DIY Wedding & Bridal Shower Decorating Ideas

July 29th, 2009

Decorating a wedding or party can be great fun if you have a vision and pictures to help inspire you.  I love the challenge of  “decorating on a dime”, while at the same time having the event look like a million bucks.  For those of you who enjoy doing it yourself (or with your family and friends), these will be some helpful ideas.

Flowers usually take up a large part of the budget when decorating an event.  There are alternative centerpiece ideas that can be equally as elegant while bringing  in the color palette you desire to give your event that Wow! factor.

1- One way to accomplish this is with Pillar Candles. Finding candles in your color scheme, in various sizes and widths and grouping them together so you have a nice presentation on the table can look gorgeous.  Choose one color for all the candles.  Use a strong contrasting color in your color scheme in satin ribbon in two different widths, and wrap around the candle at two levels.  Depending on the size of your tables, I would suggest you use an odd number of candles per table ie.,  3, 5 or 7.

Duplicate the look with added flowers at base of candles and make the arrangement of the candles more horizontal for  the buffet table, escort card table or sign in table.  To keep the flowers fresh, use those little tubes that contain water and put the stems in them (the tube can be hidden from view)  If your site doesn’t allow open flames, simply use LED tea lights and embed them a little in the top of the candle.

Image: La Premier

Image: La Premier

2- Vases can be costly if you are having a large reception, so when I saw what Colin Cowie  did with glass vases, I immediately thought of an idea you can use for a fraction of the cost.  Now, stay with me here…don’t think this is too silly until you try it.

Start saving your milk cartons (orange juice cartons will work too).  Use both the quart size cartons as well as the 1/2 gallon size.  Rinse them out well and start stockpiling them.  You should figure on 5 per table if your tables are large round ones.  Since these cartons are obviously already used for  a liquid, you know they will  hold water for your arrangements.

Your objective is not only to have different width cartons, but you’ll want to cut them down so you have different heights.  Once your happy with the different heights, measure them and cut all of them the same way.

Practice on your different size cartons with inexpensive fabric so you can make patterns from a paper bag  for the fabric you will cut up.  Allow room at the top and bottom to iron a little “hem”  so the ends are finished on both ends.

Choose a beautiful fabric.   You can even be extravagant in your choice of fabric because it won’t take much, and most fabrics come in very wide widths. Once you’ve made your patterns you can figure out how much fabric you will need.

Simply wrap your gorgeous fabric around the container and hot glue the seam together (being careful to use the glue sparingly so it doesn’t seep out the edges when you press down.  When placing the vases on the table, make sure the seam side is facing inward so all the guests see are nicely wrapped containers.    Add a contrasting ribbon to top and bottom and fill with flowers that are easily arranged (see my tips on arranging flowers in a previous post).

If you feel your container needs more weight for the flowers you are using, place a glass of water in them to hold the flowers and this will give additional weight and support.  The containers pictured here  are filled with lots of roses, however, if you use a large bloom, you don’t need as many flowers.  Experiment with your flowers to determine how many you will need per container.  Make sure whatever flower you choose you do a “mound” design of them making sure the bouquet covers the top of the container  to make the arrangement look luxurious.

Fabric Covered Container With Ribbon

Fabric Covered Container With Ribbon

Fabric Covered Containers Grouping

Fabric Covered Containers Grouping

Fabric Covered Containers With Colored Votives

Fabric Covered Containers With Colored Votives

A crystal rose favor, if you’re using roses, would be a perfect remembrance gift for your guests.

If you use this idea, I’d love to see your pictures.  Send them to and I’ll post them so everyone can see your creativity.

Outdoor Wedding Decorating Tips

July 27th, 2009

An outdoor wedding is beautiful because the scenery in itself adds to the decor.  However, you need to keep the comfort of your guests in mind when you are planning the reception and a perfect solution is a tent.  Not only will it help shade your guests, but it adds sophistication to the outdoor space, where it might otherwise look very casual.

