Tips and Tools
Once you’ve been faced with the reality of planning your wedding getting down to the details can be daunting. A good place to start is to envision the event—decide whether you’re going to have an intimate celebration or a grand affair. Then, figure out what you can afford to spend to realize your vision. That’s right, you need to determine your budget.
It’s important to sit with all the people who will financially support your wedding and discuss what type of wedding you envision and how you and/or them would share the costs. Your families may look at your budget and offer to pay for the catering and drinks, for example, or they may set an amount they can contribute. If they can’t afford to contribute or can only contribute a small amount, say ‘thank you’ and revise the budget accordingly or find more creative ways to finance your wedding. Remember that some people don’t like discussing financial details in a group setting, so consider meeting with your families separately.
TIP: Open a separate account for your wedding expenses. This way you can both keep a close eye on the numbers and make sure you don’t go over your budget.
by Francis Pollonais-La Foucade
Nature-based and eco-friendly themes are particularly suited to DIY brides. I’ve recently worked on a no fuss, no “bling”, but rather a simple and natural “enchanted garden” affair. Here are some DIY friendly elements from weddings that were impactful and super affordable.
TIP: All you’d need to replicate them is some spray paint, glitter, glue sticks, a glue gun,
good time management and a patient groom.
This area comprises most of your décor real estate, so it’s vital that you nail your theme here. For this type wedding linens should be natural in texture and/or colour. I used ivory damask linens with chocolate napkins and burlap/crocus bag runners on the head table.
TIP: Burlap is particularly nice to use as the edges fray nicely to create a fringe (no sewing required). Burlap can also be used to create overlays if desired.
The floral arrangement centerpiece comprised chrysanthemums and local anthuriums. The flowers were set in a tall glass vase, the top and bottom of which was wrapped in raw rope. The vase was filled with inexpensive sand under the roped portion and white deco stones in the exposed portion.
TIPS: Local flowers are cheaper and more easily accessible than foreign flowers; glass vases are now rentable from a number of design and accessory rental companies; and deco stone is sold by the bag at almost any garden shop, for less than TT$60.00 a bag (one bag was able to fill nine vases).
If you’re not a florist you can still create relevant drama by using flowers that lend themselves to spray type arrangements (see photo next page), which are very easy to put together. Orchids and calla lilies are good examples of this type of flower. There are a number of tasteful looking silk orchids and calla lilies on the local market that are quite reasonably priced (you can especially take advantage of wholesale prices). Silk arrangements work particularly well for the DIY bride as arrangements can be made well in advance of the wedding.
Ikebana styled arrangements or the common bromeliad (the plants that grow on trees and telephone wires) sprayed gold and lightly glittered arranged on natural stone tiles would also be quite workable with this theme.
The wedding theme was “LOVE GROWS”, so for keepsakes, each guest was given a small potted plant. In this case rosemary, lavender and balleria. These were also placed on the tables to add to the garden look and feel. To embellish these, each plant was placed into a 2lb brown paper bag with the top rolled down to just cover the pot and tied off with two shades of ribbon. The tag, depicting the theme to the front and care instructions to the back, was attached to a craft stick or as we say in Trinidad, a palette stick (available in almost any colour at local craft stores).
Note: the front and back were printed on two separate tags and stuck on the front and back of the stick to ensure that the back was readable.
TIPS: The potted plant was sourced locally for TT$5.00. Another option for an inexpensive keepsake is customized flower seed packets.
The ceiling treatment consisted of dried branches embellished with tasteful silk flowers, handmade silk flower garlands and artificial, flickering votive candles. For a touch of “bling”, faux Swarovski crystal beads can be added.
TIP: Use whites, pastels or brightly coloured flowers for an evening wedding, as the human eye loses its ability to differentiate colour with the reduction of light.
For warm intimacy with that touch of glitz use white or amber string lights, votives and votive holders, metallic and/or crystal finishes (glitter, spray paint, metallic chargers, metallic or crystal beads).
Foyer & Guest Book
In the foyer, where the guest book table was located, I changed the wall texture of the existing wall by printing a large format stone texture on to a substrate, which was easily mountable in the space.
TIP: This may be financially out of reach for some brides but an alternative texture can be created using crumpled brown paper with a gold distressed finish applied to it, or dried leaf overlay gilded in gold.
