June 17, 2010

Budget Bouquets, Boutonnieres and Bowers!

Posted in Deals, DIY Projects, Wedding Design at 6:52 pm by Elizabeth Nixon

So, you want to know how to save a bundle on flowers?

Did you perhaps receive a florists’ quote exceeding $4,000, for what you thought was a rather skimpy amount of blooms?

Of course, not to knock the florists’ talents! It’s well worth the money to avoid the hassle of planning and arranging for your own floral needs at your own wedding! As professionals, florists deserve to mark up their product, just like any other vendor would.

That said, I am an avid gardener and passionate arranger of flowers and so I will be doing it myself all for under $300. In fact, just don’t be surprised if this bee decides to branch out into floral designing, because she loves it so! Can we see a “Paisley’s Petals” somewhere in my future?!?! I kid, I kid.

I would totally come up with a better name than that! (Sorry any “Paisley’s Petals” that are out there!)

Anyway. If you’re going the DIY route, first off, establish a budget. This, we saved until the week before the wedding, like big stupid heads.

We were going to try to source everything from our own garden, but it was a tough winter on our flowers.

So. All the Paisley money has run out, being that it is a week before the wedding. Fortunately, a generous, last-minute gift from Mama and Papa Paisley of $300 was enough to play with, considering we have our own garden full of filler blooms.

That money brings us, courtesy of Sequoia Wholesalers:
15 stems Dahlias (light pink)
20 stems Billy Buttons
40 stems Veronica (white)
100 stems scabiosa (white)

And, from Fiftyflowers.com:
56 stems peach Juliet peony roses

For some reason, the thought of putting together my own bouquets and 22 centerpieces scared Mama Paisley. For some reason. I honestly don’t know what! 😉

She ordered me outside to prove my flower-arranging worth, and, not to brag, but less than 10 minutes later I came back with a nicely shaped, full, pink-and-white bridal bouquet that I would have been happy to carry on the actual big day. Except Mama Paisley said it stank (the smell, not the looks) and put it outside. But, Mama Paisley looked relieved, and I was happy to assuage her fears and show off in front of her and MOH Paisley.

Arranging flowers is what I most look forward to doing the day before our wedding.

For “filler” flowers, I have this, my mom’s garden, to work with:

A nice, big, Mock Orange:

Some Feverfew:

Lamb’s ears:

Pink Veronica:

And much, much more:

With these as fillers and my Veronica, Feverfew, Scabiosa and oodles of the showy, white-and-yellow Matilija poppies, (that grow on the roadside in Lake County) my centerpieces will resemble Saipua’s aesthetic: loose, organic, gorgeous!


A cross between the above, and this:


For my bouquets, using the peach Juliet roses, they will turn out something like this:

Miss Cowboy Boot’s bouquet! With peach Juliet roses, I believe.

The Billy’s Buttons I might use for the boutonnieres, or perhaps the centerpieces.

Stay tuned to see how it all turns out!

Are you taking on a HUGE do-it-yourself project that everybody and their brother just shakes their heads at when you tell them about it? But you just don’t care what they say because you luuuuurve doing said project? Maybe it’s baking your own cake? Baking batches of macaroons for your dessert table? Sewing your bridesmaids’ gowns? Letterpress printing your own invites? 😉 Do share!


March 22, 2010

How to Make Birch-Covered Vases

Posted in DIY Projects, Wedding Design tagged , at 9:00 am by Elizabeth Nixon

I first fell in love with the concept of birch vases when I saw wedding planner Beth Helmstetter’s design:

These photos by Jose Villa are incredible, and I swooned for birch!

I mean, look:

How gorgeous, right?!

This wedding is one of my favorites. I’ve also copied Beth’s lace-covered candles from this wedding:

Mine aren’t quite as gorgeous, but it was such a rewarding DIY project, that I highly recommend it:

My table mock up, with candles, birch vases, and white hem-stitch table runners on clearance for $19 each from Pottery Barn (waaay cheaper than even renting long table runners from the linen rental companies):

Anyway, let’s get down to the birch vase tutorial. First, collect your birch bark. I got mine used from a bride, and paid too much (I was so excited to find birch cylinders at all, that I jumped the gun). I paid about $7 per cylinder for 20 of them.