To add more ambiance to the tented space you could do the following:

1- Swag white twinkle lights from the center of the tent out to the edges.

2- Hang chandeliers and use battery operated votives or candles in place of real candles.  Adhere them with wax dots used to hold a taper in place in a candle holder.

3- Pull back the sides of the tent so foliage and outdoor charm can be seen.

Rain or shine the a tent provides shelter while still giving the ambiance of nature.  Many tent rental companies also have designers who will swag the tent with fabric and use lighting to bring in color and drama.

Tent with Lights & Chandeleir

Tent with Lights & Chandelier

Image: Linda Howard's Sensational Celebrations

Image: Linda Howard's Sensational Celebrations

Viewing Linda Howard’s Sensational Celebrations will give you inspiration.  What a wonderful designer, and you can see she gives a lot of attention to detail.

For your guests, a beautiful candle in line with your theme would make a perfect favor, and a lovely picture frame would be nice for your place cards.

Wedding Tips For How You Should Look On Your Special Day

July 22nd, 2009

Experts agree that many brides wear too much makeup or think that being  bejeweled from head to toe is glamorous.  However, you should think about not being overly accessorized.  I’m sure you know how you feel when you look at your mom’s wedding pictures, depending on when they got married, you can definitely tell what was in style at the time.  Think of how you will appear to your children when they are looking  at your wedding pictures 20 years from now.  You don’t want them saying “mom, what were you thinking?”  Instead, you want your look to be timeless.  Some ways to achieve this are:

1- Your makeup should enhance your features naturally, not disguise them.

2- You want your hairstyle to stay in place, but not look like a sculpture.

3- Choose jewelry that complements your gown but doesn’t overpower it.

4- Wear shoes that are elegant but comfortable, you will be on your feet for hours.

5- Consider having a second pair of shoes on hand in case your feet swell, and so you can enjoy dancing at your reception.

6- Remember you should wear the dress, not the dress wear you.  Instead of having a dress with too much  fabric, choose lace or embroidery or beading embellishments to make it special.  Just not all at once.

7-  Go to at least 3 different salons to try on as many dresses as you can.  If you think you like a particular style, keep in mind what will look good on your body type – not the size 0 model in the magazines.  Of course, many of you are probably a size 0, so you can skip this part of tip 7.

Wedding tips on Creating A Dynamic DIY Reception

July 20th, 2009

Flowers aren’t the only way to create a dynamic look for your reception.  Color can also be brought in by draping your tables and chairs in bold colors.  Renting gorgeous linens will turn a DIY reception into a dynamic reception.

Using fabric on tables and chairs gives you unlimited possibilities to make your wedding one of a kind with color and style.

Image: Wildflower Linen

Image: Wildflower Linens

Image Wildflower Linens

Image: Wildflower Linens

Image Wildflower Linens

Image: Wildflower Linens

Image Wildflower Linens

Image: Wildflower Linens

1- For a DIY idea, choose a fabric for the base of your cloth and a sheer fabric for a topper. Hot glue silk petals or silk flowers to the topper  for a special look.  You can purchase a bunch of flowers at your local craft store.  Pull the flowers off the stems and then pull the plastic stamen out of the flower.  This will leave you with flat petals with a hole in the center where you can place a crystal, pearl or bead in a coordinated or contrasting color.  Or, you can make a “flower template” for different size “petals” and cut out fabric with your template in a contrasting color from the table cloth.  The beauty will be in the fabrics you choose.

2- This idea would also work well to decorate your chairs.  Make a short “pillow case” to go over the tops of your chairs.  The whole chair doesn’t have to be covered to give a very elegant spike of color to the reception.  If you’re really crafty, adding some crystals to the center of the flowers would give them added dimension.

Chair Covers With Flower Appliques

Chair Covers With Flower Appliques

Flower Applique with Crystals

Flower Applique with Crystals

Chair Cover With Beads

Chair Cover With Beads

I just love the pizazz chair covers can bring to a reception.  The above is more elaborate, however,  if you’re doing it yourself you can skip the lacing up detail and just add the beads to a rectangular short “pillow case” made of a beautiful fabric that fits over the chair.

