When you have a traditional indoor wedding, usually you don't have to concern yourself with how the bridal party will enter.  For example, if you're getting married in a church, there's almost always a nice set of doors at the beginning of the aisle in which you enter.  With an outdoor wedding there may not be an existing structure which can be used.  You want your wedding day to be memorable, right?  Then making a memorable entrance is a must. Don't panic, you can make a great looking entry way in an hour or two for less than what it would cost you to rent or buy one. This is an easy project that pretty much anyone can do.

Following is the materials we bought for the entrance we built.  Unfortunately we were strapped for time so we ended up buying the wood.  If you have the time you can likely find most of the wood needed to build this extremely cheap, or even free if you search your local classifieds.  You can modify this depending on the size of the entrance you'd like to create.  We actually ended up having to shorten the height of ours by a foot after it was all together as it looked a little too tall:

- 10 ea. 1" x 8" x 8' Standard Boards

- 11 ea. 1" x 2" x 8' Standard Boards

- 3 ea. 2" x 4" x 8' Standard Boards

- 4 ea. 8" lag screws

- A bunch of 2" wood screws

- Wood Stain or outdoor paint (optional)

- A curtain, sheet, table cloth (whatever strikes your fancy)

- A curtain rod

Tools Needed:

- Drill

- Circular Saw or Miter Saw  NOTE: You can still do this with just a hand saw but it will take a little longer.  Besides, if you plan on completing more do it yourself projects now might be the time to invest in a circular saw.

1. The first step is to lay 5 of the 1x8x8 boards on the ground directly next to one another lenth-wise, this will be the size of your doors. In my case I ended up making them a foot shorter after they were all assembled. So if you want them narrower or shorter, now is the time to make that change to save yourself additional work down the road.

2. Now that you have made any adjustments to the size, lay one of the 1x2x8's the long way on either the left or right side of the door.  If you didn't shorten the doors at all it shouldn't be necessary to make any cuts as it should nearly match the length of the board it's laying on top of.  Remember, we aren't looking for perfection here so if it's a half inch too long or a half inch too short, don't worry about it.  Make sure the outside edge of the 1x2x8 is flush with the 1x8x8.  Next, attach the 1X2X8 to the 1x8x8 boards with 5 or 6 screws down the entire length of the board.  I found it easier to put one screw at each end first to hold it in place before driving the middle screws.  Now repeat the same process on the other edge of the door.

3. We now need to cut and attach the boards running horizontally across the door. To begin, take another 1x2x8 (depending on the width of the door your making you may need two of these) and lay it horizontally at the top edge of the door.  With a pencil, mark the distance between the inside edges of the boards attached in the previous step.  This mark is where you will cut the board in order for it to fit between the boards on each end.  Once it has been cut and you've verified it will fit, set the board in place. Before driving any screws, make sure the boards running perpendicular are set tight up next to one another.  Attach your newly cut board by driving a screw through it in the middle of each place it intersects a board that runs perpendicular. If you're using the exact boards I went with, you will have driven 5 screws through it, one for each of the 5 1x8x8's.  You will repeat this process to attach two more boards, one for the middle and one for the bottom of the door.

4. The 1x2x8 boards on the outside perimeter and in the middle serves two purposes, they hold the door together and create a border.  There, that wasn't too bad was it?  Now you'll want to flip the door over so the side in which you just attached the boards is lying face down.  Now comes the hard part (just kidding), repeat steps 2 and 3 on this side of the door.

After you have completed all of the above steps, you guessed it, go through steps 1 through 4 again to make the second door for the entry way. Depending on your tastes and what type of wood was used for the doors you may want to stain or even paint the two doors. I would imagine a barn red would look attractive.  In our case the doors looked a little plain and bard red wouldn’t match the setting so we stained them with an oak stain. If you're going for a distressed look you can beat them up with a hammer, chains, or even scuff them up with sandpaper after they are painted or stained.

How the doors will be stood up can depend on several factors such as the type of surface they will be placed on and if they’ll be in an area that has a potential for high wind.  We are located in an area that is usually windy and the area we are placing them is not completely level.  In the next paragraph I will describe how I stood them up, however you might come up with a different way that works better in your situation.

