Friday, October 24, 2008

Changes abound

I figure its about time for Wedding Decorator to grow up and be on its own domain name and host. Blogger, you've been good to me, but you have to let go sometime!

So don't be surprised if you see little activity in the next few weeks. I am getting ready to begin blogging Wedding Decorator on a new site, but it remains to be seen whether I will move all move all of Wedding Decorator to the new site or keep the current entries here. At any rate, please be patient and you'll hear from me soon!

Read More......

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An arch, pew decorations and pool flowers

Ah, did I catch your attention with the mention of pool flowers? Yeah, you don't see it that often, but when you do -- wow! These pictures are from a friend who did not want to be identified, but she so happened to be at two weddings a few weekends ago and saw the flowers and just knew I would want pictures. The pictures were taken from her cell phone, but you can click on each photo for a bigger version.

The first wedding, by the way, was at Dove Canyon Country Club, a venue I have never had the pleasure of decorating. The area code on the website tells me its in south Orange County, and my friend says Rancho Santa Margarita. The second wedding was in Palos Verdes at a private home.

The arch was decorated with gorgeous red roses, lemon leaf, leather fern and what I just learned were Bells of Ireland. Heheh. My mom used them for years, and I always just assumed they were leaves -- they're actually flowers! For the longest time I always thought of them as the "sucker-looking greens." Silly me.

Here's a close up of the pew decorations. The florist used the same flowers from the arch, except with some pink snapdragons. It appears there were flowers only on the innermost seat of the first and last row on each side -- in other words, just four pews were decorated along the center aisle. It's a good way to save some money. Besides, it was a gorgeous venue, so I don't think it needed a lot of flowers to dress it up.

Here's where the Palos Verdes wedding pictures start. There was a table with the table cards/assignments decorated very simply, but nicely dressed up with a vase full of calla lilies. Remember what I wrote before about flowers for tall arrangements? The calla lily is also an ideal candidate for a tall arrangement, but don't forget to get that stout vase. A calla lily's stem is pretty thick and heavy (compared to other flowers). But this vase is weighed down by what looks like polished glass and black rocks, plus it looks like the weight of the vase is pretty evenly distributed. By the way, it surprises me that calla lilies are so popular in weddings now (it shouldn't surprise me, since they're so graceful looking) since I always thought they were the flower of death. But there are some who believe it symbolizes rebirth. So maybe I'm wrong. Who knows?

The guest tables seemed to have three centerpieces, all in square glass vases wrapped with burgundy (or brown) ribbon. The tallest, which looks to be about 8 inches tall, is all white and pink variegated roses. (By the way, roses aren't my favorite flower, but if I had to pick one, these would be it.) The second, half obscured by the candle in a hurricane, is a possibly 6-inch vase filled with what looks like mini calla lilies. The third is probably 4 inches tall and filled with pink hydrangeas, and all seem to be flanked by candles. Very pretty. Hopefully they got to light those candles.

Ah, the pièce de résistance. Flowers in the pool. I've only seen this done a few times -- once at Michael Cooper's wedding in Palm Springs a long time ago (that was awesome, but I have to admit, I didn't actually see him but was helping at a wedding I was told was his), and at my own birthday party! That's another story for another time. Anyway, this floating flower arrangement looks like mostly pink carnations and a line of red roses, plus a variety of six lit candles of different heights. They're probably floating on a mix of oasis (the foam that, when soaked, keeps the flowers in place and watered), possibly wood and possibly styrofoam brick, which floats, in a criss-cross formation to enable the whole thing to float. I'll definitely have to show off my 18th birthday party flowers later on.

Read More......

Monday, October 13, 2008

October wedding? Then think about wedding insurance

Photo by Flickr's TooterMonkey

I'm sitting at home on my usual day off, just watching the orange-reddish glow of the sun illuminate my fingers at the keyboard, wondering why I've been to so many weddings in Southern California in October. "So many" may be an exaggeration, but maybe not, since I've not been to a lot of weddings as a guest, but I've been three as a guest in October. That's a lot in my book. And since determining earlier this year that October is quite the popular month for weddings (at least among people who read this blog), it seems that wedding insurance must also be a popular must-have for October weddings in Southern California. Or at least it seems it should be.

