Erin married Josh on 1st November 2020 in Charlottesville, VA, USA. Click here to read all Erin’ planning posts to date.
THREE FACTS: (1) Erin and Josh planned an outdoorsy fall wedding on a budget in Virginia’s Shenandoah mountains. (2) Erin recently completed her conversion to Judaism, and she and Josh are looking forward to filling their big day with Jewish traditions while keeping it enjoyable and understandable to friends and family from all backgrounds. (3) Erin is a member of Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club!
When DIY-ing is more “doing-it-yourselves” than “doing-it-yourself”
As many brides are, I was working on a strict budget for my wedding, and I really couldn’t afford to pay fabulous artists and creators to make various aspects of my wedding day.
Luckily, Judaism has this notion called “hiddur mitzvah,” which can be interpreted as bringing beauty to ritual objects. I kind of took this notion and applied it to as many parts of my wedding as I could.
I have always loved vintage park posters, and since living so close to Shenandoah National Park means that Josh and I spend a lot of time hiking and driving through the gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains, I decided to try to incorporate their aesthetics into our save the dates. About a year into our relationship, Josh had gotten really into astrophotography, and wanted to start trying to take photos of the Milky Way, and he really took to it.
We had kind of a starry night feel to a lot of our wedding stuff, so I decided to take one of his photos and “poster-ify” it using Photoshop and Illustrator.
I edited Josh’s actual photo, but based how I edited it off of vintage National Park posters, like this one for Shenandoah National Park. I even made the back look like a little postcard, and we got them all printed up at Staples, and hand-wrote personal notes on the back, in addition to a message to our guests about COVID-19 precautions.
From the moment I knew it was a possibility, I wanted to make our own ketubah. We went through a lot of ideas, but eventually settled on using a Milky Way photo and adding text to it. Josh was really the creative director on this. He did all the research on what sort of lens he would need to get a crisp enough photo of the Milky Way to make it large enough to be a ketubah, he found a great place to take the photo (a nearby pond), and he had the idea that we should be sitting looking at the Milky Way, similar to our Save the Dates.
After he took the stunning photos (we’d actually need two – one where the Milky Way was in focus, and one where we were), he edited them to get the technical parts of the photo sharp, and then it was my turn! I combined the two photos, taking in Josh’s thoughts about which edits were perfect, and then added the text in a way where it followed the shape of the Milky Way. We were so lucky to have one of our future ketubah witnesses double-check our Hebrew, as she is a native speaker, and Josh and I definitely aren’t!
We got a giclee print of it done at a local print shop, and they even provided us an extra sheet of paper to test pens on! (Which was good, because the first pens I tried DEFINITELY did not work on this paper.) Altogether, this cost us about $100, which was just ensuring we got it printed on archival-quality paper.
My beautiful now-husband, Josh, showing off our framed ketubah without glass (he was also giving his suit a test run.) I cannot emphasize how sharp and amazing this photo he took is in person. I’m so thrilled with how this turned out.
My programs were fairly simple, I created one fall Blue Ridge Mountain scene in Photoshop, and then edited a second version of it to look like nighttime. I got a lot of my ideas for wording from resources in Brides Club and put in all the text in Illustrator.
I also couldn’t help but include a line from one of our favorite movies – The Princess Bride.
The technical bits are that I had these printed out by Staples on legal-sized paper, and it was only about $1 a page – not bad at all considering we were having a very small wedding!
For my next DIY, I wish I had a photo of it, but I’m so proud of it, I just have to share anyway – my apartment complex recently got rid of our very old windows and put new ones in. They just left a bunch of the old windows by the dumpster, so I grabbed one, cleaned it off, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and then painted in welcome messages. This project was actually completely free as I had all of the paints and brushes I needed. Woohoo!
An example of the font text generator I used to help me know what I kind of wanted my lettering to look like.
I was also super-excited to make our chuppah. Since we couldn’t afford a florist, we didn’t really have an option for a chuppah to be provided by a vendor. I decided to make one out of copper pipes (because they seemed easy to transport) and I thought that we could use them later as parts of our sukkah (I’m really looking forward to this.)
The basics you’ll need if you want to do this are:
- Copper pipes – we bought eight 10’ pipes, and cut four down to 6’ (for the sides of the roof) and four down to 7’ (for the supporting poles)
- Extra notes:
- You do not need the thicker pipes, go for the cheaper ones
- ¾” pipes worked really well for us
- 4 L-shaped copper pipe connectors
- 4 T-shaped copper pipe connectors (these will be combined to form the roof)
- Extra fine steel wool – to make your poles nice and shiny! I’d suggest wearing gloves and a mask while scrubbing the pipes, or your hands will look gross and your mouth will taste like pennies!
