champagne & black coffee

A lifestyle and fashion blog offering personal style & beauty tips, inspiration, and glimpses into my everyday life.

Category: DIY

6 Unique Wedding DIYs and Cost-Saving Tips

Wedding Series:  Part 1

Wedding season is right around the corner so I thought it would be fun to do a 5-post blog series covering some unique ideas, stress-reducing tips, and more!  People who have gotten married and/or planned a wedding usually fall into one of three camps when it comes to reminiscing:  1)  I wish I had just ditched all the drama and ELOPED! 2) I wish I had done things a lot differently 3) Best day of my life and I’d love to have the party all over again!  You can probably guess that I align very well with #3. It doesn’t mean it was all rainbows and butterflies – it wasn’t – but I learned so much through the process and in hindsight, and am excited about sharing with you some things that might make your life a little bit easier.

This post will cover 6 unique DIYs and cost-saving tips you may not have come across.  Weddings are expensive!! MUCH more expensive than I could’ve ever imagined.  As we began to understand the amount of money we’d be working with + all of the possible costs involved, we had to start finding things to cut back on or remove entirely from the event.  I think we did a great job of using some of our creative strengths to add our personal touch, but keep our costs down in every way we could.

1)   Aisle runner with hand-written poem (total cost – $15.41)
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This is one of my absolute favorite wedding DIYs because it was memorable, made SUCH a huge statement, and cost almost nothing.  If you go search Etsy and Pinterest right now you’ll find all sorts of runners; the plain burlap ones are $50-100 and then you’re looking at hundreds for something more detailed, and even more for hand-written or calligraphy details.  Do this instead:  go buy a bolt of cheap muslin fabric (I got mine from Wal-Mart, believe it or not), and a big thick Sharpie marker.  The trickiest part was measuring and staying consistent with my writing (I have zero professional letting skills) and keeping the fabric flat.  To do that, I used a glass table top and 6-8 old-school binder clips to hold the fabric down and focused on writing one stanza at a time.  I kept a piece of posterboard beneath the muslin that was sized just right to fit a 5-line stanza, based on our guesstimates.  I practiced lettering for a good 20 minutes before I started in on the real thing – writing in big print like that is much different than your everyday handwriting!

We hung ours from the ceiling at the venue so we actually had a connected backdrop and aisle runner in one.  We chose 2 different poems, leaving a bunch of open space in the area where we’d stand.  The backdrop showcased Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet LXIX and the wording on the runner was Henry David Thoreau’s “Friendship” poem.  Bonus:  we now use it as a piece of art in our home.  We took a standard closet dowel rod and rolled up most of the fabric, leaving a few stanzas showing and it’s hung with fishing wire and a tiny nail.

2)  DIY Centerpieces and Flowers (total cost est. $375)
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If you’re in the process of planning a wedding, I can almost guarantee you that one of your first GASP moments will be at that first florist estimate, especially if you’re planning on over 150 people attending.  In my humble opinion, flowers are a waste of money and will die within a few days, especially those big giant centerpieces… and they are fricking expensive!!!  Not to mention, they kind of block you from seeing the people across the table.  Now, I still used a florist for my bouquets and boutonnieres, but I even scaled those back as much as I possibly could (we went a BIT overboard with 22 in our wedding party so I had to. Don’t laugh, I know it’s ridiculous).
Instead of hiring a florist to construct 20+ centerpieces and even more for the cocktail tables and food tables, we decided to take matters into our own hands.  We used a combination of clear mason jars, solar lights (the top part only), craspedia (billy balls) from Whole Foods flower shop, sunflowers from a friend’s yard, and flea market jar & bottle finds.  We used some combination of those things on each table, keeping the them in line with our simple, minimalist decor.  My mother-in-law bought a ton of the cheapest solar lights she could find and we bought cheap mason jars in bulk – pop the top into a mason jar and you’ve got yourself some cute little flameless lights instead of candles.  My husband ordered around 100 of the billy balls in advance from Whole Foods and picked them up the day of the wedding.  Each table got 2-3 milk bottles or vases with a few yellow balls, and the head table got the sunflower arrangements from the ceremony aisles and the bridal party bouquets.  I’ve included a few pictures to show the lights and flowers, but I literally cannot find a picture of the “centerpieces” – and I’m ok with that!  Simple, minimal and a HUGE cost-saver!!!
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3) Window-pane seating chart
(total cost $15)
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I’ve definitely seen a ton of creative seating charts at the weddings I’ve attended over the last few years, but I think I still place mine in the top 2 or I’ve seen advertised for the style of wedding we had.  The giant chalkboard/lettering seating chart is a cute one, too, but will run you upwards of $250 to pay someone to write that stuff out (no really, my best friend just had it priced for her wedding)  My husband and I frequent our local flea market looking for unique finds and things we can use to upcycle for our latest projects.  We had been looking for window panes to use as a “greenhouse” of sorts for our garden and the idea to use one for the wedding just kind of came to us.  We saw a window that was in decent condition, had some character, and no cracks in the glass and I convinced him I could turn that into our seating chart.  I went out and bought a silver paint pen and made it happen.  I think I only made 1 mistake, but covered it up pretty well!  I kept it simple:  alphabetical order and numbered tables.  I love how it turned out, and we now have this window hanging in one of our guestrooms over the bed.   With the light wall behind it you have to look close to tell what it really is, but it definitely fits with the modern industrial style in our house!

