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Our Wedding Photo Book (gift idea!)

our wedding photo books

I can’t believe it’s almost 2 years since we got married! It’s gone past so fast and a lot has happened since then, but the memory of that day is still clear as day in my mind. That will probably change, however. I have a terrible memory, which is why I’m so grateful for all the photos (and the video) we have of our wedding day.

I remember having a the idea to make wedding photo books before we even got married, but it eventually took me about 18 months to get them done. It’s an investment for sure and we had other priorities at the time, so I held on to the idea and kept looking for the best option for it.

gift idea_photo books

Then, Blurb had their Black Friday sale last year, and I jumped at the opportunity. I’d had my eye on them because they’re based in Europe, which makes production time and shipping easier (and cheaper) for us.

We decided to make 2 types of books. One format for our parents – paperback and standard pages – and a fancier – hardcover and thicker pages – book for ourselves. We love how they turned out! The quality is really good, and the paperback option is really great for gifting, since it’s affordable, but still very pretty.

wedding books

Now, making these books can get overwhelming real fast. You have to choose your photos, then the layouts, and then everything has to be put in a logical order… Luckily, Blurb has their own book-making software that’s really easy to use and has layout templates + the option to save your own layouts.

At first, I tried to get really creative with my layouts, but I soon realised that this process was VERY time-consuming, so I made a decision to stick to a few simple layouts and use only those. That sped up the process a lot and made decision-making easier as well.

wedding album 1

I’m so glad we finally turned this idea into reality. I’ve been flipping through the book more times than I can count, and every time I do, I’m flooded by that sense of pure bliss I was feeling on our wedding day.

I already have loads of ideas for future photo books that I want to make! One day, I hope to make one book per year and gather all our memories into these yearbooks. We’ll see how I manage, but it’s a dream.

Have you ever had a photo book done? How do you organise your photos? I’d love to know how you keep your memories.

xo. Hanna

5 Tips for a budget-friendly wedding

Being two students without a size-able income means that planning a wedding can be financially difficult (to say the least). Needless to say, we had to plan our wedding on a tight budget. That created a lot of boundaries, but it also made us think creatively about how to make our dream day happen. In the end, our wedding day was just what we had dreamed, and we didn’t even have to rob a bank. So, I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I learned when planning our budget-friendly wedding.

1. Use your friend-sources. Asking for help is harder for some than others, but using the resources you have is essential to planning a budget-friendly wedding. If you’re running on a tight budget, but still want to have your dream wedding, get creative with your resources. Do you have a friend who loves to style hair? Why not collaborate on your wedding hairdo. Talk it through, do some testing, and if it doesn’t work out, you can always still hire a professional, but if it does, you’ll save some money (plus all the fun hair-dates you get to have with your friend). Maybe you have a friend who’s good at make-up, or knows how to sew, or knows somebody who knows how to do these things. Get in touch and ask them for their help. Those savings might look insignificant, but believe me, when it comes to a low-budget wedding, every cent counts. And cents turn into euros/dollars real quick.

If you’re hesitant asking for help, because you feel your “using” the other person, then think about it this way. Would you be offended when a friend asked you for help on their wedding? I personally would be more than willing to help make their day as special as it should be.

We had a lot of help from our friends, and of course, our family. A friend of a friend did our hair, our flatmate Mari Krõõt was the the commander-in-chief on the actual wedding day making sure everything run smoothly, our families helped us put up decorations and prep the ceremony area, Rein’s mom made my wedding dress, our friend Anneliis painted our guestbook/tree – just to name a few areas we had help in. Using our friend-sources was the biggest money-saver of our wedding, for sure.

2. Prioritize your budget. The harsh truth is, that when you’re on a tight budget, you can’t have it all. You might have to skip the chocolate fountain and the ice sculptures. And that’s ok. Looking back at your wedding, the emotion of the day is what you’ll remember the most, not the elaborate details. Think about what the key details of your wedding are, what you aren’t willing to compromise on, and plan your budget accordingly. Also, think about what you’re willing to ditch when the need arises. Because, no matter how well you plan, chances are, you’re going to have to make sacrifices when you want to stay on budget. When planning your budget, add about 20-30% to your initial estimate. There will be expenses you can’t or don’t know to include in your original budget, so plan for those changes and extra expenses in advance.

