Why Wedding Favors Still Matter and How to Pick Out The Right Ones

In the course of wedding planning, there are bound to be details that fall through the cracks, get left until the last minute, or get forgotten altogether. It is my experience that deciding on wedding favors tends to be one of those last minute tasks. A small number of couples will think of an awesome idea for favors way in the beginning of the planning, but for most, it is an afterthought. In recent years, I've even heard a lot of couples asking "Are favors even worth it? Does anybody care?" My answer is simple: Yes, they matter, and make them count. Your guests will likely have spent a significant chunk of money (travel, clothing, hotel, gift$$) to be at your wedding to celebrate you. The least you can do is give them a little token to show your appreciation. That being said, it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to be thoughtful and special to your guests. Here are my tips on picking out the perfect wedding favors for your wedding: WeddingFavors

Factor it into the budget and plan ahead. Favors can get expensive, but they don't have to be. Once you have your venue and you have some clue of how many guests you might have, you should be able to get a clear picture of a per-person budget for favors. Get this piece into your budget right off the bat, so it doesn't become a surprise expense at the end of planning. Also, the farther out you have your spending limit, the sooner you can start shopping around. The best way to save money on all aspects of your wedding is to start shopping early. If you find an item you want from a store that has holiday sales, you can keep an eye out for when your item gets marked down or wait until you have a coupon, rather than being stuck at the last minute paying full price or not being able to afford it.

Connect it to the theme. My go-to method for coming up with a cute favor is to connect it back to the theme of the wedding, especially when it's off-beat or non-traditional. I designed an invitation earlier this summer for a travel-themed wedding. For their favors, they made mini magnets that featured a tiny map of each guest's hometown or favorite place. So personal, useful and totally fit the theme! Another of my past clients had a champagne-themed invitation, and they gave each guest a mini bottle of champagne at their seat. Rather than just picking something generic like a bag of mints and sticking a monogram on it, try thinking of a favor where the item itself connects to your wedding!

Photo: The Shultzes

Connect it to the venue or location. If your wedding doesn't have a specific theme other than the awesome location and decor, try thinking of something that matches that. If it's on a farm filled with with wildflowers, why not give your guests a packet of wildflower seeds for their own backyard? If your venue specializes in something like honey or baked goods, they probably offer a favor package for weddings. If you have a lot of guests coming from out of town, you could always feature something local. Couples in St Louis love to give their guests Gooey Butter Cake, and a couple I worked with from Martha's Vineyard gave a mug from The Black Dog to every guest. Whether it's perishable or an item that will last a long time, a location-inspired favor will remind them of how much fun they had at your wedding!

Connect it to something you as a couple enjoy. Another fun idea is to give your guests something useful that is inspired by something you love to do together. Love cooking? Give out wooden spoons or a homemade spice mix! Love to camp? Give canteens or pocket flashlights. Love the beach? How about koozies and flip flops? What may seem like a basic gift in theory, could be really cute and thoughtful when tied into your wedding, and it might actually get used!

EganFam2014-0411

Pick a "day-of" item that they can take home! I've seen some really great ideas for "double uses" of wedding favors. One idea is to personalize each favor by adding a label or a tag that includes their table seating. By using the favors as escort or place cards, it kills two birds with one stone, and at the end of the night, the favors left behind have your guests' names on them, so the caterer knows who they belong to! I've seen couples give out sunglasses (which look silly but super fun in photos), koozies, custom glassware, or flip flops, all of which can be used at the wedding and then taken home by guests. You could also order paper flowers instead of using a traditional florist, and your guests could take home stems at the end of the night. These ideas all serve double duty, by adding to the fun and decor on your wedding day, but also giving your guests a token to take with them.

If you do the donation thing, make it meaningful. There is an opinion out there that a donation can be a cop-out for wedding favors. While I agree that a couple could easily say they made a donation when they actually didn't, I have more faith in humanity than that. My feeling is that on order to make a donation that is meaningful to your guests, you should donate to a cause or charity that someone (or multiple people) you love has a connection to. Too often, I see couples go the donation route and choose a cause that they feel close to or that they deem important. In my humble opinion, this seems a little self-indulgent for a favor that is supposed to be in honor of your guests. If you do choose to donate to one of your causes, at least attach the card to a piece of chocolate :).

