It’s Time to Think Fall, Y’all | Budget Friendly Solutions to Your Fall Wedding Design Dilemmas

As hot as it is outside today (and every day, it seems), we’re in the throes of fall wedding season at ShopWildThings, as October brides and planners order the finishing touches for gorgeous autumn nuptials.  We love a rustic chic wedding in any season, but somehow fall seems especially well suited to this aesthetic, and we can’t help but ooh and aah over fall wedding details that combine all things vintage, antique, rustic…  you get the idea.  There’s not much that’s prettier than an authentically rustic wedding in the country, and Wedding Chicks recently featured this one that does the details (and the location) especially well.

We love the way that the wedding decor complements this picturesque barn, playing off the weathered wood with textures like burlap and lace, and subtly highlighting the reception setting with strings of party lights.

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

Accenting barrels and tables with a combination of lace and burlap/jute weaves the rustic chic theme through the event’s spaces without breaking the bank.  We love the use of grain stalks and mums ~ both hardy and readily available in much of the country ~ to adorn the rough hewn benches and to line the aisle.  Tie everything together with twine (or ribbon or pearls), and you’ve got a budget friendly, finished florals that are just pitch perfect in a country setting.

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

Branches lashed together with twine make a delightful seating chart station, and these adorable chalkboard tags could easily serve as both seat markers and wedding favors.  (Planners’ Tip:  Single items that serve dual functions are one of the best ways to maximize your budget without sacrificing style.)

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

Mismatched vintage chairs are a delightful touch in this intimate reception, and a lace runner accents the table beautifully.  Adding jute, votives, and lanterns, this bride has created a long, low centerpiece composed of reusable items that will look just as lovely on her holiday table for years to come as they do on her big day.  We could easily see some linen chair sashes incorporated to finish the look.

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

This table closeup shows the lanterns in the centerpiece off well ~ another look at a versatile piece that will transition to the newlyweds’ home perfectly.  (We love a sentimental piece that can go from the reception to the couple’s first home without looking like it belongs more in one than in the other.)  Flameless candles are another flexible accent that the new Mr. & Mrs. can use again and again at home without worrying about safety or cost.

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

We’re suckers (ha) for the dessert table/candy bar concept, and when it combines fresh doughnuts, candied apples, muffins, and popcorn…  Hand us an adorable colored bag and get out of our way.  (We could easily see some chalkboard signs in this setting, too ~ guests love to know exactly what flavors you’ve included in your fall buffet.)

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

These doughnut “cake” pops cry out for paper straws, perhaps in the wedding colors, and we can’t think of a nicer way to embellish a glass of milk than with a perfectly formed munchkin.  This is a drink table that we can support completely ~ right down to the pretty lace runner and the cinnamon sticks.

Image Source:  Hetler Photography

Image Source: Hetler Photography

Whether summer heat means 80 or 108 in your neck of the woods, we hope that you’ve enjoyed this little detour into the next season’s bounty of fresh wedding ideas.  If you’re wondering how best to incorporate budget friendly, reusable wedding decor into your own big day or into your supply of staple event decor items, give us a shout via email help@shopwildthings.com or phone 928.855.6075.  We have an enthusiastic, experienced team that can offer you plenty of expertise on the most cost effective way to decorate for your big day, whether you’re a planner or a DIY diva.

Five Things Your Guests Won’t Tell You About Your Wedding

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As the traditional month-long apex of the national wedding season kicks off next weekend, we thought we’d bring you some last-minute hints gathered throughout our careers as behind-the-scenes observers (June bugs on the wall, if you will) at countless weddings in venues from fields to mansions, with overtones from pious to party, among folks from simple to fan-cee.  These are the things we’ve heard over and over again, from guests (and vendors), and we’d like to share them with you as you put the finishing touches on what we’re sure will be a supremely joyous and memorable day for you and your families.

1.  The first impressions of each of the big events of the day are the defining memories that we have of the parts of your wedding day that you control.  (We also remember touching emotional moments and crazy drunk people, but those are out of your control, so our advice is not to worry about them.)

But the experience that we have as we enter your church/garden/field ceremony location, the moment that we see you in your dress as you walk down the aisle, the feeling of entering the reception venue and seeing it set up ~ those snapshots will stick with us, and you can stamp your events indelibly in our minds by maximizing the effect of those key vignettes.  (That’s why professional event designers focus such attention on the “wow” factor ~ because we won’t inspect every single centerpiece, but we’ll notice a handful of focal points at each stage of the event.

Seriously, when you walk into this room, do you notice what every single centerpiece looks like?  No.  It’s a breathtaking room.  Period.

