Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Put a Flower on It

Cary Grant could pull off anything,
particularly a well-styled boutonniere. 

For those of you dear readers who do not know, this week is Comcast’s “Watch-A-Thon” week, meaning that it is the week when every special cable show is available on demand. Yesterday, my husband and I decided to watch “Portlandia,” which always makes us laugh.

One “Portlandia” episode jokes about the city’s proclivity for putting birds on everything. After my laughter subsided from Fred Armisen putting a bird sticker on literally every object in sight (putting a bird on a bird is just funny!), I was reminded of a time in my wedding planning when my mother and florist encouraged me to put a flower on every element in my wedding.

Yep, everything. Now, let me explain: I’m just not that into flowers. Oh, I like them alright, but they’re not my favorite and I’d rather spend money elsewhere, such as on monogrammed napkins (or just about any other monogrammed thing).

The biggest issue we ran into during this floral meeting was their desire to put a flower on my then-fiancé, now-husband. I readily admitted that he needed a boutonniere; I wasn’t particularly against that. But what I was against was what the florist recommended that boutonniere be made of: baby’s breath, several small roses and a larger rose.

My husband is 6’2’’, but even I knew that such an intricate boutonniere would be overkill on his frame. My opinion was – and still is – that boutonnieres should be simple.

Unless a bride has other tastes and really wants to adorn her intended with an intricate floral arrangement on his jacket, HJ usually agrees that when it comes to boutonnieres, simpler is better. Here’s why:

Men aren’t that into flowers: although we hate to generalize, flowers are typically not on a guy’s radar. Usually, a groom or groomsman could care less about what he’s handed to wear on his lapel. Because of this, spending a ton of money on a boutonniere is likely wasteful.

Men don’t take care of flowers: brides and bridesmaids carefully carry their bouquets down the aisle and make sure that they’re laid delicately on the table (or wherever) during the reception. Men aren’t this cautious. In fact, it’s quite likely that all boutonnieres in a wedding will be destroyed by mid-reception. It’s just too easy to put down a jacket in such a way that causes the flower to be crushed or to have someone sit on or borrow a man’s jacket, giving little care for the flower that adorns it.

Boutonnieres aren’t the focus of a wedding: how many times have you heard how beautiful a groom’s boutonniere was? Probably not many, and the same goes for all other boutonnieres in a wedding. When it comes to flowers, boutonnieres are the very last thing most guests focus on – perhaps because they too know that the men in the wedding party could care less about flowers.

When designing a boutonniere, HJ has a few recommendations:

Consider size: a 6’2’’ man will dwarf a petite flower. If you insist on using a small flower, use several to create a design that won’t be lost against a suit or tux jacket.

Let the groom stand out: using a different color or leaf in a groom’s boutonniere allows him to stand out. This is essential for pictures, in which it can sometimes be difficult to tell the groom and groomsmen apart. A distinct boutonniere is a great way to allow a groom to be easily identifiable without much effort.

Worry about a flower’s hardiness, but only to some extent: the flowers used in any boutonniere only need to last through pictures. Survival past that point is a bonus. Therefore, choose a flower that won’t immediately collapse, melt or fall apart, but don’t concern yourself with choosing one that will last until the end of time.

Happy “Watch-A-Thon” week! Tonight, we’re going to start “Homeland,” which I doubt will contain any floral references. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rain, Rain…Ah, Who Cares?!

Yesterday was my two-year anniversary. Unlike every day over the past week and half here in D.C. and despite the Capitol Weather Gang’s predictions of a catastrophic rain storm, March 19th was sunny, clear and – albeit a little chilly – simply a perfect day.

The best part of all of this is that this perfect weather seems to be our anniversary’s status quo. In 2011, the days before my husband’s and my wedding were gloomy; in 2012, all local meteorologists swore that the city would experience snow. The weather on both days was sunny and pleasant, and each year my husband and I laugh at the fact that we’ve been able to wear nothing more than a light jacket on all three occurrences of our special day.

This was not what we expected when we choose our wedding date, however. In fact, our wedding date was mainly chosen to accommodate my two brother-in-law’s school schedules. March 19th fell during their Spring Breaks and the date seemed to give us a reasonable amount of time to plan a wedding (eight months).

Unfortunately, my mother did not see it this way. In fact, when I announced our date, I was subjected to a barrage of negative predictions about the poor weather that would accommodate our day and assertions that all of our future anniversaries would be dampened by less-than-perfect weather. That conversation (and the several subsequent conversations we had about the very same topic over the eight months of planning) was more than a little frustrating.

