DIY: Polaroid Photobooth

Like many who have come before us, we really wanted a photobooth at our wedding. But, the cost of renting a "real" booth was far too high, so we went diy.

We wanted people to take pictures for us to keep, but also be able to take some home, so we decided to go the Polaroid route. We already had the camera (we found it by the side of the road, in a junk pile, right after we started dating).

Of course this came right around when they decided to take the film off the market, so the price of Polaroid film shot way up. We bought some of the film before the crisis, but we ended up scavenging eBay for most of it. All in all I believe we purchased around 200 shots worth of film for 100 people (we didn't use all of it). I've also heard that Fuji is now making Polaroid 600 film, so that should make it easier for those of you who want to try this.
While some people have a designated picture taker, we knew our friends would be all over taking Polaroids so we figured they could switch off being picture taker and model. That worked out just fine and the booth was literally full all day while people were setting up, all night, and into the next day as we were cleaning up!
To make the backdrop for the photobooth we purchased two sheets of fabric (three yards of each). One was a regular sized fabric, and the other was upholstery fabric from Ikea. I'd recommend upholstery fabric because the heavier weight hangs better and the extended width allows more people to stand in front of it.

To our advantage, we were able to just tack our fabric to my parent's deck and use their porch lights to light it. You could also make a wood frame to attach the fabric to, hang a line from trees and attach the fabric to that, or nail it to a wall.

On the deck we put a table with the film, a board for people to post pictures on, and several costume items. For the costumes we used things I had lying around my house, plus a few purchased pairs of crazy $1 glasses. And yes, I have hats and fur coats and eye patches just lying around. The felt mustaches I made.

And of course, as some of these pictures exhibit, our photographer couldn't help but snap a few pictures of people using the booth as well. They loved it!

DIY: Gocco Invitations

How did I not write about our invitations? Perhaps I blocked them out because they were so. much work. After they left my house I was happy to have them out of sight, out of mind.

Our invites were entirely designed and created by little ol' me (using purchased art...I'm not an artist!). P. bought me a gocco for my birthday so the invites were really my first project using the gocco. I highly recommend practicing a bit more before you create your invites. The gocco isn't hard to use once you get the hang of it, but we burned through several frames and lots o' ink before we figured out how to burn the screens to create clean, crisp pictures on the other side.

Gocco, straight out of the box, with computer tutorial.

There were papers everywhere. Everywhere.

Our invitations had four components. The actual invite, the response card, an info sheet, and the envelope.
This image is probably the closest to the actual color of the paper (which came from Paper Source). For the envelope I handwrote a screen using the gocco pen and then printed them so we wouldn't have to handwrite a return address on each envelope. As a sidenote, we no longer live at that address so good luck stalking me there :)

While I wanted to use vintage stamps, that ended up being a cost that I couldn't justify. My way of getting around using the flag stamps (the only stamps available when I was sending out invites), was to use a variety of smaller amount stamps. This involved running around to four post offices who looked at me like I was a crazy person for buying hundreds of 5cent stamps.

Our invitations were simple, using an image from Nikki McClure, one of my absolute favorite artists. The text is in a dark brown color, with gold ink for the image.

Our info cards used two screens: one for the image done in gold ink and another for the text, done in a raspberry color. We intended to have driving directions on the back of this sheet, but for some reason could not get the screen to print clearly so after several ruined screens we just scrapped the idea and stuck directions on the website.

You may notice that on our reply card we didn't really make it clear that people should still write their name if they weren't planning on attending. Several people responded with "no" responses and no names. We had to guess based on postage and process of elimination who those people were. Kind of a pain.

So all in all I really liked how they turned out. They aren't professional. They aren't letter pressed. But they were fairly cheap. For save the dates, all the gocco supplies, paper, and stamps we spent a total of $310.

And, since I'm sure someone will ask, here is our save the date. We made my sister take the pictures of us lying under my parent's apple trees holding blank pieces of paper, but wouldn't tell her why. She thought we were crazy. I added in the text after the fact. We printed them using VistaPrint, with a discount code, and I think we paid around $15 total.