Note: You should check with your venue regarding decorating parameters, especially as they pertain to points of attachments for props, and get the relevant approvals. The worst thing that can happen is to have your plans and props arrive only to be told that all decor items must be free standing—that is, you cannot attach anything to ceilings, walls, etc. If such rules apply, a support system would have to be incorporated as part of your plan.
A true favour is a thoughtful act of kindness. It is a deed done for another without need of recognition. Here are 8 favor ideas that are both memorable and useful.
(See full article in Newsday, Mentality, April 21st).
- Flip-flops. These can be used both during the wedding (on the dance floor) and afterwards. Ideal token for a destination or beach wedding.
- Olive oil. This can be gifted either as miniature bottles or handmade soaps, and would be a welcomed addition to any kitchen or bath respectively.
- Donations. In lieu of favors, place a card at every table explaining that you chose to donate money to a special charity or cause on behalf of your guest. Be sure to choose a reputable non-profit.
- Pashminas. Attach a note saying, “To keep you warm, always.”
- Tea or coffee: Shower guests with packets of tea and/or coffee. Consider a Caribbean blend such as Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee.
- Honey or jam. Attach a note saying, “Spread the Love.”
- Herbs and spices. Consider Grenadian spices or nutmeg, or even potted basil or rosemary.
- Wedding dress cookies. These are the ideal “girly-girl” sweet treats.
Bride running late? Photoshoot in overdrive before the reception? Here’s a cocktail blueprint for keeping your guests happy.
The cocktail hour is that time, right before the reception, that guests spend mingling, sipping and munching, and an important opportunity to set the tone and style of your wedding.
The cocktail hour was originally created to give guests something to do while the wedding party and new bride and groom took pictures or were otherwise occupied before the reception.
Keep an open floor plan. Walking out of a lovely ceremony to find yourself crowded by guests en route to the party room can be a quick mood killer. The trick is to make the cocktail venue as open and spacious as possible to facilitate fun and mingling.
Eliminate food bottlenecks. Supplement your main bar or snack station with one or two smaller bars at opposite corners of the room to prevent crowding.
It’s better to rely mainly on servers to get food to guests, and serve only “finger foods” so that plates are not required. Be sure to assign at least one server to every fifty guests.
Some tables and seats are needed. Be sure to have a few cocktail tables, some high, some low, so that guests can have a place to rest their drinks and sit down. A good strategy would be to place low tables with chairs along the wall, and high-tops without chairs toward the middle of the room.
Cater to all guests. Have seating for older guests and for those who may need seating (for example, those with medical conditions).
Be sure to have kid-appropriate munchies if children are invited; and include non-alcoholic drinks and perhaps a vegetable or non-meat item to satisfy various dietary requirements.
Time it. The cocktail hour should only last one hour. Guests standing on their feet, balancing food and drinks, can get tired and bored if the cocktail hour lingers.
Minimize the décor. During cocktails, guests are busy socializing, not focusing on decor. So don’t spend a fortune on large arrangements.
Keep it simple. A cocktail hour needn’t involve fancy cocktail tables, a bar, or even alcoholic drinks. To include a cocktail hour without breaking the bank consider serving drinks that you can make in bulk.
Leave out the alcohol. Consider leaving out the alcohol and just serving cheese and crackers, veggies or fruit, with smoothies, or an assortment of teas, and/or lemonade or another array of drinks that go with your theme.
That way, you not only save cost, but also get all the formal wedding items such as toasts, speeches and special dances out of the way before bringing out the booze.
MAKING IT SPECIAL?
Consider a photo booth. This is a fun, breezy way to get guests involved and entertained, prior to the reception. It’s also a good way to ensure that you get additional photos of your guests.
Musical inspiration. Single musicians such as guitarists, violinists, pianists and harpists are perfect. Adding more musicians to the combination is also a nice touch and these can include violin, guitar or a small string ensemble. Better yet, have the musicians stroll amongst your guests. (Note that you don’t have to bust the bank for good talent. Musicians can include a talented kid you know. Music teachers would be happy to facilitate exposure for students.)
Caricature artists. Hire local talent to draw/paint caricatures of your guests. The art becomes a fun filled favor that your guests can take home. Take inspiration from Bohemian Paris, and have artists available even whilst guests enjoy dinner and dessert.
Change of scenery. Depending on your location, cocktail hours can allow for guests to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the wonderful weather. Think outdoor patio or verandah, a picturesque garden, or the beach.