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Bride-to-Be

Bride-to-be Cara talks through her DIY wedding decor projects and shares a few hard-earned tips!

I have a love-hate relationship with DIY projects. On one hand, whenever I see certain home decor, accessories, and sometimes even clothes, I think “how could I make that?” and I usually try to find a way. But I also tend to get stressed by big projects and then become regretful that I took them on.

Because I’m a bride on a budget, I haven’t had the luxury of buying or paying someone else to make things. We’re also trying to be eco-friendly, meaning re-using as many materials as we can. This all made for some interesting DIY projects! Here a few things I chose to source or make myself (and a sneak peek at a few of them!)

Invitations: My super-talented mom drew our invitation design by hand (just doodling one day!) We then scanned it to a digital format and added text. After a local shop printed them, we embossed little red hearts onto each one and addressed the envelopes by hand. This was one of the more time-consuming DIY projects, but I think it’s so special that they were designed for and made by us.

Tablecloths & Glasses: Instead of renting through our caterer we bought canvas drop-cloths (the kind painters use) from the hardware store. They have great color, texture, and can be re-used. We also found an amazing deal on Ball® mason jars which we’ll use for drinking glasses and can sell or use for projects after the wedding. It took a bit of time to find everything, but in the end it was a cost-saver and has a unique look.

Napkins: I wanted to add color to our neutral tables and searched everywhere for vintage napkins, but had no luck. So I decided to buy fabric and cut my own colorful, patterned napkins. I’m still working on the finishing touches, but I found this great tutorial on The Sweetest Occasion that looks pretty easy–I’m all for no-sew projects! (This might be one of those things I can’t squeeze in at the last minute, but for now a bride-to-be can hope!)

Signage: I started making signs after lots of Pinterest inspiration. My parents have old wood in their backyard from various projects so I found some broken boards, spray painted them gold, and wrote directional signs.

I looked online for how to DIY calligraphy and found easy tricks to make it look semi-professional! (Hint: Make every down-stroke thicker.) I used chalk pastels, which are much easier to control than paint brushes. I learned this the hard way!

My dad also created a welcome sign out of some old fence board. I wrote the text in pencil and then he burned the text into it with a wood-burning tool. I love this one!

HeroFor signs with more text, like the menu, I used black chalkboard spray paint on foam-core poster board. After writing on them again with (the amazing) chalk pastels I attached the boards to some old ornate frames I’ve had for years, originally from Goodwill or garage sales. (Good ‘ol vintage shopping!)

Table Décor: We found thin branches from fallen trees in our neighborhood, stripped the bark, and then painted them gold as well. These will line the middle of the tables along with succulents from our garden. There’s a gold and neutral wood theme going on…if you can’t tell! I’m calling it “forest glam.” Ha!

After all this, I have a few tips that are worth sharing for future DIYers:

Research. Don’t just jump into projects! First plan out how you’re going to go about it. (I am NOT good at this. I always impulsively try something and then become frustrated when it doesn’t work!) There are so many great resources online just by Googling things like “how to make a garland” or “how to use chalkboard paint.”

Recruit helpers. Ask friends and family for help! Often they want to find a way to be involved in your wedding planning and have different skill sets to offer. I am so grateful to my extremely artistic mother for leading many of these projects and helping me figure out how to make my ideas a reality. And to my talented and hard-working dad for building all of the things I couldn’t. (He’s working on an arbor now. Yes, an arbor!)

Keep your expectations low. Seriously! Nothing is going to be perfect, so just know that going into it. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised.

Overall, I’m glad we went the DIY route–we did save money (not time) and I’m really proud of what we’ve made! Just a few more projects to finish up before the big day (3 weeks to go)!

Until next time,

Cara

Bride-to-be Cara shares the details of a big wedding milestone: writing the ceremony.

Writing blog posts is one thing…writing the ceremony that will bind you and your partner forever in front of all of your family and friends? A little different!

Even though it’s an intimidating task, we are crafting our own wedding ceremony, and it’s actually turned into a really good experience. We decided to have a family member officiate, so we’re drafting up what we want her to say and will fine-tune it together. Honestly, I love having control over what it will be like—no surprises!—but most of all, I like how it has forced us to take a break from planning the party, and focus on what the wedding is really about.

At first, we didn’t even know where to start. How do you just write a wedding ceremony?! What has to be in it?  Then one of my friends gave me about 25 examples of different types of wedding ceremonies (that she had received from her officiant)—a huge help!

We printed them all out and decided to make it into a date night, getting drinks at our neighborhood coffee shop and reading the ceremonies, highlighting what we liked.

Beer for him, giant hot cocoa for me!

From there, we pulled our favorite phrases, vows, readings and traditions into a Word doc and started to arrange it into sections. I felt like I was in high school learning how to write the 5-paragraph essay: intro, paragraph 1, bullets a, b, c, transition, concluding sentence…whenever I felt disorganized, I actually did start putting things into outline format!

