Our Budget DIY Wedding

Summer has arrived and along with it come wedding season.  Since our wedding was before I started the blog I’ve never shared it here but I thought you’d enjoy seeing our budget-friendly DIY details, so here’s a quick recap.


We chose a restaurant in Boulder, Colorado as our venue because they had a beautiful garden area where we could host the ceremony.  Rather than spend money on decorations that would only be seen briefly we kept things simple and let the focus be on us and the lush backdrop.


I ordered bouquets for myself and my sister who was my Matron of Honor from a local grocery store’s floral department and added burlap wraps with ribbon and a rhinestone pin to each.  Since the hubs wore his uniform he didn’t need a boutonniere which was an additional cost savings to not having to buy a suit or tux.  We requested his best man – who was his brother – wear a navy suit, which was readily available in his finance VP wardrobe.  I gave my sister free rein on her dress selection just asking her to pick something navy blue as well, so she found an option she can wear again at a reasonable price.  My mom paid for my dress, which we found at David’s Bridal for around $900.  I had a local seamstress add a purple sash I bought online to the waist to customize it a bit.  I found a rhinestone headband and simple veil online for a good price and bought shoes I could wear again to complete the look.

The reception was held in the restaurant’s upstairs dining room where the tables were arranged in long rows.  We placed a simple burlap runner that my mom made down each and sprinkled river rocks from the dollar store (if I remember correctly we cleaned out their inventory! LOL) between the frosted votives provided by the venue.  I ordered a bunch of daisies from the same vendor we used for the bouquets and snipped the heads off so they could be added in randomly among the rocks and candles.


01-01The venue provided printed menus customized for us as part of the package price.  They were simple but worked well with the tone of everything else we had going on.


Our favors were photo tile coasters I made with modge podge and my own Alaskan photography.  The place cards on top were tied with simple jute twine and the symbols notified the wait staff which entrée each guest had pre-selected.

01-01Our guest book was made of pre-cut card stock in our wedding colors where guests could leave a note and slip it into slots in a scrapbook.  I later added photos of each guest next to their cards to finish the project.  I found the scrapbook on clearance for around $15 and used a coupon to buy the card stock as 12″ x 12″ sheets that I cut down so the total cost with the photo prints came to around $30.

The frame we had nearby held the day’s schedule printed on our wedding stationary – left over stock from a DIY kit I picked up at Michaels with another coupon to make our own invitations and response cards.  The frame later became décor in our home and now holds a recipe for a good marriage which I toasted the hubs with at the reception printed on some left over stationary.

01-01The venue was able to make simple cakes so I requested a two tier Chantilly cake with berries for a garnish, which was DELICIOUS!  (FYI – We’ve since discovered that Whole Foods has a Chantilly cake that is practically identical so we order one whenever we’re in Portland to celebrate.)  The rhinestone monogram topper was another Michaels coupon bargain that ran me around $5.  It later became an ornament for our Christmas tree with the addition of a ribbon hanger so now we can enjoy it every year.


My mom picked up these little treat bags on clearance and added some of her favorite candies.  We borrowed a basket from the venue and set them out next to the cake with a few extra daisy heads and a votive to dress them up a bit.


We also saved by not hiring a DJ. Instead we put together a playlist of music for both the ceremony and reception.  A friend helped make sure the right song was selected for the first dance and other important moments, which only took a few moments away from her enjoying the event.

As a photographer myself, I knew the importance of having a visual memory of the details of our wedding, so we made photography a priority with a chunk of the budget (photography credit for all photos to Nicole Nichols Photography).    The other big expense was the food, but it was very good and well worth it.


I don’t have the exact figures anymore but the final total came to around $8,000 thanks to our budget conscious shopping and DIY choices. That didn’t include the rehearsal dinner which was covered by the hub’s family, but that was something that had been saved and planned for in advance.

