Monday, October 14, 2013

Since G and I are such tech nerds, that would inevitably play a big role in the process of planning and our wedding day. I'm a designer by trade and have been known to moan and caress paperstocks with especially pleasant toothiness to them. So deciding how to go about merging these two worlds was a challenge. However, once we put a wrap on the invites and "sent" them out we realized how much time and money we had just saved by going full-digital. Here's how we managed to save buttloads of cash (and tie in our nerdiness) by going digital for the invitation process.  

Facebook is your Frenemy

We started the process by creating a facebook event with our save the date information. We created a profile image for the event. Then Facebook changed event pages to have header images instead, so we started over and created a header image with the correct size (currently 851 × 315 px) which showed the basic information as well. I think this was a little confusing because Facebook also changed how people interact on event pages so you suddenly had to RSVP to the event page to leave a comment, which was not the case previously.
 Facebook header image designed to the exact size

 Looking back, we realized it would have been much less confusing for people if we had made a Facebook GROUP instead of a save the date EVENT. This way people would not think they had already RSVPed to the wedding by simply leaving a comment on the event page. (Currently Facebook GROUP banner images are 960x 300px) We signed up for a free account from which is a beautiful and simple way to collect and keep track of people's information. Just like those little address books you used to carry around, remember those? (PLUS they can send out cards to people on your behalf for say, birthdays and they are really awesome. Like moaning and caressing, awesome!) We included the link to our address book so people could securely put in their contact information and we stated that this was specifically to be used to send the Invitation when it was ready.

Becoming a Film Maker
We originally decided to work with a friend who had experience making short films to help us create our video invitation. We came up with the plot and basic dialog as well as scouted locations. We put a lot of thought into it, so when our friend ended up not being able to help we actually felt pretty ok taking the project on ourselves. I googled tips on making a short film for some helpful ideas of things to keep in mind when filming. Then we grabbed our camera (which also does HD video) and started shooting scenes which I pieced together later in iMovie. You could easily do this with a point and shoot that does video or even your cell phone! I'd never made a video before and you can see it turned out pretty good for a first try here:

The Invitation from Beth Olson Creative on Vimeo.

The Fountain of Knowledge
With all the wedding websites out there I couldn't find one I really liked. I like being able to have at least a little customization but the pre-templated wedsites don't even allow you to choose your font color. So I decided to use Simple, hosted, free and allows for a certain amount of customization. We pimped out the site to look and act like a summer camp site. We filled it with links to everything we could thing of, including apps people could download that had things to do with camping and the outdoors (we had a camp-out wedding) such as a compass, star gazing map and campfire songs apps. has built in forms capability and so we used that to track RSVPs. We also had a form set up for people to suggest music they want to hear at the after party and a sign-up for the Open Mic/Talent Show. keeps all these forms (and what people submit) in a tab on the dashboard but it also sends you an email. So I set up a filter in my gmail so that every time Wordpress got a form submission from a guest, it sent me an email and that email would go into a special box where they wouldn't clog up my normal inbox.


We decided to keep things especially simple for everyone who was interested in getting us a gift and do an online Honeymoon Registry. We went with because it has a simple, beautiful set of templates to choose from and no ads. Plus you can allow people to put as much or as little as they like towards any part of your honeymoon instead of having to choose from pre-determined amounts. You can also set your own image for each item. The system was pretty new in early 2013 and had a few annoying bugs which I noted extensively and emailed them about, so hopefully they've been fixed. But nothing that would inhibit it's usefulness.

We also encouraged our guests to download the Wedding Party App. It's like a Pinterest board for photos and notes that pertain to your celebration and events leading up to the celebration. Guests can upload images from their phone (iphone or android) or directly from their computer. They can also leave comments and messages. All of this shows up in an image stream that is arranged chronologically (automatically by the WeddingPartyApp). We used this for some great "get-to-know-you" scavenger hunt shots at the cocktail hour and during the wedding, all of which were projected live on the back wall of the venue. Needless to say, that was great encouragement for people to use the app right away to see their photos pop up in real time. You can link to the site or embed it. and Offbeat bride WEDsites also have the ability to use this awesome app built right into the templates!

Being a Creeper Gets Your Guests to RSVP

I can't begin to explain how much I love mailchimp. Usually it's for business but it works fantastically in this case as well! I designed a template by using the same header that I used for the Facebook event page and the wedsite (Wedding branding, yo!). I then highlighted the 2 main components of the invitation. The video which mailchimp takes a screenshot of and embeds right in the email so when guests click on it they are taken directly to the video to watch it in their browser. The other part introduced the wedding website. I reiterated throughout that "THIS is it! This is your invitation so be sure to RSVP!" and had links directly to the pages of the website where I wanted people to go.

In the email sidebar I had a small image of the date of the wedding, another link that said RSVP NOW! and led to the RSVP page as well as a little intro to our Honeymoon Registry and an explanation that gifts aren't necessary but that they can go checkout our plans anyway because we have some fun adventures in store. We sent out the emails to everyone who gave them to us and I could use Mailchimp to see who opened the email, who clicked on what link(s) and this way could keep track more easily of who was going to need a reminder.  

What if they didn't give me their email?
For those who didn't give me their email, I simply went and updated the facebook event page. Otherwise I could have also sent all the same information that was in the email to each person's FB Direct Message using the "Message All Guests" option. You can also send them a link to the MailChimp email online so that they can see the pretty thing you put together. I also suggest making a post with this information and making it a "Sticky Post" so that it stays at the top of your Event or Group Page.

 So that's it! I estimated that going this route saved us a bare minimum of $800. Of course I spent a chunk of that on the Wedding Field Guide booklets we put together and printed but that will have to wait for another day.