It takes a TON of thought. How serious or funny should the ceremony be? How religious or agnostic? How emotional? How long?

When we asked ourselves these questions, we tried to answer from the perspective of what WE wanted, not just what we thought the audience would want. I have to admit I’ve seen a few ceremonies where the bride looks like she just can’t wait for it to be over, or the groom doesn’t think any of the jokes are funny. While it should be entertaining for the guests, the ceremony is, of course, for us: what words do we want to hear in that moment? What memories do we want to relive? What advice do we want to receive? Those are the things that will make it most meaningful to us, and I think our family and friends will recognize and appreciate that.

HeroCozy night: Writing and planning with a favorite wine.

After several nights of working on it (and with the help of a glass of wine here and there), we’re getting pretty close to being finished. It came down to a few simple themes: We feel so blessed and grateful to have each other; we are thankful for the support of our family and friends; and we’re just really, incredibly, super excited! I think it will feel great to communicate these things to each other and to our friends and family, and know that all the words we’re saying came from us.

Until next time,

Cara

P.S. Details on THE DRESS coming soon!


In her fifth Brideology post, Cara ponders a floral headpiece for her big day.

There is one accessory I know I want to be part of my wedding-day style–a floral wreath for a headpiece. I’m probably getting a-“head” of myself here (pun intended, of course). I don’t have a dress yet, but I just love the earthy, feminine look of a floral crown. Plus, my mom wore one, and it would be really nice to give that nod to my parents’ wedding. Hers mixed pink and white flowers and had ribbons down the back. She still has it today!

The boho bride in me has always loved this idea, but since seeing current versions on the runway at Claire Pettibone and on Kate Moss’s bevy of flower girls last year, I’m now obsessed.

Here are some of my favorite fresh flower looks:

These big blooms: WOW. “Statement headpieces” are just like a statement earring or necklace–they work well on their own to dress up an outfit.

Orange & Red | Green & White | Green & Purple

These daintier versions are lovely too, and could be paired with more jewelry or a busier dress without looking over-accessorized.

Multicolored | All White | Lavender & Blue

Keeping the overall wedding color palette in mind is important when picking out flowers for headpieces. I love matching the crown to the bouquets–either exactly the same flowers and colors or just similar elements. These images kind of make me giddy, they’re so beautiful.

Matching the bouquet to the crown makes your look instantly photo-shoot-ready!

Green & RedOrange & Green | Lavender & White

A traditional veil is also very special, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on my only chance to wear one! So now I’m thinking flower crown AND veil, like the images below. With a very light, simple veil and a crown that has some white or light colors, it totally works. I would probably wear it just for the ceremony.

Three options here: veil in the back, under or over the crown. It works every way!

Behind crown | Under crown | Over crown

One thing I worry about is that the flowers may not stay intact for the whole night, especially through the dancing! I also like headbands that are floral-inspired, or even a sash tied around as a headband. I would probably wear it more forward on my head. I tried it out a few ways below:

Anyone have experience with a floral crown? Or did you go with a headband? How did you wear it?

Until next time!
Cara


Cara, our resident Bridal Project Manager is engaged. Congrats, Cara! We thought it was a perfect opportunity to have her share her journey–from just-betrothed to blushing bride–in our new feature: Brideology.

The ring shot. I am in love with it! Designed by Cathy Waterman.

THE BEGINNING
Hi everyone! I’m Cara, and I’m a new bride-to-be. I am so excited to be starting this series on the Wedding Suite Blog; I think it will be a great way to connect with other brides-to-be (whether that’s “to be” soon or “to be” sometime in the future!) It will also be good way to document all the planning, since I’m sure it will go so fast.

I hope to share the big, small, happy, frustrating, confusing, exciting stuff along the way…with plenty of pictures, of course!

My birthday and the day of our engagement! An incredible day filled with family, friends, food, cake and sun!

About me: I’ve been working on the Nordstrom Weddings team for a year now, which is a totally amazing, challenging, and fun experience. I’m surrounded by everything “wedding” all day long…pretty dreamy, right? And now I just got engaged–which means it suddenly all applies to me. I feel SO lucky to be surrounded by such wedding experts and great people…and to get to learn from other brides!

My weddings team getting in the spirit at a bridal event professing our love for our jobs!

As far as planning goes, my fiancé and I are really starting from square one. We hadn’t talked about wedding ideas before getting engaged, and I have to admit I was never the girl who started planning her “dream wedding” as a child.

Now I’m seeing there are so many different directions to go in! So many choices! I guess you could say it’s a bit overwhelming…but I think it’ll also be fun to explore it all and figure out what’s right for us.

Sunset on the day he proposed.

Can’t wait to share more in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

P.S. I’m capturing pics of the process and things that inspire me on Instagram. Follow me @Brideology!