Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bride World Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center

I came, I saw, I conquered. Well, not quite. This was my first bridal show, but of course, not attending as a bride-to-be made it a little less pressure on me. The big crowds of eager women and aggressive vendor booth people were a little intimidating, but I think I came out OK!

Thanks to the economy and the rise in environmental consciousness, it looks like there are a lot of trends like Do-It-Yourself and Green Weddings that are coming into play. Check out these DIY options from one company offering invitations. I'm pretty sure this company is Paper Wonders out of Temple City.

I particularly liked this idea from Celebration Photography & Video. These appeared to be actual canvas, but these were digital photos on them! So they looked like paintings! That's something I'd love to do with a lot of photos, particularly the nature and landscape shots I love to take.

Of course, accessories like these Popit Sandals from A Room To View are getting increasingly popular. They're easy to personalize and useful at any time, not just the wedding day. Those little jewels? You can attach them to just about any accessory they offer here -- those comes, brooches, hair accessories, you name it.

I saw this cake topper from Tutto Dolce, which happens to be based right near me in Thousand Oaks. They have some very cool cake and giveaway alternatives, and they're all deliciously edible. The bride dragging the husband away cake topper was what really caught my eye though. You can send owner Vanessa Calderone an email at

You probably think that's all I got, huh? Oh contraire! I've got plenty more where all that came from (since I'm a voracious photo taker) and am planning some future posts highlighting other concepts and alternatives for you to personalize (and save) on your weddings and decorations. So be sure to check back OR subscribe to my RSS feed so you'll know immediately when I post.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Garden wedding at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

My first visit to the Los Angeles County Arboretum was a few years ago, and I was blown away. I'd lived in the San Gabriel Valley most of my life and I'd never known about this place! So when I heard last weekend that a friend of the Wedding Decorator, who goes by the handle Flute Prayer, attended a wedding there, I got totally excited! A wedding at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, woohoo!

For wedding pictures, read more. Picture above taken by me a few years ago.

All photos by Flute Prayer

The flower arrangements for each table were beautiful, a mix of white lilies and roses, purple irises, orange orchids and what appear to be yellow tulips. But the arrangements seem to just heighten the beauty of the surroundings. I hear it was a hot day, but looking at the pictures? It sure was beautiful.

FlutePrayer, of course, is a musician at heart, so of course, a photo of the band is de rigeur. The band members (poor guys, all in black!) had a pretty nice perch on a platform.

Beyond the happy groom, you can see some more of the gorgeous, lush grounds. I wonder if any of the guests were allowed to roam, because I know there is a waterfall near the Japanese gardens. :)

Finally, you have our intrepid photographer, FlutePrayer, to the left, flanking the lovely bride and a friend.

If you're interested in a wedding or party at the Arboretum, they have a lot of information available online. Bottom line, you can expect site rental to be $500 for 50 people, but $2,500 for up to 300 people. But having a wedding at such a gorgeous spot has its price -- check out the rules and regulations for everyone.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Seaside wedding in York, Maine

Wedding Decorator pal Shruti Mathur has come through again. I think we can officially christen her the Wedding Attender, because she's got a lot of weddings to attend this summer (even after attending several last year, including one yours truly was also present at) and has promised to document each wedding for your viewing pleasure.

All photos by Shruti Mathur

This past weekend, Shruti lets us tag along at a seaside wedding in Maine. Weddings outside California always fascinate me -- I've seen so many weddings, but in my mind they kind of run together. Possibly, that's because I decorated a lot of them, so most of them have a style I'm very familiar with. No matter.

The wedding, a Jewish one, had a really gorgeously decorated chuppah, the traditional canopy stretched between four poles. It symbolizes the home that the couple will build together. At the last (and my first) Jewish wedding I attended, the chuppah was held up by four of the groomsmen -- I believe. This one was anchored by large flower arrangements, punctuated with bright pink and orange Gerber daisies. Not only that, check out the garland-sides of the chuppah, and the ribbon streaming down the poles! Very festive, very pretty.

It seemed like there were at least two types of guest table arrangements, each with a bright mix of flowers. The one above seems to have a mix of blue hydrangeas, orange roses, plus some blue and purple flowers I can't identify without some help. :) It's all in a vase that looks to be lined with a wide leaf -- maybe a ti leaf. Below...

