Dinner napkins, dollies, and southern women

hostingHope JohnsonComment

Hosting at home is just something my family does. ...and it's usually to the nines. For a while, I didn't know the difference between napkins and dinner napkins. Paper plates, my grandmother would have a heart attack. You use glass plates. ...and a different type of glass plate depending on what you're serving. A few weeks ago, I was out and about and I get a frantic call from my mom, "are you going to town?" 

Side Note: I (along with everyone I've ever known) live in a small town near Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is just NOT that far away, maybe 15-20 minutes from our small town. So I always laugh when my mom asks "are you going to town?" like it's a huge day-long endeavor.  

She needed cream dollies, not stark white, not too beige, CREAM. I'm not sure if this is a southern thing, but dollies are the small, ornate mandala looking lace paper circles that you'd place under a plate of sweets. My mother and aunts are obsessed with them and it's become a family joke. 

My dear cousin will soon be wed this April and at the end of March, the family threw her a bridal shower to celebrate. My mother, grandmother, and aunts put their hosting genes together to host nothing short of a good ole southern brunch for the bride to be. 

I'm the girl with the sweets. If you have a cookie up at the register I can buy, you bes' believe I'm leaving with it. Open my purse, you'll find something with sugar to eat. My sweet mom had in her mind to have these hand painted cookies for the shower, no doubt something she saw on Pinterest in the middle of the night. So I tried my hand at them. Don't judge, they are so ...rough. But GOODNESS they tasted good.

My other cousin (we have lots of cousins) is the baker behind The Bakery Bar in New Orleans and when I asked her for a solid sugar cookie recipe, I knew she wouldn't disappoint. The fondant and watercolor tutorial was my own Pinterest find. You can check that out here.

Fondant with pretty flowers or not, the sugar cookie recipes is below, passed on with love.

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CLASSIC SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

you will need:
-
8oz of butter (two sticks)
-8oz of sugar (about one cup)
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-12oz of flour (about two cups)
-1 teaspoon of baking powder

instructions:
Combine your butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a standing or hand-mixer. Once combined evenly, mix in the remaining ingredients. That's it, seriously. 

It's best to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is completely chilled, but once chilled, you can roll out the cookies, wrap the dough in a cylinder shape, or shaped in to round balls. The world is your oyster. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

For the cookies above, I shaped about 3 tablespoons of dough in a round ball, flatted out the ball with the bottom of a glass drinking cup, and baked for 10 minutes. I wanted the cookie and the fondant to be the same size for more of a biscuit affect, so I took a cookie cutter to the cookie after it was baked.

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I love encouraging at-home hosted parties, on the occasion of a bridal shower or as simple as a porch party. Our family loves a good porch party. ...you know, the ones that started as a simple visit, but then you end up on the porch well in to the night telling the same ole stories you've heard 1000 times! Those are the best. 

...and I always encourage cookies.

I still blush when he introduces me as "His Wife"

life + marriageHope Johnson1 Comment

The wedding has passed. You are home from your honeymoon. You have hit the one year ...then somehow, the eight year anniversary. 


Years of marriage will surely unavoidably change you, as a person and as a couple. I remember saying to my high school self, "I will never NOT have mascara on in front of my future husband." I can hear my husband laughing now. Hilariously naive, right? High school sweet hearts and what feels like a century later, we are in bed by 8:00pm, no make up on this face, and kids begging for five more minutes. Five or six years ago, I couldn't tell you what we did in our pre-children days. I suppose we stayed up late. Maybe we went out ...or stayed in watching our shows and not Curious George reruns or Frozen (for the 100th time). 

On the contrary though, I recently told someone, in the midst of I'm sure a yawn, that I still feel like I'm in the honeymoon phase. It's certainly ...different. It's definitely not room service for a Mexican platter of snacks and mojitos. It's more like left over mac and cheese and recorded Nick Jr. shows. In many ways though, it's the same. I am loved in so many of the same ways, plus loads more. 

Everyone has their things, right? The little things you do for each other. My parents, I know if my marriage yields half the return theirs has, I'll consider mine a success. Every morning, my dad brings my mom coffee. I don't know that I've ever seen my mom fix herself coffee, in the morning anyway. They drink coffee ALL day. They'll make a fresh pot at 5:00pm before dinner. These things though, every couple has their own set of idiosyncrasies and mannerisms. I think these sentiments are what almost subconsciously keep the honeymoon phase present. 

Michael, bless his heart, doesn't get enough credit for how wonderful he is. I recently started to take note of our own mannerisms and things that haven't changed in our near eight years. ...and I hope they never do. 

- - -

10 things that haven't changed since we've said "I do."

1) It's a rare car ride if my husband doesn't hold my hand.
2) As much as I hate it (but secretly love it), I am still serenaded with music in the morning ...but with replaced, goofy, sometimes inappropriate, made up lyrics.
3) I go by my middle name. Jessica is actually my first name, but no one calls me Jessica. ...except for Michael, who refers to me as Jess sometimes. I like it. 
4) When I'm home and the hubby is out of town, I can't sleep. Neither can he. We always end up texting "are you awake?" in the wee hours of the night, then start up a conversation. 
5) In a crowded room, if we make eye contact, I get a wink.
6) I know if my husband happens to read this post, he will probably feel like I'm displaying his man-card for grabs for being too mushy. He's a pretty sentimental guy, but no one would know it.
7) When I'm fixing dinner, I make sure he gets the plate the looks the best. 
8) He still dances with me ...even when I'm being stubborn and "too busy," he will force me until I put down the laundry and stop. It's really annoying and endearing. 
9) There is a pure trust we have in each other. I trust him when he's driving, he trusts me with child raising. We trust our plans and our faith. ...and I can always trust that he knows how to fix/assemble the random furniture or projects I bring home.
10) I still have this inner giggle, the butterflies I guess, when I hear him introduce me as his wife. I remember the first time I was introduced with such a title. I know my face turned red. Still to this day, there's a flutter inside when I hear his country voice say the word wife.

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I don't think there's ONE secret key in a marriage. I don't think it's at all possible to avoid the change that will materialize over the years. Marriage is a tide of easy waves, then hard waves. It's a constant ebb and flow of happiness, hardships, challenges, adventure, excitement, and every emotion in the book. There are no promises it will be easy, but nothing worth it in life is, right? 

Now that I'm a big mess of tears as I write this, I'll go take this mascara off, because ...well I mean we've been married for a while. Mascara is for leaving the house. 

Make a list of ten things in your relationship that haven't changed. Safeguard that list and bring it to life. You may be surprised at how much hasn't changed (in a good way). I'd love to hear the silly little things you and your spouse do for each other!

PS: Thank you ThePicturePeopleLA for capturing these sweet moments.

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES | part four

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

PART FOUR: Mailing & Postage Requirements

One of the most overlooked expenses, not just within the wedding stationery, but the overall wedding planning budget, is postage! You will be mailing save the dates, wedding invitations (don’t forget the postage for the response card), and likely lots and lots of thank you notes. Stocking up and planning for postage is definitely something you’ll be doing very soon.

DID YOU KNOW POSTAGE RATES INCREASED IN 2017?