Notice how much more festive this table looks because of the added color on the chairs (easily done with tulle in your color), and a colored napkin.

DIY Color on Chairs and Table

DIY Color on Chairs and Table

3- Tie a scarf made of sheer fabric in organdy or nylon around chair top and tie into a bow or sash at the back.  For added drama have beads dangling from them.

4- For an outdoor beach wedding, make a scarf and cover it with beautiful shells.  For an elegant look, use  all white shells with  soft beige toned shells. Put ribbons on each end of the scarf and attach to the back of the chairs.  If your location is extremely hot, make sure you use glue sticks that have a higher melting point, or use a fabric glue that dries clear.

5- Use your imagination. Take into consideration the overall look of your reception.  You can use tassels on your “pillow case” or fringe, or silk daisies.  Whatever will fit in with your theme.

6- Color can also be brought in with your wedding favors.  Whether they’re black and white, exquisite jewel tones , or in your color pallette.  Of course, silver or  gold favors will  go with any color pallette.

Destination Wedding Tips & Advice

July 19th, 2009

You’re now a city girl and many of  your family and friends are still back home far away from where you will be having your wedding. Perhaps you envision your guests enjoying a weekend away in an exotic place. Having guests travel to your wedding takes a lot of planning on your part.  Whether to a beach location, Las Vegas, or just the city where you and your fiance now reside, there are things to consider when you’re planning this type of event.

1- Once you decide this is the type of wedding you desire, solidify the date and location and send out save the dates as soon as possible so your guests can make arrangements, save their money so they can attend, or perhaps make a vacation out of the trip.

2- Choose save the dates that will coordinate with your destination so your guests will start getting excited about your event. Your  invitations will go out separately closer to the event (for a destination wedding, invitations should go out about 4 months before the event).

3- When choosing your location consider your budget, the type of activities available and whether or not you and your guests will need passports. (Everyone will need time to get their passports if they don’t already have one, so figure this into your time line as well.  It can take up to 6 months to arrive).

4- Accommodation information should be included on the save the dates which should be sent as soon as you have your location selected.  To keep it simple, create your wedding on a website where you can post all your information and updates on accommodations.  Your wedding website address should be on the save the date.

5- Contact  local hotels, giving your guests choices of reasonably priced ones, or more luxurious places.  Ask the hotels  for a block of rooms for your guests, which they will offer at a discounted rate. This information can be included on  a follow up email after the save the dates have been received or perhaps the hotel would be willing to send the information to your guests.  It also should appear on your wedding website.  You can start with a certain number of rooms and as the hotel gets requests, you can always increase the amount you’ll need.

6- You are not expected to pay for your guest’s travel or accommodations, but giving them plenty of time to plan helps them to have options that will affect their costs.

7- A welcome bag left at the desk for your guests when they arrive or placed in their room, a very hospitable touch. You can fill the bags with items for the specific location of your wedding, i.e. flip flops, sunscreen and goodies for a tropical setting.  Include munchies for your guests in their welcome bag so they don’t have the added expense of those very costly treats offered by the hotel.

8- Your favors should be in the same theme as your location to remind them of your special weekend.

9- If, because of the expense, your guests can’t attend the wedding, consider having a reception at home and keep with the theme of the location of your wedding.  If you anticipate this, send an announcement of the wedding and an invitation to the reception.

Wedding Reception Decorating Ideas

July 17th, 2009

Colin Cowie  is my hero!  I have followed him for years on Oprah and various other shows I’ve seen.   I  have been awestruck by the incredible designs he comes up with.  So today, when I sat down to write my blog of useful and helpful information for your wedding, I digressed to look at some pictures of his work and decided to give you a taste of his remarkable talent.  We can all dream, can’t we????

Feast your eyes on the pictures so you’ll have lot’s of happy thoughts to think about for the weekend.  We’ll get back to the practical things on my next post.

