Saturday, June 7, 2014

DIY 4th of July | Shaine & Michael's Surprise Engagement Party

When Shaine & Michael got engaged last year I decided to throw them a surprise engagement party. Conveniently enough, it was right around the 4th of July so I took the theme and ran with it: a "Love is Like Fireworks" Engagement party.

Right away the DIY projects began. 

"Firework" cupcake toppers were created by bending and wrapping sparkly pipe cleaners around lollipop sticks. 

Food tags were made using a few different coordinating papers and my incredibly old paper cutter.

An old canvas's frame was covered in blue fabric and hand painted to match the theme. 

Rolos were turned into "firecrackers" by covering them in coordinating paper and sticking bent sparkly pipe cleaners into their tops.

Streamers were attached to metal rings to hang as decor. To fancy-up the flatware, I folded them into little napkin packets and wrapped them with coordinating paper.

"Sparklers" were created by dipping pretzel rods into white & milk chocolate and then dipping them in sprinkles. 

To add a bit of non-permanent color to these mason jars, I cut the ends off of balloons and stretched them over the bottoms. These mason jars would be used for the "firefly catchin' station."

These cake displays are great because they can be re-threaded with ribbon to match any occasion. I got them from TJ Maxx years ago and they have been so worth it. 

The Finished Product

The old-fashioned shaved ice machine at the left was a wedding gift. I used it here for "Shaine-d ice." The mason jar at the right contained actual (not of the pretzel variety) sparklers for guests.

Chia seed pudding is super easy to make and (although kind of a weird texture at first) is also delicious and pretty good for you. I topped mine with a tart cherry spread from Whole Foods and served it in shot glasses that were blue at the bottom to match the red-white-and-blue theme.

I was too lazy to cook so instead I served deli-purchased food and gave some of them names that were specific to the couple--like Mike-a-Roni & Cheese salad.

The cupcakes were purchased from my favorite bakery. They're delicious but baked in plain white cupcake liners, so I just stuck them in fresh liners to match the event.

The red fabrics and doilies were mostly vintage and pulled from an old supply I had squirreled away from a bridal shower I decorated a few years ago. 

The letters were wooden and purchased from Michael's on sale. I mod-podged them in coordinating paper. PS, get it? S'Mores? S-M-ores. You get it.

These watermelon cakes were made by stacking different size circles of watermelon. Coconut was sprinkled on top. These looked great--especially with their sparkler candles--but were not the easiest to eat and were completely ignored by all guests.

Burriss Brew & Siegel Sauce were named for the couple's last names. The red "ice cubes" are actually red frozen water balloons. Not only does this look awesome, but ensures melted ice won't water down the beverage. 

The right side of the table was the Firefly Catchin' Station. I didn't know how popular that would be, but the kids at the party really loved it. The mason jars were from WalMart. They were 'balloon dipped' in balloons also from WalMart. The vase was from Pier1 and purchased years ago. The nets were from the Dollar Store.

This little picnic spot was set up as a cute photo op for the couple... 

But instead turned into a cute photo op for my husband and one of our neighbors. Things got weird.

Naturally, no fireworks party would be complete without a bit of actual fireworks.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Circarnival Wedding Details | Vintage Circus Carnival Wedding on a Budget

I've previously shared some beautiful photos shot by Sharon of Wild Saffron Photography of Jessi & Mark's Vintage Circarnival wedding. Today [finally!] I'm going to share some detail shots of the DIY goodness that I shot myself.

The Cake

Jessi's sister is an aspiring cake artist and was kind enough to create this cute elephant-topped circus cake.

I picked up this wheelbarrow for cheap from a yard sale. It's a Budweiser beer display from a liquor store so I painted pieces of plywood with circus lettering and hung them from the side to hide the beer logos. The wedding was in October so the hay bales were an easy (and inexpensive) find at a local farm. 

These paintings are now hanging in the couple's living room. 

I originally found these cupcake towers on Oriental Trading but found them for slightly cheaper on Amazon (plus free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime).

Drinks & "Stuff"

The circus gods were in our favor when we started the [last minute] shopping for this wedding. Michael's just happened to have a loooot of circus. We found all of the plates and napkins at Michael's... and they were on sale. So we stocked up. 

I bought these ice cream holders in summer clearance from Target for about a dollar each. I rolled patterned paper into cone shapes and filled them with napkin wrapped flatware packets. To make the "cones" match a bit better I cut the circus tents from the fronts of some of the napkins and glued them on. 

