Raising the Literary Roof

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Or wine bottle, as the case may be.

After deciding I needed something to raise one part of our centerpieces, I searched for a stand-in to get the right dimensions and found a small box about 4″ x 3 1/2″ x 2″ in size. This nestled perfectly among the bottles, now I just needed to replicate it. At first I figured I’d ask Mr. Road Trip to cut down some 2x4s and I’d paint them but then I had a better idea: why go out and buy more materials when I have plenty of options just laying around?!

Enter the masses of corrugated cardboard clogging our garage, not the least bit enhanced by the onslaught of recent wedding purchases!

Building the "page blocks" for the mini-books.

Building the “page blocks” for the mini-books.

Starting with 2″ strips of cardboard, I used a straight edge to “score” my folds for each side, leaving a 2″ tab to secure the “book page block” together. Here’s a tip about building with cardboard: if your item will be supporting ANYTHING, make sure the “load-bearing walls” have the little corrugated channels running vertical instead of horizontal as they are stronger this way. You could use hot glue to secure your walls, but I opted for the less-prone-to-burn-me Helmar Quick Dry 450 (aka hot glue in a tube). The cardboard was a bit on the stubborn side, though, so quick use of a clothespin was employed to help things set up the way they were supposed to.

A subtle but effective color change.

A subtle but effective color change.

To give the faux books the look of gilded pages, I painted the page blocks a metallic gold. It doesn’t look like much until you look at one of the unpainted ones next to the painted, and then you can tell that oh, yeah, it’s totally working.


While they dried, it was time to cut the front and back covers for the books (aka the top and bottom of the stands). I cut each 1/2″ larger than the “page block” dimensions so that it really would look like a hardbound book, if slightly exaggerated. I had enough cardboard from a single box’s oversized flaps to make 12 mini-books, so up until this part this DIY cost me nothing but an evening’s time.

In fact, the only thing I bought special for these books was the patterned paper for the covers. You could certainly go with giftwrap, but I found a pretty print by Paper Studio and paid a whopping .59 a sheet, so the 6 sheets that it took to finish the books cost all of $3.54 (less, actually, as I think the paper was on sale that day). Yay for cost-effective crafts, right?


Anyway! To figure out how much of each sheet I needed I laid out a set of covers and a page block on the back of a sheet (and used my scoring board as a ruler). Leave a little space between the covers and the page blog to account for the thickness of the cardboard and set the outer corners at least 1/2″ in from the outside edges of the paper. From this I could see needing strips 5 1/2″ x 11″, so I trimmed 1″ off each sheet and then split it in half. I could have left the extra inch, but snugger was better when I was eyeballing cover placement.

To keep things from wiggling around or gaping in the final construction (and save on adhesive), I attached each cover only along the edge closest to the spine of the book (and use a double-sided tape for this and future steps–less bulk and no warping or wrinkling of your paper). Then, to reduce bulk, I trimmed all four corners close to but not right at the cover corners. Ideally this creates the perfect mitered corner fold. Ideally. Save the cut-off corners, though, just in case.


After that, it just took adhesive along the outer edges, folding in the short sides and then finishing with the long sides, matching those corners as best you can, and pressing down the center of the “spine” edges to make a nice edge. If you have gaps in your corners (almost inevitable unless you carefully measure each and every corner cut–and who has time for that?!) use the triangular scraps to cover them up. And if someone is looking closely enough to notice the pattern doesn’t match, you’ve got bigger problems than DIY!


Final assembly! Position the “page block” on the inside of one of the covers, making sure only the pretty patterned paper shows around the edges, then fold over the other cover to make sure it’s going to wrap around easily. Jiggle it around until everything fits right, glue down one side (now the bottom) with the liquid adhesive of your choice, then add your glue to the top and press the top cover into place. Before the glue completely sets, even out your covers by placing the book on each side, just so everything comes out evenly.



Since both Mr. Road Trip and I are avid readers, we each chose 6 of our favorite books and I wrote them in white paint pen on some scraps of purple card stock left over from matting the table names, etc. You could create the little spines on the computer and print them for a more polished/fool-the-eyes look, but I didn’t mind writing them out. This was just another way we chose to insert a little of ourselves into the decor.

