Wedding DIY: Skeleton Key Escort/Place Card Display

So I’ve been meaning to make this post since…well, since we got married over a month ago.

But life has been crazy, I’ve been busy, yada yada, same excuses. So now that I have a spare second (and remembered that I had intentions to post these!), let’s get into my first DIY Wedding blog post!

>>Be warned that with the exception of this first photo (taken by my photographer at the wedding), all of the pictures were taken with my iPhone, so the quality is not the best.<<

My favorite DIY project for our wedding was by far the escort/place card display.

Skeleton key escort card display

I knew from the beginning I wanted to incorporate skeleton keys; I had seen something similar on Pinterest and instantly fell in love. I really didn’t want to just opt for the small, white,  folded cards with names and table numbers on them; I wanted to make them memorable by putting time and thought into them.

When I shared the idea with my (at the time, future-) mother- and sister-in-law, my MIL showed me that she had a whole box of old skeleton keys that her father had collected over decades of antique shows. So we would soak those in warm water and rinse the rust and dust off, easy-peasy.

Clean keys

I originally thought we would have the keys hanging on an old wooden door, but I decided to wait on getting the actually display piece until after we had an idea of how many cards we would need to fit on it. So once we figured out how many people we expected, I figured that a door would be too large (around 30% of total guests would be joining us at the upstate reception only) and that a large picture frame would better suit the amount of people.

My MIL knew my plan and, whilst at a local garage sale, she found a framed picture that she snagged for $3. Turns out, said picture with frame was originally from Home Goods or Marshalls or somewhere like that and was originally about $70. No joke! The price tag was still on the back!

Like, what?! The frame wasn’t anything fancy or heavy duty, and the picture was horrendous, as you can see below. But we didn’t need the picture, so whatever, and the frame was exactly what I wanted/needed, so I was happy.

Awful artwork

The next step was to remove the ugly picture and replace it with some wood for a more sturdy backing for the keys to hang on. We picked up a piece of plywood from Home Depot and had them cut it to the correct dimensions for the frame. I also picked up some nails for attaching the keys to the board.

My mother-in-law had a few rolls of burlap that she had picked up at Walmart during a Christmas sale or something, so we covered the plywood with the burlap and attached it with staples.

Burlapping

Burlap complete

We then attached the plywood to the frame with screws. And when I say “we”, I mostly mean my FIL because he’s handy with tools.

Frame done

So, things were coming together!

I purchased a tag template on Etsy (check it out here!) that provided me with a PDF file of the tag template that I was able to edit for only $7! The process of typing names took a little time because I wanted to perfect them (I ended up downloading about 5 extra cursive fonts and decided I liked Rochester the best…ironic?) and make sure that they would still be legible without looking really crowded and confusing.

Plus, I had to wait until I had all RSVPs (which I didn’t end up getting until about a week before the wedding…) so that I could make the seating chart so that I knew what table each person was going to sit at and include it on the tags. It’s all a process.

During one of my many Michaels runs (this was not the only DIY project I was taking on for the wedding) I bought textured, off-white cardstock to print the tags on. A couple of weeks before the wedding, I went to Staples and had them print off a test copy on their own off-white card stock to ensure that the writing was legible, see the size of the tags, test them out with the keys, etc. I decided that I liked the cardstock from Michaels better – it was sturdier and much better quality. I used those test-run tags and tried out a few different ways of tying them to the keys with different colored ribbons.

Skeleton key decisions

I decided that I wanted to use the white ribbon with looped edging because it went better with the theme of the display (bottom two keys in the picture). Instead of the keys hanging from a loop of ribbon on the nails (like the one on the right), I thought it looked better with the card and key flush together and then I would hang them by slipping the nail through the hole.

Three days before the wedding, the cards were finalized and saved on a USB drive. I took my Michaels cardstock and my USB drive to Staples so that they could print them off. I could have totally used a home printer but my in-laws’ printer tends to leave ink spots wherever it wants to, so I figured Staples would be a safer bet.

As you can see, they turned out awesome.

My SIL, Casey, helped me assemble the tags to the cleaned skeleton keys: I cut out the tags and punched holes where holes needed punching, then she chose a key and attached the two together with ribbon.Escort cards

The next step was to map out where the nails would go so that they were evenly spaced and so that all the cards would fit on the board in a neat fashion. This is where math came in handy! I figured out the configuration of nails/cards and then put the cards/keys in alphabetical order within that layout to make transferring them to the frame easier.

Alphabetical escort cards

While trying to hammer the nails in the designated spots, I realized that they were too long and would stick out way too much, so I went back to Home Depot and bought a pack of black carpet tacks. They worked phenomenally and looked much better than the nails, so that was a relief.

Nail battle

I had found two really cute heart-shaped keys in the collection and knew I wanted to do something with them. I made a couple special escort cards to use with those keys and to add as more of a decoration on the display. So I arranged those keys at the top of the frame with the special cards that read “Mrs. & Mrs. Thomas Harrigan” and “The key to love is inside us all” for a little something more. Awww, I know. Stop the mushy stuff already Holliday, jeez!

Heart keys

The only thing left was to hang all the other keys/cards on the frame. When I finished, I wanted to cry because it looked so good after all of the planning and hard work.

Finished display

It was so wonderful seeing such a beautiful display that I made (with much appreciated help from my future family!) and that the vision I had from the beginning came to life even more perfect than I imagined it would.

