A new hobby for the budget conscious brides!

August 3, 2009

While I didn’t do this for our wedding since I was already DIY-ing a lot for our wedding and the cake was included with the reception venue, I know quite a few brides have considered the idea of a DIY wedding cake. It does take a lot of work and preparation, but in the end, you can save major moo-lah and STILL have a beautiful cake for the big day!

Over the past year, I’ve taken all four Wilton courses. Wilton offers these classes at franchise craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. Usually they are 40-50% off the going rate of $35, which isn’t bad at all if you spread it out over a few months to a year like I did.

Here’s how they divide the classes up and you have to take course 1 first. After that, you are free to take any other class in any order you want!

Course 1: Discovering Cake Decorating
Course 2: Flowers and Borders
Course 3: Fondant & Tiered Cakes
Fondant & Gumpaste

The course descriptions are here if you want specifics.

If you are considering a DIY cake but are apprehensive, let me tell you, with these courses and a good bit of practice, you will REALLY improve and become a pretty good decorator in no time! In fact, you might even catch yourself critiquing bakery decorating after taking some courses (hey, even bakeries aren’t perfect! 🙂 )!

Here’s some proof…while I’m not perfect at all, I think I improved vastly!

Here’s my last pre-Wilton cake that I made for my mom last year…and yes, I used canned frosting (gasp!).

first cake

Here are some of my favorites that I’ve made throughout the Wilton courses with the course #s to give you a feel for what you learn:

course 1

course 1-1

Course 1 cakes (ignore my impatience on the crumbs in the last cake. Remember to let your cake FULLY cool before icing!)

course 2

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Course 2 cake and flowers (from top to bottom: apple blossom, primrose, pansy, daffodil)

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Fondant and Gumpaste class (daisy and fantasy flower)

course 3

course 3-2

course 3-1
Course 3 cakes/flowers: From top, present cake (ignore the kleenex..it holds the bow’s shape as the fondant dries), easter lily, and my final tiered cake for the class! (Geaux Tigers!)

As you can see, while not perfect, it can look pretty close to professional. A lot of the flowers can be made 1-2 weeks in advance, so it’s not too overwhelming!

For you fondant lovers, who don’t want to spend a lot of $$ on the boxed stuff, here’s a no-fail recipe that I have used for most of the cakes pictured!

Marshmallow fondant (Source: Wilton forums)
16 oz. bag of marshmallows
2 tbsp water
0.5 tbsp vanilla or almond extract (or mix of both!)
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
Crisco

Grease a microwave safe bowl with crisco. Place marshmallows in the bowl and add the water and extract(s). Put in the microwave for 1 minute or in 30 second intervals until the marhsmallows soften and puff up. Take out and stir with a greased spoon/spatula until it is combined well. At this point it looks kind of soupy. Then add the sugar in 1 cup intervals and mix and fold until all is incorporated and it is no longer sticky. After adding 3 cups of sugar, add at 1/4 cup intervals, because you do not want to add too much sugar to where the fondant is too dry and starts to crack. I like to take it out of the bowl when it gets to the point where most of the sugar is incorporated and I knead it in my hands. If your hands get sticky, add some Crisco to the fondant and continue kneading. This takes roughly about 5-7 minutes. Take a greased fondant roller or a regular rolling pin and roll out just as you would any fondant. You can get this fondant almost paper thin and it also repairs well.

(You can do this in a stand mixer with a well greased dough hook, but you still want to knead it by hand after it’s done mixing.)

Also, if you are stuck on anything and worried your cake will become a Cake Wreck, I definitely recommend checking out YouTube for cake tutorials, the Wilton Forums and also Cake Central for inspiration/help! Those three have helped me immensely!

Have any of you brides considered or are making your own cake(s) for your big day?


I’m feeling crafty!

June 30, 2009

You know, I’ve been pretty content post-wedding as far as no more planning goes. I know a lot of brides get withdrawals from anticipating the big day or even from planning.  I mean, you plan for anywhere from months to a few years and it’s all over in a day? That’s kind of a bummer, don’t you think? Well, I don’t miss the contracts, the time lines,  worrying about how I will look. I don’t miss it at all.

