Saturday, December 27, 2014

Shaine & Michael's DC Cherry Blossom Engagement Shoot by Wild Saffron Photography

Last Spring I had the pleasure of styling an engagement shoot for Shaine & Michael that was shot by Sharon of Wild Saffron Photography. I would also later be planning their Whimsical Woodland wedding, so I wanted to tie in the engagement photos to their wedding. 

There would be a bit of a vintage touch to their upcoming nuptials so the first look revolved around vintage romance and was accented by sunrise at the DC Cherry Blossoms. 

 The bride's hair flower is by Little Miss Lovely.

Next we added the Whimsical to the Woodland with these fun DIY Cardboard Bear Head Masks (click here to see how we made them)

For the second look, Shaine wore a vintage dress I purchased on Etsy when I bought the dress I would convert into my wedding dress. The dress was entirely too small for me but I thought one day I'd use it for something and asked the seller for a packaged deal for buying both of them. I paid no more than $25 for it. While the dress won't fit me, it fit Shaine as though it had been made for her.

Monday, September 8, 2014

DIY Cardboard Bear Masks + Behind The Scenes of Shaine & Michael's Engagement Session

When Shaine and Michael asked me to be a part of planning their wedding my mind immediately went to a whimsical woodland affair. Shaine and Michael both love nature and seem happiest outdoors. (Michael even proposed to Shaine at the tail end of a hike.) And Shaine is an aspiring artist. They were on board, but I could tell I lost them a bit when I started explaining my vision for their engagement photos. "You want us to wear... bear masks?" Luckily, the masks turned out super awesome and they eventually become pretty fond of the idea, because I've been kicking around this idea for a while and I knew deep down that Shaine and Michael were the perfect humans... to be bears. 

I was unable to find any sort of reference for anyone else doing this. I would have loved to print out a pattern or buy a DIY kit or something, but one did not exist. Buying them from an Etsy artisan was way out of the budget and I had a hard time finding proper full head bear masks anyway. In the end, we decided to wing it. 

Here's How We Did It

1.  Construct bear heads from cardboard.

I know, I know... easier said than done. But we just dove in on this. I laid out a couple pieces of MDF to protect my floor and then threw down a big stack of Zulilly boxes, hot glue, box cutters, and scissors. I roughly sketched out how I saw the male and female bear head looking, assigned pieces for my helpers Shaine and Michael to cut out, and gave Shaine free reign to get creative with the features like the eyes and noses, as I knew she'd make them look great. 

For the bulk of the head we cut strips of cardboard, bent them to our will, and hot glued them. Before moving to each new section I'd plop the bear heads on Shaine & Michael to ensure these babies were still going to fit, and then on we'd go. 

If a piece wasn't thick enough, we'd add more cardboard. If a corner was too sharp, we'd bend a strip of cardboard over top of it and build up a curve. After a few hours we had a couple carboard masterpieces... a slightly taller and wider head for Michael and a more narrow head for Shaine.

We considered leaving them in this stage, but decided there would not be enough contrast to make the details stand out in photos. I cared more about them looking cool in pictures than about them being functional masks, so we opted to not include eye or nose holes. The gaps at the bottom were enough that no one would suffocate, and these would be used only for photo purposes. We added a bow and a bow tie and would meet later to move on to the next step.

2. Make papier (paper) mache paste.

The papier mache paste was a very simple 1-part flour to 2-part water mixture. We cut up strips of newspaper to dip in the paste. Because we weren't sure if we wanted to paint them, we opted not to use pages with a lot of color and tried to stick to a palette of black, white, and small pops of green. 

3. Cover those heads!

I thought we might need to do several layers, but they looked okay after one generous layer of paper.

4. Allow drying time.

I'm not sure what a bare (bear?!) minimum would be for drying these things, but I'd suggest at least 24 hours. We were meeting once a week to work on these so they had a full week to dry, but seemed liked they would have been good to go the next day.

5. Paint.

Wedding planning is stressful, so we were not trying to add any extra un-necessary work. For this reason we thought long and hard about whether or not to paint these. The original plan was to spray paint them gold all over and add a bit of detail here and there. We then considered not painting them at all. In the end we went with painting details of white, back, and gold. 

I LOVE how these turned out. They took a total of three evenings to create--granted that first evening was a pretty late one. 

Want to see the bear heads in action?

Natch! I loved Sharon of Wild Saffron Photography's work shooting Jessi & Mark's Circarnival Wedding, so I reached out to her again to shoot Shaine & Michael's engagement session. The photos below are some behind the scenes shots I took with my iPhone. Sharon's [much better] photos will follow in an upcoming blog post. 

We met before sunrise to shoot the Spring Cherry Blossoms of DC at sunrise and started with some "normal" shots. 

Enter the bear heads...

Shaine's dress was a random purchase I made on Etsy ages ago. While I was buying a dress to use for my own wedding gown, I noticed the same Etsy seller was also selling this amazing floor length peach gown that was about 10 sizes too small for me. I had no idea what I would do with it, but I got a bundled discount for the two gowns and decided I would use it... one day. It turned out to be amazing foresight on my part because Shaine is a tiny little thing and it fit her absolutely perfectly with no alterations. AND it looked great with a bear head.

This shoot turned into a bit of a spectacle. Hoards of photographers were already around shooting the cherry blossoms and didn't hesitate to jump in and shoot the "bear people." [Do you happen to be one of these dozens of people? Please send me your pics!!]