You see, I didn’t care about the weather for our wedding; I just wanted to get married.

I could have cared less if there was a rain storm, ten inches of snow or a beautiful sun shining down on me on the day I was to walk down the aisle; I just wanted to get married!

Although the day turned out to be perfect – so perfect, in fact, that many guests choose to walk through Georgetown to our reception rather than take the transportation we offered to enjoy the day’s good weather – I didn’t have any interest in or expectations about the day’s weather accommodating our celebrations. Why? Because I planned everything indoors.

I’m not adverse to the outdoors – my hiking through Great Falls in both Virginia and Maryland attests to that – but I didn’t want the sky to predict where and how my ceremony or reception would occur. To that end, the only time all of my wedding participants, including myself, my fiancé and our wedding parties, were to be outside was during our ten-foot walks into the church.

Many brides, however, feel differently about the weather on their wedding day. Some, particularly those planning outdoor ceremony or reception, hope and pray that the day will be glorious and provide a comfortable atmosphere for everyone. HJ always supports couples doing what they want for their day, which includes planning outdoor wedding elements. However, what we also support is creating a backup plan. Specifically, we encourage:

Creating “Plan Bs” for both outdoor ceremonies and receptions: you never know when the weather will turn scorching hot or the sky will decide that it needs to douse the area with baseball-sized hail. When choosing a location, ensure that there is enough room to have both a ceremony and reception inside. If not, you must identify and reserve second venues and create a plan for how to notify guests of location changes.

Expecting the best but also the worst: don’t ignore the typical weather in the area for the season. This doesn’t require you to select your wedding day based on the weather, but to rather be reasonable about what to expect at that time of year and plan accordingly.

Setting a decision deadline: don’t wait until the very last minute to make the decision of whether to hold your ceremony or reception inside or outside. A few hours are the minimum amount of time necessary to implement your “Plan B.”

Realizing that tents aren’t indestructible: not only can they fall down, but tents can leak. Therefore, don’t expect a tent to hold out the worst weather, or for guests to be just fine sitting under one while it pours outside.

However, what we here at HJ mainly encourage is for couples to be themselves when selecting their wedding date, but to also be rational. At the very least, we recommend letting us, your wedding planners, be rational for you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shopping Around: Flower Girl Dresses

My lovely nieces.
Courtesy of Documentary Associates. 

One of the most surprising things to me when I planned my wedding (and there were a few) was the difficulty of finding flower girl dresses. Not only did I need the two dresses I required to be suitable for children of different ages (6 and 11), but I also needed them to be inexpensive, fit the overall theme of my wedding and – of course – match the décor.

The problem wasn’t that there was a dearth of available dresses. In fact, most major department stores have at least one rack of flower girl appropriate dresses (at least according to their buyer’s definition) available at any time on their main floor. The problem was that these dresses were usually over $100 (and usually closer to $200) and …well… ugly.

By ugly, I mean scratchy, cheap-looking fabric (if I can see my reflection in it, it’s not the best fabric). They often also had ridiculous amounts of bows or flowers on them or, even worse, were so plain that they were boring.

Additionally, although I wasn’t against dressing my beloved nieces in white, doing so wasn’t my favorite idea. In my opinion, they were young girls who should be dressed in a fun color (and since pink was a main color in my wedding, it seemed reasonable to want them to wear a version of that shade) (also, to be honest, I wanted to be the only person wearing white). Yet, when I shopped, all I found was starchy, reflective white dresses with an interchangeable-colored sash. To add insult to injury, I had to pay for a swatch of fabric for the sash. The costs for these dresses just kept adding up - too high in my book.

When I look back, I shopped longer and harder for those dresses than I did for my own gown. Urg…

After traveling to my fourth boutique and finding the same dresses I had just seen at a different store, I got creative. Here’s what I found:

Quinceanera shops: by far, these stores offer the most variety of unique and inexpensive dresses for young girls. Usually, the same dress comes in infant through 15-year-old girl sizes. Score! To make it even easier, they also offer matching shoes and hair accessories. Coincidentally, I purchased my flower girl dresses from one of these stores. The only warning I have is to check the price tag on a dress you like before falling in love with it; these stores are meant to serve customers ranging from those wanting to spend very little on a dress to those who don’t blink an eye at spending over $500.