Then I found a bunch more at Pottery Barn on clearance. They had them the past two winters, so maybe they’ll have them again next winter.

I also found a seller on Etsy who lives in Canada and sells birch bark cylinders, so you can try Etsy. I can’t remember the seller’s name, however–sorry!

Chances are, some of the birch cylinders won’t be the right size you want them to be. If that’s the case, measure your “inside” vase–it can be a jar or can since it will be hidden, and measure how large you’ll need your birch cylinder to be, allowing for about a 2-inch overlapping seam of bark.

Here are my Pottery Barn cylinders and my tools: scissors, a pencil, and a ruler:

The cylinders were way too big, so I pried them apart at the seams (they had been hot glued together at the seams).

I then measured and cut them to the size I needed. Some of them were funkily-made with several “seams” and sections of bark forming one cylinder. I want only one seam so I can position the cylinders in pairs on the tables with the seams pointing in to each other so they’re hidden.

Here’s a picture of a PB birch cylinder cut in half, showing the funky extra pieces Pottery Barn had used to make them larger. I simply pulled those off.

Then I measured, traced a cutting line in pencil, and used scissors to cut the bark. Depending on how thick your bark is, you might want to use heavier shears or cutting tools. I used an Xacto knife once to start the cut, but I don’t recommend doing that! The Xacto knife was way too flimsy for the beefy bark.

Now you’re ready to put ’em back together again!

I got a couple balls of twine and rafia ready, plugged in my hot glue gun, and started putting them back together again.

Some of the bark pieces weren’t very flexible, so I soaked them in the bathtub for an hour, which I found made it easier to bend the bark.

Step 1:

I held the cylinder together the size I wanted it, making sure the seam overlapped about a couple of inches so I’d have room to hot glue it securely. I then traced a line in pencil, as you can see in this picture, so I knew where exactly to apply hot glue. This also helped me create a perfectly straight seam in the haste of trying to quickly apply hot glue and then put the cylinder together before it dried on me!

Step 2:

I applied hot glue quickly and liberally. This was hard, because I needed to stop in the middle each time and add another hot glue stick into the glue gun. I used a lot of glue! About one stick for each cylinder! You might find you need more or less, depending on how large your cylinders are.

Step 3:

I held it together as tightly as possible while the glue dried.

I found this technique of smashing it down on the table using my palms worked pretty well:

I used both palms, for the record. (I had to remove one hand to take a picture!) Oh, if you’re wondering what that cardboard cylinder is on the inside, it came with the Pottery Barn cylinders, and for this particular vase, I was only shortening the length, not the circumference, so I decided to stick the cardboard cylinder inside for extra support.

Step 4:

I tied it in twine, to secure it. I’ll remove the twine for the wedding.

All done! My friend brought me some pretty wedding flowers, and I did a little mock up:

Have you used birch in your wedding? What did you make or buy that was birch?

February 14, 2010

Creating a Stage for the Band

Posted in Music, Wedding Design tagged , , , at 10:55 am by Elizabeth Nixon

I’ve been avoiding some pretty important wedding details like reception timeline logistics, and the renting of chairs and dinnerware (almost have that on lockdown!). I guess Mr. Paisley’s and my recent troubles in paradise have sucked a lot of the joy out of wedding planning.

After several weeks of ignoring wedding planning, I’ve decided to dive back into it, taking on the more unglamourous wedding details. I guess I’m trying to save the fun stuff and details for a time when Mr. Paisley and I are on sturdier ground relationship-wise and I can enjoy them more.

First up, how to build a band’s stage area in front of a homely little guest house, which we affectionately refer to as “The Shed” in the Paisley family.

The band will be either on the porch of The Shed, on the right of this picture in the foreground:

Photo by Peter Wilson (brother Paisley)

Or on the brick patio in front of The Shed (unfortunately, the patio is somewhat obscured here by oak leaves due to a winter storm). The dance floor will be installed next to the brick patio.

