A Bottled Bouquet & Corked Boutonniere

Wedding Planning

After all, what would you expect from a wine-themed wedding?

Using wine bottles as vases–either as is or cut down–is nothing new, especially not here on the ‘Bee. I’d figured pretty early on that I’d have a bottle-vase on the altar to place my bouquet in since I wouldn’t have an attendant to hand it off to–it was one of the first decisions I made about my bouquet, next to the given that I’d make it myself. Then, back when I was cutting down the bottles for the centerpieces and all I started to think about what the top part of the bottles resembled.

Here’s a hint. This:

FloraCraft Gala Bouquet Holder | image via Amazon.com

FloraCraft Gala Bouquet Holder | image via Amazon.com

Is not all that dissimilar to this:


Wine Bottle Bouquet Handle & Vase/Stand

Wine Bottle Bouquet Handle & Vase/Stand

And when prettied up like below it looks a lot less bar-brawl-ish!


So far I’ve yet to find an online occurrence of a wine bottle being used as a bouquet handle so I’m going to go out on a limb and posit that I may have actually come up with something new–at least as far as Google Image Search can determine. (Of course, as soon as I type those words I’m sure someone will prove me wrong–that’s okay, I’m not counting on it being anything but what I want.)

To assemble my bouquet, I started by making small bunches of my different elements beginning with larger groupings around the more limited wooden flowers and then smaller bunches to fill in and fill out the rest of the bouquet, wrapping everything together with floral tape.


The first go-round the bouquet was forming up too round for my tastes, so I ended up pulling everything out, grabbing another piece of Styrofoam, and starting over. While I was happier with the placement of the flowers the second time around it was still coming out rather round and I’ve made my peace with it. The fact that the flowers are placed forward and out rather than oriented sky-ward help it not look quite so broccoli-headed. I’ve also left the back rather flat so that it’s not cumbersome to hold out in front of me.


As for T’s boutonniere, I used a small cluster of a maroon flower, a star anise pod, and a tiny adding machine-tape rose and nestled it in a channel cut into the back of a champagne cork. Backed with a fabric grape leaf (leftover from one of the clusters I used on the centerpieces) and wrapped with a piece of grosgrain ribbon it was done.



Instead of counting on a corsage pin to hold this guy in place I’m opting for a regular pin-back. After placing it rear and center on the cork and having the flowers flop unceremoniously forward, I repositioned it higher up behind the flower instead: problem solved. Always good to do a test-run, you know?

Paper and Fiber and Beads, Oh My!

Wedding Planning

(With apologies for the cheesy title, I couldn’t resist.

Okay, I could resist, I just chose not to!)

Knowing I was going to make my own flowers for my bouquet flung the doors of possibility wide open, at first. What helped narrow the focus was realizing that I didn’t want just paper flowers or just fiber flowers or just sparkly beaded flowers–I wanted a mix of all of that and more. And to minimize the potential of it looking like diy-flower-soup, I decided that a unifying factor was needed to tie the disparate parts together, and a monochromatic palette fit the bill nicely.

You'd think there'd be enough here for a single bouquet, but not quite--I needed a couple dozen more before it was all said and done.

You’d think there’d be enough here for a single bouquet, but not quite–I needed a couple dozen more before it was all said and done.

Over the course of several months I made roses from crepe paper hearts, knit a variety of different flower patterns, and making some ribbon-style “roses” out of adding machine tape. Since Mr. Road Trip and I are both in accounting, it seemed like a fun way to personalize the flowers a bit more. I just snagged some printed tape after a mammoth reconciling session and cut it into varying widths to use as ribbon. I also wired some star anise pods onto floral stems and even picked up a few wooden flowers at the hardware store of all places! (They’re meant as an alternative to reed diffusers and have wicks instead of stems–you could drop perfumes or essential oils onto the wicks to add a nice fragrance to the bouquet, but I picked them up for looks alone.)

Finally, I made several French-beaded flowers to add a bit of sparkle to the bouquet. While paper flower tutorials are 10-a-penny on the Internet these days, beaded flower tutorials are a little more scarce, so I thought I include the basics below. If you’ve ever made a God’s-eye in summer camp (or have done certain types of basket weaving), this type of beaded flower is similar in construction method.