How Much Postage Will I Need?
Postage rates will vary and depend on a few factors: weight, size, and thickness.
-0-1 ounce | $0.49
-1-2 ounce | $0.70
-2-3 ounce | $0.91
-3-3.5 ounce | $1.21

Other than size, weight, and thickness, other factors may cause a surcharge or $0.21, like rigid or unevenness, perhaps a ribbon tied around the suite, a wax seal located on the outer envelope. The best thing to do before investing in all of the pretty stamps is to take a completed suite to your post office and get a professional postage quote.

STANDARD MAILING STAMPS:
You can purchase standard rate, face value postage from your local post office or on USPS.com. Face-value postage means that the postage you pay is the postage represented for that stamp. So if you need a $0.70 stamp, you are paying $0.70 for that stamp, face value, unlike custom and vintage stamps which are not face value.

CUSTOM STAMPS:
You’ve probably seen or received a wedding invitation that had a custom postage stamp with a cute wedding monogram with the bride and groom’s initials. These custom stamps do not come at face value. They are typically about 1.5-2 times the cost of a face value stamp. For instance, if you need a $0.70 stamp, you’re probably going to actually pay about $1.30 per stamp. This comes at a sticker shock for many brides, but when you do the math, it’s about another $60-70 for every hundred invitations. It’s a slight increase in your investment, but can really change the look of your presentation.

VINTAGE STAMPS:
The old phrase “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” holds true here. They just don’t make stamps like they used to and the recent frenzy with vintage stamps is one I am definitely on board for. Vintage stamps are collected and purchased through small businesses and shops and available in an array of really intricate and colorful designs. The same value holds true with a custom stamp, you are paying 1.5-2 times the actual value. Again, this can often detour couples away, but vintage stamps, a row of two or three or six can really create a beautiful added touch to your stationery. Although it’s in increase in your investment, it’s often one that’s worth the push.

Like I stated above, the best thing you can do when mailing off your wedding stationery is to have a completed sample quoted by a professional mail service vendor. If you have some extra time, have your stationer print a couple of extras with your own address to test how they deliver before mailing your entire batch.

BIG IMPORTANT TIP:
Make friends with the postman (or woman) and ask them to hand cancel your wedding stationery. Have you ever gotten mail with that black barcode line at the bottom of the invitation? No one wants that on their wedding invitation. I believe every calligrapher and stationer would die a little inside. Asking your post office to hand-cancel your envelopes will prevent your wedding invitations from becoming machine sorted (yay for no black lines). Hand-cancelling is literally taking that cute little round circle stamp and “canceling” or marking paid your postage stamps by hand. This is a much safer route as well, as many wedding envelopes are more delicate.

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TLBC TIP:
A great way to get the vintage stamp look without spending too much on postage is to combine a face value forever stamp to cover the bulk of your postage, then have your remaining postage reflect in vintage stamps. Let's say your total postage cost is $0.70, use a $0.49 forever stamp and make up the $0.21 extra in two or three vintage stamps. This will give you that same vintage look and save you a few dollars. 

My favorite USPS Forever Stamp is the "Classics Forever," portraying images of different presidents that were once illustrated or engraved by different artists. Plus, they have that vintage look! These are great for response envelopes as well. 

BONUS VENDOR TIP:  
They certainly don't make stamps like the used to, so I gather different vintage stamps from an array of stamp collectors. If you want to grab some of your own vintage stamps, reach out to Virginia with Verde Studios on Etsy. She can curate a specific collection for you based on a design you're looking to create, a color scheme, etc. or you can buy small batches right off of her shop. 

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Helpful guidance from the US Post Office found here

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES | part three

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

PART THREE: Envelope Addressing & Etiquette

Probably equally importantly as the stationery itself, you have your envelope addressing. Without this step, those pretty envelopes will go nowhere. Plan ahead if you wish for your envelopes addressed by hand by a calligrapher. Calligraphers often need several weeks, at least, to complete certain types of calligraphy, but more time is always better.

ADDRESSING ETIQUETTE:


CLOSE FAMILY & FRIENDS. Outer envelopes are always addressed with full names. Inner envelopes are addressed with familiar names and titles for close family members and good friends.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Scott Landry Miss Carrie Faye Landry
INNER ENVELOPE
Uncle Michael and Aunt Norah Cousin Carrie

MARRIED COUPLES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. If you know the children personally, you can address the inner envelope with first names only. Otherwise, you would use the children’s full names without titles. You generally would not include the children’s name on the outer envelope.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Tyler Lee Cliburn
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Cliburn Benjamin and Lisa

* If there are several siblings in the home, you can address the inner envelope to “The Misses Cliburn” (for two more more sisters) or ”The Messrs. Cliburn (for two or more brothers); or both

TEENAGERS IN THE HOME. Children aged 13+ should really receive individual invitations. If this isn’t possible, include them in their parents’ invitation with courtesy titles. Teenage girls are “Miss,” but the title “Mr.” is reserved for young men 18 years old and older.

COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER. As long as you know that two people at the same address live together as a couple, you can address one invitation to both.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. Colin Lane McGee Miss Cara Emily Holmes
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. Colin and Mrs. Cara

AN INVITEE & GUEST. If you are using an inner envelope, do not include “and guest” on the outer envelope. If you use a single envelope, address as followed:

OUTER ENVELOPE (no inner envelope)
Mr. Matthew Dean Henson and guesT

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. Matthew Dean Henson
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. Henson and Guest

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PROFESSIONAL TITLES. Professional titles are written out in full on both the wedding wording and on the envelope addressing. “Doctor and Mrs. Tyler Grant Howard.” If both the husband and the wife both carry professional titles, you would address the envelope as followed: “The Doctors Kleinpeter” -or- “Doctors Timothy and Emily Kleinpeter.”

MILITARY TITLES. When the bride and/or groom or the parents of the bride or groom are members of the military services or serving active duty, their military titles are used. All military titles are spelled out and not abbreviated on the invitation, mailing addresses, or any other stationery. 

ABBREVIATIONS. You should not abbreviate "Doctor" as you would on other phrases (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). You can abbreviate Sr. and Jr. if wished. You should spell out any other words, like the state, road, street, etc.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO INVITE CHILDREN?
If you wish to have an adults only ceremony and reception, you simply would not include the children's names on the inner envelope. 

WHAT IF I DO WANT TO INVITE CHILDREN?
If you wish to invite children to your ceremony and reception, you would include the children's name on the inner envelopes following the etiquette above. Teenage children living in the home should receive their own invitation. 

DO I INCLUDE THE LAST NAMES FOR CHILDREN?
For young children, you do not need to include the last name on the inner envelope.

HOW INFORMAL SHOULD THE INNER ENVELOPE BE?
The inner envelope should dictate the more casual version of the outer envelope; however, there are several acceptable options:

Let's say your outer envelope reads "Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson," here are some inner envelope variations:
"Mr. and Mrs. Johnson" (formal)
"Mr. Michael and Mrs. Hope" (formal)
"Michael and Hope" (semi-formal)
"Uncle Mike and Aunt Hope (personable) 

Have a specific question? ASK AWAY:

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Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | postage & assembly

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CATCH THE FIRST TWO POSTS FROM THIS SERIES:

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part two

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

PART TWO: Wedding Invitation Pieces & Parts

The Basics
The invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It essentially invites your nearest and dearest to witness the big day, it will let your guests know the expected attire and formality, as well as prepare remaining decisions like menu selections and guest invitees. Perhaps most importantly, the invitation becomes one of the first keepsake heirlooms from your wedding. In a world of digital revolutions, having the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest is and should be treasured dearly. However it is that you invite your guests, the invitation should collect the following information:

-name of the bride and groom to marry
-date and time of the ceremony
-location of the ceremony
-reception details (unless the reception details are accommodated on a separate card)

What All Should I Include?
Any standard wedding invitation may clearly include the invitation and its corresponding envelope as well as a response card and its corresponding envelope. In addition to these two pieces, you may include a separate card for the reception info, a map, or an accommodations card.