The above photo, by the way, is of Malibu Presbyterian Church, which was destroyed in last year's fire in Malibu, which was part of the 2007 California Firestorm.

Having worked in news the past five years and lived in Southern California all my life, October and November are reliably the worst wildfire months of the year. I have actually decorated and been a guest at one wedding where a fire broke out in the canyon behind the reception site, the Castaway in Burbank. But it seems to me that maybe wedding insurance isn't for everyone...

Apparently, cold feet is one of the main reasons for a wedding being canceled, and insurance doesn't cover cold feet. Sorry. However, let's be optimistic and posit that both bride and groom and in-laws-to-be are ecstatic to be joining families and talk about all the other things a bride or groom or wedding planner cannot control and might need insurance on.
  • The church or the reception site: Say you've picked the most gorgeous sites available, nestled in the mountains of Malibu or along the beach in Texas -- but then there's a wildfire or a hurricane. This is where insurance would come in handy.
  • A vendor is a no-show, something happens to the food or the flowers, someone's car/truck breaks down or something else vendor-related: This happens more than you might think, and I'm sorry to say I've had this happen to me too. If you had to cancel or postpone for something like this, insurance would cover it.
  • A member of the wedding party gets sick or is injured in an accident: God forbid your mother or father or an in-law becomes injured or gets sick, but this is definitely something covered by insurance.

I think those would be the main reasons, although, also includes military deployments or surprise corporate moves as another reason why a wedding would be postponed or canceled. Although, I think in the case of a corporate move, the wedding might just become more of a destination wedding.

Anyway, do you think to might need insurance? In tough economic times, most would say -- better safe than sorry. Personally, I think the ratio of cash flow to wedding expenditure should have more to do with the need for wedding insurance, and as that ratio becomes bigger, the more you should consider going easy on your wedding budget.

Then again, what about people really looking forward to getting married that day? I did a blog post last year on one couple that immediately readjusted their plans as Malibu burned. The whole point to the wedding, after all, is to get married.

At any rate, beside article I found, here are a few more resources on wedding insurance from USA Today, InsWeb's Insurance Blog, and

And as with anything wedding related, I would recommend going with a wedding insurance policy on a recommendation, rather than what comes up first in Google. Hey, that's how I looked for it too!

Read More......

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Flowers for tall arrangments

Photo by Flickr's lukwarmmizer

Dreaming of a tall flower guest table arrangements for your wedding? I can sympathize. Tall arrangements always look elegant and graceful. But it would surprise you what flowers work well for tall arrangements. Here's a hint -- a tall flower, like birds of paradise, don't do well for most tall arrangements. They're too heavy and prone to falling over. Above, you've got a very simple but striking arrangement. It's just gerber daisies and bear grass. You don't need a lot of gerbers for big color impact.

Photo by Flickr's blondytec

This arrangement is not your typical tall arrangement -- first, there's so much going on here! Goldfish at the bottom of the cylinder vase, black and white ribbon around the cylinder, then the bouquet (which was possibly used as a bridesmaid's bouquet?) tucked into the vase. If you go with doubling your bouquets as flower arrangements, that's smart to make your flowers go double duty, but you mind end up spending more for a vase that can support a bouquet. Bouquets can be heavier than actual table arrangements. Trust me, I know.

Here's an oldie, but goodie from my mom. The pedestals are made of steel, so they can support just about anything. But the arrangements are topped with dendrobium orchids, a type of heliconia, ti leaves, leather fern and oranges. The neck is wrapped with sinamay, and there are more ti leaves and oranges at the base. If you couldn't tell, this was a luau-themed party.

This arrangement is from one of my favorite recent weddings, in Whittier. This arrangement's vase has a dendrobium orchid inside a water-filled vase, and is topped with an arrangement of orchids, larkspur, stargazers, leather fern and bear grass. That's not a lot of flowers, and its actually pretty light. But it looks so pretty and elegant anyway.

