Friday, February 29, 2008

Pink and stretchy in St. Petersburg

I was in St. Petersburg, Florida for business, sort of -- suffice it to say, I was there for reasons completely unrelated to flowers or weddings. But when you see something, you gotta act on it, and if I didn't take pictures of this here party for you, would you have all these great pictures to get ideas from? Not at all. By the way, the above arrangement is plenty beautiful and very simple -- all it is is a floating candle in a cubed vase, with colored glass pebbles at the bottom, surrounded by rose petals. But by no means is this all I saw.

It turned out this event was Sojourn 2008 for WEDU, West Central Florida's PBS station. And please do not think that I designed any of the decorations pictured -- I did not. The spectacular decorations were all done by a company called conceptBAIT. However, they are my pictures. If you want more...
This little arrangement was one of the more simple ones of the evening. Its a good one for a cocktail table, I think -- roses, those cool twigs, with a foot of moss.

This arrangement was actually the one that had caught my eye. I was on my way to the Starbucks on the lobby floor of the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront when I saw this display. Can we say...super cool? And, if you're not sure what this display is depicting, that would be the Eiffel Tower, France's most recognizable landmark. This party's theme, after all, was a sojourn to France.

Ah, more spectacular arrangements. Those would be sprigs of orchids -- forgive me, but I'm not sure what kind -- in glass vases, with more pink colored glass along the bottom.

What was most unusual about this party -- at least to me -- was the fabric used for the seat covers and tablecloths. They appear to be spandex, actually. I've never seen such a thing. I think, for a party like this one, its appropriate -- the spandex makes everything look more modern and almost spacey. For a wedding? I'm not sure. But that's just me.

Even more spectacular were the arrangements used for what I assume were the bigwigs' tables -- you know, the VIPs, the big donors, the station's management, etc. Because, yes, those would be a French mannequin torsos (French, it seems since they seemed to be quite hourglass shaped) used as the vase, decorated with pink fabric, feathery fringe, blue peacock feathers (I think) and orchids. Major props to the designer who thought of this, seriously. Although, I don't know if I love the narrow stand for this mannequin. Parties tend to include alcohol, and I can just imagine what one drunken bump would do to this arrangement...

Finally, the outer tables are decorated with the same type, although shorter, vase arrangements as the one I previously described, plus smaller, cubed arrangements of pink roses, red roses (which you can barely see behind the pink roses) and another flower I can't quite identify. I don't know about anyone else, but I would have been happy with any one of these arrangements, much less all four of them. But I'm a simple gal.

Seeing as how this was a fundraising event for a PBS station, I daresay this party was decorated as a donation. That's one heck of a donation, but its worth it to get the type of exposure that comes with a party attended by rich donors and various other media types. Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I daresay a party like this would cost in the ballpark of $35,000 or more. (In none of these pictures, did I describe the walls, which were also covered in black and white fabric) That doesn't even include the bridal party flowers (which are labor intensive) that are included with wedding events.

If you want to check out more pictures of this event, including the actor and actress dressed up as Marie Antoinette and King Louis (I think) who were a scream, click here.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Save a buck, get your own vases

Ever wonder where florists get those amazing vases -- you know, the type that you've seen here, with all sorts of flowers inside of them? Well, there's obviously a variety of places where you can get such vases, but if you're looking for a cheap place to find them online, I've got the site for you.

If you love eBay, you're in luck -- HJK Imports has glass vases in just about any shape, color and size your wedding-crazed mind could possibly dream up. For example, if you really love the cylinder vases, HJK has a batch of 18, 6-inch by 6-inch vases at the Buy It Now price of $90. That's $5 a piece. That's a steal.

There's a batch of trumpet vases available for even cheaper -- $72 for 18 15-inch vases. Dude!

I doubt you could get a better price even at a wholesale brick-and-mortar shop. Even Amazon doesn't have deals like this.

Here's a close up of one of the vases, from a past post. I'm pretty sure that most of the vases that my mom bought have been trumpet vases, but in my opinion, cylinders are just as good as trumpets, especially since you can put more in a cylinder than simply water or flowers -- you could put apples in them, or even pretty colored paper. Shoot, that's a good idea....

Anyway, HJK Imports also has a non eBay website here. If you peruse their site carefully, you'll see that they will be in Vegas for a trade show soon, and will be selling off all the merchandise they bring with them for more than 50% off their catalog prices. They simply don't want to have to bring their stuff back with them, but their laziness can be your gain.

If you were wondering how I came upon this site, it was actually passed on to me by the bride I was a bridesmaid for a few years ago. She found the vases on her own and my mom agreed to use the vases for the arrangements. When my mom saw the quality of the vases, my mom urged me to find out who she got them from. Heheh.

So if this is the look you want for your wedding, but don't want to pay the marked-up price for the vases your florist will provide, see if s/he will work with you -- buy the vases on your own and give them to him/her to put the arrangements in. Depending on the florist and his/her markup, you can save as much as $1,000, I should think.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ready to propose? Try these ultra romantic spots

Along with Christmas and New Year's, Valentine's Day is one of the top three days of the year to propose marriage. Don't know where to do it? Don't want a showy, public proposal? Then try one of these five spots.