WEDDING INVITATION
The Wedding Invitation will clearly represent the most important information. This is typically the largest and hierarchy of the pieces that will build your suite. The invitation will let the guests know who is hosting the wedding, who is getting married, and the details about the date, time, and venue.

RESPONSE CARD
Also known as RSVP or reply card, the response card gives you an opportunity to request specific information from your guests.

-Accept or Regrets
There is a range of ways you can ask whether or not your guest will be in attendance. A more formal version would be “happily accepts” or “regretfully declines.” You can use an alternative, more playful version like “be there with bells on” or “sending happy thoughts.”

-Specifically WHO is invited
Commonly found on a response card is the indication requesting how many total guests will be in attendance. The phrase “____ number of guests in attendance” may be used. For a more specific list, many couples opt for requesting a written list of each attendee. If you are having an adult-only wedding, requesting the written list may be a great option for you to prevent any misunderstandings. 

-Meal Choice
In the South, the more common buffet style wedding is what you will observe. However, in my experience with couples who are hosting a formal sit-down meal, you may want to include the meal choices on your response card. This means that you will have to have those selections finalized BEFORE sending out your invitations. It’s best to ask your guests on the response card to place initials by each guest’s selection rather than a simple tally mark or number. Meal selections are of course not necessary, but generally coincide with the formality of the wedding. You (or your wedding planner) should have those meal options set and noted before meeting with your stationer.

-Fun Details Requested
A less formal wedding may include some fun options on the response card, like a song request: “I promise to dance if you play _____________” or a “words of wisdom” section. If this becomes an option for you, have fun with it. You can make a keepsake book of all your responses!

RECEPTION CARD
A reception card is a separate card dedicated to the reception details that will follow the ceremony. Reception cards are used for both on and off-site receptions. A reception card may have details that provide the reception time and location: “reception to follow at Il Mercato). For off-site receptions, it’s typically not necessary that you include the city & state on the reception card, as it is never very far from the ceremony venue. For on-site receptions, there is often a cocktail hour in between the two. This is usually the time that the bride and groom are taking photos and will often provide a social activity before they are announced. This information may be included on the reception card: “join us for cocktails in the courtyard immediately following the ceremony dinner & dancing to follow at seven o’clock”

ACCOMMODATIONS & DETAILS CARD
An accommodations or details card may be used to list out any and all details regarding to the wedding festivities. This may include hotel accommodations, wedding website information, wedding weekend details, or post-wedding gatherings.

MAP CARDS
Map cards are used both subjectively and objectively as a general or specific reference to the location of either the ceremony venue or reception venue, or both. Map cards present a great illustrative contrast to wedding suites that generally display lots of text. In a world of digital revolutions, with Google Maps at our fingertips, map cards are a fun way to bring back a nostalgic impression for your guests to enjoy. They make great little art prints as well (pre-wedding wedding favor? ...maybe!).

ASSEMBLY DETAILS
How do I stuff all of this in an envelope? There are a number of things to consider when thinking about assembly. If you have several pieces that build your suite, you may want to house everything in an inner envelope or think about using some pretty ribbon or band to “house” it all together. Here are some common assembly options:

pocket envelopes:
A pocket envelope is a small folder of sorts with sleeves that house each card that build your suite. You may have your invitation mounted on the left side of the open “folder” with the left side housing the add-on pieces. This pocket envelope would then be placed in its outer envelope (the mailing envelope).

inner envelopes:
An inner serves two purposes. The inner envelope may house all of your pieces simply stacked on top of each other in its proper order as well as entail who is invited. The outer & inner envelope is a formal and traditional practice where the outer envelope would state the more formal “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson” guest name and address, with the inner stating “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Miss Norah, Henry.” (see more about addressing in part three)

ribbons or bands:
Using ribbons or paper bands is also an excellent way to house all of your pieces together. Ribbons are a great way to add some color, texture, and mood to a more traditional piece. It’s a happy balance between the two and is my personal favorite. Embellish the ribbons with a wax seal and dried greenery and you have yourself a simple, but showcase-worthy piece.

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Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | envelope addressing & etiquette

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DID YOU MISS THE FIRST POST? Catch up here.
 

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part one

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

PART ONE: Timelines, Budgets, and Printing Method

A wedding is, every time, a lovely expression of a couple’s story. Following the engagement is a series of tasks and to-dos that can pile quickly. Wedding Stationery, and all its moving parts, is one of the key factors during your wedding planning journey. Here are some things to consider when you are ready to tackle your wedding stationery:

IMG_5464.JPG

TIMELINE
Mentioned above, the wedding invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It will entail several essential factors for both you and your guests to discover. Before deciding which route you’d like to take with your stationery, a general rule of thumb timeline will be a good tool to abide by.

Save the Dates:
-mailed 6-9 months prior to the big day
-entail the couple getting married, wedding date, location of the wedding (city & state, venue if booked)

Wedding Invitations:
-mailed 8-12 weeks prior to the big day
-entail the couple getting married, wedding date & time, location of the ceremony, and details about reception, responses, and/or accommodations (more on series two)

BUDGET
There are lots of different sources that will give you an estimated budget you should allocate for stationery. Many budgets often exclude the afterthoughts wedding stationery can incur once you reach that planning mode. Here are some factors you will want to consider when planning your stationery budget:

The Nuts & Bolts
save the dates
printing method
envelope addressing or calligraphy for save the dates
postage for the save the dates
invitation suite
printing method
envelope addressing or calligraphy for wedding invitations
main postage for the wedding stationery (often higher than a typical letter)
response card postage
day-of stationery (rehearsal dinner invites, programs, menu cards, etc.)

Quantity & Guest List:
One of the first questions I ask my couples before issuing a proposal (different than the one the bride was issued) is “how many pieces will you need?,” and that is when I often receive back an “ummmm.” The general rule of thumb is to account for roughly 2/3 of your guest list. If you are inviting a total of 300 guests, you will probably need about 200 invitations.

Guest List:
You’ll want to start working on your guest list right away. If you are going to have your envelopes digitally printed, download this address template here. If you are going to have your envelopes hand-written by a calligrapher, it’s best to contact your calligrapher to ask what format you’d like your addresses. There is nothing worse than working so hard on that spreadsheet to find out the format is all wrong!

PRINTING METHOD:

flat printing

flat printing

letterpress printing

letterpress printing

Flat Printing
Flat printing is the simplest and most affordable route for printing. Your design can be printed from professional digital printers producing a highly desired look. Flat printing is great for cost reasons, but also yield certain mediums that are not achievable using other methods. Flat printing is great if you have any sort of graphics, like watercolor or various colors. Whereas letterpress printing prints opaque, solid colors and appeal best to more line art, sketch type of graphics.