This is the only photo I have at the moment of the front yard (the non-lake side) where the reception will be. Yeah, it looks like the camera was on something–the lawn isn’t really that green, teehee. To give perspective, it’s about 150 yards long by 60-70 yards wide. The lawn part.

Before we get to the stage, here’s some background on the reception layout. Although it’s a tiny photo (I really need to get up to grandma’s to take some more pics!), and you can’t see all of the lawn here, try to picture two super long rows of tables on the long left part of the lawn (a portion of it is cut off in the photo), then picture another two long rows in the smaller part of the lawn directly in front of the house and the hottub there (it’s that tiny orangeish dot in front of the house there, and yeah, it’ll be removed for the wedding). Those two rows will seat 40, while the longer two rows together will seat about 80, give or take.

The head table will be family-style (with people sitting all around it rather than Last Supper style), in front of the large white oak tree (it appears not-so-large in the photo in front and to the left of the house there in the background of the photo). By the way, I figured all this table placement out using a long, metal laundry line-proper-upper (don’t know the actual name for the thing, just picture a long metal stake) in lieu of a yardstick, and with the help of my BFF-since-third-grade Morgan (MOH). She helped me figure out where to place all the tables: candy buffet, cake table, gifts table, etc., the layout of which I’ll explain in a forthcoming post.

I’m not sure at this point what to do about The Shed. Along with being the backdrop for the band, It will also be home to one of two bathrooms we’ll open up for guests. So, any kind of fabric stage backdrop would need a sign near it pointing people behind the backdrop and into the shed to access the bathrooom. I don’t know if we’ll want people walking up onto the porch directly behind the band, as that would look kinda silly, so we’d also need to build a side staircase (just one or two steps) on the side of the porch. I’m thinking a cute sign reading something like “Backstage Bathroom This Way” could work. And I’m thinking it should be the men’s bathroom, otherwise I bet everyone would want to skip The Shed bathroom and just beeline it to the house bathroom!

OK, for the stage, I don’t know if we should hang black material from the rafters to create a stage, or make some sort of a backdrop out of bamboo fencing. I think the fencing might be cheaper, but not as attractive. Albeit, it would be better than just the plain shed, with its reflective glass doors and the inside bathroom light flicking on and off behind the band as guests use it. Hmmm.

What do you gals think I should do?

Sigh. This is one of those details I’m really procrastinating tackling. I mean, the last thing I want to do is have to spend hundreds of dollars on yards upon yards of heavy black stage fabric. I’m hoping my brother and his musician connections might be able to scrounge up some sort of backdrop for me. Slim chance, though.

Are there any details you’re having trouble mustering up the strength to tackle? Are they big ones like needing to reserve chairs, dinnerware or fixing up a place for your band to play? Or annoying logistics details that nobody but the bride would think to take care of? Isn’t that always the case, heh.

Finding the Venue, Part II

Posted in Personalizing Your Wedding, Wedding Design tagged , , , , at 9:00 am by Elizabeth Nixon

I told you the final choice of our venue here, but gosh darn it, it took a whole year to decide to have it there! That’s because Professor Paisley and I have had a very long engagement, since Sept. 2008, because we needed time to save up for the wedding. And, we would have chosen the family lake house from the get-go, but at first the family wasn’t sure if we were going to sell it or not. Thankfully, for us, the answer is not.

What were the other contenders? Well, we were picky. We wanted someplace that would allow us to party late (think 2 a.m.) and loud (live band). That’s hard to find! Honestly, hells wedding bells, why must most venues shut down at 9 or 10 p.m.?!?!

We also wanted someplace of significance to us. The main contenders were:

Nestldown, in Los Gatos.


Really close to my grandma’s house on my dad’s side, this place was so gorgeous when we went for a site visit, but too expensive, and shut down too early. If we had it there, we would have had an after party until 2 a.m. at the nearby Toll House Hotel.

The Ebell Club of Long Beach.


This beautiful, historic woman’s philanthropic club was too pricey, and didn’t hold much significance for us. Although I liked it so much I did try an unsuccessful attempt to conjure up significance by tying the fact that it is a historic women’s club to my desire to support feminist causes. Um, yeah….Pretty sure I’d be supporting the wedding industrial complex not feminism, with the prices Ebell is charging.