French-Beaded Flower Tutorial (woven variation)

Most French-beaded flowers I’ve made and seen completed are made as individual petals or components and laced together. That’s a bit too much start-and-stop for me, so I opted to use the less-common but more expedient woven style to make my 5-petal flowers.

Basic supplies you’ll need:

  • 24-gauge wire
  • 10/0 seed beads
  • wire cutters
  • small needle-nose pliers

First you’ve got to get the beads onto the wire. If your beads came in hanks (pre-strung), it’s pretty easy work to transfer them from string to wire, otherwise you can use  a bead spinner to quickly string the beads directly onto the wire, or just pour the beads into a shallow container and run the end of the wire through the mass of beads and pick them up that way. It really doesn’t take that long, but you want a good amount of beads strung up (a foot at least) because you won’t be cutting the wire until the flower is finished, so there’s no more adding beads if you run out without making things difficult for yourself.

From the free end of the wire, measure out 6 inches or so, fold at that point, and measure out a total of 6 6-inch strands (or 3 loops on one end and 2 loops, the start of the wire, and the beaded lead wire on the other). Wrap the center of this bundle of wires with the wire that’s closest to the spool and beads to secure, then clip the loops at each end. Pull one 3″ wire down perpendicular to the bundle (this will act as your stem) and spread out the remaining 10 ends like the spokes of bike wheel, careful that they don’t slip out of the center tie.

Do your basic over-under weave through the spokes, pulling tight every few wires (the pliers come in handy for this), for 2 rounds, just to keep things in place. It might look a little messy, but you won’t notice it in the finished flower.


Now for the beads! For the first row (or circle) you’re going to slip 1 or 2 bead(s) between each of the wire spokes and wrap the working wire around each spoke–1 if you’re center section is very tight, 2 if they are naturally more spread out. So you’ll slide the bead(s) into place and then the working wire will go over the next spoke, under and around, coming out heading the same direction you started in (clockwise or counter-clockwise doesn’t matter, it’s whatever works best for you). You need to keep the working wire very taught and very close to the beads you just placed, I like to use my thumbnail to keep the wire in place as I wrap it around and then, periodically, pull it super-tight with the pliers.



For the second round we’re going to start adding some shape to the flower other than round. Add a bead onto the next spoke and then slide 3 beads up the working wire to make an angled bit between the last spoke you wrapped and the one with the new bead on it. Wrap that spoke (the one with the new bead on it that you just “climbed” with the working wire) at a 45º angle up and then down with another 3 beads to the next spoke. Continue around your spokes, adding that new bead onto every other spoke, creating a star-like shape in the end.



Same deal on the next round, though you can get a little creative at this point. You can add 2 beads to the pointed spokes, you can skip the adding and just build upon the existing shape until your flower is as big as you want it. Don’t go more than halfway up the spokes, though. If you want a bigger flower, start with longer spokes to begin with.

My favorite pattern so far is 2 rows of added-bead rounds, 3-5 rounds regular, and then 2 more added-bead rounds to produce a lacier edge in the final flower.



Keep increasing the number of beads between the spokes as you make successive rounds. At some point it’s going to be easier to eyeball it than count, and that’s totally acceptable. When you’ve gotten things where you want them, complete your last round and then flip the flower over.



Weave the remaining spoke ends back down the spines, heading towards the center. I’ve found it helps to do the “middle” spokes first–the ones “between” the petals, so you can tighten those areas down and make the petals stand out a bit more. Bundle the spokes together at the bottom and use one of them to secure the bundle together with a few wraps.



Now the fun part! Gently but firmly fold the flowers up and in along the “between” spokes, kinda like a round accordion fold. Be careful not to overwork the wires, though, as they will break if pushed and that would be a very sad thing indeed.



Finally, pull out and flatten the petal tips to fill out the flower and form it’s final shape. My flowers all ended up in the 1 1/2″ to 2″ range, takes about an hour each to produce, and remain fairly lightweight on their own. Get a bunch together, though, and you’re dealing with some serious heft, along the lines of your average brooch bouquet or maybe heavier. To use in a bouquet like I’m doing, grab some floral stems and wrap it, along with the wire ends, together with floral tape. They also work well in hair adornments and corsages, too.