Thanks for all the questions! Keep them coming!

BYOB Drinks

A few people have asked about what we did for drinks, so y'all get another post. Actually, you can keep having posts if you keep asking questions! Ask and you shall receive.

Since we were not hiring someone to watch the drinks, we didn't want to make them too complicated. We decided to do bottled drinks for non-booze drinkers, and beer, wine, and one special drink for those who wanted to get a bit crazier.

We actually had plans to use wine we'd made ourselves for the wedding. They even had cute, custom labels just for us, but it wasn't quite done in time. We put a few bottles out, but they are pretty horrid and headache inducing. So instead we made a last minute run to Trader Joe's where we picked up four cases of red wine and one case of white. We didn't do the Two Buck stuff, although I don't think it's a bad option if your guests don't really care about wine. Ours were all around $5-7/bottle, which seems to buy you decent wine if you are on a budget.

We had a few people bring their own, fancier bottles of wine to share at their tables. Our table had a few bottles of expensive wine that I'd saved for the wedding, though we also ended up drinking some of the cheap TJ's stuff (it wasn't bad).

The rest of the wine was set up on our drinks table, with all the cups and a few bottle openers. The kegs were in buckets next to the table (we had two pony kegs of local microbrews), and the non-alcoholic drinks were in a steel bucket on the ground next to the table as well.
For our extra drink we made vodka spiked sangria. All of our friends are big sangria drinkers so we knew it would go over well. Plus it's incredible easy to make. We threw several of the big juice bottles from Trader Joe's into a punch bowl with boxed wine, several glugs of vodka, and some frozen fruit. There was no particular science to it. One of my brideswomen made it pre-ceremony by tasting it as she went along until it seemed right. I did do some research before buying the boxed wine to find the good stuff.

For non-alocholic drinks we accompanied my mom and her CostCo card to CostCo to buy bulk Mexican Cokes, sparkling water, and Izze sparkling juices.

We also did regular and decaf coffee with dinner which we made in two regular drip coffee makers (my parent's and a borrowed one) and then put in the pretty press pots seen in the far corner of the picture below.
You can see in this picture that we had a box under the table for people to put empties in for later recycling. For the most part people were good about keeping the table clean, putting empty bottles down below, and generally keeping things nice.

Any other questions about drinks? Let me know!

I ran out of things to talk about!

If anyone has questions, I'll write up more posts to answer them. And I might occasionally post about friend's weddings or other things I think up. But I'm really not sure what else to write about.

But, you are more than welcome to head on over to my regular blog to see what I'm up to.
Charlie Floral - full view

Charlie Floral - folded clutch view

African Sewing Circle.... Multicultural fun!

Yesterday i had a richly rewarding & fun experience, which left me feeling very positive, happy & elated about the world we live in!

I joined a group of African refugee women in Coniston (Wollongong, 2 hours south of Sydney) for a community "sewing circle" to share my fashion knowledge and expertise, and to have a good old chat about the joys of sewing, pattern-making, fabrics, designing & making things with your hands! I have personally been sewing since i was 11 years old, when i took over my Mum's old Bernina sewing machine, & i find it very relaxing and soothing (unless i am in a crazy mad rush for a deadline- when it can be a little more stressful!!!)

The weekly community sewing group is organised by SCARF (strategic community assistance to refugee families) and run by a lovely friend of mine, Sarah Chisholm and a group of hard-working volunteers such as the wonderful Dot & Virginia. They use fabrics, patterns & sewing machines that are either donated, or purchased by the women or volunteers (for more info - email

The refugee women, mainly from African countries such as Sudan, Liberia and The Congo, are encouraged to create their own simple designs for funky handbags, water bottle carriers, casual shirts and dresses, etc, made from groovy vintage or African print cotton fabrics. The idea is to build a sustainable micro-business for each participant of the project, in which the women can then continute their work and sell their products at local markets and festivals, to earn their own income and develop their sewing skills further. Currently their work is sold at the local South-Coast NSW Coledale Markets on Sundays... for more info, check out the website:-

Many thanks to Sarah & all the lovely ladies for inviting me to join their weekly sewing circle - i was in total admiration of ALL your work, your funky designs and your combined team effort to build an exciting future for these truly inspirational & hard-working individuals... hope to be back there again very soon!

xx Lisa

Bella Figura Winner

Hey guys, just wanted to pop in and let Sara know she is the WINNER!