MacCallum House in Mendocino.


Situated in the beautiful seaside village of Mendocino an hour and a half from my hometown, this is a favorite spot of ours to visit. My grandparents would take me here every year on my birthday as a kiddo, and give me $50 to spend in the shell shop. Can I just say, you can get a s-load of shells with that kinda dough! Anyway, the MacCallum House allows music outdoors until 10 p.m. in their wedding tent, but guests can mingle in the hotel and bar until 2 a.m. with music indoors. Only downside is it’s so far from any major airport, which is why we didn’t end up choosing it.

The Green Room in San Francisco.


You can rent this affordable gem in the city of San Francisco into the wee hours of the morn, there are no time restrictions! We were so, so close to booking it, but we wanted an outdoor ceremony in an affordable location prior to partying it up Green Room-style. We checked out lighthouses…

Point Montara Lighthouse


…and parks for an outdoor ceremony:

Marin Headlands


But ultimately, we found the S.F. summer fog to be too unpredictable and the lighthouses too windy, and we just couldn’t warm to the idea of an indoor ceremony.

Those are just a few of the dozens of venues we researched up and down the great state of CA. We checked out places in our residence-of-two-years Orange County, but also Big Sur, San Diego and Santa Cruz (where we met), as well as the north coast (where I grew up).

We’re so happy our wedding will be a lakeside-under-a-willow-tree ceremony performed by an old friend. At grandma’s house, to boot. When I picture what it will be like, I picture this:

OK, not digging the paper wedding bells, but the rest looks splendid to me!

Now I know what y’all are thinking. You’re thinking, really, Miss Paisley? A frog and a mouse? C’mon, be realistic here! 😉

We may not be mouse and frog, but we’re definitely loving the at-home, laid back country style from this favorite children’s book, A Frog Went A-Courting, adapted and illustrated by Nina Barbaresi. Yeah, I can’t help but find wedding inspiration EVERYwhere. Plus it doesn’t hurt my mom is a children’s librarian. I blame her.

Anyhoo, how is the venue search going for you? Was it/is it a struggle to find a venue with a later-than-typical curfew? Wouldn’t it be nice for us late-night-party brides if there was a website dedicated to such venues? It would eliminate hours of research!

February 13, 2010

Designing a Flower Color Palette, Part II

Posted in Wedding Design tagged , , , , at 11:50 pm by Elizabeth Nixon

I talked about the challenges of designing a cohesive flower color palette here, when you’re no professional florist, but did I mention my mom is going to be growing all of the flowers herself? Yep, there’s a twist in the plot for ya. You see, most florists in the Napa/Sonoma/Lake county wine region charge an arm and a leg to do-up some bouquets and 20ish centerpieces. We’re talking at minimum $5K. Not something we’d be super stoked about with our $15k budget.

So when Mama Paisley said she’d be happy to grow all of the flowers herself, I leaped with joy.

First up, she knew how enamored I was with lavender fields, like this one here, at a winery in Lake County:

Miss Paisley and Professor Paisley in front of beautimous lavender

Please excuse my home-bleached hair. Don’t ever do that, by the way. 😉

I originally wanted my wedding at this lovely site. I even stooped to my all-time journalistic low by suggesting I could help get the owner some coverage if he’d cut me a deal. You see, he wanted $15K just to rent the site. Um, yeah. He’s completely delusional, because not even fancy-schmancy Napa wineries charge that much for site fees. I’m sorry, I love my hometown, but it IS Lake County, which I affectionately call Poor Man’s Tahoe. Yeah, it’s got pretty scenery and the cleanest air in the state, but it also has a substantial hick/lowlife population, and drug-infested mobile home parks positioned cheek by jowl along the north shore of Clear Lake, where this lovely vineyard happens to reside.