For us, the most important things were people and food. We knew we wouldn’t be happy when we couldn’t share our day with all the people we love. It was not important to us to have 200 people at our wedding, but it was essential that all the really important people could be a part of it. We also knew we wanted our guests to be happy, so food and drinks were high on our priority list. Everything else was optional. Yes, even my wedding dress. When you keep your priorities in mind, you won’t mind making changes and giving up some ideas, because you’ll know that everything that’s really important is taken care of.

3. Be creative. Once you’ve got your priorities set, you’ll also know where you want to spend the money you have. With the rest of the things, get your thinking cap on and step outside the box. This goes for everything from the venue to the wedding favors.
It can be easy to get stuck and only consider the venues that are wedding-oriented. But, think about other options. Someone’s backyard, a park or public garden, a random field somewhere in the countryside, ask a farmer to use their barn, or look for cool abandoned houses that could be turned into a rad wedding venue. Our wedding ceremony was in my parents’ backyard, and the reception was held in the local culture centre located in an old manor. A manor sounds glamorous, but in reality, the centre was reconstructed during the soviet times, and hasn’t had a decent renovation in decades. Luckily, the facade was renovated a few years ago, so it looks good on the outside. In the end, the selling point for us was that it was cheap and near the ceremony location, and also, in my home village. I knew the reception area wouldn’t be as pretty as I had once dreamed, but that was a compromise I was willing to make.

4. Be your own wedding planner. I bet a wedding planner comes in handy, but doing it yourself is totally manageable when you don’t have the funds to hire one.
We planned our entire wedding ourselves. And, although it can be stressful at times, it’s really not that difficult. The internet is full of great articles and inspirational wedding ideas to help you. Talk to your friends who’re already married and ask for advice. Planning a wedding can be intimidating, since you’re probably doing it for the first time, but when you gather all the experiences and lessons learned from your friends, and combine them with Google, you’re all set.
Get your family and friends involved in the preparations, and it’ll all be way easier. Our family and friends were incredibly helpful to us during all the stages of prepping for the wedding. From making the decorations, to setting up the ceremony and reception are, to cutting fruit, to helping us clean up afterwards. The truth is, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Ask for help (like I said before) and everything becomes more manageable.

5. DIY what you can. Besides being your own wedding planner, doing as much as you can yourself or with the help of friends and family can help you save a lot of money. Also, for me, DIY added so much more meaning to our wedding. It’s such a joy seeing all the creations you’ve made on your wedding day and feel that you truly worked hard to make this day what you wanted it to be. For us, I think the biggest savings were my wedding dress, which was sewn by my mother-in-law (it cost me about 100€ in materials), and the wedding decor, which was made with the help of friends. Again, I can’t stress friend-sources enough. My dear friend Kärt-Katrin not only helped me cut out a lot of paper circles, but offered to sew our ring pillow. And it turned out so beautiful, too (see photo above).
I’ll do a post on our wedding DIYs in the near future.

Hope these tips a helpful to those of you planning your dream wedding.
xo Hanna

Photography by Kerli Halliste and Hanna Saar

DIY Golden Table Numbers

Our wedding was very much a handmade one. From my dress to the wedding favors – everything was DIY. Since I made a lot of the decor myself, I thought I’d share a few of the DIYs here on the blog as well. So, today I’ll be sharing the making of our glittery golden table numbers.

I tried to keep all of our wedding decor in the our chosen color-way of navy blue, pale pink and golden, and my other rule was to use as much recycled materials and my existing stash as possible. So, the golden table numbers were sort of a no-brainer. I already had the cardboard, the glitter glue and the glitter, and I knew I wanted to make simple table numbers that could be attached to the vases.

If you’d like to make your own glittery table numbers, here’s what you need:
1) cardboard
2) round bowl
3) pencil and scissors
4) golden glitter glue and a paint brush
5) golden glitter
6) paper and printer (optional)
7) acrylic paint
8) golden rope

Step 1
Trace circles on the cardboard using a small bowl and pencil. Cut out the circles.

Step 2
First cover the circle with glitter glue, and then with regular glitter. Let it dry completely, then use hairspray or clear lacquer to set the glitter. Let dry again and then put them between some heavy books to flatten them.

