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:
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.]]>
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.
If you’ve found love in a cold climate, chances are you’ll want a pretty jacket, coat, cloak, sweater, or shawl. Even with the slow but steady return of sleeves to bridal couture, the fact is most wedding gowns are not designed to keep you warm in the great outdoors. This is festivewear, not survivalwear. Even if you only need it for getting from the limo to your wedding site and perhaps a few pre-ceremony photographs, it’s a good idea to have something that will keep you from turning into your something blue.
Looking for bridesmaids’ gifts? Matching shawls or sweaters would make a pretty and practical idea.
For your feet? Maybe pretty Victorian boots would be a good idea to keep feet both attractive and dry.
Go with the season!
Remember that there are less flowers in season during the winter months. That means that using a lot of bright flowers will cost more than it might in another time of year. So choose what’s in season to make your bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, and corsages. Use a variety of pretty evergreen sprigs like in the bouquet shown, decorate tables with poinsettias or tiny living evergreen trees, or go blatantly and fabulously fake with sparkly brooches or festive pinwheels.
And don’t forget the season when picking your menu! Looking for a good signature cocktail? Try a mulled wine or eggnog. Consider gingerbread for your wedding cake. Want a delicious, popular, and satisfying main dish? Think about lasagna, roast beef and mashed potatoes, or a mac and cheese bar.
Don’t ignore the obvious decorations!
If you’re planning a wedding for next winter, I would heartily recommend hitting the stores for the post-Christmas ornament sales. Bowls of Christmas balls filling a glass bowl would make great centerpieces for your wedding. Strings of lights will make your hall all the prettier. Wired ribbon can be lovely tied in bows on pews. Linens in rich colors will also be on sale in preparation for the lighter spring colors coming soon.
As I said before, winter weddings can be lovely in a very special way. They warm our hearts in the cold months, and give us one more reason to celebrate. So use your imagination to bring the best of the season to your wedding day. Everyone – including you! – will be glad you did.]]>
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.]]>
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.]]>
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.
(Illustration via Sugar Blossom Weddings)
It’s easy to get turned around on an unfamiliar site and lose track of where the facilities you need might be.
If you have some help yourself item, it’s always a good idea to put out a sign so people know they really are supposed to simply help themselves to candy or favor boxes. And if you’re having a buffet meal at your reception, it never hurts to put signs explaining what each dish is and pointing out any common allergens (or hidden animal products) involved. After all, you don’t want your peanut-allergic auntie to grab a big helping of pad thai without knowing to have her epipen at the ready!
(Illustration via Rivernorth Love)
Or you could just have a message for your entire guest list that would be fun to share as decor.
Oh, and don’t forget the sign that shares your good news with everyone who passes you on the road afterward!
(Image via Wedzilla)
Remember, weddings are more fun when everyone can find them… and what’s going on when they get there.]]>
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.]]>
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!]]>
Of course table settings are one thing… but far from the only thing you can do in mint. How about a mint wedding gown?
I found this pic at Stella Harper Events, and I love it. Not only is the dress fabulous, the VW microbus in the back looks exactly like the one my father drove for about twenty years until he passed it on to one of my brothers.
But not everyone is ready to wear a mint wedding gown. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a few colorful accessories to pull the color scheme together.
Check out this etherial wedding halo of mint fabric flowers and pearls I spotted at Platinum Weddings and Events.
And of course it looks delicious on the buffet table!
But what the holy heck are you going to do with it all once the day is over? After all, you don’t want to be a one-woman ecological disaster in the making, and you don’t want to be wading through masses of wedding detritus come your tenth anniversary, either.
That means you’ll need a plan to store the things you care about keeping and dispose of the things you don’t want anymore responsibly.
As per usual, I have a couple thoughts on the subject.
The first thing to do is to figure out what matters enough to you to keep it. This varies wildly from person to person. You may want to hang onto your wedding gown forever, hoping that one day your daughter will love it as much as you did and wear it when she gets married… or you might feel you don’t have either the sentiment or the closet space for that one. I know a couple women who carefully preserved their bouquets and display them in their homes. Mine went into a compost bucket in a friend’s vegetable garden without a moment’s regret. The tomatoes were excellent that year. Some people frame their invitations while others cut up any leftover ones for craft projects or shred and recycle them.
It doesn’t matter what things matter to you enough to keep and which don’t. What matters is figuring it out on your terms.
Once you’ve got that worked out, decide whether to donate, sell, or recycle all the things you possibly can.
There are charities that will take wedding gowns, veils, and other bridal accessories and either sell them for charity or give them to brides who would not be able to afford gowns etc. otherwise. If you aren’t sentimental about your gown, headpiece, or gloves, look up what groups in your area will pass them on to breast cancer survivors or the homeless who want to marry. Items like aisle runners, bouquet holders, or fancy pens for signing guest books are often gratefully accepted, too.