And here’s my at-home mock-up of what I think our tables will look like:

Pooh and the Star Trek bears approve...

Pooh and the Star Trek bears approve that there’s ample room for eye-contact and conversation amid the decorations

I am SO happy to be able to check this very large project off the to-do list!

Did you trash-to-treasure anything for your wedding decor? How did it turn out?

Do’s and Don’ts for the Road Trip Reception

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

(Which totally makes it sound like our reception is being held on a bus, even though it’s not. Though we did consider, early on, renting a double-decker bus and having the entire wedding there as we drove around Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. Wouldn’t that have been a trip! *ba dum ching*)

If we could give our guests an expectation list for the reception, I think it’d go something like this…

  • DO find your seat, make yourself comfortable, and get to know your neighbors.

We’ll be putting together a seating chart and giving the yet-to-be-discussed favors a dual purpose as place cards. Slightly less for me to obsess about than escort cards and their many and varied display options.

  • DON’T worry about bringing cash, the bar is open.

Granted, we’re not doing a full bar, just beer, wine, and the signature cocktail (which will be transferred from the cocktail hour to the reception during the ceremony), but I just have never been comfortable with cash bars at weddings. I understand that it’s the usual for some areas and in some cultures, but I’d rather serve a limited selection and be able to cover it than expect our guests to pay for anything.

  • DO feel free to dance if you’d like.

There will be music, but we’re not having a DJ or planning on having a raucous dance party. Most of it is timing: early afternoon does not seem to lend itself to shaking one’s groove thang (inhibitions seems to fall with the light levels, don’t they?) and we Road Trips just aren’t dance party types. To that end, the music choices during dinner and afterwards seem to be leaning in the slower, ballads, and big band direction.

  • DON’T expect to see the bouquet or garters tosses, or a Dollar Dance for that matter.

Like many bees before me, I don’t feel the need to pitch projectiles at the few single ladies in our group and there’s no good reason I can think of to have Mr. Road Trip fumbling under my skirt for all the world to see. The Dollar Dance, though, that’s actually pretty common at weddings on my mother’s side of the family, but it’s another thing I’ve just never been all that fond of. Especially when they don’t just collect the money, they hand out stick-pins to attach the bills to the bride and groom’s clothing. I’m not sure I want drunken guests with sharp pointy objects anywhere near me, right?

  • DO feel free to make a toast if you feel so moved.

Without a wedding party, and since we’re hosting the wedding ourselves instead of our parents, who toasts is somewhat of a fuzzy area. We’re not going to ask anyone to do this, but we’re also not going to stop anyone who wants to say something nice about us! We’ll make our public thank-yous after we do the (cup)cake cutting, I presume.

  • DON’T bring the drama.

Part of crafting our guest list as we did means that a lot of the drama that comes with big family gatherings is nixed from the get-go. Still, schtuff happens, and there’s still the matter of how Mr. RT’s divorced-and-don’t-really-get-along parents will make it through with so few people to buffer. That’s the downside to a small guest list, I suppose–we’ll just have to be careful who we sit where, I guess!

  • DO enjoy yourselves!

We certainly can’t guarantee a good time for all, but we can do our best to provide a setting that promotes it! Our U-shaped table will, I hope, help the conversation flow through and around the assembled guests during brunch. The desserts will be self-served, however, giving our guests the opportunity to stretch their legs and move around a bit if they so choose. We find, at most of the gatherings we arrange or attend, that people pretty much hang out and talk until the food or drinks run out, so our reception may not run the full 4 hours we’re allotted, but I’d rather exit early than have things dwindle awkwardly.

What Do or Don’t did you wish you could tell your guests?

Cupcakes Galore!

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Once we discovered wheat was ingredient-non-grata for me, the chances that whatever we served during dessert would be made my me increased exponentially. While I’m more than capable enough to attempt such a thing, and ambitious enough to seriously consider it, I also realized that if I’m this busy three months out from the wedding, the week before is probably not going to be ideal baking time.

While I’ll still be making a few things for the dessert buffet, the bulk of the responsibility will be on the capable shoulders of Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery.

