//Swearing In Ceremony

I'm an official attorney, licensed to practice law in Illinois!! November 5, 2015, I was sworn in and received my law license! It was a great day, and one that I shared with my new husband, my parents, and my mother- and father-in-law.

Afterward, we all went to lunch and chatted about the wedding and honestly it was such a wonderful time. I genuinely love that my and Josh's families get along so well and I consider us lucky.

//First Comes Love, Then Comes...

On October 31, 2015, I married my soulmate, best friend, and greatest love, Joshua. It was a day full of exhaustion, stress, and inclimate weather. And it was perfect.

Some of my fondest memories include:
-Crying when I saw myself as a bride for the first time
-Running behind to the church and my dad insisting my maid of honor and I take swigs of Johnnie Walker Black Label in the backseat of the car to calm down
-Walking down the aisle and locking eyes with Josh the entire way
-My dad tripping over my train after "giving me away"
-Finishing off a bottle of Blanton's on the party bus on the way to the reception
-Singing to Josh during our first dance
-Sobbing during the dance with my father as he kissed my hand and told me "I always will" in response to the song lyrics (the song was "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King)
-Shots with dad and seeing how positively happy he was
-Truly feeling the love and joy in the room
-Having my new nieces call me "Aunt Justyna"
-Josh picking bobby pins out of my hair at the end of the night as I lay on the bed in my underwear, stuffing pizza into my face (I was SOOOO hungry!)

//DIY Wedding Favors / Terrariums

Howdy, folks! So now that the wedding has come and gone, I feel like it's okay to share what the wedding favors were! I gave a hint when I posted about the clay mushrooms, so I'm curious as to whether anyone was able to figure it out ;) Those little mushrooms went inside these bad boys!

That's right. I made 212 mini-terrariums. By myself. Why? Insanity, maybe. But also it's because I love crafts and DIY and I wanted to share that with our guests. Overall, I'm super pleased with how they turned out--and I got a lot of disbelief when I told some people that I had made them. To a crafter, that's always a great compliment :)

To be honest, they were quite simple and quick to make individually. Once I got to around 8 or so, I was really getting into a groove and found that I could do about 32 to 40 a day.

I bought almost everything from either Amazon or eBay to get the best value. The moss came from Amazon, as did the scalloped tags (which included the jute string, so bonus!). The clay to make the mushrooms also came from Amazon (be sure to read this post to learn more about how I made those). The little trees came from eBay, as did the "pumpkins" which are actually something called putka pods and were MUCH cheaper than trying to find tiny pumpkins. The bell jars came from The Knot and they were what inspired the whole idea of making terrariums. They were definitely the priciest of all supplies used, but I made sure to keep an eye on The Knot site for discount codes and I ended up getting them at 20% off.

I used a TON of hot glue in making these, and I also made sure to glue the lids to the bases to keep everything intact.

The tags I stamped with a custom stamp I ordered from Mancoo Design on Etsy. The stamp fit perfectly in the tag, so that was awesome!

If you're into giving your guests something unique as a wedding favor, I hope you consider these terrariums. They are a lot of work, but they bring a lot of joy :)

Supplies Used:
Crayola Air Dry Clay (for mushrooms) - Amazon
Bell Jars - The Knot
Preserved Reindeer Moss - Amazon
Decorative Trees - from skullcrown on eBay
Putka Pods - from streetcarj on eBay
Scalloped Tags - Amazon
Stamp (used on tags) - Mancoo Design

//Hand-Formed Clay Mushrooms

Being a maniac, I decided to take on the task of doing 200 or so wedding favors. By myself. By hand. I don't want to say just yet what the favors are because I'm excited about them being a nice surprise for our guests, but I will say that they involve these little mushrooms.

I'm using Crayola air-dry clay (I got mine from Amazon) because I like that I don't have to bake it for it to harden. While the drying time on the packaging suggests that it takes a couple of days, I found that these little mushrooms were good after about 24 hours. A quick tip though is that the clay is very soft and malleable when you first start to work with it, so the flatter it gets the more it might stick to your skin at first.