Don't go crazy with personalization. If the item is something useful that your guests might have around for a long time, don't spend all that money putting your photo, monogram and date all over it. A koozie is one thing, but if I get a candle or a reusable bag or a wine stopper, I'm not all that interested in having someone else's wedding details all over it. Your guests will remember where they got it, and will be more likely to keep it and use it without your names printed on it. Make it special on your wedding day by ordering custom tags with a Thank You note and maybe a cutesy saying that ties it all together. That way the tag can be removed and the item will actually get used!

Think: What Would I Do With This? If the answer is, throw it away, then it's a waste of money, and it's not a favor that will matter to your guests. Go the donation route if you're truly stuck, or hire a pro to help you get creative with details like this!

Are you planning a wedding? What are your thoughts on favors? For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board!

New & Improved Flower & Bouquet Construction!

mg_2595-e1438192039415.jpg

The Paper Florist has been a segment of my business now for almost 8 months, and in that time I have sold a total of 22 bridal bouquets and 4 large table arrangements. Add to that over 50 corsages and boutonnieres and over 200 loose single stem flowers, and The Paper Florist has brought in 16% of my business' net revenue for 2015. And I should mention that more than half of that revenue was earned in the last month... Happy wedding season! With growth comes opportunity for improvement in my products and efficiency in my building process. I started out making flowers for my own wedding, and I constructed my flowers and bouquets from what I could find. I'd cut a square base from a cardboard box or scrap of cardstock I had lying around, then glue a cube of dry floral foam to one side. Then I'd trim down a paper towel roll and glue it to the other side, stuffed with packing peanuts for stability. This was the skeleton inside every bouquet I made until a month ago:

IMG_2457

While I appreciate the idea of reusing and recycling things like paper towel rolls and packing peanuts, it's just not a sustainable business model, at my size. (I ran out of packing peanuts after the third bouquet, and I guess I don't order enough products from companies that still use them! And we don't go through paper towels fast enough..) Not to mention the labor involved with constructing a base like this for every bouquet, on top of the flowers! Once the bouquet was constructed (flowers on short bamboo stems stuck into the floral foam and secured with glue) there was also the finishing touches, like cutting and attaching leaves to cover the base and then gluing and pinning ribbon to the handle so it looked pretty:

_MG_1720To keep my prices reasonable, I had basically left the labor cost of bouquet assembly out of the equation, and was just charging for the flowers that went into it. It would take anywhere from 30-60 minutes per bouquet to assemble, so if I was going to be able to keep growing I'd have to find a more sustainable solution.

So, I did some research and tried out some different materials and methods, and decided on paper-covered wire stems and a new building process (from petal to bouquet) that cuts the assembly time way down. The finished arrangement is much more realistic looking, and the assembly is just like putting a live bouquet together (except its easier because the flowers are now on wire!). As I was pulling together my first bouquet on the new wire stems, it occurred to me that there was a time in my childhood that I thought I wanted to be a florist. It really feels like I am now!

Check out the first order I sent out the door with the new assembly!

_MG_2559

_MG_2551 _MG_2563 _MG_2562

The stems also look much more realistic in a clear vase, and are much easier to arrange than the bamboo sticks I used to use. If I get some free time in the next few weeks, I plan to fill my new apartment with some fresh arrangements using these bad boys. I'll definitely share the results here!

_MG_2631

Want to order your own? Lots of examples are for sale on the Etsy shop, but the possibilities are endless! Let's chat!

