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my ultimate diy project

For our reception location, we really wanted something that was sort of a blank slate. We didn't want to use a dining hall or prepared venue. While Marvimon and Smog Shoppe were our obvious initial choices for here in LA, we couldn't bear with the cost and the lack of space (of Marvimon). Eventually we found BOXeight, which became quite the adventure to coordinate and figure out how to decorate. In the end, it took a combination of engineering, imagination, and stress to put it all together, with friends and family's help.

The theme for our event was anything but sappy. We wanted a fun, carnival-like, atmosphere. We wanted people to party, not feel awkward watching us romance. Hopefully, we accomplished just that.

Since the space was a blank slate, we got to deck it out however we wanted. I felt that the occasion was a great chance for me to put my crafty skills and arsenal of tools to good use. For probably over a year, I confessed to everyone that I was too busy to do anything because of wedding planning. So busy. Toooo busy planning and planning. And it was true! And I have proof now!

For many of the projects, formulating the ideas and the methodology took the most time. They consumed every waking moment of my pre-marital life. Most of all, we wanted our wedding to be unique and preferably cost-effective. It really made our engineer brains tinker. I avoided wedding blogs like the plague, because I wanted to be as original as possible. All in all, I think we did a pretty decent job. I've never managed so many projects all at once before, all the while still working to bring in the monies so I can spend it on these projects. As much as it sounds like bragging, I think I'm allowed to be proud of myself for that.


By FAR, the biggest challenge. I spent more than half the time shopping for the right fabric, and most of the other half combating my fears of not being able to sew it. My couture knowledge is quite limited, so I was left to pretty much calculate whatever shapes and methods I could to get something to hold on to my body. I still can't believe I managed to make something acceptable. Far from perfect, but it does make me feel pretty good knowing that I have a (now dirty) full silk gown without paying anywhere near four-digits.

Post to come!

hot air balloons

Oh the balloons...! Oh how many hours you've sucked from our lives painting you. They're made from large bouncy balls that you often find in the toy aisle. We painted them various patterns with acrylic paints and tied a tin pot to it below. In each pot I planted a combination of veggies and herbs. These served as our floating table numbers. This was an intensely laborious job. Many hours were spent in front of the TV painting colorful balls.

Through this project, I learned how hard it is to draw a perfect hemispherical circumference of a sphere...

photobooth software

I wanted a photobooth from the get-go. I wanted people to be able to print photos in a cost effective way. So no booth rentals for us. The techie in me urged me to write an app that would allow guests to preview and print photos right away. With the combination of that, a dSLR and a tripod, and some computer know-how, we managed to print on-demand via a Canon Selphy printer. The 4x6s were divided into two duplicate images that guests could cut out, to put one of them inside their polaroid table cards. The application was written in Adobe AIR. Fun stuff!

Speaking of table cards...

polaroid table cards

I've always been a huge fan of laser cutting. I hope to own my own laser cutter someday. Naturally, polaroids are a perfect excuse to laser cut. I drafted the polaroid blueprint in Adobe Illustrator, sent it over to a local cutting/fabrication place in Downtown LA, and the next thing I knew, I had about 150 photo frames. A cardstock paper stand was cut at home with my old Silhouette paper cutting machine, then glued to the back of each frame. A hand-developed stamp stamped each backing with our little "logo".

I liked the idea of offering guests something more than edibles as their take-away. I think people had a good time taking new photos to stuff into their frames.



Quite the tedious process. Again, I used the Silhouette to cut every shape, every layer. Then we glued everything together meticulously. The inner cards were Gocco printed and laser printed.

I've written allll about this before, over here.

card dropbox

This was a fun one. We ordered a little dollhouse kit that was supposed to be an "extension" to a dollhouse, and so it was the perfect size for a dropbox. After some painting and modifications to accommodate a lock door and card slot, we had a little Poopers home for our guests' cards. Unfortunately, there weren't any good photos showing the setup. We had an old typewriter next to it for folks to type messages and drop them in the house.

Here are those cards. They were a crackup.


Eric brewed two types of beer for the bar. We also made up a few drink recipes for cocktails. For beer labels, I used the cutter once again and the ol' trusty laser printer (you don't want runny ink when that cold, cold beer dews up). Also, rubber cement for the gluing. Very important. Our brew names were dedicated to two of our little bunnies, one of whom is now in bunny heaven, hence "Bobo's Hayven". Get it? Get it? Beer? Wheat? Hay? Ok.

