and seniors attend prom.

In case you have a formal dress hanging in your closet - consider donating! Follow the links to find out how. They are in need of dresses, evening shoes, handbags, and jewelry. If you need more incentive than the joy of making someone into Cinderella for prom, participants will even be entered to win a prize.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm cheating...

Despite swearing off blogging and blog stalking for a week to make some progress on the wedding, I found some great ideas today. So sue me. I admit it, I'm cheating. But right after I am done posting I am picking up the scissors and getting to work. I promise.

First fabulous idea is from Once Wed. Check out these amazing blooming chocolates. Great idea for the candy buffet and a great way to use more of our colors and our tissue paper. I think that this idea would be fabulous with chipotle truffles.

Instructions and source here.

The second fabulous find is this photo of lamps from Home Infatuation via Something Old Something New. Why is it that everything lately seems to be in our wedding colors of fuchsia, turquoise, lime, and orange? I thought we were being creative but it turns out we are just in style I guess.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Making Progress...

I have decided to take a break from blogging in an effort to actually get some wedding tasks done instead of just talking about them. I am even going to cut down on my regular blog reading. Oh the horror! Believe me this makes me sad. I actually love working on wedding stuff. I just can't seem to get many things finalized and checked off the list. I made progress on several things over the long weekend and want to keep up the momentum. We are just a few days away from the 4 month mark (which is also my b-day!) and I am beginning to panic. So when I return I hope to have the following tasks completed:

1. Order my wedding dress. I hope it looks something like this....
Photos from here.

2. DIY project - a cardbox.

My inspiration is from a great bride blog: With this Ring.

Check out the instructions and more photos here.

3. Finish Fiesta Invitations. Okay let's be honest in 2 weeks I hope that about 3/4 of them are done. I would say I am about 1/5 of the way there. At least I finally decided on the final version and have all the supplies. Still need to finalize the map with directions to the reception site.

4. Address and mail Nebraska Reception STD. This will involve some cooperation from my mom to get me some addresses. I may have to wait until I am at home for Christmas.

5. Purchase the groom's wedding band (or at least a plan for when and where to get it).

6. Test another recipe for Dessert Reception. I am going to try making pates de fruits (a fancy French gummie) for a holiday party.

Photo from Martha Stewart.

7. Finalize Cake decision. Currently we are leaning towards Sprinkles Cupcakes. We had high hopes for a Southwestern Prehistoric Pottery cake to pay tribute to our dissertations but this is looking to be to an expensive option. Since we don't really want a boring white traditional wedding cake we are considering cupcakes to keep with our fun whimsical vibe. Sprinkles even has an option to add a sugar saguaro on top. And I could DIY a cupcake stand I thought about a few weeks ago.

Well I think this list is ambitious to finish over the next week and weekend. But necessary to make some progress. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

1. Matt The rest are in no particular order...

40% off coupons from Michaels
being able to walk to work
Friday nights at home
my family
my friends
when Matt does the dishes
Barak Obama
Fresh & Easy Market

and of course

getting married to Matt

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I love getting mail...

especially when it is wedding related mail. I don't necessarily like Bride's magazine but when I get that thick, overly pretentious monster of a magazine I can't wait to dig in. I sit down immediately and scan the pages crossing my fingers, hoping that finally I will see an ad for the dress of my dreams. After about page 50 I realize that giant poofy ballgowns made to fit size 2 are not really what I am looking for. This slowly sends me into what I have begun to call wedding-induced-stupper making me want to reach for a cupcake...

But not today! The mail was full of fabulous wedding related goodies. This immediately sent me into what I call a wedding-induced-upper! When I came home I saw and enormous box on the doorstop. (I have to admit I was thinking the registry fairy had made a delivery.) It was the Save the Date cards I won from Minted from a Blog contest.

I was so excited to win these so we would have STDs for the Nebraska reception. I am not really sure why 25 cards and envelopes needed to be in a box the size of a microwave. I only felt a little guilty about the environmental destruction this likely caused because I love mail so much, especially packages in the mail. The happiness that this giant package brought me, and therefore the gas saved from not making cupcakes in the oven, offset the footprint of making and sending this enormous box and nearly 4 lbs. of packing material. Don't you think?