Here's her comment:

I am still in need of invitations for my June wedding - we have had a few last minute "surprises" that have kept us from moving forward with purchasing them. Not to mention the fiance and I can't seem to agree on a design we both love - he likes plain, I want to make a statement. However, two designs we both agree on are the Deveril and the Odessa from Bella Figura. Both of these invitatations are simple to suit him, yet have an elegant flair that gives it the statement I need. We are getting married in a historic building and I love that both of these designs tie into the theme of the building and our wedding - timeless, elegant, classy, and yet unfussy. We don't need a lot of decorations at the church and neither do either of these invitations. They are perfect as is! The letterpress is fancier than we thought we could afford for the wedding, so the extra money would allows us to have invitations that perfectly fit the style of the wedding.

Sara - just e-mail me with you info ( For all you other gals, fear not, I have another great give-a-way brewing.

Oh and don't forget to check out Bella Figura's sister site Smock Paper for some amazing personal stationary options!

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Wedding Reception Basics

However tempting it might be to run off after your wedding ceremony with your new spouse to sip champagne, pose for hours of wedding photos, or just get a burger, remember that your wedding guests are waiting for you! The wedding reception is one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding for the people who love you most, and part of their enjoyment hinges upon getting to see you in all your finery up close.

If you're going to be late to your wedding reception because posing for wedding photographs is going to take a while, be generous and have sumptuous treats to greet your wedding guests. Cocktail hour creates an environment conducive to mingling and conversation, especially when you have soft music playing in the background and plenty of drinks to go around.

Having a cocktail hour at your wedding reception gives your wedding guests an opportunity to get to know each other and talk. To set the mood, opt for jazz classics piping through your reception venue's sound system. Jazz classics are enjoyable, but at the same time set an elegant mood that reminds people that they are in attendance at a solemn and important event.

Consider springing for extra wait staff at the reception venue. It is quite a hassle to have to repeatedly go to the bar, and once there, wait in line. It also adds a sense of refinement to your event to have butlered drinks being passed. Here is a chance to incorporate your personality by having a signature drink passed and available at the bar. Put up a little sign in a silver plated frame explaining the significance of your custom wedding cocktail.

Trust us when we say that it's little touches like that that make a wedding feel truly special... even if the bride and groom haven't yet arrived!

Click to learn more about planning a wedding reception
Maisy Wristlet - above, gold on black
below, gold on sand

Wedding Themes

When a bride comes to us here at Smart Wedding Planning, the first question out of our mouths is usually "What's your wedding theme?" If they answer that they haven't chosen a wedding theme (or a wedding color scheme) we usually let out a collective sign.

Wedding themes and wedding color schemes are so much more important than most brides imagine! Unless you've been envisioning the perfect wedding since you were a little girl, you're probably going to need something to guide you as you choose wedding invitations, wedding favors, a wedding gown, a reception venue, and all of the other elements of a modern wedding.

If you don't have a wedding theme, you may just find yourself with five different unrelated things in your wedding, which can look messy and uncoordinated. So pick a wedding theme! A wedding theme doesn't have to be big or overt -- look at who you and your fiancé are. What are your hobbies? What do you do for a living? How about these wedding themes: Golden Age of Hollywood, Mardi Gras Masquerade, Country, Mediterranean, etc.

The possibilities are endless! And just to simplify things, your wedding colors can be your wedding theme. However, you must be consistent. If your "theme" is going to be green and pink, decide on shades and stick to them. Don't have forest, chartreuse, lime, and mint all over the place. Also, try to pick a maximum of three wedding colors and make sure that they complement each other. Try to pick "in-season" colors as well -- pastel pink at a November/December wedding is a bit off.