Stay tuned for the "real" photos, shot by Sharon, in an upcoming post!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eleventh Birthday Luau Party | The Eluau

Last year I threw my darling little sister the most legit Warrior Cat Birthday Party in all the land. This year I hoped to throw her another fun, unique, and challenging soiree. I presented her with the idea for a Palindrome Party in honor of her 11th birthday--a palindrome in and of itself. I even want so far as to design a palindrome-heavy invitation in a sophisticated but fun color scheme.

But no. She wanted a luau. An eleventh birthday luau. An el-uau, if you will.

I was not happy with her generic choice of birthday theme, but it was her birthday after all. So I obliged...

Luau Party Decor Ideas

I started the party planning with a "trip" to Oriental Trading. As you might expect if you've frequented this site, there was plenty of selection. But I wanted to avoid to a certain extent things that looked too much like they came from a party store. I steered clear of inflatable items (okay except for one inflatable pig cooler that ended up being so huge that we put it in the pool and it sat 3-4 eleven year old easily) and swirly cutouts meant to hang from a ceiling. 

In an effort to deviate from typical luau patterns I bought most of the paper good (napkins, plates, banners, and lanterns) in a brightly colored ikat print reminiscent of a tribal/island motif. Additional paper lanterns in pineapple and blue/green patterns were also purchased to extend the color scheme.

The "Get Tropical" station greeted our eleven year old guests upon arrival. Baskets of colorful pint-sized grass skirts, clip-in hair flowers, and leis from Oriental Trading were arranged in baskets I found lying around the house. The little chalkboard was from Zulilly and the table top tiki totem torches were found, of all places, at the grocery store (Giant). The tropical print tablecloth was picked up from Home Goods for under $15. 

In addition to taking home their hula girl ensembles, each girl also took home a beach ball and a personalized pineapple cup, both from Oriental Trading. 

Grass table liners in green and tan were purchased for the food and beverage tables from Oriental Trading. Because the food would be outside in June, screened food covers were a necessity. I found cute pink and green covers in a tropical motif by Cynthia Rowley at Home Goods for about $12 each.

Luau Party Decor DIYs

Because my little sister is nearing that age where all things teenager are fascinating, I knew from the beginning I wanted to up the cool factor of her party by adding in a Selfie Station. Her circle of friends are all already toting their own cell phones, so this was a big hit. Had it been a slightly older crowd, I would have also posted up a hashtag for them to share their photos with on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The bamboo-look sign was from Oriental Trading.

These giant flowers added a major impact to the selfie station and the decor in general. They were relatively easy to make and inexpensive...but definitely took some time. I used this tutorial to create them: Giant Tissue Flower DIY.

I purchased a styrofoam wreath and colorful paper drink umbrellas in bulk from Oriental Trading to make this umbrella wreath. Added bonus: it looked cute hanging on my front door for the rest of the summer. I'm sure you could find a tutorial on how to do this somewhere, but you don't really need one. Just shove umbrellas all over this styrofoam ring and you're done. 

Like the tabletop tiki totem lanterns, these larger stake versions were also found randomly at my local grocery store (Giant). 

I mentioned these pineapple cups from Oriental Trading earlier. I googled "luau font" and used paint pens to write the names of each of the girls on their own personalized cup. 

This cake was my absolute favorite thing about this party. My sister, as usual, wanted an ice cream cake. This meant there was not a whole lot I could do ahead of time to decorate. Whatever I did would need to be done pretty quickly. 

I purchased one large can of pirouette cookies, cut them diagonally different lengths, and lined the outside of the plain white cake with them to look like bamboo stalks. I then added the cut off top of a pineapple and some colorful Hawaiian silk flowers (from Oriental Trading). Using the same luau lettering from the pineapple cups, I wrote on the top with a tube of green icing. It took about 20 minutes, including time to cut the cookies (which I did ahead of time). 

Luau Party Food Ideas

"Flip flops" were made by drawing with icing tubes on Nutter Butters. Could NOT be easier!

Pig (in a blanket) Roasts were just hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough. Silk flower picks from Oriental Trading (the same ones I used on the cake) were stuck in the tops.

This pineapple dip did not turn out so well for me (I think I added too much pineapple juice?), but I was able to salvage it with plain gelatin. Despite the struggle, the end product tasted fine and looked really cute. I got the recipe here: Pineapple Cream Cheese Spread

These candy kabobs were purchased from Oriental Trading.

Pool noodles: aka Twizzlers (and similar Twizzler-like candy). 

Floaties: aka sour gummy peach rings.

The Hawaiian flower picks for the cheese were purchased, you guessed it, from Oriental Trading.  Leftover paper umbrellas from the wreath were used to decorate the food tags. 

For "real food" we served hot dogs and kabobs.

Beverages were an assortment of fruit punches and lemonades. Guests mixed all the drinks together to create "Hurricanes." The tiki covered cabana was also from Oriental Trading. 

Luau Party Fun & Games

Because this party was held at a home with a pool, swimming was an obvious choice of activities for this fĂȘte.

Guests also enjoyed a few rounds of Limbo. I'd advise against using a pool noodle as your limbo stick, but eleven year olds thought this was the best choice. 

The most fun was probably had with the sack races. Any sack would do, of course, but these luau themed sacks from Oriental Trading were just as inexpensive as the rest of 'em so I figured we might as well. 

For all my meticulous planning, I completely spaced on game prizes... and believe me when I say these kids expected to be compensated for their wins. Luckily, in addition to throwing a mean children's party, I'm also great at bluffing. I told them the pineapples (that were picked up from the grocery store) were specifically imported from Hawaii for my sister's "Special Day" and that comparable pineapples could not be found anywhere else in this time zone.  

It worked.