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Colin Cowie

Courtesy of Coline Cowie

Courtesy of Coline Cowie

On a practical note (can’t help myself), I do think you can glean ideas from these pictures for your reception.  I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I do.

I think the perfect favor to go with this very elegant reception would be a beautiful candle.

DIY Cake Decorating With Flowers

July 14th, 2009

Are you wondering how to decorate a DIY cake with Fresh Flowers but don’t have a clue how to do it?  I came across this article this morning that I thought would be so helpful to my readers I just had to share it.

Written by Kristin Brancaleone of  The Treasured Petal a very talented florist, who I just discovered and love her work.  These are the tips she gives for decorating your cake with fresh flowers:

Step 1: Select the flowers you’d like to use. Now this is kind of a bummer- most flowers are indeed toxic to some extent. I think the only common wedding flower I didn’t see on the on that list was roses. Hmm. That doesn’t leave us with much, right? Keep in mind that there are some flowers that are considered more toxic than others, including ivy, delphinium and kangaroo paws, so try to avoid those. Thankfully, this method really reduces the flower-to-cake contact, so you don’t have to lose sleep over this.

Flowers From The Garden

Flowers From The Garden

Step 2: Cut off the stems completely, leaving just the flower head.

Cut Stems Off

Cut Stems Off

If you’re really concerned about your flowers making any contact with the cake, you can cut a small circle of cellophane, a little smaller than the flower head. Then pierce it with the toothpick and shimmy it up to the flower head so it acts as a barrier between the cake and the flower.

Step 3: Take a clean toothpick and poke it into the bottom of the flower.

Step 4: Simply insert the toothpicks into the cake and voila! Couldn’t be easier! The best part- it doesn’t leave a huge gaping hole in the cake like a flower stem would.

Put Toothpicks in Flower Head

Put Toothpicks in Flower Head

Thank you Kristen, I know many brides will find this information invaluable.

DIY Unusual Cake Toppers- This “Takes The Cake”

July 13th, 2009

Last week I posted an article about personalizing your cake topper….making it unique and meaningful to the two of you.  Little did I know just how creative some of you can be.  I realize this is not for everyone, but obviously these brides have a story to tell that inspired their very own, hand made cake toppers.  I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing them.  Have you seen or designed a unique cake topper?

cake toppers

cake toppers 2

cake toppers 3

cake toppers 4

cake toppers 5

cake toppers 6

I actually think I’m speechless and that doesn’t happen very often, if ever :)

Wedding Flowers Tips and Advice

July 11th, 2009

Flowers play such an important roll in your wedding.  To really make a personal statement, choose your favorite flower that is meaningful to you.  Start by identifying your flower and the color palette you will be using.  The flowers you choose brings in color, sophistication and romance which all adds to the look of your day.  When choosing flowers, consider the location and season of your wedding.  Keep in mind the flowers you especially love might not work for the season of your wedding.  For example, Peonies, one of my favorites, is  mostly available in May.  Tulips, will not do well in the heat.  Roses, on the other hand, are an excellent  choice.  They are less expensive than some flowers because they are available all year and they mix so well with all kinds of flowers in the same tones or a variety of colors.  Here are some tips to think about when ordering your flowers:

1)  If you get a quote for your bouquets, ask how many of each flower you will be getting for the price.  You may get a lower quote elsewhere, but not as many flowers.

2)  If you are on a budget,  use a lot of one type of  flower in the room for  high impact.  When you are doing flowers yourself, this can be what makes the difference between a “home made” look and a professional one.

3)  All roses in high and low arrangements with lots of candles fills the room.

4)  Focus your flowers toward particular areas of the wedding such as the wedding ceremony.  This is a place where you really want to feature flowers. Your guests will be sitting and waiting while the place fills in and for the ceremony to start.  Having something beautiful to look at while they are waiting will give them a lasting impression.  You can use these flowers again by having them moved into the reception site and placed strategically in the location.

