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Of Tents, Marquees, and Pavilions

Medieval Pavilions

Perhaps it’s the romantic in me, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about tents, and I’m not talking about the sort you’d find on a camping trip, unless you’re going on a Holy Crusade with Richard the Lionhearted. What I’m thinking about are those giant tents, sometimes called marquees, that are erected at weddings and parties.

Until I moved east, I rarely encountered a tent at a wedding. California brides, who know enough to not schedule their weddings in the rainy season, can be nearly 100% certain that they won’t get rained out. Head east, past the Rocky Mountains, however, and the April showers that bring May flowers last all summer long, meaning that the wise bride who wants an outdoor wedding reception must be prepared for a cloudburst or three. The same would be triply true for our friends in the United Kingdom, who enjoy glorious summer days, punctuated by scudding clouds shedding rain.

Hence the wedding marquee for hire, or as we would say here, a tent for rent. The key to renting a pavilion or marquee is that you have to make your arrangements in advance, way, way in advance, if you’re hoping to get married on the most popular dates in mid-to-late spring. I would suggest that if you’re doing a June wedding you should plan on contacting the rental company at least a nine months, if not a year, in advance to secure the marquee you need.

The variety of options and configurations a good rental company can provide are amazing. Here’s one with a checkerboard dancefloor:

Marquee with a dance floor.

Most of them can also supply accessories such as chairs, tables, sounds systems, lighting, virtually everything except the food, the band, and the guests. The keys, however, are careful planning and knowing exactly what you’ll need before you start booking tents.

Wedding In a Winter Wonderland

There’s nothing like a winter wedding. Snow (if you live in an area where it’s common) makes a pretty backdrop for a wedding. And since winter is a far less popular time of the year to marry than spring or summer, it’s quite possible to get extra good deals on halls, catering, and flowers. And with all the decorative items on sale for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, etc. it’s easy to get all kinds of pretty sparkly things to make your day beautiful on a budget.

Of course, there are some practical issues to consider, too. Weather is more likely to be stormy. One unexpectedly heavy fall of snow could spell the difference between a full house and lots of empty pews at your ceremony. Since many people travel for the holidays at this time of year, it’s also possible that you’ll wind up with less guests than you’d hoped due to family obligations or used up vacations days that won’t allow people to come out your way.

Once you’ve looked over the pros and cons and decided to set your wedding in the winter months, here are a few ideas to make it extra pretty and seasonally suitable.
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Two Opposite and Equally Awesome Thoughts on DIY


(Illustration via A Practical Wedding)

You guys know me. I’m a DIY diva and proud of it. Give me some threads, some scraps of paper, a little ribbon, and a hot glue gun, and I’ll make you something remarkable with it. I love making things and I’m good at it, too.

So it’s no surprise that I loved Sam and Stew’s handmade South African wedding when I read about it at A Practical Wedding. Together, they made most of the accessories for their big day, and both families got into the fun of it.

Most of all, I loved the reason Sam gave for loving all the projects she, Stew, their families, and their friends did for the wedding:

There was a moment, when I stood back, and looked around at the happy smiles and goofy grins of all our favourite people, and literally felt surrounded by love.

Because there it was—hammered into the menus, baked into the cookies, sewn into the seams of the table runners and sprinkled into that darn confetti. So if the crafty crazy is getting to you, don’t worry too much. Because it’s neverabout the details you get out. It’s about the love you put in.

You know what? That’s how I felt when I looked at my wedding, too. Everywhere I looked, I saw concrete evidence of the love our friends and families have for us. Everywhere I turned, there was something I poured my heart into that was making someone I love smile.

But you know what else? I’m not every bride. There are other equally valid ways of choosing to do things. One of these ways is described by guest blogger Danielle in a july article, also at A Practical Wedding.

In it she discusses how she almost panicked her way into doing a series of last-minute DIY projects because they’re everywhere on the internet.

Having carefully chosen to marry in an art gallery so she wouldn’t have to worry about decorations, Danielle almost decided she needed to make piles of random things to fill out the space, once she looked at a few wedding blogs and Pinterest boards… but she remembered something at the last minute: DIY isn’t her.

An intervention from a good friend brought her back to sanity just as she was pricing out the cost of making her own pinwheels.

I remembered that we can have whatever kind of wedding we want, and that just because I’m not panicking in these final pre-wedding weeks doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. It probably means I’m doing something right.

And knowing that I won’t glance around the room at the end of our wedding night and see sloppy homemade pinwheels abandoned on tables and tossed into trash cans? That feels pretty right too.

