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Beer Themed Wedding Save the Date Coasters

As a graphic designer, I'm always thinking of ideas for new personal projects, refining old work, etc. That being said, it should come as no surprise that from the day that Aaron proposed, I started dreaming up big ideas for different ideas for materials for our beer-themed wedding. While the formal invites are a bit more traditional in design (more on those soon!), I wanted to do something light-hearted and bold that really spoke to Aaron and I as a couple.

We're fun-loving, beer drinkers with a love for Milwaukee, so it seemed only right to create a coaster Save the Date. Of course, I didn't want just any coaster. I wanted each coaster to be unique (and perfectly imperfect) in it's own way to give it a personal touch so rather than opt for printed coasters, I designed three custom rubber stamps and stamped and painted each coaster by hand. I know I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes posts, so for the crafting curious, here's how these little guys came to be!

The Process

Step 1: Back Stamp + Sealer

I started the process by stamping the back of each coaster with one of the rubber stamps I designed. Once the ink had dried, I sprayed each with a matte, water-resistant acrylic sealer (so guest could feel free to rest your ice cold beverage of choice on these little guys).

 

Step 2: Front Spray Paint

I've never been one to find high-gloss materials luxurious. Any time I come in contact with a print design or product that's overly glossy always reminds me of tacky direct mail postcards that are so shiny I can practically see my reflection. To achieve a more refined, matte appearance, I opted to use a navy spray paint that promised a "chalky finish." The description sounds sort of strange, but the results were just what I was looking for! No glossy finishes here!

 

Step 3: Heating Embossing—Impression 1

I had heard about heat embossing before, but I had never tried this process until this project. This is an incredible way to take a rubber stamp design to the level by creating a smooth, raised image that provides a great texture. I did this by first stamping the image onto the coaster using a clear ink made specifically heat embossing. Next, I covered the stamped area with embossing powder, tapped off the access powder, and applied heat using a heating tool that I purhcased at a local craft/paper supply store. Neat!

 

Step 4: Heating Embossing—Impression 2

Even from my very early sketches of how I wanted these coasters to look, I knew I wanted to include an element that looked like a seal of some kind. I played around with several variations (okay, probably too many if I'm being honest) of this seal but nothing resonated more with Aaron and I than this one. Our wedding color is predominately navy with pops of hot pink and touches of gold so it only seemed right for our seal of wedding intentions to shine bright in luxurious gold. Once the second stamp was applied and embossed, the coasters were left to try and then hit with a coat of the same water-resistant matte sealer I used on the back.

 

Step 5: Making + Assembling Cards

I wanted each coaster to look like it was sitting peacefully on a bar at your favorite watering hole without being overly obvious. To achieve a more luxurious wood-like texture, I painted each flat card with a toothbrush using a highly metallic gold acrylic paint (another aspect that allowed me to create unique pieces for everyone). The result catches the light in the most wonderful ways and still conveys the idea of wood. Each coaster was then adhered to a card using washi tape to form custom pull-tabs to help you easily remove your coaster from the card. Then they were lovingly stuffed into envelopes which traveled distances near and far to get to our wonderful family and friends :)

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Wedding Update + Moodboard!

Wedding Dress Shopping!

Things have been pretty darn crazy over here lately between wrapping up some freelance projects, starting new ones, and DUN DUN DUN—planning Aaron’s and my wedding! :D

We’ve had our venues in the books for a while now (Pabst Brewery for ceremony and Hinterland Gastropub + Brewery for reception—yay beer!), we booked our amazing photographer Athena Pelton, and one week ago from today I found and purchased my wedding dress!

Last Tuesday, my mom and wonderful Maid of Honor (who drove all the way down here from the Madison area for the day! Isn’t she the sweetest?!) headed into downtown Chicago on a quest to find a dress—the dress. I had expected this process to end up a wild a goose chase. It usually seems like every time I go to the store for one thing specifically, like a new pair of jeans, I can never find that one thing and end up leaving with something else (oh hey, cute sweater). However, I’m happy to report that my wedding dress shopping experience was NOTHING like that. To be honest, this was by far one of the easier decisions I’ve made about the wedding so far! I am so excited about the dress I picked and incredibly grateful that everything went as smoothly as it did!