- Laquer (I used Minwax Clear Brushing Lacquer with a clear satin finish) This will help keep the pipes looking nice over time so you don’t have to constantly scrub them.
- An angled brush
- A step ladder (if you’re short like me)
- Rebar – my mother-in-law came up with this – since it was going to be windy, we got four 2’ pieces of rebar to stick in the ground – it did a great job keeping it in place
- Something for the roof
- Something to old the roof in place (we used a mixture of zip-ties, string, and tape)
- Extra notes:
Step 1 of the scrubbing process – stickers are the worst!
Step 2 of the scrubbing process: almost there!
Step 3 of the scrubbing process: SHINY! (Now do this seven more times)
The final product! Constructed with the help of my parents, in-laws, and some of our more engineering-minded bridal party.
I unfortunately realized well before the wedding, that I wouldn’t have the budget for flowers, but my amazing friend Karisa sent me some of her unused Sola Wood Flowers! I then ordered a few extra (as well as some dried greenery to beef up the bouquet.) I initially dyed all of the flowers into some colors I really love, and then hand-painted on finer details. The flowers ended up looking like carnations, roses, anemones, and dahlias. I then hot-glued the “blooms” onto the stems, and arranged them into a bouquet.
There’s really not much to say about my veil, but I’ll share these three things:
- Making a drop veil is very cheap (even cheaper than ordering it off of Amazon if you just buy the tulle from JoAnn’s) and fairly easy.
- You could essentially just treat it like creating a circle skirt with no middle part cut out for your waist, or you could follow instructions like those at the bottom of this page: http://www.veiled-threat.com/?p=1622
- Do not do this late at night in a room where you do not have a solid, flat surface to lay the veil on, or you will get needlessly frustrated.
This is a photo I took frustrated because I could lay my veil out any other way – things did get better from here.
Brides Club in Smashing the Glass gives each of its official members a smash pouch, which is really lovely and high quality, but Josh and I wanted to both smash a glass, and I figured in order to avoid us smashing each other’s foot, we should have two bags, so I based the design for a second bag off of the Smashing the Glass bag, but I bought a sparkly fabric (to look like the night sky) and did the inside fabric in a fun metallic/pearlescent purple! I embroidered “Mazel Tov!” in Hebrew on one side with little stars at the points of the letters (because once I commit to a theme, I really commit!) I then sewed the edges, leaving a space for a ribbon to be pulled through so that we could tighten the opening to keep glass from falling out.
This next DIY isn’t just one I’m glad I did for the wedding, it’s also a great date night idea! Karen suggests buying the cheapest glassware you can find for smashing under the chuppah, so that’s exactly what I did. I got two stemless wine glasses from Dollar Tree, and Josh and I painted them as a date night one night – so fun! (And they smashed like a dream.)
Once I realized our reception was going to be held away from the restaurant, I knew I wanted to make reusable glasses for people to use (especially since we otherwise couldn’t have had drinks that came in bottles.) I decided to use mugs with handles, because they are easy to hold, and they could have screw on lids to prevent anything (bugs, germs, etc.) from getting into the drink if people stepped away.
I used reusable vinyl stickers created by my friend (and fellow BCM member), Karisa, of Mrs. Wendt’s Wares! These were perfect, as they made sure that etching cream only went where I wanted it to go. I used the etching cream twice per glass to make sure it was really clear, and then attached nametags to the glasses so no one would confuse their glasses. Wedding guests were also able to take theirs home as a souvenir.
I gave gifts to all of my bridesmaids, and I wanted to get one a pet portrait of her beloved cat, but then I found out those can be quite expensive, so I decided to try my hand at embroidery. I used a fat fabric square from Wal-Mart, traced the general shape I wanted, and then went to town!
My parents can be hard people to shop for, so I made them a pair of trays I painted blue to be used for breakfast in bed (or eating in the living room) on one side, there is a mountainscape, and little pieces of maps that have places that are important to them in Tennessee. On the back side, I wrote “love.” I then varnished them so that they could handle liquid from a drink being dripped on them without getting messed up.
Overall, I’m really so glad with the time I spent DIY-ing stuff. It saved a lot of money, but it also made me feel so connected to the wedding, and really helped our wedding celebration seem like it was uniquely a wedding thrown by Josh and myself. I was also touched by all the people in my life who came together to help make all of these things happen. 10/10 would go through those sleepless nights again.
Click here to read all Erin’ planning posts. And be on the lookout for a full feature on her wedding, coming soon to STG!
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