Begin by taking both of the 2x4x8's and cut them in half. You now will have 4 boards that are each 4 feet long.  Now stand up one of your doors on its side, this step will require 2 people, if your Fiance hasn't taken part in this project yet now is the perfect time to get them to join.  With one person keeping the door up, lay one of the cut pieces on the ground perpendicular to the door.  Envision an upside down capital T, as this is what it should look like when viewing it on end.  The wide side of the 2x4 should be butted up against the bottom of the door. Drill a pilot hole for the lag screws through the 2x4 and into the base of the door.  Doing this before inserting the lag screws will prevent the wood from splitting.  Next drive your 8" lag screw through the 2x4 and up the base of the door.  You will want to do this on the bottom left and right of each door as it will serve as a base to prevent the doors from tiping over.  However just the 2X4 with the lag screw through it will not provide enough support to keep them from falling over.  To reinforce the base further, I cut 2x4's at 45 degree angles on each end and attached one of the angled ends to the base and one to the door.  I did this on both sides of each door, for a total of 8 angled 2x4 pieces.  In our case, this then provided enough support to prevent them from being tipped over.  As I said, this could be different in your circumstances.  However you decide to support them, make sure they are sturdy and not easily knocked over.  If these were to fall on someone they could cause serious injury. I would also recommend setting these up the day of the wedding, you don't want them to get damaged or blown over by a storm by leaving them setup outside for an extended period.

The last (and easiest) step is to stand the doors up and place a curtain rod between them with a draping of your choice. You now have a fantastic looking entry way for your outdoor wedding.  Once the wedding is over, you can recoup most, if not all of what you spent on the doors by listing them for sale in your local classifieds.  During the summer there is a lot of demand for outdoor wedding items, I even received requests asking if I would rent them out.

I hope you enjoy the above project if you decide to pursue it.  If I'm missing anything, or if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

About 3 weeks ago I married the woman of my dreams.  It wasn't in a big fancy church and we didn't rent a huge hall for the reception.  Where did our wedding and reception take place?  It took place right in our own backyard.  Even though we had a few sprinkles and held umbrellas while saying our vows, in our eyes it was perfect and it turned out even better than I could have imagined.  The downside to having the wedding in our yard was the mad rush we were in to get everything ready in time.  The photographer showed up a couple of hours before and gave me a puzzled look as I was holding a circular saw finishing the wedding party entry way (I will cover how to make this in a future post).  My bride to be and I did most of the preparation for the wedding ourselves and in the process came up with a few neat (and cheap) ideas.

One of these ideas being flower holders we could place in the ground down the aisle.  If I had to classify a theme for our wedding, it would probably be rustic.  Even though it was rustic, my wife and I constantly joked that we didn't want it to be a "hoedown" (no disrespect to hoedown participants). The flower holders we created turned out to be the perfect mix of rustic charm with a hint of elegance.  These actually turned out to be one of the easiest wedding projects we did.

For this project we started by visiting the local hardware store, we purchased 8 wooden stair posts, spray paint, construction grade adhesive and a box of mason jars.   We picked spray paint colors that would complement the colors of the wedding flowers.  You will also want to pick up some ribbon that matches as well.  Most hardware stores have a large selection of stair posts to choose from, pick a design you like.  My wife and I are both on the frugal side (frugal sounds better than cheap in my opinion), so of we chose the most inexpensive ones.

Now that you have all of your supplies, start by spray painting each of the stair posts.  It’s easiest if you stand them up while you spray them so you can cover all sides.  After each one is painted find something you’re not worried about getting some paint on to prop them up against to dry.  Make sure you don’t lay them down or you will ruin the paint on one side and you’ll end up repainting it.

After the paint has completely dried the next step is to attach the mason jars to the end of the posts.  You will want to take some sandpaper and sand any paint off the end of the post where the mason jar will be attached.  Use a very lightly dampened cloth and wipe clean where you just sanded.   You now have a nice clean surface for the adhesive to bond to.  Also make sure that the bottom of the mason jar is clean and free from any oils or grease.  Find somewhere that will allow you to stand each post vertically.  A vice would work well for this, but anything will do, we just wedged it between two short filing cabinets.  Now that you have the post standing straight up, apply a generous amount of the adhesive to the bottom of the mason jar and stick it on top of post where you sanded away the paint.

With the mason jar attached to the top of the post, the most important step comes next… Leave it alone.  That’s right, don’t touch it, take a break or go on a weekend getaway and come back to the project at a later time.  The length of the waiting time will depend on the adhesive, make sure you follow whatever time period the manufacturer recommends for the adhesive to form a solid bond.  If you get to anxious and continue with the project too soon you will likely have a broken mason jar on your floor.

