Friday, August 29, 2008

Light up your wedding decorations

Lighting is actually a huge component to any decor, as any interior decorator or theater stage manager might tell you. And even though brides usually prefer afternoon ceremonies and evening receptions, its often overlooked to the detriment of the decorations so painstakingly wrought (and paid for).

Candles are usually the choice of lighting, and candles are a good, albeit small choice. They also can't really be lit in flower arrangements for fear of sparking a fire. The alternative? Electric and batter-powered lights. Above, a sweetheart table at the Our Lady Of Angels Cathedral gets some major background lighting from DJ lights.

Most lighting is relatively subtle, but with DJ lights you can get really colorful. I don't recall where this reception was, but subtle it was not. Not only was every arrangement topped with silver-sprayed greens, the tables were decorated with silver and pink fabric on the riser and silver and teal blue fabric on the floor-level tables. Oh, and did you not see the pink spotlights and under-the-table light? Wow. This wouldn't have been my choice, frankly, but they loved it.

Incidentally, I do love doing under the table lights, but it can be difficult. Most long lamps, you know, the flat kind you put a long bulb into? Those are usually plug-ins and not battery-operated so you have to also do some finagling with extension cords and tape (to tape it all down; having a bride trip over the lights would not be good). But the effect is so nice.

Lighting is a must for points in the room you want to be a focus -- at a wedding, this is the head/sweetheart table and the cake table. Above, the cake is old fashioned (to me) but the backdrop is very pretty. And when the cake is eaten and taken away later, it's a nice place to take pictures.

But lighting is also a must for ambiance. I found some good examples on Flickr, of course.

Photo by Flickr's JHunt94

This was a simple but very effective use of Christmas lights. Those eaves are nice, but look so much more dressed up with those casually strung Christmas lights entwined with some tulle. It also helps brighten the room, which was unfortunately a little dark.

Photo by Flickr's eventswithdesign

Here's another good example of using the vertical space. I love these round paper lanterns and wish I could use them at home -- but my husband is not a fan. But they give you extra lighting, they distract from those rusty fluorescent lights further up and give some softly lit ambiance. I wish there had been a photo of this room at night.

Photo by Flickr's nathancolquhoun

Here's a good combo -- lighting softened with fabric decorations. Look at all those details -- overhead lights softened by the sheets of fabric (not sure what kind, it doesn't look like tulle), trees strung with lights and attached to the posts, the paper lanterns, the hanging lights. Talk about ambiance.

I would expect nothing less from someone who calls themselves the Christmas Light Pros of Indianapolis. This is an amazing space made even more gorgeous by well placed lights. They made good use of all those posts (often a hindrance to most room layouts, since they might inhibit the placement of tables or chairs), good use of all those eaves, good use of those windows and they even light up the decorations. I would daresay they even stole the show from the flowers. Very, very nice.

At any rate, if you are on a budget and you want to light things up -- make a trip to your local Big Lots and stock up on Christmas lights. It'll really make things beautiful.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wedding traditions from all over the world

Being American, I've heard of a lot of different wedding traditions that actually hail from different cultures. But I guess that's just how it goes -- as people immigrate here from other countries, they incorporate their wedding traditions, which friends from other cultures might think is cool and incorporate into their wedding, and so on and so forth until no one is sure anymore where the tradition came from.

Photo by Flickr's Hanson Switzky

For example, here is probably the most well-known of non-American wedding tradition -- the smashing of a glass at a Jewish wedding. It's been made famous in countless movies (by Adam Sandler a few times, I think), but where did it come from? There are different explanations, of course. The photographer, Hanson Switzky, captioned the photo:
This Jewish folk custom symbolizes many things, including the irrevocability and permanency of marriage, the broken world that requires our unwavering commitment and joyous energy to mend, and, on a happier note, the countless prismatic shards of glass represent the countless colorful and bright years of joy ahead for the couple.

Anyway, I stumbled on this very cool (and long!) article, detailing wedding traditions from all over the world. It's not quite comprehensive, but it sure is on its way there!

