Friday, October 13, 2017

Live Event Artist Captures Romantic Wedding: Part 3

Pure Romance.
It was the moment no one expected. 
 It captured us all with its sweeping gesture of old fashioned chivalry, 
something straight out of a romance novel.
The groom swept the bride off her feet after they were pronounced husband and wife. 
He carried her down the stone steps into the wedding tent to present his new bride.
Its moments like those that we can't get enough of, in real life.
And it was just that moment that will now be captured forever on 
canvas by Sheila Foley, the wonderfully talented live event artist.
Have you ever heard of live event painting?
  I had not until recently, when I spotted Sheila's work on Facebook and Instagram
I was enchanted by her paintings.
The entire idea of it!  
It struck me during the wedding planning that hiring Sheila
would be PERFECT for capturing this wedding.  I love original art, and I was
amazed at the romantic impressionistic essence of her paintings of weddings,
 as they unfolded.... LIVE!
Sheila arrives ahead of time to see the wedding site, and at that time we briefly discussed 
ideas for the painting.  I gave her "carte blanche" to paint something she saw fit.  She said that was rare, that most often brides or the one commissioning the painting has something specific predetermined in their minds that they want to have painted.
 I think that the way to get the best out of an artist is to let them express their vision, and you won't be disappointed.  I know from my own experience that painting things for myself are often superior than the things I must paint on command, because the inspiration and artwork is guided instead of natural.
 Often times Sheila is painting at an event in a grand ballroom, and the architecture adds
a lot to her paintings, and yet our wedding was in a tiny tent.  I set her painting station up to afford her the best view of the ceremony, the tent, and the guests.  She arrived two hours early to start the 
background and the tent part of the painting.  Sheila will capture guests and moments on her iPad and then refer to it as she paints.  It was the most marvelous thing, to have an artist painting as
if she were just a fly on the wall.  The guests would come and look and then go back to their tables and it was fun to see the painting progress throughout the night.  While our wedding was all about keeping costs down, this was my one big splurge!  And you can see what she decided to paint
for capturing the essence of the wedding~that grand romantic gesture of Brandon sweeping Mimi off of her feet!  I cannot wait to see the finished painting.  Sheila takes the partially finished painting back to her studio and will work on it to add the guests and fine tune the details.
This is a closeup of a groom sweeping his bride off her feet during a dance,
and it was my favorite painting that I saw on her website.  This shot is from Sheila's 
website as I viewed it from my phone.
Sheila told me it was her favorite too! So I knew we were on the same page, and
now our family will have a painting by this amazing artist that recalls a moment
captured in time.  Fleshed out in the painting will be the faces of those who we were 
fortunate to have around the table with us, as Sheila actually paints the guests to look
like themselves!! That is truly amazing to me, as painting people is very difficult.
The painting takes shape, and this is the last I saw of her progress.  Stay tuned for the finished portrait of the wedding, I will be sharing that for sure.  Sheila Foley is in high demand, and I think its wonderful that people are recognizing the specialness of what she does, and how something like this can add so much to an event you want to remember in a uniquely beautiful way.