3 Simple Rules to Follow for the Best Wedding Ever: PART ONE - The 2 Week Rule

 This weekend was all weddings for me. It kicked off Thursday night with a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for a wedding I was coordinating Saturday. At the dinner I was seated with an engaged couple, and the groom-to-be (go figure!) was picking my brain about the best advice I could give them for wedding planning. Friday night I had dinner and drinks with a friend getting married in a month who told me I gave her a few simple tips that have made a world of difference for her during the planning process. Then last night, I coordinated (and thus attended) my first wedding of the season, refreshing my bank of advice and renewing my ideas and energy for all things wedding! All of this had me thinking -- If I had to give someone my Top 3 Tips as they were starting to plan their big day, what would I say? Well, after a wedding-themed weekend and some thinking, I've come up with 3 simple rules. If you follow them, you will thank me! This week is PART ONE: The 2-Week Rule.

(Part TWO can be found here)


Make a timeline for your planning that ends 2 WEEKS before your wedding. And stick to it. K&A WEDDING

There are some subcategories to this rule:

1. Wait, I need a timeline for the wedding day AND a timeline for planning the wedding day? YES, YES, YES. You have how many months to plan your wedding? 6? 11? 17? You can't just dive in and assume it'll all get done without a plan. That's how couples end up sleep deprived and "over it" by the time their wedding rolls around. Make a giant list of all the pieces, big and small, that need to fall into place, and make sure it's a "working list" -- I recommend using Excel, so you can easily reschedule as you add projects and appointments. Everything from picking out a venue and finding a dress to printing programs and getting your nails done should go on there. Nothing should be overlooked, because believe it or not it's the little tiny things (like remembering to wrap your bridesmaid gifts and write a thank you note to the minister) that keep the couple up until all hours the week of the wedding. There are lots of resources online you can start with, and we here at Katherine Elizabeth Events are working on our own planning tool we hope to roll out later this year. Planning for the planning is SO key to a stress-free engagement.

Photo credit: Krista A. Jones

2. Especially if you are DIY-ing or on a tight budget, pick out the design and materials for your projects early. (Programs, menus, table numbers, place cards, favors, welcome hotel bags, etc.) What do I mean by this? If you want to make your own programs and menus, go pick out the paper and embellishments 2 months ahead even if you aren't ready to print yet. That way you can shop around for exactly what you want (or work with a designer on the perfect custom design) and have all the decisions made and materials ready when the ceremony and catering details are ironed out. I can't tell you how many brides and their mothers walk into Paper Source (where I've worked part time for the last year) the WEEK OF THEIR WEDDING looking for paper for programs and menus. You do NOT want to be doing this the week of your wedding. Before you say, "but I don't know how many guests I'll have!" I'll tell you honestly--you can end up spending more money waiting until the last minute getting the exact amount you need than you will if you buy more than you might need at the best price 2 months ahead of time.

Better yet, hire someone like me to take care of your paper pieces, and I'll make sure you're well ahead of schedule! (Try to contact me at least one-two months out!)

_MG_1520

3. Work backwards from 2 weeks before your wedding, not your wedding day, when setting an RSVP deadline. As I just mentioned, it's true--a lot of these details (favors, programs, welcome hotel bags) can't be firmed up until you have a final guest count. If your RSVP deadline is only 2-3 weeks before your wedding (as many websites say it should be) that gives you one week to collect the stragglers (THERE ARE ALWAYS STRAGGLERS) and then the two weeks before your wedding to get all that stuff done with your final numbers. In addition to buying a rough estimate of materials way ahead of time, I also recommend setting an RSVP deadline one month to 5 weeks out from your wedding. The reality is, with the exception of a handful of people, most of your guests will know if they're coming or not. Why put more last minute pressure on yourself?

4. Make time during these two weeks to cultivate the marriage you're about to enter. Planning to be "done" early leaves you time to go on a date. Sounds ridiculous if you haven't been there, but it's SO important to think about. The week of the wedding, my fiance and I built in a night for just us -- we went out to dinner and didn't talk about the wedding. We shared a fantastic meal at a restaurant we had been dying to try, and basked in the excitement of what was to come with all of our family and friends coming into town to celebrate our love. If we hadn't planned for our planning to be done 2 weeks out, we wouldn't have been able to fit this in.