Step 3
Print out your numbers, or draw them on a paper. Cover the paper with adhesive plastic to prevent the paint from running through the paper. Cut out the numbers. Prevent my mistake, and leave small connections between the outer line and the inner part of the number (like and 8, 4, 0).

Step 3
Use the number stencil to paint numbers on the circles. Just place the number in the center of the circle and paint carefully inside the stencil using a brush and some acrylic paint. Afterwards you can touch up the edges. Let dry.

Step 4
I used golden rope to attach the numbers to the vases. Just cut the rope to size, punch two holes and put the rope through from back to front and tie some knot to the ends of the rope. And done!

I love our table numbers. It was one of my favorite projects for the wedding. I hope you like them, too.

Thanks for letting me share!
xo Hanna

Estonian wedding traditions (Part 2)

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. Today I’m sharing the second part of the Estonian wedding traditions (here’s part 1 in case you missed it), covering all the traditions and customs happening at the reception.

One of the most beautiful traditions happens right at the beginning of the reception, once everyone has been seated. It’s the lighting of the candle of happiness. It’s a tall candle symbolizing the fire of our marriage. It’s usually lit by the parents, in our case our fathers, and we should light it every year on our anniversary. Our fathers also said a toast – one of the few moments during our wedding that had me in tears.

After that it’s mostly fun and games. In a traditional Estonian wedding, there are jobs/positions (for lack of a better word for it) that need to be filled. There’s the Wedding Seal, The Guard of the Bride, The Wedding Stud, The Dance Father, and The Kibe Yeller to name a few. The job of the kibe yeller, for instance, is to yell “kibe!” whick means bitter in Estonian and it’s a sign that the bride and groom have to kiss. The lenght of the kiss is counted outloud, and they need to extend it every time. There’s also a song that everyone can sing to help provoke the kiss. The point of the song is that everything tastes bitter until the bride and groom’s kiss makes it sweet. So, there was a lot of smooching going on :).
Then there’s the Guard of the Bride. That is a very important job, because in an Estonian wedding, guests may steal the bride and ask the groom for “ransom”. Usually, the ransom is a task the groom has to do to get his bride back. At our wedding, there was one attempt to steal the bride, but the guard did his job and caught the thieves red handed.
The photo above shows the election of the Wedding Seal, who’s job is to “seal” the deal with their lips. So, when another position is filled, the wedding seal kisses him/her on the cheek to seal the deal.

Then it’s time for the first dance, which in Estonia is called the Opening Waltz. My father played the music for our first dance on a concertina (for lack of a better translation), an Estonian folk instrument.

And, more games. The games played during the reception are all up to the Pulmaisa (the man running the show, so to speak), so he may do many, or just a few. His job is to start the party and keep it going. Our Pulmaisa was great, and everybody was having so much fun. There was lots of weird dancing and singing involved.

About half an hour before midnight, the cake is served. Nothing really awe inpiring here, but I just wanted to point out, that some traditions seem to be international.

And, then, at midnight it’s time to pass on the bridal wreath. The bride put on a flower crown, and the groom puts on a hat, everybody sings along the song of the Bridal Wreath and the flower crown and the hat are passed on to the next couple. They are the ones most likely to be the next to marry, so they become the new bride and groom. For the bride and groom, that marks the end of their wedding day. It’s also customary for the bride and groom to change clothes after that.

After that it’s more dancing and playing, but the “official” part is over. A decent wedding lasts until the wee hours of the morning, of course, and ours was a very decent wedding indeed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek into an Estonian wedding. I loved sharing this part of our culture with you. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments, I’d love to ellaborate.

xo Hanna

Photography by Kerli Halliste

Estonian Wedding Traditions (Part 1)

I know some of you’ve been waiting for this, so today I’m going to introduce you to the wonderful traditions of an Estonian wedding. Because there are a lot of traditions to cover, I’ll split it up into two separate posts. This on will cover all the rituals performed before the reception.

Nowadays, with the globalization of the world, all sorts of new traditions have become part of the weddings around here (a lot of american traditions, of course). I think these kinds of things are always evolving, so while I’m not against new traditions, there is something special about sticking to the old like our parents before us. So, from the start of our planning process we new we wanted a traditional wedding.

