Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our wedding day

As you may know, my now husband and I met in Surf City on Long Beach Island, New Jersey eight years ago. Our parents own beach houses across the street from one another, so I guess you can say I was the girl next door. A year and half ago, just after Hurricane Sandy had ravaged our beloved island, he proposed to me on our beach while on a visit from our home in Virginia to help our families assess the damage and clear out my house to be gutted. Just minutes after becoming engaged, we knew there was nowhere else we could marry except on Long Beach Island — where our love story began.

The timing of our wedding was very important to us. He was graduating from medical school in Virginia and we wanted our wedding soon after so we could take our honeymoon to the Maldives and Dubai before starting his residency in dermatology.  With a very busy wedding season already heating up a year and half out, we were very fortunate to secure the Brant Beach Yacht Club to hold both our ceremony and reception overlooking the beautiful bay in late spring.

We wanted to give our friends — many who had never been to Long Beach Island and were traveling from far away — a little taste of what the Jersey Shore is really like and not what they’ve seen on TV.  My mother and I set off to DIY nearly every aspect of our wedding to make it a true reflection of our love of Long Beach Island.

Since I have a background in marketing and public relations, I have dabbled a bit in graphic design and thought I'd put what I'd learn to good use and set about creating all of our invitations, signs, menus, programs, table name banners and escort cards. 

The invitation suite I created in addition to the engagement party invitation and Save the Date

I created double-sided thank you/menus and programs
I started with a seaplane and banner, which is a common sight when you’re laying on the beach in New Jersey, and used it throughout the invitation suite. For the reception, I constructed actual toy planes and banners with the name of each town on the island. These were strung up above each table to look as though they were actually flying. 

Guests found their tables using personalized beach badges — another detail unique to the Jersey Shore — with the name of the town/table on them. 

Beach badges were used as escort cards

Our sweetheart table was named after Ocean Beach in San Francisco where we will be moving to for Brian to complete his residency. 

Our sweetheart table with the special Ocean Beach banner for our upcoming move to San Francisco
We started with a muted color palette with gray and beige tones that you find in nature like in the driftwood and shells we used and then added some pops of color with coral and turquoise throughout. The centerpieces we put together using galvanized and rope lanterns surrounded by handmade nautical rope wrapped mason jars filled with hydrangeas and baby’s breath. Votive candles and shells were also added. 

The tables at our reception
The entire yacht club — both inside and out— was transformed through the use of tulle, burlap, driftwood, oyster shells, baby’s breath, starfish and shells. 

Just a sampling of the shell accents from our wedding
Other DIY elements included: the shell and driftwood bouquets for the bridesmaids and me; the boutonnieres for Brian, the groomsmen, our fathers and ring bearer; the ring bearer’s sign; the flower girl’s bucket; the “B & B” shell letters; driftwood frames; oyster shell garland; and more.  

A few of the DIY elements we tackled for the wedding
We did a “first look” on the beach before the ceremony. I am so happy we did this since we were able to knock out all of the wedding party and family photos and truly enjoy the extended cocktail hour with our guests. 

Our "first look" on the beach
The party got started early with a bellini bar set up prior to the ceremony for guests to have drinks and be able to toast us once we were married. Surely this helped turn our wedding into one of the most epic dance parties I’ve ever been to — and that was before anyone sat down to eat their salads!  

A bellini bar for guests to quench their thirst before and during the ceremony

May 30 will be a day we will never forget. Having all of our different groups of friends and family all together in one place for an entire weekend was the most cherished part. We could never thank everyone enough for all of their love and support throughout the wedding process and our lives, but we’d expressly like to thank both our families — especially my mom and my sister — for all of their help, our caterer Joe Dringus of Touch of Elegance Catering for making food that people are still raving about and our photographer Ann Coen for giving us beautiful images we will cherish for a lifetime.

Just a few of my favorite shots from the beach beforehand (above) and the ceremony/reception (below)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Geeking out

I know I am late to post this, but I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by any longer. I was featured on another blog! For many of the other bloggers I follow, I know that being featured by a fellow blogger is no big deal. But for me, this was huge!