Source:  Colin Cowie Celebrations

Source: Colin Cowie Celebrations

2.  We care a lot about our own physical comfort.  Sounds selfish, doesn’t it?  When you’ve spent months planning this day to celebrate the beginning of a new family, the commitment that you’re making to another person, etc.?  Well, we care about those things, too.  A lot, actually.  But if you’re planning a summer wedding and it’s not entirely climate controlled, we could use something to cool ourselves a bit as we await the big event.  A fan, a parasol, a bottle of (cold) water ~ these things we’ll appreciate a LOT.  Otherwise, we will look like this guy and fanning ourselves with whatever’s available, and it really affects the atmosphere that you’re trying to create.

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3.  Embarrassingly, this kind of goes along with #2 and how your day is in fact at least some about us, to us.  We are so pleased and excited to share in your wedding day with you.  We know that the glow of wedded bliss (and possibly the extreme measures in place to keep your dress where it belongs) take the edge off of your own baser bodily needs on this whirlwind of a day.  But we are hungry, and possibly thirsty, by the time that we get to the reception.  If there’s a gap between the ceremony and the meal, something to munch on and a little something to drink are all we need to go with the amazing company and the sense of anticipation that we have as we wait to see you and your wedding party introduced.  Please, please feed us.   A little.  Buffet style is fine.  Or passed trays are lovely, too ~ assuming that the waiters aren’t high school track stars in their off hours (we’ve seen it, y’all).

4.  No one is above the reception timeline, and it’s got to be someone’s job to enforce it.  That someone should not be you, dear bride, and hopefully not your mother, either.  (You’re almost certainly not wearing a watch, and your mama has already got plenty to manage.)  If you possibly can, hire someone who is experienced at making the trains run on time.  Germans and teachers tend to be quite good at rounding up herds of people for formal pictures, and at managing the timelines, if it’s too late to hire someone with lots and lots of experience to handle this unsung hero’s job.  (Skip the art and music teachers, since we’re being honest.  This person has to be someone who cares about punctuality and doesn’t mind stepping on a toe or two.)  We’ve seen receptions derailed by timeline disasters from hours of pictures to longwinded “toasts” (epic spoken word poetry?) to DJs with no sense of event timing.  Avoid having this happen at (to) your day by delegating the timeline to a pro, or at least to a (slightly bossy and organized) friend.

May we suggest someone like this pleasant looking, time oriented woman?  (We tried search terms such as “cracking the whip” and “punctual teacher” to find an appropriate image, and we found that those things don’t mean the same thing to us as they do to photographers.  Ahem.  Also, those images are more expensive to license.)

iStock_000016809121Small

And finally…

We don’t really want to be the ones to tell you this last one, but someone has to.  If you’re getting married this weekend, um, the post is over, we got tired at #4, and thanks so much for reading.  If you’ve got a final fitting yet to do and/or an understanding seamstress and a credit card, keep reading, and remember that we really do love you.

5.  If you are getting married in a strapless dress, you very likely have “chicken wings.”  Unless you are borderline *too* skinny.  Yes, you’ve seen strapless dresses everywhere on every body type from maxi dresses to actual wedding dresses.  But honey, unless you looooove your arms from the front and the back, puh-lease keep reading.  At your final fitting, have your seamstress/alterations guru check for “chicken wings” ~ that’s basically back fat that spills up and over the top if your dress is too tight in the back.  It’s like a back facing muffin top for your girls.  It doesn’t mean that *you* are fat ~ it means that strapless dresses have to be “tight” to “stay on,” and that creates a little ripple above the top edge of your dress.  But don’t worry, we have some solutions:  Talk to your seamstress about ways to minimize the “chicken wings,” first and foremost.  (Corsetting, special bras, and even altering the line of the dress back may work.)  Also, consider a shrug, bolero, and even a mantilla (for pictures but not for the reception), especially if you’re close to your big day.

Here is a tiny little picture because we feel a little bad posting one at all and as you can see this woman is very lovely in size and still she has chicken wings in a strapless dress.  Easily fixed with a little lacy coverup.  Which we happen to know that she found because when we Google “back fat wedding dress,” we like to follow the whole story to find out how things turned out, and she solved the problem beautifully.  All because she knew to look and addressed the “issue.”  And that’s why we’re telling you.  You’re welcome.

back fat

So there you have it, y’all.  Five “situations” that your guests won’t mention but will remember, that you can fix quite easily even a week or so out from Your Big Day.  Happy planning, June Bugs!