So why do you want to be "done" 2 weeks for the big day? Well, mostly because you won't be. No matter how well you plan, there are always last minute details you didn't think of. If you plan to fill those two weeks with construction and assembly of welcome bags and favors and programs, the un-planned stuff will add a ton of stress. Also, if you finish all your wedding related projects two weeks out, you get a little more "out of your head" with all of it. Giving yourself a little break between the planning and the actual wedding is AWESOME. If you're going, going, going, right up until the rehearsal, you don't have any time to decompress and separate yourself from it before it actually happens. I've heard so many brides say that they felt like they didn't really "take it all in". This is the secret to doing that--you have to separate the planning from the experience of the day. If you think of your wedding starting the Monday before it actually happens, and force yourself to finish projects before then, you will enjoy all of it SO. MUCH. MORE.

And here's the real meat of this piece of advice that no one thinks of until they're a bride: all these extra last minute details take up precious time that should be spent on things like beauty sleep and the day-to-day aspects of your life you don't think about (like doing laundry and cleaning your house and working out and eating well). You want to be and feel your best on your wedding day, and in the days leading up to it. That means taking care of yourself!

All of this advice comes from personal experience, both in seeing what last minute projects do to brides' stress levels, and in feeling what not adding last-minute stress felt like when I was a bride. For the most part,  I was done with my wedding projects two weeks out. My bridesmaids commented on how I was so relaxed, and this is the number one reason why. My wedding was long distance so my hands were slightly tied with having a few projects lined up for the week of the wedding when we arrived in town. But, the week before that, we had time to focus on ourselves, our home and the marriage we were about to enter into. We worked out every day, ate well, and I had time to clean my apartment, top to bottom. I cleaned out closets, I dusted and vacuumed, I tidied up in a way I hadn't done in months (because let's be honest--wedding planning is top priority for most nights and weekends). Returning home from our wedding to a fresh, tidy home was AMAZING. It felt like a fresh start, and it was the perfect start to married life.

Check out PART TWO of this series: Focus on the Feel, not the Look of Your Wedding

The one GENIUS idea that makes the home office/guest room combo REALLY WORK.

_MG_1799By a show of hands, how many people out there have a home office that doubles as something else? Is it a guest room? I don't have any statistics on this, but I'd guess there are a lot of hands raised. If you're anything like me (working from a home office, in a relatively small apartment in the city), your office is also your Guest Room. It may act like a home office and feel like a home office, but on most days it looks like a cramped bedroom with a lot of crap lying around. I don't have a picture of it at the "end of the day" because I'd never publicly admit to how much of a slob I can be when I'm busy, so here are a couple pictures of it looking pretty. From the first month we lived in the apartment, in 2013:

1015616_686228630302_1215863802_o

Our Office/Guest Room is 110 square feet (10X11), with four large windows (a MUST for productivity), and two sets of french doors and one more doorway not shown in the above photos. Needless to say, there is really only one wall of the room that can be classified as an office... four pieces of furniture all crammed together to store all my office supplies and equipment for my work.

The bed, which takes up 40% of the square footage, is situated in the center of the room, and really makes the room look and feel like a bedroom. (After a year of working here, I can proudly say I've never given into the urge to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon). The bed is also right across the narrow aisle from the neatly organized shelves and office fixtures, and takes the brunt of the mess (which coincidentally helps fight the nap urges). As I pull freshly inked pieces from my printer, they are placed on throw pillows to dry. I prep my Silhouette mats on the bedspread. When I get a delivery of supplies, reams of paper and stacks of envelopes find refuge at the foot of the bed until they're put to use. Oh, and I forgot to mention--the closet in this room is my husband's. So, when his laundry is lying in wait to be put away, guess where it sits? You got it--the bed.

1969198_743656439512_1845159371_n

My desk in this room would be fantastic if my business was just graphic design. But because my business includes printing and full assembly of stationery and invitation suites, as well as the Paper Florist work, I simply need more work space.

