We usually like to keep the focus on eThreads around here, but today the post is getting personal. eThreads.com is ultimately a family business, and this September the family became official. Case and I got married on September 15, 2012 lakeside among the beautiful mountains of Moultonborough, NH.
I’m the founder and president of eThreads and Case is the technical director. We envisioned the company together over six years ago and work hard everyday to make it the best we can. We’ve been together over ten years; we are business partners and life partners and it was a joy to celebrate our union in front of our family and friends.
We both lean towards the creative side, so of course our wedding had to be DIY and different. I opted for a custom silver silk dupioni tuxedo halter vest and big, flowing high waisted skirt – perfectly sturdy for dancing the night away. I made the veil 30 minutes before the ceremony and tucked it up with flowers from the bouquet. Case wore a light grey suit, custom charcoal grey silk dupioni vest and had a tattooed wedding ring. Our first dance was an 80s and 90s hip hop mashup that we mixed ourselves. What a great time we had!
Our decorations were all DIY and we got a lot of questions about them, so I thought I’d write a post about it and hope it will help future brides. I’m going to talk about our string jars, string balloons and photo booth. Plus two random and useful place cards and guest book ideas.
First, the string jars lit with candles. Shoutout to Pinterest for giving me this great idea, here’s the original source material. We LOVED this idea and it was a really beautiful effect. Easy to do to, you just need some time. I’ll try to recreate some pictures and post them.
1) We collected various clear glass jars, including clear wine bottles, soaked them and scraped off the labels. (It’s very important to make sure your jars are clean. Soaking in a sink to remove the labels then running through the dishwasher is best, especially if they’re new jars. Any residue oil or soap will ruin the project. You don’t want to learn the hard way.)
2) Lightly sand the jars to help the spray paint grip to the jars. (Any grit will work, 80-200, don’t worry if you see scratches. It won’t show up through the paint.)
3) We wrapped the jars in about 3 yards of yarn per jar and applied 2 coats of matte white spray paint. *Here’s a great tip Case discovered, it really helped* You’ll need strong string and some popsicle sticks. Tie a long string between two stable points – the line will get heavy (we used the railings on our outdoor porch.) Cut the popsicle sticks in half to fit your jars, tie and tape a piece of string around the center of each stick so it won’t slip. Tie the popsicle strings to the long string, space them about 8 inches apart. Hang your jars from the popsicle sticks (you may have to trim the sticks to fit) and then you can spin them while you’re spraying the paint. You’ll be able to hit the tops of the jars and get an even coat throughout. Freaking genius. *Spray paint tip* – stay about 12″ away from the jars and spray lightly – you do not want drips. We got the jars spinning quickly and sprayed about 1 second each on the top, middle and bottom of jar – 3 seconds total per jar per coat.
4) When the paint dries, remove the yarns. Incredibly satisfying step if you have them spinning from a string. I recommend saying “Wheee!” while you’re doing it. Hit the jars with an even, light top coat of clear spray paint (matte or gloss, we used semi-gloss.) We added this step to frost the clear bits and make the candle look softer. It also helped to protect the white paint.
5) We clustered small and large jars together and got 7 hour tea light candles for them. *Put some sand in the bottom of the jar to stabilize the candle and provide more safety.* We used the wine bottles to hold flowers. Our centerpieces were clustered jars with wine bottles and little tags on each bottle with the table number. Then we used the leftover jars clustered together all over the place, even in the bathrooms. People took loads of them home and we still have enough left to decorate our home long after the wedding.
Second topic, the string balloons. Shoutout again to Pinterest for giving me this great idea, here’s the original source material. Basically you papier mache string around greased up balloons. Let the string dry, pop the balloon and voila! Beautiful, versatile decorations. We tied them down the aisles of the altar, hung them from the barn rafters, clustered them around the fireplaces, scattered them among the railings of the porch … they were great and tied in well with the string jars.
Unfortunately we don’t have many great shortcuts for this one. It’s messy, time consuming and weather dependent if your wrap them outdoors like we did. (I don’t even want to get into the time we made 12 of them and woke up in the morning to shriveled up gobs of goop in the pouring rain. Sigh.) Best I can do is to share from our experience:
1) If you wrap them outdoors, check the weather report first.
2) Get heavy duty balloons to take the brunt of the work. We used small grocery store ones for tiny balloons (8″ and under) but we really preferred the heavy duty 17″ balloons … you could blow them up large or small, and they take the goopy string better.
3) Use Vaseline or a petroleum jelly to grease up the balloons first. Get big jars, you’ll use it. Make sure every inch of the balloon is covered or the goopy string will stick to to the balloon and distort the shape.
