Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Photoshop vs. Reality: Wedding Inspiration Mock Ups

A little over a year ago (yikes, I'm such an old bee now!) I wrote a blog post about how much I love to mock things up in Photoshop or Illustrator. I've never been very good at just imagining or hand sketching things, but I like having a clearly laid out vision before I bring a project to life. It really saves on the cost of materials for projects too, since there isn't as much need to experiment.

I also said in that old blog post that it would be fun to come back after my wedding to compare my early Photoshop mocked up inspirations with the final result. So let's take a look back at a few of the many, many mock ups I created early in my wedding planning stages!


I'd initially had another design for our invites, but it was too complicated and was more DIY time than we could handle. So I mocked up a scaled down version of our invitation suite.

And the final product. Other than some rounded corners, these came out pretty dang close to my mock up! Not only did doing a mock up really help me nail down exactly what elements I wanted to include, but it also gave me a great start on the content for the inserts that I printed.
Our Ceremony Set Up

We loved the ceremony site at our venue, the trees, the meadow, the bay view, it had a lot of natural beauty, that only needed a little decor. But when you're working with a big empty meadow, you've got to use some imagination. Or some Photoshop! Originally I had wanted us to build an arch that was bigger than the one provided by our venue, and had wanted an aisle runner, so my heels wouldn't sink into the grass.

However, after being lied to by the vendor who I was going to rent chargers and the aisle runner from, I decided on just using rose petals on the aisle. And Mr. Cola convinced me that it would be too much work to transport or assemble a DIY arch, so we ended up just decorating the arch the venue already had. The final result was beautiful though, even if not exactly like my original idea!

Card Box

This was an easy one....and probably it wasn't necessary to do a mock up of a card box. But I did it back when it was too early to actually start working on wedding things, very early in the planning stages, and it turned out almost exactly like my Photoshopped version.

Table Decor and Centerpieces

These mock ups ended up only becoming a partial reality. First, as I'd already mentioned, a vendor lied to us about having purple charger plates available, so we didn't end up getting to use them as I'd planned to add color to our tables.
I was really frustrated at the time, but ended up really happy with the end result. Instead of chargers, I went about $150 over budget and rented overlays for the tables. They still gave me the pops of color I was looking for, without the headache of trying to DIY my own chargers.

As for the centerpieces, I'd say we did pretty good with sticking to my inspiration mock ups. We ended up using some different flowers, but that was expected, since we were at the mercy of whatever was available at the flower market.

The tall centerpieces:

Short centerpieces:

Cocktail table centerpieces:

Rehearsal Dinner Decor

This was one area of planning that I needed a lot of inspiration for. There were no pictures online that I could find of our rehearsal dinner venue actually set up for a dinner. So when we visited the location, I took pictures, which I later Photoshopped chairs, tables and decor onto. My sister was so amazed at how close everything turned out to my mock ups that she pulled up my original blog post on her phone during the rehearsal dinner to show the rest of our wedding party the mock ups for comparison!

The mock ups:

The reality:

The Inspiration Board

And finally, just for fun, and because I've seen a few other bees do it, how about a look at my first inspiration board, compared to what details really happened. I made this first inspiration board to use as my personal blog header, in August 2009 (you can click on these boards for a larger view if you like).

And here are the same details from our wedding (Sorry, when downsizing this board from over 800 MB, it muted the colors a little, but you get the idea!):
(Except the favor boxes, all photos in this board are by Shoot Me Now Photography, cropped by me)

Have you used any graphic design programs to help you solidify your vision for your wedding? And is anyone else as big of a fan of mock ups as I am? :)

(Unless otherwise noted, all photos in this post are personal photos, taken by myself or our guests, and all editing was done by me.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wedding Gift Recap: Amazon and Honeymoon Registries

I thought I’d do a little recap on how our wedding registries worked out, since we had two “controversial” registries (in quotes because I really don’t feel like these are very controversial these days, although I’m sure others feel differently).