Enter the dining room table. And the encroachment of my "personal" space. One of the biggest challenges of running a business out of your home is keeping your work and personal life in separate spaces. Especially when you're sharing your space with your significant other and/or your family, it is important to draw physical boundaries between "work" and "life", or you run the risk of your work equipment, supplies and product littering the entirety of your home. As my business has grown over the last year, so has the amount of physical space it takes up. Having company over for dinner or even just a drink means I have to sweep the apartment and toss everything back into the Office/Guest Room, which means it lands... dun dun duuuunnnnn... on the BED.

With my business continually growing, something had to be done. About six months ago, I had this idea to find some sort of folding or portable fixture that would fit OVER the guest bed, creating a counter-height island-style surface in the middle of the room. I wanted to be able to have a work space where supplies I use every day (paper cutter, score board, Silhouette mats, adhesive, etc) could stay day to day. Maintaining a tidy apartment meant taking out and putting away these supplies every single day, which may not seem like a lot, but added up to probably 2 hours a week of set-up and clean-up. ("Genuis", as mentioned in the headline of this post, may be a stretch.. but it is a true sanity saver..keep reading!)

Last week, I looked at the next two months of my production schedule and decided I couldn't wait any longer. If I was to survive March, April and May, I would need to find a table. I did a ton of research and found that nothing of the sort exists out there. Even if I were to build a table top and legs, it was proving difficult to find the right folding legs to fit over a full size bed properly and at the right height. I drafted a plan to build the whole thing out of wood and hinges, and asked Anthony to borrow his truck so I could pick up materials. And there the buck stopped. My husband comes from a family with three generations of talented carpenters--it's in his blood, and he's pretty freakin' handy. So he offered to "think about it" for a couple of days and work on it over the weekend.

10616159_832320441142_1187472445359150270_n

Fast forward to last Sunday morning in St Louis--a sunny 65 degrees, and a perfect day for some outdoor carpentry. He decided on a relatively simple design--a table top with solid boards as sides, on hinges that would fold inward so the whole thing would fold up to a mere 2 1/2 inches thick--perfect thickness to tuck behind a door or lean against a wall when we wanted to use the bed as a bed!

_MG_1801

The table is made to fit perfectly over the bed frame, and he even made it so it can overhang the end of the bed, which created a standing desk for me! It's made out of MDF, so it is not exactly light-weight. But what it lacks in the easy-to-move factor, it more than makes up for in the stability factor. This thing is SOLID. And it's plenty easy to move with two of us. The MDF is dense enough that it can butt up against the perpendicular side with a 90 degree hinge and stand very sturdily. Anthony offset one of the sides so the boards lay flat against each other when folded.

_MG_1798

_MG_1803Long story short, this is a game changer. My office feels like a real, functional design space. I've always loved the natural light in this room, and now I can really work in it. And the best part? We have our dining room table back! Work/Life balance is SO important, especially in a home office. This new work space allows me to truly spread out my work and have a solid surface to work on, all the while staying out of my "living" space. And I'm obsessed with the height of the table. At 3 feet high, I can stand while I work and not have unhealthy back pain at the end of the day, and it's also the perfect height for our bar-height chairs if I need to sit!

What do you think? Comment below if you'd like more information about the construction specs or a tutorial on how this was built! (I'll ask the hubby to write up some instructions) Katherine Elizabeth Events

Everything you need to know about Wedding Hashtags (6 DOs and DON'Ts)

_MG_1558
_MG_1558

It seems as though, these days, every wedding incorporates some form of modern technology in the planning and execution of the big day; from wedding websites and online RSVPs to self-service photo booths and crowd-sourced videos. One trend that's gaining major ground is the wedding hashtag; a simple, FREE tool (which is hard to come by in the big wide world of weddings) that makes it easy to collect social media content related to and posted from your wedding. Hashtags can get out of hand... #weddings #newblogpost #writingonaplane #gopatriots #justgotabloodymary. When people use them in this way it's really just to be cute, and defeats much of the purpose of a hashtag (#imguiltyofthis). If you work in the social media world, you know the point of a hashtag: to "tag" posts, tweets and photos relevant to a topic or brand with the intention of making that content searchable by that tag. When I searched #doyourjob yesterday, I got a huge stream of Patriots fan photos; food prep for Super Bowl parties, pets dressed in Brady jerseys, and even a life-size stuffed Patriot mascot laying next to a dude in bed. Just what I was hoping for.

