Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The BIGGEST Party of my Life - Part 2

Hold on to your party-planning-panties cus I'm about to cram a whole lot of tips/pics/meaningless ramblings into one post.

Instead of writing long posts, I'm going to post a picture then give you a penny-pinching tip.

Just to re-cap...Mike & I had a wedding ceremony in Hawaii...

We honeymooned, then had our wedding reception in our backyard. Our backyard went from this...

To this...

We planned an outdoor wedding reception for 150 people for just a little over $5,000. Here are some ways we did it...

We bought our own drinks. We had an assortment of cokes (mexican cokes...that don't have the high fructose corn syrup in them), water, beer & wine coolers. (If you want to know our stance on alcohol, I'd be more than happy to tell you why we decided to serve it at our reception...just email me or comment & I'll respond) 

The drinks definitely add up but we bought them all at Costco. We did go a little over budget on the drinks but we also brought several cases back that we didn't use. 

* By the way...the "KH" on the corner of these photos stands for Kim Herbert. She is a friend & a wonderful photographer that really helped out by taking photos. She does baby, family, event, etc photography. If you're interested in having her shoot you/your family...let me know & I'll connect you with her. 

Anyways...the drink stands & buckets I got at Garden Ridge. They were a little more than what I wanted to pay but it was getting really hard to find a stand & bucket that fit. I think they were $35/each. I may try & resale a couple of them on craigslist...or just let others borrow them. 

I DIYed my own chalkboard labels with scrap wood, chalk board paint & some hemp twine. And I attached a bottle opener to the side of each drink bucket. 

Two more things - the small silver bucket was for the bottle caps & the silver drink stand was given to us my 3 of my very best friends. It says "Stoudt" on it. Originally, I was going to use it to put the champagne bottles in but Mike & me decided against doing a champagne toast. Even getting champagne at Costco, it was so expensive. No one was crying b/c we didn't have that's good. ;p

Here's a closer picture of the chalkboard signs. I'm telling you...that $4 can of chalkboard paint was one of the best investments for our wedding! 

Theses are the bottle openers I tied to the side of each drink bucket. They're not much to look at but they were on sale at Cost Plus World Market for a little over a buck even though they had these super cool antique key-shaped bottle openers...I opted to save $40 & go with the plain jane ones. 

Catering - We had my favorite restaurant, Souper Jenny, cater the reception. I recently did a post about Souper Jenny & their manager, Marcie, gave some great entertaining tips. You can read that here.

Everyone loved the food & it was pretty filling too. All the sandwiches were on pretzel bread & if you have never experienced that...mark it down on your to-do list, like now. :-) 

Can you see the basket with the chips? We ended up getting those b/c the catering total was a little over what we had wanted to spend. We already had an arugula salad & fruit salad. We were planning on doing a sesame noodle salad as well but decided to save $750 & do kettle cooked chips. We ordered those from Amazon & it ended up to be less than $0.50/person. 

Souper Jenny provided their dishes & some baskets but I had also gotten some additional items for staging the food. See the box that the salad is sitting on? I got that from an antique market in Chattanooga. Funny that it said, "Explosives" on the outside. :-) 

This was our dessert table. The cupcakes were made by my friend Wendy. She is incredibly talented & not only makes cupcakes but has an etsy shop. She makes adorable childrens clothes...but pretty much anything you want her to make...she can do it. She blows me away. Click here to see all the beautiful things she makes.  

Wendy made snicker doodle cupcakes & chocolate chip cupcakes. Both delicious...both I had for breakfast for the next couple of days. I know...I need to go back to spin class bad. ;p

For this table, I had bought some 80s style suitcases at an antique store here in Atlanta for $12 for both. 

I had also bought a lot of antique books for "staging." Here's a tip...the best place to get these are at Goodwill. At antique stores you'll pay between $5-$10 for these books but in can find them for $0.50 - $2. 

The cakes were made by our friend Jeff Carter. He is an amazing man. He makes the best cakes, helped us string all those lights in the backyard & helped Mike put in the patio (it was just a concrete slab before). He can fix pretty much anything & is such a good friend too. And...he's ladies...message me if you're interested. ;p

Everyone loved this cake topper. Jeff said he found it at WalMart a year ago & decided to get it. Little did he know that I had started my strategy of dragging Mike to the alter at that time...

kidding...that's the furthest from the truth. 

We're jumping back a little b/c I wanted to show you how we did the initials in the driveway. 