Stylish Patina is a blog I follow, and actually, the woman behind the blog Kelly, is somewhat of an inspiration to me. I stumbled onto to her blog after purchasing Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. She has my dream set up. She runs her own shop selling Chalk Paint and Milk Paint, furniture and home decor. She dabbles in vintage rentals, which is huge for weddings right now. And she even teaches classes!  Sigh...hopefully one day that can be me, too!

But back to her blog post. Back in March she featured yours truly as a guest blogger and featured my post on one of my dresser redos, below. If you get a chance, please visit her site and check it out! And be sure to peruse through some of her older posts and even her Pinterest page. I know I often turn to both when I'm in need of a little pinspiration!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shell Wedding Bouquets

Now you know I have been dying to share all the details of our wedding. Yup. I am finally a Mrs! However, I so loved the way our photos came out by Ann Coen Photography, and am so proud of the hard DIY work we put in, that want to wait and see if I can get a wedding blog or magazine to feature our wedding. And they are kind of picky about those exclusivity clauses! Anyway, once I find out if we've been accepted or not, I will be sure to share all of the details.

But, that doesn't mean I can't start sharing some of the DIY projects we worked on for the wedding — and there are a lot. Between my mom, my sister and me, we pretty much DIY'd the entire shindig!  Starting with all of the invitations (engagement party, wedding, thank yous), we then tackled the table names, escort cards, signs, centerpieces, boutonnieres, flower girl basket, ring bearer sign, arbor and everything in between.

Today though I am going to show you the beautiful shell bouquets we made. These were so simple and very cheap. Much cheaper than going the flower route and perfect for our beachy wedding.

Aren't my bridesmaids gorgeous?

In the up close images of the bouquets above, you can see how mine differs a little from the bridesmaids. We used more pure white shells with mine and then added pops of color throughout. Theirs had more muted color shells. They also had turquoise ribbon wrapped around their driftwood handles to tie into the pops of turquoise from their necklaces and flower pins. Mine had cascading twine with shells on it that my mom had picked up on one of her many seashell shopping trips.

I originally found the idea on Pinterest, of course, and took pinspiration from several of the pins, but I mostly followed the tutorial for the one on top, below, which I found on Wedding Bee.

The top is me with my bridesmaids and our shell bouquets we made. The bottom row is pinspiration via here, here and here.
We used a Styrofoam ball purchased at Michael's, which come in a few sizes at varying prices. We figured styrofoam would help make the bouquets a bit lighter, but they were still definitely heavy. We joked we could club our hubbies with them!

We then started by gluing in the driftwood handles, which my mom had found while walking the beach on Long Beach Island. We used a lot of glue to make sure they were securely in place. I had nightmares about the shells balls falling off and rolling down the aisle! Thankfully, they held up well! The silly things us brides worry about!

Most of the shells were store bought, but a few on my bouquet were from some of the beach vacations me and the hubs had taken together. We mostly hot glued the shells of various shapes and sizes randomly around each ball. We did find though that starting with a few of the larger shells and then layering with smaller shells helped fill in the blank spaces the best.

For my bouquet, we also hot glued some shells to floral pins and stuck those in tiny crevices throughout to give it an even more layered look like the pinspiration images. We even tinkered around with adding some silk flowers like the Wedding Bee pinspiration (and pictured below on the right) but opted in the end to take those off for a more bridal (white) feel.

Here we are working away. It took the three of us a few hours to make four of them.
 I absolutely love the way they turned out. We received so many compliments on them. And the best part is, we each have a wonderful keepsake to remember the day since these can now easily be displayed in our homes, either on their own or perched in a vase.

Just a few more parting beauty shots...

Yes, that's my hubby. He's so handsome. I'm a very lucky girl!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Refinished and distressed dresser

So I just finished my first resale piece! My sister was kind enough to give me her childhood dresser that she no longer could fit in her guest room...for free. How cool is that?! This gave me an opportunity to remake this piece to sell instead of just refinishing pieces I already own or needed to use myself. I am so very excited! Here's the before and after:

It was a beautiful solid wood dresser but was just dated looking. The top was also scratched and one of the tracks for a drawer was disconnected, which I fixed using a new screw and wood glue before I got started.