I work with a little at a time because, as I said, it begins to harden faster than the packaging says, and once it hardens even a little bit, the clay begins to crumble when you work with it. So I take approximately enough to make a 1" ball. I then roll out that ball into a fairly thin rope and break off small sections--roughly a half inch long.

I take each little section and hold it between my thumb and forefinger, gently rolling it until there is a little "cap" at the top end. I then work the top, flattening it gently, until the mushroom cap is the size I like.

Finally, I gently roll the "stem" again until it's a more rounded shape instead of flattened. Then, I gently tapped down the edges to make the cap sort of roll under itself a little.

The trick to making these is practice and finding out how much clay you need and how you need to work it to get the mushrooms the size you want. The lovely thing about these little clay mushrooms is that imperfection plays to the natural and organic look and feel you are going for.

You can go ahead and paint them if you'd like--for example, a wash of a brown color might be very nice. I'm going to leave mine the natural color of the clay, mostly out of laziness.

If you decide to make these, let me know how they work out for you!!

//DIY Wedding Goodies for the Younger Guests

When Josh and I became engaged and started to plan our wedding, it had never crossed my mind that children would not be invited. Every wedding I had ever gone to had gaggles of kids running around and having a good time--then again, every wedding I've ever been to (with the exception of two that were rather recent) has been a Polish wedding and I guess maybe it's a cultural thing? Regardless, I knew that kids were more than welcome and I also knew that I wanted to do something special for them since our wedding is on Halloween. Hey, I'm willing to bet that kids don't care about the fact they're going to have to attend a wedding when it's Halloween and they'd rather be trick-or-treating. My solution? Putting together a little "bundle" of goodies for the kids that will not only keep them occupied, but will also imbue the wedding with a little Halloween spirit.

I started by ordering my supplies. I'm an online ordering kind of gal, so I used Oriental Trading for the components. I ordered coloring books in a Halloween theme, crayons, and some candy. With the candy, I chose some rainbow lollipops because there is a stick to help with messy handling and they're cute as heck!

Using baker's twine, I tied everything together. You can use some clear tape to help things stick together, if necessary. If you stand up the little bundles, the crayons and lollipop will probably fall out and so I recommend laying them in flat piles.

To keep everything together, I purchased an unfinished wooden crate from a craft store and stacked everything inside. I bought a few different fabrics at a craft store in pastel versions of Halloween colors and cut up strips using pinking shears. I knotted the strips around a long line of burlap (or whatever it is) twine (you can use whatever you have in hand) and strung it around the top edge of the crate, just to add a bit more interest and to go with the look of our wedding.

In front of the crate will be this small chalkboard sign (purchased at Michael's on clearance--SCORE!) that reads, "Kids, please take one!"

Overall, this was very simple and could be done in one afternoon. I just like the idea of being considerate of all guests, big or little! Also, this is something that could be adapted into virtually any theme or altered to be as simple or detailed as you want! Think of the options: you could paint the crate or use another object to hold the bundles, you could change the candy, you could add small toys, or you could even print up customized candy wrappers.

Update: I put each little bundle in a clear cellophane bag because the lollipops and crayons would slip out, and I didn't want some guests to accidentally not get one of the items. Putting everything in bags also enabled me to stack them standing against each other. You can get a bag of 100 bags on the cheap from Amazon, and the extra bags can be used for all sorts of things. For reference, these are the bags I decided to go with.

//My Experience with Wedding Invitations / A Review of Invites by Minted + Links and Photos

I started looking at wedding invitations about, oh, forty minutes after getting engaged. I knew that our budget likely wouldn't allow for a brick-and-mortar print shop where we could work with a designer to create a custom invitation suite, and I was more than okay with that. I get overwhelmed with TONS of options, and if I had the opportunity to customize everything? Well, I doubt that I'd ever be totally satisfied. So I knew that we would be going with an online stationary company.

There were a lot of popular and well-received websites I saw in my bridal magazines, but Minted struck me as the one to go with. I browsed the website and sent Josh my favorites, and we actually chose a completely different invitation that happened to be booklet style. We originally chose that because we liked the idea of having all of your invite components in a compact format and we thought that a booklet was pretty unique. Then, just before we were going to order, Minted came out with their foil-pressed selections and we ended up falling in love with the invitations you see below.