I wanted to add something that gave the backyard less of a "backyard" feel. I decided to do our initials "M & H." I didn't have much luck finding an oversized I made my own. Thankfully "M" & "H" only have straight lines. I bought a large roll of black paper from a school supply store, used a yard stick & with chalk traced the M, + & H. I bought two bottles of spray marking chalk from Home Depot (this goes away in a few weeks...or so the guy at Home Depot told me). The day of the wedding, my wonderful friend Jenny (this is the beautiful friend that did my wedding invites & programs & this is her site) helped me lay out the stencils & spray the marking chalk. 

I love how it turned out! Great job, Jenny! :p I think it added the perfect touch & for just a little money. 

Black Paper - $9.99
Spray Chalk - $5.00 for two & we had almost a whole can left
Extra supplies (scissors, chalk, etc) - free, already had

This was another "touch." This became a chandelier in our garage. We used the garage for food & favors, so I wanted it to feel less garagey :-). 

I saw something similar to this on pinterest & wanted to recreate it. 

The basket is from Wisteria & it was on clearance for around $7. The fake moss is from Michaels for a few bucks. And don't one's head was in danger of falling wax. Those candles were as fake as Pamela Andersons...oh nevermind. I got them at Hobby Lobby & spent a little more than I wanted. They were just under $30 but the reason I whipped out my EBT was because they came with a remote control! Oh blessed Hobby Lobby. I knew I was going to hang these high & since I'm only 5'4, with heels, I decided the extra bucks were worth it. And it worked awesomely! The rope I had gotten from Home Depot for several other aspects of the reception. 

I know you already saw this...but I wanted to tell you a little more about it. The easel I got at Hobby Lobby for about $10. The blackboard is actually an old piece of ZGallerie art (that I got on uber clearance years ago). I tried to get rid of it at my garage sale (read about it & see it here) but no I whipped out my handy dandy chalkboard paint & voila - a Menu board.'s the 2nd Z gallerie yard sale reject. ;p I painted it with the chalkboard paint too & used a white paint pen to do the "Now Showing" part, then wrote the rest with chalk. 

No one had seen any wedding pictures from our Hawaiian wedding (no family was was just us) so we had Jason Stackhouse from Unique Memories put together a special DVD with pictures, video & our vows. 

Since we didn't have a movie screen, we made our own red-neck version. Jeff (ya know...the single handyman) rigged up a drop cloth that hung from our gutters. :-) I told you it was red-neck but it turned out soo cool. And sooo cheap. Under $15 for a huge big screen...maybe I should mention that option to Mike for his "man cave." 

If you're wondering where we got the projector parents run a summer camp & we were able a projector they use at the camp. 

Do you see that grey thing hanging from the tree? Wonder what in the world that is? is what I like to call my lyric board. 

Mike & I love music. In fact, we don't have just one "song"...we have like 500! :p I decided to take a few song lyrics that mean a lot to us to make some tree art for the backyard. :p 

This is the Keith Urban "Making Memories of Us" board. I made these by begging the guy at Home Depot to cut a few ton of boards for me. He may/may not have hid behind the lawn mowers next time he saw me come into Home Depot. I bought a pint each of a yellow, grey & white paint. (I didn't end up using the white though) 

I took three boards ( I think they're 1x3s...but my brains hates soon as they enter, my brain poops them out...nice visual, huh?) & used wood glue to attach them to two smaller boards. 

After I assembled the boards, I painted a base color of yellow then painted over it with grey. Using my new electric sander (that my lover got me), I sanded those suckers until they had a nice rustic look & the yellow peeked out. After writing the lyrics with a paint pen, Mike drilled holes in the top & I tied some hemp rope through them. 

Here's our Louis Armstrong board. 

And Lifehouse "First Time" board.

Thanks to my wonderful friends - Kauri, Rachael & Jenny that helped by wrapping all the plasticware up in those yellow napkins I got from Ikea. The original plan was have them sitting on each table setting so people didn't have to carry it along with their plates. 



It Happened. 

What I had prayed wouldn't happen. It down-poured. We've had a stinkin drought the whole month of wasn't calling for rain...everything was going there had to be some imperfection.

I'll show you some of the pictures that resulted...but before that I just want to mention again that my friend, Jenny, did my invites (read that post here) & programs. You can see the programs in the picture above (also supposed to be on the tables). They were soo cute. Since our reception was a little different than the typical wedding reception, it was helpful to let the guests know what to expect throughout the night. 

