DIY Wedding Wands


When it comes to wedding planning, there are some details that every bride can choose immediately. Then there are other details that can take longer to figure out. These can be as big as the dress and location or as small of a detail as the bridesmaids shoes. I am a decisive person, so wedding planning went pretty smoothly for me. But there were a handful times where the planning came to a screeching halt because I wasn't sure which choice was the best. One of these times was definitely for a small detail. So small, it's almost laughable now; but as a bride, to me, this was a make it or break it. Ready? Drumroll please,….. What will our guest throw when we make out grand entrance our of the church? Life-changing choice, amiright?


Rice? No, that's bad for birds. Bird seed? No, that's not attractive. Confetti? No, that just seems messy and difficult to organize. Bubbles? No, it's becoming a cliché. Nothing? No, that's just boring.

I wanted to do something different, but not odd. Friends starting giving me suggestions from weddings they have been to recently. One friend suggested flower petals. I liked the idea, but that was just going to raise my flower budget. Another friend said glitter, but that seemed messier than confetti. I was definitely putting too much thought into this, and I knew that in the moment.

Eventually, I stumbled upon photos from my cousins wedding a couple of years prior. They had distributed ribbon wands to their guests. When they exited the church, everyone waved the wands, twirling the ribbons around. It created a sea of swirling colors. It produced some of the most beautiful photos! I had finally made my decision. The downside? Every place online I found was charging so much for something I knew I could make myself. So I did.

This was the easiest DIY I have ever done. So grab a glass of wine, find a show you need to catch up on, (I chose Younger) and get to work!

As always, thank you for reading, XO-

P.S. If you liked this, than you will also like Our Travel Board and What We Gave Our Bridal Party

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What We Gave Our Bridal Party


In our wedding, we had 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen. Each one of them were so supportive and helpful during the wedding planning. Because of this, I took what we gave our bridal part very seriously. They deserved something thoughtful and useful. It took some time, but Steve and I, and our bridal party, were very happy with what we chose! The Bridesmaids: I wanted to give my bridesmaids two different types of gifts:

  1. Something they could wear while we were getting ready before the wedding
  2. A piece of jewelry they could wear to the wedding

But here is the catch; I wanted the gifts to be something they could wear again.

I searched for a long time looking at tshirts, robes, pants, and tank tops. Then the thought came to me; a zip-up hoodie! It would be perfect for getting ready that morning since they wouldn't  have to take it off over their head. I found an Etsy shop that would monogram each hoodie and had a variety of color options! My bridesmaids got heather gray hoodies with purple thread. JHL_9898

I got myself the same hoodie in white. It had the monogram of my new name! HJHDSCN4517

For the jewelry, I went to one of my favorite Etsy shops, Bip and Bop. I found this beautiful, delicate necklace. It matched the theme of my wedding, and the bridesmaids dresses perfectly! The girls loved it all and even a year later have told me they still wear both gifts! Hearing that just warms my heart! :)

The Groomsmen: Steve wanted to make sure the groomsmen's gifts were functional and practical. We thought for a while about what they would want. Then I remembered when my cousin got married, they gave the groomsmen duffel bags. I told Steve about this and he loved the idea! We found these great overnight bags on Etsy and they guys loved them!

For their second gift, I wanted to add a little fun to it, while still remaining functional. It didn't take long to think of flasks. (Thought process was basically, "What do guys in their 20s like to do?" Drink! Haha)


It's probably clear by now that I turned to Etsy a lot when it came time to look for bridal party gifts. I highly recommend it because you can basically find anything and everything you'd be interested in. And while you're perusing Etsy, make sure to stop by my page! I'm adding new prints all the time.

As always, thanks for reading, Helen

P.S. If you liked this you may also like The Paper Year: Our First Anniversary and My Etsy Page!

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Our Gallery Wall


My husband instilled something in me when we first moved in together. At the time we were recent college grads and newly engaged, and I wanted this first apartment of ours to look amazing. My instinct was to go to Target and buy wall décor to fill space and cover our ugly beige walls. But Steve stopped me when I was discussing my plans. He told me how he prefers the décor in his home to be personal. Rather than picking up items because they "looked cute", he wanted to have items I created or prints that had meaning to them. With this in mind, I abandoned my original plans and took a look at what we already had. A few worthy item according to the new criteria and some obvious gaps that needed to be filled. Given how I now wanted everything to have meaning, I didn't rush the process. It's now been three years and we've gone through 4 versions of our gallery wall. I think this one is the best by far. In those three years, I've added items and taken some away, but the purpose has always remained the same.


