The REAL Guest Book…

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

When you get to a wedding you sign your name into a guest book. Quick and easy. Also, COMPLETELY impersonal. As the couple hosting the wedding, do you ever intend to look back over a book of signatures? Now you have a worthless keepsake.

As with everything else at your wedding…MAKE IT AWESOME (and personal 😉 )!

Side note: at this point, our wedding was a month and a half ago. Last night we went to one of our guests’ weddings and saw that that they copied this idea. After that, I knew I had to wake up and write about it.

HOW TO…

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

Purchase a large book that you really like. Make sure that its pages are thick blank card stock….and that there are enough of them to support the amount of guests that you will be having. Think two guest per page; one side only.

We worked with Jenni Bick to create the perfect leather bound, 10″x10″ journal/photo album styled book for us. They were lovely and easy to work with.  At the end we got our names and wedding date embossed into the cover.

Your next step would be to go to your favorite paper supply store, which for me is Paper Presentation and buy some photo corners that compliment the color of your books pages.

WHILE YOU ARE THERE…

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

Purchase medium weight card stock cards in whatever size and color works best with the book that you purchased. We went with 3.5″x5″ in the ivory. Make sure that you buy enough so that each guest has their own card.

While this guest book is personal to you, the idea is that it is also really personal to each of your guests. It is a place where they can draw you a picture, write you a joke, preach a life lesson, enlighten you to their words of wisdom, or send you their best wishes. Taking the time to involve your guests as much as possible, not only shows thoughtfulness but emphasizes that you really really care about these people. That IS why you invited them in the first place. AND now you have immortalized them; you’ve captured them in this very moment and can treasure them forever.

BACK TO THE PROCESS

Go online and purchase a stamp and ink pad from Rubber Stamp Champ to personalize these cards. Ours read “To the happy couple…” After you get it in the mail, carefully stamp each card.

While you are surfing the web…buy your favorite pen (mine is Le Pen pens…as you can see in the picture above), in bulk. Make sure that you purchase enough so that each guest has one of their own.

NOW you have your guest book “signature” card inserts AND PENS. Each guest will have a card on their place setting. You have now eliminated that long line that forms and rushes people through their notes…you know…the ones that leave you with the generic “we wish you the best in your future together” monotony. THIS WAY your guests can have a moment to sit down and consider their thoughts rather than writing gibberish. Also…your timing here will allow them to mingle first and, in turn, loosen up from the cocktail hour 😉 . This will enable them to be more relaxed for better, more fun writing. You know, writing that you may want to look back upon and read again and again.

IF YOU ARE A STICKLER…LIKE ME…

Illustration By: Michelle WilliamsCreate a guide for your day of coordinator or venue. If you aren’t particularly computer savvy, feel free to steal my guide or draw one by hand. TRUST ME though, putting these guides in the hands of the appropriate people will allow for less mind-racing sleepless nights.

OKAY OKAY…BACK TO YOUR ACTUAL GUEST BOOK

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

This is a great place to show off your awesome engagement photos! Have about five or six of them blown up. Then use your photo corners to hold them down in different places throughout your guest book.

NOW…Insert those photo corners into your awesome guest book making sure that they are spaced properly for the card inserts. This is the tedious part. Creating a stencil of sorts so that you know where to place your corners without measuring each time is key. If you are lazier or just don’t have the time, you can leave some double sided tape by your book and make the guests do the hard work (your book will not necessarily be clean and organized, but it may be more fun and show personality).

VOILA! PRESTO!

Now your hard work is done AND your guests can enjoy!

ANDYOU HAVE A TIME CAPSULE OF YOUR WEDDING! ENJOY IT!

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Piggy Bank Box.

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

On your wedding night, the last thing you need it to worry about monetary gifts. You know, the gifts that help ease the pain of the parting with that hard earned money that you laid out to fund this now SPECTACULAR event. You don’t need to be holding checks in the inner pocket of your tux/suit. You REALLY don’t need all of your guests coming up to you asking what to do with their cash filled cards.