The second fabulous wedding related mail item was our photo book from our engagement trip to Mexico. We made it using Blurb. So excited that I finally finished this (we got back 11 months ago). Instead of the childhood photo presentation (which must be another Midwestern wedding tradition because I have never heard of anyone else ever doing this), we are going to have this book and some other photos available at our Fiesta and Nebraska receptions. The last few pages of this book are my favorite. There is a photo we took after Matt asked me to marry him on a park bench in Mexico City as well as a scanned napkin of our wedding to-do list we made on the plane home. I think we are making progress on this list and about quadrupled it in size.

I love mail! I wonder if anything else will come this week...
Since I am talking about mail, I should also mention that last week I received another fabulous piece of wedding related mail. My sister-in-law Lindsay and some of my mom's friends are hosting a Bridal Shower for me when I am home in NE over the Christmas holiday. I received the invitation last week. They look great (thanks to my crafty inspiration- my Mom) and I am super excited for the shower (thanks Lindsay). My mom's friends are also super excited. A party at a winery in NE in the dead of winter seems to be the highlight of thier year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dessert Trial: Brownie Pops

Last weekend I attempted to make some brownie pops as a trial run for the dessert reception in Nebraska. I blogged about these before and was really looking forward to making them and looking forward to eating them even more. Well, unfortunately they were a complete disaster. I never had such a mess. Chocolate and brownie was everywhere - the floor, the counter, my HAIR!

Here is how I started. I baked a brownie (from a box of course. I aspire to be Martha but am more like Sandra Lee). No reason it has to be in a round pan. I just don't have a square one. Other supplies included candy melts and bowls for melting, Popsicle sticks, a cookie scoop, and parchment paper.

The next step involved scooping out some brownie and rolling it up into a ball and placing it on a stick. After finishing this I put them in to the freezer to set up before dipping them in chocolate.

Sounds simple enough but this is more what it looked like:
I had bits of brownie everywhere. Over half of the pops broke in half when dipping them in chocolate and fell of the sticks. I spent so much time cleaning up the mess I didn't have time to add the purple colored chocolate swirls I was planning. I was taking them to a party and was so embarrassed with how they looked I went to the grocery store to buy a package of cookies to make up for them.
Despite how they looked and what a mess I made they tasted fantastic! I suppose with any dessert it is more important that it tastes good rather than look good. My friend Claire called them "Basically Amazing" because they were hard to identify as anything you would want to eat. (Honestly they sort of looked like lumpy brown you-know-what on a stick.) Everyone at the party kept looking for the "Basically Amazing" to try. But since so many fell apart I didn't have enough for everyone. It is good to bring a sought after creation at any party.

I think next time I will try something that will stick together in a ball better - like Cheesecake. Possibly this recipe from Cannelle et Vanille Blog. Don't they just look divine? I think these probably look and taste good. Ahh, the best of both worlds.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cool Find of the Week

My cool find for this week is a great distraction from the wedding planning details that I feel are taking over my life. It is a website devoted to Tacky Weddings. These people are definitely not concerned about the color of the napkins or learning calligraphy to address the invitations. The website is full of hideous bridal gowns, garish bridesmaid dresses, awful cakes, and redneck wedding videos. After checking out the site who knew the British were so tacky? Definitely worth a laugh. Here are a few pics to get you interested.
Can you believe this cake?
And can you believe this bride is only 16? You should see her mother.
Images from tackyweddings.com/

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hot New Trend

I don't have my shoes yet. I don't even have my dress yet. The lack of wedding attire and less than 5 months to go is really stressing my out. One thing I do know is that I definitely want some brightly colored shoes. A cute splash of color to go with my short wedding dress (wherever style I might decide on...) I came to this conclusion months ago and thought I was being really trendy and fashion forward. Then I began looking at bridal magazines and blogs and realized. No, this is really the big trend. This is even more apparent if you look at Martha's latest feature: Wedding Day Shoes. Of course there are the classics of white and ivory but nearly half the posted photos are brightly colored heels of fuchsia, blue, orange, and more.

Martha Stewart Weddings

I am waiting to see what dress I settle on before making any final decisions but am leaning towards a turquoise peep toe. I really like this style. It is called Abby and is a dyeable shoe. Does that really work? Where do you get shoes dyed anyway? It is a simple design with a mid sized heel. But who knows I change my mind daily. (I also really liked this cute shoe from Kate Spade but it is more than the dress budget so I think I'll pass.)
from Zappos

Here are a few of my inspiration shoes. I almost wish I had bridesmaids so I could make them wear a whole rainbow of heels.

both photos from Amy Squires

Photo from Snippit and Ink

Photo from Brooklyn Bride

Photo by Jessamyn Harris featured in Inspiration Board from Snippet and Ink