So, tagging all the social media posts (your friend's selfie on the plane headed to your big day, the video of your walk down the aisle, the photo of all your college friends hungover at brunch the next day) is an awesome idea, right? You've hired a photographer to take the pretty, posed shots, but there's something about those less than perfect snaps that you want to collect and save. With a wedding hashtag, days, weeks, months, years(?) down the road you can search for your tag on your favorite social media platform and it's like reliving your day all over again through the eyes of your geusts (I do this probably once a week with mine--there are over 100 photos!) Are you sold? As you're starting to think about your wedding hashtag, here are some tips:

1. DO create a unique hashtag. Create a unique hashtag. Create a unique hashtag. Create a unique hashtag. I literally feel like I cannot say this enough. And by unique, I don't necessarily mean clever or cute. I just mean UNIQUE. Like, no one else will use this hashtag, possibly ever. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but I am constantly seeing couples choosing generic hashtags that aren't going to get them to that end-goal of being able to collect just their wedding content. Just yesterday, I saw a couple using #MattandAshley. Do you know a couple named Matt and Ashley? Chances are, you'll meet at least one in your life if you haven't already. Go to Instagram right now and search #mattandashley. The photo collection is all over the place; from at least 5 different weddings and about 17 different couples named Matt and Ashley (including a few tweens, which is just awkward.) If the whole purpose of a hashtag was to be able to easily search and find photos and posts from their family and friends at their wedding, Matt and Ashley missed the mark. Unless your name is super unique (like my friends #kiraandwillem), I'd stay away from anything that's simply your names, even if it includes any form of "wedding" or "2015". Even if you don't see it in a search today, there's bound to be a duplicate out there eventually if you keep it that generic. It's only January, but come June every weekend your social media feed will be packed with tagged wedding photos, and chances are, yet another "Matt and Ashley" will be tying the knot. There are lots of ways to make your hashtag unique to your wedding. Adding at least one of your last names is a great first step, or referencing the location or the date. If you're feeling creative, try to think of a pun or a play on your names combined. The most important thing is to search for your hashtag and make sure it's not already out there. My hope is that as more people learn about this trend, a sort of etiquette will evolve and there will be fewer duplicates. But to be on the safe side, make it unique to you!

2. DON'T make it too complicated. Before you go too crazy coming up with a unique and clever hashtag, keep in mind that you want it to be memorable and easy to both read and type. Choosing something like #mattandashleyweddingcapecod2015 may make your hashtag unique, but it's also sort of obnoxious. It doesn't even fit on one line on Instagram and takes up 32 of your precious 140 characters on Twitter! And don't do an anagram like #MAATTK (Matt And Ashley Tie The Knot) because that's just silly, and not in a good way. Try to keep it short, sweet and simple. Options like #CotterCapeWedding, #CapeCodCotters, #AshleyTakesCotter or #CotterMcKnaught2015 would all be great options for the "Matt Cotter and Ashley McKnaught" wedding. (Adding the year is a good idea if your names are more common, since you only have one year's worth of weddings to compete with.) If at least one of your first or last names is uncommon, you can definitely get away with something as simple as a combination of your names, adding the date or year as security. My maiden name (Egan) is very common, but my groom's name (Rotio) is not, so we were able to get away with simply #eganrotio. The chance that another Rotio is going to marry an Egan in this lifetime are pretty slim.

3. DON'T pressure yourself to come up with something clever. The fact of the matter is, not all names are created equal when it comes to wedding puns. If one of your last names is Nott, Wring, or Glover, you have some cute options (#AmyandNickTietheNott, #HePutAWringOnIt, #thegLOVErs2015). But if it's Egan or Scizewski, you're going to have a hard time making a cute wedding pun (although for my Bachelorette we did use #LastRodeoBeforeRotio which was genius). At the end of the day, it's just a tool, and you want your guests to use it. It's not going to have any effect on the amazingness of your wedding. Just pick one that works and move on. There are WAY more important things to be creative about (like signature cocktails and day-of stationery!).