Always remember, there is no wrong way to plan a wedding as long as you’re enjoying the process and feel your personality as a couple is being represented. Craft it all by hand, don’t craft a thing, find a middle path by all means. Don’t worry too much about what other people are or aren’t doing. Seek inspiration, but never forget who you are.

It’s your wedding. It should look and feel the way you want it to.

Napkinly Ever After

It’s pretty common knowledge that I’m big into crafts and DIY. Readers here have heard for years about my handmade wedding lace, self-catering, and so on and so on and so on. I’m a big fan of seeing the happy couple’s fingerprints all over a wedding, whether it’s intended to make the event unique or simply save a buck or two.

Well, I recently found a project that’s intended for the wedding day, but also has the advantage that it’s something practical you can keep and use for years afterwards, too.


In a recent article at Green Wedding Shoes, you can learn how to make these delicious stamped linen napkins from carving the stamps to setting the ink.

Just choose your own colors, carve or purchase a stamp that speaks to you, heat your iron, and go to it!

This is a particularly nice project for a small wedding or for head table needs… unless you have a lot of trusted volunteers who can help out or a very long timeline. It won’t save you cash, either. This is about putting your – wait for it! – personal stamp on the celebration.

But the great advantage is that the napkins can be saved and reused for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, dinner parties, or even just to class up wednesday night mac and cheese.

Me? I’m not getting married again any time soon. The first one is still holding nicely, thank you very much. But I may just make these anyway. They’d be nice for Christmas dinner or as gifts for friends who entertain.

Sign Me Up


(Illustration by Ryan Ray Photogtaphy via Style Me Pretty)

There are a lot of details involved in planning a wedding. You’ve got to worry about clothes, venues, menus, flowers, chairs, linens, vows, organizing attendants, music, favors, decorations… the list goes on and on.

But have you considered signage?

After all, you have people coming from far away who don’t know where your reception hall is, and it can be hard to pull over and consult the little map that came with the invitation when you’re not sure whether you’ve made a wrong turn or not. A few pretty pointers with balloons and/or crepe paper ribbons in your wedding colors will help people know they’re going the right way. Of course it never hurts to have your names and the date on there, too, in case someone else is getting married around the same spot or one of the signs is missed when the clean up crew goes to take them down again.

(Illustration via Rustic Wedding Chic)

Once you get to the wedding itself, there are still good reasons for signage.
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In Praise of Baby’s Breath


Most of my life, this is how I saw baby’s breath, that ubiquitous filler of cheap bouquets of roses and carnations. There would be half a dozen roses or carnations, two fern fronds, and a couple anemic sprigs of baby’s breath to ‘fill’ out the look. It never worked. Most of the time, I tossed the ferns and the baby’s breath and made do with the half a dozen ‘real’ flowers.

But you know what? Something magical can happen when the filler is used as the main bloom. Something, say, like this:

(Image via Pretty Little Things)
Suddenly a flower that was puny and pointless is a cloud of romantic elegance.


(Illustration via The Ring Bearer where you can also find instructions)
Or it can be relaxed and rustic.


(Illustration via The Alternative Bride)
You can even reverse the polarity and have a couple lovely blooms nestled amid an explosion of baby’s breath for a cool, modern look.

Using fillers thoughtfully can save you big bucks on your floral budget. But there’s no reason whatsoever to sacrifice style in doing so. If you pay attention and use your imagination, it’s amazing what a humble filler flower can do.

LOVE/HATE: Something Fishy

A couple weeks ago on Bridezillas, there was a bride who insisted on a fantasy wedding cake (which was going to be paid with by someone else’s food stamps until the baker informed them that would be illegal!) featuring the concepts of castles and under the sea. So it was for aquatic royalty, apparently. Alas, I can’t seem to find a picture of the specific cake online, but one thing the baker added – seemingly of her own volition – was real, live fish.

Fear not, though! For I have found other illustrations of what this looks like:

Okay, I admit this melting blue icing and guppy creation isn’t the best illustration I found. Let’s be fair. Here’s another that is far better made, and actually includes some apparatus dedicated to keeping those poor fishies alive through the reception, unlike the one on Bridezillas which wound up with a sadly ironic illustration of the relationship well before the cake was cut:

Even with the better organization and decoration of the second cake, I’m going to have to go with Hate on this one. I frankly disapprove of using living creatures as pure decoration. Also, there is far too high a likelihood of the poor creatures suffocating because even though they breathe under water, fishes still need oxygen to live.

What about you? Do you find it exploitive and icky? Harmless fun? Painfully unappetizing? Tell me what you think!

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