In this post, I will go over the steps I took to put together our wedding invitations. I will also link to the items I used, where appropriate. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment!

Moving on...

The suite is called Dahlia Bouquet and we chose a custom shape to add interest, as well as one of our favorite engagement photos to go on the back. On the Minted website, you can personalize all of their stationary products easily by selecting the text boxes and customizing it to how you like it. Best of all, there is a box for special requests that allows you to make specific changes ranging from a custom color palette to adding or deleting sections entirely. For example, the "Directions" card option was changed entirely to contain hotel information, and the RSVP cards were changed to suit my personal needs as far as notating the guest list goes. Those requests won't be viewable until your proof is ready, but I had no issue with them understanding what I wanted. For the back of the invitation, you can have a photo (like we do), or you can have a solid color or pattern. There are plenty of options to give you exactly the look you want!

Josh and I ordered the invitations, "Directions" cards, RSVP cards, and "Reception" cards. We also used their Address Assistant to address our envelopes. This was an option included in the cost, so it was an obvious choice. All you do is enter your addresses and select one of their designs and BAM! With 120 invitations, I can't tell you how happy I am that they offered this. For an extra cost, we also had our return address printed on the RSVP envelopes for convenience. The final customization we went with was gold glitter liners in the envelopes.

All of the products came packaged separately in a single box--including the envelope liners and vellum sheets to use, if you wish. The first thing I did in the assembly process was put the liners in all of the envelopes. All you have to do is remove the strip of paper to expose the adhesive and slip the liner into the envelope with the adhesive portion being at the top.

Since I'm incredibly Type-A, this process took a while because I wanted to make sure the liners were as centered as possible. I didn't notice a ton of glitter fallout from the liners, but expect for some glitter to rub off (and when I say some, I mean it's a very, very small amount).

Then, I closed the flap and used my bone folder to get a crisp crease at the top. This not only gives the envelope a more finished look, but it also allows the envelope to close better and more completely. If you don't have a bone folder, you can use a credit card or something similar. This was also the time I used our address stamp to stamp each envelope.

The next thing I did was set up everything in mini-stations to make assembly as easy and smooth as possible. First, I put each component in a separate pile in the following order: RSVP envelopes (with stamps already applied!), RSVP cards, hotel information cards, reception cards, vellum, and invitations. Then, I took my baker's twine and cut it into approximately arm-length pieces (since this was the quickest and easiest way to measure). To avoid tangling the twine, drape it over a chair or armrest. Finally, I typed out, printed, and cut up little slips of paper containing post-ceremony information--my aunt and uncle are graciously hosting people at their home in the time between the ceremony and reception, which is SO SO kind of them!! I used kraft paper for this to go with the look/vibe of our wedding. Kraft paper 4 ever, am I right!?!

Using the Address Assistant by Minted that I mentioned before, I printed out the entire guest list to use when putting the invites together. I pulled out an envelope and looked at the person(s) it was addressed to, and then I wrote a number next to that name on the guest list. This is the same number I wrote on that person's RSVP card, which is a handy trick in case the guest either writes their name illegibly or doesn't write it at all (which will likely happen, according to the plethora of wedding articles I read up on).

Using the piles I made, I tucked the (numbered!) RSVP card into an RSVP envelope. On top of the that, I put the hotel information cards.

On top of that, I put the reception cards. I did it in this order because I believe that next to the ceremony information, the reception information is most important and so I wanted it to be seen right after reading the invitation. Then I took a piece of twine I cut earlier and wrapped up the little bundles like a present. I tied a bow and trimmed the ends, if necessary.

To complete this portion of the invitation, I took one of the slips with the post-ceremony information on it and tucked it under the string.

If you wanted to, you could assemble each invitation up until this step and proceed with the last part. I found it quicker for myself to assemble each invite one by one because it put me in a groove. But to each their own! Also, this is when I would recommend assembling one invitation and taking it to the post office to get a postage estimate. Put one invitation together completely--including however you plan on sealing the envelope (washi tape, sticker, etc). Your postal worker might end up recommending a way to put your invitations together to ensure there won't be any extra charges or issues with sending them.

