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DIY Topiary

Topiaries are very classic pieces, and they are not as intimidating to DIY as they look! Here are pics (courtesy of my brilliant brother) of one that I made using left over scrap flowers from a wedding:
(Click on image to enlarge)
Anyway, as promised, here are instructions to a very basic topiary:
1. Pot (here I'm using a 6" terra cotta)
2. Plastic grocery bag
3. Disposable chopstick or sturdy and relatively straight tree branch
4. Plaster (available at your local hardware store)
5. Disposable container, stir stick, gloves, and water for mixing plaster
6. Wet floral foam
7. Floral moss
8. Floral Tape
9. Ribbon, wire, pins

1. Get your pot2. Line pot with a plastic bag
3. Mix plaster per instructions on box
4. Pour plaster in lined pot leaving 1.5" to 2" space from the rim
(see brother GT hard at work here in my hot garage)5. Place chopstick or branch in the middle, make sure it's straight
(approx. 1" in plaster)
(I also painted the chopstick brown so it'd blend in better)
6. Let plaster dry (per instructions on box, I leave it overnight to be safe)
7. Trim grocery bag
8. Cut floral foam to fit the pot to the brim
9. Water the foam thoroughly
10. Cover foam with moss
11. Peel back moss in the middle to give room for arrangement
12. Cut flowers to desired height and stick each stem in foam surrounding the stick
13. Tape together the stems at desired height with floral tape
(make sure you're taping where the stick still reach for max support)
14. If you want, you can make a floral bow to add to the arrangement.
15. Cover floral tape with ribbon and pin the ends
16. Arrange more flowers on the bottom and add bow as desired
(and keep the foam wet to maximize the life of the arrangement!)

Power of a Single Flower

For those of you considering DIY wedding florals, you'll find that there's often savings in buying less variety of blooms in bulk. Single stem arrangements done right can give off a very classy vibe. This weekend I bought some roses and made several arrangements using red roses as the only fresh stems.

Here is the centerpiece I wish I could make for my wedding (the Sac town outdoors heat would not be nice to these red pretties for my wedding, not to mention the glass pot would fog up big time for sure):

Here's a 10 minute job (so please excuse the crappiness) I did on a mockup bridal bouqet I'm considering, the fuss balls are silk stems I am using for the boutonnieres to be blogged about later:
Here is an oober easy funky tall vase arrangement:

Next up, instructions on how to DIY this basic topiary:


Perspective - A True Story

We, like the Pineapples and many readers, encountered resistance with the 'no kid' policy for our wedding. I had a recent conversation with a newly married coworker about the matter that went down like this:

Me: We're already getting the guilt trips about how awful it is of us to not invite kids to the wedding
Bob: Stick to your guns man, we did the same thing and just had to tell everyone NO
Me: I know, if you tell one person yes, then you have to say yes to everyone else
Bob: Yup. My cousin, you know the one with the husband who has terminal cancer, called and asked if she can bring their kids because no one can babysit their eldest, who is blind since she was shot in the head catching a stray bullet during a drive-by
Me (jaw dropped): OMG, what did you tell her??
Bob: I had to tell her no!
Me: You told her NO????
Bob: Yeah, like I said, you gotta stick to your guns! Now that I think about it though... that was hard core, huh?
Me (jaw still on the ground): I'd say!

All of a sudden dealing with our guests seems so much easier.

Note: Bob's cousin did show up with the whole family, and Bob was genuinely glad to see all of them there and told them so at the wedding. While he felt it was important to officially say no to everyone requesting to bring children, he knew that among his guests, those who really wanted to be there would just break the rule and bring their kids. He also had intentions all along to welcome all of them with open arms if they showed up.

But dang, that's hard core.


I Don't Even Know Her Name

I hated dress shopping. The attention, the price tags, the sales people, the stage with special lighting, the awwww's from strangers were all just entirely too much for me to handle. I envy those of you who have/had great experiences filled with fuzzy teary bonding moments. I came to grips with reality long ago though and realized I would not have those. So it's all good, and I moved on.