Finding the Right Words

Wedding Planning

As much as the aesthetics of our invitations were important to us, the words were–of course–the most important part. I mentioned that I tried to stick to the more formal wording, more or less, to convey the right tone but we had to take a few liberties as far as format went. I think it’s a pretty common push-and-shove in modern weddings: how traditional do we want to be without being mired down in the things that no longer work.

Because I think the balance we found works particularly well, I thought I’d share it for those who might be looking for ideas.

The first panel, aka the main invitation reads:


request the pleasure of your company
at their wedding
on Saturday,
the nth of November
two thousand and thirteen

City, State

It reads pretty much the way any other invitation hosted by the couple and not being held in a church would read with one major difference: there’s no time noted (but only because we’ll be addressing that in subsequent panels). One step away from the traditional wording I did take was the use of wedding instead of marriage. It’s still considered correct to invite people to your marriage and I admit that I get hung up on the word there. It’s one thing if it reads “the marriage ceremony” because that’s what they will be attending. Saying “at their marriage” (as many guides suggested) feels like an open invitation for folks to be royal buttinskies for the duration of the relationship and, to be perfectly plain, no. Just no.

It’s also worth noting that my line breaks aren’t necessarily in standard places. Usually you’d break them up by clause, often putting the linking bits on their own lines, but I played a bit fast and loose with some because of the style I was going for. Formality versus function and all that.

The second panel, then, let’s them know the schedule is going to be a bit different:

Please join us
before the ceremony for

Coffee & Cocktails
and assorted breakfast nibbles

in front of the fountain
at half after ten in the morning

I debated on adding the “assorted breakfast nibbles” line or taking it out, but ultimately decided to keep it. For the same reason I included a menu panel, I like to let the guests know what to expect and assuring them that coffee and pastry will be available for such an early “cocktail hour” will ward off many questions. I did get the “will there be coffee?” query from some of our guests when things were still in the early planning stages, so I consider this the natural next answer. And as awkward as it sounds, “half after” is the correct formal wording over the expected half-past. I couldn’t find a reason why past was frowned upon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with past sounding like passed and reminding people of passed-away. As for the “and” in the year on the first panel, “experts” seem to be evenly divided. I think the only thing they were unanimous in was not writing twenty-thirteen.

will take place
on the steps of the
Gathering Hall
at three-quarters after eleven o’clock

Reception to follow in the
Owl’s Nest

The third panel basically tells folks ‘okay, if you oversleep or want to be fashionably late, don’t worry, just  be in your seats by 11:45 so as not to miss the ceremony.’ Could both of these be covered by one or two enclosures, had we gone a more traditional route? Of course. In fact, the “reception to follow” bit is classic corner-copy on single card invitations without enclosures. This way just keeps things in a nice progression of information, all in one place, and easy to find.

You’ve already seen our menu, which takes up the fourth panel and the fifth is, again, a standard enclosure style of map and physical location for folks to MapQuest or enter in their GPS. We also included the url of our wedding website on that last panel for those who want even more details. Will this 100% prevent our guests from asking questions already answered on the invitation or website? Of course not. I’ve written enough employee memos to know that never happens (and that most people don’t read what you hand them, anyway), but it doesn’t mean I can’t try.

The Road Trip Invitation Reveal

Wedding Planning

The responses are starting to roll in, so let’s take a peek at what our guests saw when they opened up their envelopes.


At the last moment I opted to do envelope liners, even though they would only just barely show. I was pleasantly surprised that the chocolate-brown envelopes were peel & seal (had a strip of adhesive as opposed to  the usual dry-gum seal) so I used that strip to adhere the liners and added another strip of double-sided tape to close the envelopes. The patterned paper for the liner is the same that I used on the mini-books and I have one more project that will use it, as well.

Will our guests notice that the paper is the same between the various elements? Probably not. But I like that it adds a certain cohesion to the bits and pieces when all taken in together.


Reaching into the envelope they’ll pull out the wine bottle and its single enclosure. I added a band to keep everything together (just like countless brides before me) but the placement of this band turned out to be pretty important in the end.

