Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gorging Ourselves on Cake

Ah, the ol' cake tasting. One of those parts of wedding planning that everyone gets PUMPED for, brides and grooms alike. I actually don't know what's so exciting about it. You people realize you could just eat cake any day you want, right? We're all adults here. But for some reason it is exciting, probably because you get to try so many different flavors in one sitting. Or maybe because you get to dream about your wedding whilst stuffing your face, two of my favorite pastimes!

Personal pic
I take eating cake very seriously.

Our venue includes a wedding cake in their package (sweet. literally.) through a local bakery called Central Continental Bakery. I didn't think much of it, not being familiar with any bakeries (I'm more of an apple pie from Costco kind of girl usually--that shiz is delicious), but both my mom and Mr. Unicycle's mom said it was the best bakery ever when they found out we were using them.

Personal pic

We had the choice of 5 different cake flavors:

  1. white
  2. yellow
  3. chocolate
  4. swirl
  5. combination--which doesn't actually count as a distinct flavor, but rather, a tier of yellow and a tier of chocolate. The Unicycles had a huge argument about this in Starbucks actually. I lost the argument. I was wrong. 
We also got to choose from a bunch of fillings. We decided to get 4 cake samples so we could try out all of the cake flavors (well, almost all, depending on if you count combination as a flavor), which meant we could only try 4 different fillings as well. We chose:
  1. strawberry bavarian
  2. raspberry bavarian
  3. custard
  4. chocolate buttercream
Personal pic
The carnage.

All of their cakes come with vanilla buttercream frosting, so that was one variable we didn't have to worry about. The bakery gives you the cake in little cups to take home and try. I suggested we do our tasting in Starbucks because I love Starbucks and had a caffeine withdrawal headache that was prohibiting me from fully enjoying the cake tasting experience. Unfortunately, this meant that the hipsters and beatniks sitting around us had to endure our argument about whether combination and swirl were the same flavor. I know, I'm dumb. 

Personal pic
Mr. Unicycle going in for the kill

Neither of us are big fans of chocolate cake in general, and after tasting the chocolate sample, we ruled that out. My unrefined palate couldn't detect a difference between yellow and white cake, but Mr. Unicycle liked the white better, so we decided to go with white cake. 

Personal pic
I'm trying to eat and argue about combination being a flavor at the same time.

Neither of us really liked the chocolate buttercream filling either. His favorite filling was the raspberry. I liked all three of the others, but I'd really be satisfied with anything. I'm not picky about cake. If it has a million calories, I'll probably like it. So with that being said, we're going with the raspberry filling. Can you believe we duked it out over whether combination was a real flavor, but we didn't even argue a little bit about which flavor to serve at our wedding? And to think I was worried about that.

Personal pic
Bedroom/cake eyez.

Next up, I'll show you our cake design inspirations!

So here's my question: I think it might be nice to offer our guests a choice in cake flavors by alternating tiers, i.e. a tier with raspberry filling and a tier of custard. Mr. Unicycle thinks most people don't like custard, but I'm not so sure. I personally love custard (even though it has "turd" in it when you say it out loud), but I'd probably choose the raspberry anyway. Is it important to give guests a choice? If so, is custard the right choice?

Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Make Crepe Paper Flowers: The REAL Tutorial

If you've ever read a Martha Stewart craft tutorial, you were probably left scratching your head, shouting obscenities, or punching your computer screen right where her little head shot shows up.

Image via Martha Stewart
Side note: this is the most photoshopped thing I've ever seen.

Martha's business model seems to focus heavily on pretty pictures, but they're totally lacking in the instructions. Take this crepe paper flower tutorial, for instance, which my MOH and I tried out the other day:

Image via Martha Stewart

(As you may recall, all the flowers at my wedding will be made of paper because I'm a cheap masochist.) The tutorial instructs you to cut out petals with their template and shape them by stretching the crepe paper. This was all simple enough, and I got through these steps feeling like I could totally pwn good ol' Martha in a paper flower match to the death. But when it came to attaching the petals to the stem, the instructions are weak sauce: "To attach petals to stamen, stretch floral tape slightly, then wrap it twice around stamen. Add petals, wrapping tape across base of each as you add it. Once petals are added, wrap tape around twice more, then wrap down along stem to anchor and to attach leaves." But how exactly do you attach the petals with floral tape? In case you didn't already know, floral tape really isn't very sticky. In fact, it's the least sticky thing I've ever encountered that had the audacity to call itself "tape."