Since I can’t share any photos of the dress, the photo above showing a little look into the beautiful BHLDN boutique is all you get…for now ;) After finding THE dress, we headed out for a celebratory lunch at the amazing Doc B’s for some delicious food and sparkling drinks :)

Finding the dress left me feeling excited and productive, and I used that momentum to finish the final touches on our wedding’s moodboard/style board!

Kristy + Aaron 2016 Wedding Moodboard

Aaron and I are both so pleased with how it turned out, and we hope our guests will love the experience we’re designing for them! With our ceremony and reception taking place at two very beer-centric locations in Milwaukee, we want to make sure that some of the natural/neutral tones come through in both the decor and the overall tone of the event (think hardwood, branches, rich dark stouts, and pops of gold/golden yellow). Pair that with my love of hot pink and balance it out with a bit of navy, and you’ve got the perfect mashup up (in our humble opinions).

We’re both pretty laid back people with a love of beer and a good time with close friends, so we hope our wedding can capture that. I can’t wait to start using this guide to crank out some exciting print design assets for the wedding! Hello wedding save the dates, invitations, menus, and signage galore! :)

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Dodge County Farmer’s Market + Madison Brewery Adventures

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

This summer has been such a whirlwind, and between all of my fun design projects and planning a wedding, things have been a bit crazy! The time is really flying, and while I absolutely love fall, I’m trying to enjoy every last minute of summer that remains. Luckily Aaron and I had some much needed down time this weekend and escaped to the North for a mini getaway.

I busted out my camera for the first time ages to snag a few photos (since I’ve admittedly been neglecting it for some time now). I often forget how much fun it can be to just put life on pause for a moment and simply capture once around me. Perhaps I’ll get back to shooting more photos in the near future :)

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

Anyway, Aaron spent the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin (along with a few other destinations) with our dear friends Emily and Kevin who just the most wonderful hosts. On Saturday, we headed to the Dodge County Farmer’s Market—a favorite activity of mine that I’ve missed dearly since moving to Illinois. Sure, we have farmer’s markets here, but there’s nothing quite like this one! If you’re fortunate enough to live in the midwest (or you just happen to be passing through), but sure to carve out some time to check it out—you won’t be disappointed!

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

There’s just nothing quite like the smell of fresh produce and flowers, the quiet buzz of the people, and the warm summer vibes on Madison’s square during the farmer’s market. We took our time exploring each booth and oogling over all of the delicious food and beautiful flowers. We collectively bought tons of goodies like sweet corn, hot peppers, donut peaches from Door County, and Stella’s spicy cheesy bread amongst other treats.

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

It was so hard not to give in to my impulse to buy every carton of berries I came across. They looked so good, but I  knew we’d have to drive several hours home and would risk spoiling all those sweet, sweet berries.

Afterward, we headed to Wisconsin Brewing Company to cool down from the hot August heat with some delicious beers. There are few things better than catching up with old friends over ice cold beers. Afterward, we headed to the farm house for some good ol’ fashioned BBQ and corn on the cob. The simple pleasures in life really are the best…especially when they involved food. Food is my favorite :P

One Barrel Brewing Company • Madison, WI

Before heading home on Sunday, Aaron and I headed to One Barrel Brewing Company to sample some of their beers, shown in the photo above. Having previous read that they have a beer-drinking penguin as a mascot, I knew we had to stop (especially after Aaron’s adorable proposal). We even grabbed a growler to go with that cute little penguin on it, and I’m hoping to sneak that sucker into the wedding decor somehow (which shouldn’t be hard considering the beer-themed nature of the event—more on this later, I promise!).

What more could a girl ask for in a single weekend?

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3 awesome things occupying my time

A sneak peek of my future wedding ceremony location 💕🍻

WEDDING PLANNING

This past March my then-boyfriend proposed to me, and we started off on a brand new adventure together as fiances. As much as I love getting down and dirty with the details, I’ll admit that planning our wedding seemed a bit daunting at first. I never dreamed of my wedding as a little girl—hell, even my Pinterest boards were pretty clear of wedding-related pins until recently—so it’s taken Aaron and I a little while to get things rolling. We’ve since set our date, secured our venues and photographer, and locked down a few other details, and things are finally starting to feel pretty good. I’ve been tinkering with a moodboard for quite a while now (designing for yourself is so hard!) so that should be done soon. Be on the look out for that! I'm excited to start working on the actual design of our wedding brand and all of our papergoods which will be exciting. Talk about save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, menus, announcements, and signage galore! Bring it on!