4) Usable Guest Book – we opted for a handmade “floating” bench (total cost, est. $75 for the wood and metal)
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The idea here is more around a guest book you can use, and less about the bench itself (although it’s awesome so I’ll brief you on how it was done). We’ve all seen the standard guest book on a podium as you enter the ceremony, or the tree where everyone puts their fingerprint and signs their name, and all sorts of other pretty cute ideas.  My personal gripe with all of those things, though, is that after a couple of years will I really want my wedding tree “guest book” or my enlarged signed wedding photo hanging on display in my home?  My husband and I thought…nahhh, no thanks.  Instead we came up with a creative, usable option that may stand the test of time.
I’ll be the first to say that I have some very skilled friends.  One friend, Josh, cut and welded the metal legs and my husband and our friend, Seth, measured, cut and perfectly sanded the wood for the bench.  The way it’s constructed, the welded legs are hollow inside and welded in the shape of a rectangle with one extra bar about 1/3 from the top. The bench itself has 2 cutouts underneath allowing it to rest just perfectly on the bars inside of each metal rectangle.  This gives the bench a floating look.  The bench his still standing strong, holding it’s own 4 years later in a spot right behind our couch.

5) Cupcakes + Candy Bar (total cost est. $200)
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My husband is a type 1 diabetic and I am obsessed with cupcakes so we opted out of having a wedding cake altogether.   Think about it – have you ever had a slice of unforgettable wedding cake?  Well, I hope you have but I personally have not.  It’s always been underwhelming for me.  Now, the average cost of a wedding cake for 200ish people is around $500, and cupcakes are super expensive, too ($3-4 each!) so we didn’t order them from a popular local bakery.  We paid for the supplies and ingredients and had a family friend who bakes on the side make 4 different flavors as our wedding gift… and they were AMAZING!!  Really, they were perfect – not dry and extremely delicious.  (I chose cookie n cream, lemon, vanilla with strawberry cream cheese icing, and the standard vanilla buttercream on vanilla).  On top of that we decided to create a little candy bar of our.. (MY) favorite candies that were either yellow or silver or neutral.  We bought some bulk candy, some flea market jars, and Home Goods apothecary jars and called it a day! (Bonus:  the chalkboard signs were DIY as well.  Cabinet doors cost $1-2ea. from Habitat for Humanity ReStore and I hand-painted the chalkboard portion with paint I already had)

6)  Bridesmaid dresses that are likely to be re-used in real life! (total cost $105-$120ea)
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This one is less about you and more about your bridal party.  If I added up the amount of money I’ve spend on bridesmaid dresses + alterations in the last 10-15 years I think I may actually have a heart attack.  We’re talking thousands of dollars here.  It’s gross.  So do your bridal party a HUGE favor, and maybe pick a dress (or dress options!) that they may actually wear again.  Bonus if it comes in under $150.  I also really like the idea of finding a line of dresses in the same color with multiple styles, giving bridemaids an option to find a style that works best with their body type.  We had an interesting wedding party to say the least – excessively large and a bit non-standard with both guys and girls on each “side”, so our answer was 2 different dresses in different colors.  The girls on my side were in yellow lace (a dress I found online at a UK-based store), and the girls on my husband’s side were in grey (we went with a classic grey shift dress from J.Crew – much cheaper than their bridal line).  Both dresses were very reasonably priced and could (likely would!) be worn again in real life after the wedding.  I still wish I would’ve bought a yellow one for myself – I LOVED that dress!
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I ordered a sample of each of the dresses based on my measurements so we knew how to guide our girls on ordering.  With so many people, someone on each side was the same size and could use the dresses I ordered.  Luckily both were true-to-size and there were only a few alterations for the whole wedding party that had to take place at all.  *For every wedding I’ve been in, I’d say my average alterations cost is around $100, more for lots of fabric layers. Thank you, curves! 🙁

We have TONS of other ways we cut costs, and I’m happy to share with you if interested.  Comment below or send me a private email to champagneandblackcoffee @ gmail dot com and I’ll be glad to dish!

Be sure to check in for other topics in the series over the next week or two.

Part 2:  6 Wedding Planning Tips That Will Reduce Your Stress Level
Part 3:  7 Pieces of Priceless Wedding Day Advice
Part 4:  Contrary to Popular Belief…
Part 5:  OK You’re Married, Now What?