You've got a similar set up, instead with mostly green flowers rather than bright blue and purple -- green-tinged white roses and green spider mums. I also like the trend of putting a colored stripe on the guest table over the table cloth. It dresses it up a bit without going the route of a full overlay. And if you didn't notice the best detail, that would be salt water taffy scattered around the arrangements. People, candy always works. Trust me. And I love it that they used what was local to the area.

The wedding, by the way, was held at the Dockside Restaurant in Maine. So of course, you have a nice view of the dock.

The cake, I gotta say, is as bright as any of the other flowers used at this wedding. I kind of like it though -- it definitely tells me something about the couple, that they're bright and fun. Decor along the bottom of the cake looks to be orange baby roses, ivy and orange Gerber daisies where the branches start.

Last but not least, the gift table....but it looks a wee bit small. In fact, the decorations and candy take up most of the space! I'm thinking the reason for this is that a lot of people opt to ship gifts straight from the couple's online registry -- which, in my opinion is easier for everyone all around. No wrapping gifts (and messing it up), no hauling it to the wedding, plus no one in the bridal party has to haul it from the reception to the bridal suite, then it has to be hauled from the bridal suite to the couple's new home. No, no. Get it shipped, people. It's a lot easier for everyone.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweetheart table decorations

Sweetheart tables are simply a table set aside for the bride and groom, away from the rest of the bridal party -- as opposed to your traditional long head table at the head of the room at a reception. I'm not sure when this trend began, but I think before my mom's retirement, I had been decorating sweetheart tables for at least five years.

Why have a separate table from your bridal party? Well, why not? They can be as simple as a small, cocktail table set aside from the rest of your tables, or put on a riser, to connote a place of honor. If anything, even though its the bride and groom's party, the bride and groom are still the guests of honor.

Above, is a picture of the sweetheart table at a friend's wedding at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley.

Like I said, they can be really simple. Above, my girlfriend Janet and her husband Albert (who are now expecting their first baby!) had their sweetheart table on a riser, a few yards from their cake, which was also on a riser, at what I believe was the head of the room. The decorations here were simple -- a specially designed arrangement for the table, plus the bridesmaids put their bouquets down on the riser, around the table skirts.

Photo by Flickr's Pure Elegance Events

Above, the decorator used a square of what looks like champagne-colored organza to make the table pop, before putting what could be bridesmaid bouquets edged with ti leaves as its centerpiece down, then sprinkling the whole table with rose petals. It looks like there are some baby rose bunches pinning the tablecloths down at certain places. Nice.

This was one of my favorite wedding venues, the Friendly Hills Country Club in Whittier. This is a more elaborate sweetheart table, with lots of champagne-colored organza swathing the tabletop edges and draped along the table skirt. The shape of the table was odd -- it was like one of the connectors in a curvy buffet table -- but it worked out well for the decorations!

And here's a flashback to one of my first Wedding Decorator entires, Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. This is probably one of the most elaborate types of sweetheart tables you can have. Not only do you have the special arrangement and draping for the sweetheart table, you've got the backdrop and the whole setup on a riser! The only thing left to make this even fancier is a spotlight. I've done that before, too, but it is not fun -- its just another detail to mind in a set up full of details.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Most requested wedding songs

Photo by Flickr's Fenstrbme

Have you had your wedding "first dance" song picked out since junior high? That might be the case about every bride-to-be, judging from this list from Y! Radish, Top Wedding Songs For The First Dance. Check out the songs after the jump.

Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)
Can't Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)
Can I Have This Dance? (Ann Murray)
The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra)
It Had To Be You (Harry Connick, Jr.)
What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Endless Love (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie)
I Cross My Heart (George Strait)
I Swear (John M. Montgomery or All 4 One)
A Whole New World (Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle)
As Time Goes By (A Kiss Is Just A Kiss) (Michael Feinstein)
When You Say Nothing At All (Allison Krauss)
Faithfully (Journey)
No Ordinary Love (Sade)
Here And Now (Luther Vandross)
I Can Love you Like That (John M. Montgomery)
Power Of Love (Celine Dion)
Tonight I Celebrate My Love (Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson)
Everything I Do {I Do For You} (Bryan Adams)
When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge or Michael Bolton)
All My Life (Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville)
I'll Be There (Mariah Carey)
On Bended Knee (Boyz II Men)
At Last (Etta James)
Don't Know Much (Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville)
From This Moment On (Shania Twain)
Our Love Is Here To Stay (Harry Connick, Jr.)
Unchained Melody (The Righteous Brothers)

