The approach here is to keep everything simple and use elements that are minimal in their design. The neutral color palette I’m using consists of bridal white (for her dress, linens, flowers, etc.), natural greenery, and black details. To further emphasize this limited palette, avoid anything heavily textured. Stick to fabrics, including dress material, that are sleek and have few embellishments. Bouquets and centerpieces should be greenery-heavy, and paper items will look their best with basic, black text. These elements together create a kind of understated style that will be endlessly beautiful. A venue with modern architecture and bright natural light will also help to bring this look to life. Check out my full inspiration board on Pinterest.
Matting and framing art yourself is a great way to save on costs and it’s simple if you know how to choose the right materials. Here are a few expert tips to make this process super easy.
Choosing the Mat Board
Artworks on paper (this includes paintings, drawings, pastels, prints, mixed media, photographs, etc.) are best displayed by matting them within a frame. The colors and textures of mat board are endless, but to get a professional look I suggest using a neutral color (soft white or cream is universally flattering) and a smooth surface that compliments the work. Choosing a colored mat that “matches” the work will actually distract, and doesn’t convey a sense of professionalism. A neutral ground helps the art to stand out, and ultimately, you want to notice the art – not the mat and frame. I love pairing a white mat with a black frame for a simple and high-quality look. This combo works with almost any work of art.
Sizing and Matting
You can cut mats yourself or you can have someone cut them for you (at a framer or even craft stores like Michaels). The easiest option is to purchase a pre-cut mat, which comes in a range of standard sizes. Whether cutting it yourself or buying a pre-cut mat, you will want the mat to slightly cover the edges of the work (about 1/4 inch on each side). Adhere the work on the back with tape (preferably archival tape, but masking tape works too). Use just enough tape to hold the work in place in case it ever needs to be removed from the mat. Keep in mind if you are cutting your own mat to leave plenty of breathing room around the art, at least 2 inches on each side. The larger the art, the wider the mat should be. Never skimp on the mat width. A wide mat has a way of setting off even a small artwork and making it look impressive.
Frame Your Matted Work
The next step is to assemble your frame with your matted work. For ease, I recommend buying a readymade frame with hanging hardware. These come with a removable backing that allows you to insert and secure your art. Like with the mat, I suggest choosing neutral colors (black metal or wood that has been painted black or stained). Again, you want the frame to support and show off the work, not distract. You will also want to choose a style of frame that matches the work. A large, floral work might stand a more ornate frame, while a small, minimal work might be best in a thin, simple frame. When in doubt, a plain black frame always looks great. Once your work is in its frame, you can add the hanging hardware that came with it or you may need to add screw eyes and hanging wire, which can be found at any craft or home improvement store. For tips on how to hang your art, read this blog post.
A brunch event is a great idea for a cost-friendly wedding. Venues can be cheaper because of the earlier hours (they can still host an evening event after yours), and breakfast foods are typically more affordable. If you are having a small gathering, check with your favorite local café or consider hosting it at your home to save on additional costs. This is also a wonderful idea for a bridal shower or for a morning-after brunch – something my husband and I did for our out of town wedding guests. For the event, bring out all the breakfast goodies: a mimosa bar, lots of coffee, and donuts. I suggest using warm colors (think: yellows, oranges, and the popular living coral) with gold accents. A few flowers on the table and some balloons in the same color scheme can tie the space together on a low budget. Your celebration will feel cozy and cheerful and will leave your guests feeling bright-eyed and caffeinated. Check out my full inspiration board on Pinterest.
Stretching a canvas is a simple process. You just need raw canvas, stretcher bars, and a staple gun. The biggest thing to remember is to keep the canvas square to the stretcher bars and pull tight. Follow these simple steps to stretch your own canvas.
Choose Your Materials
Begin with raw, unprimed linen or cotton canvas. Linen is the more traditional painting surface, particularly for oils, but cotton is cheaper and more commonly used today. The type of canvas you use really comes down to your personal preference. You will also need to choose your stretcher bars, which will determine the size of your painting. Typically, stretcher bars are purchased in individual lengths by the inch. These will need to be fit together and attached with wood glue and a staple gun at the corners. Keep in mind that you may need cross bars to support your stretcher bar frame if you are creating a very large painting.
Measure and Cut the Canvas
Lay out the canvas under the assembled stretcher bar frame and cut the canvas to the correct size. You want the canvas to be about 2 inches wider than the stretcher bars on each side. Make a small cut with scissors into the canvas and then rip the canvas the rest of the way. Ripping the canvas instead of cutting it prevents future fraying and actually makes a straight line because it follows the fibers of the canvas.
Staple the Canvas
Center the stretcher bar frame over the canvas. On one side, pull the canvas up and over the back of the stretcher bar and secure in the middle with a staple gun. Do the same thing on the opposite side - pull the canvas tight and place one staple through the canvas and into the middle of the stretcher bar. Repeat for the other two sides. Now starting at your first staple, pull the canvas tight and staple about 3 inches to the right of the first staple. Rotate the canvas 90 degrees, pull tight, and staple again about 3 inches from the previous staple. You may want to use canvas pliers to help you get a tighter pull. The canvas should be tight like a drum. Continue this process of rotating, pulling, and stapling. As you work, you will see a diamond shape form in the canvas. This is a sign you are getting the canvas tight. As you work toward the edges, the diamond shape will disappear. When you get to the edges, fold the corners over neatly, and staple several times on the back until secure.
Prime the Canvas
Prime the surface with gesso. (You can read my step-by-step guide on how to do this here.) Gesso primes the surface by making it a uniform color, but it also helps tighten up the canvas even more. I like to use Utrecht acrylic gesso under both oil and acrylic paintings. Once you do this, your canvas is ready to paint.
Additional Tips on Stretching a Pre-Primed or Painted Canvas
To stretch a canvas that has already been primed or to stretch a painted canvas, keep in mind you will need to pull extra tight as the canvas won’t have as much “give” because of the layers of paint. You can also add canvas keys to tighten the stretcher bars if necessary. Canvas keys are oddly-shaped pointed pieces of wood that often come with your canvas or stretcher bars. Carefully hammer them into the inside corners of your stretcher bars to slightly expand the width of the bars and thus pull the canvas tighter. Also, if you are stretching a finished painting, keep checking as you stretch to make sure it remains square on the frame.