My aunt, who is 10 years older than me, was an art major. She’d do art projects with me when I was a kid, so from an early age, I learned to think creatively. In college, my roommate was going to buy a $25 “crunk” cup with rhinestones on it to carry around at her birthday party. When I said, “You are not spending money on that,” she said, “I won’t if you make me one.” I painted and decorated a wineglass for her, and it ended up becoming so popular with our friends that I began selling them.
When Joe and I got engaged, I wanted a do-it-yourself [DIY] wedding so people would say, “This is different.” I don’t think of DIY as cheaply made; I think of it as custom-made. When you are a DIY creative genius – like I like to modestly consider myself – Googling “creative wedding ideas” is like giving crack to a drug addict. Once I got an idea in my head, I had to do it! This caused a lot of late and stressful nights before the wedding. “Enough is enough” was Joe’s favorite phrase for a while.
I had an idea for a unique way to give guests a thank-you gift and to seat them – with a painted glass that could be used at the open bar. Each glass had a piece of chalkboard vinyl attached where they could write their name and table number. I painted 420 glasses for the wedding. It got to the point where I’d go back to the Dollar Tree and the staff person would say, “Hi, Katie! We just got another shipment of glasses in.” I made the bridesmaids’ purses with cheapies from Payless that I decorated. The groomsmen got glasses painted with their favorite sports team. We made birdcage centerpieces for 37 tables.
My husband is unbelievably frugal, so if I want something, I need to figure out a way to make it. The best thing about crafts, though, is people don’t notice the mistakes. That makes me pretty fearless when attempting new projects.
Katie Langel is DMU’s manager of annual giving, a relentless crafter and author of the blog, thektdid.com. Since her wedding in October 2011, she’s moved on to decoratively painting walls, making headbands for friends’ baby girls and playing the upright piano she obtained free on craiglist.com and – no surprise – refurbished with a cheery orange lacquer.