Photo by Flickr's

I saw this tradition in action for the first time earlier this year, when my friend Belinda got married. According to this article:

The most common tradition is ‘jumping the broom’, a ritual originating from the Deep South during the American Civil War when slave weddings were not permitted and so an alternative commitment ceremony had to be found. The broom is placed on the floor and the couple jumps over it. But what does it signify? Well, there seem to be various explanations ranging from a jump from singledom into matrimony, following an African tribal marriage ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple's new home or it could just be sweeping away the old and welcoming the new. A nice touch is to fill a basket with ribbon pieces for guests to tie around the broom before you begin.

Photo by Flickr's tamaranash

I think we like anything that hails from Hawaii, because of the projection of paradise, romance and free island living. However, Hawaiians do have traditions too! And they mean something! Regarding the traditional maile lei:

The lei is the Hawaiian symbol of love. During the ceremony the kahuna pule (religious man) binds the hands of the bride and groom with leis as a symbol of the couple's commitment to each other.

Photo by Flickr's C.P.Storm

Of course, we're all familiar with the Chinese fortune cookie. The article says, "Serve fortune cookies (easy to bake yourselves) filled with good wishes." Fortune cookies, of course, are very in fashion -- the message inside could be the date of your wedding, a favorite quote or Bible verse or a silly saying like the one above.

Photo by Flickr's Duane a

The traditional money dance, according to the article, is done in both Greek and Filipino cultures. According to the article:

If you opt for any Greek tradition it is likely to be the money dance. Instead of giving gifts, your guests will pin several notes to your outfits during this almost never-ending dance!

However, when I've seen this in action, this was in addition to gifts, rather than instead of giving gifts. I've seen this tradition in action so many times, brides would often ask my mom for an extra box of pins for their money dances.

These are just a few traditions. Check out the list, its pretty comprehensive, but I can't imagine that its complete. If you have any other traditions to include, comment away!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Wedding decoration ideas in the Ikea catalog

I don't know about anyone else, but the Ikea catalog that just seems to magically arrive without you're doing anything is massively dangerous for me. There are always so many thinks you can see in your own home, am I right? Anyway, as I thumbed through every page, I saw various possibilities for a budget wedding. Follow me inside the catalog...

On page 334 and 335 of the catalog is Ikea's vase offerings. All of them are really nice, with some lovely colors, but there are a few I'd really like to point you toward. I really like the BLOMSTER bowl, a glass, shallow bowl. They're $9.99 each and can easily be filled with water to hold floating tea lights or candles and a few blossoms.

On the same page, at the end of that top row is the SNARTIG (sorry, I have no umlauts) vase. This vase has a narrow mouth, so you can't have too many flowers in it, but picture it with some food coloring-dyed water (matching your colors, of course, with a white Casablanca lily or a similarly thin-stemmed, big blooming flower. Nice, huh? This vase is only 79 cents each.

Below it, in the middle of the second row, is also called a BLOMSTER vase, but this one is a bit cheaper at $3.99, with a small mouth, but a very round, almost apple like shape. I'd say you should also go with some big bloom flowers for this vase, also -- maybe a hydrangea or even a fully matured rose bloom. The flowers in this picture are also very nice; I think those are baby roses, but I could be wrong.

Next to that picture is the BLADET bowl, which is $12.99. It's a bowl, so you'll have no trouble putting things in it. The arrangement here is interesting -- they appear to be flowering roots in rocks -- but I would suggest something a little more flashy if you want it to be a reception centerpiece. Maybe colored water, maybe colored rocks? Shoot, you could even put a stack of Granny Smith apples or plums in there, depending on your color.

In the bottom row, at both ends, are more traditional vases. The BLADET vase is the most expensive of the bunch at $14.99, and its apparently 11 inches tall, which is not bad at all. There are so many possibilities for a vase like this.

Many possibilities for a vase like the second one that caught my eye -- the VASEN vase. Its 8 inches tall, and costs $1.49 each. I think this one might be the best deal of the bunch, really. It's got that interesting hour-glass shape and a wide mouth. And its cheap!

