Monday, December 12, 2005

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Holiday Inn Monrovia

This is the Holiday Inn Monrovia, right off the 210 Freeway at Huntington Drive. Strangely, while the weather today was mostly gray and overcast, the sky in this picture looks strangely blue. Sorry, I guess I'm not that great of a picture editor. Anyway, I was here Friday to do another 18th birthday party (for someone I knew as a baby - man, how time flies!). This hotel seems to be popular for the debutante parties - last time I did a party here, it was also an 18th birthday party. This is not a bad hotel to work at anyway - the catering staff is generally easy to work with and they oblige us when we need several hours to set up and decorate.

However, we got one of these guys - a picture taker. We actually wouldn't have known he was there, taking pictures, if his flash hadn't gone off. The dude just walked in with his wife (I presume) and, I guess, thought, "sure, I'll just take pictures of everything you guys are doing....." He didn't even try to chat us up or say hello or anything - just came in and started taking pictures. I even tried to push the point to the guy by saying, "hello, how are you? I'm good, how are you?" He didn't get the point, so I got down from the chair I was using to decorate and stopped until he left.

Sometimes, we're OK with other people taking pictures, but usually I have to get the signal from my mom - it is her business, after all. But it's not cool when people just walk in and start snapping away at another person's hard work - c'mon, at least say hi. Some people do get real sensitive about other taking pictures of their work - I remember once, when I was maybe 14 or 15, I was at a trade show, helping my mom out. My mom told me to wander around and take some pictures, so I did. I happened to take pictures of what I think was a balloon display, and the lady who did it went after me - yelled at me, said there was a sign that said "No Pictures" (I didn't see it), then even wrested my camera from me and tore my film out. I was so steamed - I mean, we were at a trade show, what did she expect? - but what could I do. I was a little teenager at the time.

Anyway, thank God that dude left before I finished up - here's the finished product. Well, at least the front. I had to leave early to go to work, so not everything was finished. I kinda don't like the colored lighting, but hey - it's what my mom wanted.

Here's a picture of the backdrop, closer, without the colored spotlight.

And here's the front entrance arrangement.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Launching the Wedding Decorator

I've been a wedding decorator for longer than I've been a journalist, so I figure it's high time I start blogging about the many weddings and parties I decorate for my mom, Aida Barrientos.

First, some background.

When I was in elementary school, I remember getting ready for school and my mom rushing off to the Flower District in Los Angeles for her floral arrangement classes. When my parents got divorced when I was 10, my mom kicked her business into high gear out of necessity, but now is one of the most in-demand florists in the Filipino community.

Why just the Filipino community? Well, she is most comfortable with what she knows, and that would be Filipinos. Plus, now, she's on the verge of retirement, so she's slowed down some - no more two or three-wedding days, thank God! Those were killer days.

I realized the other day, as I was decorating at the Our Lady Of The Angels Cathedral in downtown L.A., that since I like to post pictures of what I do on Saturdays before going to work at CBS - I might as well create a companion blog. It's a concept that I have modeled from Franklin Avenue, who has several companion blogs - thanks for the inspiration, Mike and Maria!

Anyway, wedding season, much like Southern California's fire season, is year-round - May and June are known as the most popular wedding months, but after more than five years of helping my mom on a steady basis, I've learned that there really are no wedding months. This month is a prime example - my mom had one wedding for each weekend in November this year, but during May, was not really all that busy.

The frequency of weddings is directly related to the frequency of my posts to this blog - I can't really blog about a wedding I've decorated unless there is one, so don't expect real frequent posts. The idea of blogging about the weddings I've decorated (and dude, I probably have decorated more than you think is possible) is kinda exciting also, because this way I can add little notes about the hotels and churches we work with and other vendors we encounter.

However, I don't work as directly with my mom as I used to (when I lived with her), so I often don't have much to say about the couples or families in question, so don't expect any snarky gossip about monster brides.

I also plan to post more pictures, but in a size and quality that will make it impossible to for some eager-beaver florist to try and copy. I know all your tricks...

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Our Lady Of Angels

You're looking at a picture of the courtyard of the Our Lady Of Angels Cathedral in downtown L.A., where I helped my mom with a pretty big deal kinda wedding. Weddings at the cathedral in general are kind of a big deal anyway, since I think the waiting list for the cathedral is, like, two years long and really expensive to boot. This particular view is from the second-floor conference center, across from the main cathedral sanctuary.

Of course, the difference between other Catholic churches and the cathedral is that there are any number of tourists at the cathedral at any given day. They watched my brother and I eagerly as we carted equipment over to the sanctuary in preparation for a 10 a.m. wedding.

Oh, yeah, here's another reason - the sheer size of this church.

I know you're wondering why I said the wedding was a big deal - well, it was because this was apparently the first time the Cathedral allowed draping on the altar.

Here's a close up. Yep, that's what I do. It's not as easy as it might seem, and it took me years to figure out how to do all this in less than 30 minutes.

Trinity and I both work night shifts on Saturdays, so doing working with my mom is definitely out of love, especially on Trinity's end. He so loves his morning sleep.... This picture is of him tying the sashes - which were bubble-gum pink, by the way - onto the seat covers, all of which were provided by mom. We fought over this picture right after I took it.

More pictures...

This is a sweetheart table, which my mom insists on at almost every wedding reception we do, although some hotels and reception sites still don't understand the concept. My mom really does the sweetheart tables up - for this one, besides the draping and the flowers, she scattered rose petals on it and put special, custom-made seat covers on the chairs.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Recap: Holy Matrimony Batman!