This is from a wedding that I plan to revisit, but I can't remember the name of the reception site! I do remember it was in San Pedro, which I love. Anyway, this arrangement is on the same steel pedestals, this time the neck wrapped with red ribbon. But the weight of the pedestals allows for more flowers -- two types of orchids, gerber daisies, pink larkspur, roses, stargazers, and more I can't name.

My point -- with a tall arrangement, less is more, unless you're using a steel pedestal. Hehehe.

Read More......

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Indian-Syrian Catholic wedding in Philadelphia

All photos by Shruti Mathur

My uber-wedding attender Shruti Mathur has come through again! This time, she takes us to an Indian-Syrian Catholic wedding in Philadelphia, with a ceremony at Acension MarThoma Church in Northeast Philadelphia and the reception at Celebrations in Bensalem, Pa. I love mixed-culture weddings -- the result is often just spectacular and, dare I say, exotic. With Indian weddings, I fully expect rich colors and a few extravagant details and I was not disappointed.


Alternating height flower arrangements seems to be a new-ish trend. The tall ones are good, because then guests don't have to strain to see over a tall, table level arrangement; but the short ones are good, because then guest can talk over the flowers. Hey, why not have both! Personally, I would prefer one height -- either all tall or all short. That's just me, possibly my mild case of OCD talking. I joke a lot that I'm like Monk now -- "wipe! wipe!"


By the way, if you were not sure, all these images are clickable. The sweetheart table and the cake table were set up at what appears to be the head of the room. I like this arrangement -- first off, its a short distance for the couple to the cake! But it keeps both in the designed "center" of the room.  By the way, the cake is strikingly simple against the rich colors of this wedding -- gold, orange, red. Very pretty.

And, yes! That's a peacock feather in the flower arrangement. Their theme was Peacocks. I love it! Flowers used included red roses, orange day lilies and spider mums. Those green, sucker-looking leaves? I'm not sure what their name is, but my mom used to love using them too.

So, if you have a theme, the trick is to use them in the details -- like with a feathery pen or a bird cage for your gift cards. I love the bird cage idea. Heheh.

Shruti shares this about the couple and their wedding (and Shruti had offered another photo by the wedding photographer of this moment, but I like this one better!):
Sharon is of Malayali Christian descent and Robbie is of Anglo-Indian descent. Their ceremony was traditional Syrian Christian, with chanting and singing in both Malayalam and English and traditions blended from the Syrian Christian tradition and the Malayalee/Kerala traditions, including the crowning ceremony and the tying of a string (Minnu) and placement of a red and gold sari (Manthrakodi). Link  
Here are some excerpts from the program:
"The Order of Service for Marriage according to the Mar Thomas Syrian Rite is a rich blend of symbolism, Biblical traditions and teachings, practices of the Early Church in Palestine and Syria, and the customs of South India. Christ is symbolized as the divine Bridegroom whose Bride is the Church. This is a fitting model of mutual commitment and total faithfulness that is commanded to the couple. The prayers emphasize that marriage is a Sacrament and the family, a divinely blessed institution."

Their theme was Peacocks, carried from the programs and invites to the peacock feather on the table pen and in the boutonnieres and the signature cocktail. The couple also wanted to highlight their Indian-American heritage, and each table was numbered and also named after a famous Indian-Americans. (We had the Mindy Kaling table!)

This was also an afternoon reception, with the wedding starting at 10:30 a.m., the reception from 12 to 4 p.m. We were chased out promptly at 4 since the facility had to turn over fairly quickly. But we still managed to have a lot of fun and dancing.
And by the way, congratulations to Shruti -- finally we're going to see her wedding soon! W00t!

Read More......

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Decorating with fabric: Organza

You often don't see organza fabric outside of formal events, whether its used on the formally-dressed attendees or on the formally decorated facility. Either way, organza is luxurious, shiny and eye-catching -- and comes in dozens of colors. My mom had great foresight when she invested in dozens of colors (including at least three shades of pink) and at least a few hundred bolts of organza. It's a great fabric to use for decorating, but try not to giggle when you spot someone wearing the same fabric you're using to decorate a table. It's happened to me before, believe me.