SO…presto…here you go…a present disguised piggy bank. GENIUS. It is way too brazen for someone to dare to open it up. THEY WILL GET CAUGHT. (Though, I must say, if that is what you are worried about then perhaps you should have double/triple checked your guest list). And…at the end of the night, someone you trust can just pick up the one box, hassle free, and protect it for you.

STAY TUNED. HERE COMES THE LESSON…

SUPPLIES…

1. Head over to your nearest Container Store and pick up a 12″x12″ gift box (with a separate lid).
2. Then, make your way down to a fancy paper store, my favorite is Paper Presentation, and grab some decorative paper—enough to cover the entirety of your box. Do keep in mind to choose paper that will stand out in either pattern or color so that it catches the eyes of your guests.
3. While you are there buy about 10 yards of ribbon, a button (optional…READ THROUGH THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU GO SHOPPING), a ruler, an exacto knife, scissors, packaging tape, a needle and thread (color doesn’t matter), a glue stick, and spray adhesive.

Brief note: you can execute this project in two different ways. (a) wrap the entire box at once, or (b) wrap the top and the bottom separately. We went with the later in order to play with the mix matching patterns. For the sake of complexity, I am going to explain the way we did it as you can extrapolate the gist of option “a” from there.

NOW, YOU ARE GOOD TO GO! LET’S GET STARTED…

1. Spray one side of the base box with the adhesive.
2. Lay your decorative paper horizontally over that side (in the next steps you will repeat this process using the same piece of paper on the adjacent side).
3. Smooth the paper down pressing from the middle and dragging your hand to the outer corners eliminating any chance of bubbles.
4. Repeat this process on all sides. Voila, your base box is wrapped!
5. Grab the lid and repeat steps 1 – 4 on it.

Now that your lid is in the same condition as your base, we are ready to make the card slot.

1. Flip your lid ( 🙂 ) so that you are looking at the cardboard inside.
2. Grab your ruler and trace out the rectangle slot that you want (ours was about half of an inch wide).
3. Using your ruler, draw a line length-wise down the center of the rectangle.
4. Holding your ruler in the place where you traced your line, drag your exacto knife along its edge to cut as straight as possible along that center line. (Keep in mind that you will have to trace over this line four or five times with the exacto knife to CLEANLY break through the box.
5. Repeat this cutting process on the two short sides of the rectangle.
6. Flip the lid over and fold the “decorative paper flaps” (you have just created) back and out of your way.
7. Flip your lid back over to its cardboard side.
8. Using your exacto knife, cut along the long sides of the rectangle. (Get rid of the cardboard scraps).
9. Using your glue stick, carefully smudge along the edging of the slot.
10. Fold the “decorative paper flaps” into the slot.

WHEW…

Now the ribbon…WE’RE ALMOST THERE…

1. Start with the base box and center the ribbon on one of it’s sides. Fold the beginning of it about an inch deep inside of the box and adhere it down with your packaging tape.
2. Tightly stretch the other end of the ribbon down (tightly and well centered) and tape it down to the underside of your base box.
3. Cut the ribbon.
4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 on each side of your base box.

The lid…
1. Repeat the process you did on the base going along the lid parallel to the slot (not over it).
2. Now, take the end of your ribbon and put it through the slot. (Goodness, there is no way to get away from the sexual innuendos…sorry, had to be done. I got this far. WOMP!) Flip your lid and tape your ribbon down to the inside. Flip again so that the paper side is up.
3. Put the lid onto the base box to make sure that the ribbons are perfectly aligned. Then, WHILE HOLDING THE LID’S RIBBON IN PLACE, separate the lid from the base, and tape down the lid’s ribbon to its cardboard inside.
4. Repeat steps 2 – 3 to complete the last ribbon line on the lid.

OK. LASTLY…THE BOW.

