Sunday, December 29, 2013

10 Creative Non-Floral Centerpieces

Guess how much the average bride in New Jersey spends on flowers for her wedding.  Go ahead - guess.


I will let that sink in.  That's a whole lot of money for something that will most likely get thrown away at the end of the night. 

Most brides think they absolutely have to have flowers everywhere.  Says who?  Yes - flowers add beauty, elegance and glorious pops of color.  And yes - flowers will always be equated with weddings.  And I'm not saying you should eliminate flowers from your budget altogether. 

But how about some creative, out-of-the-box centerpieces that are sure to "wow" and have absolutely nothing to do with flowers?  Now we're talking...

I give to you my personal favorite 10 Non-Floral Centerpieces:

1. Fruit

2. Candles

3. Books


4. Greenery

5. Lanterns

6. Beachscape

7. Pinwheels

8. Candy

9. Paper Flowers

10. Live Fish

If you've come across any clever non-floral centerpieces, please share them in the comments!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DIY Bride & Groom Champagne Flutes

Tis the season... TO GET ENGAGED!!!

My sister-in-law got engaged right before Thanksgiving.  Luckily, since her fiancĂ© was a perfect gentleman and asked for my in-laws' permission, I knew ahead of time and was able to prepare the most adorable engagement gift.

You should know that my sister-in-law drinks champagne for pretty much any occasion.  I'm serious - the girl can find any excuse to pop some bubbly (a trait I admire).  Getting her a champagne-themed gift was a no brainer. 

However, since an engagement is such a festive celebration, this DIY gift is appropriate for any newly engaged couple.  It's also really simple to make if you have some patience and the right supplies.


Here's what you'll need:
  • (2) Champagne Flutes (I found a box of 4 flutes for $12.99 at HomeGoods)
  • (1) Package of White Elastic
  • (1) Small Swatch of White Fabric
  • (1) Small Swatch of Black Fabric
  • (1) Small Roll of White Tulle
  • (1) Package of Adhesive Pearls
  • (1) Small Package of Mini Faux White Flowers
  • (1) Black Rubberband (I used a hair elastic)
  • (2) Paperclips
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Glue Sticks

Step-by-Step Instructions for The Bride Flute:

  1. Take the white elastic and wrap it around the champagne flute.  Leave a little bit of overlap when you cut it and then secure it with a paperclip.
  2. Remove the elastic from the champagne glass and hot glue it together where the paperclip is.  Remove the paperclip after the hot glue dries.
  3. Cut a piece of tulle by measuring it against the height of the champagne flute.  Wrap the top of the tulle around the elastic.  Use the hot glue gun to secure the tool to the elastic.
  4. After the hot glue dries, slip the elastic back onto the champagne flute.  Use the hot glue gun to affix the mini faux white flowers.
  5. Remove a full strip of adhesive pearls.  Hot glue each end of the "pearl necklace" to the elastic.  The rest of the pearls will simply self-stick to the champagne flute.   

Step-by-Step Instructions for The Groom Flute:

  1. Repeat Steps1 & 2 for The Bride Flute.
  2. Take the white fabric and wrap it around the flute.  Trim  the fabric so that it covers the top 1/2 of the flute.
  3. Hot glue the white fabric to the elastic by wrapping it around the "inside" of the elastic loop.
  4. Slide the elastic back onto the flute.
  5. Cut a 1" x 3" strip of the black fabric.  Twist the black elastic around the middle of the fabric to create a "bowtie effect." 
  6. Hot glue the bow tie to the white fabric.
  7. Remove 3 single pearls and hot glue them onto the white fabric for the "button effect."
{If you LOVE this gift but don't have the time or energy to make it, you can purchase it at my Etsy Shop, Backyard Cards & Crafts.  I'll never tell!}

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hump Day Humor #8

I know it's the holiday season and most people will be watching the classics.... White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone.

But the movie, BRIDESMAIDS, is a classic any time of the year.  I'm not sure if I've ever laughed so hard than during the epic scene when the MOH freaks out on the plane on the way to Vegas. 

If you're a stressed out bride-to-be this holiday season, or especially a stressed out bridesmaid, take a little breather and (re)watch this movie.  You'll be so glad you did!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tight Wedding Budget? Do THIS, Not THAT

First - I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last blog post.  Sorry, my dear readers; I won't let it happen again.  I opened an Etsy Shop and have received a crazy amount of orders to fulfill (a really good thing!).

Now... onto "Do THIS, not THAT."  I came up with this concept when I saw a book at Barnes and Noble entitled "Eat This, Not That."  It's a genius concept because it's not telling you to give up the things you really want (to eat), it's giving you smart alternatives.  I'm here to do the same thing for you when it comes to wedding planning.

If there's one thing I learned about planning my own wedding, and in the few months I've been married, it's all about compromise.  I know you're probably thinking either "Duh" or "What a clichĂ©" but hear me out.

If you make smart compromises while planning your wedding, you can still remain 100% happy with the final outcome.  If you pick and choose just a few of these examples, you can potentially save thousands of dollars. 

