Looking back, a year on

A friend who is currently planning her own wedding suggested I write this post. R and I are celebrating our first anniversary this month, so looking back with the  benefit of hindsight what were the most important aspects of the day? What do we still think about, talk about and laugh about and what really wasn’t as important as it seemed at the time. Maybe this will be useful to other couples planning their own weddings.

(c) Half a Dream Away

(c) Half a Dream Away

R and I actually had a civil ceremony with just our families to take care of the legalities before our real wedding where we made our vows to each other. That moment in the registry office, with just our parents, siblings and the registrar hit me like lightening. This is what it’s all about, just me and R committing to spend the rest of our lives together. It was such a special moment and really cristalised what marriage is about for me. I loved every minute of our wedding with all our friends and family, we had a great day and a big party. But that’s just the wedding, that’s not a marriage.

When I think back to our wedding day the thing I remember the most is laughing with friends. It’s the one time you’re likely to have all your friends and all your family in one place so cherish that. That was the most important thing to me, to have all the people I loved around me, that’s what made the say special. I felt like I was floating all day.

(c) Half a Dream Away

(c) Half a Dream Away

I remember dancing with my best friends to songs that we danced to when we were 17 (she’s a maaaaniac, maaaaniac on the floor, ahem, sorry). I remember being in the car with my brother and dad and wondering if this was really happening. I remember my face aching from smiling and laughing so much but I didn’t care. I remember that my earings actually cut my skin from all the hugging but I could hardly feel it because I was so happy. I remember getting ready with my girls and having a surprisingly calm morning. I remember the waitresses coming up to us with canapés when we were getting our photos taken because we had mentioned to the caterer that we didn’t want to miss them. I remember looking out and seeing my aunts smiling back at me during the ceremony. I remember so many of our guests complimenting the food, which had been a huge motivation in choosing Ballybeg House. I remembering bursting into tears when my dad saw me in my dress for the first time. I remember laughing so much. I remember feeling so happy I though my heart would burst.

(c) Half a Dream Away

(c) Half a Dream Away

So, things I’m glad we spent money on: The venue (Ballybeg House) but only because it had exactly the atmosphere we wanted, relaxed and informal and fun! The staff at Ballybeg were also really excellent, just fantastic. But a field with all your friends and family would also do. The food, mmm the food was so good, we had a buffet which again added to the relaxed feel to the day and oh my, the food was so yum (did I say that already?). And I’m so glad we have the most beautiful photographs that I still love to look through and smile at the memories. The dance floor was packed all night, I even had a lampshade on my head at one stage. So I’m glad we had good music, although you wouldn’t necessarily need to have a band for this. We had a jazz band and then a DJ who really listened to my request for 90s music.

Everything else is just window dressing, lovely window dressing but just not really all that important in the grand scheme of things. The shoes, the favours, the flowers, even the dress. They are wonderful to have but what a wedding is for celebrating your love and commitment to your partner with the most important people in your lives. That’s what it’s really all about.

What a year

The last few weeks have made me realised the power that the media and the general feeling of doom and gloom in the air can have on us (recession-this and cuts-that etc.). It would be very easy for me to look back on the last year and forget all the wonderful things that happened to me. In fact, until I really started to think about it I would have said the last year was pretty bad, because that’s what I keep hearing over and over again.

half a dream away-9403

Image Credit: Halfadreamaway.com

But 2012 has been an amazing year for me. First of all I married the love of my life last April. Married life so far has been pretty good, it feels very much the same as before, but also quite different too. It feels like we’re more of a team now, more secure – like being wrapped in a warm blanket, it’s us against the world. But day to day little changes.

Week 5 428The summer wasn’t so good, the weather was a bit crap and I had some crap going on with my job. But the extra time off meant I was able to foster some puppies which I blogged about. I fell hook, line and sinker for these two beauties, and while it took some time to find them the perfect forever homes, I was delighted that they had both found really great homes in time for Christmas. We’ve even fostered other puppies since but I’ve managed to guard my heart a bit better with those puppies.

Books 013And all the shit over the summer lead me to reassess my career and career options and in September I found myself back in a University lecture theatre. I’m currently studying for a Masters in Library and Information Studies and loving every minute of it. I feel like I’ve found myself all over again, and while I’ve been busier and more stressed than I had been for a long time I can also say that I’m the happiest I can remember.