I even got around to designing some cute little illustrated Pabst Blue Ribbon can cards for my bridesmaids-to-be which I sent to each of them along with some cute jewelry from the lovely Made by Maru. Luckily, they all said yes and agreed to be in our semi-beer-themed wedding next May! Hooray!

Trying desperately to overcome my brown thumb and keep these little plants alive while the boy is out of out town🍃🌿

DEVELOPING MY GREEN THUMB

Those who know me well, know that I struggle to keep even the most basic of plants alive. I really do love plants (both indoor and outdoor—but especially the ones that produce tasty food), but I can never seem to remember to water them or give them just the right amount of sunlight or who knows what. Even as I write this out and realize how simple this task sounds, I still can’t seem to get it right in real life (see: I single-handedly killed all of Aaron’s plants last year with the exception of the mint which is literally a weed—whoops!). However, Aaron was out of town for almost an entire week and I managed to keep the little patio garden alive and kickin’ while he was out! Perhaps more plants are in my future!

Farmers market love 🍅🍓🍎❤️

Since I don’t totally have faith in my gardening skills just yet, I was excited to hit up the Dodge County Farmer’s Market this past weekend and load up on delicious fresh produce! I’m still going through my photos from the weekend, but I’ll share those with you in the next day or so. They’re going to make you drool ;)

Enjoying some much needed coffee this morning from a mug one of my clients gave me 💕  I work with the absolute sweetest people ever ☺️

SELF CARE + AVOIDING BURNOUT

With all of the wedding planning, freelance projects, working out and just the everyday hassles like grocery shopping and trying to find time to eat a proper meal, I’ve found myself burning the midnight oil and going a mile a minute lately. Luckily, I’ve gotten infinitely better about managing my time and dodging complete and utter burn out in recent years. In order to successfully avoid reaching that point, I’ve been taking time to enjoy some relaxing time on the patio (along with this adorable mug one of my amazing clients sent me—how sweet is she?!) while also seeking out new adventures (which in this case means exploring new breweries with Aaron).

Weekend adventures to One Barrel Brewing Company 🍻

Stay up to date on my latest adventures on Instagram!

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Nautical Bridal Shower Moodboard

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any snippets of my work so I wanted to show you guys a sneak peek at one of my latest projects for a nautical lobster bake bridal shower on the East coast! How fun is that? :)

We’re aiming for a light and fresh take on the nautical theme with lots of white space—can you say swoon-worthy? We’re working on an invitation, registry card, and recipe card for this project, and I must admit that I’m really loving how things are coming together. The designs are looking good, and I can’t wait to share the final product once everything is said is done!

Nothing makes me happier than helping people throw parties that make their loved ones feel like they are the most important people in the world. If you’re throwing a party for a friend or family member who is unlike anyone else you know and stands out from the crowd in all the best ways, why not make sure their event invitations do the same? Drop me a line for a same-day quote on your next project :)

photos: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

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Chicago Adventures

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This past weekend, one of my very best friends and her boyfriend came to town to visit Aaron and I for the weekend, and it was amazing! Since her boyfriend had never been to Chicago, we decided to head downtown to check out some tourist attractions. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (which can seem like a rarity in Midwest) and the skies were clear so we decided to go up to the Skydeck of the Sears/Willis Tower to experience the beautiful Chicago cityscape. I’d been up there as a kid, but I must admit, it was pretty great to revisit and check out The Ledge.

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We spent some time just walking around the loop before getting Garret’s Popcorn (the best!) and heading to Buckingham Fountain to rest our feet and enjoy said popcorn. Next we headed over to Millenium Park to show our guests the Bean and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. We snapped some great touristy shots at both locations, and I must admit, it was kind of fun to be a tourist in a city that Aaron and I are already so familiar with.

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Of course, after all the walking around, we needed some fuel so we ventured out to Smoque BBQ, and hot damn, it was delicious! Seriously. I love food of just about every variety, but this was some of the best barbecue that I’ve ever had. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, you need to get some and try it for yourself. 

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On Sunday we grabbed lunch at this great little greasy spoon diner just a few blocks from our apartment. It’s the kind of place with countless photos of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe and chock-full of colorful characters. Plus, the counter tops are pink and the coffee is great. What more do you need than that?