Remember, your wedding theme will pull your whole event together, from food to favors to flowers.

Click to read more about choosing a wedding theme

Something Old, Something New

While some religions like are very strict when it comes to wedding gowns and bridal accessories, you can still bend the rules and honor the wedding traditions of your culture. It's not always easy, however, which means you should dedicate a little time to researching your heritage before you get too creative.

For example, when Tina (a recent bride from Norway living in New York) decided it was time for her to find a traditional wedding headpiece, she went with the herb wreath common in her culture but wore a stylish updo for her wedding hairstyle.

Michelle, a Chinese bride, decided to add a modern spin to her wedding by wearing red and gold crystal hairpins in her wedding hairstyle to match her ceremonial red wedding gown.

"I knew I wanted to incorporate the colors from the tartan kilt my fiancé was wearing," said Jennifer, a Scottish bride, "so I used blue and green flowers and used those colors in my bridal tiara."

Catherine, a Spanish bride, wanted to remember her heritage by wearing a bridal tiara with colored stones to match the embroidery on her Flamenco-style wedding gown. "I wanted a different twist on the white wedding dress and bridal veil."

How did they honor tradition and get the wedding day look they wanted? Here's a tip that will help you emulate these creative brides:

Use traditional colors or patterns in non-traditional ways, like using flowers or colored stones in your bridal headpiece or tiara. Use accents of jade if want to include some green, rose quartz to capture the look of cherry blossoms, or tanzanite stones to capture the look of African violets.

Click to learn more about wedding traditions and weddings in different countries

Red Wedding Favors

In honor of Valentine's Day, we have compiled a list of five of our absolute favorite red wedding favors. If you're not one of the many brides who have chosen some shade of red or pink as their wedding colors, these wedding favors may inspire you to find similar gifts for guests that match your chosen color scheme.

"Chinese Tapestry" votive candles are a beautiful accent for your wedding reception or bridal shower tables, adding a sophisticated touch to any Asian-themed (or red hued) event.

Personalized wedding mints are a chic and practical wedding favor that almost all of your guests will appreciate.

Two darling red-and-black ladybug magnets have sweet, smiling faces and tiny, black hearts on their plump, red backs. These wedding favors compliment a number of different wedding themes, from ladybugs to red and black color schemes.

Charming snow cone bath salts look like festive and colorful red and white edible cone desserts, but they actually hold skin softening salts that are guaranteed to help wedding guests relax after a long day.

Practical and whimsical, these exquisite apple themed salt and pepper shakers add an amusing touch to your guests’ kitchen tables. While these are wonderful for fall weddings, they make a great wedding favor all year long.

Enjoy, and happy shopping! One of the most fun parts of wedding planning is shopping for wedding favors, so take your time and let your true self shine through in your gifts for guests.

Click to shop for red wedding favors

Wedding Videography Advice

Wedding photography can eat up a huge chunk of your overall wedding budget, simply because the best wedding photographers tend to charge both for their time and their services. When you're creating your wedding budget, keep in mind that your attitude toward snapshots and home videos should determine how much money you end up dropping on your wedding photographer and wedding videographer.

So how do you decide how much to spend on your wedding photographer (or videographer)? Consider your preferences and your lifestyle. Are you the kind of person who regularly pulls out photo albums to browse through your well-organized and cataloged photograph collection? Or do your family photos sit unloved in boxes that haven't seen the outside of your attic for a decade? How would you feel about sitting down to watch someone else's wedding video?

If pictures mean the world to you, hire the best shutterbug you can afford-cut back on the hors d'oeuvres if that's what it takes. On the other hand, if the thought of looking through your photos bores you to tears, you may want to consider stocking your reception tables with disposables and calling it a day. The same goes for wedding videography -- if you think that you (or your spouse-to-be) will treasure your wedding video for the rest of your days, spend more money on it so you get a superior product.

