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DIY Wedding: A Review of the Epson Artisan 800

DIY Bride

Experience has taught me that y’all like wedding book reviews and wedding product reviews less than you like, say, posts about trainwreck wedding shows or unusual proposals. Nonetheless, I do like to post the occasional review when something really strikes my fancy, and today it’s the Epson Artisan 800 that’s really striking my fancy. (And I’m not just saying that because Epson hooked me up.)

You see, in all my life I’ve never had a new printer — every printer I’ve had has been second hand, older than dirt, and crappy as hell. The Beard and I briefly, and I mean very briefly, tossed around the idea of whipping up our own save-the-date cards, wedding invitations, and ceremony programs, but one look at our crap printer negated that idea. In fact, I’d just about started to believe that DIY wedding stationery was doomed to be crap. (I know that’s not true now, but back in the day it’s what I believed.)

It was only after my wedding when I decided that my wedding photographers did a subpar job with my wedding album that I started looking into printers, specifically photo printers. I figured that even though I didn’t DIY much for the wedding, there was no reason I couldn’t start DIYing afterward, and I picked up a no-frills secondhand Epson PictureMate. Long story short, I loved it, and put together my own wedding album that was just a gazillion times better than what my photogs had put together for me at premium prices. Lesson learned!

Naturally, when the Epson people got in touch with their offer, I said “Bring it on,” and then I said “I know, I’ll whip up a bunch of stuff with it to see what all it can do.” That explains why I’ve had the printer forever and haven’t gotten around to posting the review until now. Creating stationery and other stuff for a fictitious wedding wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities! But this morning, the baby in my belly woke me up at 4 a.m., so I figured I might as well get the whole Epson thing out of the way.

Above, you see some of what I created, from a sepia cover image for my wedding album to a framed picture of my grandparents’ wedding day (including my first warped try) to a table number in a lovely robin’s egg blue to a somewhat tardy save-the-date card for my 2007 wedding. I made other things, too, including a custom wedding invitation and bookmark wedding favors, but those didn’t photograph as well. Trust me when I say they came out pretty darned good.

My verdict? Other than the paper being somewhat hard to load — once you figure out where it goes, it takes a little tweaking to get everything aligned right — the Epson Artisan 800 seems like it would be a great resource for the DIY bride. The photo quality is awesome, it prints really fast, you can scan and that’s fast, too, and you can print right on blank-label CDs/DVDs. I’m thinking mix CD wedding favors? Reception menus? Wedding programs using the two-sided printing capability? Wedding favor tags? Custom candy wrappers?

Putting the iPod in “I Do”

So there I am laughing at the New York Times for jumping on the DIY wedding music bandwagon so late — it’s 2009, jeez, and even I had an “iPod wedding” — when I decided to search this blog to see what I or my counterpart had written about it. As it turns out, a whole lot of nothing. The closest I came to writing about DIY wedding music was a post about how to organize a wedding playlist in which I totally spaced on replying to a commenter who asked me to share some of my own wedding playlist. Sorry, Nadia!

iPod wedding

To make sure we don’t have any massively jarring gaps here at Manolo for the Brides, I’m going to excerpt some of iDo, since I spend a number of pages in Chapter 14 discussing DIY wedding music and it’s Friday and I don’t feel like reinventing the wheel. Note: More and more people are calling this the iPod wedding, though you can DIY your wedding music with any mp3 player or a laptop.

Search for “iPod wedding” and you’ll come across hundreds of DJs on the warpath. The moment a bride-to-be brings up her choice to ditch the traditional disk jockey in favor of some digital alternative, pro DJs start weighing in. It’s a bad idea, they say. You can’t anticipate what people will want to listen to or read the energy of the room like a real live DJ. Guests will mess around with your playlist when you’re not looking, and the rented sound system will fall over and injure someone who will then slap you with a hefty lawsuit. Your wedding will be an colossal failure!

But there’s really no reason for professional entertainers to get so defensive, because no one is trying to permanently replace DJs and bands with iTunes playlists. The fact is that some people can’t afford either or would rather budget money elsewhere, some people have tastes that are way too eclectic, and some people just don’t care overmuch for the two standard options.

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DIY Photo Booths… Way DIYable

The Beard sent me this photo from a wedding photo booth, and I absolutely love it.