Letterpress Printing & Foil Printing
Letterpress printing, contrasting from flat printing, is considered a high-end printing medium. Letterpress printing is more labor intensive and costly than flat printing, but appreciated for its tactile impression it leaves in its textured, thicker papers. Like Letterpress Printing, gold foil is also a high-end printing method, as its labor and set up is more intensive and costly. Gold foil can be mixed with letterpress printing and flat printing and comes in various colors (black, gold, rose gold, silver, white, and more).  

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Should I Send Out Save the Dates?
Save the dates can be extremely helpful to those who have large wedding parties, wedding parties located in several different cities or states, or for the couple wanting to set the tone and formality of the wedding early on.

Save the Dates include the following information:
-the couple to marry (last names included)
-the wedding date
-the location of the wedding: if the venue has not been decided, you can include the city & state) -wedding website: wedding websites are often included on the save the dates to inform guest about the upcoming event (wedding websites are NOT included on the main invitation)

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Stay tuned for part two in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part two | the wedding invitation basics

Holiday Hosting for a Christmas Bridal Shower

hostingHope JohnsonComment

So my family ...we host. Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's the fine china and the place settings. It's the toast and the prayer. We are by no means "fancy" people, but hosting and gathering has been in our blood, whether it's a formal meal at the dining room that we are otherwise not allowed in or a simple back porch party. We host. We gather. 

THE little BLUE CHAIR_Noel Bridal Shower_19.jpg

I recently hosted a bridal shower at my home for my best friend. You know those friends of yours that you've had your whole life prior to now and know you'll have from here on out? ...she's one of those. So I wanted this day to be special. 

THE little BLUE CHAIR_Noel Bridal Shower_14.jpg
THE little BLUE CHAIR_Noel Bridal Shower_15.jpg

The shower fell out around the Christmas holidays so I was in overdrive making sure all the halls were decked. I wanted to incorporate an "Italian Greenery" theme, as the future Mr. and Mrs. will visit Italy for their honeymoon ...and because yes, greenery!

My holiday cheer started way before the holiday season began prepping for this fun day. The bride-to-be was surrounded by good food, good company, and good cheer. 

We topped off a good day with cheers to the bride.
Hit of the day: Spiced Apple Cider
(recipe below)

SPICED APPLE CIDER

Ingredients:
6-8 lemons
1/2 cup of honey
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
64 oz of apple cider
16 oz of caramel vodka

Step One:
Pour 64 ounces of apple cider and 16 ounces of caramel vodka into a large glass jar or container.

Step Two:
Add the juice of 6-8 lemons (to your liking).

Step Three:
In a small bowl, mix your 3 tablespoons of sugar with equal parts water until well blended. Then pour into your glass jar (a simple syrup or vanilla bean syrup would be a good substitute).

Step Four:
Add your honey and cinnamon (if you have local honey, even better).

Step Five:
STIR ...then stir some more. Use a strainer spoon or strainer funnel to get any clumps of honey or lemon seeds out.

ENJOY.
You can serve this hot or cold! Feel free to embellish it with a lemon wedge or apple slice! 


Wishing you all the holiday love and season. I hope you find some time to rest and read a book. I hope you indulge in some good food (or some cake) and bake so many different types of cookies.

...and ON to the New Year!


event photography |  Darian Kacey
rentals (porch farm table, love seat, candles, table runner) | Pure Vintage Rentals

Magnolia Flora + Gold | White Oak Plantation | styled shoot

inspiration & DIYHope JohnsonComment

Is there anything better than that first fall breeze of cooler air? It pulls in a cleanse of the new season's freshness and the upcoming months of warm-seeking colors in the air. This styled shoot by Southern Celebrations did nothing less.

With a mix of oatmeal, grey, burgundy, and touches of gold, you couldn't help put feel the upcoming crispness of autumn. 

Southern Celebrations Magazine hosted this inspiration shoot in early fall and I was honored to ride along as the shoot's stationer along with an array of amazingly talented wedding vendors (meet the team below). ...and a southern celebration it was. White Oak Plantation is one of South Louisiana's highest ranked venue locations for weddings and events. The day was filled with Louisiana magnolias & warm touches of gold.

Stationery should never stop at the wedding invitation. We all fell in love with the custom made vow books to inspire brides and grooms to keep that handwritten note alive. 

The reception's menu cards mimicked the aesthetics of the wedding stationery to inspire those to really create a cohesive experience for your guests. Letterpress printed in a muted burgundy ink on deckled edge paper, adorned in gold foil ..you are sure to leave a lasting impression. To continue on the visual experience, we had laser woodcut chair signs made for the Mr. and Mrs. and a gold mirror cake topper for what should simply be the BEST day ever.


SHOOT'S HOSTESS | Southern Celebrations Magazine
VENUE | White Oak Plantation

SHOOT'S PHOTOGRAPHER | Rachel Erin Photography
GOWN | Magnolia Mariée Bridal Boutique
HAIR & MAKEUP | Verde Beauty Studio
STATIONERY & ACCESSORIES | THE little BLUE CHAIR
CAKE & DESSERT | Baking on the Bayou
FLORAL DESIGN | Attention to Details Weddings & Events Flowers LLC
FURNITURE RENTALS | Distressed Rentals & Revival
LANTERNS | Truly Haute
MISC DESSERTS | Chef Schonberg's Sweet's
CUTLERY & PLATES | Event Rental Baton Rouge
STYLING | Mise En Place Events, Poppy Lane Events, LLC, Swoon Creative


Boho Bridal Shower DIY Garland Hanger

inspiration & DIYHope JohnsonComment

For the flowechild, the bridal shower, the photo backdrop (or home decor because this is definitely going in my house or studio), this DIY Garland Hanger has me smiling over its whimsy.


WHAT YOU WILL NEED

-floral of your choice (preserved or fresh)
-floral wire
-branch (this one is approximately three and a half feet long)
-twine of your choice
-clear or floral tape
 

STEP ONE

Sort Your Florals
For this hanger, I used three different florals per strand. On the middle one, I added a pop of color. You can use the same floral per strand or be creative and mix them up. Your preference.

Prep Your Wire Strands
Take your floral wire and twist the ends together like the photos below. You can make this as long or as short as you'd like depending on the amount of floral you have.

STEP TWO

TIE YOUR TWINE
Take the twine of your choice and tie the hanger. You can alter the length of your twine hanger by adding more or less length. Tie a secure knot on each end of your branch. 

SPACE OUT YOUR STRANDS
After you've twisted your wire strands out, space them out across your branch to your liking. Loop the wire strands around the branch like in the photo below.

START ADDING YOUR FLORAL
I used a combination of floral wire and tape to fasten my floral stems to the wire strands. Towards the top of the branch, I stuck to floral wire since it was the start of the strand and may show. As the strand got fuller as I continued down, it was easier to hide the floral wire and/or tape.

STEP THREE

TAKE A STEP BACK
Step back and evaluate the fullness of your garland strands. Make sure the colors are balances and the fullness is even. You may need to go back and add more floral stems to some of your strands.

I wanted the middle strand to pop with some color, so after I got my main greenery in place how I liked it, I added a blush floral to the center strand.

THAT'S A WRAP

Now you have this dreamy little wall-art piece for a feminine and bohemian photo backdrop! 
 