The last thing to add to the envelope is, of course, the invite! I could have skipped the vellum, but I figured why not use it after they included it. I decided to to put it behind the invite to serve as a barrier between the actual invite and the little wrapped bundle I put together.

I put the bundle in the envelope first, and the the invite/vellum combo, and then I sealed the envelope.

A tip here is to use a foam brush that has been moistened with a little bit of water rather than lick the envelopes closed. Be careful not to use too much water or it will warp your paper!

Now, I wanted to add an extra touch to our invitations, so I ordered a custom wax seal stamp with our initials. I bought this one with a green handle, and after using it a LOT, I was pleased that the quality held up and the color did not transfer from the handle. For the wax, I ordered these sticks from an eBay seller that you can use in your glue gun. I liked this method because it was so easy, but I have to warn you that these sticks were a teeny bit too wide for a mini-glue gun (and, of course, much too narrow for a standard glue gun), so I had to push the wax stick to advance it. Also, the melting point seemed lower than for a regular glue stick, so it made my glue gun a little messy. This may have been because I used a high-temp glue gun, but hey, I'm not a scientist. I didn't mind this, but if you do, then I would consider using the wax sticks that you light like a candle or even the ones that come in a "pellet" form and are melted in a special spoon.

I deposited a small amount of the wax on my sealed envelope and let it sit for a few seconds before pressing the stamp into it. Again, I let it sit for a couple of seconds and lifted the stamp. The wax hardens pretty quickly, so you can stack the envelopes on each other without consequence. The reason I let it sit for a bit is because, as I mentioned, the melting point is low and so it comes out pretty darn hot. By letting it sit and cool for a few seconds, I was able to get a better, cleaner image with my stamp.

Remember when I told you that your postal worker might have a tip for you? Mine did! The lovely postman told me to make my wax seal as flat as possible because if the envelope is too thick (seal included) and can't fit through the automatic sorter, it would increase the postage cost. While the increase may be only incremental, multiplying it 120 times would definitely add a considerable amount. This caused me to be mindful of the wax seal and I used my bone folder to flatten any particularly thick or bulbous portions. Fortunately, the twine didn't make the envelopes too thick, but I was careful to cut any excess string after I tied a bow.

Our invitations ended up being around 1.5 ounces, but we went with the two-ounce stamps just in case. When I dropped off the invitations at the post office, I asked for them to hand cancel everything. "Canceling" refers to stamping over the postage stamps to ensure they can't be reused, so by hand canceling them, there is a human postal worker who stamps over the postage. To learn more about why you'd want to do this, read this great little article! I did it because I'm paranoid about my invitations showing up looking as nice as possible, but I'm cool like that.

So would I do this crazy one-woman process again? Sure! Honestly, I love how unique the invitations are with all of the colors and the gold foil. They are just so "us" that we knew we had to use them! Also, ordering from Minted was a breeze. You can request when you'd like to receive a proof by and once you accept your proof, your order is put into production. We ordered ours on April 26 and they arrived on May 5 (we used standard FedEx shipping). Nothing came damaged and we were very happy with the quality. We love Minted so much that my mom ended up using them for our bridal shower invitations, and we ordered our thank you cards from them, too! Also, if you sign up for their newsletter, you can follow some awesome specials they run occasionally and save yourself a lot. We had a discount for putting addresses into the Address Assistant, which I was going to do anyway.

That was that! In all, it took me approximately 12 hours to completely prep and assemble everything for these 120 invitations. That may be an underestimation, but my point is that it takes a considerable amount of time. Enlist help if you don't get anxiety by delegating work (unlike me) or resolve to assemble 20 to 30 invitations per day. I would have had someone help me, but I'm one of those folks who thinks that doing it yourself ensures it will get done "right" because I tend to be a perfectionist, darn it all!

A project like this can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. For me, it's all about personal touches and little details to make things more special. Find what drives you to work on your wedding and let that be your motivation!