Lucy & Leo’s has been a Tallahassee favorite for several years, and has added gluten-free flavors to their Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday line-ups. Since they don’t make all the flavors all the time, they were willing to set aside the gluten-free flavors they made for a given week (and let me request certain flavors, too) for me to pick up the following Monday so we could get a good idea of the flavors we might want. I also picked up a couple of regular cupcakes so that Mr. Road Trip could test the Cupcakery’s claims that their gluten-free cupcakes are actually better than the regular!

Our Tasting Assortment

Our Tasting Assortment–don’t they look delicious?!

Hive, I exhibited amazing restraint by having these cupcakes in my office for the entire afternoon and then waited for Mr. Road Trip to get home from work and have supper together before tasting any of them. Even the chocolate peanut butter one that T had absolutely no interest in. Supreme. Restraint.

The cupcakes before the tasting...

The cupcakes before the tasting…

I split all the gluten-free cupcakes in half so we could each take a taste, but T got the regulars all to himself, and was able to confirm that the vanilla gluten free really was better than the regular recipe, and that the chocolate was a very close second (the chocolate cookies & cream was a bit dense, but still delicious).

...and what was left after we decided to just try a "taste" of a few after dinner.

…and what was left after we decided to just try a “taste” of a few after dinner.

Based on this delectable sampling, we decided on a dozen each of the chocolate peanut butter, the key lime, the strawberry (after confirming it would still be available in November), and something else. We were debating one of the other chocolate flavors, but decided to go with one of their fall flavors–gingered pumpkin–to round things out.

This was, by far, one of the tastiest decisions we’ve had to make for the upcoming wedding. And while I still plan on making a couple of small, simple cakes, some brownies, and some cookies to accompany the cupcakes, I’m now looking forward to a little relaxing baking time before the out of town guests arrive.

Dressing the Reception Space

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

For those who don’t remember our reception area, it’s called the Owl’s Nest, is perched above a building that houses and hides a big ‘ol water tank (fashionable function, gotta love it), and affords views of all three main lakes at Honey Lake Plantation.

Exterior shot of the Owl's Nest reception venue at Honey Lake Plantation

The Owl’s Nest at Honey Lake Plantation | personal image

While the views are lovely, the inside of the space is a little on the plain side.

Inside of the Owl's Nest at Honey Lake Plantation

Owl’s Nest as it looked on our first tour, set up as their cigar bar | personal image

So when we found out that colored linens didn’t come standard (we’d been told otherwise on that first meeting, but didn’t get in writing–always get it in writing!!!) our reception space was starting to look somewhat bland with the standard white linens.

Owl's Nest with boring white linens | personal mock-up

Owl’s Nest with rather boring white linens | personal mock-up

Seeing as the look I really loved was more along the lines of dark, bare wood tables with white napkins and runners on them for that stark contrast, but renting those pretty tables wasn’t anywhere close to being in our budget, I’d decided to go with dark brown tablecloths and white napkins in that waterfall style (I guess that’s what it’s called–the napkin is folding in narrow thirds and draped from the center of the place setting downward). Thankfully, I found just the right linens from SmartyHadAParty.com for about 2/3 (including shipping) of what the venue’s rental folks wanted to charge (before the venue’s 20% service fee). Sold!

Brown linens, white napkins | personal mock-up

Brown linens, white napkins–somewhat more interesting | personal mock-up

But then one day I went wandering down the newly reinstated fabric aisle at Wal-Mart out of idle curiosity (a habit which has gotten me multiple bins of fabric in The Abyss over the years) and I found the perfect fabric to use as table runners!

Smarty Had a Party included Smarties candy with my order--how sweet! | persona image

Smarty Had a Party included Smarties candy with my order–how sweet! Ordered linens on the bottom, runner fabric on the top. | personal image

As you can see, though, the runner fabric has an ivory background, so I’m thinking now that we’re going to use the other standard napkins that HLP provides (green) to prevent clashing. Admittedly I’m probably the only one who would notice, but it would bug me and it doesn’t cost anything for this change, so changed it will be. I bought whatever was on the bolt for the vine fabric and my Google-fu tells me that unless I come across another spare bolt by chance, that’s all the fabric I get as the manufacturer has closed down and everywhere I find it online has it listed as out of stock. Still, the 6-ish yards should give me the needed runners for our 6 dining tables plus some extra that I’m thinking will make an excellent altar cloth for the ceremony. I’ll figure something else out (or not) for dressing up the high-top tables for cocktail hour.