The photo to the left, by the way, was lifted from

I used at least half a dozen pieces of organza on my friend Cathy's wedding, to great effect. But with her sweetheart table and backdrop, I only used two. Why? Because less can be more, and with the white English netting, that bubble-gum pink has no choice but to pop. Organza, however, can be difficult to decorate with because its fabric. Let's face it -- your clothes wouldn't lay flat if it weren't cut in a particular way, and the same goes for yards of fabric used for decorating. Except, you don't cut fabric you use for decorating. So what do you do? You pin it and you bunch it and you gather it, hopefully in a symmetrical manner. That's my philosophy in decorating setups like these. :)

Here are two colors of organza used together. I actually prefer to use different types of fabric on my tables -- like English netting with organza -- but that tends to limit my color choices. Most of my English netting is white, so for this gorgeous champagne color, out came the organza. This happens to be a long head table on the floor, with two shorter tables on a riser flanking a sweetheart table, plus that backdrop. And in case you were wondering, I don't draw my tables in advance -- I just seem to see them in my head when I get there and see blank tables.

Since I love the champagne organza so much, here's another example from a job in Whittier. But besides that, I want to point out how easy it is to fluff organza. This sweetheart table here is decorated with just one long piece of organza, even though I decorated it a bit like a baker decorates a cake. I twisted and fluffed the organza along the edge of the table, as well as draping it along the table skirt. With a color like champagne, its not too overpowering. I wouldn't recommend this technique with a stronger color like pink or purple.

And here's a close up of how organza hangs. This photo, not previously posted before, was taken at a gazebo ceremony at the Almansor Court in Alhambra. Go to the post to see the finished set up, but this photo was taken from in front of the gazebo -- basically the groom's view as his bride walks down the aisle. The organza has a luminescent quality, really shining in the sun -- and it doesn't hurt that the skies were gorgeous that day. But organza should be used outdoors sparingly, since its relatively thick and wind can make it look and feel like a sail.

Read More......

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

DIY wedding decorations in Wisconsin

All photos by Shruti Mathur

At this point, I think I need to create a "Shruti" label because she keeps coming through for me! My favorite Wedding Attender recently had a grand time at a wedding in Wisconsin (state of cheese!). This wedding, she says, was a major do-it-yourself affair -- not so much because of the cost, but more because of the bride and groom and their personalities. Aw, shucks, let me let her tell you herself.

Jen and Kyle were engaged for two years but I'm not sure if they started planning the wedding until maybe less than a year before. On top of that, Jen spent the summer in Mongolia, coming home about three weeks before the wedding. So, if you can't tell, they are a really easy-going couple and their wedding reflected that--in the best way possible.

Their wedding perfectly encapsulated them and it was really lovely and comfortable and fun. I think that is the highest compliment anyone can pay about someone's wedding---that it fit their personality perfectly. (I only hope people will say that about mine.)

The week before the wedding we went to IKEA to pick up vases, candle holders and candles for the wedding--and anything else that caught the bride's eye. The day before the wedding they visited a flower farm and picked wildflower bouquets and created potted plants in mason jars, which hung from hooks in the wedding tent and were set on the table at the reception.

Rain is supposed to be good luck on the wedding day, but it was unfortunate that it rained the entire time. They had a backup plan of using the marquee tent for the ceremony and the reception was already planned for the lodge--though I am sure they also had planned to let people spill out onto the lawn instead of stuffing themselves inside!!

Instead of a seated or even buffet-style dinner, they opted for "heavy hors d'oeuvres." And, amazingly, this appetizer dinner was really filling! They had wheels of cheese, fruit trays, crackers, pulled pork with buns, home-recipe chicken satay, mini-spanakopitas, hummus, pita, thin slices of beef, mushrooms stuffed with sausage and cheese and this whole fish that you flaked off chunks was scary. I am certainly forgetting foods. I was STUFFED...which was good, since it was an open bar. It was in Wisconsin after all!

Now, I'm just going to interrupt Shruti's great narrative real quick to point out a few things. I LOVE the mason jar idea. How cute! And I love it that they're filled with sand. Remember what I said about lights and candles -- so important!

Case in point! Japanese paper lanterns at a Wisconsin DIY wedding reception? Why not! In the end its all about lighting up the space and creating ambiance. And it also helps dim the soggy outdoor area that people were supposed to be able to wander about in, but for the rain.