I knew I wanted to go with the wood tone on top and use chalk paint on the bottom like I did with this dresser turned media stand. However, I thought that this dresser would look great distressed in a shabby chic look that is so easy to achieve with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax.

So the first step was sanding down the top with a hand sander since this part was being restained. The rest of the dresser did not need to be sanded since that is the magic of using chalk paint. Luckily, I had some leftover stain from another project.

It took about three coats to get it to the color I wanted and to cover up the scratches that I had sanded out. I usually like to give the coat a day to dry in between since I've been burned in the past with stain not drying completely. Always remember to wipe down about 15 minutes after applying the stain. Better to use more coats to achieve the right look than to have to start all over again if the stain won't dry.

I then put on a coat of polyurethane for protection and durability.

With the top complete, I then taped it off using painter's tape and got to work on the bottom. I removed all of the hardware and got rid of it. Some of the brass pieces were broken and I did not like the dated look so to me, they weren't worth saving and refinishing. I removed all the drawers and also taped them off around the edges so that it would have a nice, clean look when the drawers are opened.

I mixed a custom blend of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint using roughly 1/2 Aubusson Blue, 1/4 Old White and 1/4 Provence, all of which I already had on hand. I used Pinspiration from here and here. It took about 2.5 coats to get the coverage I was looking for.

Once the paint was dried (which can be in one day or less with chalk paint. It dries fast!), I started to distress the piece. Using a sanding block and regular sand paper, I worked my way around all of the edges of the dresser and drawers. You can see how this brings out both the stain that is below the paint and also the natural wood tone. This gives it a lot of character in my opinion. Like its been loved on for many years. See the details:

After distressing I sealed the entire dresser with Annie Sloan clear wax using a wax brush. Once the wax was dry, I buffed the dresser with a rag to give it a nice sheen.

I then added on some oil rubbed bronze handles that I purchased at Lowe's that bring out the darker top and darker distressed points.

I love the way the dresser came out. Now for the hard part...selling it! As you can see from the pictures, the dresser is sitting in my dining room. I don't have a garage or basement or anywhere that I can work on furniture. So for now, the dining room is it!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Let's talk about wedding hair

With the wedding now under six months away, I guess it's okay to admit that I have kind of been agonizing over how I'll wear my hair for the wedding. Silly, I know, but I can't help it. There are so many options and pinspiration I am finding on Pinterest that I keep changing my mind.

Originally I thought all up. Having a beach wedding with the unpredictable weather and a likely chance of it being windy, I figured having all my hair up would ensure that my hair would look nice all day and all night long. I am thinking having it curled and then put up in a loose way, with lots of volume on top and definitely not structured. Sort of like these:

You see, I have very long, but very fine hair. It does not hold a curl for more than a few hours no matter how many tools I've tried and how much hair spray I use. I leave the house looking great, but in a few hours my hair is straight and ratty looking, kind of how it looked at the end of our engagement photo shoot. Notice the progression? No fun for wedding pictures. So that is why I've ruled out wearing my hair down, even though that's how I wear it most days.

But then there's my fiance. He's told me many times how much he likes my hair in a high ponytail with a little volume on the top. I wore it like that the first time we went out partying with each other and I wear it like that often when we go out. So that is definitely an option, too, so long as I can add some extensions to it for volume to dress it up for the big day. I don't want to end up looking like I have a rat tail by the end of the night! So now I am leaning toward something like these:

I've read all the bridal magazines and blogs that suggest that brides don't do anything too drastic from their everyday look for their big day, hair and makeup included. So that is why I am now leaning toward the ponytail look.

The other thing I'll need to decide on is if I want to where a veil, a flower in my hair, or both. When trying on dresses I definitely felt like more of a bride with the veil on but that might be hard to pull off with these bumped up and pumped up hair dos. Clearly, I like big hair.

So what do you think? Did you or are you agonizing over your wedding hair do, too? How did you ultimately decide? And were you happy with your decision?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Driftwood Christmas Tree

We plan to use a lot of driftwood when decorating for our wedding. My mom has so kindly volunteered to scour the beaches of Surf City, New Jersey this winter to find some large pieces we can use for part of the centerpieces, to decorate the gift and dessert tables and maybe even to adorn an arbor to be married under.