Image via Bananalogic
Except maybe these little guys.

So let me back up and rewrite this bad boy, because once you get the hang of it, it really is quite a nice concept. It yields these lovely thangs:

Personal pic

Personal pic

But if you don't understand Martha's instructions (because they suck), you'll do one of these:

Personal pic


  • Floral wire (mine is 18 inches long, and I'm planning on cutting it down to Martha's recommended 12 inches.)
  • Floral tape (it sucks @$$, but you need it)
  • Crepe paper (the sheets, not streamers)
  • Scissors
  • Writing utensil
  • Martha's template
I bought my materials from Paper Mart because they're hella cheap. 


1) Print Martha's templates from her site, and cut out the petal shape you want (we made roses and peonies, but she has carnations, dahlias, lilies, tulips, and more).

2) Trace the template onto your crepe paper as many times (or more times) as it tells you to--make sure the grain of the crepe paper is parallel to the petal template! For example, she suggests using 35 petals for the peony and 12 for the rose. I ended up liking the fuller roses better, so I used 24 petals. Then cut out your petals. This will take you a really long time.

Personal pic
Theres my MOH wielding her weapon of choice. Yes, that's a Jason Wu shirt.

3) Shape your petals by grabbing them between your thumbs and pointer fingers and stretching the crepe paper out forming a concave shape (or convex, depending on what your point of reference is). 

Personal pic
I spy Franzia and more paper flowers in the background!

Martha actually does have a good photo of this step:

Image via Martha Stewart
This is the only fun part of the whole process

4) Once you have all of your petals shaped, attach a stamen to your wire. There are a bunch of different stamens you can make, depending on what flower you choose, and Martha explains them all. They're not hard, I promise.

5) Here's the important part! Hold one of your petals up against the wire so the petal sort of wraps itself around it, pinching the bottom of the petal. Then wrap your floral tape around the base of the petal leaving some crepe paper hanging out the bottom

Personal pic

Personal pic

6) Keep wrapping tape and adding petals as you wrap, stretching the tape as much as you can without ripping it. Here's the key: think of the tape as a piece of string or ribbon that just happens to be a teeny tiny bit sticky. Don't think of it as scotch tape or masking tape. Pretend it only works by the force of tension, not adhesive. 

Personal pic

7) Once you have all of your petals attached, wrap the tape around a few more bazillion times, angling it downward until it covers up that ~centimeter of exposed paper. 

Personal pic
That's how it gets that nice, tapered look.

And you're done!

Personal pic

Personal pic

Personal pic

Personal pic

It'll take you a long time to even get one done, so if you're planning on doing 5 bouquets worth like I am, you should start yesterday. 

One thing I'm not pleased with is the yellow color. Paper Mart only sold 2 shades of yellow--this one, and a golden looking one that I don't like. Where do you guys buy sheets of crepe paper? And what paper flower tutorials have you tried?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Day in the Windy City

Like I mentioned before, my MOH and former college roommate visited me last weekend to get a bunch of wedding stuff done and just hang out. Part of the reason we picked that weekend was because I had scored some free tix to the Windy City Wedding Show (I'm pretty sure everyone in attendance had scored free tix by the way. I wouldn't recommend ever paying to go to a bridal show because they were begging me to get my free tickets even after I'd already gotten some).

I went to a bridal expo last May and wasn't that impressed with it, but I heard after the fact that it isn't that great of an expo in general, so I had high hopes for this one. The only problem--I'm about 4 months from my wedding day with almost everything booked and planned. So I had virtually no reason to be there other than wanting to do these things while I still can--I'll only be "the bride" for another 4 months. Woe is me.

This particular show was held at Carnivale, an extremely cool restaurant in Chicago that I had been wanting to check out. And now that I've seen it, I want to check it out for realsies, because it was amazing inside:

Personal pic

My bridesmaids said it looked like a restaurant I would design. I want my future home to look like this!

Personal pic
Here they are when we first got there. We sadly didn't get a pic of all 3 of us.

Oh wait, yes we did!

Image via the photo booth sponsored by Party Photo Booths
The guy MADE ME pose like that. I swear to gawd.

There were a lot of cool things to see at the show, like wedding dresses on headless mannequins...

