Decorating weddings and special events over the years, I've often helped clients with other aspects of their events besides the decorating. I want to share that information and advice with you. I also want to highlight other event vendors whose work I like and different local venues. I invite you to ask questions as well.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanksgiving is upon us. Time to reflect on what and who we should be grateful for in our lives. I am grateful to all our clients without whom any of this would be possible. I am also grateful to my team of various helpers who help make sure every detail gets executed well. And I am grateful to all the other wonderful vendors and venues who suggest us to clients, because they know we will do a great job too.

The focus of a wedding is, of course, on the two people getting married – although we all really know the focus is more on the Bride! But there are many other people who contribute oftentimes long, arduous hours to insure the outcome of a beautiful event. Any and all of these people should be acknowledged. Planning a wedding is oftentimes a whirlwind of activity. The Big Day is sometimes no less hectic. But don't let that sidetrack you from letting people know that you appreciate their efforts. Truly poised Brides never forget their manners.

A time to acknowledge some of the people involved is at your rehearsal dinner. This is when you present your Bridesmaids (and the Groom his Groomsmen) gifts to express your gratitude for their participation in your event. For the Bridesmaids this can be necklaces or earrings that coordinate with their wedding day outfits. Remember to consider if someone has pierced ears or not when purchasing earrings. Sometimes other gifts are given like gift certificates to favorite restaurants or spas. Or perhaps something more personal, maybe something you made yourself.

This could also be a time, as well as at the reception, for toasts expressing thanks to key people. Take a few moments beforehand to give this some thought. You want to have an idea of what you want to say that will hopefully come to mind through nervousness. Also, you don't want any hurt feelings because you forgot to mention someone. This doesn't mean that you have to give a lengthy (no one wants that!) obsequious speech for every single person. A few concise and heartfelt words is perfect. Done well and there won't be a dry eye in the room.

After all the enjoyment of the wedding, and perhaps a honeymoon, you are faced with the daunting task of writing dozens of thank you notes. I suggest writing notes – and only notes, e-mails just don't stand up - as your gifts arrive so you aren't overwhelmed later. Also, you'll be more fresh with your sentiments when done a few at a time. And in the end, be sure to thank your fiancé (spouse!) for enduring all the months of chaos, jitters and whatnot and for just being the person that you love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Piazza at Schmidts Industry Event

Went to the industry event at The Piazza at Schmidts last evening. Not quite Florence, but a good americanized version - complete with 26" x 16" Dactronix Jumbotron TV! A fun, different party location. Lots of room, literally and figuratively, for creative events. There's even a magician on site.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hibachi Industry Event

Went to the Hibachi industry event last night. Nice views of the Delaware river. Not necessarily a great wedding location (at the same pier location as Dave and Buster's), but maybe a good venue for rehearsal dinners and whatnot. They offer buffets or hibachi style eating, which could be fun.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 18th Wedding

Decorated a wedding at the Racquet Club. Whites, Cream, Golds with Teal as the counterpoint. Even the signature drinks were Teal! Very fun!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


When the weather turns warmer thus begins the season of “outdoor” weddings. Outdoor locations can range from a beach to a private veranda to a public park and can be as informal or as dressy as indoor events. Sometimes Mother Nature will allow for the most enchanted of evenings under the stars. But more oft than not the romanticized idea of the perfect outdoor event is impeded with rain, mud, soaring (or plummeting) temperatures and flying, biting pests. But don't fear, there are precautions you can take to still insure (perhaps with a little humor) an enjoyable time for all. So in other words...

Don't fail to plan for inclement weather when having an outside event.
Do go ahead with an outside event if your heart is set on it, you just might get lucky!

Firstly, have a reputable tent company on hold to tent outside areas where possible in case of inclement weather. If you do have to tent hopefully the weather will permit that the sides of the tent can be open to view the surrounding grounds, which is wonderful decoration! And tents CAN be enhanced to look very pretty. I had a bride ask me about this recently.

“I am completely lost when it comes to decorating the tent. The look we are going for is classic and clean, but with a fun party twist...Do you have any advice as to how to decorate the tent so it doesn't look under or overdone in a cost effective way?”