When I last blogged about the wedding in Part II, I said I would share my splurge (the painting),
and other details from the wedding and how we went about getting the wedding of our dreams.
 There were many other special moments of course, like the cake moment. 
 Personally I find the money spent of cakes to be CRAZY, and since I
 am not a big desert person,  I wouldn't spend tons of money on a pretty cake.
  However the bride loves deserts and pretty cakes, and so the hunt was on
 to find a cake that wasn't outrageously priced.  We found it.
 This pretty little white wedding cake with buttercream frosting was made by the chefs at WholeFoods Supermarket.  
A supermarket bakery department created this cake for Mimi.
Mimi described a simple white on white cake, to be frosted in buttercream with simple dots and flowers for decoration.  
The cost?  A jaw dropping $58.  
 These beautiful and romantic elements of a wedding do not have to cost a fortune, like we 
are programmed to believe.  I set the cake on a silver tray and we had stacks of vintage gold and white cake plates for each slice.  The top layer was a chocolate cake, and the bottom layer was white cake with strawberries.  Matthew Mead captured the moment beautifully for the couple.  The bride sliced up the cake and the groom delivered it to their guests.  A charming way to serve a wedding cake, don't you agree?
Vintage gold metal heart trays were used to serve a mix of chocolates.  I found this stack of interesting tiny gold hearts, and have no idea what their purpose was, but I thought they would make nice little trays for sweets.  Matthew and Jenny Mead took a great shot of it adorned with a tiny rosebud.  All the chocolates were bulk chocolates, delicious none the less, from Costco.  Ferrero Rocher, Lindt, Roca, and other sweets filled these cute little trays and were passed out as the wedding cake was being served by the couple.
One other expenditure that was fairly modest but added a lot, was the trio of string musicians 
that we hired to perform for the cocktail hour and the ceremony.  Thankfully the rain let up, but we kept them under an umbrella just to be safe.  Find musicians like these on Craigslist, or a local music school or college and you can hire them by the hour to add a touch of elegance to your event.  What fun it would be to have musicians playing at a cocktail or dinner party!  I think we often overlook ideas that aren't super expensive, yet create a memorable feeling for the event.  Live artists and musicians can give such a "rich" experience for both the guests and the hosts. 
 Lighting is a big consideration for creating the right mood, and for an outdoor event, its easy to string lights, wrapping tree trunks and branches.  Starting at the base just ball up a string of lights and wrap the trunk and then connect another string and so on, until you have reach the upper part of the tree.  You can just wrap trunks, or you can add more, as my son Brandon did in the tree that the bride walked underneath.
This shot of my buddy Matthew Mead shows how magical the trees appear
as dusk starts to fall.  Its an inexpensive trick and just takes time to do it.
 It all added to the romantic effect we were aiming for....
The guests had departed, the wedding was officially over. 
Still wanting to linger in the magical spell cast upon us all, 
the newly weds danced in the living room with family watching,
 until the clock struck twelve.