Personal pic

...sweets table setups (complete with free samples. Holy cakeballz were there free samples!)...

Personal pic

Personal pic

 ...fake Styrofoam cakes with cool designs on them...

Personal pic

Personal pic

Personal pic

...Some centerpiece and flower ideas...

Personal pic

Personal pic

...and I just really liked this table cloth:

Personal pic

And here's a bunch of strangers milling around:
Personal pic

We all enjoyed the show a lot, but since we had no vendors to book, we didn't end up spending a lot of time there. We took some pics, posed in the photobooth, tried some cakeballz, and entered a few raffles. I also got a coupon for a free makeover from Mario Tricoci, which I'm super excited about, and everyone got a free copy of The Knot Chicago, which basically made the whole trip worth it.

No wait, this made the whole trip worth it:

Personal pic
We saw this on the way home from the bridal show, and for some reason it filled us with such joy that we were moved to tears. I think we were just delirious from partying too hard the whole weekend. But seriously, what are the logistics of this? How does it work?? And why?

Have you ever been to a bridal show? Was it helpful to you? And was anyone at the one at Carnivale on Sunday??

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

$175 Necklace Knockoff

I never thought I'd care that much about bridal jewelry. To me, "bridal jewelry" meant boring, thin chains with tiny gems or pearls attached--the kind of necklaces and earrings that you can't even see from afar. I'm a tacky person (and I mean that in the best way possible), so traditional bridal jewelry just wasn't doing it for me. I wanted something big and bold. Something that made a statement. And that statement would be "I'm tacky and I'm proud." Not that the ol' ball n' chain reads this tripe anymore, but just in case:

And by "dress pics" I mean "necklace pics."

Back in the day, when I still thought bridal jewelry looked like this:
(which is fine if you're not tacky. But I am.)

I came across this picture:

I think I dry heaved a little when I saw it. Not with disgust, but with jewelry lust. I actually included it in my retro wedding inspiration post, but I didn't think I'd actually wear it because you're not supposed to wear big, chunky necklaces to your wedding. Oh, and it's $175.

As the weeks went by, "get wedding jewelry" loomed bigger and bigger on the wedding timeline horizon, and I started actually thinking about what to do about the jewelry problem. Since I had kept going back to this one picture I decided that maybe I could wear a big, bold statement necklace on my wedding day. I definitely couldn't afford the hefty price tag (to be fair, it's made with Swarovski pearls and silver, so I'm sure it's worth every penny), so I decided to find something else similar. Long story short, I failed at that and decided to just DIY it. If you want your wedding necklace to be made out of quality materials, then by all means support the person who sells this necklace. But for someone on a tight budget who can't tell the difference between plastic and crystal, this DIY project is a perfect solution.

Personal pic

Here's what you need:
  • Strands of faux pearls. I bought 4 packs from Michael's.
  • Jump rings
  • A clasp
  • Beading wire
  • Crimp tubes
  • E-6000 glue
  • Scraps of felt (not pictured)
  • Brooch (I got mine on eBay for $10!)

I enlisted the help of my co-worker Maggie, who told me exactly what to buy, let me use her jewelry making tools, and spent an entire lunch hour helping me make it. Thanks, Maggie! I'm not going to give a full tutorial because I'm really not qualified, but we basically just made 4 strands of pearls on wire, crimping the ends and attaching to jump rings and a clasp. The clasp actually hooks to the brooch itself, so the back of the necklace is continuous.

Personal pic
I love that the newspaper it's on says "trial & error." How apropos.

I used the glue to attach one end of the strands to the brooch. To reinforce it, I glued a small square of felt over it. I also glued some felt around the pin back to keep the clasp from sliding around when I wear it. It's a little...home ec...but it's fine by me!

Personal pic
No one's going to see this side of it anyway, right?

And now for the big reveal!

Personal pic (image reversed due to Myspace-style mirror shot)

Personal pic

[Yet another gratuitous] personal pic. 

Personal pic/I so wish I still had a Myspace
Oh, and there are my $9 wedding earrings too. I didn't make those.

Personal pic. Yes my skirt matches my walls.

And just for fun, I tried it on with my wedding dress:
Personal pic. Excuse my childlike excitement.

Thanks for indulging my necklace narcissism. If you couldn't tell, I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

Where did you get your wedding jewelry from? Would you have paid $175 for a necklace?