I encourage couples planning their wedding to prioritize what they want and compromise on the things that aren’t as important or don’t have as much of a lasting impact. It is possible to have a dream wedding on a budget, it just takes planning and determination. 😉


DIY Glass Insulator Pendant Lights

We knew we wanted something unique for the pendant lights over the bar in the kitchen, but weren’t sure exactly what that might be.  I spotted this idea on Pinterest and immediately loved it.  Surprisingly, so did the hubs who took me to an antique store he’d just discovered to pick out insulators for our project a few days later.

We also acquired some heirloom insulators from the hubby’s Aunt in Colorado during our road trip in September, so we had quite a selection to choose from.  I set them all out and tried different combinations to decide which we liked best.

We hadn’t given the project much more thought since then as we were busy with other details and the house wasn’t ready for light fixtures just yet.  But now that it is, we suddenly had to figure out how to make it happen and choose exactly which insulators to use.




And finally decided this was just right.


My handy dandy hubs found the right bit and snuck in time on a drill press at work to drill the holes.  The first four drilled without a hitch, but then while drilling the last one it cracked!




We had a few others in the same color and size, but they all had pretty big chips, so that wonderful hubby of mine made another trip to the antique store and picked up two more for $9 each.  He drilled both without a problem, but one did develop an internal crack.  We decided to still use it since it added character, and that left us a spare in case any ever did meet an untimely fate and require being replaced.

We followed the tutorial from Pinterest and purchased the same materials to retrofit the pendant cords the builder installed.


It took a little trial and error to figure out the best method for removing the parts we didn’t need and reusing the parts we did, but the hubs made it happen – even though he was super tired!

Notice that mess on the counter? That’s how the rest of the house looks too.. I think I have hives.. LOL


It also took a bit of adjusting to get them all at the same height, but they look awesome!


The builder thought we were nuts when we showed him what we were planning, and all he had to say when he saw the finished product was “It’s different.  I’ve never seen that before.”  But at this point, if it’s something he doesn’t have to do, he’s game.

The LED bulbs don’t put out much light at 0.6 wt, but the recess lighting in the main area of the kitchen supply plenty of light to cook by.  They do make a nice ‘night light’ when on by themselves, so that’s probably how we’ll use them the most.  We will be on the lookout for brighter bulbs that will fit, but for now these it the bill.


I just adore the finished result.  Not only are they unique and repurposing something that is otherwise unused, but they bring a piece of family history to our new home.

Have you ever used old glass insulators for projects?  If so, please share!  We still have several and need some ideas.

Shared at Knick of Time’s Vintage Inspiration Party #203!

From Sea to Shining Sea

As promised, here’s the photos from our trip across country.  As a photographer at heart, I naturally started snapping while in the air.  The first sights were Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood as my connecting flight took off from Portland, OR.



While in Virginia we were waylaid with the tunnel closures due to terrorist threats and decided to check out the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Norfolk.  There were several revolutionary war tombstones, some that time has since almost over grown and a cannon ball in the side of the church from a British ship!  Although the church caretaker informed us that the cannon ball actually bounced off the wall when fired and was later inserted into the wall for historical reenactments.  He also said that every so often it falls back out of the wall and they have to plaster it back in!  I love getting the inside scoop on cool stories like that!

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We were also able to tour the inside of the church where we found impressive stained glass windows, and this amazing hand-carved wood organ!



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After leaving VA we drove through West Virginia, where we spotted this rig on the turnpike.  I’m fairly certain they were repos, but the fact that they left the car trunk and truck windows open for the haul was astonishing!


We also spotted this cool double bridge amidst the construction (hence the orange in the margin) during one heck of a rain storm in Charleston.


And somewhere in western West Virginia this rig snuck up on us and flew by.  I barely had time to collect my senses and grab my camera to get a shot.  That eagle statue is actually on a towed trailer which was also decorated.  I’ve searched the internet for info on what spurred this strange creation, but wasn’t able to find anything in particular.


While in Kentucky we spotted this 9/11 tribute ‘window art’ on a car at the gas station we happened to stop at.  I thought it was pretty darn cool.