What do you think I miss the most? C’mon hive, you know me…you know this! Read the rest of this entry »


Our Programs

June 23, 2009

I am such a procrastinator. I ended up making these programs the week of the wedding, and I really didn’t dedicate much effort for these. I just knew I had a bunch of teal scraps from our pocketfolds, and thought that I could pull off a layered program with this.

So, here is how they came out. I will explain my mistakes in this post, since these were not perfect, just in case someone would like to benefit from my mistakes. 🙂
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Supply list:
1 pk. 65 lb. ivory cardstock (found at Office Depot)
Thicker cardstock paper (105 lb. or heavier) cut to 4″ x 9/9.5″
Ribbon
1/4″ hole puncher (found at Michael’s)
bone folder

First thing I did was set up my columns and paper layout in Microsoft Word. I made the layout in “landscape” with 2 columns to make the most out of the paper (printing two program pages to a page of cardstock). I made the margins to these measurements: Top/Bottom: 1.25″ and Left/Right: 1″.

Then, I typed out my information in the following order by page:

Wedding Cover Page
Wedding Ceremony – Order of Mass & Ministers of the Mass
Wedding Party – Members of Wedding Party and Family names
With love – Thank you’s to parents and guests along with Memorials

Our ceremony was a Catholic ceremony with mass. I used Catholic Wedding Help (great website for you Catholic brides, by the way!) as a guide for a program template with mass.

Here is where I went wrong. I test printed for spell checking, but not necessarily to see how it all lined up, unfortunately.

I manually ended my pages, because I’m not very Word proficient. I ended up stopping at these points.

Cover Page – 5″
Wedding Ceremony – 6″
Wedding Party – 6 7/8″
With Love – 7 3/8″

I tried to squeeze the “With Love” part in too much. I should have played more with margins, but I thought I was ok. I’m sure if I would have done even numbers with inch gaps, it would have been perfect. Although, I was not about to redo printing all of these, so I brought them to my faithful Kinko’s to have them cut to size for $8 total. (I love Kinko’s.)

I then scored the heavy cardstock using the bone folder 0.5 inches from the top of the cardstock and folded it down to make the holder for the program paper.

I then enlisted the help of Mr. BF. He painstakingly punched two holes in each program set. It takes a good bit of strength to punch through all that cardstock (including the 4 program pages). Then, I pulled ribbon through the holes (the thinner the better) and made a simple tie. I didn’t even bother with bows HA!

And there you have it! Simple layered programs. I will say I received tons of compliments on these, despite them not lining up perfectly.

So, brides-to-be, my piece of advice? Don’t sweat the small stuff on your DIY projects. Chances are, people won’t really notice the mistakes, but rather, the effort!

Did you have a DIY project that didn’t go quite right but you let it go anyway for your big day?


Making it Naturally N’awlins!

May 6, 2009

When I first started blogging on Weddingbee, I mentioned a few New Orleans traditions that I wanted to bring to the wedding. Well, I kept to my word! These are a couple of last minute DIY projects that I think will add some fun to the party!

For our second line dance, I decided to save a little money and glam up our umbrellas myself. They are pretty pricey for someone else to do them, and it’s amazing what some hot glue and a little bit of feathers can do! I’m pretty sure I’m leaving them as is, but who knows, I might add some sparkle and more flair to them later!

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I found these white and black umbrellas at Accent Annex, which is a pretty popular Mardi Gras throws store in the New Orleans area. They were a steal for $4 vs. the $30+ completed umbrellas at local bridal shops! I also purchased white and black boas to glue to the edge of the umbrellas with hot glue. At the most, this project took me 15 minutes. Easy peasy!

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Mr. Ballet Flat had a problem with the boa on his at first, but I mentioned that this was just for 3-4 minutes and it’s New Orleans…just let it happen! 😀

Doesn’t this make you want to dance? 🙂

Another New Orleans tradition is the cake pulls. Of course, I could have just bought a set, but why not make it even MORE New Orleans. So, I went uptown on Magazine Street (a popular shopping district in New Orleans) and bought New Orleans charms at the Bead Shop (they do not have a website to order from, sorry!)

Check out my stash!