4) The bigger the balloon, the more string you’ll need. We made dozens of these bad boys and went through about 8 skeins of yarn. For the big 17″ balloons we used about 45 yards of yarn. For a 12″ balloon we used about 36″ yards. We wanted them dense and strong, so it took a lot. *Hint – your arms’ length tip to tip is about a yard. Estimate your length from there.* We had paper towel rolls and wrapped the string around it after the length was measured to keep things knot free.
5) It’s a freaking nightmare when the string knots up while it’s in the goop. You don’t want it. There’s three ways around this: 1) have someone feed the string into the goop while you go. It’s slow and methodical, but it avoids any risks. 2) Feed it yourself through the goop because the string is already wrapped around a paper towel roll, see above. This is a pain, but it can be done with one person. 3) Lay the string down in a circle on the goop carefully on top of itself, foot by foot. Think of a snake coiling into a jar. This method takes some practice because you have to be sure you don’t tangle the string while you’re laying it down, otherwise you get knots. Once your string is in the goop, gently push it down and saturate the string, careful not to tangle it. Remember to leave the last bit of string free so it doesn’t get lost in the mess – that’s your starting point!
6) Team up and keep one person with clean hands. Case was much better at making the goop, so we developed a system – he made the goop, tied up fresh balloons, coiled the string into the goop and had the most important jobs of changing the music and scratching my nose. I had my hands dirty with putting petroleum jelly on the balloons and wrapping the balloons in goopy string. Once you get your hands dirty, they’re hard to get clean, so it’s best to team up and have one person with clean hands and one person with goopy hands.
7) We got 2 big gallons of Elmer’s glue from the craft store (50% coupons, holla!) We used disposable baking tins for the goop. Bigger tins require more goop but hold more string, so pick which is better for you. We used popsicle sticks to stir the mess. *Case’s best goop recipe:* Use a big casserole disposable tin. Put about 1 cup cornstarch in the center and create a volcano. Pour WARM water in the center – NOT HOT – go slowly and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved and you’ve got a dough-like texture. Add 2 parts glue – can’t have too much here – glue makes the batch stronger but it does take a lot longer to dry, over 12 hours. You have to add glue last, otherwise the cornstarch won’t dissolve.
8) Storing these things is no joke. We made one beautiful batch, stacked them on top of each other, left for a week in July and came back to melted orbs of string. Heat and humidity kills these things. After that we made our batches with a lot more glue and stored them better. We had long pieces of string running across our ceilings and the balloons hung side by side. This preserved them nicely for months until we needed them.
Photobooth: There’s a lot of ways to set up a photobooth, just google it and see which method works best for you. We did ours with a good Canon camera on a tripod and a remote trigger connected to a computer. Guests could see themselves on the computer monitor. You could do something similar, or use a laptop and photobooth software, or rent a photobooth. We had an awesome lighting setup from the eThreads studio so we borrowed that for the weekend, but don’t underestimate the power of shop lights (“clamp lamps”) and a good background curtain. The coolest thing about our photo booth was the speech bubbles, and let’s be real I probably found this on Pinterest too. Here’s the original source material.
We first used cardboard for the backing but the contact paper got all wrinkly. So we used foam core and it was a great effect. We wanted to drill small holes in the bottom with sticks so people could hold them, but alas we ran out of time. You just need foam core and adhesive dry erase paper, and your guests get so creative! People do this out of chalkboard too, but we thought dry erase was cleaner because it doesn’t leave residue like chalk.
We also cut mustaches out of black foam core. Again, we wanted to put sticks in them but we ran out of time. The guests somehow made do and rocked them.
We got fun sunglasses on the cheap at Oriental Trading. They became a big theme in our wedding and we loved it! People have more fun when they’re wearing silly sunglasses, they wore ’em all night.
When we were planning the wedding, Case didn’t understand why I was making such a big deal about having a photobooth. After the wedding, he totally gets why. We loved the pictures so much and our guests had a blast taking the pictures – they kept going back for more.
Place Cards: We got small bubble bottles from Oriental Trading and put people’s names and table numbers on them. They were useful and entertaining – not only were they place cards, but the bottles were given out at the ceremony and people used them while we were leaving. It was fun to be escorted out by a sea of bubbles.
Guest Book: We found a woodworker on Etsy to make a beautiful custom bench for our guest book. People wrote all over it, and we got it finished after the wedding. Now we’ve got a constant reminder of our beloved friends and family, and useful piece of furniture to boot!
I know this was a lot of information, so if you have any questions or need more details about the craft projects let me know, I’m happy to help! If you’re looking for a laugh, check out the video of our aforementioned 80s/90s hip hop mash up first dance.