Enough about the grim realities of Lake County. On to the lavender field solution. We knew the Grosso lavender would grow well at my grandma’s, because like this vineyard, her house is also on the lakeshore. Mama Paisley and Papa Paisley spent a day nursery-hopping until they’d collected dozens of lavender Grosso plants. Ch-ch-check it:

Lavender nursery at my parents' house

Yeah, those are old oil barrels supporting the plants. What? My dad owns a farm equipment repair business. I never claimed we were straight from the streets, yo! Um yeah, no. We’re country folk.

These lavender plants will be placed in rows on terraces, where the guests’ chairs will also be lined up. You can see one side of the bare terraces as they appear now in this photo my brother snapped:

Fortunately, my mom knows what she’s doing. She’s asking me what I want, based on the fact I’m a master gardener in the UCCE program. But she’s the one who really knows flowers through and through, stemming from knowledge gleaned from years operating a flower growing business. Mama Paisley instilled a love of gardening in me from a very young age, even granting my wish for “a bit of earth” just like Mary craved in the children’s book, The Secret Garden.

Young Miss Paisley in her first garden

So, once we decided on a color palette of complimentary hues of whites, roses, peaches and hints of yellow, it was time to make a list of what to grow. It basically took one e-mail exchange and Mama P and I had our garden planned:

Spring bloomers that might hang in there until June; stock, snapdragons and Queen Anne’s lace as fillers. Peonies, roses, gardenias (some bought). Scabiosa, stephanotis, sweet pea, herbs, leucadendron, veronica and dogwood blossoms. Green Tule reeds on the lakeshore we’ll bend around in glass cylinders to show through, and the rest will be in birch vases I made out of bark:

Birch vase and flowers trial by Miss Paisley

Am I flower-obsessed enough, you think?

Even at 12,000 elevation in the Teton wilderness, Professor Paisley can’t escape my flower obsession!

He puts up with my need to weave flower wreaths on every alpine trail we hit. Gotta love a guy who’ll put up with that!

Are you going the do-it-yourself route for your bouquets and centerpieces? What’s your strategy?

Get ready for some busy days ahead!

Posted in Deals, DIY Projects, Fashion, Inspiration Boards, Mr. Junebug, Music, Personalizing Your Wedding, Relationships, Wedding Design tagged , , , at 4:13 pm by Elizabeth Nixon

Hello there! It’s so nice to see you! I’m Miss Paisley, and I’ve actually been a Bee since I was a very young gipper. First, I was a “busy bee” at Busy Days Preschool, where I adored the mascot bee with all the unbridled enthusiasm of a five-year-old.

Then, my first job out of college was as a daily news reporter at the Record-Bee newspaper! Of course, the bee was also the mascot there. On a recent visit back to my hometown paper, my dear friend and editor of the Bee gifted me this lovely hat:

Please excuse the harsh lighting. It's a self-portrait taken late at night, after seeing Dear John at the movies

Which I think is so appropriate considering I’m once again…a bee!

I can’t wait to get started telling you all about our chic, family-lake-house wedding we’re planning. Get ready for a healthy serving of DIY projects, a little letterpress printing, and a side of bumps, surprises and relationship lessons.

But first, let me tell you more about Mr. Paisley and me. He’s a Spanish professor, and I’m a journalist. I used to work as an editor for a national glossy magazine, before I decided to start my freelance writing career last summer (so glad I did).

Professor and Miss Paisley, aboard the Paisley Italian Stallion (Vespa)

Professor Paisley and I met on the forever-exquisite day of Jan. 3, 2007. The date is seared into my mind because I was moving back to Santa Cruz to complete my Feminist Studies degree after just having finished a 10-month stint in the UC Center Sacramento journalism program. The future-Professor-Paisley greeted my mom and me in the hallway.

“He is SO cute!” I said to Mama Paisley.

“And he’s a professor, too!” I squealed. “Biology, wasn’t it?”

“I think he said Spanish…but now don’t you go after him, young lady!” Mama Paisley warned. I’m pretty sure she even wagged her finger.

She was right about the first part–the Spanish Professor bit–but the second? O-oh no! I’m glad I made the first move. He followed up with a date to Greek food, and we’ve been pretty much inseparable since, save one year when he was in Orange County and I was up in NorCal working. Let’s just say there were a lot of long nights in the newsroom followed by 8-hour-long drives with me arriving in the OC at 5 or 6 a.m., only to turn around and leave again 24 hours later. Yup, it was love!