I believe this was the bridal bouquet, with white and green mums, white and green roses, and what appear to be green buds. Simple, but so pretty.

Candles in the fireplace, surrounded by greens and branches with red berries. Kind of a nice, fireplace effect in a, heheh, fireplace. With all that Wisconsin drinking, I think a real fire would have been unsafe.

The cake, adorned by a vase of flowers and the bridal bouquet.

The couple, also recognizing that the park was way from our hotel and also it was Wisconsin, land of drinking, provided a small bus to get to and from the hotel. This was very nice touch, I thought.

Park rules stated we had to be out by 10:30 that night. We managed to squeeze in a lot of dancing and fun before that time...and the bridal party plus a few hardy friends headed to a local bar to just hang out.

This wedding, by the way, took place at Bukolt Park and Lodge in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. And its a perfect example of a wedding not needing a year (or two) and the budget of a small city to pull off a one-day event. Do it yourself! It makes things pretty fun. And by the way, I love the idea of heavy hors d'oeuvres. What a great idea. I'm saving that for my next party.

Read More......

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Decorate staircases, banisters and other stuff

From time to time, you might be lucky enough to find features in a room that are perfect for decoration. I'm talking about staircases, banisters, posts, maybe even windows. You should totally take advantage of these features. They're usually very easy to dress up and it'll add something extra to your wedding reception or ceremony.

Photo by Doris at a wedding in RPV

This small set of stairs is a perfect example. The railing is maybe a yard long, but doesn't it look pretty? All it needed was a short length of tulle (although the fabric above looks like chiffon), maybe three yards, and maybe nine bright roses to bunch at each end. You don't even need a big bow or anything.

Here's an oldie but a goodie. This was a bridal shower for my friend Cathy a few years back, held at friend's house. All I did was take a few pieces of organza and English netting to loop along the staircase banister. I hardly used any tape, which some people don't like to use since it can lift off the wood's finish. This is an easy decoration that anyone can do at their own home.

This is another example of decoration you can do at your own home, and not a bad color combination for the upcoming fall season. Heheh. The wrought-iron railing is decorated with orange and yellow material called sinamay mesh. (I swear I thought it was a Filipino product, but maybe not.) It's a rough-feeling mesh made of banana leaf, apparently, dyed in bright colors. When you twine it along railings or banisters, or even combine it with dried decor branches, it has quite a nice effect and dresses up the walls.

The backdrop here was a lucky break. I had an extra piece of gold organza, which my mom suggested I use on the little backdrop. Plus, that backdrop is easy enough to build -- take some PVC pipe and make a kind of clothes rack with it, hang it with English netting and Christmas lights.

Ah, another lucky break. The reception site, Pickwick Gardens, happened to put this trellis behind the cake table. I don't know how it happened that I had an extra piece of purple organza and an extra piece of silver netting, other than my mom was always prepared. But there wasn't a lot of room to be symmetrical, so I decided to make it asymmetrical, which looked just as nice. And when you have a long piece of fabric, you can make a lot of loops and make it all look arty and pretty.

Read More......

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wedding gifts and questions

I had these very questions not long ago. What do you give when you don't have much? What if the couple's registry only asks for gifts $100 or more? What if they're simply asking for cash? What if you're just plain having a hard time and would like to attend, but feel weird about attending if you can't give a "worthy" gift?

Photo by Flickr's aspence61

Yeah, I know how you feel. I don't know how some of you do it -- going to wedding after wedding, buying gift after gift. Just about nothing is cheap in relationship to weddings, not even simply being a guest. There's travel, there's buying appropriate wear, there's buying a gift. It's not all, party, hearty, I know.

Shruti, whom you might remember from posts about weddings in Maine and St. Louis is contemplating this very topic, since she RSVP'ed to five weddings this fall before getting laid off recently. And I know there has got to be so many people in this boat right now. So, what to do?

I'll share one tip I got from a very knowledgeable friend -- my pastor's wife! She once advised me to take a look at the couple's registry and find out the color of their towels. Purchase the same (or similar) color towels (and comparable quality) at another store, for less. Everyone can always use more towels, right?