Here are the beautiful tables before the rain...

And now after the soaking. :-( 

It was horrible watching it outside our window. Especially the beautiful yarn lanterns we had worked so hard on.

Apparently yarn lanterns aren't BFFs. 

I was most crushed about the lanterns. We had worked so hard on them & in 20 minutes they turned into ugly string creatures. Several guests tried to make me feel better by admiring the abstract hanging art. Sweet guests. 

There was not one tear shed during the stress & craziness of putting all this together until I saw the lanterns. Oh well, what's a good wedding reception with at least one tear shed by the bride. 

Okay...enough of the crying over soaked parties. See those yellow things on either side of the centerpieces? 

Those are lemon halfs. I realized that I didn't have enough glass tea light holders for every table. Once I priced how much they'd be to buy them...I turned lemons into candle holders. I got a huge bag with like 14 lemons at Costco for $6! So for a little over $0.25/table I got tea light holders. Once again, my friends helped me cut these the day before the reception. We just cut a small piece off either end (so they'd stand up), cut them in half then scooped out the pulp. I played with it the weekend before to see how long they'd last cut & it was about 4 days before I had to throw them out. 

If you're wondering about our flower centerpieces...this was our makeshift flower shop. That's my sister with the striped shirt & Betty Palmer (Rachael, my friends, mom). I couldn't have done it without them. 

The flowers I got from the Dekalb Farmers Market. This was the cheapest route...even cheaper than Costco. Altogether, I spend $190 on the flowers but we had WAY more than we needed. 

A tip on the flowers...depending on your colors, babys breath is super cheap & a great filler. 

We had more than enough for the centerpieces & to add to the food/dessert & favor table. 

The table runners are coffee bean bags, cut in half, from Thousand Hills in Atlanta. 

The centerpieces are three mason jars (most are different sizes) tied together with hemp rope with a tag that says, "Something to Talk About" (more about that in next weeks post). A lot of the mason jars were ones I already had, some my friend Kauri let me use, some I got for a couple dollars from Goodwill & some were old pasta jars that I asked friends to save for me. 

See the yellow chair sashes? I was able to do 75 chairs (every other chair) for $12! Thanks to Goodwill...I found a bolt of this yellow fabric for $12. I just tore small sections off & then we tied them to the chairs. 

And renting white tablecloths can be really expensive. It really is almost a better deal to buy them then to rent them. BUT...I found a girl that posted an ad on craigslist offering white tablecloths to rent for $8/piece for the 120". The rental companies around here were offering the tablecloths for $15-18/each. 

If you're in the Atlanta area & would like to rent from her...her name is Jessica Gearhart Smith & her email is: She gave me permission to post this. She's really a sweetheart & you'll love working with her. 

The tables & chairs were rented from TLC Rents here in Atlanta. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend them. The delivery guys were the best guys in the world, but other than that...I wasn't impressed at all with them. The only money-saving suggestion I have here is to set them up yourself. It saved us a few hundred dollars to set them up & tear them down ourselves...but we did pay a little extra for delivery. 

After the chairs were wiped down & the rain stopped...people were still able to enjoy the food & drinks. 

I'm telling you...if you string some white lights across your backyard, you could lay down old boards on top of cinderblocks & it'd still look swanky. 

And THIS was our surprise dessert! An ice cream truck. This was soo fun. 

The company we went with is Westside Creamery  (click on their name to go to their website) & they were beyond excellent! It was the most fun touch & their ice cream was freakin amazing. I had Cinnamon stomach still screams for more of that. 

You can see part of the sign of all the delicious flavors Westside offers. All of their ice cream is made from scratch too! 

And those beautiful ladies? Two of the most awesome ladies ever! That's Tiffani & Kimberly. Kim is the one that took all the photos you saw with the "KH" on them. She is seriously unbelievably talented. 

And these are some of my best friends in the whole world. There are so many people that without them, the reception wouldn't have been a success. These girls are some of those people. 

We all began praying together once a week when we were in college & haven't stopped since. We're all different but we all love to throw together parties & we all love each other & the Lord. 

Rain, schmain...the best part of the party was spending it with some of the most amazing people in the world! 

Next week...I have just a few more fun tips/ideas to share with you about the reception...then it's back to weekly party-saving tips. 

Always feel free to email me if you have any questions: 



  2. Girlfriend, all the rain in the world couldn't have stopped us from having a fabulous time!!! I loved every little touch you did - my favorite is still the yarn lanterns (RIP).


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