My favorite DIY project to date

My husband and I have a few private Pinterest boards where we post really cool house decor and remodel ideas, some of them wishful thinking and others that actually inspire action.  THIS is one of them.  It just started out as a cool picture that one of us found and put in our secret Baby pinboard before we had even gotten pregnant (that is a whole other story for another post).  And then it turned into some discussions – we pulled some friends into the mix for opinions and ideas on how to make this thing happen.  And then it turned into WE ARE DOING THIS!

And eventually, we (they) made it happen!

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First, my husband taped out the tree design using painter’s tape.  Then we saved up large cardboard boxes so we could use them as a template.  He cut out cardboard shapes in the different sizes to make up the entire tree, and then used those as templates to create the actual wood pieces.  One Saturday the guys went to our favorite local wood shop and came back with what was essentially 2x4s in most cases and began sawing out the templates.  Once they did that, they had to figure out how to connect it to the wall in a seamless way and with enough space between the wall to actually put some books up there, but have enough support to NEVER fall down… I mean, part of this tree spans over the actual crib.  All risk had to be mitigated.  They found the key 6 locations and used special screws and anchors to secure some simple square blocks into both the wall and the back of the tree.

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This is my absolute favorite creative idea we’ve executed in our house.  And honestly, I can’t even take personal credit for this one because I was merely a cheerleader and kid entertainer.  My husband and our two good friends really knocked it out of the park with this one.  I am absolutely in love with it and know this room will grow with my son as he gets older.

I’ll put up a separate post later about the nursery as a whole (I really do love every piece of it!).  For what it is, we did it on a pretty thrifty budget. 🙂

–  The rug is from RugsUSA and with shipping was $112 – they have ridiculous 70-80% off sales often!  We’ve purchased multiple rugs here and they are all well-made and what you expect when you see the picture.  Amazing prices!
–  The crib is a remake of a classic, the Jenny Lind, $219 (was $199 when I bought).  There are all sorts of similar cribs for MUCH more, like this one from Land of Nod, $899.  It’s very well-rated, safe, and comes in TONS of colors.  If I ever have a little girl, the yellow one is mine!

DIY: Metal pipe shelving

My husband and I have a very Modern Industrial sort of style with a hint of Contemporary flair when it comes to decorating our home.   I think some of our style could also be categorized as Transitional.  We like lots of wood and metal and clean lines but like to make sure the spaces still feel cozy and liveable.  We’ve done all sorts of DIY projects around the house and have plenty more in the hopper once we make some time.  It’s so much harder to prioritize projects with a little one running around but we fit some in from time to time.

Today I’m highlighting to two very simple DIY projects we’ve done with metal pipe from any hardware store.  I’m sure many of you have seen some of the really cool ideas on Pinterest and Etsy, and the ones we created are cool, too, but a bit of a smaller scale.  But seriously, guys, take a look at some of these pricepoints (at least over $100, and some are even upwards of $800!).  You can do it yourself for a fraction of the cost!!

The first is some guest bathroom shelving above the toilet, and the second is a bookshelf we’ve put in one of the nooks between the living room and front foyer.  Details below:

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The bulk of the cost related to these shelves came from the wood itself ($40ish) and the metal piping was under $20.  This was a pretty simple design we created, and I’ve seen it done even simpler with two straight metal bars with end caps and a slab of wood laying on top.  We went to a local Raleigh wood shop and picked out 2 pieces of wood from the scrap pile and had them trim it down to the exact size we wanted (they usually do this as a free service, even at a big box hardware store).  Then we went to Lowe’s or Home Depot and bought the metal piping.  For this project we needed eight floor flanges for connecting to both the wall and the bottom of the shelf, 4 short pieces of pipe leading out from the wall, and 4 even shorter pipes for the vertical component.  And of course 4 elbow fittings for the bend.  Just make sure you choose the same size for each component – they can vary greatly.  After that, all you really need is the 8 screws for each shelf and power drill.

If you’re particular, use a level to ensure your shelves aren’t on a slant and a pencil to shade in the holes where the screws will go before you drill. (recommended).  We also put just a touch of super glue or gorilla glue on the tips of each pipe fitting to secure the hold, but for this it may not be absolutely necessary.  The folks at our local Lowe’s and Home Depot are always very helpful – tell them what you’re doing and they’ll make sure you get the right hardware!

Check out these similar designs here ($189) and here ($165+) for more than double the cost of doing it yourself, shipping extra!  This vendor is selling just (2) brackets for $48.

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I love this metal piping shelf we built!  It’s even moved to 2 times with us. 🙂  Similar idea as the hardware in the shelving above, but that’s literally all you need.  Caution:  this one will have some weight to it so you’ll want to ensure you screwing in to studs (which is why we designed it to have the wall flanges on the same side).  The total cost of the hardware for this shelf was around $60.  It requires 2 wall flanges, 8 elbow fittings, 7 longer pipes, and 2 shorter ones.

Check out a similar lookalike for sale here for $120.

I’ve got my heart set on a corner shelf somewhere at some point… maybe something similar to this?

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