IMG_7406

Image Credit: Halfadreamaway.com

So 2012, you were pretty epic. I have the most amazing family in my husband and our two furbabies, as well as my wider family and friends. I’ve got back into photography, have continues to improve my knitting and still enjoy volunteering with the DSPCA. It’s been a great year and now I’m excited to see what 2013 brings.

In Love With Stationary

I have been in love with stationary ever since I was five years old and had a fancy paper collection (own up, I know I wasn’t the only one who collected fancy paper).

Stationary was definitely one aspect of the wedding that I felt I could DIYify. However, an amazing friend of mine is studying graphic design at the moment and offered to design our stationary as a wedding gift. What an amazingly generous gift!?!?

She took our lavender theme and took it to a new level. I kept an inspiration board on Pinterest if you are interested. I wanted a rustic feel throughout the wedding and love brown paper so she used this for the background of the invitation and the information booklet. Because Ballybeg House isn’t a hotel we needed to provide extra information about local B&Bs, taxis and directions so this inspired out information booklet.

Wedding invitation with information booklet, brown paper lavender tied up with string

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

As well as our wedding invitation Y designed our ceremony booklet. Because we had a civil ceremony we only included a basic outline of the ceremony as well as the names of the wedding party. I had spotted a tie the knot idea on Pinterest and used the twine that we used throughout the day to create the knots.

Tie the knot ceremony booklet

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

Tie the knot ceremony booklet

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

For our guest book we used a thumbprint tree, where by our guests would leaf a thumbprint and sign the name. This will (eventually) go on the wall at home as a piece of art and a reminder of our amazing day. The basic template came from One Fab Day. For the ink pads we used VersaMagic from Dewdrop in eggplant and sage.

Thumbprint guest book

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

The inspiration for our table numbers again came from Pinterest and a conversation  with our parents about old photographs of us. We used ten different themes, newborn, first communion, first day of school, with friends, and took a photo of each of us based on these themes. I think they worked really well.

Wedding table numbers

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

A Knitted Wedding

I don’t really know where to start. I married my best friend and the love of my life in April and we had a magical day. It was everything we could have asked for and more. We got married in Ballybeg House in Wicklow, which is a private venue with a beautifully decorated house and a permanent marquee.

Bride in tea length Justin Alexander dress with knitted shawl.There were several factors that informed our choice of venue. (1) We didn’t want a hotel. There is nothing wrong with hotels but we wanted to do something a bit more unique with more flexibility. (2) We wanted fantastic food. We are huge foodies and this was so important. We used Molly’s Larder, as recommended by the venue and every single guest complimented the food which made my day. (3) Rossa wanted to include homebrew or craft beer in some shape or form. Ballybeg allowed us to serve his homebrew during our drinks reception and the publican who ran the bar agreed to get a keg of Metalman Pale Ale.

Knitted shawl for wedding

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

I’ve written about my knitted shawl already and shared some photos of the finished product. I was surprised that it acted like a security blanket on the day, something familiar and comforting. I was very calm throughout the whole process and very relaxed on the morning. However, once I got in the car with my dad and brother it all began to feel like a bit of a dream. The shawl was something to wrap around me and made me feel secure.

Knitted lavender boutonnière buttonhole

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

You may also have seen the Lavender that I knitted for the guys buttonholes (boutonnière). These were also a big hit with our guests and the guys themselves. Plus they don’t wilt and die so we’ll always have them as a momento.

knitted cake topper for wedding cake

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

The final piece of knitting for the wedding was the cake topper. I knitted a bride and groom from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi and fudged two dogs from the lion pattern from the same book. I added some extra details to the bride and groom such as glasses for Rossa and a fascinator for me. I couldn’t have Ollie and Mia there on the day so we had to have them on the cake. I think they look pretty cute.

For other brides and grooms considering including DIY in their weddings my advice would be: Be realistic about your skills and more importantly be realistic about your time frame. And ask for help, your friends and family are probably dying to get involved in your big day so let them. Take the pressure off. And finally if whatever you are creating isn’t perfect you are the only person who is likely to notice so don’t worry about it.