Because this was a dry wedding, most of the beverages came in the lemonade variety. The bride purchased four different lemonade flavors that I put in three inexpensive drink dispensers from Target and one large drink dispenser that I already owned. The carnival tabletop tent was purchased from Oriental Trading.

I covered the rims of mason jars from Wal-Mart in coordinating paper and glued circus tents from the napkins to the fronts of them to hold bundles of paper straws. Candle sticks from the dollar store were glued to the bottoms of some of them to create height variation.

This inflatable drink cooler was from Oriental Trading. The retro sodas were bought in bulk from Costco. 

I borrowed the popcorn and the cotton candy machines from my parents so they were an easy and inexpensive addition.

The bride and I found this popcorn tin at a yard sale for less than a dollar. We used colorful tulle circles that a friend was getting rid of to tie up little pouches of bird seed for wedding guests to throw during the ceremony's recession.

These light-up marquee letters were an ambitious DIY project. My tutorial on how I made the marquee letters can be found here.

The Candy Bar

For the candy bar I hand painted "Step Right Up" in circus lettering on polka dotted fabric (purchased from JoAnn's) stretched over an old canvas's frame. I flanked the side of the painting with handmade paper pinwheels. For my previous post with a full tutorial on the paper pinwheels click here.

Most of the candy apothecary jars were purchased from Home Goods. The candy was purchased from Oriental Trading and BJ's. Candies were labeled with circus themed names like "elephant droppings" for M&Ms, "clown tears" for Skittles, "silly sticks" for striped candy sticks, "wacky wax bottles" for--you guessed it--wax bottles, etc. 

These canisters were also purchased from Home Goods. We hot glued circus animals (which can be found in the toy aisle at the dollar store) to the lids and spray painted them red.

I already owned the cake stands but threaded them with red polka dotted ribbon for the occasion. The carnival tickets were purchased from Amazon. A few of the display pieces (like this lollipop stand and the gum ball jar) were holdovers from a circus themed baby shower I threw--after which the aunt of the mommy-to-be kindly let me have her creations for my future use.


I found the circus elephant at a local flea market. The animal crackers could have probably been purchased cheaper elsewhere, but were picked up last minute from the grocery store.

 The lion atop the gum ball jar is actually a dog chew toy that I found on Amazon and glued to the top.

The groom proposed to the bride by hiding the ring inside a fortune cookie, so these colorful fortune cookies were a must-have. The strongman dumbbells were made by a friend by covering giant marshmallows (in frosting--I think?) and shoving one on each end of a pretzel rod. 


The bride's mother supplied the bridal bouquet and purchased the flowers.

I made small arrangements of red carnations, baby's breath, and handmade paper pinwheels in vintage milk glasses vases I already owned. Beneath the arrangements I sprinkled vintage doilies that I also already owned.


Nicole of Inflation Sensations built this 'popcorn' balloon arch coming out of large plywood popcorn boxes that my husband and I made. 

I found some resin balloon animal stakes on Amazon but the cost to line the entire aisle with them quickly began to add up. When it occurred to me to ask Nicole to line the aisle in actual balloon animals stuck on dowels I couldn't believe it hadn't occurred to me before. And it was so cute!

Fun & Games

Clown noses were bought in bulk off Oriental trading for guests to wear during the ceremony. 

My husband was kind enough to diligently drink beers and then save the bottles for me for this game of Ring Toss. The rings were purchased off of Amazon and the bottles were scrubbed clean of their labels and then accented with rings of coordinating paper.

A friend sewed tiny little bean bags for us in the same fabric as the "Step Right Up" painting for this simple game of Pitch-a-Pouch. Cups were lined in the same paper as the ring toss bottles.

The same friend who sewed the little pouches for us also donated old formula cans for us to decorate for this game of Kill-a-Can. The balls were purchased from Amazon.

Winners of the carnival games were given these cute fish-in-a-bag soaps. To view my fish soap tutorial click here.

These miniature decks of playing cards with "Thanks for Playing with Us" stickers (customized and purchased through Oriental Trading) served as wedding favors.

Carnival "potato sacks" for sack races were also purchased from Oriental Trading.

Kissing Booth & Barn Decor

My husband built this kissing booth and was even kind enough to engineer it to fold up for easier storing. I hand painted the circus lettering. The pinwheels were handmade out of paper. 

Vintage circus cut-out masks served as kissing booth photo props. I'd purchased them from Michael's before I ever really had a plan for them over a year ago. 

Colorful pennants and red paper pom-poms were purchased from Oriental Trading. The barn venue was Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland.