Post Wedding DIY Project

Having post wedding blues like I did? I have so much extra time now. I LOVED planning and staying busy with wedding crafts. I know, crazy right? I loved the hectic life which makes sense when I tell people I want 4 kids. I was urging for 1 last wedding craft and knew I needed to do something with the wedding cards that were taking up space in a drawer because I couldn’t just throw them away. But what? I looked on Pinterest and found my inspiration. I had so much fun making this with my mom and it was so easy!

Things you’ll need: frame (we used a 16 x 20 inch from Hobby Lobby (on sale for $28.00) which required about 65 cards but you can and will most likely use more than 1 punch from each card if you like this size), Fiskars 2 inch hexagon punch (FIND ON AMAZON HERE), crafters tape– you’ll need 2 for this size project (CLICK HERE), scissors, a ruler, possibly a background sheet, and wedding cards! Oh and maybe a glass of wine.  

Step 1- If you want a focus point, decide on what card you will use and set that aside. The card we chose was 3D and you cannot cut those so it was perfect, it says “Just Married”.

Step 2- Use the Fiskars punch to cut your wedding cards. You may have to cut some of the cards with scissors to get to the desired cut area.  If possible, cut more than one from each card because you will need a lot of fillers for the edges. *Most cards are glued together which makes cutting hard, I had my husband separate them with a knife. ** Check the back of the cards, sometimes there are cute little pictures! *** If you have more of 1 of the same card like we did then get creative with what you cuts!!

Step 3- Background sheet. We used the back of the “picture” the frame came with as our background and attached it to the cardboard using the crafters tape. If this is not possible, cut and attach a white piece of paper to the cardboard (Hobby Lobby has sheets for free at checkout!).

Step 4- Measure for the center and place your focus card in place. *We played with the idea of the focus card not in the center and it didn’t look bad! This might be a fun option.

Step 5- Start from 1 spot, place your pieces with the crafters tape, and keep going! Have fun with this and use your imagination with placement! *I kind of moved all over the place and found it was harder at the end.

Step 6- Put the frame together and you’re done! Show it off! I posted a picture on Facebook and had people commenting that their cards have been sitting for years and now they are going to do this.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! Share a picture if you create your own!


Planning A (destination) Wedding

Welcome to this post! If you are reading this just to read, I hope you enjoy it, if you are reading this because you are recently engaged then WOO HOO CONGRATS, and enjoy! I want to first start off by saying our wedding was not a “true destination wedding” but we planned it from 1,251 miles away (Florida to New York) and I can only imagine that we had to deal with some of the same things someone planning a destination wedding in Jamaica, for example, would deal with. I hope you can learn tips and tricks from this whether you are planning a destination wedding or not and urge you to reach out if you have any questions, I LOVED planning my wedding and would do it all over again tomorrow if I could.

A little back story first. Greg and I were born and raised in the Northeast and knew that even though we were making the move to Florida, we would still have our wedding up North for a few reasons, 1- Have you ever seen the fall colors up North… do I even need to explain myself? 2- Florida is hot and our September wedding would probably be an 80+ degree day filled with humidity, no thanks. 3- We knew we wanted a big wedding with all of our family/friends and making people travel would most likely drop our guest list count. As bad as this sounds, the churches Greg and I grew up going to were just that, we grew up going, but then went away to college and eventually moved away- we wanted to get married in a location that meant something to the both of us. We had vacationed in the Finger Lakes for a few years with our families combined and I had always envisioned having our wedding there at one of the vineyards overlooking the lake… also for many reasons including the location, the attractions, the beauty, and the memories.  For those of you who do not know, the Finger Lakes is a region in New York named for its series of long, thin lakes filled with vineyards, breweries, and distilleries- this sounds like the perfect wedding destination, right?! Because of this area being a bit of a drive from our friends and family in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, many guests made a long weekend or even week trip!

Okay, so lets’ get to it. There are many reasons why couples are interested in a destination wedding and let me tell you, if you want to do it, do it! Yes, some family members are going to be mad because they cannot financially afford the trip, they cannot afford to take time extra time off work, or your parents might even be mad because you are not getting married in your hometown but this is your day and I promise it will be worth it in the end- luckily our parents were on board from the start but we did have some guests who could not make the 4 hour drive for us especially because… wait for it… we did not have kids at our wedding, we understood.

#1 step– get a wedding binder, for real, you will not regret it. It helps keep everything organized and when I say put everything in it… put everything in it from your “To Do List” to receipts. It is fun to fill and will limit stress. I had so much fun with mine which ended up almost filling a 3-inch binder, oops!

Do I need a wedding planner? Here is my answer: if you are the least bit organized and enjoy planning things then no. I planned my wedding by myself from 1,200 miles away. I made it fun. Was it stressful at times, yes, but I knew what the end result was going to be. My venue did come with a day of coordinator that I e mailed throughout the planning process which did come in handy and I would recommend (My day of coordination also helped throughout the process as needed because of our situation: if I needed dimensions of the room to plan where tables and decoration would be then he provided them, he helped pick the wine we would be serving, and even provided a recommendation on where to get our cake- he was the best).

Picking the location/venue. This is totally up to you, some people want a destination that holds a special place in their heart (like us) and others want a destination that is new, either is fine and I urge you to do whatever the two of you want, after doing research. I do not know much about Caribbean locations but the time of year is probably very important to keep in mind… I’d stay away during hurricane season as an example. It may be hard to believe but if Hurricane Irma was a week later we would have had to get in a car and drive 20+ hours to New York for our wedding because EVERYTHING was shut down here in Florida. Look up different venues and see what comes with each no matter where you are getting married. If you are the type of person that does not want to spend excess time hiring vendors then look for a venue that provides it all!

Deciding on your vendors. There are many ways to go about this, for us, the internet was our best friend because we did not know anyone who lived in the Finger Lakes area to provide recommendations- WEDDING WIRE and THE KNOT were the main websites we used other than google. We did not have much luck with the “app communication” so I would recommend sending messages through your personal e mail or communicate by telephone. When communicating with vendors weigh the pros and cons, don’t automatically go for the cheapest option because more than likely they will work with you. For example, Greg and I did not need an engagement session because we were not going to fly up to NY just for that, our photographer ended up dropping the price because of that. Ask all the questions you can think of and believe me there is not a stupid question- We asked each one “What happens if you cancel on us?” which I would recommend asking and getting the response in written form and… put it in your binder. Our photographer canceled on us with less than 3 months to go but we had the contract printed out to refer to (things ended up working out for the better). OFFER A CASH PAYMENT! We got a little extra with a few of our vendors by doing this!

Meeting with the vendors. Unfortunately, we did not get to meet our photographer, videographer, or band before the wedding but we trusted our decisions because of the research and communication we had previously done. My biggest piece of advice for someone planning a “destination wedding” is to plan a time to go to your location before the wedding. We flew up to New York 8 months before the wedding and took care of the following within a 5-day period: food and cake tasting, planning the rehearsal dinner, picking out flowers, visiting the church, meeting with our day of coordinator, hair and makeup trial, etc. It was actually fun doing a full week of planning and took off a lot of stress; when we got back from that vacation almost all of the “big stuff” was done, we were able to relax and take our time with the little things for the next few months. I constantly had people at work ask me “How are you planning this wedding all by yourself, you don’t seem stressed at all”. That was a good feeling even though on the inside I was stressing, a little. I understand some people may hire and fly their vendors to their venue location, that is another good option!

Guest List. This is probably one of the hardest parts of the wedding planning process. I don’t even know how to give advice because it is different for everyone and depends on many things including your venue size. I would start off with making a list of everyone you could possibly think of inviting and then to eliminate from there, if your parents are helping with the wedding, out of respect, ask who they would like to invite. Do not feel bad if you end up not being able to invite someone, they will hopefully understand. My other recommendation is to not invite more than your venue can hold, sure they say about 20-30% cannot make it but my parents invited 210 to their wedding and 206 came. Don’t over chance it.

Sending save the dates. For those planning a destination wedding you will need to send your save the dates out a little earlier, we sent ours out 10 months in advance. Sending early will not only allow your guests to plan in advance but if they know they will not be able to make it, then you can start to invite those off your “B list”… if you have one. For those not having a destination wedding, I’d say 6 months in advance is ideal, you do not want to send it too early. Have fun with your save the dates! We ordered ours off of VISTAPRINT because the quality and prices were great, they always have a sale and if not, contact the live chat and ask for a current coupon- my favorite cheap thing to do! Remember, you do not need a save the date for every person, you need one for every household, don’t make the mistake I almost did and order 235 when I only needed 115.

Sending invitations. This can get tricky and is based off of a few things. If you are having a sit-down dinner you will most likely have to give your venue a final count a few weeks before the wedding (ours was 3 weeks and we could not make any changes after that). If that is the case, send your invitations 10-12 weeks out and make your deadline a week or 2 before that final count is due; 2 weeks before our final count was due, we were waiting on 62 people!!!!! If you are having a buffet, I’d say 8 weeks out gives your guests enough time to RSVP, hopefully. Once you get your RSVPs back I recommend doing your seating chart on paper, I printed out a simple circle from Word and then used stickys to move people around as needed, it worked out great.

Packing. If you know me, you know I hate packing. Whether you are getting married 1 mile or 10,000 miles from home, begin this process early and make a packing list. You do not want to forget something (I use to have dreams I woke up the morning of the wedding and realized I forgot to pack my wedding dress- wedding nightmares are a real thing!). The hardest part for me was getting my dress up to NY; the company I bought it from offered to ship it but I declined as my dress was not leaving my sight! I called the airline a few weeks before and they told me to approach the customer service desk when I got to the airport and they would be sure to keep the first few overhead compartments empty for me; my dress was my carry-on. Some bigger airlines have a closet up front, call before to find out if that is an option. (I did not get my dress pressed before this as I knew it was going to be wrinkled when I took it off the plane, I made an appointment for when I got to NY to have this taken care of). Greg rented his tux from Men’s Warehouse (the worst but most convenient company we found) and was picking it up when we got there so this was not an issue for traveling. Luckily, our parents live in Pennsylvania/New Jersey and held 90% of our wedding items in their house- from there they drove it to New York when we arrived up North a few days before.

Out of town boxes. These were SO MUCH FUN to make, my mom and I got together and did them all by ourselves! Greg and I knew we wanted to have a little something at the hotels for the guests that made the drive to celebrate with us. We ended up making the box below filled with: a map of the area with things to do, snacks (pretzels, gum, mints, Hershey kisses, pringles) and a water bottle. Everyone loved them. My mother in law bought the boxes and I’m not sure where, but click here HERE for a link of what we used. We got the cardstock and ribbon from Michaels and used double sided tape for the front. The front says- Thank you for making the trip and sharing our special day with us. (Most hotels will hold these and hand them out as your guests check in but just to be sure, let your guests know to mention they are there for the ______ Wedding)

Things may (or shall I say will) go wrong. You are planning a wedding and you cannot control everything. Go with it! Think of the end result, you are GETTING MARRIED. The night before our wedding not only was my sister vomiting and missing the rehearsal dinner but we had tornado warnings and all I could think about was “What if Mollie gets sick while standing up with me? What if she can’t be in the wedding? What if the weather is like this tomorrow? That means no outside pictures, no fireworks, no drone from the videographer, and frizzy hair”; but guess what, September 22, 2018 ended up being the most beautiful, weather perfect day Geneva, New York has seen and my sister was by my side, feeling 100%. As perfect as I make it sound 2 things did go wrong but we laughed about it as it was happening. The first was after the limo took Greg and the bridal party to the church it forgot to come back and pick up me and my dad, I remember saying “Dad, it isn’t coming back”, looking nervous he said “It will, it is probably stuck in traffic”… after 20 minutes of waiting on the side of the road we called and then it came back to get us. The second thing that went wrong was my dad ran out of gas after dropping our dog back off at the house after getting pictures, it caused the reception to start late but that is it. I’d say we are pretty lucky.  

After the wedding. RELAX AND ENJOY YOUR TIME. Take it all in because you are married! Greg and I stayed in NY for a few days to do wine tours but flew back to Florida 3 days after the wedding. We took the rest of that week off work because a few friends and family members came back to Florida with us to continue the celebration. We did not go on our honeymoon right away and I am glad we chose to do it that way. We were able to get home, open our cards, and not feel rushed to get out the door again. By waiting, were able to save money and vacation days- we are 1 month away from our 18- day honeymoon and have something else to look forward to! Keep an open mind about this, I know a lot of people are doing this lately and have no regrets.

Tips. DIY can be your best friend. I am not the craftiest person but I had help from friends and family and was able to save money this way. If someone offers to help, take it. Play around on the computer and have fun, I made my wedding invitations and wedding programs on Microsoft Word… yes, you read that right and I received compliments on both.

Ask your venue for assistance. We knew we wanted a lot of corks for decorations, our venue ended up providing us with over 1,000 to play with, for free! We barely purchased any decorations for the wedding.

Write out your vendor thank you notes ahead of time and have someone in your bridal party hold them. You can hand them out at the end of the night and won’t have to worry about sending them right after the wedding.

If you can, make payments ahead of when they are do. A lot of vendors require their final payment 1 month to 1 week before the wedding and if you do not plan, that can be a lot at once.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out, like I said I had the best time planning my wedding and would love to help others if I can.

I Live Where You Vacation

If you don’t already know, Greg and I live in Dunedin, Florida (click HERE to read about our move to Florida). Dunedin is on the west coast of Florida, about 30 minutes west of Tampa and north of Clearwater- it is right along the Gulf of Mexico and is known for their beaches, downtown area, Honeymoon Island, and their part of the Pinellas Trail. We have enjoyed this area so much and have taken advantage of many opportunities it has to offer; we live like we are on vacation… well after getting off work and during the weekends. Here is more information and some of our favorite things to do- there is so much more that may attract you, we hope this urges you to visit!

Speaking of visiting, luckily there are 2 airports close by: Tampa International Airport (about 25 minutes) and St. Pete- Clearwater Airport (about 20 minutes- here you will be able to fly smaller airlines, this is our go-to airport)

Dunedin Causeway– The causeway is a 2.5 mile route that leads from Bayshore Boulevard directly to the entrance of Honeymoon Island State Park. The causeway has free parking and is our absolute favorite spot to watch the sunset, especially from our hammock that hangs in between the palm trees. No dogs allowed on the beach but they are allowed on the trail which runs the entire 2.5 miles. Unfortunately, we do not have a Jet Ski but there are always people on theirs here so if you have one, go for it! We often bring our kayak to this location and head to Caladesi or Honeymoon Island (you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards, HERE is the website). Their hours are from 5am – 11pm.

Honeymoon Island State Park– A Florida State Park located on Honeymoon Island. The island receives more than 1 million visitors each year and is the most visited state park in Florida. There is an $8 entrance fee per vehicle (8 people or less in the vehicle unless you are alone which is $4). Greg and I have their family annual pass which we paid $125. The park is open from 8am to sundown, 365 days a year and offers the following: trails (biking, walking, running), fishing, picnicking, beaches (cheaper and less crowded compared to Clearwater beach), concession and restaurants, playgrounds, interpretive exhibit, and our favorite the dog beach (Dogs must be on a leash at all times. There is a wash station outside but you have to bring your own dog shampoo and towels- this is great for getting the sand off before your dog gets back in the car. If you are visiting during the weekend plan on arriving before 11:30am or you will sit in traffic for about 25 minutes on the causeway- gorgeous views but you’ll want to get in).

Caladesi Island– An island accessible by boat, kayak, the ferry, or by walking 3 miles from Clearwater beach. You can take the ferry from Honeymoon, $7 for children and $14 for adults (you also have to pay the fee to get into Honeymoon). This island has a small restaurant with foods like burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, etc but has a great beach!

Pinellas Trail– The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a linear trail currently extending from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs (over 30 miles) and is a multi-use trail everyone can use for: running, walking, skating, and biking- no motorized vehicles are allowed. Greg and I enjoy hopping on the trail by bike and going downtown to eat or visit one of the many breweries.

Breweries– There are 7 microbreweries in downtown Dunedin, all within walking distance. Woodright Brewing Company, Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin House of Beer, 7venth Sun Brewing Company, Caledonia Brewing, Cueni Brewing Co., and Soggy Bottom Brewery.  All are different in their own ways and offer things like live music, pool, darts, beer pairings, food, games, etc.

Spring Training Baseball– This speaks for itself. I grew up in Philadelphia and was raised to be a Phillies Pan, luckily, we are 8 minutes from the Phillies Spring Training field which also holds other events during the non-baseball season. The other stadium right in Dunedin is for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Downtown Dunedin– Okay our downtown offers so much, there is literally something happening all the time. I was told they will be decreasing the number of events held this year because there were over 150 in 2018… I think they are great and they should keep it how it is, that is what attracts people! From November to June we have the farmers market every Friday and Saturday morning (clothes, homemade items, food, drinks, entertainment, etc.) Our main street is filled with local shops, cafes, and restaurants that are great, you’ll be able to find whatever you are looking for and if not take in the amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico down by the arena.

You can even go fishing off the pier!

Some of our favorite things right outside of Dunedin:

Weeki Wachee – An enchanted spring where you can see live mermaids, take a trip on a river boat cruise, learn about Florida wildlife, swim, or paddle down the river. There are many places you can kayak from but we recommend the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Kayak Rentals (click HERE for their website). The cost is $50 for a tandem kayak for 4 hours which is plenty of time to complete the 5 mile river trail. If you are looking to book, I recommend a week day as the weekends are so crowded you have no room for yourself! We were told the manatees are in this are from the middle of January to the beginning of April- we visited April 2 and saw about 10!

Dog Bar– The dog bar is another one of our favorite places to take Nash (click HERE for their website). It is a unique combination of an off-leash dog park and a full service bar, is there any better combination?! They have 2 pools and various areas for the dogs to play on as well as a “rufferee” that watches over the dogs, although you will be too. You must be 21+ to enter but you do not need a dog with you. You can catch us either here or at the Honeymoon Island Dog Beach every weekend!

Busch Gardens– Although we have only been here once since moving to Florida, this is a great amusement park, ZOO, and water park about 35 minutes from Dunedin. Click HERE for their website.

Clearwater Beach– If you are looking for a tourist beach this is the place for you. In 2018, Clearwater was named #1 beach in America and was in the top 10 beaches in the world; not only will you get great views but there are so many things you can do to fill your time- boating, fishing, shopping, water sports, dining, dolphin watching, etc. We typically will bring out guests here once during their trip and then to Honeymoon Island because, to be honest, sometimes it is too crowded and parking can be a little expensive. If you are visiting during the “warmer months” which is basically May- September I would recommend arriving by 10:00am so you can get a parking spot or you can take the Ferry from Dunedin!

Tampa– It would take me forever to list all of the fun things to do in Tampa. Fortunately, because there is so much to do in our town of Dunedin we do not spend as much time in Tampa- we go there maybe once a month. Do your research before you go because visiting Tampa could be a vacation in itself.