Now, if I had had a big wedding, I probably would have picked something from Alicia Keys' -- Unbreakable, No One or Tell You Something. I suppose none of those three are your usual, slow dance songs, but you know what? I don't care -- I love those songs and sometimes they make me cry. :)

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wedding Venue: Hearst Castle

You've probably heard about Hearst Castle. But if you haven't been to Hearst Castle, then you probably don't know exactly what I'm talking about when I say the place is spectacular. Wait, spectacular doesn't even do it justice. Let me just say that the natural surroundings of Hearst Castle will take your breath away, but Hearst Castle itself will engulf you.

My husband and I went on a road trip up the Central Coast of California for my 30th birthday in the last week of May, so of course Hearst Castle was on the itinerary. Hearst Castle, if you don't know, was once the residence of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hoo, boy, if only newspapers were as profitable now as they were when Hearst was around... But not only did Hearst know his newspapers, he knew his prime real estate and he knew his architecture.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit in late May, after a rare, gloomy weekend in L.A., so we arrived in time for a great show of color from the gardens between the estate's guest houses.

And of course, always thinking of this here blog, I asked our tour guide whether weddings can be held at Hearst Castle. Basically, if you can afford to have a wedding at Hearst Castle, you probably aren't reading this blog.

Just to rent the place, you need to pony up $15,000. California Weddings has more, specific information:'ll cost you $7,500 to reserve the Castle for 1 to 50 people for up to 3 hours, and $15,000 for parties larger than 50 people or for weddings lasting longer than 3 hours. That doesn't inlcude the nonrefundable deposit of $500 to $1,000, as well as a $50 scheduling fee and the cost of staff reimbursement. Oh, and insurance for up to $1 million is required.
If you do decide to have the wedding of American quasi-royalty (which I think is fair to say about the Hearst family), then you probably want to have your reception on this patio, in front of the main guest house (which is pictured before the Neptune pool, above). This patio seems to have the most flat open space ideal for more than 10 round tables. Check out that gorgeous ocean view.

Also, I would recommend working with a florist or decorator with experience with Historic National Landmark like Hearst Castle. With a cursory search, I found at least one who has done a party here -- Camilla Svensson Burns of Santa Barbara. You can find a few pictures of her work at Hearst Castle on her Events page.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Unique candle decorations for your wedding guests

In my time decorating weddings, candles on guest tables are mostly sitting inside a glass votive and sometimes go unlit. What a waste! I'm of the opinion that if you're going to spend money on it, make it stand out. So I bring you some ideas on how to put candles on your guests' tables, thanks to Flickr.

Photo by Flickr's macro girl

Candlelight, if you think about it, already makes itself stand out. So if you do a little to it, it stands out a lot. The caption on this photo even tells you how -- use a shot glass instead of a glass votive, put some colorful (in this case, purple) rocks in the glass and sit the candle on top. Voila! Custom candlelight.

Photo by Flickr's The Facey Family

This candle, for example, burns in water, atop rocks and pink gerber daisies. How creative! Give your guests some color! All it takes is finding some cheap, cylindrical glasses at your favorite discounter and asking for some extra gerber daisies.

Photo by Flickr's Nomad7674

This set up is also a nice touch -- you've got your regular votives and candles, but just add feathers! Nice.

Photo by Flickr's Klatuu

I also really love this twist on your usual arrangement -- an arrangement of candle light, accented with yellow rose petals. These graduated hurricane candle sets are really not that expensive -- $13.99 for a set at Target!

Photo by Flickr's Emily Grace

I gotta tell ya, I love this idea -- its so simple, but genius! All it is is different sizes of candle holders, with lacy candle vase coverings. It kind of amplifies the power of the candlelight, especially with the mirror its sitting on. It's very efficient, too, I should think -- not only cheaper than flowers, it helps your guests see each other (whereas big flower arrangements tend to block people's views).