5)  If you are having a sit down dinner, your guests will be looking at the centerpieces for hours.  Pick a stunning look that’s unique to you whether it’s in the  color or style of the arrangement.

6)  Lots of color makes your wedding a “party”.  Hot pink flowers are a very popular choice right now.

hot pink flowers

hot pink roses

7)  Bringing in color with flowers  to an outdoor wedding can add more to the already beautiful site. I love how this was done by Jeannie Ward an event planner, at a beach wedding recently.  With a gorgeous backdrop like the ocean, blue skies and beautiful beach, the simple addition of the orchids for some “pop” , the starfish for dimension and the lovely, simple arch are perfect for this wedding decor and one that can  be done by a DIY bride.  Notice how beautiful the orchid aisle looks  against the sand.  Here is the inspiration:

Courtesy of:

Courtesy of:

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

I can see Jeannie’s idea carried inside to the reception where the backs of the chairs can have a scarf of tulle tied around the top of the chairs with a starfish and orchid to bring in the beach theme and add more color and texture.

For an additional beach theme idea for  the reception you can use  natural shell placecard holders, which the guests can then take home and use for a wallet size picture.

Cake Toppers – The Crowning Glory

July 8th, 2009

Now that you know the design and flavors of your cake, it’s time to decide what you want to have on the top of your cake.  Of course there are the typical Bride & Groom figurines, but nowadays there is so much more.  Enamel Crowns, Crystal hearts, etc.


If you both have a good sense of humor you can find cake top figurines that are fun filled such as the Bride feeding cake to the Groom.


Or if you’re having a beach wedding you can find a cake topper in that theme.


Crystal covered Monograms and other designs have become very popular to add some sparkle and personalization to the top of your cake.


For those of you who need some inspiration and want to DIY, I hope these ideas will get your creative juices working:

1)  Use things that are associated with you as a couple.  It doesn’t have to be a cake topper per se, but you can repurpose it if it speaks to you as a couple.  If you travel a lot, look at favors that are mini suitcases that can be placed on the top of the cake, for example.

2)  Champagne grapes are tiny grape clusters that can be incorporated into some flowers at the top and put on each layer of the cake.  Or you can put ribbon around the bottom of each layer and a cluster of champagne grapes.

3)  Check out flea markets and garage sales (and mom or grandma) for old fashioned broaches.  Sterilize them with some rubbing alcohol and mix them up and insert them into the sides of the cake.  Make a cluster of flowers for the top with a broach standing up.  Experiment.  I’m sure when you start looking at jewelry with new eyes you will be inspired.

4)  Did you get engaged in Paris or going there for your honeymoon?  There are 3-D paper cut out Eiffel Towers that would work great on top of a cake.  Actually, there are miniature Eiffel Towers that would work too.  You need to be careful about the weight of whatever you use.  You don’t want it sinking in to the cake.  To avoid this, if you are a DIY Wedding Cake bride,  a round flat white plastic disk can be purchased in  the cake decorating department of a craft store which can be placed on top of the cake to support whatever you are putting there.  It can be disguised by frosting over it and removed before cutting the cake (make sure you tell whoever is in charge of distributing the cake  that it’s there).

5)  A cute box in a whimsical shape can be used.

6)  If you love the look of sugar flowers, but wouldn’t even dream of trying to make them, you can buy them online at  Sugar Flower Shop .  They will even custom design any flower you want if you can’t find what you’re looking for on their website.  You won’t believe the assortment they offer.  It can make your cake look very expensive even though it’s home made.

I received the following email from one of our customers.  She inspired this article so I thought you can see how creative brides can be:

“Hi Eileen, nice job on your blog – wish I’d seen some of those tips before my wedding last August!  But I’ll certainly forward it on to my son and daughter-in-law-to-be (they’re getting married in October).

Attached is a picture of my cake with the Adirondack chair favors I bought from you. (We had hydrangeas on the tables.) Linda.”

cake with beach chair