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Since my charms were unique, that would mean there were NO meanings for them whatsoever. So, I improvised with meanings I found on the internet. (Who really knows what the charms are supposed to mean anyway?)

Steamboat – life of adventure and travel
Mardi Gras Mask – life of mystery and spontaneity
Fleur de Lis – prosperity and wealth
Party Girl in Glass
– life of the party
Crawfish– red hot romance
Bride & Groom – next to wed
Saxophone – life of harmony
Tiger (think LSU, not New Orleans) – strength and triumph
Streetcar – desire and passion
Drunk Guy on a Light Pole – loves a fun night life

I basically took these charms and put a jump ring on them myself. Then, I strung some satin thin ribbon on them. The total cost for 10 cake pulls? About $15. Not too shabby, right?

How are you incorporating your hometown traditions in your wedding?


Thanks for the memories!

April 29, 2009

One of the biggest things about a wedding are the memories. My photographer told me she is going to take hundreds of pictures of the big day. Hundreds? I don’t think I have a Facebook album from an event with hundreds of pictures! Heck, in my college days, I thought I took too many pictures…this just takes the cake (in a good way)!

Well, since I’ve heard from so many former brides that the day just flies by and you don’t really see it all, I decided we should ask for more perspectives from our guests.

So, Mr. BF and I were on the look-out for the infamous disposable cameras. We didn’t care if they said wedding on them, because we are going to have cards on the table explaining what they are for anyway!

So, in our adventures to Target, we found a bunch on clearance for half off. Even better, they are good for action shots. I know our families will be going nuts on the dance floor, so this will be great to capture those random moments (just in case my photographer has too much to capture on her own..you never know with my family, trust me!).

I decided to pretty them up with some invitation scrap paper and pretty ribbon I found at Michael’s. I also Gocco’ed on some Martha Stewart teal-ish looking “recipe cards”. They will make great cards on the table, in my opinion, and were on clearance for $1! SCORE!

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Here’s a picture of the two put together. It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but there is small ribbon tied on the side for people to hold on their wrists, if they want. I thought it was a cute touch, since the cameras already had the holes in the side for it!

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Oh wait! I’m not done. I stole this idea from Mrs. Cream Puff. I decided to make a Flickr account for our guests to share photos from their digital cameras. And like so many bees, I decided to make Moo minicards to give guests the message. I put our engagement pictures on the cards, with the message about the Flickr account on the other side. These cards are super cute! I love how they came out!!

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To make it budget friendly, I found a code online for 20% off. I’m not sure if it’s valid anymore, but if you google “moo cards coupon code”, you might get lucky!

Are you asking your guests to share some of the memories they captured of your big day?


Making the cupcake pops

April 20, 2009

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was going to make some cupcake pops for my shower hostesses as a part of their Thank You gift.

chocolate-materials
Pictured Supplies:
* Vanilla flavor Candy Melts
* Milk chocolate Candy Melts
* Sprinkles
Not Pictured:
* Lollipop Sticks
* Boxed cake mix and canned frosting (choose your flavors)

Following Bakerella‘s directions, I baked a Red Velvet cake and allowed it to cool. After that, I crumbled the cake and put about 3/4 of the can of frosting in there. I didn’t need the whole can for the cake, just a pointer there. So, add a little at a time until you get the correct consistency (basically to where it can form into shapes, not too sticky). Then, freeze the balls for about 10-20 minutes, so it can set. I did this in trays of a dozen, so they would remain set while I worked with them.

To put the chocolate in the mold, I used disposable decorating bags. You just have to put the chocolate in there and melt for about a minute in the microwave. NO MESS!
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I then stuck a lollipop stick in the cake ball to help push it down into the mold as much as possible, forcing the chocolate up the sides of the mold. I found this tip on Cara’s Cravings.
cake-balls-mold

I then let these set up in the fridge for a few minutes and then they popped out of the mold. I took the lollipop sticks out and kind of pinched the hole back together so there isn’t a big hole in the cupcake on top.
cupcakes-covered
Using a small silicone bowl (to give the cupcakes something deep to dunk it into without melting too much chocolate at once). To get the excess chocolate off, I tapped my wrist with my hand that wasn’t holding the cupcake. This is a great tip that I learned from Bakerella as well. (You can tell I read her blog, eh?) Then, I doused them in cute sprinkles and allowed them to set.