Pinspiration: driftwood centerpiece, driftwood garland, driftwood arbor
But unfortunately, the large pieces are few and far between. She has lucked out though and scored a ton of smaller pieces. She had the awesome idea to use some of those smaller driftwood pieces as the handles for the shell bouquets me and and my bridesmaids will be carrying. (More on those in a later post, I promise).

My mom is the kind of person that can't sit still. Like me, she always has to have a project to work on. So you can see her dilemma when she's sitting in front of a mini-mountain of driftwood. She just had to do something with it. With the holidays right around the corner, she came up with the perfect solution: a driftwood Christmas tree!

So cool, right? I asked her how she did it and it was really quite simple. She bought a wooden dowel. Then she drilled a hole through the center of each piece of driftwood equivalent to the size of the dowel. She also used a block of wood for the base, which she also drilled into, but not all the way through. She then slipped the driftwood of varying lengths onto the dowel, with the larger pieces mostly at the bottom leading up to the smaller ones toward the top. She then stuck the dowel into the wooden base, but not before adding a bit of wood glue for stability. She then fanned out the "branches" to give the tree some fullness. She then used a glue gun to add a shell at the top for a star (although she said she's waiting for the perfect starfish to really top her tree).

I love that she left hers very simple, as it fits in with the natural coastal vibe. But I can see adding some embellishment in the form of tiny, shiny ornament balls, or glitter to make it bling. The coolest part is, once the holidays are over, the "branches" can be moved around so that it lays flat for storage. Although, I think I would find a way to display it all year long.

Here are a few other crafty ideas I've found on Pinterest for decorating with driftwood.

Pinspiration: seahorse, driftwood orb, driftwood anchor, driftwood lantern, driftwood mirror, horse head

Friday, September 20, 2013

Engagement Photos

So I have been holding off sharing the photos from our engagement shoot (taken way back in June) because I used a few of them on the Save the Dates and I didn't want to ruin the affect of people seeing them for the first time. But, I have been taking my sweet time getting the Save the Dates addressed and out the door, and I couldn't wait any longer! I am still dying to share them on Facebook though, but I will restrain and vow to get the Save the Dates finished this weekend!!

Anyway, we decided to use the extremely talented Ann Coen as our photographer for the wedding and part of the package she offers includes an engagement photo shoot. Ann is a local Long Beach Island photographer, so it couldn't have been more convenient for us. It helps that she knows the area so well and has shot just about everywhere there is there. Plus, our good friend Kyle, who shot our proposal, now works with Ann. We shot up on the beach on our street in Surf City.

Now, I'm not sure how many of you have had engagement photos taken, but I must say, it was awkward! And that is saying a lot given the fact that I LOVE being in front of a camera. I already knew that it would be a challenge for my fiance, since he does not love being in front of a camera, but I didn't realize how silly I would feel. It is very hard having all of the attention focused on your "coupleness."  We are also not the PDA-type of couple to begin with. It is hard to act natural when a perfect stranger is asking you to kiss and hold hands and be lovey dovey.

It also didn't help that is was just barely raining. We decided to go ahead with the shoot anyway since we were only up in Jersey for a few more days, but my hair — which looked awesome before we left the house —looked like Bob Marley's dreads once we were up on the misty beach.

But all that being said, Ann was awesome to work with. She is so laid back and just went with the flow, which I think set us more at ease. She even laughed along at us with us when I misunderstood a pose she was trying to get us in and accidentally straddled my fiance in a not-so-save-for-family-viewing kind of way.

All in all, I think it was great practice for the wedding. We all got to know each other a bit better and my fiance and I can work on our picture posing skills for the next eight months. I love Ann's style of photography and can't wait to take photos on our wedding day!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorites:

So what do you think? Do we look as awkward as we felt? How did your engagement shoot go? I just ordered a bunch of these to frame around the house and everytime I was looking through them to pick out my favorites,  I was thinking "damn, my fiance is hot!" Haha! Can't wait to marry this man!