I would love to see your DIY Garland Hanger projects! Try it out and tag #thelittlebluechair so I can see your work! 
 

my (pre)pinterest wedding

Hope JohnsonComment

I have to admit something that I'm kind of ashamed to admit. My best cousin and my best friend are both getting married next year and I'm secretly (or not so secretly) living vicariously through them. See, I was married before wedding blogs were as popular as they are now. I was married before Pinterest was invited. I was married before Anthropologie launched their wedding line, BHLDN (I'm still upset about that one). However, I couldn't be more thankful. 

My husband and I have been going to the same school together since kindergarten. I wasn't particularly fond of him. He was the class clown. Fast forward to circa 2009, we were married at the young age of 20. We were crazy, but all we knew is that marriage was our next step, no matter our age. 

On August 8th, we have hit seven years together, twelve years total, and have added two little ones to the mix. Looking back at some old wedding photos, I am so fond of the special little moments and experiences we had. You know why? Because they were OURS. 

We had no idea how to plan a wedding and to be honest, we really were not concerned with the aesthetic details. ...not like I would be today, that's for sure. Maybe that's why I'm living vicariously through others. Because I'll be the first to admit that if I was married today ...we just won't go there.

The most important thing to us was the experience. ...we wanted smiles and laughter, we wanted candid moments with our nearest and dearest, we to begin our marriage.

We inadvertently curated these memories and these moments that we simply could not replicate if we wanted to. Up at the alter, my super soon-to-be husband handed me this little gold chest. I had no idea he was going to give me this. He gave me this little "I'll explain later" look, so I simply smiled and held the gold chest during the ceremony. 

After the ceremony, he explained that these coins came from his mother's side of the family. There were thirteen coins. The custom of the giving originated in Spain and is usually associated with Hispanic culture. My husband's mother's family is from Mexico and still carry many of their culture's traditions. The coins were filled with symbolic meaning signifying the grooms willingness to support his bride. The bride's acceptance symbolized trust and confidence and unconditional love. The thirteen coins recognized Christ and His twelve apostles in recognition of the newfound marriage. I'll never forget the shaky voice as my husband of ten minutes explained where this came from after the ceremony.

There were heaps of moments like this that just kept popping up. There were certain smiles that were candidly caught on camera. There were certain moments I'll never forget. Maybe I'm just a little nostalgic since my anniversary just passed, but I'm so thankful for the simplicity that meaningful choices can make in a wedding. Because at the end of the day, it's all about the marriage that will follow. That's the real story. 

PS: 

When we were engaged, I was (at the time) in college for Business Management. It wasn't until the semester after we were married that I was an art major. Although I have always had my hands in creativity, I did not know the process of letterpress printing. I did not know what my personal style was. I was not a designer. My invitations were very traditional. Oh and I just thought they were the greatest thing ever, and they were beautiful for what they were. I simply cannot imagine designing my own wedding invitation if I were to marry today (to the same Beau of course).

Maybe I'll have to renew my vows one day to find out!

 

The Proper Etiquette to Invitation Wording

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

Your wedding invitation displays one of the most important messages, that you want to share your celebration with your nearest and dearest family and friends. It will tell your guests where you will marry and indicate the religious or nature of your ceremony, as well as the formality (or informally) of the big day. 

All wedding invitations should honor the tradition of serving the role in telling your guests the proper information, allow a timely response time to arrange for potential travel, and preface the proper attire for the nature of the ceremony. 

Stationers can supply an endless amount of paper options, text assortments, colors, etc. for you to select from. Only then will you move on to the next step: WHAT SHOULD IT SAY?

Invitations are customarily written in third-person, ranging from formal to informal, including wording for different situations. 

When the bride's parents issue the invitations:

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wayne Henson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Madeline Claire
to
Mr. Thomas Lee Anderson
Saturday, the sixth of August
two thousand sixteen
at a half past three o'clock
First Baptist Church
New Orleans, Louisiana

When the bride's parents issue the invitation & include the groom's parents:


Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wayne Henson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Madeline Claire
to
Mr. Thomas Lee Anderson
son of

Mr. and Mrs. Steven Anthony Anderson
...

 

*The words "honour" and "favour" ("the favour of your reply is requested...) are traditionally written in the British style for a more formal invitation. The American spellings "honor" and "favor" are also accepted if the couple or parents prefer.


Modern day, it has become more customary that the couple issues the invitations. 

When the couple issues a formal invitation:

The honour of your presence
is requested at the marriage of
Madeline Claire Henson
to
Thomas Lee Anderson
...

- OR -

Madeline Claire Henson
and
Thomas Lee Anderson
request the honour of your presence
at their marriage...


 

In many weddings, the bride's families are both involved and may be listed on the invitation in "lump sum" with the couple:

Together with their families
the honor of your presence is requested
at the marriage of
Madeline Claire Henson
to
Thomas Lee Anderson
Saturday, the sixth of August
two thousand sixteen
...

 

 

There are many different situations that may cause a revision or alteration of any of the above wording formats. Perhaps the parents are divorced, but are still acting as co-hosts. Perhaps the bride or groom has a step-parent that is acting as a co-host in place of the bride or grooms natural parent. Here are some guidelines below for those types of situations to consider when working out the wedding invitation wording. 

DIVORCED PARENTS
If the divorced parents are co-hosting the wedding together, the formal wedding invitation would read both parent's full names (the mothers current name if remarried). The mother of the bride would appear first, following by the father.
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bates
and
Mr. Raymond Henson
...

STEPPARENTS
When the bride is been raised primarily by a parent and stepparent and the other natural parent is not co-hosting the wedding, the appropriate wording would be to include the formal name of the mother's new last name, but to use the full name of the bride if different than the mother's last name (if she decided to take the stepfathers last name).
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bates
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of her (or his) daughter
Madeline Claire Henson
...

MILITARY TITLES
When the bride and/or groom or the parents of the bride or groom are members of the military services or serving active duty, their military titles are used. All military titles are spelled out and not abbreviated on the invitation, mailing addresses, or any other stationery. 

ABBREVIATIONS
You should not abbreviate "Doctor" as you would on other phrases (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). You can abbreviate Sr. and Jr. if wished. You should spell out any other words, like the state, road, street, etc. 

DATE & TIME
Formally, the date is written out "the twenty-second of April." The full date of the wedding, including the year, is always included and the year is formally written out "two thousand sixteen."

RECEPTION INFORMATION
The invitation to the wedding may be combined with the invitation to the reception, or you may send a separate reception card. If you are hosting a reception afterwards, a RSVP card is traditionally included. 

 

 

MISTAKES TO AVOID
-Triple check the spelling of your invitation & have your venue confirm the address of the ceremony & reception
-Do not include any mentioning of gifts or registries on your invitation. 
-If you do not wish to include children, you do not have to invite them. However, you should never add "adults only" or "no children" on your wedding invitation. You simply do not include them on the addressing of the envelope. 
-If it's important that you have the dress attire on the invitation, you would simply state "black tie" on the reception card.

 

HOWEVER...

With ALL of that said, do not hesitate to think outside the box. You do not have to conform to tradition if a more off-beat whimsical design is more your suit. This is your big day, and at the end of it, you are inviting your nearest and dearest to celebrate along side you and your future spouse. ...your way.

Before your Save the Dates go out...

etiquette, inspiration & DIYHope JohnsonComment

Wedding planning can be stressful. You often run in to a task that requires a handful of prerequisites. You can't book a venue until you have a wedding date. You can't pick out your florals until you know what color your bridesmaids dresses are. ...and you can't have your save the dates created until you tackle these five to-do's.