Filling The Air with the Greatest of Ease | Crystal Columns and Other Large Event Decor Items Tranform Even the Most Famous + Photographed Event Venues

If your midsummer nights’ dreams consist of fairytale weddings set in luxurious venues, we have some inspiration that will make your next event match your sweetest overnight musings.  Colin Cowie is truly the master of tasteful elegance, and he excels at transforming even the most recognizable, fantastic hotels into highly personalized settings for his couples’ celebrations.  Let’s take a look at some of the imaginative ways that he uses massive amounts of vertical space to enhance the effect of even the world’s most exclusive venues.  (Hint:  Think luxurious lighting, suspended bling, and fabulously frothy feathers.)

The Plaza New York is one of the most storied and exclusive event venues in the country, and no one is better suited to the task of transforming it than Colin Cowie  – aided by crystal columns and tiers of candlelight.

Image walking down an aisle lit by layers of candles, as your intended watches from a dais embellished with crystal columns.  Actually, you don’t have to imagine:  Just check out the effect that Colin Cowie achieved.

Want to see the ceremony space up close?  Custom chaise lounges, generous florals, dramatic lighting, and square crystal columns compliment the gilded walls perfectly for a completely memorable ceremony space.  These crystal columns can be ordered in custom lengths to accentuate the structure of any classic or modern event space, and they’re a great way to enhance the dramatic effect of high ceilings.

Using some of the same key elements ~ candlelight and square crystal columns ~ Colin Cowie ties the ceremony and reception areas together beautifully.  Adding to the already stunning architecture of the room, these pieces set the stage for a grand affair.

A closeup of the crystal columns shows the way that color can be added with event lighting — one of the things we love about these columns is how versatile they are, taking on the color that you select.  For event planners, they are the ultimate in reusable large scale event decor.  (We love the gorgeous custom design with the couple’s initials, too.  Such a bold, timeless touch.  We Southerners can’t help but think that the monogram would look pretty swanky on pillows and towels, too.)

Cipriani 42nd Street is another timeless venue, and the likelihood is that most fabulous New Yorkers have been there before.  With the pressure on to produce a unique look in a storied space, Colin Cowie dials it up from memorable to utterly unbelievable.  Crystal columns light up a faux night sky, and metallic palms anchor both ends of a decidedly Broadway-worthy stage.

We’re suckers for candlelight and ostrich feathers.  Besides being stunning ways to fill giant venues effectively, they’re extremely cost effective, as they’re 100% reusable.  Hello, jaws dropping *and* happy planet.

This off-to-the-side view of the bar shows how well integrated the entire event’s decor is.  The effect of the event lighting is clear on the left side of this image.  And we kinda think you can’t go wrong with ostrich feathers in a bar.

Maybe our favorite thing in the entire Colin Cowie Cipriani Extravaganza are these live decor elements.  Talk about a way to fill a large space dramatically and effectively.  Could there be a more 42nd Street-ish design element than live models draped in beads and chandeliers?  We truly heart N.Y.  (And C.C.)

Whether you’re working on your breakthrough event at an A-list venue, experimenting with portfolio work that will launch you into the stratosphere of event planning, or building a set of strategies to fill big spaces on a budget without looking like corners were sliced and diced, we think that large decor items are staples that every planner should stockpile due to their versatility, value, and overall wow factor.  Crystal columns and ostrich feathers are some of the most flexible, impactful, and all around stunning pieces that we carry.  Throw in some candle light and a chandelier or ten, and you have an event to remember even for the most jaded VIP guests.   Whether this is your first or your 101st wedding or event, we’d love to talk to you about how our stunning decor staples can transform your venues while yielding fantastic value for your clients.

Our Favorite Finds: Treat Bags and Paper Straws Add Color + Style To Favors and More

Whether you’re planning an old fashioned candy store dessert table for a baby shower or a thoroughly vintage wedding in a rustic setting, we haven’t found very many accessories that pack this much punch for this little price.  We’ve recently found paper strawstreat bags, and kraft bags in a glorious variety of prints and colors, and we grabbed them as fast as we could to add to our party planning staples.  We love the visual impact that these bold colors and prints bring to a celebration, and we know that your guests will be delighted to walk away from your event with a favor embellished with one of these pretty pieces.

Having walked away from, forgotten, and otherwise not used lots of party and wedding favors over the years, we have become big fans of edible favors.  These adorable cake pops with paper straw sticks make a pretty display and a cost effective treat for each of your guests on their way out the door.

Image Source Unknown

Image Source Unknown

Double duty favors are another favorite of ours ~ and these custom etched Mason jars are one of the best we’ve seen.  Your guests can sip sweet tea (or something a bit stronger) from their own wedding favor all evening, and then take the Mason jar home as a memento.  The details in this shot do make us swoon ~ color coordinating the drink, pineapple slices, and paper straws?  Brilliant.

