Wedding on a budget — With a little help from my friends

In 2009, our daughter decided to travel to Belize to visit us and to have her wedding here. After paying for airline tickets and other expenses, she could not afford a large wedding. All she wanted was to exchange vows with the love of her life on the beach. We wanted her to have a nice wedding but of course on a missionary budget, we couldn’t afford an expensive wedding.

I had never planned a wedding before but it became my mission to give my baby girl a nice beach wedding with just one little catch… it had to be done on a very small budget. Two things that made it all possible was that I (mother of the bride), also served as the wedding planner, the wedding director, the  caterer, and the photographer. The other thing that made it possible was that I recruited friends to help. My hubby of course was in charge of a lot of the heavy work, such as loading and unloading the van, moving chairs and tables, and he also helped with much of the decorating. Oh and most importantly, my hubby performed the ceremony.

My sister back in Alabama did all the flowers for the wedding, packed them up and shipped them to my daughter, who then brought them all to Belize in her suitcases.

We have talented friends here in Belize as well. One friend made the cake and another missionary couple provided both live and recorded music for the wedding.

Even with all the help, there was still many things that this mother of the bride had to learn how to do in a short time. I did Internet searches to learn how to make flowers from tissue paper and how to decorate the tables for the reception. I didn’t have the convenience of Pinterest back then. After learning a few decorating tips, I still needed to buy serving dishes, table clothes, plates, napkins, forks, cups and all the food.

I was able to find most of the things I needed at discount stores such as the Dollar Tree, and online at Oriental Trader. We bought the colored sand for the unity ceremony at Hobby Lobby.

Like I said, I was also the caterer so I made chicken tenders and served them with different sauces. I made mini quiche (bacon, veggie and cheese), I made chicken salad sandwiches in the shape of sea shells and star fish (I used cookie cutters to cut the bread). I made a bowl of mixed fruit served in a watermelon basket (I watched a youtube video to learn how to make the basket). I served mixed nuts and made a simple punch and served everything on the trays and plastic serving dishes that I bought from discount stores.

Since my daughter could not afford to have a full bridal party fly out to Belize, I wanted her to still have a wedding party so our god children served as ring bearer and flower girl and some of our dearest friends served as groomsmen and bridesmaids. My son-in-law’s grandfather and sister flew in from Puerto Rico to serve as Best man and Maid of Honor. Now we had a wedding party so we needed clothes for everyone.

I found my dress and the flower girl’s dress on Ebay. I paid $80 for the two dresses. The colors that my daughter chose for the wedding was blue and yellow so I bought yellow material locally and found a photo of the style dress we wanted and then had someone make the dresses. The dresses ended up costing me only $12 each. We ordered blue shirts for all the guys.

I know that a simple wedding such as this one is not for everyone but as you can see all you really need to have a pretty wedding is a pretty setting, such as the beach  or backyard garden; supplies from craft and discount stores; a little luck in finding bargains on bridal clothing; a few skills and A LOT of help from friends and family….. and of course one happy couple blessed by God.


Meme child-proofs an entertainment center

If you have toddlers in the house, you know how clever they are and how quickly they discover new things and new areas to explore. Last December I traveled to Louisiana for the birth of our fourth grand baby. For this daughter, it was baby #2 — she would now have a one year old and a newborn, so of course Meme needed to be there to help my baby girl.

During the time I was there, the #1 grandson began to walk, so we now had a “Toddler” in the house. This just added more chaos to the mix of sleepless nights, endless loads of laundry, piles of dirty diapers, meal times, nap times, bath times, etc. Oh, and by the way, they lived in a townhouse apartment so the bedrooms and the only full bath was upstairs…. Meme’s knees were not too happy about the stairs. Well, I think you get the picture so you can imagine that our little toddler was quickly finding anything that had not yet been child-proofed.

My daughter and son-in-law had a very nice entertainment center. The cabinets had glass panes in the door and I was concerned that our toddler was going to break the glass. He loved to throw things or just pick up toys and bang the glass… not to mention that he would often stumble and fall against the doors so I was worried that he might break the glass. After pointing this out to my daughter and of course getting her permission…. but who’s going to say “no” to Meme… I headed to the local craft store.

This is the before photo. The glass panes were actually one solid sheet of glass that was held in place by several small rubber thingies or do-hickies. The glass was easy to remove. My son-in-law stored the glass so they could put it back when the boys were older or if they decided to sell the entertainment center at some point.

I replaced the glass with art board that I found at the local Hobby Lobby. You can use basically any type material that will fit. I just found something that was the same size and thickness of the glass panel.

My daughter printed out eight 5 x 7 photos of the boys and we used Mod Podge to attach them to the art board. I first put the art board in the cabinets and used a pencil to trace around the panes to make it easier to get the correct placement of the photos. After letting the project dry, we just put the boards in the cabinet and secured with the same rubber do-hickies that had held the glass in place.  If you have not used Mod Podge before, don’t worry. There are 100’s of sites that explain how to put photos on canvas or other materials. Just search Pinterest.

One last thing, this did not stop our toddler from opening the cabinets and pulling out things. I first just emptied the cabinets and then went in search of child safety latches that would work. It was not easy to find them for cabinet doors like this. I finally found them on Amazon. Finally, we have an entertainment center that is safe and displays eight photos of our beautiful baby boys.

Help! Pinterest is Turning me into a Hoarder!

Have you ever watched those TV episodes of “Hoarders”? I love that show. I studied psychology and human services, so I find such things fascinating. If you’ve seen the Hoarder episodes, then you know that hoarders think that all that “stuff” has value. Since becoming somewhat addicted to Pinterest, I can relate to the hoarders. I now see potential in things that I used to call garbage. That is so not like me. If something stays around my house for very long without being used then it is given away or thrown away. Now, I don’t want to throw anything away.

Here are just a few of the items that I want to hoard.

Old T-shirts:  the list of things to do with old t-shirts is much too long to include everything here but you can make scarfs, totes, dresses, cute tank tops, PJ pants, baby clothes, or blankets.

I loved this idea of making lounging or PJ pants for toddlers. Click on the photo to visit the Hammer and Thread Blog.

I’m going to do this one for sure. My husband has more Alabama t-shirts that I can count. If you look through any photos I have of him, you will have a difficult time finding a photo with him wearing anything other than an Alabama t-shirt. Click the photo to visit the Blog where I found this idea.

Empty containers, such as Clorox wipes containers

This is a cute idea of how to re-use those empty Clorox wipes containers. I’m sure there are many other uses as well. Click the photo to visit the Blog.

Empty Pop-top cans

I thought this was a clever idea for teacher’s gifts or perhaps for neighbors or friends at the office. You use a pop-top soup can. Open from the bottom with a can opener, remove the contents and clean the can, insert your gift (small items of course.. be creative). Replace the bottom with hot glue, wrap and gift. Your friends will wonder how you got their gifts into a pop-top can.

So as you can see, now I can’t even throw away my pop-top cans. Then there are all those DIY, homemade cleaning products that are pinned on Pinterest. I have to save containers like spray bottles and empty laundry soap containers so I can make these awesome homemade products… right? Then of course there are so many more…. I have to start saving old jeans, old sweaters, empty glass jars, toilet tissue tubes, scrap gift wrapping paper, old Greeting cards….help! “Hello, my name is Darlene and I’m a Hoarder.”