A couple pages over is Ikea's candle page. I really liked this section too and I think there are so many possibilities with these candle holders -- especially when you combine them with the vases. :)

The KARABODA lantern is really nice. It's made of glass and steel, is 11 inches tall and goes for $2.99 each. I like the texturing on the outside. However, I wonder if the handle on top gets hot?

The STOCKHOLM candelabra is really nice. It's pricey at $39.99, so maybe this would be something nice to decorate the cake table or sign-in table with. If you do use this candelabra, I think it would be very easy to decorate the foot of it with some flowers.

Check out the HALLARE tealight holder. I know that there are some who like the idea of the long guest tables that hold many on both sides of the table, rather than the round tables that have been in fashion for so long. A tealight set up like these would be ideal for ambiance along each side of the table. This tealight holder is 22 inches long. I can also see it being used on a round table, maybe 3 of them in a triangle, but with all the stuff put on a round table, there may not be enough room.

Next to the tealights is the GALEJ candleholder. I really like these. They're 9 inches tall and are $3.99 each. You can simply add a tealight with your color, or maybe add a blossom of some kind for a little pizzazz -- I think I've seen a gerber daisy used with a candle holder like this one.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My mom's last hurrah is golden

When my mom passed, I was finally free to tell my siblings that I'd helped my mom with a wedding in February while she was sick.

And even though we were all grieving, we giggled at my mom's audacity and subterfuge -- both me and my aunt and uncle (who also helped) had managed to keep the small wedding under wraps. Not only that, my mom was supposed to be sick but she'd managed to do flowers for a wedding!? Oh, mommy.

The wedding, she told me, was very small, with the ceremony at St. Elizabeth's in Rowland Heights (a church we're very familiar with). The aisle is short, so not a lot of draping was needed. And since Catholic churches tend to like sparse decorations, it was pretty simple.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how my mom did it all when she was well. Four of us cleaned the roses and star-gazers for my mom's funeral flowers and we were exhausted. How my mom put together an arrangement like the one above when she was sick is beyond me. But she really loved flowers, and I know she really loved making things extra fancy -- check out those gold-painted palms in the back of the arrangement.

These appear to be bridesmaid bouquets of yellow roses and calla lilies. My mom also loved accessories like gold rope. It gives it some extra oomph. It makes things just a little more ornate, and is perfect for a golden anniversary celebration.

The offering bouquet.

The reception was nearby at the Royal Vista Golf Club. The place was unfamiliar, but my mom told me I'd been here before. The place was a pleasant surprise -- lots of character. The draping and lights from the ceiling, however, comes with the place and was not my doing.

The cake table, appropriately golden. I'm really glad I got a final shot of my mom decorating a cake -- those were typically the shots I could take without her scolding me for taking pictures of her. As I mentioned at her funeral, she often scolded me for wasting pictures on her while we worked. But I don't regret it one bit.

My mom loved big arrangements and really loved incorporating fruit. While looking for pictures of her for a slideshow, we found my old 18th birthday photos -- every arrangement had all sorts of exotic flowers and fruit. It was awesome. If you can't tell, that would be bananas, grapes, mangoes and a pineapple in that buffet arrangement.

The party was a small one -- maybe 15 tables? My uncle and aunt did most of the heavy lifting on and off the tables, while I took care of draping the tables. The seat covers, however, belong to the site and are not ours. If my mom had contracted seat covers, she probably would have needed my siblings' help.

The head table, I think, had enough room for the couple and their kids. That backdrop was done on the fly -- initially it was just the tulle and lights, but I had some extra gold organza and my mom wanted me to dress it up a bit. It turned out well.

My mom really loved flowers and plants. She could make anything grow. In fact, she planted some really gorgeous palm, guava, calamansi and ti leaf trees in her yard and they are thriving, as are all her other myriad plants. In fact, at our old house, we used to joke that her green thumb kept making one banana tree grow, even though she kept trying to kill it.

My mom also really loved decorating weddings. From time to time, we grumbled about some of the people we had to deal with (not all bridezillas!), but I think my mom just really loved seeing everything coming together.

Aw, mom. Weddings won't be the same without you.

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