The Getty Villa

If the Getty Villa were more easily accessible, I'd be here more often. Just like its cousin up the hill, the architecture and gardens are awe-inspiring. But the smell and sounds of the ocean are that much closer. I particularly like the Getty Villa because of my longtime interest in Greek and Roman history and mythology. My favorite spot at the Villa is the East Garden -- it feels like a hidden, secret spot with a gurgling fountain and shady trees. In my opinion, its a perfect place for a private, meaningful proposal. It costs $8 to park, but tickets, while free, are timed and must be secured in advance. Plus, getting there ain't no picnic -- you must take Pacific Coast Highway from the south and turn right into the Getty Villa driveway. There is a cafe at the Villa (and I can think of nothing more metropolitan than having lunch and coffee at the Villa, hee), but if that's not your cup of tea, there are plenty of food options in Malibu or Santa Monica, ranging from cheap yet quality (like California Chicken Cafe) to expensive but worth it (like Enterprise Fish Co.).

Whale watching

Being out on a boat, with the wind in your face and hair, the smell of the sea in your nostrils? A two-hour whale watching trip is entirely manageable.
But, obviously, you'd be on a boat, so if you get motion sickness, you might want to forego this option. The trip I took, from Redondo Sport Fishing, took us around the Rancho Palos Verdes peninsula and back again. While my trip was light on the whale spout/dolphins playing sightings, it was still incredible to get out on a boat and spend an exhilarating day with my honey bunny. But I don't think you have to worry about that, since the whale watching sites are reporting sightings on nearly every trip. You may or may not want seafood after your trip (um, this should go without saying, but don't eat before you get on a boat), nonetheless, there are always plenty of food options around these ports. Go hog wild.

Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific

I love museums, zoos and aquariums, period. The pluses about the aquarium include the awesome shark lagoon, where you also have the option of touching (!) baby sharks and stingrays. There's also plenty of these dim, romantic spots where love exchanges are possible. But keep in mind --
if you go on a weekday, chances are you will encounter plenty of children. Um, if you go on the weekend, chances are you will encounter plenty of families. As for food, I do recall a cafeteria-like restaurant at the aquarium, but dude, you're in Long Beach -- there's tons of food options within walking distance, even a Roscoe's Chicken N' Waffles if you're willing to go a little farther.

Point Fermin Park in San Pedro

This is an incredible park. The view is spectacular, and the feeling you get up there is almost exactly like the feeling you get from being on a boat, without being on a boat. This park makes you feel a little like you're on top of the world, or on the edge. Trinity and I got married here in 2004, in a long, interesting but convoluted story. If you opt to go here, I'd say you should pick up a to-go order from your favorite restaurant and have a picnic. Your fiance will be so impressed! Just
avoid walking too close to the edge, since quite a few people have met their maker that way. Remember, you're trying to start your new life, not end it.

Los Angeles County Arboretum

The other garden in the area can't hold a candle to this place, in my opinion. There are super cool turn-of-the-century houses and structures to check out, wandering birds to coo at, lush trees and flowers all over the place, running rivers and a waterfall. When Trin and I went, it was a weekday, so it was literally deserted. Ahem, other more indiscreet couples might take advantage of that, but not us, of course. If you want to picnic first, there's a lawn out front where you can do so. It also seems that there is now a cafe, appropriately called the Peacock Cafe. But you're so close to the Santa Anita mall, you might as well go to Dave and Busters for some more fun, or eat at one of the many chain restaurants there. Just remember this
place also closes pretty early -- 5 p.m.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Want goofy reception pictures? Skip the polaroids on the tables

I've been meaning to post on this for a long time, but better late than never, right?

The quandary of how to get good photos at a wedding reception has been around for as long as there've been cameras, I should think. Besides the requisite posed photos with family and wedding party attendants, how do you get great photos of the dancing, the action, the hijinks at the individual tables? Now, this solution I discovered last October doesn't address all those needs, but it sure does have fun trying.

The wedding I attended at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley was notable in my mind for a number of things -- the unique color combo of brown and purple, the location which I'd never been to before, that it was my first Jewish wedding. But the other thing that set it apart by a mile from the hundreds of other weddings I've decorated over the years was the awesome photo booth by Cheesy Photo Booths. You can click the photo to the left to see it full-size, btw.

Oh, and yes, that would be myself and my husband in these photos.

The photo booth was super fun -- I got in there by myself (obviously) to mug it up, plus went in with other folks as well. The booth showed each pose on a screen outside, so if you were doing something goofy or naughty inside, the whole party could see. The Cheesy folks even provided scrapbooks, markers, scrap paper and glue sticks so we could scrawl goofy messages to the bride and groom. Each time you went in, you got two copies of each set of four photos. Technically, one was supposed to be either cut up and pasted into the scrap book, and the other was for you to take home. But you really didn't need to put the photos in the scrap books, since the bride and groom (in our case) got a CD of all the photos taken in the photo booth.

Now, there was one drawback to the photo booth -- it couldn't fit enough people! Heh. I daresay about 10 people tried to get in to take a picture all together and had the booth bursting at the seams. The photo booth folks had to help hold it together. I don't think it was a dangerous situation, but I think it would be nice for the booth to be big enough for big groups.

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