Wedding Decorations for Almost Free

For those of you playing along at home, the Great Sewing Machine Disaster was solved. A lovely lady from my office let me borrow her sewing machine to complete the wedding bunting in time and the day was saved and happily ever after was lived.

I finished the bunting the weekend before the wedding, which left me about five days to figure out centerpieces. I already knew I wanted to do candles and flowers in mason jars and tin cans. Very backyard wedding. And very cheap. I bought a bunch of candles at Ikea for under $20. Two hundred tea lights, and about thirty votives. I had some white ribbon left over and a random yard or two of burlap. I had pasta-sauce type jars and mason jars and on standby in Florida already, and just needed some cans.

My condo complex has a row of like twenty industrial trash can sized recycling bins (half paper, half ‘commingled recyclables’) that are always overflowing on Tuesdays because they are emptied on Wednesdays. I went out on Tuesday to gather my goods and learned that my neighbors are super fancy people that do not eat canned food. They drink wine, they drink fancy bottled beers, they drink un-fancy canned beer, and they eat food that comes in jars. But they clearly prefer Whole Foods and farmer’s markets for their vegetables. And they have certainly never heard of Chef Boyardee. I found only four cans, all beans, all together, from someone clearly making a giant batch of chili. Even the tomato sauce I found next to them came in a jar. I actually had to go purchase the cheapest canned veggies I could find and throw them out. It felt terrible. I should have planned ahead. That cost just under $20 but could be free if you are smarter than me.

I used a hammer and nail to punch little starlight holes in half of the cans, to make twinkling tea light holders. And I glued burlap to the rest and tied ribbon around them to make vases. I put sand in half the jars with votives to make more candleholders, and used the other jars as more vases. For flowers, I sent my darling son and husband 80 miles away (one-way) to the nearest Trader Joe’s with two 5-gallon buckets half full of water. They came back with SO MANY FLOWERS for about $85. I pulled all the bouquets apart and filled my little centerpiece vases and still had enough flowers left over to make a calla lily and tulip bouquet for the darling bride, smaller calla and lily bouquets for her ladies, flowers to pin on the gentlemen, and three more large bouquets for the cake table, the guest book table, and the bar. For $85, yo. I’m pretty sure I spent $85 for my bridal bouquet alone because I am an idiot. Newsflash: Wedding flowers don’t have to be expensive. Trader Joe’s ALL DAY.

It all turned out beautiful.