(Hint:  Etching glass like these Mason jars is truly a doable DIY project.  Here’s a good tutorial that will get you started.   Etching cream is available at craft stores and on Amazon.  Just design your stencil and go.)

Image Source:  Lev Stephen Ludwig

Image Source:  Stephen Ludwig

These buckeye balls are another delicious spin on a wedding favor.  Wouldn’t paper straws make great handles for these sweet treats?  And maybe a little Washi tape if you wanted to bring the bling.

Image Source:  The Paper Antler

Image Source: The Paper Antler

Cherry Nehi sodas ~ in custom koozies with burlap tied paper straws ~ are simply one of the best executed wedding favors we’ve seen.  Love the colors, the simplicity, and what we’re 100% sure was a meaningful, memorable wedding favor for each guest.

For a child’s birthday theme that really takes it to the next level, this barbershop candy table is tough to challenge.  We love the imaginative theme, the paper crafts, and of course the use of paper straws and kraft bags (as well as the way that the same prints are carried through the whole tablescape).

Image Source:  Chic Cheap Nursery

Image Source: Chic Cheap Nursery and 2 Girl Phototique

You can see how much color the kraft goody bags add to this barbershop themed party, too ~ they begin as a wall of coordinating colors and end making each child happy (with zero cleanup ~ our kind of crowd pleaser).  The custom labels are pretty darned adorable, too!

We’re kind of in love with the whole paper straws in chocolate milk bottles idea.  Such a sweet riff on vintage elements, and no doubt very popular with the three foot set.

Image Source:  Chic Cheap Nursery

Image Source: Chic Cheap Nursery

Another adorable drink idea ~ and a great way to make mama-to-be-friendly drinks more festive:  Paper straws and washi tape make everything fancy.  These cute drinks work at a shower for a baby boy or for a gender surprise shower.  Switch the colors, and you can announce the arrival or a baby girl.

Image Source:  Chic Cheap Nursery

Image Source: Chic Cheap Nursery

Speaking of little girl showers, what sweet baby girl’s party could look prettier than this one?  We love the milk glasses and paper straws, the handmade hearts, and the delicate baby pink mini cupcakes.  Throw in some sugar cookies in coordinating treat bags, and you’ll have the perfect party favor.

Image Source:  Vitalic Photography

Image Source: Vitalic Photo

You can be entirely practical and love paper straws, treat bags, and kraft bags for their functionality, or you can just drink in the pretty and be satisfied.

Or if, like us, you prefer your favors and treats to be both gorgeous and useful, you just can’t go wrong with these colorful, coordinating additions to your party planning toolkit.

Have great images of your own original creations using our paper straws, treat bags, kraft bags, and other products?  We’d love to show you a little love right here on our design blog.  We’re always looking for inspiration shots!

5 Helpful Ways to Tell Your Guests Where To Go, What To Do, and How To Act | Using Chalkboard Signs at Your Wedding

One of our favorite planners, Diana of Diana Marie Events, recently posted this article about the mistakes that brides make, and we couldn’t help but give a little “amen” to the last one ~ neglecting the guest experience.  WE know that it’s never a bride’s goal to forget her guests’ experience ~ it’s just hard to see the event with fresh eyes, as your guests do, when you’ve been knee (elbow?) deep in details for the last six months (years).

But never fear, we’re here with some tactful, helpful, and simple ways to make your guests’ experience more comfortable, and thus make your wedding memorable in all of the right ways.

The first thing is to guide your guests through the big events of the day, and their locations.  Remember what it was like to be lost when you transitioned to a new school or job?  It’s no fun, especially if it feels like everyone but you knows exactly where to go.

If you’re getting married in a spot that’s familiar to you but not to all of your guests ~ and that can mean anywhere from a little country church to a pastoral field in the country ~ a little signage goes a long way toward letting your guests know which way to the ceremony, how to get from the ceremony to the reception, where the guest book/photo booth/bar are, etc.  And they look pretty darned adorable, too.

 

If you prefer 100% DIY signs, we say go for it.  Vintage picture frames, painted burlap, painted slate ~ your imagination is the limit for awesome, personalized signs that helpfully guide guests from key event to key event throughout the day.  And you can hang any of them outdoors on shepherd’s hooks for a polished look that won’t break the bank.