Photo by Flickr's andibob909

This might be my favorite idea of all. This bride bought tea light holders from Target's Halloween line. How simple! And, if you buy them after Halloween, they're probably discounted. has several types of tea light holders. Say you get the Hot Pink Tea Light Holder for $9.99 -- you can basically have a guest table centerpiece for $9.99, along with ambiance and light. Sweet!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Advertisement: Bridesmaid gift ideas

You might be surprised to learn this but when I got married, I didn't have a big wedding. I know, right? The wedding decorator didn't have a big wedding?! For shame!

So imagine my surprise, when a few years ago, my friend handed all her bridesmaids (which included me) these amazing gift bags, including overnight travel bags, pretty jewelry and customized purses. And when I saw Jewels of Denial, I instantly thought -- "perfect bridesmaid gifts."

I know they have a bit of a silly site name, but bear with me. The necklace above -- gorgeous, and its only $19.99. And the charm bracelet, which happens to be sterling silver, is just $18.99. In fact, most of their jewelry is really affordable. So if you happen to have a lot of bridesmaids, you can really wow them with great bridesmaid gifts, without totally breaking the bank.

The company's best sellers seem to be their enamel rings, like this pretty one in purple. It's just $8.99! So, ahem, if you plan to be buying jewelry in bulk, don't forget to sign up for their email newsletter - you'll get a 20% off coupon.

This post is sponsored by Jewels Of Denial.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Get ready, get set, go bridal show!

Photo by Flickr's Schminktante

Bridal show season is in full swing, and I'm mulling the idea of attending the biggie one here in L.A. -- the two-day BrideWorld convention at the L.A. Convention center. I've been to one bridal show before (I know, right, weird for a wedding decorator), and it was not a good experience. I was a teenager, hanging around, taking pictures as my mom helped someone else set up for a show. I took pictures of a cool balloon display, and the owner of the shop the display belonged to made me take out my film for taking a picture of her display. That was inexcusably mean in my opinion, but people are people.

So trust me when I say bridal shows intimidate me.

So as I updated my list of L.A.-area bridal shows, I noticed an article about preparing so you can get the most out of a bridal show. I'm all about preparing, and I'm all about getting the most bang for your buck. So these tips really made sense to me:

Just as bridal fairs help you prepare for your wedding, you should properly prepare for the fair. Like a good general drawing up battle plans before engaging his forces, you’ll benefit from your own plan of attack—making a checklist of required services, accessories and design questions will streamline your efforts.

Pre-registering for these events saves you time at check-in, and often a few bucks. Don’t forget to print out directions before you hit the road. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes—you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Bring a large bag, backpack, or even a carry-on with wheels: you’re going to be grabbing a lot of brochures and free magazines. Pack your checkbook and also some cash. There are usually special sales on items such as jewelry cleaner or cool accessories, and not everyone takes plastic. You’re going to be exchanging business cards, so have a case to keep the ones you hand out and collect. Pre-printed address labels or an address stamp are handy when signing up for mailing lists. Your PDA or appointment book makes for convenient scheduling. Micki Love suggests that brides who have already purchased their gown bring a color swatch along—useful when browsing jewelry, tiaras, and other accoutrements. And although you’ll be snacking at the fair, it’s a good idea to eat a small meal before setting out—it will keep you from wolfing down an excessive number of teriyaki chicken wings and mini-quiches.

The most important thing to bring with you is a companion, someone to bounce ideas off of or keep you from making an impulsive decision you may later regret. Pamela Noxon advises attending one show with a friend or relative, and another with your fiancĂ©. (Giving your husband-to-be the illusion of having input into the wedding will disguise the fact that you’re actually the one calling the shots!)

Read the entire article for more tips. Happy hunting!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Find a Wedding Photographer: Lori Anderson

The best way to find a wedding photographer is by referral in my opinion, and I'm about to give you a testimony. Meet Lori Anderson, freelance photographer.

Photos by Lori Anderson

They say a photo speaks a thousand words, and I really think that Lori's photos speak for themselves.

