When it comes to wedding planning, there are a couple of ways most people approach it. You can either pay $2000+ for a wedding planner that will help you contact vendors and choose your themes and decorations. Or you can find a decorations vendor that will take care of everything from flowers, lighting to vintage rentals and props for you. Or you can buy overpriced decorations from Etsy. Or you can choose to make the decors yourself, mason jars, chalkboard signs, photo booth and everything else. Of course, being a medical student earning negative income, I chose the last option. Luckily for me, I have been waiting for just the right opportunity to exercise my creative energy and the five years of fine art training I received in high school.
After countless (too many) hours of Pinterest, multiple trips to Michael’s and Walmart, I’ve assembled everything I needed and made most of what is on my list. After all this effort, I have a few tips to share with bride-to-be’s who are also inspiring DIY-ers.
- Even if you might be an awesome graphic designer, there are thousands of free wedding related printables online, from favor tags to photo booth props to wedding invitations, so save your efforts for something else.
- Think about a theme for your wedding early on, such as travel, your favorite disney movies, your favorite animal, Mad Men, Great Gatsby, etc. Then you can plan various decorations around the theme, like seating chart and table numbers, invitation style and guest book. For me, Y picked a theme centered around Chinese zodiac animals, and I was able to coordinate invitation, table numbers and even cake toppers to the zodiac signs!
- Michael’s is your best friend. Sign up for their newsletter early on so that you can get their periodic coupons emailed to your inbox.
- If you are tired of plain old mason jars and burlap, try spicing up your glassware with metallic spray paint, which comes in $8 per bottle and can paint at least 10 glassware. Personally, I used gold metallic spray paint, since it went with my sangria and burgundy color scheme.
- Labels, labels, labels. Never underestimate the importance of putting up signs for instruction or direction to where the party is, what to do with the guest book, photo booth etc. Plus, a simple label printed on cardstock can instantly add to your chic points, for everything including desserts and cupcakes.
- Lastly, try to recycle as much as you can from friends’ past wedding decorations. I cannot say enough of how lucky I am to have multiple friends handing down their wedding decors. It saves you time, money and adds lots of sentimental value to your wedding. Whether it’s ribbons, petals, baskets, gift box or paper pom pom flowers, take it all because you’ll need it!
And of course, when you are busy wedding planning and stressing over logistics and email correspondences, don’t forget nourishment! For me, I crave spicy food especially when I’m stressed. This Sichuan-style spicy chicken wings dish, also called 麻辣香锅, is a type a cuisine where garlic, green onions, ginger, dry red chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorn make up the base of the dry stir-fry. You can add potatoes, celery, any type of meat, shiitake mushrooms or any other dry vegetables, shrimp or octopus to the mix and create this ultra-spicy, mouth-numbing dish. Here I only used potatoes and wings for simplicity sake. But you can mix and match whatever ingredients your heart desires, in the spirit of hotpot. Happy munching!
Sichuan Spicy Chicken Wings
- 10-12 chicken wings and drumletts
- 2 potatoes, peeled and washed
- 1 stalk of green onions
- 1 slice of ginger, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- fermented black bean sauce (available at any Asian grocery)
- dry red chili peppers, to your desired spiciness
- 1 handful of Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- cooking sherry
Wash the wings and drumletts and make a couple of slices of the surface of each wing. Marinate wings with 1 pinch of salt, 1 bit of green onions and minced ginger, add 1 Tbsp of cooking sherry. Marinate for 1-2 hours.
In a large heated wok or skillet, lay out the wings and drumletts. Try to not have them overlap so as to get maximum surface coverage. Oil from the chicken will seep out and splatter a bit. Flip the wings and drumletts over to sear the other side, for 3-4 minutes, until both sides are golden. Set the wings aside.
Chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch slices and stir fry potato in the same skillet over a bit of oil, for 5 minutes, or until both sides are slightly golden and potatoes are cooked. Set the potatoes aside.
In the heated skillet, add 1 Tbsp of black bean sauce until it simmers. Add green onions, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorn. Add chicken wings and drumletts back into the pan and stir fry continuously for 5 minutes. Add in 1 tbsp brown sugar and potatoes, stir fry for another 5 minutes until chicken is completely cooked and golden brown. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Enjoy!