 

PICK A DATE AND LOCATION

 

This may seem obvious. They're not called "save the approximate time of year." They're called "save the dates." So you of course want that date on there, but it's also important to have the location of your wedding. This can either be the city or the venue itself. 

tip: Be mindful about sending save the dates before booking a venue. If your ideal venue is booked on the date you've already set, you may want to make alterations & would certainly want to do so before sending out save the dates. 

WEDDING WEBSITE

Wedding website are extremely beneficial through out the entire wedding planning. Introduce yours to your guests as early as possible. This will ensure that your guests always know where to find information about the big day, hosted events, registries, etc. 

tip: BUY A DOMAIN NAME. Most wedding website platforms allow you to create custom domain names in place of the computer generated one you will receive when signing up. You can purchase a domain for about $10/year and www.MichaelandHope.com looks infinitely more appealing than www.weddingblog.com/us/17382/michaelandhope, don't you think?

PHOTO SESSIONS

Save the dates come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You may want to include a cute photo of you and your beau. So before tackling the save the dates, you'll want  to think about this question and if you're opting for a photo, reach out to your photographer and get those engagements scheduled!

TIMELINE

For an approximate year long engagement, I personally recommend sending out save the dates around 9 months prior. For shorter engagements, 5-6 months prior to the wedding is appropriate. Ask yourself the following questions to help gauge whether you should allow more or less heads up:

1) How many of my guests will be traveling from out of town?
2) How many of my guests will be making accommodations?
3) Does my wedding fall around the holidays where schedules are often busy?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, you may want to allow an extra month or so to ensure your guests have ample planning time. 

WORDING ETIQUETTE

Setting the stage with your save the dates is important when creating a cohesive aesthetic mood through out your wedding planning. Photo save the dates can be fun and whimsical for a more casual wedding ceremony and reception. If your big day is on the more traditional & formal side, you may want to stick to a more formal layout & wording structure. 

FORMAL:
Jessica Hope Couvillion and Michael Dean Johnson
are getting married on August 8th, 2016
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
formal invitation to follow


WHIMSICAL:
Michael & Hope are tying the knot!
08-08-16
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
invitation to follow

There are 1000 in betweens. It's perfectly acceptable (and encouraged over here) to think outside the box. There's a definite right way to combine whimsy and romance. Setting the stage with your save the dates will give your guests a preview for what's to come. 

 
 

Floral Inspired Wedding Stationery

inspiration & DIYHope JohnsonComment

Meet Ali & Ryan. How cute are they? When Ali reached out for wedding stationery earlier this year and referenced her save the dates she created herself, I knew I already loved her. Ali's stationery style was floral inspired and nothing sang to my heart more than a fellow flowerchild. 

Photo taken my family member, Audra Ruane.

Photo taken my family member, Audra Ruane.

 
left | dresses from showmeyourmumu   center  | calligraphy by judith brown  right | cake by cypress grovers

left | dresses from showmeyourmumu   center  | calligraphy by judith brown  right | cake by cypress grovers

Ali's wedding will take place this fall in a small-town church, followed by an evening barn & farm reception.

Ali and her calligrapher friend/soon-to-be sister-in-law designed her DIY save the dates. They were printed on deckled seed paper & stemmed much of the inspiration for her wedding stationery. The calligraphy was done by Judith Browne. You can find this lovely handmade seed paper from the cutest little etsy shop, White Dragon Paper.

 

it was easy to find inspiration from Ali's inspiration. The combination of textures really compliment her handmade, rustic-meets-whimsical mood! 

IT'S TIME FOR AN ASSEMBLY PARTY

cotton paper
hand deckled edging
letterpress printing
watercolor
jute cord
preserved lavender

I cannot wait to see this remaining touches I know Ali will give to this big day of her and Ryan's. Only a few more months and this Ms. will be a Mrs.!

 

 
 

Organize your Wedding Planning in JUST THREE STEPS

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

So he got down on one knee and popped the heart warming, jaw dropping, tummy tumbling question. YOU'RE ENGAGED! ...and that requires a happy dance. Within the next 48 hours, you will have excitedly celebrated with those dear to you. 

Have you taken a ring selfie yet while pondering potential wedding hashtags? 

You begin to turn some of that excitement's energy in to productivity and begin actually planning the wedding, BUT WAIT, DON'T START YET! Follow this model below to ensure that the entire wedding planning journey is as blissful as the day you said YES! 

Breaking down the planning in to three simple steps will allow you to stay organized and scratch off your tasks in the right order while keeping a meaningful mindset to your decision making. 

STEP ONE: INSPIRATION
STEP TWO: SHORT TERM TASKS
STEP THREE: LONG TERM TASKS


STEP ONE: creating your wedding style & inspirations

Inspiration is constantly flooding our social media feeds. It's easy to become inspired, but equally easy to become influenced. Word of advice: Be meaningful & intentional. When using wedding blogs and Pinterest for inspiration, use intentional references for YOUR wedding day, not someone else's. 

Challenge: Try to pick six photos that represent you and your personal style, but only include TWO (three if you must) wedding related photos. Be VERY intentional about your photo selections. You must love everything in the photo, not just one little portion. Someone should be able to look at that photo and say "YES, that's so you."

Here's mine:

You can see from the combination of home & living photos that I love simplicity and organic textures. I'm a fan of whimsical greenery and flowers. I love paper & stationery and seem to be gearing towards a light and airy, but with a touch of warmth mood in regard to wedding style. 

You can tell much more than you think from your every day life. 

After you narrow down your style to six images, try to use three words to describe your personal style and keep those three words with you through out your decision making and wedding planning. They'll come in handy. 


STEP TWO: short term to-do's and tasks

There's a top five tasks list you'll want to tackle early in to the wedding planning. Keep those three words with you through out these to-do's.

Have a few tentative dates on hand before selecting your top five. Depending on availability, you may have some wiggling to do. 

1) Wedding Planner | First things first, hire a wedding planner if desired. Wedding planners are amazing and take SO much of the weight off of your shoulders.

2) Venue & Officiate | Selecting a venue is probably the most important decision in regard to how you want to represent your big day. Think about those three words of yours. Does your potential venue compliment those three words well? Maybe you've always imagined an outdoor wedding. Maybe you'd love an urban, rooftop wedding in the middle of the city. Are your three worlds clearly represented here? 

Once you book your venue, you'll want to find an officiate to marry you. 

3) Photographer and/or Videographer | A picture is worth 1000 words, right? ...and a wedding video even more. As soon as you confirm one of those tentative dates after booking your wedding planner & venue, tie the knot with your photographer. 

4) Band or DJ | By this point, you have a venue. You have a date. You have a photographer. Let's dance! ...to either a band or DJ. 

5) Catering | I hope you're hungry for some food tastings! Catering companies will generally take on one venue a day. So if you're set on a certain caterer, get them inked in! 


STEP THREE: long term planning

This is the step where EVERYthing else falls in to course. To keep things working in a smooth and graceful manner, make a list be separating your remaining engagement in to quadrants. 

For example, let's say you now have twelve months until the BIG DAY. Make a list for things do accomplish between 9-12 months out. Then another list from 6-9 month out, 3-6 months out, then a more detailed list of tasks to complete during those last 3 months. 