I snapped this photo somewhere in Kansas after a guy at a rest stop offered $10,000 for the truck.  He claimed he’d been following us for about a half hour scoping the truck out and trying to keep up with us!  Obviously we declined the offer.  There’s much more sentimental value in that hunk of metal than almost any offer could cover.


After that, Kansas was long and flat. Fields, sky and windmills for HUNDREDS of miles!


Along with the occasional batch of sunflowers of course!


I didn’t get any shots of Colorado as we entered, since it was already dark by then, but I did get several shots of the region as we made our way from Denver to Durango.  This is the Colorado I remember.



We stopped for gas in one of many small towns we passed through and I spotted these flags on the hillside.  It screamed small-town America to me, and I loved it!


While at that stop I saw a pretty Australian Shepard sitting on a truck bed, patiently waiting for her owner to return from inside. I went over to take her picture as she sat, but once she saw me come close she immediately wanted attention and a few pats on the head.  I was hooked.  Who wouldn’t be with that face?  I finally got her to back up enough to get this shot just before her owner returned.


In Durango, we stayed with my husband’s aunt on her ranch, which held a wealth of wonderful photo ops around the rustic barn, nearby river and house which dates back to the 1800s!















Inside, the house was a treasure trove of antiques and historical finds, like this 1950’s stove and fiesta ware!


And I nearly swooned at all this green glass!


We spotted this cool old church in the historic section of Durango, but didn’t have time to explore.


We also saw this cool rig, which I’m sure see’s lots of action come winter!


Back on the road, we headed out of Colorado and into Utah.  More fields, sky and miles of very little.


I did enjoy these two Indian statues at a gas station we stopped at.  I’m not sure why they were there, but they were pretty large!

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Quickly the fields gave way to sagebrush.


Which then led to very colorful mountains in unique formations as we approached Moab.






And then on the side of the road was THIS!


We’d discussed going to see the famous arch in Moab, but I knew it would be a several hour detour to do so and not an entirely fun one with our large rig.  So when we spotted this arch literally on the side of the highway I was delighted.  Luckily the hubby let me spend 10-15 minutes snapping a few different angles.


And just to give you a little perspective on size, here’s some hikers that were climbing while we were there.


Just down the road from the arch we spotted this little “Hole in the Rock”.  It looked like an interesting tourist stop, but we were on a mission to cover miles so I just snapped a quick shot as we went by.


Just past Moab we stopped again for gas at a station right next to THIS!  I was literally giddy!


I can’t say what I wouldn’t have given to have a model to use this background!


Just think of the possibilities for themed sessions here!


As I made my way back to the truck I spotted these wig wams.  I’m sure they’re not traditional or authentic, but they were still pretty cool.


And as I shot the sights the mob apparently pulled in…We never did figure out who this group really was, but they sure did look suspicious driving all black Lexus and Audi’s individually.  Only two cars had a passenger, and everyone in the group was a young male – although they did have different state tags and the drivers were different ethnicities.   Whoever they were, they sure got a LOT of attention!


From there it was more desert landscapes.  While they hold a beauty all their own they still aren’t my favorite.  It just can’t compete with the splendor of the changing seasons.


This rock formation and upside down flag were high above what I think was a coal plant in nowhere Utah.  I wondered who had climbed up there to install the flag pole and what their significance was for hanging the flag incorrectly.  Perhaps in protest of the coal?  Maybe on accident?  I’ll never know.


We spotted this train heading into a tunnel below us as we rounded a curve, so the hubby made a pit stop when a large shoulder was available soon after so I could get a better shot.



And I decided to do a close-up of these rail road irons that were sitting where we pulled off.62

Several hundred miles later we entered the Columbia Gorge, where we paused along the river briefly.


I ventured down the little trail there to get this final shot of the dam and locks just up river.


We pulled into Portland a little while later and were then busy with unloading the truck and several appointments for things we can’t get up here in Alaska.  Apparently we were so busy that I didn’t take any more pictures!  So that’s our trip across the country in a nut-shell.  Watch my photography website, Jenna D’ Photography for the portraits I created during sessions for several family members and friends!  There’s going to be some great ones! 🙂