Another good candidate for donation is flower arrangements. If you’ve got any that have survived the heat (or other weather conditions) and the vases aren’t rented, think about donating them to a hospital or nursing home to cheer up patients.
Food is trickier. Many times your reception food cannot be donated to organized charities due to health regulations. But there’s nothing to stop you putting out take home containers for your friends so they can have any leftovers… or you could have a couple volunteers pack up the food and give it on a one-on-one basis to homeless, hungry people in the streets.
Or maybe you spent more than you’d meant to and would like to make a modicum of that back from the things you don’t want to keep. eBay, Craig’s List, and bridal boards are great places to sell off the things in good condition that you don’t want to give apartment space to. After all, that wooden sign that said ‘The Bride is Coming’ looked adorable when the little boy carried it down the aisle… but what are you going to do with it for the rest of your life? Well, another bride might love the idea of having one and look on your lightly used one as the answer to a maiden’s prayer. And you might be well able to use the couple of bucks that prayer nets you!
Then again, sometimes it’s fun to take something that was important for one reason, and make it useful for another reason. Maybe you don’t want to preserve your bouquet, per se, but are loathe to just dump it or hand it off to someone else. Why not dry the sweet-smelling petals for potpourri? Or dry the flowers and use them in crafts projects? If they’re edible, you can even cook with them.
Once a wedding is over, there’s a lot of clean up to be done. But if you have a plan for what to do with things afterwards, you can make your wedding easier on the earth, and spread some happiness while you’re at it.]]>
Still, two boys who met and became good friends. For years they were quite close.
Alas! Over the years they eventually drifted apart. It wasn’t any one thing or on purpose, but it happened nonetheless. Still, they never forgot one another.
Well, a few weeks ago, Mr. Twistie and his childhood friend found one another again on Facebook… and it turned out John was about to get married.
And so it was that yesterday Mr. Twistie and I repaired to the Benicia Clock Tower to attend our first ever steampunk wedding.
The setting was great. Plenty of parking, a bit of history (the tower was built in 1859), and plenty of atmosphere. Guests were encouraged to wear steampunk or Victorian attire, and many did so, adding to the unique look and feel. Goggles, leather, gears, bustles, and fabulous hats abounded. Yes, Mr. Twistie and I dressed in the spirit of the event. His frock coat and my random velvet pieces fit right in.
The groom wore a festive and elegant brocade waistcoat… with a TARDIS on the back. For the ceremony, he added a spectacularly detailed recreation of Captain Jack Harkness’ greatcoat.
The bride wore an elegant Victorian gown in the style of the bustle era in a lovely shade of soft blue grey. Her bouquet even had a special story behind it. Several years ago, a good friend of the bride organized her friends to send her special beads and notes of encouragement for her birthday. The intent was that she would make up these various beads into a necklace. Then, as it happened, she met John and the necklace never actually got made. Instead, she carried all the beads as part of her bouquet.
The personalities of both partners were in clear evidence throughout the celebration. From their officiant dressed as the Eleventh Doctor (Though sadly, without a fez. Fezzes are cool), to the Dr. Who music played before the ceremony to vowing ‘as you wish’ instead of ‘I do’, to the Back to the Future Overture used as the recessional, everything was quirky and meaningful to them.
The personal touches continued throughout the afternoon. The buffet meal was mostly made up of recipes from the groom’s grandmother and cooked by the groom’s daughter. Recipes were available for those interested. You can bet I was interested! I can’t wait to try making that artichoke, ricotta pie!
Oh, and Mr. Twistie and I were delighted to find the music during the meal was made up mostly of songs and tunes from cartoons of our childhood. The Speed Racer theme, Josie and the Pussycats, the Underdog theme… yeah, we took a little trip back in time. It also gave us an opportunity to bond with a couple at the next table over Bullwinkle trivia.
Sadly, a few weeks before the wedding, the groom’s father passed on. It was a big blow to everyone involved. I’m not normally a big fan of terribly overt tributes to the dead at weddings, but in this case, something really did need to be done and said. And yes, again, it was handled with grace, and even with some joy. A group of his friends sat at a special table, and there was a dance in his honor where everyone was encouraged to join in.
There was also a fabulous practical idea that I would love to see at more weddings. The self-serve bar of sodas and juice drinks were placed in shallow blow-up wading pools filled with ice! Now that was a great idea!
The theme of the wedding as printed on the programs was ‘Well and Truly, Pure and Simple.’ I can think of no better description of the day. This was a joyful celebration from the heart, everything was simple and pure.
I’m glad Mr. Twistie found his friend again. I’m honored to have been included in the warmth of this wonderful couple’s wedding.
John and Cat, may you share many happy years together. And may Mr. Twistie and I always have a corner to share in that world.]]>