What is this you ask? Well, first, this was the wedding of my friend Moonie, more popularly known as the editor and publisher of Flavor and its predecessor Pinoylife. He decided to get married on Oct. 1, the peak of the fire season and sure enough - a brush fire was burning the hills of Burbank the day of his wedding and reception, which was at the Castaway, nestled right in the hills of Burbank. Oh, and yeah, my family and I also decorated the wedding, so we got to deal with all the fun wrangling with the Burbank police and fire departments, trying to get past the roadblocks so we could unload all our flowers and equipment. Now, I can put "decorating amidst brush fire" up there along with "decorating amidst Long Beach Grand Prix" on my list of things I've done as a florist's daughter.

There's the water-dropping helicopter flying into the hills, as my mom and her teacher Silverio feverishly put together their arrangements.

I thought this was a nice environmental photo of my mom - what do you think?

Oh, yeah - besides decorating amidst the flames, we attended the wedding too. I was so tired at the end of the night..... Unfortunately, to Moonie's disappointment, there was no flames lighting the hills as the reception went on. This was, however, the most fun and crazy wedding I've ever seen - and I've seen plenty. May King Choc Nut live on!

Lovella looked absolutely beautiful and actually, clicking through their online wedding proofs, she was absolutely photogenic this night too. Too bad I can't say the same for the other female in this picture.... *ugh*

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

About the Wedding Decorator

My name is Darleene Powells and I'm the author of this here blog. Welcome!

By day, I'm a mild-mannered journalist, producing news, stories and videos for in Los Angeles. But because I've been a blogger for nearly 10 years now, a couple of years ago, I thought it would be kind of fun to put stuff from my weekend job online. My occasional weekend job? To be a wedding decorator, or more precisely, a draper for my mom, Aida Barrientos, who is a florist.

How did I learn how to drape? Mostly from pictures and from my own whims. Generally, I drape tables and floral props like plastic columns and balustrades. I can and have also draped stages and walls. I often incorporate lighting to literally spotlight these designs, usually what I call backdrops.

My mom is now retired, a well-deserved retirement at that. She itches to work again, so if you feel my mom is the only florist for you, please shoot me an email (darleene at gmail dot com)and I will try to hook you up -- if the job is big enough to bring her out of retirement. I've never freelanced for anyone else, but I suppose I'd be willing to give it a try.

But for the most part, I will simply post pictures of weddings I have decorated or attended and blog about wedding receptions and all things related.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Double duty day

I work a Tuesday through Saturday schedule, which was a surprise to my mom when we finally began talking again. I didn't tell her that I volunteered for the shift so that I could have the same schedule as Trinity - I don't think she's at that point of acceptance yet. I know I've mentioned before that I used to work for my mom, the florist. I never did much floral design myself, but became an expert of sorts in draping, which she uses for her various weddings and parties. Anyway, lately, she's been asking me for help with some of her bigger events. I actually did most of this work last night (I did, after all, have to work today) but went back to take pictures with her camera and my camera. (My mom seems to think that because I took a photography class, my taking the pictures is better.) Here are some of the photos:

The party was an 18th birthday debutante ball-type of deal. Filipinos tend to do these up really elaborate, and this is possibly one of the best examples of really elaborate. This scene here was just the entrance. I didn't include it, but there was actually another one of those tall arrangements at the flanking the other side of the room entrance.

This is, obviously, the main focal point of the room, what we call a head table and backdrop. For some Godforsaken reason my mom had shown these folks pictures of work done by another company that was gaudy, pre-done and dripping with silk flowers. The family wanted us to copy those pictures, for some odd reason, but whatever - I did it my own way anyway. Besides, I knew what they wanted - real gold, real flow-y, real elaborate. Most of the material used is organza, English netting, plus this really soft gold, glittery netting that I love to use. My mom makes her own knots and all the flowers are real. By the way, is that photo lopsided or what?

I just had to include a photo of the regular tables. The family rented the cream-colored, organza tablecloth overlays for each of the tables, plus white seat covers, from my mom. Of course, you couldn't really see the seat covers in these pictures. I just want to point out that each table had several votive candles, a program featuring that picture of the debutante that was blown up for the entrance, plus a glass rose as a giveaway. Dude, this is an 18th birthday party, not a wedding - remember that.

Ah yes, and this is the cake table. Also done up with that gold netting, organza, English netting and plenty of real flowers, mostly stargazer lilies, rose petals on the cake table and stephanotis in the cake. The cake was really tipsy, though - every time someone stepped on the riser (yes, the head table and cake table were on risers), the top layer would shiver.

So there's a quick rundown of some of the work I used to do on a regular basis. The designing is pretty cool - there's nothing better than working under deadline to finish something you can see and feel later on. I don't miss doing the grunt work - planning Saturday itineraries, being short, therefore being the one to load arrangements and equipment into the van, especially in really hot weather (why is it there are more weddings during the summer?!), looking up directions, especially for my mom who hates to take the freeway (somehow, she makes it work). But having woked on, say, an average of three of these type of weddings/parties a month over five years, you can see why I opted for the park near the ocean on the night of a blue moon in a simple, store-bought, white dress with a bouquet picked from a garden just 30 minutes prior when I got married. (P.S. I added the copyright watermarks and made the pictures as small as possible so that they won't get jacked. If you only knew how many times people have taken pictures without permission just to try to

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