This way, NOTHING sneaks up on you and no time gets lost in this busy world of ours. 


Last but not least, (and probably most important), ENJOY THIS TIME. This is a magical segment of your life. It's the preface to your story as one and there will be no other time like this one. 

I will be sending you smiles at every dress fitting, food tasting, make-up test run, and of course on the big day! XOXO
 

 
 

10 questions you HAVE to ask your potential wedding venue

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

There's a typical top five first to-do's a bride will tackle and the venue is definitely one of them! Hold up there! Be sure to remember or jot down these questions to ask. The answer just may be a deal breaker for you. 

 

1) IS MY DATE AVAILABLE?:
This may seem obvious, but if you have a certain date set in stone, make sure your potential venue isn't booked.

If you love the venue enough, you can always base your date on their availability.   

2) WHAT IS THE GUEST CAPACITY?

You'll definitely want to make sure your potential venue can accommodate your guests. By law, there will be a maximum head count that you'll want to make sure you are abiding by. 

3) WHAT KIND OF DEPOSIT(S) AND/OR COSTS ARE REQUIRED:
You'll want to know what deposit is required, how many deposits are to be made, and in what form the payments are required. 

You'll also want to ask if any additional costs may occur. Some venues will charge hidden fees for clean ups, an overage of time, etc. 

4) AM I SUBJECT TO USING ONLY YOUR VENDORS?
Many venues have an exclusive team of vendors they may require working with. If you have your own preferred vendors, you'll want to make sure that's allowed for your selected venue. 

5) HOW SOON PRIOR TO THE WEDDING WILL YOU NEED A FINAL HEADCOUNT?
This date is a good rule of thumb for those RSVP cards. For example, if you know you need a headcount by May 1st for your June 1st wedding, you will want to state on your reply card "please RSVP no later than the 15th of April" to allow those last few RSVP's to come in just in time for your final headcount. 

6) ARE THERE ANY RULES REGARDING CERTAIN DECOR?
Some venue are particular about decorations or party favors that may be a hazard. They may require battery operated candles versus fire burning candles. Perhaps throwing rice or holding sparklers as the bride and groom exit isn't within the venue's comfort zone. 

7) HOW EARLY CAN I START SETTING UP & WHEN WILL WE NEED TO PICK UP?
Pass this information along to your rental company or the person in charge of decorations and styling.

8) HOW IS THE PARKING AND ACCESSIBILITY?
You're going to want to make sure you have ample parking and your venue is handicapped accessible for your guests. 

9) WILL MY PHOTOGRAPHER HAVE ANY LIMITATIONS?

Pass this along to your photographer(s).

10) IS THERE A BACKUP PLAN FOR RAINY WEATHER? (outdoor venue)
If your venue will be held outdoors, you may want to make sure there's a backup plan or tent rental option as a Plan B. 

 

Whether you are married on the roof top in the middle of the city, the church your great-grandparents wed in, or the backyard garden of your favorite plantation, I hope you find THE perfect place that suits all of your needs! XO, my dears! 

 
 

HOW TO write a thank you note

etiquetteHope JohnsonComment

We had our first wedding shower. It was so magical and perfect. The night ended with porch dancing under the moonlight with our closest family and friends. There is nothing my soul loves more than a good porch party under the summer stars. 

Newly engaged, the future husband and I were smitten and blessed beyond belief that so many people had come together to celebrate our future together. We spent days organizing such thoughtful housewarming presents and we're thrilled to start our lives together "playing house." 

After the shower, I was probably the one person EXCITED to write thank you notes. I love sending snail mail and especially love receiving it back. There's just something personal and real about the handwritten note.

It's easy to get stuck on what to say and how long or short to keep it. So I'm sharing with you my guide to thank you notes and some etiquette on how long after your shower or wedding you should send your snail mail out. 

 

THE SIMPLE STRATEGY 

GREETING
Dear Timothy & Laura,

WHY YOU'RE WRITING
Michael and I wanted to send a big thank you for celebrating our engagement party with us. We are so thrilled to begin our lives together. 

GIFT REFERENCE
We absolutely love our new blender!

WHY YOU LOVE IT
You know I love to bake, I cannot wait to use whip up some sweet treats!

THANKS AGAIN
Thank you so much again for sharing such a joyous occasion with us. We are so unbelievably lucky to be surrounded by such amazing family & friends. 

CLOSING
With love, Michael & Hope

 

 

ETTIQUETE

AFTER A HOSTED EVENT
If you are sending thank you notes out after a shower or engagement party, you want to mail them within 2-3 weeks after the hosted event.

PRE-WEDDING WEDDING GIFTS
If you receive a wedding gift prior to the wedding, you want to mail your thank you note out as soon as possible, but for sure before the wedding.

WEDDING DAY GIFTS
If you receive wedding gifts the day of the wedding, you should mail your thank you notes within three months of your big day.

Promptness is always best! 

 

DIY floral candle wrap

inspiration & DIYHope JohnsonComment

It's summer loving time and I'm feeling all the love for all things floral. A hostess at heart, I have a long list of DIY projects to share and try out myself. I love candles. I love the way they smell and want one burning all the time. This DIY project was super fun and easy and can be used for all different types of centerpieces - from fancy wedding centerpieces to bridal/baby showers & parties. Enjoy.

YOU WILL NEED:

-a candle of your choice
-a rubberband
-preserved or artificial greenery
-ribbon of your choice
-scissors

STEP ONE

 

With your scissors, cut 5-10 greenery stems about the height of your candle, maybe an inch or two less. Set aside.

 
 

STEP TWO

Take your rubberband and wrap it around your candle about half way down.

 

STEP THREE

Gently take your greenery stems and place under the rubberband. You may have to trim off some leaves depending on how much fill you want. You can wrap your candle all the way around or do a simple front embellishment like this one. Feel free to be creative and mix different florals as well. The world is your oyster.

STEP FOUR

With the ribbon of your choice, wrap the candle over your rubberband. You may cut your band away or leave it under your ribbon. Tie a pretty bow and maybe a cute tag. This would be perfect for a "table one" tag to mark your wedding tables, don't you think?

THE-little-BLUE-CHAIR-DIY-candle-centerpiece-7.jpg

ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN USE THIS PROJECT:

-Thread a tag through your ribbon and write "Table One" to use as a table marker at your wedding reception. 

-Write a cute quote on a tag to hand out as wedding shower favors

-Wrap a whole bunch of candles and surround them with florals for the most amazing centerpiece.

-Create a mini-version of this project with a smaller candle with a name tag for the cutest take-home place setting for your guests.

- - - - -

I love preserved greenery. It stays looking great & smelling nice (and doesn't die).
A lot of my preserved greenery comes from Nettleton Hollow. Be sure to check them out.

ENJOY

I'd love to see your own finished version of this project. Get creative with different florals or combine several of them. 

 
 

STATIONERY STYLING | behind the scenes

etiquette, inspiration & DIYHope JohnsonComment

Whether your a bride wanting some great photos of your stationery or a photographer capturing those details for your bride, these tips I use may help in creating some great dynamic photos. 

This is my little set up. Let me state that I am NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. However, with the right light and props, you can get some pretty great photos for your wedding blog, instagram, or just for your own keepsake. I've even used my iPhone a lot of the images on my instagram feed

Gather your coordinating stationery pieces. Don't just include your wedding invitations. Grab those day-of pieces like your programs, menu cards, etc. Don't forget those save the dates too!

