Thursday, July 30, 2009

led throwies for paper lanterns

*Warning: this post might be a little boring if you’re not doing your own lighting. I really wish this info was out there when I went looking for it though, so I’m going ahead with it. Feel free to skip :)

In the past few months I think I’ve earned myself quite a few credits in the subject of lighting, with this weekend’s research being about equivalent to a thesis paper. Here’s just another example of something totally unexpected that I’ve had to learn about. Granted, I could have just ponied up the bucks for my rental company to light our tent, but no that would be too easy for the totally cheap frugal Miss Tiramisu. Read on, and take advantage of my research so you don’t have to waste hours of your life on this craziness like I did!

Like Miss Penguin, I knew I wanted lots of paper lanterns to spice up the blank ceiling of our tent. Mr. Tiramisu and I looked over some inspiration pictures and decided that for the look we were going for, we’d need around 150 lanterns for our 120×40 foot tent. Our rental company said they’d gladly rent us the lanterns and light strands, and even string them up for us, for the low low price of $35…. PER LANTERN. Don’t reach for your calculator. I’ll do it for you if you brace yourself for the total: $5250. Let’s all have a little laugh. Well actually I cried (real tears falling from my face- ask Mr. Tiramisu!).

Come on now. We’ve all been to weddings with paper lanterns (or at least seen about a million pictures of them), and I’m pretty sure that no one I know was shelling out that kind of cash. I’ve since figured out that my rental company (who will remain nameless so that I don’t end up tentless) is less than stellar, so I’m sure there are cheaper rental costs out there. The cheapest of all though, is DIY. A few google searches later and I was the proud owner of 100 white 14″ paper lanterns bought for $1.35 each. This was the best pricing that I could find, and the folks over at the Paper Lantern Store were even nice enough to give me free shipping after emailing them to ask (coupon code fship for non-oversize item orders over $100). My day-of coordinator (aka best wedding decision ever made) is providing us with another 49 lanterns in various sizes- gratis. (I promise a post soon on how amazing this woman is!)

Now onto the dilemma of actually lighting the darn things. I’m not going to take a single ounce of credit for the following brilliant solution. That would all belong to weddingbee reader ambinsb. Here is her post:

“We are making led throwies to hang by fishing line within our lanterns to light them up. They’ll come out to about $0.25 a throwie, and we’ll need about three to light up one lantern (under a dollar, yea!) Here are the instructions if you want to give it a shot:

Keep in mind that you won’t need the magnet, but it would probably be beneficial to add the on/off switch, instructions are here:″

Let me tell you the reasons why this is the bestideaever:
1. LED lights = no cords to string up, no extension cords or electricity issues to deal with
2. LEDs instead of battery powered lights = 1-2 week lasting power vs a few hours
3. hello bargain (LEDs designed for lantern lighting run around $5 each)

I put Mr. Tiramisu on this project right away. An experiment by us (and another by reader MissRojoOso) helped us to figure out that 3 LEDs per 14″ lantern was optimal. We are now going strong on day 3 of our how-long-will-it-last experiment. We’re planning on putting these up on Friday morning for our Saturday evening wedding, so this is great news!

We found the best pricing for LEDs (13.3 cents) and batteries (17 cents) on ebay, from sellers led-hk and cwithk respectively.

Just look at this stuff. Let me tell you, when Mr. Tiramisu popped this ring on my finger, I most certainly did not have visions of 10mm LED fittings and CR 2032 3v batteries dancing in my head. How far we have come.

Next up in my lighting education curriculum was tent perimeter lighting. This is going to be the more functional lighting for us, as the paper lanterns probably aren’t going to be enough once the sun goes down. My rental company wanted to charge $520 for twinkle lights strung around the perimeter of the tent. You all know me well enough by now to know I wasn’t going to jump at that opportunity. We’ll string these up ourselves on Friday:

These are C7 5 watt globe lights, and the best price I could find for the 320 feet that we need was at Hometown Evolution Inc, for around $200.

Hmmm, let me whip out the calculator again… I think I’ve saved myself enough to do a little shoe shopping now :) (Thanks again to all of you who helped me out with blue shoe suggestions!) What completely ridiculous and unexpected things did you find yourself jumping into in the name of wedding planning and saving a few dollars?

photo sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-8