      1. #Stelen2015 was our wedding hashtag. Inspired by the "celebrity name" given to us in college (Steven and Helen) and the year of our marriage. The Stelen2015 canvas was a wedding gift from a sweet college friend.
      2. A Valentine's Day gift from me to Steve, in the middle is a photo from the first time he visited me and my family in Chicago. Around the photo, I wrote the lyrics to "Crazy Girl" by the Eli Young Band. We considered it our song and eventually had our first dance to it at our wedding.
      3. Another gift from me to Steve. I took a wooden plaque and hammered in nails in the of the state of Iowa. The heart was placed in the center for the location of Iowa State University in Ames, where Steve and I met.
      4. A print from an Etsy shop. I originally was planning on purchasing one for some friends, but I felt it applied to Steve and I as well. In his job, he travels at least once a month, but usually more. Steve was also grew up moving every other year because his dad was in the Air Force. Because of this he believes in taking advantage of living in new places.
      5. A gift from Steve to me on our very first dating anniversary. The frame, from an Etsy shop, says. "I Love You to the Moon and Back".  The photo contains a picture of us a couple of days before our first date and a photo a us exactly one year later.
      6. A photo from our engagement shoot.
      7. The Kansas City Skyline print from Etsy. When we moved to KC, I wanted to buy a bunch of KC artwork to commemorate the move. The Skyline is made up of words that have to do with Kansas City.
      8. A print we picked on our honeymoon in Antiqua. It is of a part of the island that holds the National Park.
      9. A How I Met Your Mother print from Etsy. It has the famous "yellow umbrella" on it. This was a show that Steve and I loved to watch (except for the last season!)
      10. A gift from Steve to me. It says "Steve Lassos to Moon" with a image of a man actually lassoing the moon! He gave this to me because "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of my favorite movies. But the best part? It's not a print, its all sewn onto a canvas!
      11. An abstract map of Ames, IA.
      12. The cutest little print I picked up from Paper Source.
      13. This is actually a lawn sign from Iowa State's 100th Homecoming celebration. Steve and I were both on the committee to plan Homecoming that year.
      14. A photo of the Northern Lights, taken in Alaska, which is where we picked it up. If only I had seen them myself!
      15. Yes, that is a very tiny photo from our wedding, but we have much bigger ones in our living room!
      16. Another photo from our engagement shoot.
      17. This is a fun little item. I took the top off of a shadow box and left the glass and backing on. This is where we put old tickets from concerts, movies, and games.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at our gallery wall and learning a little bit more about me, and my life!

As always, thank you for reading, Helen

P.S. You may also like Not Your Typical Headboard and International Shadow Boxes.

The Paper Year: Our First Anniversary


Today is mine and Steve's 1st anniversary! This year has gone by so quickly, and so much has happened. To help celebrate, I decided to have both Steve and I answer a few questions about our first year as a married couple! I hope you enjoy our answers, as well as some photos from the big day! EP4_2614

How long have you been married? Helen: 1 Year - 365 days of marital bliss! (Actually 366, it's a leap year)

Steve: 1 year officially, but in the eyes of our friends and family we have been "the old married couple" for about 3 years now.

When looking back upon the wedding, what is the first memory that comes to mind? Helen: The moment right before I walked down the aisle. All of the family and bridesmaids were lined up, and began walking. Then it was my turn! I grabbed my dad's arm. I wasn't nervous at all. I was filled with excitement! I was literally walking into the next stage of my life!

Steve: It had to be everyone in the pews standing up to the first note to the bridal precession, seeing my beautiful wife-to-be down at the end of the aisle, and praying to God I didn't mess anything up during the service. :)


What was the highlight of this past year? Helen: We've done a lot of travel this year! Starting with our honeymoon, which was the first international trip, we've taken together. It was so wonderful, and from there we’ve continued explore more of the U.S. We've also grown so much together as a couple. I didn’t expect that level of growth because we’ve been together for so long, but it has been great!  Finally getting to use the word "husband" has been so much fun, too!

Steve: We've had quiet a wild year. I think my favorite experience this year was the honeymoon. It was an incredibly fun trip full of memories that will last a lifetime. My other favorite highlight of the year isn't a particular event, but more of a feeling. On a random Saturday night, I know there are single people out there trying find their soul mate. But I already have mine asleep on my numb arm on the couch watching reality TV trash, and thinking I was the luckiest guy in the whole wide world.

What was the low point of the past year? Helen: I've had a rough year for work. It really was the only glitch on an otherwise fantastic year; but it was a big one. Steve has been so supportive throughout all of it. I really don't know what I would have done without him. He's my rock.

Steve: I think the low point of the year was some dynamic shift at my work. A lot has changed since I started and while I am eager to take up the challenge, I know it does sometimes put stress on our relationship. There have been nights when I get home from work and need to go to the office and keep working almost immediately after dinner.


Have you learned anything new about your spouse in the last year? Helen: I learned that Steve will always humor me when I try to cook healthy meals for us. He'll smile and eat what's on his plate, then grab the Oreos. I've learned that even though he still denies it, he does, in fact, like Gilmore Girls. He is also a strong provider. He's had this vision for our future, and he's working so hard to make sure we get there. I also learned that Steve has the ability to set off the fire alarm by boiling water. :)

Steve: I learned that she does in fact sunburn, weather she likes it or not. She may or may not occasionally snore (not brave enough to put that on the record - so I plead the 5th). She has become an amazing cook!. Especially since in one of our first dinners she added 3 heads of garlic instead of 3 cloves of garlic :p. I also learned she has a fierce determination to continue on and always looks to the future no matter what, she always strives to look forward and see the best future for us. JL7_9220

What do you hope the next year will bring? Helen: More travel! We have quite a few trips in the works right now that will hopefully come to fruition in the next year. Travel has been so important to us and we want to take advantage of these opportunities while we can. We're also looking forward to strides in our careers. And, of course, I'm looking forward to our relationship to continue to grow and succeed.

Steve: I hope next year will bring more incredible adventures. Hopefully one of them is a commitment to a four walled structure we actually own (that's right, I've convinced my city-loving wife to buy a house in "the burbs"). I also hope we continue to grow our love and our relationship each and every day. Our planned 2 week trip to Europe won't hurt either ;)

Steve and I have had a wonderful and memorable first year! It's gone by so quickly and we have so much more to look forward to in the future!

As always, thank you for reading, Helen