Pageant stores: although I found these stores to be more expensive than quinceanera shops, they usually offered dresses in more colors and lengths. Some of these stores even rented dresses, which may be a bonus for parents reluctant to spend $300 on a dress that will fit their child for months, at most.

Seamstresses: at my most desperate moment I searched for local seamstresses. I was amazed when I found out just how many experienced seamstresses are able to design and sew girl’s dresses. In fact, the seamstress at the drycleaners in my building had 27 years of experience and had designed numerous flower girl dresses. The per-dress cost for her to design a plain pink dress for me: $60 – next to nothing compared to what I found at traditional wedding gown stores!

Although at first one of the most frustrating tasks on my wedding to-do list, shopping for flower girl dresses ended up being one of the most rewarding -  mainly because both I and my nieces loved their dresses. So, dear readers, don’t despair about dressing the little ones participating in your big day; instead, get creative!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Aisle Less Traveled

HJ's Engaged! Tablescape
Courtesy of Three Light's Photography

WOW! What a wonderful Sunday you all gave us by coming out and meeting us at the Engaged! bridal event! We had a great time showing off our talents, but even more fun meeting and getting to know you. Thank you for your time. We can’t wait to work with you in the future!

Now, if you can – and I’m sure you’re able – return to two weeks ago when we were discussing what’s under your feet – aisle runners that is! As promised, this week we’ll delve into the many types of runners.

Please be aware that the terms listed below are ones that HJ uses to explain and describe aisle decor. They are not universal, so don’t go shouting them about at your florist’s shop and expect to be understood. As always, we try to make all elements of a wedding easily comprehended. Hence, these terms:

Runner: (all right, this term’s not that tricky). A “runner” is any piece of fabric that travels from where the couple stands for the ceremony to the end of the seating area for guests. In a church, this is the length from the pew at the very back of the church to the altar. Runners can be made of any fabric, including linen, cotton, silk or carpet (roll out the red carpet, please!).

Benefits: traditional; easy to set up and take down; can be adorned any way a couple likes.
Drawbacks: many places do not allow this type of runner or affixing them to the floor.
Beware: tripping hazard, depending on the ground over which it is laid and type of fabric.
Cost: relatively affordable, depending on fabric type.

Floral Runner: This type of runner also delineates the bride’s walkway, but consists solely of petals; when completed, a floral runner looks almost as though a hundred flower girls went down the aisle prior to any guest’s arrival. This type of runner rarely looks like a full carpet. Most couples choosing a floral runner opt for a pattern.

Benefits: unique and eye-catching; good for short aisles.
Drawbacks: time consuming to set and clean up, which increases cost.
Beware: runner will not look perfect after aisle is used, so get all those pictures beforehand.
Cost: very expensive.

Seating Runner: although we sometimes also refer to this type of runner as “Pew Décor” this runner is not one that you walk on top of, but rather among. It consists of décor affixed to guest ceremony seats. Examples include bows, flower arrangements, ribbon and lanterns. This décor can be connected – such as a ribbon running the entire inner length of the seating area – or not – such as individual bows affixed to each row.
Benefits: multiple elements can be used simultaneously; good way to circumvent restrictions on having a traditional runner.
Drawbacks: many churches forbid affixing anything to their pews.
Beware: setup and take down can be time consuming, depending on how décor is affixed.
Cost: inexpensive (paper flowers) to expensive (individual flower arrangements), depending on décor chosen and how many rows are decorated.

Pathway: unlike a traditional runner, a pathway doesn’t provide a bride something to walk on, but rather something to walk among. A pathway creates an outline of an aisle. The best example is flower petals outlining the bride’s walkway. A pathway can also consist of potted flowers, lanterns or other décor.  

Benefits: delicate looking and easy to set up.
Drawbacks: expensive due to the number of flowers or other décor needed to make it look full and complete.
Beware: tripping hazard! (be particularly cautious of open flames).
Cost: inexpensive to expensive, depending on chosen decor.

Aisle overhang: an aisle overhang takes the traditional idea of a runner and flips it on its head – literally. Most overhangs consist of branches or archways that identify aisle parameters, but from the top.

Credit: Imbue You I Do.
Benefits: creates ethereal feel and is easily combined with other types of runners.
Drawbacks: very expensive; difficult to find florist or decorator with experience creating this type of runner.
Beware: an inexperienced florist or event designer may not use enough décor to create a full enough look.
Cost: very, very expensive.

Happy walking!