After you have given the mason jar the proper time to adhere to the wood, use ribbon to tie a decorative bow around the jar or the post.  At this point you’re pretty much done unless there is anything else decorative you choose to add.   I would strongly suggest waiting until the actual day of the event to set them in place, as the longer they are exposed to the elements the higher the likelihood you have for the adhesive to fail.  We placed them out the morning of the wedding and didn’t have any issues, even with some rain.  Depending on the soil where they will be placed, you may want to take one additional step and insert a long screw partially into the bottom of the post to act as a stake.  In my case it wasn’t necessary to add the screw as I was able to easily push them into the ground.

 There you have it, an easy way to spruce up your outdoor wedding.  Keep in mind that these can also be used to hold tea light candles after the sun sets.  If you enjoyed this idea, please be sure to subscribe as I have many more do it yourself wedding ideas from our backyard wedding to share in future posts.  Please share your comments below.

About a year ago I purchased a foreclosed home.  The backyard contained what came to be known in our household as "the pit."  It was a sectioned off area of the yard that measured 30 feet by 40 feet and contained pea gravel that was 5 inches deep throughout.  At one time "the pit" was home to a large kid's area that contained a play set and swings.  Our initial thought was to get rid of the pea gravel and lay down sod, this was easier said than done.  In an attempt to rid ourselves of "the pit", we advertised the large amount of pea gravel on craigslist for free.  Our thought was that someone would likely have a need for it.  My assumption was correct, there were many in need of pea gravel for various reasons.  Unfortunately they all wanted to come to my house and fill up a few 5 gallon buckets at a time.  The thought of having 50 strangers lining up at my house with buckets wasn't all that appealing to me.

If we couldn't rid ourselves of the gravel, we at least needed to relocate it.  Luckily there happened to be a gentlemen down the road from us with a skid loader.  We were able to get him to scrape up the pea gravel and move it to the back of our property.  Once the gravel was relocated we discovered it would be quite costly to prepare the area and install sod.  At this point, the brainstorming began.  What if we would make a patio out of pavers to reduce the size of the area we needed to cover with sod?  This seemed like a great idea until we found out how much pavers would cost.  Then it happened, we were driving to the Home Depot, on the way there we passed a construction site and saw a large pile of broken concrete.  Maybe it was all in my head, but I swear it had a magical glow about it.  Anyway, my wife and I were thinking the same thing.  We would use broken concrete instead of store bought pavers.  When we returned home we hopped online to search craigslist for broken concrete. Just as we had suspected, there were many posts from people who had driveways, sidewalks, or patios redone and wanted to get rid of the old broken concrete but didn't want to pay to have it removed.

I contacted several of the concrete donors and was able to source a steady supply of broken concrete. Now it was time to get to work.  To frame the new patio area I used the existing railroad ties that previously bordered the "gravel pit."  Since I was already the proud owner of a mound of pea gravel, it was the perfect resource to create the base for the patio.  Even if you do not have easy access to a large amount of gravel, search some local online classifieds, just like concrete, it seems to be pretty easy to find for free.  The purpose of putting down the gravel first is to provide drainage for water.  This will help prevent water from freezing beneath the concrete in the winter.  If you are lucky enough to live in an area with frigid winters, you are probably well aware how freezing water expands and causes shifting.  

In the past I had made a fairly small paver patio with store bought pavers.  With that project I was very careful to make sure the pavers were perfectly placed and level.  I spent hours upon hours using leveling sand to ensure the patio looked perfect.  Am I going to take the same care in creating the broken concrete patio?  Heck no I'm not!  Initially I was going to go the same route making everything perfect and level.  My concern with each piece being level quickly went out the window when I realized the time involved and how it would test the limits of my sanity.  In my case, the broken concrete I was working with varied quite a bit in thickness, however, you may get lucky and find concrete all with the same thickness.  At first I was somewhat concerned that just "eyeing up" the patio would make it appear sloppy and thrown together, but once I got some of the broken concrete in place I realized it wouldn't be an issue.  Whether or not you can get away with just "eyeing it up" will greatly depend on the placement of the patio and obviously your specific tastes.  Since my patio is out in the middle of my yard with a fire pit in the middle, the imperfect approach worked for me.  A quick piece of advice, do not spend much time trying to find the perfect spot for each piece of broken concrete.  All the pieces will be irregularly shaped and you will drive yourself nuts trying to fit pieces together nicely.  My suggestion is to just lay it down where it looks like it will fit fairly decent and just leave it.  When you finish your project you will realize that the placement of each piece really doesn't matter much at all.