One month until ‘I Do’!!!!!

Don’t you just love how attractive we are in that featured image?

So this week and a half was more productive and eventful in the wedding planning arena! And the excitement builds more and more each day!!!

I had my dress fitting last Tuesday and – hallelujah!!!!! – it fit (and then some)! The first seamstress came in to zip me up and get an initial view of it. I asked her about getting cutlets, which are basically just the padded cups from a bra, because I’m not well-endowed up there if you catch my drift. She brought two in, slipped them into the top of my dress, and (voila!) I had a little somethin’ somethin’ going on.

The second seamstress came in and got down to business. My first concern was the poofy crinoline/tulle at the bottom of my dress, so she got right to cutting it out. I was really nervous; I mean she was cutting it out of my dress right then and there, so there was no going back! What if this completely ruined my dress?!

Cinderella dress upset gif

Thankfully, when she finished cutting and I let the dress fall, it looked perfect and just how I wanted. Phew!

She ended up having to pin about half an inch on each side along my torso to make the dress hug my body better. After all that pinning, I made sure that I could still sit comfortably and that there would be room if I ate or drank (seeing as I plan to do both the day of the wedding). I was able to sit without hearing any ripping sounds, so I won’t have to stand or starve all wedding day!

I was relieved to find that my shoes worked perfectly with the length of my dress, so no hemming is involved; that saves me $150 right there! The last thing she worked on was the bustle. Now, all 3 of us (Tom’s mom, sister, and I) had thought that a bustle was just one button with one loop to hold the train up off the floor. Easy peasy, right?

Nope. I guess the standard is about 8 buttons and hooks; my dress will have 11. Like, what?! It’s going to take a team of people to bustle the thing! Once she had it all bustled, it looked amazing. I scheduled my final fitting for the 29th so I have to keep up the workouts and healthy eating so that the dress still fits. I won’t get to take my dress home that day because they will still have to press it and the veil after the final fitting.

I met with my photographer, Jon, on Thursday to go over day-of details. It was so great sitting and talking with him – we went to SUNY Geneseo together, so it was nice catching up. I had a few pictures/poses pinned on my Love & Marriage Pinterest board and I knew that I wanted a romantic style with a little fun and silly mixed in. I definitely knew I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful grounds at the country club, and the (fingers, toes, and eyeballs crossed!) beautiful August weather. But other than that, I figured I would wait and get Jon’s opinion.

He was very thorough since he’s done this before and knows what works and what doesn’t. We talked about the overall rough schedule of the day, where certain aspects were taking place, who would be giving toasts, what family members would be included in family pictures, and stuff like that. I’m really, really excited now that we’ve gotten to talk about everything and have a good idea of what will happen on August 16. Go check out Jon’s website/work and tell your friends – he is an amazing photographer!

So in my 7 week update I mentioned the debacle with my mom – I got her a laptop but the nursing home had no flipping idea what the internet password was. Update: they still haven’t figured it out. Like, how have you all survived this long in life? Cue cat face palm.

Cat Face palm gif

I’ve been trying to think of alternative ways but if they can’t get her connected to the internet, live-streaming seems pointless (at least in her case…but she’s the only case at the moment). So Tom and I talked about getting two Go-Pro cameras and setting them up at two different angles in order to catch the goings-on of the ceremony. Then we could edit it and show it to Mom while we’re upstate for the reception. She wouldn’t get to see it as it happens, but it’s better than not seeing anything.

Tom had his bachelor party Friday night with the guys. I got sent a few pictures throughout the night, which was comical, and I’m pretty sure they all had a good time together in Fire Island.

I ordered another piece of my bridesmaids’ gifts. That’s pretty much all I will say about that.

The deadline for RSVPs was Saturday and I still have about 35 people that I have yet to hear from. Sigh. Lots of phone calls/texts/Facebook messages have already been made/sent and many more need to happen.

I am making my own escort card display and that’s what I plan on accomplishing this coming weekend. In the meantime, I’ll be inputing peoples’ names into a template that I ordered on Etsy for the actual escort cards. It’s so convenient and I figured out the font combination that is both legible and pretty – it’s all in the details. I can’t really finalize any of those until I work out the seating chart, which I can’t really do until everyone responds and tells me whether they’re coming or not. Sigh again.

The plan for the seating chart is something I’ve seen on Pinterest and was also told about from friends. So I’ll get a big poster board, draw the floor plan on it with table numbers, write everyone’s names on skinny Post-It notes, and arrange them around the tables. This saves lead, erasers, and time because moving people is as easy as pulling up a sticky note and then laying down said sticky note elsewhere. So smart!

wedding seating chart post-it notes

I talked to a few of our vendors Monday and Tuesday of this week just to make sure things are going kosher-ly (word?). And they are! Once I have a better idea of a final headcount, I can order our cake. I also have an idea for a cake topper, so I’m going to see if I can make one myself or if I need to look into buying one already made.

Side note, let’s hope that the Long Island Rail Road strike doesn’t actually happen because that will be a pain in the ass for us trying to get back and forth from the city to do all this wedding stuff, and for out-of-town wedding guests come August 15 and 16! Fingers crossed!

 Gosh, I think that’s it. I can’t believe we’re only one month away! Can’t wait!