And finally the "room" is starting to come together | personal mock-up

And finally the “room” is starting to come together | personal mock-up

With some mocked-up wine bottle centerpieces added (the real ones are still in the works, more details to come), our cork monogram (as yet still a planned project) on the door behind where the bride and groom will be conveniently seated, and a few more place-holder squiggles, I’m finally liking what I’m seeing. Speaking of squiggles–did I mention we get to hang stuff on the posts in the Owl’s Nest?! That almost never happens in event spaces, so I’m planning some ribbon and faux-grape swags to hang on each of the 8 post/pillar things along the length of the space.

I can hardly wait to see how it turns out in reality! I think I might have to drag out the folding table and do a test set-up at some point. If nothing else it’ll be good to photograph and send to the DoC for set-up examples. (Like Miss Rucksack, I’m pretty Type-A about these sorts of things, too!)

The Cocktail To Be Named Later

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Because the name is, so far, totally eluding me.

Which is sorta weird because the names are usually what come to me first on a project like this, and help guide the rest of the components. I suppose I’m putting a wee bit of pressure on myself with this one and that’s why it’s taken me this long to get this far with the cocktail inspiration.

Enough navel gazing! What (as-yet-unnamed) cocktail will we be serving to our guests and what bit of bubbly did we decide on???

Our mystery bubbles | personal photo

Our mystery bubbles | personal photo

A mixture of pomegranate juice  and dark chocolate vodka topped off by the Barefoot Moscato Spumante Champagne!

The pomegranate is from my original cocktail, and the chocolate–well, who really says no to chocolate? Not the Road Trips! We both prefer the sweeter, dessert-y-er cocktails for general consumption, so including chocolate was a good, safe (tasty!) call. The Barefoot Moscato was the only one of the three that really let the other flavors come through, and it’s rather gentle price-point certainly doesn’t hurt.

I hadn’t intended on having such a strong base-spirit getting into the mix to compete with the wine, but my first version with Godiva liqueur didn’t go so well.

Did anyone else notice the switch Godiva made a little while back? It used to be the color and consistency of, say, Kahlua, but now it’s more a creme liqueur. And let me tell you, creme liqueurs do not like to play nice with fruit juices. There is a cocktail (well, it’s more of a shot, I think) that takes “advantage” of this sort of curdling effect so liqueurs have with other liquids (it’s called a Cement Mixer for gross and obvious reasons–ick) but it’s not very appetizing if you ask me. So my second option was a flavored vodka I had on hand and it paired surprisingly well with the champagne* and juice.

After a quick check with the venue that we could have the bartenders top off our prepared mixture of pomegranate and chocolate with the bubbly, rather than serving it all pre-mixed from a beverage dispenser as originally planned (and thus keeping as much of the effervescence as possible), we’re good to go with whatever we end up calling this.

Which leads me to our first bit of signage created for the wedding:

painting in progress | personal image

painting in progress | personal image

I used one of our engagement pictures for a reference and drew up this little framed sign with the vines reminiscent of the ones on our StD cards (they’ll keep showing up as the DIYs continue). Since I haven’t decided what size frame/mat I want to use, I decided to scan it and paint it digitally that way I can re-size it at will. (Traditional watercolors really don’t scan well, in my experience.) Not to mention digital painting let’s me get away with NOT erasing all my sketch lines–bonus!

Okay, let’s hear it! Got any suggestions for a name for this sweet and sparkly concoction? I really want to use the word Sparkler or Sparkling in the name, it’s coming up with what to pair with it that has me stumped.

*small-c, following the old rules that sparkling wines made in the style of French region of Champagne could still claim that title, even though the practice is otherwise prohibited these days; Barefoot was apparently grandfathered-in. There’s your spirited (!) trivia of the day.