Once you’ve laid a path through the main moments of your big day, you’ve got a great start on ensuring that your guests feel welcome and cared for throughout your wedding and reception.  To conquer one of the biggest bottlenecks of the reception, a well laid out seating plan is a major arrow in your quiver of wedding planning weapons.  We love this adorable idea that combines chalkboard tags to serve as favors and seating assignments. (We could kind of 100% support the use of heart shaped tags, too.)

With special diets and food allergies as prevalent as they are now, our planners are always looking for tasteful ways to let guests know which dishes will suit them best, and which to avoid.  These small chalkboard signs let you tell your guests exactly what they need to know, and they look pretty sitting atop your carefully planned table.  Your guests will really appreciate your looking out for them so that they don’t have to ask the staff to help them figure out what they can gnosh on at your nuptials.  And they’re great for simple labels, too ~ let your guests know to claim their Mason jar, share the name of your signature wedding cocktail, or point out the pens for your signature mat.

Honestly, we’d be suckers for cake pops (get it ~ suckers, har har) anyway, but we really like knowing that we’re doing things correctly.  And a little sign is our friend when you’re introducing us to a new (delightful) favor at your wedding.  We’ll remember the fun of making our pop and the taste of our custom creation ~ not an awkward moment in front of the table trying to figure out what in the world to do.

Whether you’re planning for 10 or for 1000, there’s no doubt that your guests will enjoy your wedding more knowing just what to do throughout your big day.  These little signs fit right into your decor plan, customized with colored chalk (or chalk paint) and ready to announce your intentions for each stage of the day.

Budget Elegance | Getting the Looks You Love for Less

We are slightly addicted to Houzz.com ~ for the uninitiated, it’s pretty much the mother of all interior design sites.  It’s like a curated version of Pinterest that focuses on architecture and home decor, with mostly great photography and a ton of inspiration for every room/space/home you’d like to redo, in your head or in real life.  And one of our favorite mental vacays is to create less expensive alternative rooms that retain the upscale feel of the inspiration room, while keeping the budget more along the lines of a great day at Target.

So, for instance, when we see this to-die-for bed nestled in a custom surround of string curtains in alternating colors, we can’t help but imagine that we could achieve a similar effect using these string curtains or even bead curtains.  A square arrangement would be even easier to achieve, but a circle is totally doable. On a budget. Bam!

 

We can’t resist a closeup to show you the string curtains a bit better. Notice that the staggered edges are part of the organic appeal of the curtains ~ an effect that you can literally achieve with scissors using any of our string curtains.

 

This contemporary London living room combines sleek surfaces with just the right amount of texture, and we can’t help but notice the fabulous chandelier in the corner. If your budget doesn’t quite accommodate all of the high end furnishings, but you love the rich feel of this modern living space, try substituting a crystal column around an existing canned light or other simple fixture for a budget friendly focal point.

 

This tangerine wall benefits from the addition of bead curtains, with minimalist design meeting a touch of whimsy (ok, and bling). The beads provide a bit of texture and visual interest while muting the tangerine just a smidgen, and we think that the result is divine.  And affordable ~ there’s no less expensive way to change the look of a rom than paint, and our bead curtains are a wallet-friendly way to dress up the wall just a bit more.

 

This eclectic dining room frankly had us at Buddha, and the chandelier is just icing on the cake. Whether you keep one of our Buddha heads in its original color of add a quick coat of a matte metallic, we think that the look will translate well to a budget friendly interpretation that includes the Big B + a beaded chandelier.

 

And whether you channel this room indoors or use it as inspiration for your outdoor living space, a budget friendly beaded chandelier is an effective counterpoint to the trees’ foliage and to the exposed brick walls.

We can’t resist another modern aesthetic with some notes of crystal. This festival of aqua and white tile *needs* a little bling for balance, and you can get the look for less with one of our many crystal chandelier options.  And hey, if the $1700 lucite-and-leather ottoman isn’t quite in your price range (and please don’t misunderstand ~ that ottoman is perfect; it’s just pricey), a garden stool would serve a similar function at a fraction of the cost.

 

Finally, this dining room says “Wow!” if ever a room did. Black damask wallpaper, fantastic red rug, and just enough metallic touches to keep things interesting. To set a similar scene for less in your own DR while keeping your accounts in the black, painted walls, a fabulous chandelier, and disco balls as accent pieces would give the aura without the hit to your allowance.

We hope we’ve convinced you to take a stroll through Houzz one day soon, and we’d love to see your inspiration rooms as well as your vision for translating them into your real life home.  If you use some of our products to do it, please pretty please send us some pics, and you just might find yourself featured on our blog.

Are You Ready to Host a Killer Outdoor Graduation Party?