 If you're a tech geek and/or love social media this is a great, easy way to save big bucks. You can always print and send a few paper invites if you have guests who's entire family aren't connected to the interwebz.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I just wanted to quickly share a fun project that I just handed out in relation to our upcoming wedding. I know most people just ask their wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen) by phone or whenever they see them next but since G and I share our friends and I'm just as likely to hang with the guys as he is to grab a drink with the gals it seemed really strange to divide up our pals by gender.

So, instead of bridesmaids or groomsmen we're having a Wedding Crew. Which seeing as how 90% of us met via our Pirate Kickball League (underground/rebel pirate more than "yaaar!" Pirate) we thought it was fitting to go with the Pirate theme. Plus, you know... rum.

Items used for the Proposal Gifts:
  • Computer & Printer
  • scrap (or new) paper with a nice texture and natural color
  • scissors or paper trimmer
  • glue or double sided tape
  • hole punch
  • natural style string, yarn or twine
  • bottles of BOOZE!

Start by designing your tags. I set mine up so that the front and back faced toward where I would fold the paper in half. This way each side would be right-side up once folded in half. On the front I put a little pirate inspired sea shanty which is the proposal and on the back is the Captain's Creed. It outlines a few promises that we make to our crew if they accept the invitation. (basically that we will try out hardest to be respectful of their time, energy and money. I think that can be a big worry for anyone who's being asked to fulfill a role in a wedding party)

Print your tags and trim them to size with a paper or photo trimmer (or scissors if you have a really steady hand for cutting straight lines)

Use glue or double sided tape on the back side of one half of your tags. I use a nifty crafting doo-dad that looks like a white-out wheel but instead dispenses as sort of double sided sticky strip. You can pick them up in just about any crafting aisle, school supply area or scrapbooking section.

Fold your tags in half and press firmly. If you miscalculated and the two side don't quite match up you can trim the bit that hangs out or just say "fuck it" and move on. Remember, it's going to be attached to booze so nobody is going to care about a shoddy glue job.

Next, grab your handy hole punch. I have both the old school kind shown here where you use a hammer to tap the punch through the paper and a hand held chomper kind called a Crop-a-dial. Scrapbookers have the most awesome little gadgets that come in handy for all the weird projects I end up making!

I then used a corner rounder to give the tags a little polish on the corners. (but mostly just because I already have the gadget for making my business cards)

Gather your Pirate themed booze bottles (we have a few larger bottle thrown in the mix to give to couples who live together instead of all little bottles)

Cut your yard/string/twine. You can make it just long enough to tie around the neck or handle of the bottle or you can go crazy and wrap it up to make sure it doesn't fall off.

**A note about going this route for 'proposing' to your wedding party.
I'm not sure if it's receiving a gift or being proposed to or the idea of a joint wedding party that was confusing but this is pretty uncommon so when I gave these bottles to our friends, I'm pretty sure every single one of them looked at me after reading the tag and ask "Ooooh, what does this mean?" So you'll probably have to clarify the situation. Plus, because you're taking away the defined roles that innumerable books and blog posts have set forth about the expectations of certain party members (the maid of honor and best man usually take a lead in a lot of aspects) you'll need to be sure that you're really good at communicating what you want or need from your Wedding Crew both leading up to the big day AND who should be doing what at the wedding.

Hope it inspires you to do something fun for your crew if you have the time and desire to do so!

Monday, April 08, 2013

It's almost like a kick in the balls. Every year just when you think that between the disappearance of the sun and 4 months of soggy cold things couldn't get worse, the last of the farmer's markets shut down for the winter. BLAMO! Right in the proverbial jewels.

With the occasional possibility of sun sneaking through for a quick visit and the riotous blooming of trees trumpeting the arrival of spring (and allergy season) the Portland Farmer's Market returns to the PSU campus, and I couldn't be happier about it. Happy days are here again!

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's always a joy to have friends come to town. This is especially true if those friends are the one and only JensIfer. Between an evening with the hilarious John Hodgman, a photowalk through the heart of weird-town at the Saturday Market, a Timbers Game with the Timbers Army, breakfast at The Big Egg, a brewery tour at Widmer followed by sunset stroll through the Interstate Ave. Industrial area, tasty brews at Bailey's Taproom and a magical hipster with a guitar it was the Portlandian staycation my brain needed.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

3 of my favorite things: Coffee, Chocolate, Whiskey. And I'll bet there are a whole lot of you out there that would agree with me. So what makes for a fantastic treat that's sure to impress at any party (but especially those during the cooler months)? Bailey's! It makes it even more fun (and economical) if you make it yourself, get some cool containers to decorate and give as gifts.

This version of Bailey's has, of course, more of the things I love than is called for in other recipes and is sure to knock the socks off everyone at the party (mostly because there's so much whiskey in it) and they'll never know it was so eeeeeeeeeeeeeasy! This is an egg-free version because raw eggs ick me out but those versions are really tasty too. Hope you enjoy... and are able to forgive the incredibly heinous one-handed cell phone photos. Gross.

1 cup heavy whipping cream (or regular cream or half n half depending on your preference)
1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 single serve packet of instant coffee (~ 2 Teaspoons)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Hershey's Dark Chocolate Syrup (any chocolate syrup will work though)
1/2 bottle of WHISKEY!!!!!!!!!!!! (or about 1 2/3 cups)

A blender or in my case a juice container and a hand mixer
Serving (or gifting) jar/bottle/growler/plastic sealable baggi

  • Pour in all your ingredients. (I like to put the whiskey in last so that there's less clumping.)
  • Blend till smooth.
  • Pour into serving/gifting container and store in fridge til ready to serve. Should keep for about 4-6 weeks in the fridge. (but don't go drinking it if it's all clumpy and stinky and then blame me for giving yourself food poisoning.)