1. Cut your remaining ribbon into four even pieces (a little over 12″ each).
2. Fold each into a loop by connecting them at the ends.
3. Hold the edges together by sewing a stitch (or simple stapling works, too)
4. Slip loop one through loop two, then loop three through loop one, and four through loop three.
5. Use your fingers to evenly spread the loops. Once you are satisfied, use your needle and thread to stitch several times through the center in order to hold all of the loops in place.
6. WE chose to cover the stitching with an extra button that we had laying around the house. You can use fake flowers, a button, nothing, whatever your heart desires. Now stitch that element over the center of your bow.
7. Spray your adhesive on the back of your bow and hold it down where your lid’s ribbon lines form an “X”.

YES YES, you can add a mini “thank you” chalkboard with lettered stickers. We did because we had chalkboards scattered throughout our wedding as table number markers and photo props…you can exert creativity here. Perhaps a post-it note or mirror or  torn paper with writing, a mini picture frame with a photo of alphabet kitchen magnets forming the words “thank you”…whatever works in your theme. ROCK IT!

VOILA…PIGGY…BANK…BOX!!! WOOOOOOOOO! Now…crack open some CHAMPAGNE…you DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY deserve to celebrate!

Starbucks Double Shot.

Photo Credit: Michelle WilliamsFirstly…SO DELICIOUS!

The beauty of a Starbucks canned beverage is that it doesn’t change. You don’t have to worry about encountering a bad barista…EVER! Your drink is always EXACTLY THE SAME…just the way you like it…PERFECT! 🙂

What’s more is that you don’t even need a Starbucks. You can simply head over to your local grocery store, drug store, Fresh Direct…you get my point.

ENJOY! I KNOW YOU WILL!

Insider’s Tip: It has come to my attention that the Starbucks’ in Manhattan are no longer carrying this beverage (again, you can get it in MANY other locations aside from Starbucks). DON’T FRET! They can make you a drink. No, it’s not exactly the same, perhaps a bit less sweet, but it is very similar. Just ask for a “skim vanilla double shot latte”.  YUM.

Waffles and Dinges.

Photo Credit: Michelle Williams

Too good. Seriously. If you don’t love waffles, like me, you will STILL be head over heels for these. TRUST ME. If you are fortunate enough to happen upon the Waffles and Dinges cart, don’t pass it up. It would be a HUGE mistake. EPIC.

AND…don’t get the traditional syrup BS. Get the Speculous and Nutella with powdered sugar. Trust me.

Insider’s Tip: I have noted that they are typically parked right outside of the main doors of the Columbus Circle Mall and on the 81st street side of the Central Park Great Lawn.

Another Tip (thanks to my co-worker Andrew): Follow @waffletruck on Twitter. They will tell you where they are! Genius!

Photo Credit: Michelle Williams

Central Park Great Lawn Waffle Truck Siting...

HIT IT UP ASAP!

Location. Location. Location.

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

YOU’LL JUST KNOW.

This can be a time consuming hunt, or it can be as easy as you two falling in love with the first place you walk into. Allow for the latter. It is really easy to assume that there is something better out there when in reality, if you like—or better yet, LOVE—a venue. GRAB IT. The idea is that you will add your own touches that will take a nice location to YOUR LOCATION.

FOR US…

We visited about five different locations on lunch breaks and what-not.

Side note: an unlimited metro card will definitely SAVE YOU MONEY in this wedding planning process.

Back to our story…after going into event spaces that were way too large for the amount of guests we were having, that also required us to work with just too many outside vendors, we decided we were taking the wrong route—FOR US.

We came to the executive decision that we wanted our wedding in a restaurant. Now, the food would be on-site—bye bye caterer!

One evening, after work, we went over for our meeting at The Loeb Central Park Boathouse. Just heading over to the venue we knew it was perfect. You see—long story short—my now husband and I started dating in high school. If you know young love, the last thing you want to do is go home to the rules and watchful eyes of your parents. SO..we spent our afternoons together in Central Park. Since then, we have had picnics, bike riding excursions, runs…tons of outings. He even proposed to me over a magnificent surprise picnic. (Guys, if you somehow found this blog BEFORE you proposed…there will be a proposal article…I am now inspired.)