4. DO make sure you let your guests know what you've picked! These days, many young wedding guests who use social media hashtags will ask around to see if there is an "official" hashtag before they post any content. If there isn't one that's been publicized, they'll make up their own (may times leading to the #mattandashley predicament). If you want a successful hashtag, it should be clearly communicated to your guests. If you make it a point to ask your guests to use a hashtag, this will also encourage people who don't normally tag their posts to tag the ones from your weekend, making your collection bigger and better. Including the hashtag on your wedding stationery is a great way to let your guests know. It could go at the bottom of an informal ceremony program, on a welcome note for hotel guests or on a small sign on the bar or the guestbook table. You can even create a #hashtag tutorial like the one we included in our welcome note to our guests:

_MG_1560
_MG_1560

The older generations don't always understand these new-fangled technologies, and it's nice to include them instead of just assuming they won't be a part of it because they don't understand. No one wants to ask, but they want to know!

5. DON'T go overboard. Remember, this is a wedding, not a marketing event. Don't get me wrong--I love a well-branded wedding. But putting your hashtag on everything from coasters to koozies to table menus is tacky. And the more you push it on your guests, the more you run the risk of shifting your guests' focus from their real life experience of your wedding to their sharing of it on social media. You don't want to look around at your wedding and see everyone on their phones.

6. DON'T live-tweet your own wedding. Ok, so I don't actually think anyone out there is live-tweeting their wedding, but seriously.. for the love of all things Holy, do NOT have your phone on you! You have surrounded yourself with plenty of people who will keep an eye on the time, the details, and making sure everyone shows up when and where they should. This is your day. Take the rare opportunity to be phone-free and soak it all in. Believe me, there will be plenty of photos and videos taken by your family and friends. Leave it up to everyone else!

Have you seen any cute wedding hashtags lately? What are you planning to use for your big day? Leave a comment!

The Anatomy of a Paper Rose

_MG_1598
_MG_1598

When my sister got married in 2013, she made her bridal bouquets out of tiny, tightly wrapped burlap and crepe paper roses. I thought they were the coolest thing ever, and that's really what inspired me to do paper flowers for my own wedding. As soon as I got engaged (ok, maybe a little before then, lets be honest) I started going a little crazy on Pinterest, pinning my favorite real and paper bouquets for inspiration. In my searching, I discovered liagriffith.com, a blog with literally every template, printable and tutorial you can imagine (actually makes this blog post sort of pointless, but people keep asking me how I do it, so I'll keep going!) I started out using her templates and after some practice, made some tweaks and adjusted the pattern to make two sizes of roses. It used to take me 20 minutes to put together one rose; now I can do 10-12 an hour (depending on how intense the episode of SVU is that's playing in the background). Practice, practice, practice. I'd never have been able to incorporate this into my business making 1 rose every 20 minutes, and I certainly wouldn't have outfitted my whole wedding, all the while staying sane enough to keep my groom :).

1. Collect Your Materials

_MG_1574
_MG_1574
  • The petals are cut from text-weight 8 1/2 x 11 paper in whatever color I want, from Paper Source. The paper is very important. It needs to be light enough to curl beautifully, but heavy enough to be nice and sturdy once the bouquet is assembled. Paper Source also has awesome colors.
  • The bamboo skewer is found at most grocery stores, and is very inexpensive. I buy mine at the most expensive grocery store in St Louis (it's right next to our favorite butcher counter, and I just grab them while I'm waiting), and a pack of 100 is still under $3. They come in many sizes, so the length you want just depends on how you're going to use the roses. For bridal bouquets and the arrangement in this post, I used 6 inch skewers. These skewers were something I added to the whole flower making process. Most tutorials instruct you to use floral wire, but I find that not only difficult to work with, but also very flimsy in the final bouquet. My bouquets are rock solid (you'll thank me on your wedding day when you don't have to adjust wires all day!).
  • The bone folder is made from bone and polished smooth. I have three different "bone" folders -- a plastic one that came with my Martha Stewart score board which I hardly ever use, a teflon-coated one that's great for scoring my Passport wedding invitations, and this genuine bone folder I use for petal curling. The genuine bone folder is by far the best one for flower making, and you will find all kinds of other uses for it.
  • The glue gun is a standard high-heat glue gun you can buy at any craft store. I recommend high-heat (even though you need to be careful and have tough fingers) because the low heat glue dries too fast for this process.