Do an OFF-THE-RACK Dress, Not a Couture or Designer Label Dress

My wedding dress was $450.  Yup.  And I still felt like a million bucks on my wedding day.  A lot of brides develop preconceived ideas of their "dream dress" or insist upon wearing a particular designer.  I like to call this "dress prejudice."  We all suffer from it to some degree.  I get it.  It's your wedding dress.  But you should still consider trying on some off-the-rack dresses, if only to find the right silhouette for your figure.  Who knows - you might just fall in love with one and save yourself some serious cash.  I did.

On my wedding day, one of my guests came up to me and gushed over my dress.  She asked if it was a Vera (as in Vera Wang).  I smiled conspiratorially at her and said, "No, it's a David" (as in David's Bridal). 

Average Potential Savings: $3,000*


Do OFF-SEASON, Not Summer

Do you know what the difference in price at popular wedding venue on the Jersey Shore is in July compared to December.  Half.  That's right - you get a 50% discount around these parts for getting married in the Winter.  I know, I know.  You always pictured yourself as a Summer bride.  Well I've been to Fall weddings, Winter weddings and Spring weddings and they were all fan-freakin-tastic.

Think about it - Fall offers the best color schemes and think of how gorgeous your photos will look with all that foliage.  A Winter bride gets to wear one those awesome faux fur wrap things over her dress and can escape the cold on a tropical honeymoon with all the money she saved on her non-summer wedding.  Spring offers some of the very best floral arrangements money can buy and the weather is usually perfect for an outdoor cocktail hour.  Just sayin'.

Average Potential Savings: $5,000*


Similarly to the off-season savings, the day of the week you pick your wedding can make a huge impact on your bottomline (that's my former-Corporate-America-self coming out).  Venues typically increase their price-per-person by 30% or more on a Saturday night as opposed to a Friday night or Sunday afternoon.  For example, if the plate charge is $100 to have a wedding on a Friday night, that same exact meal will cost you $130.  Crazy, right?

I know you want a Saturday wedding because it is the most convenient for your guests.  Here's what you need to realize - if someone wants to be at your wedding, he/she will stop at nothing to be there.  He will take a half day on a Friday or go in late on a Monday.  And hey, you might've just given someone a really good excuse to work a little less and party a little more

Average Potential Savings: $1,500*


Do BEER & WINE, Not a Premium Bar

Too many brides, and especially grooms, think you need to offer every type of alcohol at your wedding as a courtesy to your guests.  Not true.  As someone who has been a guest at over 20 weddings, I can tell you first-hand that your guests will be happy with whatever you offer themFree booze is free booze.  Oh but what about Uncle Mort?  He doesn't drink beer or wine; he only drinks scotch.  He will live; dear old Uncle Mort can get his scotch at the bar at the after-party.  There will always be an Uncle Mort.  You can't please everybody but the majority will toast the newlyweds with just about anything - including the house Pinot Grigio.  Cheers!

Average Potential Savings: $2,000*


Do a DJ, Not a Band

Brian and I were pretty sure we'd have a kick-ass band at our wedding.  We ended up having a kick-ass DJ.  The costs of some wedding bands, at least in the area where we live, is staggering.  And the difference in cost between a DJ and a band was a no-brainer for us.  Guess what?  People still danced and requested songs and drunkenly belted the lyrics to "Sweet Caroline."  Just like booze is booze, music is music.  And a DJ's playlist is limitless

Average Potential Savings: $3,500*

Do a BUFFET, Not a Sit-Down Dinner

Okay, if you're planning a black tie wedding, then a sit-down dinner is the logical way to go.  But if you're planning a black tie wedding, you're most likely not reading a blog called Backyard Bride.  For all you brides out there who can't quite afford a gala-esque wedding but still want your guests to be well-fed, let me suggest a delicious buffet

A buffet allows your guests more options; they can try the chicken and the beef and the fish.  Personally, I get a bit anxious at weddings with sit-down dinners when the server comes to confirm my order.  I'm always afraid I made the wrong choice and I'll be stuck with it.  I usually make Brian order my second choice and then eat off his plate because I'm huge pain the ass.  I appreciate options and the chance to go for seconds with no judgment.  Plus, buffet spreads can be really affordable since the food isn't being made to order on-the-spot. 

Average Potential Savings: $2,000*

Do a CAKE, Not a Full Dessert Spread

I wish I could tell you the amount of dessert I've seen wasted at weddings.  Between the good ol' days I spent catering weddings at Jersey Shore restaurants and attending my fair share of weddings as an actual invited guest and now as a wedding planner, I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to excess at weddings

By the time the cake-cutting ritual takes place, either one of two things is a guarantee: A.) I'm drunk or B.) I'm really full from eating food all night long.  Neither of those scenarios is very conducive to eating a whole bunch of different desserts.  I've seen huge cookie platters at each table; I've seen the world's most extensive candy bar; I've seen an ice cream sundae bar; I've seen mini desserts passed around on silver trays.  But the worst part - I've seen it all get thrown away at the end of the night.

Do yourselves a favor: Pick out a cake (or cupcakes) that will please the masses and then put your checkbook away.  You don't need more than cake.  That bakery is lying to you.

Average Potential Savings: $1,000*

*Based on average wedding costs in the Jersey Shore area with about 150 guests (and some unscientific Google research).

Oh and this is me in my off-the-rack David's Bridal dress.  Not. Too. Shabby.