The sign was blackboard paint on plywood. Painted with gold and red. No magic there.

let there be cake (macarons)

The beautiful cake toppers were NOT made by me, but by my little sister, Katherine. She's a needlefelting genius. If you want something, I'm sure she'd love to take commissions toward her college fund. :)

Instead of cake, we opted for individual french macaron cups (mostly because I was obsessed with them). I cut little popcorn-like cups and had them filled with rice krispies and individual macarons. I guess it was a little awkward to have a small cake there still, and not serve it to everybody. But I hope people enjoyed the macarons anyhow, although they did get kind of soggy from having been sitting around on display for a while. The macarons came from Twelve Centimeters in Korea-town, LA.

For the candy bar, little brown bags with labels on them were available into which guests could stuff treats. We had various candies like Chupa Chups, Pez, Ferrero Rochers, Pocky, etc. International classics! For refreshments at the candy bar, we also had jugs of milk and homebrewed milktea (despite that photo saying "Coffee", it was not coffee).

Overall, I was only semi-happy with the candy bar. It didn't look organized enough. Things got messed around and misplaced and I couldn't find a chance to set it up properly. Oh well, hindsight.

fashion items

My bridesmaids all had different dresses in different shades of yellow, which was fantastic. But to add just a touch of uniformity, I had them all wear the same earrings. So I found these really pretty bermuda blue teardrop Swarovski crystals that matched the peacock feathers on my headpiece.

Speaking of my sister, she also helped me put together the ring pillow. We didn't quite flaunt it around in the ceremony, because we didn't do the ringbearer-down-the-aisle thing. But it was still used. We singed big organza ovals for the petals and sewed a little pillow to hold the flower. Our rings were made by Beth Cyr on Etsy.

For the garter, I opted for some lace I had on hand. I still have so much trims that I ended up not using on the dress... The garters you find in stores are SO UGLY. Like fugly. It's so easy to just make one!

I love my headpiece! It was made by the awesome Head Full of Feathers on Etsy. She makes some amazing pieces. Mine has bleached and unbleached peacock feathers. I added a gold veil to it to make it all wedding-y.


I actually had the idea of lighted letters from looking at circus/carnival photos. Then I found these online. But holy cow! That price would've blown our so-called budget to bits. What do? Make some of course!

Okay, these are not nearly as pro and heavy duty as those. But they served their purpose just fine. I used foam board to cut out two big sets of both letters. On one set, I cut out holes to fit in the detachable bulbs from a string light. I hot glued a wall around the other set of letters using narrow strips of poster board, spray painted it with a metal finish, and painted the rusty red. Put it all together, and we had lighted letters! I'll write a more extensive post later if anyone wants to make them too. This might've actually been the quickest/easiest project. It was all just hot glue and paint and paper.

in the kitchen

Our dear friends were so great to help us put together the truffle butter party favors. We bought little Dixie cups, a few pounds of salted butter, some truffle oil, and went whippin'. They whipped up softened butter with truffle oil and herbs. Then they filled each of the cups with the goop and sealed them with little squares of tissue paper, along with wooden spoons for spreading. I used the typewriter to make little labels for the cups. As always, rubber cement.

It made us happy to know that guests enjoyed the butter. So much so that someone brought it home to dress popcorn too. Mmm...truffle popcorn. That's something we haven't tried!

As for these curry fishballs, we cooked these the day before and lugged them in a big pot to the reception to serve as cocktail food. I can't even believe we did that, actually. We cooked a pot of curry fishballs and brought it to the wedding. Hongkie pride!

flowers and centerpieces

Whew, last but definitely not least, flowers and terrariums. My now cousins-in-law came to help put together the bouquets and boutonnieres. I went to Downtown LA to pick up a butt-load of flowers and flower orders super early in the morning. By this time, I was already half-dead from lack of sleep. Thankfully they were there! I managed to put together my bouquet and some boutonnieres, but the rest was all them.

The terrariums were put together a few days before, thankfully. I had collected a massive collection of apothecary jars and various glass containers over the span of that past year. Although it still felt too few somehow. Man, the living room was a mess from all that indoor planting. For inexpensive apothecary jars, check out discount fashion stores like Marshalls and Ross.

In the end, I was a little sad to see my glass collection dissolve; but mostly, I was happy that they got to go to new homes. I'm glad no one took my vintage candy jars (like photos above), because I love them. I wonder why no one wanted those (did we say not to?).

So I guess all in all...mission accomplished!