At first I’d put the band around the center of the invitation bundle, as you do, but because the pieces are different widths the bottle portion tended to free itself from the band’s confines and come out alone, leaving the RSVP card and envelope (not to mention the band with it’s oval inner-envelope-stand-in-informal-guest-designating-label, once again featuring the vine frame from the Save the Dates) inside. While I figured most of our guests would expect there to be an RSVP card of some sort and would probably look back inside the envelope to check, I wanted to remove as many of the “could happens” and preserve the look of the invitation suite, so I experimented until I found the a solution.

What worked best was to first fold the band around the single widest element (the #6 3/4 return envelope) alone–not as part of the stack!–so that the band fit it the snuggest. Then slip the “neck” of the wine bottle cutout under the band and label and slide it up just to the point that the invitation booklet slipped under the oval label. What all of this did was insure (more or less) that when the recipient goes to pull the bottle out of the envelope, the folded invitation catches on the band and pulls it and the RSVP card/envelope out all as one piece.

Something to consider if you decide to go with a non-traditional envelope or invitation configuration!


Once everything is out of the envelope and the band is removed, the label-themed invitation naturally springs open. This has a lot to do with the weight of paper I used (100# Feltweave Cover, for the curious)–even scored and folded and the edges burnished a bit it still wants to open up–and because of this tendency I went back and forth over whether to leave it as an accordion fold or stick the backs of the facing panels down to make more of a booklet. There were pluses and minuses to both, so Mr. Road Trip stepped in as tie-breaker and we went for booklet-style. Again, one of those pesky decisions you don’t expect to be making. Either way, the pop-up tendency works in our favor, as it invites our guests to flip through the panels rather than just skim down the front and put it down.


And then our RSVP card! After going with a shaped invitation, why stick with a plain rectangle for the RSVP card? And what goes better with a bottle than a cork (though I did take a certain amount of “artistic license” by pairing a Champagne-style cork with a non-sparkling bottle style). I used a black and white image of a cork, added some overlays to it in Photoshop to give it more of a cork coloration, and then added our response options.

We look forward to toasting with you!

___I’ll drink to that!
___My glass is empty.

Apparently I should have put “(yes/accepts)” and “(no/declines)” along with the semi-witty options as a couple of folks have asked exactly what we were really asking (one person wondered if it meant to expect them to be drinking or not), but most seem to get it. It was quite a thrill to see the first couple of responses in our mailbox a mere 3 days after sending out the invitations (some of our local invitees are super-prompt!), and the returned corks are being tucked into a French memo board that stands in our hallway, so that’s fun to see each day.


The idea is that the invitation sets the tone for the event. I made sure that I used traditional wording and styles to convey the formality and gravity of the moment but in a non-traditional package to add in a bit of fun. Overall, I think it’s a pretty good indication of what we want our wedding to be like, which I would describe as traditional with a twist.

A Sip of Inspiration: Wine Label Invitation Design

Wedding Planning

It’s been said often and will continue to be true: having a theme makes so many decisions so much simpler. At least in theory.

Once we’d decided that the wedding would be wine-themed, I knew that I’d take design cues from wine labels for our invitations but there was still the question of which labels and how all of the pieces and parts would fit and work together. An envelope of random label-looking things wouldn’t exactly hit the mark, here, but that’s where the early brainstorming sessions headed.


When our local Borders closed (boo! *moment of silence*) I’d picked up a copy of the 2008 Windows on the World Wine Course book. One night I sat down and just started flagging any labels that jumped out at me. Didn’t matter the shape, orientation, colors, just whatever looked interesting. And that’s about as far as I got, the book went back on the shelf (sticky notes still in place) and I put invitations on the back burner for about a year.

Basic shape... so many possibilities!

Basic shape… so many possibilities!

When I got my eCraft I thought it was cool that there was a wine bottle shape on the basic cartridge and started playing around with the idea of incorporating the bottle silhouette somehow. At this stage I was still trying to fit everything into the usual large-card-invitation-with-smaller-enclosures mold, but I was running into the issue of our event format. Namely, the cocktail hour being before the ceremony really needed to be spelled out, but I was afraid that it might get lost or overlooked on an enclosure.

