DIY Do: Tree Ring Wedding Wheel Invitation Templates

Wow, it must be wedding-planning season, because I’m starting to get a ton of e-mails again about our tree ring invitations.  Neither A. nor I really have the time (or inclination, if I’m going to be honest) to create so many similar sets of invites for clients so I spent most of today preparing these invites as downloadable templates for Photoshop and Illustrator.  They’re ready to go straight to the printer once you’ve entered in your own text, but they’re also fully editable so you can customize them as much or as little as you want.

The templates are up in the Burning House Etsy shop already, and I’ll be adding them to the regular Burning House shop in the next few days.  If you or someone you know has been coveting a set of these for their wedding, now you can create a unique set using your own text, fonts, colors and/or printers.  You could even DIY the whole thing from start to finish if you like.  Enjoy!

Back in Business

Well, it’s finally over. I’m a married lady, back from my honeymoon, carrying with me a ton of freckles and a little souvenir from Montezuma. The wedding was wonderful. I was terribly worried about everything, having DIYed most of it, but it turned out even better than I could have imagined. There were a ton of things that went “wrong” (the lawn games were canceled due to swarms of mosquitoes, all the decorations were completely different than planned, no one danced, the glass of wine for the ceremony was missing, dessert was so late that only half the guests got any, and both shuttles broke down, leaving many guests stranded for hours) but there was so much damned love in the place, we all had an amazing time and I will never forget it.

It’s been so long since I worked on anything other than this wedding, that my sister said to me yesterday: “I’m really sorry to ask you this, but it’s been so long, I forgot: what exactly do you do, again? I mean, for a job?” I answered: “I run my business. It’s just sort of been coasting along these last few months, but my priorities now are sending new prototypes to the manufacturer, putting up the new site, putting together a press kit for the holiday press blitz, catching up on my bookkeeping…” and then I heard myself trail off, because the list in my head was getting too long to say out loud and I was starting to have palpitations.

These last few months I had intended to comment insightfully on how I was balancing my business with my wedding, sprinkling in some witty commentary about traditional gender roles along the way. But the truth is, I didn’t balance anything. The wedding was a 70-hour-per-week job for a solid ten weeks and it simply took over. Eighty of our closest friends and family members were traveling between 2000-5000 miles to see us get married and by God, I was going to make it worth the trip. Originally, my husband (!) had said he wanted to split the wedding planning 50/50, but after the save-the-dates went out, that sort of went out the window. Sometimes I got him to help out by throwing minor tantrums, but since he was making more money than I was, it made the most sense financially for me to handle everything and let him keep working.

In the end, it was all worth it and I regret nothing. Though I was nervous about relegating such a new business to the back burner, it was good in some ways. For one thing, it gave me some distance. Since I wasn’t mired in stressful, time-sensitive details like following up with stores, or programming shopping carts, I was able to look at the bigger picture and re-prioritize my goals. I even signed up for a business plan class at the SBA, so I can learn to lay out my goals in a clear and productive way. It also allowed us to have a wedding that was deeply personal, relatively inexpensive, and extremely memorable (hey, how many couples seat their guests at the “mountain lion,” “mudslide,” or “highway 1” table?). As an added bonus, we got to include new items in our portfolios. My husband added the “California Perils” table sculptures to his art portfolio, and I added the invitations to my product design portfolio (their printing, naturally, was a “business expense”).

Sadly, I can offer very little advice to other betrothed Biz Misses. Just bear in mind the equation, “time equals money” and know that a wedding, not matter how small, will require a lot of one or the other. Get enough sleep, even if that requires half an Ambien, and when your loved ones say, “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” take them up on it.

Keeping Stress out of the Bedroom

I realize it’s been an inexcusably long time since I last posted anything. I have probably lost all of you to disappointment and summer, but as busy as I am lately, I will try my best to keep this resource growing, albeit slower than I would like.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m getting married (in exactly six weeks). When my fiancé and I first got engaged a year ago, he swore he wanted to handle half of the planning. He said it was because we should have equal ownership in our wedding, the way we will have equal ownership in our marriage. I thought that made sense and was happy he felt that way. But, as a freelancer, my husb-what can’t predict when his heavier workloads will hit. The latest one hit about six weeks ago and I’ve been on my own in wedding planning ever since.

I had no idea how much work it takes to plan a one-evening event. It takes up all of my time each and every day. I haven’t spent more than an hour or two a WEEK on my business and I’m starting to feel trapped inside post-war gender roles.

Two nights ago I had a nervous breakdown in bed. I suddenly realized that I had wasted over a full month of my life on a wedding that is turning out nothing like the casual family barbecue/picnic we had originally envisioned. In fact, it is looking suspiciously like my mother’s dream wedding — the one she never got to have, and which, I am convinced, she is subtly forcing me to plan via ESP and Jewish guilt. I freaked out so badly I couldn’t sleep until dawn, at which point I dreamed we missed our flight and couldn’t go on our honeymoon.

That night spent hyperventilating in the dark was the third night in a row I didn’t sleep because I was stressed out over the wedding. So I began to try some strategies to help me calm down:

  1. Talking it out: this only works if the person you’re talking to understands what you need when you’re stressed out, and is not too stressed out him- or herself to really focus on you. It helped, but it wasn’t a cure.
  2. Decompression: I tried doing no work after 9pm, then no work after 8pm. No dice. The only night I slept peacefully was when I stopped working in the afternoon, then filled the night with “Ocean’s 13” on DVD and a roll in the hay. Lesson? Stop early and occupy both body and mind until bedtime.
  3. Making lists: Part of what I stress out about is inadvertently overlooking something, so I am a compulsive list-maker. Things would probably be worse if I didn’t have my lists, but they don’t relieve enough anxiety to let me sleep.
  4. Crowding out brain space: During an episode of Radio Lab I heard about a study in which subjects were given various tasks before they went to sleep, to see which ones penetrated their dreams most often. The big winners? Tetris and video game skiing. I thought doing a couple of hours of jigsaw puzzles at night would do the trick but it didn’t, so today we bought a Nintendo Wii.
  5. Drinking warm milk: Yup, I tried this one, too. It’s soothing while you drink it, but milk doesn’t stand a chance against full-blown anxiety.

I have not been testing these strategies scientifically. I have also only had one restful night of sleep this week, so I’m still looking for new ones. If you have any suggestions for leaving stress out of your bedroom, please share them in the comments.