I found out Brides Against Breast Cancer had a gown sale in town back in February '07, 3 months after our engagement. The idea of that inevitable payment for a wedding dress going towards a good cause thrilled me. I had no expectations of falling in love with my wedding dress, for I do not think it's possible for me. I was simply looking for something that works, with my criteria being 1. champagne in color, 2. fits me.

My MOH and I arrived at the event and found a room full of gowns and volunteers.
The set up and 'sales force' were super minimal, just how I like it. We went through the gowns in my size, picked out a few, and went into the dressing room. The dressing room was simply a big seperate area with racks scattered, completely open.
I was trying on dresses with many other girls in the room, most brought company as I did, and those who went alone got plenty of friendly help from the rest of us. After many hours of trying dresses and narrowing down the choices and trying them on again, we ended up with this (both blurry pics and no frill pics included) :

Dress Front

She is by Maggie Sottero, but I do not know her name. When I found her on the rack she had tags on, everything perfectly zipped, tucked, and buttoned up, as if she had never been touched. She cost $750, which I was assured would go directly towards flying family members to see their loved ones suffering from breast cancer.

Is it horrible that I don't feel the connection that most brides seem to have with their wedding dresses? I mean, I think the dress is gorgeous... for somebody. It's just that strapless, poofy, long train, sparkles everywhere... none of it is really me. As a matter of fact, I had it on when I showed my brother (who knows me very well and whose opinion I do not take lightly) for the first time, he was quite surprised.

Me: so what do you think?
Bro: ehh... it's a really nice dress
Me: so you don't like it
Bro: no, I just never pictured you choosing something like this
Me: what did you picture me in?
Bro: something more mordern looking, not all poofy I guess
Me: me too...

It's done, the purchase had long been made and I sure ain't throwing another penny on a dress. Could I have found a cheaper dress that I like more than this? Probably. It's actually really unlike me to make such a decision so quickly without shopping around. Though not tax deductable, I thought of the dress payment as a donation. It was the only way I could justify spending so much money on a dress I will wear once. I drool over gowns by Claire Pettibone all the time, I can't help it. But that's it. While I'm envious of those who get giddy just thinking about their dresses, I have to say that I would probably do what I did again. I'm not an altruist, I'm just practical and the wedding dress is much lower in my priority ranking compared to most brides. Oh and, bridal sales people scare the crap out of me.

Anywho, that's my dress story.


Jumping for Joy

The first 'jump shots' I saw among wedding photos really impressed me for the fun factor it added. But after seeing 728,149,365 more that show up amongst my wedding porn, even Kobe is tired of it. I came across this gorgeous picture below the other day and found it refreshing, despite falling in that category, so I thought I'd share.

(Image by En Pointe Photography via here)



I'm sorry I haven't been updating as often as usual, but I am still here and have much to share. My old schedule will resume soon, I'm waiting for some things to do a bit of catching up before moving forward. Thanks for sticking around!

I shall leave you with some soft and gorgeous florals that I found here. Peony season is here people!! Have a fabb weekend!


Spandex Pockets

(Image from Apertura)

One of the most common advice for wedding planning is 'stick to your budget'. So is it weird that a frugal bride like myself never had one clearly established?

I love weddings, but have never looked into it besides the floral aspects (being a floral design hobbyist) prior to our engagement. Like with most purchases I make, I did not go in with a preset idea of what I'm willing to pay. My pockets are far from deep, they're just made of stretchy material. My goal is not to spend the minimal amount I can, but to attain the highest Bang-Over-Buck ratio (affectionately referred to as 'BOB' in our household).