Admittedly, I was probably over-thinking things a bit (something I do often). When I’ve created invitations for other parties we’ve thrown that have a schedule to be considered I’d just create a panel or card for them and our guests figured it out, but I didn’t want something so agenda-ish in the invitation, nor did I want to depend solely on our wedding website to spell it all out, either.


Meanwhile, for the sake of continuity I decided that the labels that would serve as inspiration all needed to be the vertical or tall variety, so I picked out six of the best contenders and made a rough sketch of each to concentrate on the shapes and divisions–this removed the urge to recreate each label down to the nth detail, and took us from parody-of to inspired-by. Definitely a step in the right direction.

I’d also come to a decision about just how the invitations were going to work. At first I was concerned it would seem too gimmicky or who knows what, then I realized that I didn’t give two pins about it, that it was a fun and different and I was going to do it. Thus, it was decided that the backing of the invitation would be a wine bottle shape and the invitation would go where the label usually does, but instead of a single label, it would fold out or open up to reveal different sections in lieu of the enclosure cards that would otherwise be necessary.

Taking shape, literally!

Taking shape, literally!

The dimensions of the bottle cut-out determined the size of the “labels” so I could begin to recreate the label designs in Illustrator and get down to cutting out all those bottles. Regular card stock was too flimsy, so I decided to use mat board instead, believing that it was just thin enough to go through the cutter. Go through, yes. Cut worth a darn, not so much (to clarify: it would have cut, but it left drag marks from the blade anywhere it traveled since the board was so thick the blade still caught even when retracted and caused feed issues, ugh!).


But I was a Road Trip on a mission, so I spent a Saturday afternoon cutting out wine bottles from maroon mat board (I found some with a dark green backing/core that looked much better than the usual white-core options) and got 30 out of a single 32″ x 40″ sheet. And it turned out that a sturdy pair of scissors worked much better than a craft knife. To smooth out any cutting wobbles I took a regular emery board to the edges and it left the bottles with a nice, smooth edge and me covered in maroon fuzzies. Such is the price of creativity, sometimes!

Laying down the design bones

Laying down the design bones

Back in Illustrator I created each label on it’s own artboard set to the size of each “page” of the accordion-fold booklet, blocked out the basic shapes, and added colors picked from the “beverages” swatch which were perfect for what I had in mind. Then I exported them individually and brought them into Photoshop so that I could start matching up each label/panel with the necessary text.

As I started to format the text for each panel, that’s where looking back at the original labels really helped and I started to really notice some of the hallmarks of the labels that, when incorporated into the invitation panels, would really echo that style rather than just a drawn-out invitation with some geometric backgrounds.

  • One or two lines are usually highlighted with either a different typeface, a different font style or size, or a different color.
  • There’s ample negative space both around and between sections of information.
  • Small-caps are used often throughout the body of the label, often with a serif-style typeface.

Once I started employing those visual design cues, the panels really started to look more like the wine labels that inspired them. (There was also some spacing manipulation but between lines and characters–never underestimate the benefit of kerning and leading!)


Your general script, centered wording on the right, a more label-inspired look on the left.

Screen-shot comparison: the general script, centered wording on the right, a more label-inspired look on the left.

Finally, several of the panels needed some pretty pictures to polish them off. My favorite place for royalty-free design elements is DoverPictura.com (yes, you pay a nominal fee for them, but there’s no ambiguity if I want to use them in a design-for-hire job later on). I found several sheets of both line-art designs and old-fashioned images that I could easily manipulate to fit the image slots of the invitation panels. What I didn’t find was a good line-art image of an old-fashioned plantation house, so I ran an image of our venue through several filters to get a grainy, halftone-look that I could blend into its spot on our Ceremony panel, and created a simple map for the location panel in Illustrator.

All dressed up and ready to print!

All dressed up and ready to print!

One other thing I included in our invitation that you don’t normally see is a menu panel. This is something I have always done for my parties to give guests a heads-up of what will be available. Since there’s not a ‘chicken or beef’ option and we’re not doing a buffet, this is an easy way to set realistic expectations and invite them to let us know if they’ll need special accommodations.

After that it was just a matter of printing, scoring, folding, and rounding 1.001 corners–at least that’s what it felt like (in reality it was only 36o, 12 punches per invitation) before I could assemble them and get them in the mail…