With cap and gown pics from preschool to grad school floating across social media at lightning speed and graduation announcements in our mailbox every day, we know that graduation party season is officially upon us.  If you’re getting ready to fete a grad, or just want to throw a killer summer party, we have some insider tricks to share.  We’ll help you transform a ho hum backyard into a killer party venue on a budget, and we’ll bet that some of the decor will stay long after the party clean up has ended.

One of the key challenges of an outdoor party is setting the scene without spending a fortune.  To tackle this design challenge, start with the “bones” of your backyard (meaning what’s already there that you can work with) and mix in a few key decor elements to add plenty of color and pop without a high price tag.

We love this adorable picture wrapped tree, starring burlap ribbon, clothespins, and photos of your graduate.  And if you have a tree as awesome as this one, we’ll bet it’s actually *in* some of your family photographs.

Image Source Unknown ~ Please contact us if you can help.

Image Source Unknown

Balloons are the epitome of high impact, low cost decorating solutions, and they’re perfect for a graduation party.  Paired with simple runners in great colors, some neutral burlap accessories, and  blooms from the garden (or from Fresh Market depending on the color of your thumb), you’ll have simple, affordable tablescapes that will wow your guests.  (Coordinating sodas are genius.)

Image source unknown ~ Please contact us if you can help us give credit.

Image source unknown

You know we love a nighttime soiree, too ~ and LED lights inside your balloons will really light up the yard at minimal expense.  Choose balloons in your grad’s alma mater’s colors, or in the colors of her chosen school.

Image source unknown ~ Please contact us if you can help us give credit.

Image source unknown

For a custom graduation pennant that is meaningful and easy on your wallet, choose  pennant triangles ready to be stenciled, painted, or fabric penned with your grad’s class year, name, school, etc.  This homemade photo area shows how nicely some visually interesting details can be combined in a large area to create a photo space, cake table, or focal point on a budget.  (We love the tissue poms, too.)

Image source unknown ~ Please contact us if you can help us give credit.

Image source unknown

Paper lanterns are another high impact, low cost solution for a large space, and we love the idea of stringing them over the pool or yard to add color and fun to your entire outdoor party.  Make the transition from afternoon to evening by adding LED lights for a safe, pretty lighting solution.

Image source unknown

Image source unknown

For an evening party, light strands suspended from a tree make a great backdrop for your dance area, and they are another way to decorate a large space with a statement item that doesn’t cost a lot.  (And the light strands are reusable.)

Image source unknown

Image source unknown

If you’ve got a fire pit, or have been meaning to buy or build one, an outdoor party is the perfect setting to roast marshmallows for some fab homemade s’mores.  To add temporary space for your guests, these straw bales covered in burlap or repurposed table runners are a cost effective, itch-free seating solution.

Once you have the overall scene set for a fabulous backyard party, try incorporating a few details that show off school colors and your grad’s recent accomplishments or future aspirations.  This candy and tissue pom centerpiece is adorable, easily customized, and very inexpensive.

And when in doubt, it’s hard to miss with custom M&Ms.  You can order them here, and even include graphics that your grad will love.

Image Source:  beau-coup.com

Image Source: beau-coup.com

And finally, how cute are these little cap lollipop favor thingies?  A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, a square of chocolate, and a lollipop stick, plus some cookie icing to join them and dot the tops.  Love, love, love.

Image source unknown

Image source unknown

We are looking forward to making the rounds of backyard barbecues, roasts, and general to do’s to celebrate the Class of 2014, and in the mean time, we enjoy sprinkling a little decorating fairy dust here and there.  We hope that you can put some of these ideas to work to make your graduate’s day very special.

As always, we strive to give credit for the images that we use on this blog.  If you know the source of an image, please shoot us an email so that we can add a line of credit and a link to the work.

Are You Including These Delightful Details at Your Summer Wedding?

As wedding season heats up ~ literally and figuratively ~ we’re musing on our favorite pretty, useful details that set a wedding apart from its sisters as they marching shoulder to shoulder through the Saturdays of June.  For us, a detail can justify itself on looks alone, but our favorites always seem to make life a little more comfortable for guests, or to add a touch of thoughtfulness that goes above and beyond.  They  add a little je ne sais quoi that cements some weddings in our memory, while the others seem to fade together just a bit.

If you’ve attended a summer wedding in the South, and you were offered one of these gorgeous folding fans, we’re pretty sure that it ranks in your top ten of thoughtful details.  Three words:  Anderson, South Carolina.  One accessory:  pretty fans.  Memorable.  Gracious.  Thank you.

Along the same lines, and sure to be a favorite with guests at your outdoor wedding or reception, are parasols.  We’ve been sunburned an outdoor wedding or two (ten), and you can’t been these parasols for stylish SPF.