Tents do need a little embellishment to hide tent mechanics. If you're keeping an eye on expenses, focus on the key areas of the tent - the center poles (you could decorate every pole along the perimeter too, but that gets costly) and perhaps the entrances and around any food stations, the bar and Band or DJ.

For the poles, they can be wrapped in fabric or Tulle. We also often add greens or garland, but that can be a budget breaker. Sometimes (if logistics and arrangement size and shape permit) the aisle flowers from the ceremony can be tied on either side of the upper part of the poles (where the supports connect). That adds a nice touch with or without the fabric wrapping. I also like to put a couple ferns around the bases of the poles too, to visually soften the area and to lessen the chances of someone tripping over them as well. If you want to get a little fancier trees (perhaps with string lights) and additional plants grouped around the poles make a nice visual link to the outdoor surroundings too.

Another idea to consider if your event goes into the evening, is incorporating paper lanterns with electric lights (because it's not festive to have a tent fire on your big day!) They come in lots of shapes, sizes and colors and afterwards you will have a nice collection for future parties. Also, we've put multiples of luminaries outside of tents either along borders of pathways or just sprinkled across a lawn.

But as lovely as your event may look keep in mind the comfort of your guests as well. Along with the tent you should have a portable A/C or heater on stand by too. A few years ago there was a wedding held in early September (usually a nice time of year weather-wise in this region) at a family home. There was a lovely old stone house with beautiful grounds that had been extensively redone for the wedding. They had a tent set up, but against my suggestion, they did not have a heater on stand by. Unfortunately, all the efforts for a spectacular setting were ruined by drizzly, damp weather. With no heater the guests were uncomfortable and it did put a pall over the event. Supposedly bad weather on the wedding day means there will be a good marriage. But I'd still like to have a good party too!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


My father passed away a couple weeks ago. And how does that relate to weddings? Death, like marriage, is one of those pivotal moments in your life. And like a wedding, it is a time when people come together not just physically, sometimes from great distances, but emotionally as well. It's when you experience great change, reflect on wonderful memories and engage in various rituals. It's hopefully when everyone involved in the planning will readily work together effectively and selflessly. And it is a time to be truly grateful for the family and friends still in your life. In other words...

Don't forget how very special your family, soon to be family and friends are.
Do take a moment to let them know how important they are to you.

Planning any event can be a stressful time for many reasons. There are budget constraints, taste differences, logistical problems. There seems to be a never ending list of decisions to make and each one affects all the others. In spite of all this try to keep your perspective and your poise. Even though presently your wedding is your main priority, one day it will be behind you. And afterwards what will remain are the people around you - and more specifically with regards to a wedding, your fiancé!

And when your day finally does arrive I always tell my brides - let go of any and all worries. You've worked hard to prepare and have hired vendors to carry out all the various functions of your party. Let them do their jobs. Relax. It's time for you to enjoy your day! Enjoy the festivities (even if there are any missteps with the plans no one but you will notice). Enjoy seeing those important people in your life all together to celebrate with you. And most importantly, be happy that you are marrying the person you love most!

But, while we're on the subject – it's very difficult for brides and grooms who have lost someone close to them before their wedding. It is saddening that that person will not be able to attend such an important event in their lives. So sometimes it is helpful to incorporate a little remembrance within the celebration. It could be as subtle as a significant flower included in the bride's bouquet. Or perhaps a picture in a locket tied around the stems of the bouquet. Once we hid a loved one's handkerchief under the ribbon wrapping the bouquet, a sweet, sentimental touch that only the bride knew about. Maybe setting a special table or a mantle with pictures decorated with flowers and candles would be a nice homage. Or even just simply some heartfelt words at a key moment. Whatever feels right to you is the best remembrance.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


An updated historical home or mansion is a popular venue for weddings and special events. You have the charm of old architecture, often with beautiful grounds, enhanced with current day amenities. To accommodate larger parties there is usually either an existing ballroom or a completely new addition. Sometimes this larger meeting area can be as simple as a tent over a patio, which can be really lovely when the weather is pleasant. Just remember to have on hold a company to set up any necessary portable A/C or heating units!