The first thing you need to know about an Estonian wedding is that the whole event is led by a person called Pulmaisa (which means Father of the wedding). Pulmaisa is usually a man, although some women do it as well. The job of the Pulmaisa is to keep the wedding going, basically like a host at an event. He also prepares and conducts all the rituals, and games.

The wedding starts with the ceremony, as per usual. Unlike in the States, it’s not really custom for the bride’s father to bring in the bride. Usually, the bride and the groom come together, but nowadays more and more people are loving the american way. We used half-and-half, meaning that my father brought me half way, and then me and Rein walked the end together symbolizing our joint wish to tie together our lives. After the ceremony, the guests can congratulate the newlyweds and usually that’s also when you serve champagne and do all the group photos.

After this a number of rituals follow. The specific rituals being performed my vary slightly depending on the Pulmaisa, but most of them are done in every wedding. Our first ritual was getting rid of all the sins from the brides pre-married life. I had to prepare a rock where I’d written my name on that symbolized the weight of my sins, and Rein had to throw it in the pond. Side note: these rituals are always infused with humor, so don’t take them too seriously. It is said that in the old days, the groom had to throw his bride into the water to see if she was sinful or not. When the bride sunk (which she probably did, since most people didn’t know how to swim back then), she was sin-free, but when she didn’t, she had something to hide. As times changed, the ritual also changed from throwing the bride to throwing a rock.

The next ritual was planting a tree. We buried the testament of our marriage under our hawthorn and the tree should grow old and strong, just like our marriage. The most popular tree to plant at weddings is of course the mighty oak, but we chose the hawthorn because of it’s beautiful blossoms. I love this traditions, because a tree is such a beautiful symbol for a marriage, and in 20 years we can come and visit our tree and see how big it’s grown and it will always remind us of our wedding day.

After the tree was planted, it was time for me to give up my maiden name. There are a number of ways to perform this ritual, from throwing a rock with the maiden name to a river to sending it to the sky with balloons. We chose to send off my maiden name with a flower wreath that I threw into the river flowing by my parents’ house. Attached to the wreath was my manifesto of accepting my new name which I read out loud and which both my parents had to sign.

Now that I was officially Mrs Saar, it was time to make sure we would be blessed with many children. This ritual is always performed under a stork’s nest (since they are the ones bringing the babies, you know). The groom has to climb as high as possible, and place a ribbon (with the names of the bride and groom written on it) around the pole that the nest is built on. Our Pulmaisa joked, that 20 cm of ribbon is said to equal one baby, so with a ribbon as long as ours we should expect about 11 (excuse me, what was that?).

Many of these rituals are often performed during the car procession that follows the ceremony. The procession called Pulmarong (wedding train) is actually just the whole wedding party moving from the ceremony location to the reception location, so there’s a practical need for it, but sometimes it’s also used to make stops to do the rituals (not every ceremony location has it’s own stork’s nest, for instance), and for visiting places that are special to the bride and groom (like where they first met). The fun thing about the procession is, that random people can put up road blocks for the bride and groom which they can only pass when they have performed the task which they are given. Usually it’s something that they need to know how to do as a wife or husband, like chopping wood or changing a baby’s diaper.

We had two roadblocks. At the first we had 2 separate tasks, but we could assist each other of course, like a married couple does. I had to put together an old meat grinder, and Rein had to chop wood (the ax given to the groom is always old, blunt, and rusted to make the job harder). We passed that test, and as a thank you to the kind people for their effort it is customary to give them a bottle of vodka.

At the second roadblock, we had to build a bird’s nest box. My task was to select the right pieces that are needed to build it from a set of pallet pieces, and then we had to work together to build it. Luckily, they had a diagram to assist me in choosing the right pieces, so we passed this challenge with flying colors.

And, finally, we arrive at the reception location. That concludes the pre-reception part of the wedding. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our traditions and customs. I’ll be back tomorrow with part 2 of this series.