Here’s ALL of the finished cupcakes before I put the sticks back in.
all-covered-cupcakes
A trick I learned while reading Bakerella’s comments from readers is to put the lollipop stick in melted milk chocolate and gently ease the stick into the bottom of the cupcake to avoid cracking the bottom. It works really well!
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A tip? Don’t cry over a cracked cupcake. 🙂 There is something you can do…
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NOM!

And, here’s the finished products! 🙂 G-ma BF thought they were just for decoration. She flipped when she found out these were edible.

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Have you gifted anything that you’ve baked in your wedding planning?


And…they’re off!!

March 23, 2009

After a long week of constant partying with my Gocco, our invitations are officially out!! I’m really relieved/excited to say that they are on their way to our guests, and I can’t wait to get RSVP’s back!
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Envelope extravaganza!

These invites have become my biggest worry, really. I was always second guessing myself on the design of the invites, because hey, you only do this once, and I wanted my guests to get excited about our big day!

I made everything in our invitation suite using the Scriptina and Optimus Princeps fonts, which are freebies! All of the paper for our inserts, as well as the envelopes are in Stardream Opal. I found this paper to be cheapest at Anchor Paper online (where I had them cut to size for me at Office Depot and Kinko’s), and the envelopes at Envelope Mall.

I did DIY our pocketfolds, and you can find detailed instructions for those here. I’ll still say, they aren’t as bad to do as it seems. Just tackle a project like this early on in the wedding planning process, so it’s not too much to take on at once!

I used my Gocco PG5 to print everything for our invitations. If you want to see how I made the invitations and RSVP cards, here’s a post on how I made those.  For those of you who are wondering, it does take a little longer for the ink to dry on Stardreams paper, but once it dries, it will not smear!

invitationsuite

These are the direction cards. I combined it with reception and website information since I had room.

directioncard

For the maps, I made these bad boys on Powerpoint, using the drawing tools and free clip art from Google. They took me a good 4 hours to make, but I think are totally worth it!

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To seal the deal on these babies, I used the scraps from the bronze invitation backgrounds being cut and sealed it together with glue dots. They ended up being about 2″ x 11″ and fit perfectly around the pocketfold. I gocco’ed a fleur de lis on the belly band and wrote in our guests’ names with a scrapbooking white ink marker.

bellybandsaplenty

bellyband

For the envelopes, I was going to have calligraphy done by a very talented bridesmaid, Miss K. However, I lost track of time and slacked on sending my guest list to her at a reasonable time. So, I sucked it up and hand-addressed them myself. While my cursive isn’t breath-taking, it got the job done. 🙂

I will say, the best thing about sending these off is that I have great confidence that these will make it to our guests in tip-top shape! I mailed one to our house two weeks ago (to make sure it was enough postage and to see how banged up/stamped up it would get) and it came in perfectly with only one small barcode sticker along the top!

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(The actual invitations were done in brown scrapbooking marker. This was just for practice. 🙂 )

Budget breakdown (rounding up to make calculations a bit easier):

Note: I won’t be counting the cost of the Gocco in the tally, since I will be reselling it pretty soon. 🙂

$50.00 – pocketfold paper

$15.00 – all cutting costs at Kinko’s/Office Depot

$67.00 – Stardreams bronze and opal paper for inserts/invitation backing/belly bands

$75.00 – Stardreams 4 bar and A7 envelopes

$61.00 – 8 Gocco screens, 16 bulbs (due to two messed up bulbs that burnt half the image on the screen…blah!), and a good bit of turquoise (mixed with black), brown and white inks

$30.00 – 2 packs of bronze brads, glue dots, tacky tape, scrapbooking pens (all purchased at Michael’s with coupons)

$89.00 – total postage

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$3.87/invite (eep…a bit over budget, but I have tons of leftover supplies that will be reused!)

$2.86/invite (not including postage)

Compare that to the going rate of pocketfold invitation suites on sites like Etsy, and I saved about $3-4/pocketfold, which would have been $264-352 savings since we sent off 88 total invitations! I feel pretty good about that!

How did you feel after you sent off the invites?