Unfortunately, in some venues the transition from old architecture to new is not so seamless and can create some decorating angst. But decorated thoughtfully the transition can be less noticeable. You can either choose one viewpoint and run with it or exaggerate differences for an interesting juxtaposition. Whichever path you choose I say commit fully! In other words...

Don't be inconsistent even in an inconsistent site.
Do be consistent in seemingly (but not) inconsistent ways.

Say that five times fast! As visually jarring as it is when there is no connection between architectural styles, the same can be said about the decorating. The key is a thread of continuity throughout your event. If you decide on a classic/modern theme, perhaps linking the two concepts by using the same colors throughout, or the same flowers – just presented in dramatically different ways. Or introduce other decorative elements, like the same linens throughout, to support the idea of it all still being one party. And don't be afraid to push the envelope. You want the differences to be bold and apparent, not wishy-washy and questioned.

Recently we decorated a site that is successful in its integration of old and new, The Manor House at Commonwealth. It is an 18th century stone farmhouse where the ballroom was added just a few years ago. It is situated next to the Commonwealth National Golf Club. So there are wonderful views of the course, particularly from the attractive veranda, which is right off the ballroom. The veranda is also a nice spot for some of your less mobile guests to look down upon your wedding, if you choose the bordered lawn below for your ceremony site.

The Bride asked us to decorate in a clean, classic style with bold reds. Since the Manor House is decorated in a fairly neutral palette this was not a problem at all. Always remember to consider how the color palette you are inclined to will work in the venue you choose.

I worked with another bride who loved the combination of hot pink and turquoise. This can be a really rich and pleasing combination, but not when your venue has light yellow walls and red carpets and Royal blue accents! Luckily, she heeded my advice and was very happy with the decoration of white flowers with hot pink accents, like the chair cushions, in some areas and full throttle hot pink in other areas where it could work. Turquoise made no appearance at the party and I believe everyone was better for it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Discussion of the recent economic downturn is pervasive. You hear about it on the radio and TV. You read about it in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. It has, to whatever degree, affected everyone. So needless to say, the very first word out of every bride's mouth is BUDGET. Different aspects of weddings have different meanings and values for different people. Where the food may be important to one bride, the band is more important to another. Most of the time people have ideas of budgets for various aspects of their event in the back of their mind. Now it's in the forefront! So the trick is in laying out your budget to fit what's most important to you while being even handed in planning the overall event. In other words...

Don't blow your budget on your dress and then skimp on everything else.
Do set a realistic budget before you purchase/book anything.

Don't expect vendors to cut their prices because you spent $5000 on your dress. This goes across the board. If you booked the most lavish, expensive hotel, don't cut every other corner or the event will feel obviously cheapened. And I caution people to not make decisions based solely on the cost of something if possible. There are ways to scale back without settling for something second rate. Lay out your budget and expect that some things will cost a little more, but not so much that you'll end up being entertained by Uncle Fred's boom box at the Ritz.

Be realistic. If you can't afford a splashy evening affair at the grandest ballroom in town, a lovely cocktail party at an interesting venue like an art gallery might be more appropriate for you. Or perhaps something that reflects an important aspect of you and your fiancé's life. If you are foodies, maybe an intimate dinner in the private room of one of your favorite restaurants would be the thing. If you are outdoorsy types, why not a party at an arboretum? But remember to always have indoor contingency plans for any outdoor event in case of inclement weather!

If you do book the ballroom, perhaps have your ceremony there as well. This will cut the cost of the ceremony site and the need for special transportation ie. limousines, trolleys, horse drawn carriages, etc. And again, scaling back from a full sit down dinner to an elegant cocktail reception might be a better plan. Just remember to be clear on your invitations, so guests know what to expect. I have a friend who was more than a little miffed when - having spent money on airfare, a hotel stay, car rental and a nice gift - was offered only cake, grape Kool-Aid (the bride and groom thought it would be humorous apparently) and tepid Sanka at the reception.