After brunch, we headed to IKEA to walk off all the food we ate and oogle over all of the beautiful rooms we wish our homes had. Once our friends hit the road, Aaron and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and smiling about the good times we had. Plus, I had some fun brushing up on my brush lettering (pun definitely intended) for this post which is always a blast.

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Life Lately & The Start of Summer

May was a whirlwind month full of fun and wedding planning (man, it still feels weird to say that). Aaron and I have been spending quite a bit of time out on patios, whether they be our own or a friend’s. It’s been great to get outside and enjoy some sunshine and all the wonderful food prepared on the grill.

Since we’ve been doing a lot of research/planning for our wedding (don’t ask us the date just yet—we’re working on it!), my brain has switched over to organization mode. I spent some time the other week organizing many of the paper samples that I snagged at HOW Design Live this year. While there is much more to be done, my office is starting to feel more like the creative hub I love rather than a warzone :)

Of course, it wouldn’t be summer without some delicious ice cream (or whatever you frozen treat of choice is). Though it’s been hard to not be a stone’s throw away from Leon’s, my absolute FAVORITE custard joint in the world, all this wedding research has brought Aaron and I to Milwaukee on a nearly weekly basis. Needless to say, Leon’s is back in my life, and I couldn’t be happier. If you’re ever in Milwaukee, do yourself a favor and get your booty over to Leon’s and treat yourself :)

PS: I think Aaron and I might have found our wedding reception venue (Finally!). We’re not quite ready to share because we’re still ironing out the details, but we’re both super excited. Things are starting to come together!

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New Work: Baby Shower Sprinkle Invitations

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Just a few short months ago, a client reached out to me to design a baby shower invitation and matching thank you card for her best friend who was expecting her second child. My client had a very clear vision of a lighthearted and low-key event, and we collaborated together to find the best solution for translating that imagery onto paper. This collaboration resulted in an invitation with playful, modern typography and lots of cheerful polka dots.

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I also want to note that I had an absolute blast photographing these as well. I secretly love photography and art direction, and any excuse to make and play with confetti is a good one in my book!  It always feels good to step away from the computer for and do some hands-on design work and art direction too :)

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My St. Louis Engagement!

This weekend, Aaron and I took a (seemingly spontaneous) trip down to St. Louis! I even took my own advice on what to pack for such an occasion!

The Trip

We had both been eagerly waiting for the new St. Louis Zoo penguin exhibit to open for quite some time since many of the penguins from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago were relocated to the St. Louis Zoo. During our first year of dating (7 years ago!), Aaron “adopted” one of the penguins in my name, so we knew visiting STL was in the cards for us at some point. When I asked Aaron what he wanted for his birthday, he suggested a weekend trip to St. Louis rather than a physical present. I happily agreed and off we went!

Rooster

We stopped for breakfast at Rooster which has some really amazing food! Though I’m not one for bloody mary’s, Aaron said his was phenomenal (though it didn’t come with the shorty chaser beer that we Illinois/Wisconsin folks are accustomed too).

The Proposal

After breakfast, we headed to the zoo and wandered around a bit. After arriving at the penguin exhibit, Aaron reminded me of the fact that male penguins will give a female penguin a pebble as way of choosing her as his mate for life. If the female penguin adds the pebble to her nest, the two become life-long partners. I nodded as I snapped a few shots of the swimming penguins with my camera. Then Aaron said that he thought he saw a penguin with a pebble. I start looking around I couldn’t see anything like that. Aaron kept insisting that I keep looking , and so I do for a minute. When I turn around to announce that I still couldn’t find anything, I realized he was down on one knee and proposing! I excitedly screamed yes (so excitedly, in fact, I interrupted his sweet words by screaming yes before he could finish—typical Kristy!) and starting jumping up and down :)

Since we were out of town, we opted to only tell our parents until we were home so that we could enjoy our weekend together without any distractions. The photo below was taken shortly after he proposed so we both look overly excited and dazed.

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The Celebration

Afterwards we celebrated in the most logical way—we headed to a brewery! We’ve been visiting breweries both near and far for several years now, and it’s definitely become one of our favorite must-do’s on every one of our trips. We stopped at Urban Chestnut Brewery and were happy to discover that they not only had delicious beer but also landjaeger! My Switzerland-born-and-raised grandma owned a school house in New Glarus, Wisconsin when I was get kid, and I remember getting landjaeger from there with my family. However, I rarely see it anywhere else, so it was a wonderful surprise.