Lovely lavender

I just realised that if I keep sharing everything I make for the wedding on my blog then there will be no surprises on the day. But I am so proud of how my knitted lavenders are looking I can’t resist. According to Wikipedia a boutonnière is a floral decoration worn by men, typically a single flower or bud. The word comes from the French word for buttonhole, which is the British term.

Knitted lavender boutonnière buttonhole

(c) Halfadreamaway.com

Before Christmas I was searching the Ravelry pattern database for Christmas decoration patterns. I don’t know what I clicked but the next thing I knew I was staring at these knitted lavender and a plan instantly formed in my head. The pattern is from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet by Lesley Stanfield.

Knitted lavender boutonniere button hole

I tried using a sport weight yarn but they came out too big for my liking. A sample in laceweight turned out much better. With help from the staff at my LYS This Is Knit I choose Rowan Fine Lace in Vintage and Malabrigo Lace in Olive.  R asked for something a bit extra for his so I added two lavenders in Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Oyster that I used for my shawl.

Knitted lavender boutonniere button holeI’m using 2mm dpns to knit the lavenders and for the stems I’m using garden wire wrapped in double sided tape and wrapped with the olive yarn. I’ve used some twine to tie them together. This twine is being used throughout the decorations for the wedding. I love the twine, the texture and the look of it. I know, how sad right?

I’m am spectacularly happy with how these are turning out so far. Here’s the Ravelry project page.

Sneak peak

Ok, I couldn’t wait any longer. I won’t be at home in the daylight until Friday and really wanted to take a few photos of my ‘stole’. (The word ‘shawl’ left Rossa worried that I would look like Peig!?!?) I brought the stole into work and took a few quick photos on my phone.

Ballybeg knitted lace shawl

I can’t get the beautiful soft sheen of it but this isn’t a bad photo. In real life the beads *really* twinkle. I’m going to have to spend some time with my SLR translating that into a photo.

Ballybeg knitted lace shawl

So there you have it. I still can’t quite believe it’s finished. Better to pics to come at the weekend I hope.

Ballybeg Shawl

Ballybeg is my first knitting laceweight project. It is also the shawl I will wear for my wedding. The shawl is named after the venue we are getting married in, Ballybeg House in Wicklow.

I chose Fyberspates Scrumptuous Lace in Oyster. It’s a 2ply silk merino blend and I’m not ashamed that the one kilometer yardage terrified me. This yarn is indeed scrumptuous, it is so lovely to knit with, so soft with just the lightest sheen to it.

I also wanted to use some beads to give it the wow factor. I chose 4mm clear AB Swarovski crystals and I’m using a .5mm crochet hook to add the beads to the stitches as I go along.

 

 

 

 

 

I had initially swatched for Cold Mountain by Kieran Foley. I really like the geometric patterns in this shawl and also like the idea of choosing an Irish designer. But once I had chosen my dress I realised as beautiful as cold mountain is, it wouldn’t suit the dress. The photos below show the blocked and unblocked swatch.

Another Kieran Foley design caught me eye, Echo Beach. The pattern uses “shifting columns of dropped stitches” that flow through the pattern like little rivers, I chose to do the column of two dropped stitches version. I’m a tight knitter so am using 4mm needles for this project.

The chart is repeated three time across the shawl so I’m adding three beads to every second row, on the wrong side. I’m adding these on the purl rows, to the stitch immediately after the yarn over (YO).

This is costing an absolute fortune in Swarovskis but I think it’s worth it. I tried out some Bonarski crystals I got in Winnie’s Wool Wagon. These are considerably cheaper but I can see the difference in the sparkly-ness , so will switch back to Swarovskis.

So far I have 7 and a half pattern repeats done and pinned the shawl out this morning to get an idea of how it’s coming along and to take some photos.

DIY: Something for my girls

At first I wasn’t going to have any bridesmaids, but the further we got in the wedding planning, the more I felt I wanted to have my girls beside me. But in the end having my best friends beside me on one of the most important days in my life trumped the cost implication of three dresses, three pairs of shoes, three hairs and makeups.