2. Prep the Petals.

_MG_1571
_MG_1571

Once the petals are cut and ready to go, I curl each corner with the bone folder. I find it easiest to use the rounded end of the bone folder. Hold the inside of the petal and curl the paper away from you, like you're curling ribbon. I curl each corner so each petal makes a little triangle.

_MG_1575
_MG_1575

Once the petals are curled, I put together the center of the rose. Using the single petals, I apply a squiggle of hit glue and wrap them around skewer one by one, layering them on top of each other and allowing the curled edges to splay out. *Make sure you use the end of the skewer without the point!*

_MG_1578
_MG_1578
_MG_1581
_MG_1581
_MG_1582
_MG_1582
_MG_1583
_MG_1583

Now I glue the little tabs on the larger petals to themselves, creating little cones.

_MG_1585
_MG_1585
_MG_1586
_MG_1586

3. Assembly

_MG_1587
_MG_1587

Once the cones are put together, I finish assembling the flower. I put a small dot of glue on the bottom of the petals already on the skewer and poke the pointy end of the skewer through the center of each set of petals.

I stack them one under the next, alternating the petals so there are no gaps, until all petals are assembled.

_MG_1588
_MG_1588
_MG_1590
_MG_1590
_MG_1591
_MG_1591
_MG_1599
_MG_1599

If you want a different look (or if you want to add dimension to a bouquet of these roses) you can switch up the way you glue the tabbed petals together. By just turning the petals upside down (so the petals curl in instead of out) you get a very different looking rose:

_MG_1598
_MG_1598

You can choose to just alternate one layer of petals like this, or all of them. For the one shown above, the center is done with petals curled out, the next three layers are curled in, and the final layer is curled out. This is also a great place to use another color for a layer or two. Play around a little with it! What's your favorite?

For this bouquet, I used a mix of large and small roses, some curled in and some curled out, and I incorporated a second color in just a few petals. I love how it turned out!

_MG_1648[1]
_MG_1648[1]

How about two dozen roses for your Valentine that won't wilt in a week? Use the code VAL15 for 15% off your floral order! Order yours today!

Paper Wreath

So I got the idea for this wreath from the Corner House Blog, but by the time I got around to making it, I didn't follow her instructions, I just did it from memory. I had an Oriental Trading catalog in my recycling bin, and rather than chuck it I decided it would make the perfect paper wreath--so many bright colors! I started by forming a wreath out of paper and duct tape. Then I used my 4 inch circle cutter to cut circles out of the catalog pages. Here's where I faltered from the tutorial that inspired me: I cut each circle in half before I rolled and glued it. It made the cones shallower and the wreath a little smaller and tighter. I made the bow out of the scraps from a bridesmaid dress that I hemmed and just used a pushpin to hold it to the top of the door. 

Paper Bead Necklace

A couple of Christmases ago, my mom gave me a bag of paper beads from BeadforLife, and I've been meaning to make them into a necklace ever since. BeadforLife describes itself is "a nonprofit organization that works to eradicate extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads...And people who care open their hearts, homes and communities to buy and sell both products." The beads are beautiful and every single one is handmade and unique. Just stringing them on fishing line makes a gorgeous one of a kind piece of jewelry!

I poured out my bag of beads and all I did was organize them by color and start stringing. 30 minutes later I had a beautiful new piece. Head to beadsforlifestore.org and get yourself a bag--you'll help out the impoverished women of Uganda, and you'll have the materials to make one of these beauties for yourself!