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We continued our celebration over at Schafly Brewery and picked up tickets for their brewery tour. Since we had several hours to kill, we explored a few shops in St. Louis including a really cute record store where we bought Caribou’s newest record, aptly named “Our Love”. We then headed over to Firecracker Press to check out their beautiful space and collection of incredible prints.

Firecracker Press, I love you 💕

I made my purchases (two small prints, perhaps I’ll share photos once I get them framed), and it was back to Schafly!

On our way home, we stopped at a greasy spoon diner off the highway where we relished the remaining few hours of our incredible weekend together and talked about our adventures—past, present, and future. We laughed over the thought of our former selves being best friends while dating other people. We laughed at all of the silly stages of relationships that everyone goes through and the many memories that we already share with one another. And for the first time on the trip, I cried tears of joys. Salty tears of joy splashing into my greasy hashbrowns, and it was perfect.

After finishing our meal (and grabbing some slices of pie to-go, obviously), we jumped back in the car and listened to songs from a hilarious mix CD that Aaron had given me when we first met. We spent the remainder of the ride home dancing, laughing, singing and rapping.

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Weekender Wardrobe

WeekenderWardrobe_KristyBlack

It has been a whirlwind of month full of fun client projects and jam-packed weekends with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and family get-togethers. As projects wind down and the weather warms up, I’m dreaming about a spontaneous weekend trip to…well, pretty much anywhere! Aaron seems to agree that a brief getaway is definitely order so hopefully one will be in the works soon!

In the meantime, I’ll be mentally packing all of my weekender adventure essentials. I’m not usually one for clothing/fashion posts because I am far from a fashion expert, but I’m feeling so antsy for spring I can’t even handle it. My style is definitely focused on 80% comfort, 20% sass, and this collection of pieces would all be warmly welcomed into my wardrobe.

My Essential Weekender Wardrobe includes:

  • A gingham top—Sure the gingham button-up has received some flack in the past, but it’s a springtime staple! It’s cute and comfy, and makes a perfect replacement for the buffalo check flannel I’ve been pretty much living in since October…oops!
  • Skinny jeans—Assuming you’re weekend adventure is not a pantless one, you should probably pack something to cover your booty. My weapon of choice: skinny jeans.
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  • Sunglasses—I recently bought a pair of sunglasses that look very similar to these Warby Parkers, and I’m absolutely obsessed with them. Big enough to be sassy but not so big that I look like bug :)
  • Sneakers—Sure flats and boots are cute, but when it comes to functionality when adventuring in a new place, I’ll opt for a pair of my favorite sneakers any day. Converse are a classic, but I love my Vans and Keds just as much. Picking which sneakers make the cut is honestly one of the harder decisions I make when packing.
  • The perfect striped t-shirt—Everyone needs a striped tshirt (or 100). There are so many varieties, they look great on just about everyone, and they make it look like you at least sort-of tried to pull yourself together when you got dressed in the morning (even if you didn’t!). I’m particularly loving this one with the neon trim!
  • Leather jacket—Whether you opt for the real deal or a nice faux leather jacket (depending on your values + budget), I think every woman can benefit from a sassy leather jacket. I know I couldn’t live without mine.
  • Flats—When the afternoon adventures subside, I sometimes like to swap out my sneakers for my favorite pair flats (or sandals if it’s warm enough) to class it up. While I don’t have a pair like this yet, I can’t stop drooling over these d’orsay flats…
  • Weekender bag—Unless you want to carry all of your weekend warrior gear in your arms (which seems incredibly impractical), it’s pretty important to have a durable weekend back. This one from Etsy definitely caught my eye, and it just might end up on my birthday wishlist :)

Of course there are tons of other essentials, and if you rummaged through a weekender bag of mine you’d also discover black t-shirts, bright + colorful cardigans, and hot pink or red lipstick. However, the items above are definitely some of my more cherished choices.

Have a great weekend everyone! Go out and have an adventure!

gingham top // skinny jeans // warby parker sunglasses // white chucks // striped top // leather jacket // d’orsay flats // weekender bag

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