Have a wonderful weekend!
xo Hanna

Photography by Kerli Halliste

Our Wedding // Let’s talk about wedding dresses, hair & make-up

Wedding make-up

Hi, guys! Today I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks on wedding hair and make-up, and the story of my wedding dress.
First, let’s talk make-up. I had initially planned to ask a friend to do my make-up on the big day. And, we even did a test, but eventually I felt that I wanted to do it myself. First, because I’m a control freak (just kidding….well, sort of). Secondly, because I knew that I wanted a very “me” look, so that my husband wouldn’t be all “who’s that?” on the wedding day, and I already new what I wanted and how to achieve it, so it made simply more sense to do it myself. Also, my wedding was very much DIY, so I liked the aspect of keeping in that spirit.

doing your own wedding make-up

I watched some videos on Youtube, and did some testing at home until I was a 100% happy with the end result. Of course, I had a fear I would mess up everything on the actual day – it’s like when you do a hairstyle just for fun to see how it looks like, and then it turns out awesome, and the next time you need to replicate it, it just doesn’t come out. You know what I mean? Luckily, everything did turn out on the big day, even better than I had hoped.

Natural look for a wedding

So, my experience is, that doing your own wedding make-up is totally doable, but only under certain circumstances. I was already pretty good at doing my make-up for special occasions since I had a lot of concerts. If you love playing around with make-up, and you think you’re doing a good job, then why not do it yourself. There are so many great make-up tutorials out there to help, also.

Moments to capture on a wedding day
For a very brief moment I even considered doing my own hair. But, I knew that would be super stressful, and I really wanted to relax and not worry about it (since, you know, the Murphy’s law I described before). I’m so glad I decided to take on a hair stylist. She is the greatest! She is a friend of friend. Me and Rein both have our hair cut by her, and I’m always so pleased with her work. So, if you live in Tallinn or in the area, you should definitely pay her a visit. Her name is Mari-Liis Must and she works at the young hairdressers’ salon called Tuuletuka.
Messy curls hairdo for the bride

Mari-Liis and I did 2 tests before the wedding day to see how my hair responds to different curling methods and products and how the whole thing holds up after several hours. I would definitely recommend doing a couple of tests, since you can try out more things and get the game plan ready.

I gathered some inspiration images before our first appointment to help share my vision. I was sure I wanted something not too clean, more of a messy curls look. And I also had the idea of having flowers in my hair from the start. My Mom also had flowers in her hair when she got married, so I wanted to carry on that detail and maybe make it a family tradition. I made the flower pins myself using this method I shared over at Oh Everything Handmade a few months back. I really loved the end result!

Handmade wedding dress

Now, to my dress. Isn’t she gorgeous! I know I’m biased, since I designed it myself, but to see that vision come to life even better than I had imagined truly makes me so happy. I also played around with the idea of making it myself, but eventually I didn’t dare to put myself under so much pressure.
The dress was made by my mother-in-law, who’s an amazing seamstress. Fun fact,  she actually produced three dresses that attended our wedding – mine, her’s and her mother’s. Did I say she’s amazing?

We began working on this dress somewhere around april, but the actual sewing part started in June. I sent her tons of pictures of how I wanted the neckline to be, and how I envisioned the back and the skirt and so on. And we had several talks so I could really communicate my design vision to her. Then we went to shop for the fabric. That was the hardest part. Initially, I had my heart set on using Venise lace, but turns out that is impossible to get locally, and I didn’t have the guts to spend all that money to order it from somewhere not knowing if it was going to look and feel right. So, we made a quick change in plans. I’m actually very glad we did, because in hindsight, Venise lace would probably have been to thick and heavy for this dress.

Gorgeous wedding dress

The trickiest part of the dress was figuring out how to construct the lower part of the skirt. I wanted sort of this soft cascading tulle look, but neither of us had sewn anything like it before, so we had to figure out how to achieve the look I wanted. A lot of cutting and tulle later, it was perfect.

Navy blue + cream

Our wedding colors were navy blue and pale salmon pink, so I also had a navy blue fabric belt, and pink crystal earrings (I made those, too). And my mother-in-law also made Rein the matching tie and handkerchief from the same belt fabric.

Gorgeous mermaid-style wedding dress (designed by Pearls & Scissors)
Beautiful low back mermaid wedding dress

My wedding look was exactly how I imagined, and I’m so grateful to Mari-Liis and Kristine (my mother-in-law) for making it a reality.

Phew, you’re such a trooper if you made it to the end of this very long post, but I felt I just had to share. So, thanks for letting me!
If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.

Thanks so much for visiting, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
xo Hanna

Photography by Kerli Halliste

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