Working without a budget is not for the faint of heart, and I don't recommend it for everyone. But if you have self control, allowing for adjustments can yield great results. Splurging on the right deal can have high positive impact. The right deal should be one you can reasonably afford, make a noticable difference, and make someone happy. For us, it was this:


Since we only want to spend money on one or the other, the Chinese Lion Dance beat out the photobooth for its festive nature and distinctiveness. For a good chunk of our guests, this may be the only time they will ever see such a performance. And even for the others, it is not something they get to see live often, not to mention up close and personal. We have attended so many weddings and to be honest, I'm not sure I will remember any of them in detail ten years from now. So this is our attempt to leave a slightly bigger imprint in their (hopefully fond) memories.


Memory Lane

I love thoughtful details. Sure, I ooo and ahh at the letterpress menus and the pintuck satin linens like the rest of them, but I'd rather take a DIY program with a funny haiku or a well told story any day. I'm not sure whether that makes me easy or hard to impress...

I adore this idea kandr came up with, lining an entrance pathway with their pictures from childhood choronologically, inviting guests to start from their beginnings down to their wedding day:

See the rest of their wedding HERE. They also had a fantastic reception 'reveal'. How awesome it is to open up doors to your guests and hear a gasp of excitment!

Spice of Life

Numero dos! I like mixing things up, so why not have some variety? I began thinking about having a second centerpiece when I couldn't find any more tea sets from the first one on sale. I also thought it may be easier to give away two different sets than just one when the wedding is said and done. This too, started out differently:

I had intentions of including a tea tin to hold real flowers, but the tin's red was a bit too orange for my liking. Since I decided to use the silk flower, I used the saucer to hold it instead. The varying height of the components work better with this set up. I also like how this second centerpiece compliments the look and meets the same criteria as the first.

Cost Breakdown:

  • Tea-for-one sets - $5.95 ea*
  • Tea lights - $0.12 for 3**
  • 1/4 bag of red beans - $0.25
  • Silk rannunculus - $1.00**
  • TOTAL: $7.32 per centerpiece

* I bought six sets from HERE to get the bulk discount and I used a free shipping coupon (saved me 46%!)
** See details in cost breakdown from centerpiece #1

Cheap Tip #50: Always search for a coupon when shopping online.


In the Know

Our reception includes many elements that are not common in weddings. To make sure our guests don't miss a beat, they will be given this 3-for piece of stationary that shows the location and times of all the 'events and attractions', in a trifold that opens up to a map of the venue, which also includes the ceremony program and menus on the back. (Note: pictures are of drafts, work is still in progress) Ever been at a wedding wondering when something is suppose to happen? During lag time, have you hesitated to explore the venue grounds in fear of missing out? Well let me tell you that I am ALWAYS the one who is away during the good cake smashing or a fantastic toast. For those out who share my affliction, here's to you.

Picture = 1,000 Words

My champagne taste and beer budget was a huge problem when looking for a photographer, and it was with an enormous amount of research that I found Travis Hoehne to fit the bill AND the coinpurse. I can tell you how nice and talented he is, but I love his stuff so much that I' decided to just let the picture do the talking. Enjoy!



Tada! Here is my first centerpiece. Sorry for the long tease, but I wanted to be sure.

I wanted the centerpieces to (be):
1. Affordable
2. Low - to not interfere with conversation at guest tables
3. Fit the theme (Chinese Tea)
4. Reusable for the most part
5. Easy to transport and set up
6. Incorporate something with life (flowers or plants)
7. Include candles as part of the centerpiece (as oppose to just adding votives around the piece)
8. Unique

I purchased 7 of these ceramic tea sets. Evolution of mockup is pictured as follows:

Version #1:
Added red velvet liner, red tealights, silk red hydrangea (meant to be replaced by real flowers later) to the original tea set Version #2:
Replaced velvet liner with red beans to add texture
Version #3:
Swapped silk flower with fresh carnation
Final Version:
Used large silk flower to place in tray instead of in pot

So my final version does not satisfy criteria #6 above. Hey, you win some, you lose some. Not having to set up real flowers on the day of and not worrying about the real flowers wilting under the sun is more than likely going to be worth the sacrifice. Remember that the details should be fun! I also dig the look of the flower on the side, at the same time it keeps the teapot much more defined. The carnation just kinda 'took-over', don't you think?

