Friday, March 18, 2011

Time for DIY!

DIY = "Do It Yourself". When it comes to home-made, hand-crafted items, I am definitely no Martha Stewart. This is definitely out of my comfort zone, and I think my daughter is in the same boat. I had not planned on us doing a lot of D-I-Y projects for this wedding, but plans just sometimes take a turn in ways you don't expect.

My frugal daughter had already decided that to her groom and her, who are not big cake fans, modern wedding cakes (although beautiful) are an overpriced addition to the wedding reception. They decided to go with cupcakes, only to subsequently find out our small-town baker does not supply her own cupcake display stands and that we would need to supply these. And we are not talking the little wire cupcake racks that hold maybe 12. We are talking a stand that will hold 200-300 cupcakes. Our venue people did not seem to have anything that would work, nor did the local party rental places. Cha-Ching!!! There goes our savings to the bottom line of the cake budget.

After a quick Internet search, we found that glass or even heavy-duty plastic cupcake display stands are quite pricey. So, despite the Father of the Bride's misgivings that they look too "cheap", we have decided to use disposable, heavy duty cardboard cupcake stands, or "trees" for both our reception cupcake and cake ball displays. (The cake balls are being graciously made for us by a friend of my daughter's as a wedding gift to the couple, and they will be taking the place of the traditional southern "groom's cake" at the reception.) I ordered a large square tree (for the cupcakes) and a small round tree (for the cake balls) online from ttp:// They arrived very quickly--and they arrived unassembled. The idea is then to custom decorate them any way you like. There are decorating how-tos on the website.

There were also instructions included in the cartons for assembling these trees, but I am so challenged in areas like that, that I was intimidated from the onset! Thankfully my D is a bit better spatially and can probably figure that part out. Here is a photo of the unfinished square tree, (guaranteed to hold up to 300 cupcakes!) to give you an idea of what we are going to be working with:

My daughter also informed me that her future Mother-In-Law  is going to help her decorate the main display - which is for the cupcakes, but she will do the cake ball display at home with my help, since that is taking the place of the groom's cake and she wants him to be surprised. I was a bit disappointed at first, but it will be a nice "Bonding Opportunity" for my daughter and her future M-I-L, (and a later conversation I had with the MOG revealed that his grandmothers LOVE to do crafts and couldn't wait to help!)

At least I was invited to help her select the materials to be used. (Actually, that's the part I enjoy--I would rather design things than actually carry the design out!) So on a Thursday afternoon as she came home for her Spring Break from college, I took an afternoon off from work to devote to this project. (Thinking we would do both the material selection AND the project itself.) Ha! Ha!

Well, this was an interesting shopping expedition, to say the least. We headed out to the craft store, and of course we were too impatient to look at the how-to's that provides on their website, so we had nothing pre-planned as far as what items we would use for decorating. We just sort of winged it! It would have been helpful to have an idea beforehand how many yards of ribbon, etc. we would need to purchase to cover all the tiers! As it turns out, I think we may have understimated, so we may get the extreme pleasure of trying to track all the stuff down again at some future time to purchase more of it!

Anyway, the bride and I got our exercise that day traipsing all over Hobby Lobby several times over (for those not familiar -- it is a huge big-box craft store). She decided to use her general wedding color scheme, light blue and white/ivory for the main large cupcake tree, alternating the tiers with some pretty light blue crystal beading, and white lacy ribbon. I suppose it will be glued on to the edges of the tiers somehow. We are going to leave the actual tiers alone and just use the white cardboard -- the cupcakes will be nestled in paper containers anyway. We hit upon the idea of using doilies to pretty the tiers up a bit before putting the cupcakes on them. (But that turned out to be another big goof -- I proudly found her some beautiful round white paper doilies which we purchased, only to remember later after we got home that the stand for the cupcake tree is square! Duh!!)

For the cake balls, and the smaller round cupcake tree, she chose more masculine style ribbon trim in the colors of the University of Florida Gators, (which is her groom's favorite team) -- royal blue and orange. She wanted the tiers themselves to be a chocolate brown color. For the top tier, we are thinking of ordering a team nick-nack.

What threw us for a loop is how to do the chocolate brown tiers. We vaguely rememberd seeing on the decorating how-to page on the manufacturer's website that some people just use spray-paint. So we were going in that direction, until I asked my daughter if the cake balls would be in any sort of paper wrappers. She said they would not, and the Hobby Lobby employee who opened the locked spray-paint cabinet agreed with me that its probably not a good idea to lay the cakeballs directly on top of spray paint!

We ended up finding some heavy duty posterboard in a chocolate brown color that my daughter will have to cut out and glue to the tiers. I'm still a little concerned that we are going to have butter and oil stains on the brown posterboard. Since this stand is going to be round, I thought about using the round doilies I bought by mistake, but since they are white that kind of defeats her chocolate brown idea. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it -- perhaps I can look for some sort of butcher paper or colored foil to lay down under the cake balls to stay with the color scheme.

Getting all these materials turned out to be fairly time-consuming, and we did not get to this project that weekend or even during her Spring Break after all. We had too much else going on (like her first Bridal Shower and getting the wedding invitations finalized). So, it was postponed to another weekend that she planned to be home.

And the costs? Well lets just say the materials cost more than I thought they would. Hobby Lobby is wonderful because it is a one-stop shop and has just about all you would need. But you may also pay a premium for that convenience.

What to take away from this? Well, first off, do the math! Is your idea really a cost-cutting measure, or in the long run, would it pay off to let the experts do their thing (in both extra costs of display/decor, and time?) And if you do decide to go the D-I-Y route, if D-I-Y is not normally your thing -- definitely do your homework and have a plan before heading out to the craft store! Find out all the materials and quantities you will be needing ahead of time, and consult the experts -- those who are comfortable with D-I-Y projects can give you some pointers, and lead you to the best vendors and resources for your particular project.

To be continued...Pictures of the final product(s) will come eventually!

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