Once I had all the broken concrete pavers laid down, I filled in the gaps between the concrete pieces with... you guessed it... pea gravel!  I accomplished this step by shoveling the gravel onto the patio surface.  I then used an old broom to sweep the gravel into the gaps.  You can also use sand for this step if you'd like.  Initially I was going to fill the gaps about three quarters full of gravel and fill the rest with sand (which can also usually be found free) but I liked the look of the pea gravel in the gaps so I left it as is.  Once you've finished filling the gaps, for the most part, that's it, you're done!  

In conclusion, I'm hoping this has inspired at least a few people to give this a try.  The biggest hurdle is deciding to do it and taking the first step.  

A couple more tips for anyone who decides to tackle this project:

-Get some well-fitting thick leather gloves. Why? Concrete is heavy and if you are moving it around without gloves, you will pinch your fingers between the concrete, it will break the skin, it will hurt and it will be followed by foul language.  I know this first hand (no pun intended).

-Do not wear sandals as they offer minimal protection against falling concrete.  Instead I would suggest a boot, preferably steel toed.

-Do not strive for perfection, its broken concrete, you will not achieve it.  If you are looking for a patio that is perfectly level with each piece fit perfectly together, this project is not for you.

If you have any questions or have done this yourself please comment below.  I'm interested in hearing your experiences.

Lately I've been dabbling in woodworking.  I'm certainly no expert at it but I actually find it relaxing and it brought out a creative side of me I didn't even know existed.  A few weeks ago I purchased 70 bags of topsoil for what I hope turns out to be a garden at some point in the future.  They were delivered on a standard 40 x 48 inch wooden pallet that from the look of it has had its fair share of use.  Standing there in my garage looking at this worn and weathered pallet, I noticed a sense of beauty about its rusted nails and abused gray wood.  I pondered what the story was behind it and how many adventures it had been on.  So what did I do?  I started to dismantle it with a pry bar and hammer so I could use it to burn in the backyard fire pit I had recently completed.  As it laid on my garage floor in pieces I had an idea, I don't know why, or what had prompted it, but for some reason I thought to myself "Hey, that would make a neat looking coffee table."

My intent was to build a coffee table for my living room, as my current coffee table had a lovely 70's flair to it that I wasn't exactly fond of.  The first task at hand was to decide what would become the legs of the table.  I noticed that the 3 stringers (the pieces of wood that support the deck boards) had arches cut in them for a forklift.  These stringers would be perfect for the legs as they are sturdy and the arch cut into them would give the legs a decorative look.  I cut the stringers right down the middle of the arches and was able to get 4 identical pieces that I could use for the legs.

For the top of the table I was initially going to lay 5 of the deck boards parallel to one another.  After laying these out it looked nice but I thought I could do better.  To give the table more character I cut the deckboards into random lengths and laid them out so each cut was offset from the neighboring board.  I now had the legs for the table and boards I would use for the table top.  I used the remainder of the wood left from the pallet to secure to the underside of the table to provide additional support and to hold the boards in place.  To assemble everything together I simply used some wood screws I already had and some trimming nails.  In the process of building the table I came across two pieces of rebar I had in my garage.  Using my newly discovered creative side I cut these and placed them between the table legs on each end.  I did this by drilling a hole on the inside of each leg just big enough to hammer the rebar into.

All of the above took me approximately 2 hours or so and I was quite proud of what I had made, it looked pretty darn good!  This is when I had my second idea.  What if I could actually sell this magnificent coffee table I had just created.  In the past I had attended a few flea markets with my wife and I knew there was at least some market for my creation.  I shared my grand plan to sell the table with my wife.  She was immediately against my plan.  Why you ask?  Because she loved the table and wanted to keep it.  I assured her that if I were able to sell it that I would create another one for her.  So I put a coat of polyurethane on the table's surface and created an ad on craigslist.  I was about to list it for 50 dollars, but this price was balked at by my better half.  She said she would bet I'd be able to get at least 100 dollars for it.  So I did what any self respecting husband would do and I listed it for 100 dollars, not actually thinking anyone would pay that much for something I created.       

Later that afternoon I checked my email and was surprised to find emails from 3 people interested in the table.  One of them actually said how it was exactly what she had been looking for.  Since I believe in the first come, first serve mentality I responded to the first email letting her know it was still available.  She replied minutes later and wanted to come pick it up right away.  An hour later I was loading the table in her car and she was ecstatic.  In fact she asked me if I'd be interested in making a matching end table.  I actually had quite a sense of accomplishment after she left.  A guy like myself with no experience in this sort of thing just made someones day with nothing more than an old pallet.

If you have any questions or have had a similar experience making something creative please leave a comment below.  



    Broken Concrete Patio
    Pallet Coffee Table
    Wedding Entrance
    Wedding Flower Holders

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