Back to The Loeb Central Park Boathouse…This particular evening, the event space was set up for a wedding occurring the following day. This made it much easier for visualizing. We sat there sipping complementary wine and CHAMPAGNE while waiting for our future coordinator to come back from giving us “alone time”. WE BOOKED IT ON THE SPOT.

So, yes, we found the “perfect” spot for us. But like with a new apartment, no matter what the condition, it is a “fixer upper”—it has to be fixed to fulfill your needs and desires.

Distressed Chalkboard

Photo Credit: FS Photography (www.fsweddings.com)

WHO ARE YOU?

The idea is to add a few DIY projects to add character to your wedding. BUT it is important to find reason behind what projects you choose. Otherwise, you are just adding work to your plate that won’t really say anything about you as a couple. For instance, I am an artist and a writer. Need I say more about why we went with chalkboards?

THE METHOD

Here’s how I made them…

You see, I am more like a cook than a chef…so…

DISTRESSED CHALKBOARD

PREP PROCESS…

1. Head over to your nearest Staples and buy whatever size chalkboard interests you.
2. While you are there, pick up some paint in the color theme of your wedding along with small bottles of dark brown and white.
3. Head over to your nearest Home Depot and pick up some sand paper and that blue painters tape.
4. As a bride, I know you have been to a bundle of paper stores. If you are in NYC, check out Paper Presentation. Do head over there and pick up some decorative paper (ideally a fun pattern that works in the color scheme of your wedding) that is big enough to cover the back of your chalkboard.
5. While you are there, pick up a spray adhesive and exacto knife.

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE AROUND THE HOUSE…

1. Scissors.
2. Tarp or newspaper.
3. Cup for dirty paint water.
4. Paint palette or tin foil.
5. Hammer.

GET DOWN AND DIRTY…

1. Throw down a tarp.
2. Fill your cup with room temperature water and sit it on the tarp.
3. Place your chalkboard face up and line its edges (on the actual writing surface) with the tape.
4. Grab your sand paper and sand away at the frame of your chalkboard. The less finishing on it, the easier the paint will adhere to it. (DO NOT throw away your sand paper. You will need it again later.)
5. Put a clump of each paint color on your tin foil or palette. Make sure to be generous with your main (wedding) color.
6. Go ahead and lather your first layer of paint on the frame. (remember to get the inner and outer edges.)
7. Let dry.
8. Lightly add some of that brown and white to small areas of your frame. (it won’t look great now…don’t give up.)
9. Let dry.
10. Add more of your wedding color. You will have to do a few layers of this. (remember to let each layer dry before adding an additional one. If you don’t, it will just get all mushed around)
11. The beautiful part…grab that sand paper again and lightly sand the areas that don’t look as nice. Let it chip a little. While the browns and whites add to the distressed look by taking away the evenness of your main color, the sand paper gives it tangible texture.
12. While your at it…grab your hammer and bang up the edges SLIGHTLY!  Don’t over do it.
13. When you are satisfied with the look, let’s finish off the project. Flip over your chalkboard and spray the back with the adhesive.
14. Lay your fun decorative paper over the back of the chalkboard. Use the palms of your hands to smooth it down from the middle to the edges so as to not get any bubbles.
15. Let dry.
16. Carefully grab your exacto knife and trim off the edges of the paper.
17. Voila…I know, I know, if you are reading this through before starting, it doesn’t seem like a “voila” moment after 17 steps. BUT the steps are really easy and somewhat mindless. So just turn on some of your favorite dvr or Hulu shows and have at it.

ENJOY YOUR NEW CHALKBOARD!

Once the wedding is over…KEEP YOUR CHALKBOARD! Mount it in your kitchen for quick errand notes. This is a great way to immortalize a personal piece of your big day!

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