Lay out your pieces as you like. I like to play around with the single suite versus the whole suite and see which pieces to include. You can of course have several variations of different layouts. You can align everything out in an orderly manner or have things "scattered." Be creative! 

I like to have some on-hand props like ribbons, florals, pretty stamps, and linens. Anything I can use that coordinates with the stationery design. If I have actual accents from the suite, that's even better! 

Let your creativity flow. Add in some props here and there. Photograph & crop them in different ways to capture some close ups of all of the little details. Particularly here, I wanted to be sure to capture the handmade paper and the letterpress printing. 

This design had some coordinating "day-of" pieces: a menu, a table number set, and woodcut name place settings. So I chose to photograph these with some "table scape" props to tie in the dinner-vibe.

THINK AHEAD

Think about what you may be using these photos for. Is it your blog? Is it a hero image on your wedding website? Leave some negative space. Negative space is great for just some general breathing room. It's also great for an added text layer.

HAVE FUN

I love sending my brides some pretty sneak peeks of their suite. Often though, the bride ends up assembling the final stationery suite together and ask for tips on how to get a good shot. I hope this helps pull out some creativity. Wedding stationery is such an important part of your big day. It's the preface for your guests! I love gifting framed invitations for my clients, simple reminders of their big day, but everyone should at least have a good photo of that very important piece of paper. I hope this inspires and sparks some creativity for you for all things styled!!

 
 

FIVE OFF-BEAT FACTS you may not know about me

personalHope Johnson1 Comment

Let's be vulnerable. Everyone's got that list of strange little habits and tid-bits that they'll probably leave out of their 'about me' section on their website or profile page. Let's hear it!!
To be honest, I thought coming up with five off-beat facts about myself would be harder. I actually had to narrow down my list to only include five.

1.

 

I love cookies. I eat them far too often to even admit here. Maybe this isn't that strange, but I eat them in threes, one for me, one for my sister, and one for my brother. Unless it's just one of those giant gourmet cookies, then I just eat one of those. The three of us can metaphorically share those big ole cookies. 

2.

When I was younger, I used to feel sorry for anything left behind. A rock that was lost in the grass out of the gravel driveway, a stray noodle that was left in the pot after pouring its family of noodles in to the strainer, a set of four chairs when I really just need one. Still to this day, I find myself having emotional attachments to objects. It's a bit weird.

3.

I'm not claustrophobic or anything like that, but if you grab my big toe, I'll freak out on you. I also hate being tickled. I will unintentional make use of my quick reflexes and I really don't want anyone to get hurt. I'm sorry if you were just trying to be silly. I can be silly, just in other ways.

4.

Ice, drink-ratios, & cups. It simply matters. If I'm thirsting for some water, it must be in a plastic cup, no glass cups for water. The ice must be half-and-half. If I'm thirsting for a good ole' Coca Cola Classic, it too must be in a plastic cup, or styrofoam cup, those are the best, no glass. The ice must be filled to the brim to keep the drink cold in prevention of having the tastiness watered down. Milk must be in a glass cup. 

5.

There are a handful of words I simply cannot pronounce without getting tongue-tied. Exclamation Mark is one of them. There are also a handful of words I cannot stand to hear: moist (I mean who really likes that word), sac a lait (like the fish ...I know, I'm strange), naval, cusp, ooze, and others of this nature.

I HOPE WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDS.

Despite these very strange, somewhat filtered list of off-beat facts, I will still crank out some beautiful stationery for you. I'll do it with the perfect ratio of ice-to-drink after I have my three cookies. 
Do you have any strange facts about yourself? I'd love to hear them so I'm not the only off-beat one here. 

 
 
 

LETTERPRESS PRINTING | behind the scenes

personalHope JohnsonComment

TODAY'S HISTORY LESSON:
Way back when, any type of writing that was "mass produced" was simply written by hand, over and over. Books, manuscripts, etc. There was no assembly line, no machinery driven printers. Can you imagine? During the mid 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg got his thinking cap on in efforts to solve this issue. ...and boy am I glad he did.

"WHO IS JOHANNES GUTENBERG?" ...the only Jeopardy question I've ever gotten right.

Gutenberg invented the method of letterpress printing. Using metal casted letters, ink, and pressure, text was able to become mass produced! Imagine how you use a simple wooden stamp. An image or word was made in to a stamp by hand carving or laser etched. You tap the stamp on an ink pad, then stamp it on paper. It's a similar conceptual process. Metal letters, carved linoleum, or wood blocks are placed inside a press. Rollers are inked to cover the raised surface of your type or block cuts, paper is pressed on to the inked surface of your text/block leaving an impression in your paper. In opposition to modern day digital and offset printing, letterpress printing holds a timeless appreciate for the one-of-a-kind art is truly is. 

WHAT GOES BEHIND THE SET UP?

There are all different types of letterpress printers. I run a Chandler and Price platen press (below). It's about 100 years old and I can work this one better than my Best Buy Epson printer. 

Many printmakers still use what's called moveable type, cast iron letters that you set in to place to form your word, sentence, paragraph, etc. 

ONE COLOR AT A TIME

You mix your ink just like you'd mix paint. You can patch just about any pantone color or even order a custom pantone match. Each color is run separately. So if you have 100 invitations with two colors, you'll set up the first color and artwork, run 100 of that color. Clean your press. Mix the second color. Set up that run, then print the second color. ...totally 200 runs.

Once your materials are set up in the press, you can test your impressions, color, etc. and then get to work! My particular press runs off of a motor. There's a clam-shell action that happens where the paper reaches the inked type and stamps or impresses it in the paper. There's a quick scene in this video that shows the press running. 

Letterpress is simply appreciated for it's tactile impression it leaves in the paper. You cannot deny its method against digital and offset printing. It truly does stand on its own.

CHANGING TIMES

Over the years, there have been a number of ways to transfer text and imagery to a press bed. Moveable type is still commonly used for many printmakers. However, polymer plates (or other similar materials) are often used for its ease and flexibility. Using laser-casted polymer plates allow any vector, created with fonts or from the sketchbook, to become a printable plate. This is great for handlettering, hand-drawn imagery, and graphically designed pieces to originate the final piece.

The above photo is a letterpress printed piece that began as a sketch. The sketch was digitized and formatted to be made in to a polymer plate. The plate was then set up in the press, similar to the way moveable type is set up, then printed. 

Of course, there are 100 steps in between. There's ink mixing, color matching, press setting, packing backers to set, gauge pins to line up, paper to measure, etc. etc. etc.

For anyone in the market for letterpress printed work, this is a good insight to the setup and labor that happens prior and during printing. It's surely a labor of love that stands as an art in its own.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT
some phrases we can credit to letterpress

Mind your p's and q's: When setting casted, movable type, you set the letters from left to right, upside down in order for the type to mirror and read correctly on the paper. You'd be surprise what your eyes will fix for you as you read backwards printed letters. This is where the phrase originated from. ....same goes for b's and d's. 

Uppercase & Lowercase: Casted, movable type is arranged in type drawers. There's a little spot for each handful of A's, B's, C's and so fourth. The capital letters were found in the upper case drawer slot and the non-capital letters in the lower.