**First off, I would like to note that I know registries can sometimes be a heated topic, and I’m not writing this to start a debate. I just wanted to share what happened with our registries, and what worked for us may not be what will work for you. I’m well aware that you are never supposed to ask for gifts for your wedding. However, the fact remains that some guests like to give gifts, and like to know what the couple would like to receive, so I’m in the pro-registry camp. I’ve always used registries for weddings I’ve attended, and I enjoy knowing I’m gifting something the couple will actually use.**

Our first registry was with Amazon.com. Long ago I wrote about how easy it was to register from the comfort of our couch and almost all of the items we selected qualified for free shipping, because that has been an argument I’ve heard against Amazon registries, that people don’t want to pay for shipping. However, I disagree with that argument. 100% of the time I’ve bought gifts for weddings, through Macy’s, Bed Bath, etc, I’ve opted to have the gift sent to the couple’s home, and paid shipping every single time. So unless you’re going to be hauling the wedding gift to the wedding (which isn’t recommended because then the couple or someone has to deal with it and get it home from the venue), shipping is going to just be something you have to pay for.

We had a pretty conservative registry on Amazon, with far under the recommended number of items, because we just didn’t really need that much in the way of traditional wedding gifts. We’ve lived together for 8 years, and I felt there was no need to replace perfectly good kitchen items. However, in the end, we didn’t end up receiving that many gifts off our Amazon registry, although we were very grateful for what we did receive. Maybe 12-15 things, and mainly these were items that were purchased for us well in advance of our wedding date.

And actually, the main thing we wanted from Amazon was our Pfalzgraf set of everyday dishes, platters and bowls. So I ended up spending about $500 after our wedding to complete our whole set, because I was afraid that our pattern would be discontinued at some point and didn’t want to be stuck with only half the number of plates we needed!

Then there was our honeymoon registry, which we set up through Paypal on our wedding website. I know some people are still against this kind of registry, but no, we did not use it to “pay for a honeymoon we couldn’t afford” (the argument I've heard against honeymoon registries). You can see my original post about it, but we just gave people the option to gift us excursions or nice dinners. And again, we’ve lived together for almost a decade and just didn’t need that many traditional gifts, so we thought this was a really great way for guests who wanted to give us a gift to do something a little different and fun.

And this registry actually went over really, really well with our friends. It was easy for them because they didn’t have to worry about bringing anything to our wedding, and it was a quick last minute gift. In fact, about 90% of our honeymoon registry gifts came in in the few days before our wedding, and even a few on our wedding day (I got an email every time someone contributed to our honeymoon). So again, this type of registry couldn’t (and really shouldn’t) be used to pay for a honeymoon that was outside our means. We had no idea what people were going to get us until a couple days before our honeymoon, and it wasn’t something we were counting on anyway. But it was a pleasant, much appreciated surprise, and our guests ended up gifting us all our excursions, snorkel and boogie board rentals, all our dining out, and much more!

In addition to gifts from our Amazon and Honeymoon registries, we received many cards filled with well wishes, cash and checks. Definitely not something we were counting on, but we were so grateful for everyone’s lovely gifts, which we put into savings.

So my takeaways on registering:

- Register for what you want and need, but within reason.
- Don’t hesitate to do a non traditional registry if that’s what you want to do, your guests can take it or leave it, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much they like it.
- If using Amazon, try to find items that qualify for free shipping, and maybe make a note on your wedding website about the free shipping, in case your guests are concerned about that aspect of ordering online. We put a note in small font under the link to our registry, “most items qualify for free shipping.”
- You will most likely receive gifts for which you have zero use for. Just accept that as an unfortunate downside to people not using registries and promptly send the thank you note to the guest.
- Appreciate all your cards and gifts, your guests were thinking of you when they sent them. And don't be offended if you don't receive a gift from someone. Technically they have up to a year to send something, and in this economy, people may just not be able to afford it. At least they spent the time and money getting to your wedding, and you got to celebrate with them!
- And as a wedding guest, unless you know the couple really, really well, my advice would be to just stick to their registry, or give a card. Or at least look at their registry first, to get a feel for what they are in need of. If you don’t see any crystal or fancy knickknacks with no purpose on their registry, chances are they don’t need whatever versions of those items you’ve found off their registry. Just sayin’! ;)

What are your thoughts on buying wedding gifts, do you like to buy from on the registry or off the registry?