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......

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quality, not quantity

According to my self-imposed schedule of a post every other day, I would be posting something now, but am working on other posts and ideas and am also late for work. So I figure -- why post?

This post is really to get a thought out of the way. I will likely scale back my posts so that I have quality posts to offer, rather than stuff you can read anywhere else. That takes time. And I am right now getting a few posts about outdoor weddings ready, since October is right around the corner. October, if you didn't remember, is the favorite month for weddings, according to the readers of this here blog.

So, sit back, relax and if you were waiting, expect some good posts soon. And, if you have an idea for a post, or want me to explore a particular topic, feel free to shoot me an email or a comment. They both land in my inbox.

Read More......

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wedding planning in the news

Is it just me, or is everyone doing news stories about weddings lately? A few weeks ago, the L.A. Times did a story about how the economy is forcing brides to get thrifty, and all of a sudden, its wedding week at the Washington Post.

Photo by my friend Katherine Isokawa

I suppose that no matter what happens, people always do three things: be born, get married and die. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but its true. But at this point, let's focus on what everyone is really talking about: How to save money.

The L.A. Times starts with a bride who is planning to spend only $8,000, not the average $30,000 spent on weddings today. That's a big cut, but personally, that's still a lot for me, since I want to buy a bed, a bedroom set, a MacBook Pro...Oh, sorry. Got sidetracked there.

Planning a cut-rate wedding might seem out of step with the gauzy dream of the big day, but lately, more brides have been thinking thrifty as the economic slowdown has left them worried more about the higher cost of living than whether to serve chicken or filet mignon.

"There's no question that the recession has affected the wedding industry," said Jolene Rae Harrington, director of creative content at Here Comes The Guide, a wedding planning resource. "Brides still want to realize their wedding dream -- they just need to be more creative in how they achieve it."

That includes inviting fewer guests, getting married on off-peak days such as Fridays and Sundays, crafting handmade wedding favors and holding receptions at low-cost or no-cost venues such as parks and beaches.

As thrifty as I am, I knew my friends would be too. So a few months ago, I quizzed them as to how they saved money on their weddings. My girlfriend Olivia:

i would definitely have passed on the favors. they were dumb. i got my dress on ebay brand new for $100. my mom spent way too much on too much food. i dont know what else i would cut because it was all pretty cheap per person because we had to have 300 people. so it was more the number of people than the stuff that made it so much.

My former editor Amber:
1) We bought the flowers at Costco the day before the wedding and did them ourselves.
2) We had a destination wedding, so we rented a big house and had the rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony there. For the dinner, we hit Costco since we were buying a lot of food and then fixed the dinner ourselves.
3) Jill Karnicki (old GNP photog) took the wedding photos -- that was her present to us, which I suggested.
4) It's not something I did, but a friend of mine bought a wedding dress that she later dyed black and has used as an evening gown.
5) Instead of a wedding cake, we did cupcakes (again, made them ourselves) and decorated them up really cute.

But you don't have to take it just from me! I stumbled across this great post from Unclutterer -- Ten tips for planning a simple wedding. Hey, you brides could use all the help you can get in this day and age.

Read More......

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cake table decorations on Flickr

I have a whole slew of pictures of cake tables I've decorated, but you know what? I want to show off other styles of decorating, that aren't as involved or intensive as some of the stuff I've done, but are still gorgeous. After all, it doesn't take much -- a swish of the hips, a smile and some fabric usually do the trick. Just kidding. The fabric does help though.

Photo by Flickr's boscobridalexpo

For example, above you've got a photo from an East Coast bridal show company, Bosco Bridal Fashion Show & Expo. This picture caught my eye, because 1) there are three nice cakes here decorated in different ways, including with gift wrap ribbon, faux fruit and faux flowers, 2) because they're sitting on very nice stands that are understated but still give each cake some height and 3) because it uses some fabric in a very simple way. Really, the hard part is finding fabric with that shimmer, crinkle and texture. However, I usually pin fabric down, since you never know who will brush past it and mess it up. Just sayin'.

Photo by Flickr's hobbs_luton

Ah, another cake with ribbon and some faux flowers, sitting on a stand -- this time a silver, polished stand. Very nice. The table is draped with some burgundy tulle, attached to the table along with what looks like cymbidium orchids and rose petals. Another nice touch. Don't forget the rose petals!

Photo by Flickr's lisarunolfson

This one is so cute and simple. I think that the table decor complements the cake, as adorable as it is, perfectly -- it matches the shade of pink exactly and the pink linen bow on the short, white tablecloth over the floor-length pink tablecloth doesn't detract from the artistic cake. Nicely done, and so simple, too!

Photo by Flickr's boscobridalexpos

Here's another offering from Bosco Bridal Expos -- sand! at the foot of the wedding cake! Does that not look beachy or what? I suspect the sand is actually brown sugar. But how creative! What other edibles can pose for objects we normally wouldn't (or, at least, shouldn't) eat? Grapes as pebbles? Black licorice as wood? It would be like constructing a gingerbread house!

Photo by Flickr's hunkdujour

I normally try not to say one is my favorite over another -- but I really love this one from hunkdujour, who, by the way, has one of the greatest Flickr user names. Anyway, the cake table is all lit up! From below! And its got red rose petals! Over a textured, sparkly tablecloth! I love it! And never mind the fact that the cake itself is kinda cool too, with a spiky frosting thing going on, but the table set up here is just awesome.

Read More......

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Coolest Save-The-Date idea EVER

I've gotten a few save-the-date notices myself, and not to knock them, but they mostly range from a simple card to magnets. The engraved corkscrew to the left, for example, is a pretty unique idea, but probably a bit more expensive than what is needed for what is essentially a notice. I think cards and magnets are pretty standard. In fact, I think most of the discussion on "Save the Dates" is about wording.

But in surfing my wedding blogs the other day, I have come across what may be the coolest idea I've ever seen.

Via The Ink Spot, I present to you a movie trailer-style video "Save The Date:"

'Getting Married' Trailer from David Malki ! on Vimeo.

This video, I swear, is so well edited it really looks like a movie trailer. Plus, I like that they chose to go with Vimeo rather than YouTube (Vimeo and, in my opinion, are the best quality video-sharing sites online). Plus, if you shoot and edit the video yourself, all it takes is some work on your end, and its free, and environmentally friendly -- no sending out pieces of card or paper that will just be thrown away! And I think its a lot more personal.

OK, enough gushing from me. What are some of the cool "Save The Date" ideas you've seen?

Read More......

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wedding planner books and guides

I was at Barnes & Noble last night with my husband and I wandered near the wedding books shelf. Wow, there are all manner of wedding guides, planners and books, aren't there? It seems a waste of money to spend $25 or more on a book that's going to tell you what to do...oh wait. That's a good chunk of the book industry. Never mind! :)

In all seriousness, are these wedding books truly helpful to you, you brides-to-be in prep mode? I am all about lists, but I like to create them on my own. In a way, I wonder if a book with just wedding decorations, flowers and what to expect would be more helpful (maybe that's why I've come to enjoy writing this blog!)

At any rate, it has become quite the racket, and I'd like to contribute to helping cut down the confusion by asking this question: Is there a guide you would recommend more than another? There are more than 252,000 wedding-related books listed on Amazon. In the past, I've even seen a book telling a groom-to-be what he should be doing...although, I have to wonder how well read that book was!

But seriously, which book would you recommend and why? I am really interested. Tell me in the comments or shoot an email to darleene -at-

Read More......