Cost Breakdown:
- Tea sets - Average $9 per set*
- Tea lights - $0.16 for 4**
- Red beans - $0.50 per half bag
- Silk Ranunculus - $1.00***
TOTAL: $10.66 per centerpiece

* Tea sets retails $24.99 but I purchased them from various stores (Amazon, Ross, Le Gourmet Chef) on sale.
** Red tea lights were on clearance (90% off).
*** Silk Rannunculus also on clearnace (75% off)

Cheap Tip #81: Keep an open mind. A centerpiece, for example, can be as imaginative as you can be! Look around you for things with potential and always remember that you have options.

Keep it locked here for the next decor installment to check out Centerpiece Version 2.0, and find out why that table name card looks so darn familiar!


Let's hear it for the Boyyyyy!

Tagged by the lovely east side bride, here I will fulfill my obligation to share 4 things about the mister...
  1. After his college graduation, he went backpacking for a month in New Zealand and Australia. He visited a place nicknamed orgasm point and took this picture.

  2. He once hit a grand slam while playing little league baseball. It just so happens that he had syrup stain on his uniform from the pancake breakfast that morning. Today, he is still known to some as Grand-Slam-Syruppy-Dan. (This is him below around the same era, unfortunately the infamous hit was not captured on film)

  3. My McMug doll was kidnapped from my car, by the aforementioned Grand-Slam-Syruppy-Dan, during our very early stages of dating. I was not aware of McMug's disappearance until I received this picture in my email. Nothing says love to a gril like a knife to her stuffed animal. It's what got me.

  4. He learned to play mahjong. My grandma loves to brag about how her future grandson-in-law, a white guy (she always adds), is good at playing mahjong.

    (Image Source)

I guess here is where I am suppose to tag others. This is a problem because the very little circle of blogs I read regularly have already been tagged! SO... if you're reading this, have a blog, and by some miracle haven't been asked to share this info - consider yourself TAGGED!


Within Means

"It's once in a lifetime..."

I hear this a lot. It is the excuse everyone tries to lend me when I hesitate making a wedding purchase due to cost. Sometimes people feel so passionately about what they think I deserve that I end up having to defend myself. These good intentioned debates usually halt completely when someone suggest involvement of my plastic buddy. I guess that's where I draw the line.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am a frugal gal. I am not stingy, I simply take measures to ensure I do not spend much more than necessary to satisfy my needs. I believe that I deserve what I have earned. If I put myself through college and bought my humble dream car without getting into debt, I surely am not about to do so to throw a party even if it’s in fact 'once in a lifetime'.

I am not big on preaching, as I am certainly no expert on life and living. I just try to best manage my own. I am all for great weddings, which is something brides define in vastly different ways. Big or small budget, most brides share the same goal to mark and celebrate the beginning their new lives. To me, it means a small party leaving a small nest egg in my coinpurse to build upon. I'd like for my plastics to be left out of being a payment option.

Debt is just not my kind of fairy tale ending.


Remember when I said...

that laughter is infectious?

Precious Vintage

This will be the most 'vintage' element at our wedding. No I'm not buying this dress off ebay (though I would sooo outbid Meg for this gor-ray-geous number if it was on auction). Actually, we will be celebrating this 1960 union along with our own.

We have advertised (begged, really) for wedding pictures from our happily married guests to incorporate in our wedding. Aunt Silvia was kind enough to mail this to us showing off her gorgeous self on her wedding day. We also asked for a quote to go with the picture (caption, advice...) and she noted:
"Ours was a wedding on a shoestring budget but it was perfect to me. The smartest thing we spent money on was our pictures. How grateful I am for those few pictures."
And as for advice, she had this to give:
"Laughter is important. There is a binding quality to it."
48 years later we can still feel the love between the couple. So take these words to heart people, she's giving out pearls here!

She was also sweet enough to include an additional picture. Who is that handsome little fella, you ask? That would be the bride's youngest brother, my future father-in-law.