Click to read more about wedding photography and wedding videography

Black Bridesmaids Dresses

We here at Smart Wedding planning despair for those brides who have to hear over and over again how "a wedding is not a funeral" and "isn't that a little morbid?" when they choose to dress their bridal attendants in black dresses. Black bridesmaids dresses have traditionally not been in vogue because black was seen as being inappropriate for the occasion. That, however, has changed in recent years, leading to an upswing in the number of black bridesmaids dresses for sale in bridal salons.

If your wedding colors include black -- and don't be afraid to choose a wedding color scheme that includes it -- you will soon discover that there are benefits to dressing your bridesmaids in black. The little black dress never goes out of style, which means that your bridesmaids will likely be able to wear the dress you have chosen again in the future. Black is slimming, and we've yet to meet a bridesmaid who wouldn't like to appear just a tad skinnier. Black also looks good on many complexions so you don't have to worry about one of your gals looking greenish at the altar.

Are there downsides to choosing black bridesmaids dresses? Well, yes. Older and more traditional wedding guests may wonder just what your color choice means, even though it likely means nothing at all. Expect to hear from friends and family that Aunt So-and-So said your ceremony looked like a funeral. But we say ignore the haters! Black is a chic and elegant choice for bridesmaids dresses, and it doesn't look like it will be going away any time soon.

Click to read more about dressing bridesmaids or wedding attendants

Bella Figura Contest - The Preppiest Letterpress Around

Ok guys, I told you I would be back this week and here I am!

I have the coolest give-away to talk about today. I know you all have heard me sing the praises of the awesome letterpress company Bella Figura, well they want to introduce themselves to all you preppy brides-to-be out there. And they are doing it with a 200 dollar gift certificate to one special preppy reader.

To qualify, all you have to do is go to their website and leave a comment about what you would purchase with your 200 dollar gift certificate. The folks over at Bella Figura are going to pick the winner, so make sure to tell us how you are going to tie their oh so beautiful product into your own wedding. I am going to close the contest next Wednesday, February 18.

And in case you didn't know, Bella Figura has over 40 eco friendly designs and six amazing letterpress designers. They have an invitation to fit the feel and design of any wedding. They are also one of the most environmental letterpress shops in the country - they're wind powered; they donate 1% of sales to environmental causes through 1% for the Planet - so you can feel good about purchasing a beautiful product from an all American vendor that is concerned with giving back.

Now, if I were entering this contest today, here are my favorites (with a little wedding imagination mixed in):

This is the new calligraphy design. I see an antique rolls royce, this dress, white tie sit-down dinner and a saber champagne welcome to the reception.

The Fieno. I see a sunny day, a clapboard church with a red door, a converted barn reception and bridesmaids in yellow. Oh and a pie dessert buffet in lieu of the wedding cake.

And just because, here is my favorite Bella Figura pick these days. I only wish I could enter the contest!

Free Wedding Newsletters

Planning a wedding can go from difficult to overwhelming in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, the only way to stave off stress is to consult with experts. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to call up an experienced wedding planner every time the wedding planning process goes awry.

That's why we love Smart Wedding Planning's free wedding newsletters! The site's experts compile daily wedding planning tips that deal with everything from bridal fashion to wedding favors to wedding etiquette. Instead of having to search, you get expert advice delivered right to your e-mail inbox every day. The best part is that it won't cost you a cent!

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Silk Shantung Wedding Gowns

When it comes to luxury wedding gowns, it doesn't get much better than silk shantung. For those brides looking for a more unusual wedding gown, this beautiful frock from Emerald Bridal should fit the bill. A dramatic silk shantung and cheetah print glamour tulle dress sheaths brides in pure wedding gown couture.

Yes, we said cheetah print... definitely not something your wedding guests will have seen on any other bride. The bodice features Swarovski beading on a tank top bodice whose low waist is gently curved, hiding even the most irksome figure flaws. Rows and rows of ruffles complete the look, falling into an extended cathedral train.

Click to shop for gorgeous wedding gowns