If you’re tying the knot in the heat of the day, parasols also serve as a pretty photographic prop for your wedding party.  They can be angled to give just enough shade to make the light perfect for your bridal party photographs, and it’s hard to beat them for romantic framing.

Image by Anna Page

Image by Anna Page

Along with favors that provide physical comfort, we also love favors that have some special meaning to the couple and their guests.  And truthfully we love popcorn regardless of where it comes from, or why.  These simple, rustic chic jars filled with caramel corn and tied with burlap are just the kind of thing that we keep long after your honeymoon is over.  Well, the jar and the adorable tie.  The popcorn is probably going to be gone before you get to the airport.

One of the most ingenious favors we’ve seen ~ they’re totally hot right now, inexpensive, and so thoughtful ~ are these tiny terraria within hanging glass globes.  (We could say terrariums and still be correct, but since we looked it up, we went with fancy.)  Rumor has it that succulents are relatively hard to kill, so extra cool points from the brown thumbs like us.  (We can’t help but notice that if you happened to be the least little bit *over* chevron, not that we are, but *if* you were, you could substitute a plain burlap runner and be classic and timeless.  Just sayin’.)

Terraria - Something EvenetsImage source unknown ~ Please contact us if you can help us give credit.

A new take on a great idea ~ we love these itty bitty metallic planters fashioned out of candle votives.  They make great sustainable favors that keep on giving when your guests go home, and they would make equally lovely place card holders.  And frankly, anything that uses this quantity of wine corks has to mean a good party is on the way.

Finally, we kinda love these whimsical little potted paper flowers.  A little moss in a peat pot, some pretty ribbon, and these handmade paper flowers are just our style.  For the artisan touch *and* the, ahem, hardiness of paper pansies.

Image by BlueSky

Image by BlueSky

We are looking forward to breaking out the seersucker and the linen handkerchiefs and glistening through another round of summer nuptials, and we can’t wait to see what new details we add to our list of memorable favorites as a result of 2014 brides’ creativity and graciousness.  To make your wedding day special for your guests, these little touches hit just where pretty meets practical, and they really do set your day apart.

Note:  We do our best to give photographers credit for their images.  If you know the source of any uncredited image on our blog or website, we would love to get an email so that we can attribute each image properly.

Frozen Inspired Photo Sessions for the Disney Princess in Your House | Princess Elsa as Envisioned by Embree Photography

If you have a little girl who is between the ages of two and eight (ish), you can hardly help but have been introduced to Disney’s box office phenomenon, “Frozen,” starring spunky Anna and her more popular (if icy) sister Elsa.  Judging from our Facebook newsfeeds, Elsa is the runaway favorite character, with Anna trailing behind ~ though our own SPF 50 Family appreciates a redheaded main character more than most.  (Note to Disney: best song + best dress = best character.  Please produce merchandise accordingly.)

In addition to “Frozen” Easter baskets, Anna and Elsa party themes, Olaf lookalike snow men (which we could build way too often this winter if you ask us), and Frozen-inspired dress-up events captured on Instagram, we have seen a number of photographic sessions inspired by the movie, which many are calling an instant Disney classic.

We had the great fortune to talk to Sarah of Embree Photography recently, and she was kind enough to share her vision and some behind-the-scenes tips about her extremely popular and exceptionally well executed Frozen-inspired photo sessions.

We’ve seen good, bad, and ugly Frozen photo sessions, tbh, and nothing we’ve seen comes close to the work that Sarah is doing.  When we asked her about her inspiration for these fantastical shoots, we were struck by her response:  “The answer is definitely children. Childhood is such a fleeting moment. Kids have so much light and imagination, seeing their faces when they get to be the character they love is the best feeling. My goal is to bring that ‘make-believe’ magic to life.”

Working with a professional stylist, Jennifer Jones of Iced by Jennifer Jones, using Lafayette bead curtains and 30 foot octagon pieces, and sprinkling a little Photoshop fairy dust after the session, Sarah does just that ~ she brings children’s make-believe worlds to life.  And the result is a moment in a child’s life, frozen (couldn’t resist) forever in an image that perfectly captures the magic of childhood.

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

We love the way that Sarah uses a chandelier as icicles to recreate the ambiance of Elsa’s frozen ice palace in a regular old pine forest.  It’s hard to say it too often:  props to the model and to stylist Jennifer Jones, whom Sarah insists deserve much of the credit for images like these.

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

We can’t resist sharing a shot that really shows the over-the-top makeup and styling ~ and the beads ~ up close.