I have a background with Lori, by the way. She and I worked at the Cal State Fullerton Daily Titan together, her with the website and me with the news side. I can tell you from experience this woman works hard and smart.

In college, Lori blew me away with her forethought on our newspaper website -- which won many awards -- and not only that, when she began designing, she became the designer I wanted designing my special project. Really.

So if you're lucky enough to come across Lori in your quest to plan your wedding -- ask her not just about her photography, which is beautiful, but also ask her about designing your wedding site and maybe your invitations. Talk about one stop shop!

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Poll: What to cut on a tight wedding budget?

I work in news, and probably 50% of the stories I've been putting online lately have had to do with the economy, gas prices, food prices, housing prices... With all the belt-tightening going on, I'm sure some brides have had to make hard decisions when it comes to their big day.

So I got to thinking...if things were all of a sudden more expensive than you had budgeted for, what would you do? Would you start asking relatives for money? Would you take out a loan (please, don't!)? Would you consider cutting down on stuff?

Ah, there's the million dollar question! I know that a wedding day should be THE big day, but the reality is, sometimes, there are some hard choices to be made. So what hard choices would you make? Vote to let us know!

I'll revisit this post later on. In the meantime, if anyone has any real-life stories or tips they'd like to share, by all means, please do so. The comments go right to my email!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Decorating gazebos and arches for a wedding

Ah, summer. This is the time for outdoor weddings. In my experience, most people want to have the wedding ceremony outdoors but the reception indoors. If you think about it, the ceremony is the most important part of the wedding, but most of the planning goes into the reception. Let's change that!

Above, my girlfriend Sam and her husband Jason married on the beach under a wooden arch decorated with bright yellow flowers. An arch is really the easiest thing outdoors -- they're portable (but can get heavy) and easy to decorate. Decorating them is as easy putting English netting or a brightly colored material on them -- you don't even have to tape or wire it, you can just weave or twine it in. In this case, Sam's florist attached a big arrangement of yellow gerber daisies to the top, on top of tulle that went along the sides of the arch. Easy as pie. Oh, and don't forget those yellow lilies halfway down!

Photo by Flickr's ronsho

Another easy option outdoors is a canopy. I found this lovely example on Flickr. This canopy could have been built from scratch and decorated on the spot. I don't think it would have been hard. It appears the top of the canopy has a white material -- possibly English netting or tulle (which is a little harder than English netting) stretched across the top and wrapped along each of the poles holding the canopy together. Along each of the legs are billowing lengths of English netting. In this case, I'm sure its English netting because of how its flowing. Anyway, the legs also seem to be paired with spotlights, for that awesome, uplit effect. There also appears to be green Christmas ornaments hung on the canopy, giving the corners a tinge of green light. Very pretty.

Photo by Flickr's drew313

Here's another example of a canopy. I actually happened to attend this wedding too -- this is my high school bud Janet, getting married in 2006, at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott. I think this canopy is a permanent structure, just because there are so many flower arrangements on it -- it better be steady! Plus, it was windy that day -- my husband and I were appointed to be the ones lighting the unity candle, and it would not stay lit! Anyway, Janet's florist used big lush roses, stargazers, lilies, orchids and Casablanca lilies to great effect in the three main arrangements. Plus, there was the green garland connecting the three. Throw in a few mini arrangements in the corner, and you've got a gorgeous ceremony!

Ah, but then there are gazebos. Gazebos are permanent structures, generally built in place and you can't move them. Unlike arches and canopies, they have walls, but I have found that the walls don't really play too much of a part when it comes to decorations.

Most gazebos at wedding venues are not four-sided structures, so the decorations tend to focus on the posts holding up the roof. For example, with this white gazebo, it looks like there are eight posts, but only six are decorated -- the six that will be center stage when the ceremony is happening. This went all out, using a garland of light pink, dark pink and white flowers to decorate the entire front top of the gazebo and creating six round arrangements for the six posts to be decorated. Oh, and not only that, there is the draping -- English netting along the top and covering each of the posts. That's a lot of work.

Photo by Flickr's Vickylaflamme11

This gazebo is a little simpler. It's draped with English netting all along the top of the front and along the front posts. However, I am a little flummoxed as to why they didn't just paint it white. It would make it look more like a wedding venue.

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