Bridesmaid cardSo having decided we would both have three friends I ended up getting drunk and asking the girls to be my bridemaids. They were thrilled and I was delighted they said yes, but I did feel bad about the way in which I asked them. Then my abosolute favourite wedding blog, One Fab Day did a post on Popping the question… to the Bridesmaids, where they featured lots of ways you can ask your friends.

Bridesmaid cardI decided that because I’d been a drunken boob (in fairness, we were all fairly pissed that night) that I would make and send them a thank you card, similar to some of the ones. I found a font online that I liked and downloaded and installed it. It took me a while to visualise where on my A4 page the text should go (on the lower half of the page!), then downloaded a squiggly clip art from the Microsoft website. On the inside of the card I included “Thanks you for being my bridesmaid” rather than “will you by my bridesmaid”. Finally I coloured it all in purple, as this is the colour theme for the wedding, and printed it out onto card.

Bridesmaid card envelopeThen I had to find a suitable envelope, so downloaded a C5 template, and printed it onto stiff silvery paper. I hope the girls love then as much as I do.

Bridesmaid card

DIY: Chalkboard speech bubble

So to go with my photobooth props I wanted to make some chalkboard speech bubbles. I had one A3 foam board left from the props so decided to see how this would work. My idea is that people can write little messages to include in their photos.

I used:

  • Paper, printer, scissors, pencil, craft knife
  • Foam board, bamboo sticks
  • Spray primer, blackboard paint

I found the outline of a speech bubble online and printed it so it fit onto an A4 sheet of paper. Then I cut around it, and traced around the shape onto the foam board with a pencil. I had enough board left for two, so made them face opposite ways, if you know what I mean.

Then I cut around the shapes on the foam board with the craft knife and sprayed the cut out shapes with, first primer, and then painted them with chalkboard paint. I think chalkboard paint is my new favourite thing. I can think of so many funky uses for it. You can even get magnetic chalk board paint. I’ll give that a minute to sink in – magnetic chalkboard paint. I know.I actually think these are a little small so I’m thinking of asking my future father in law to create some larger bubbles out of some sort of board that I can paint.

Oh, and how about two cute doggie pics. These two just love when I get the camera out (or it could be the treats I give them to get them to sit still, whichever!?!)

DIY: Photobooth props

I think the idea of having a photobooth at a wedding is an American phenomenon but I think it’s a really cute idea. I don’t know how I’ll set it up at the venue, maybe we’ll just put the props and some disposable cameras on a table near a tree.

Photobooth PropsAs with anything wedding related you can buy some really cool props and I would direct anyone looking for this option to Etsy. However, I think it would be more fun to print out and create my own. I also plan to create some chalkboard speech bubbles and have chalk available so everyone can write messages on them. But that may be for another post.

You can find lots of downloadable templates, for example: CraftzeeRuffled BlogOh Happy Day and here and Living Locurto.

I used:

  • Card, printer, markers, glue, tape, kitchen chopping board as cutting board.
  • Black A3 5mm Foam Board
  • Ghiant HighTac Mounting Spray
  • Jakar Heavy Duty Hobby Knife
  • Bamboo sticks from a garden centre & secateurs for cutting

Photobooth PropsCathy from Crafty Alley was so helpful when I contacted her on Twitter, and she helped me pick out the right tools and sent them to me within 24 hours. Now that’s service!

Photobooth PropsI printed out my chosen templates and used the spray glue to mount them onto to foam board. Some of the colours didn’t print as vibrant as I would like them so I coloured them in with the markers. Then I carved around them using the craft knife. I carved them all over two days, and I say carved because my wrist, hand and lower arm were quite sore once I’d finsihed.

Photobooth PropsThis was one of those tutorials where I read “all you have to do is” and it doesn’t quite work like that. It was tougher than I though to cut around the shapes and then there little white bits of card showing against the black board. So I used a marker to go over the edges. Some of the curly mustaches also almost had me in tears trying to cut out the curly bits.

Photobooth PropsI wanted to get wooden skewers like you would use on a barbeque, but it’s the wrong time of year for that so I ended up getting bamboo sticks in the garden centre and chopping them up with a secateurs. I then used a strong glue to glue them to the back of the foam and then covered in black duct tape if there was room.

(Appologies for the terrible photos, but the light has been appalling recently!)