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

This image shows clearly how well the bead curtain creates the ice palace effect.  Sarah emphasizes how easy the bead curtains are to work with, and of course they are almost infinitely reusable, as are our chandeliers and bead strands.

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

We’re suckers for closeups of these real, live Disney princesses.  You can just tell how much they’re enjoying every moment of being Elsa in her very own frozen ice palace.  The attention to detail and craftsmanship is evident in these images, and even the very humble, gracious Sarah doesn’t pretend that this sort of photographic art just happens when you take some bead curtains into the woods:  “I spend many hours collaborating, figuring out props, wardrobe, and execution. Then there is significant time spent thinking of different ways to digitally enhance each shot to make the image pop with that dreamy, fairy tale tone. It’s a long process, but so very fun!”

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

Image courtesy of Embree Photography

For photographers who are inspired by her work, Sarah has these words of advice and encouragement:  “Don’t compare yourself to others! The best thing you can do is have confidence in yourself and take the time to learn your craft. Practice, practice, practice and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have done a lot of my own research, but I have also reached out and met other photographers that I have learned from and in turn, they have become lifelong friends. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for these women, and they know who they are. Photography is a never ending journey, and you are always learning. Never give up!”

Proof that creatives are never ready to hang their hats on their last success, Sarah has big ideas about dream shoots that she’d love to photograph.  “There are so many themes I’d love to bring to life. I would definitely love to recreate Peter Pan and Captain Hook in Neverland! The setting would be on an island with a jungle and a huge pirate ship!”  We can’t wait to see those portraits.

All images courtesy of Embree Photography and used with permission.

Recipe for Successful Centerpieces | Ostrich Feathers and LED Lights

Choosing to work with a professional event designer means getting access to two key resources:  the event designer’s brain (and experience) and the event designer’s stable of event staples.  One of the unsung heroes of fabulous nighttime events is the ostrich feather, and we don’t know anyone who can make it fab like the Table Dressers team.  If their work doesn’t make ostrich feathers one of *your* favorite things…  We won’t even go there, because there’s no way that you’re going to look at Table Dressers’ work and *not* become a fan ~ of theirs *and* of feathers.

Because what we’re *really* talking about are rooms that look like this, with ostrich feathers being a means to that end.  These centerpieces are comprised of ostrich feathers in Eiffel tower vases, and LED lights in the vases’ bases.  Light curtains suspended on the right side of the room achieve the starlit sky effect, and (of course) gorgeous blue event lighting transforms the entire venue.

If environmentally friendly events strike a high note for you, you’ll love knowing that ostrich feathers are renewable and reusable, with a side of gorgeous.  Accented with crystal bead strands and lifted high above the tables, ostrich feathers are stunning centerpieces in this all white-and-lucite wedding reception.  (Hint for the cost conscious:  Imagine how much less expensive renting these staple pieces from your pro designer is when compared to fresh floral blooms of similar size.)

Did you want to see a third thoroughly unique effect using the same ostrich feathers, tall vases, and LED lighting?  Table Dressers is full of vision and creativity, and the OF (ostrich feathers, y’all) are full of flexibility, so it’s no trouble to serve up another look with a side of wow.

*Still* not convinced?  This luxe private party shows the versatility and cost savings of hiring a pro and using their best resources at your best events.  What are the key ingredients for these centerpieces?  Oh, wait ~ could it be ostrich feathers, LED lighting, and tall vases?

Did we mention that these pieces are really, really versatile?  Can you picture ostrich feathers at a bat mitzvah?  Table Dressers can (did), and they transformed this room into just the right mix of girl and grown-up with feathers (and some really great event lighting), too.  Add some crystal bead strands, and you have memorable tablescapes that are both elegant and fun.  And not too hard on the budget, to boot.

Do you need to see just *one* more combination to be convinced?  Here’s our final pitch, in the form of a private party dressed to the nines in ostrich feathers and LED lighting, with a side of gorgeous blue and chartreuse event lighting and some flameless candles to keep things interesting.  Same staple pieces, same totally transformed room, completely unique visual effect.

Whether you’re a veteran event designer looking to add high impact accessories at a reasonable cost, or a new designer who needs to maximize every dollar invested in terms of both versatility and longevity, we don’t think that you can go wrong with ostrich feathers (and we suggest starting with white ones, since you can change their color with lighting), LED light discs, and crystal bead strands.  We see the best in the business using these key pieces in endless combinations for unique looks at top shelf events, week after week.  When quality and value ~ not to mention environmental responsibility ~ matter, these key staples are great investments in your stock of go-to event accessories.

All images courtesy of Table Dressers and used with permission.