Together, we’re a couple of goofballs who dig all things outdoors. He’s a Utah boy and an avid rock climber. I’m a NorCal-turned-SoCal girl, and an ex-river-rafting guide and ropes course facilitator.

Here we are in August about to summit Mt. Whitney, with Groomsman Josh. I think we all look pretty funny.

But not as funny as this:

It ain't called an Italion STALLION for nothin'

Weddingbee has been an important community for me for the last year-plus, so you can imagine I’m feelin’ extra honored to be here. I relish this opportunity to build friendships in the ‘hive, hear what you have to say and share my thoughts.

With less than 5 months until the wedding, get ready for some busy bee days ahead!

Welps, see ya later!

December 5, 2009

Designing a Cohesive Flower Color Palette

Posted in Inspiration Boards, Wedding Design tagged , , , at 1:47 am by Elizabeth Nixon

Who else is computer-challenged and thus LOVING Style Me Pretty’s Style Circle inspiration board builder? I am! *Raises hand*

I was having some difficulty coming up with a cohesive color palette, but Style Circle came to the rescue! I found my own pictures I loved, and uploaded them to the feature, and whipped up a board. I am in love with it.

I had actually been wavering between doing all-white flowers for a cool, organic look like this one:

Photo Credit: Luxury & Lifestyle

Or doing a pinks, whites and pink-and-yellow palette like the one I came up with here on my board:

Flower Color Palette Inspiration Board By Miss Paisley. Photo credit: Ian Grant, Style Me Pretty, Project Wedding

But, once I had merged all of my gathered photos into the collage you see above, I was sold! I needed some color. I figure it will tie in nicely with my pale pink bridesmaid dresses, don’t you think?

In winter, it’s nice to be dreaming of gorgeous blooms and sunny weather. 🙂

October 18, 2009

Craigslist Deals Galore! Stuff I’ve Scored (And You Can, Too!)

Posted in Deals, Personalizing Your Wedding, Wedding Design tagged , , , at 1:05 am by Elizabeth Nixon

I’ve had some interest from friends and fellow brides on my wedding spending and finding good deals. I’ve scored big time on the classifieds on Wedding Bee, The Knot’s Trash-to-Treasure board, and Craigslist. Why, just last weekend, my dear cousin and bridesmaid picked up another 40 cylinder vases (I have about 200 more!) for my centerpieces that I found for a steal on Wedding Bee.

Some of my favorite finds?

Antique Spanish-style candelabra, with six LED flickering candles, Craigslist $35 Photo: Personal photo

Shepherds Hooks, Craigslist $40 Photo: Style Me Pretty

15 gorgeous white moroccan lanterns, Wedding Bee for $7 each Photo: Z Gallery

Sexy Little Bride Hoodie, Craigslist $20 Photo: Victoria's Secret

Probably the best deal I got was finding four gimongous glass beverage dispensers on Craigslist and paying $20 for each when they’re worth $100 each. I lucked out–the very first day I decided I wanted these at my wedding, I searched CL and found one! Then I found two more from a bride, and then one more off CL for a complete set of four:

Italian Glass Beverage Jar Photo: Infusionjars.com

And finally, probably my favorite find, my veil, purchased from Wedding Bee for $150. This was the veil designer I fell in love with at my first bridal salon visit. Jennifer Leigh. I just think she makes the prettiest veils, but they are so expensive! This one is cathedral length, edged in fine silver thread and embellished with freshwater pearls and rhinestones ever-so-delicately on the edges.

Jennifer Leigh Corby Veil, Wedding Bee $150 Photo: Jenniferleighveils.com

My advice if you want to scour Craigslist: You CAN get some great deals and save a TON of money–just start EARLY. Over the past year, I’ve saved about $10,000 on decorations, centerpieces and lots of other wedding things. Keep your eyes peeled for a post on my (currently ongoing) wedding budget breakdown to get the dirty deets. 🙂 Happy hunting!