Image: Cosentino

If I could go back and re-plan my wedding, I’d definitely set up a makeshift photo booth. Sure, I could rent one, but that can get expensive when you factor in delivery and pick-up of the photo booth itself, the insurance, and the fact that some photo booth rental companies put limits on the number of photos wedding guests can take. Limits? The whole point of having a photo booth at the reception is that it gives guests, the wedding party, and the bride and groom a chance to cut loose in front of the camera after everyone is thoroughly boozicated. How loose can you get when you’re worried about running out of photo paper?

Knowing zip about photography in general, I went looking for a makeshift photo booth tutorial and, zowie, did I ever find one. The lovely people at the things we think but do not say have created an amazing DIY photo booth tutorial for weddings that is about a gazillion words long and uses words like “sync cables.” That said, it’s easy to understand and looks doable for the non-photog, provided you can borrow or buy or jury-rig the equipment.

I summarize the instructions under the cut, but I definitely recommend checking out the full tutorial.

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What’s a Broke Bride to Do?

Yesterday, our own Never teh Bride advised reader Gwen not to accept discounts from wedding vendors in exchange for putting out advertising for said vendors. I’m in absolute agreement with my collegue on that point.

That said, Gwen is still on a painfully tight budget and could probably use some help figuring out how to stretch it wisely. I thought it might be helpful if we all pitch in and offer up our best budget-stretching tips. Here are mine:

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DIY Wedding Favors, Edible and Pink

If I was a less responsible person, I would have had chocolate for breakfast. As it is, I can’t call myself that responsible as lunch is likely going to be a muffin from a local bakery that tops and fills their baked goods with all manner of frosting and compotes and things. Pregnancy has given me a sweet tooth I never had before. To tide myself over until lunch, I found a quatro of sugary recipes for sweets that would make great (and easy-ish) DIY wedding favors.

pink wedding favors

Here we have beautiful homemade marshmallows, dainty French macarons, quirky pink popcorn balls, and cookies laden with heaping handfuls of more marshmallows. Follow the links below for the recipes.

I’m in a pink wedding frame of mind, but you can switch up the hues for every potential wedding favor pictured here except the strawberry marshmallows, which are colored a delicate pink by the addition of strawberry puree. I think I could have baked up my own wedding favors (or even my own wedding cake) but I was dissuaded from doing so by well-meaning relatives. Are you going the kitchen-centric DIY route when it comes to your wedding favors?

DIY: Weddings Are For the Birds

For wedding DIY, you can’t beat ink stamps. The end result of dipping a little rubber into a pot of ink can be professional wedding invitations, save-the-date cards, and ceremony programs. I found a wonderful tutorial on the Martha Stewart Crafts web site that demonstrates how to make lovely stationery, seating place cards, and napkin rings for a bird themed wedding (or any other wedding, really).

bird_themed_wedding

The end result is shown above, in a pretty milieu that shows how elegantly pink and white can be paired with a subdued bronzish brown. For instructions, keep reading.

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No, Sandra Lee! Put Down the Cakes!

One of my all-time favorite blogs to follow is Cake Wrecks. Every day (except sunday when she posts brilliant pieces of cake art as a wonderful palate cleanser) Jen exposes us to the dark underbelly of professional cake decorating. The misspellings, the unfortunate misuses of air brushing, the ideas that sounded good at the time, the ludicrously literal attempts to follow orders without completely understanding them, and the just plain inept efforts of undertrained minions in many a grocery store bakery. Good times, my friends. Good times.

Well, a few days ago, she posted this video from YouTube. I’m going to issue a food and beverage warning right now. Trust me, after seeing this exercise in cake destruction, you won’t be hungry anyway. Mostly you will thirst for justice for the poor souls who have received this monstrosity.

Oh, and what does it have to do with weddings? Listen closely. Sandra says she’s made this ‘decorated’ cake for weddings!

You all know I’m big into the DIY vibe, but if you’re going to DIY, then DIY all the way. Or at least don’t plop discount grocery store cupcakes on your discount grocery store cake without removing the wrappers. And don’t attempt to make a multi-tier cake without any sort of support for that upper tier. The upper tier will sink. And remember, if you’re buying two cakes and half a dozen cupcakes and a bunch of frosted sugar cookies in different designs, and what looks like Fruity Pebbles…really, it’s going to cost pretty much the same as just buying a regular grocery store celebratory cake, but it will never look like it did.

And if you really can’t afford a decorated cake to serve to your guests (or just don’t want to), you can always give them a different dessert. Individual fruit tarts went over well at my wedding to Mr. Twistie. Or how about making a few batches of chocolate chip cookies? Brownies and Blondies, anyone? Heck, I’d go for the Krispy Kreme cake before this one. See?

Much classier looking.

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