That's a tip you can extend to different items, like picture frames, blankets, sheets, etc. Just because you don't care to spend your hard-earned money at Macy's, or Nordstrom's or Pottery Barn doesn't mean you don't like your friend as much as any other wedding guest.

Photo by Flickr's Graham310

Of course, if you know the couple really well, you could always go off the cuff the way this guy did. Heheh. A couple might appreciate the gift of free alcohol at their wedding -- or not!

I also happened to stumble upon this idea, which I absolutely love:

Newlyweds receiving a wedding gift from Stacy Gerlich these days can expect a little disaster when they unwrap her present. The Los Angeles Fire Department captain forsakes the traditional toaster oven or personalized bric-a-brac, instead stuffing backpacks with goggles, bottled water, toilet paper and other earthquake-survival items.

"Ten out of 15 couples said it was the best gift they've ever received," said Gerlich, who heads the department's Community Emergency Response Training, a seven-week disaster-training program for city residents.

This really is a great idea, since couples are quick to buy all sorts of stuff, but always procrastinate when it comes to emergency kits or savings accounts. Yeah, yeah, I'm one of those people. If someone gave me an off-the-registry earthquake kit (or hurricane preparedness kit, or tornado kit, or snowstorm kit...if there is such thing), I think I might be really touched. Like...."Wow, you really care about me and want me to stick around for a while!" Heheh.

Anyway, I do want to emphasize that if you, as a guest, really shouldn't be so worried about what you will give as a gift. That sort of negates the whole idea of gift-giving. The whole idea of a wedding has mutated into a sort of mutually-beneficial racket (we give you party, you give us extravagant gifts we pick out on our registry). If you're really worried the bride or groom won't like your gift, you might be better off just not going.

Read More......

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Decorating an outdoor wedding reception

So it seems, in all the years I've decorated weddings, I've done countless outdoor ceremonies, I don't think I've decorated even one outdoor reception. How odd! Above, is an oldie but a goody from the Friendly Hills Country Club in Whittier.

Photo by Flickr's weddingssc2

From a decorator's point of view, a wedding reception outdoors can be a nightmare to decorate. You're never sure of what the weather will be like (too hot? too cold? rain?!), where do you hang things?, how do you account for mosquitos? These are legitimate concerns. That's why many an outdoor reception is...inside a tent. Sort of like being outside, but not. No, no, no. With October fast on its way, I figured I would point out some lovely outdoor receptions I found on Flickr.

Photo by Flickr's mvondiziano

The most obvious plus of having an outdoor wedding reception is the great lighting you can employ and also hang over the dance floor. Like I've written before, I love the different ways you can employ lighting. These colorful paper lanterns are a great way to liven up the environment, while keeping ambiance.

Photo by Flickr's DAJanzen

Above is a totally romantic idea. These are what you call luminaries -- candles in paper bags -- and they usually line walkways. They were also featured in the movie "Bad Santa." Heheh. Anyway, luminaries really set the tone if your ceremony is walking distance to your reception area. And don't forget -- these are really most effective for an evening reception, if you didn't already know.

Above, a pretty little ceremony on a porch overlooking a lake. The tables themselves are pretty plain, with white-gray-white layered tablecloths, brightly colored Gerber daisies and -- bonus! -- bright salads. Seriously, check that out -- those salads practically decorate the edge of the round tables. Anyway, the railings look like they're strung with lights.

Photo by Flickr's rhythmythicles

This is a lovely little set up. This is really outdoor. Among all the green grass and brown tree trunks, the chocolate brown table cloths and purple flowers and giveaways really stand out. But you can probably see some of the difficulty with a set up like this -- each table seats probably just six people, plus getting seated is likely a bit hampered by the grass. (You know, sliding a chair against grass is not easy.) But it really is lovely.

Photo by Flickr's alexislind

This photo may represent the outdoor wedding reception that every bride dreams of. Lush, carpet-like lawn, full, leafy trees, clear blue skies with just enough cloud to make them photogenic. And honestly, with a set up like this, all you need are bright blue and green tablecloth overlays to make the entire party look light and bright.

Read More......