A very romantic wedding was enjoyed by all.

Read PART ONE here Fairy Tale Wedding without the High Price
Read PART TWO here Romantic Home Wedding Dreamy Table Tips

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Romantic Home Wedding Part Two: Dreamy Table Setting Tips

Creating a romantic mood was the goal for this backyard wedding.  Our yard
is a very small space with a series of terraces, and so each space had it's own function.  The upper level with the arbor was to be the ceremony area.  Walking through the arbor would lead to the garden shed, and that is where the musicians played for the cocktail hour and the ceremony.  The bride and groom said their vows in front of the arbor with an officiant. The bride wanted a storybook  romance for the ceremony, and what better way to do that, than to sprinkle three thousand pink rose petals on a pathway leading to the arbor.  A small cabbage and mum garden had been planted for the wedding, and two large urns were flanking the "stage".  
 To make it romantic, I placed cut roses in water vials and tucked them in between the cabbage plants.  Then I draped a swath of tulle between the handles of the urns for an enchanted effect.
 Cabbages, silver leafed Dusty Miller, Roses and trailing flowering vines from an earlier summer planting (which we didn't remove) made for beautiful and inexpensive arrangements.
 We kept the arbor simple, with a draping of two rows of white tulle for extra fullness, and tied it off at the sides with the Costco satin ribbon and bunches of white roses and silver lambs ears from Walmart.  Yes, Walmart.  They have some terrific faux flowers at ridiculous prices, less than $3.00 a bunch or stem.  From a distance you couldn't tell they were faux, and they repeated the live flowers in the urns below.
 The day of the wedding we knew to expect rain, which was a bummer.  But it had to be dealt with, and with the tent to cover the dining area, we needed a large umbrella to cover the musicians, who would sit in front of the shed.  The "cocktail lounge" was our regular furniture arranged on another level, next to the tent.  If it was rainy we decided our contingency plan would be cocktails in the living room before the ceremony. 
And that is what did end up happening, as you can see from this fantastic collage photo
by our friend and photographer, Matthew Mead.  I set a self service bar up on the piano,
leaving guests to help themselves so I could greet others as they arrived,
 before we all headed out to the tent to watch the ceremony.
 Since it was a rainy day, I never got any pics of the tent from this angle, but here you can see how tight the space was for the tent.  Exactly 15'x15' it fit perfectly next to the house, and once inside the tent you would easily see the wedding ceremony because it was raised, much like going to the movies where you can see over the people in front of you.  The tiny black and white umbrella was set up because I had engaged the services of a "live event painter" to paint the event.  So these extra umbrellas were necessary, though not ideal.  However once inside the tent,  they did not take away from the prettiness of the scene. We even purchased a patio heater. because temps dropped for the wedding day to make it the most unpleasant day of the entire month!! UGH.
But as we do tend to be lucky in life, the rain stopped right before the ceremony, and although cool, it worked out well.  Above you can see the table layout and the open tent on the far end revealing the raised lawn where the arbor is located.  My pal Matthew Mead is shooting the couple in the background, as more pics were taken right after the ceremony and before dinner.  
We rented the standard white plastic folding chairs at $2 each, and then laid 2 six foot tables end to end so we were able to accommodate the most people in the space. Two tables of 14 each, which was 4 more than if I had put in four round tables.  I recommend doing a floor plan and allowing 2 feet per dining space, per chair at a table.  
(center aisle space measured 6 feet between tables)
We compromised that a bit on the ends by adding seats at the ends but it worked out fine.  Allow 2 feet per chair to pull out and tuck in, and then another 2 feet for a walkway, so we had six feet of space for the center pathway between tables, allowing for 2 feet on each table side for the chairs, and it was plenty roomy for people to get through the tent.
My favorite part of any dinner party is setting the table.  A small wedding is just like a nice party.  If you think of it that way, you won't be overwhelmed.  I had 20 vintage French napkins with pretty monograms that I wanted to use, and I filled in the remaining needed with plain white cotton flour sack kitchen towels from Walmart, sold in a bundle of 6 for just a few dollars.  They are big like the French linen napkins, often called "Lapkins" because they cover your entire lap.  You could use all flour sack towels and stencil monograms for a very pretty effect. Our color theme was basically white and gold, but we added touches of pink.  I don't like the use of a lot of color in wedding decorations, as I think it can look too strong and garish.  So skip the colored linens and go all white and add accents of color in the flowers, the votives and ribbons, as we did for our napkins.
We cut the pretty embroidered ribbon from Joann Fabrics into strips 15" long to tie around each napkin as a pretty accent.  The embroidered pattern was certainly romantic. The pink glass votives were purchased from Joann Fabrics as well, using their coupons for an added discount.
Four patterns of gold rimmed china dinner plates were mixed and matched from my collection of vintage dinnerware.  I had to buy a half dozen extra gold and white plates at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store to give me enough to set 28 places.  Thrift stores are a great place to pick up things like fancy plates for a song.  This shot was taken while we were setting the table the morning of the wedding.  Mimi hand printed place cards to let the guests know where to sit as well as to lend a formal aspect to the wedding dinner. 
We rented all the stemware from the tent rental company.  The glasses came in cases of 25 for about $11 a case.  After the wedding, no washing, just put back in the case and the tent company took them away.  This was a great thing, as we had champagne flutes, water goblets and wine glasses for each place setting. Just look at the dining tables you see on Downton Abbey, set with so many goblets....the more glasses, the richer looking the table!  Since I had 28 diners, I only needed to fill in the blanks for 3 guests, so we had the wedding couple use my Waterford glasses and our youngest son got the "mismatched" stemware.  No one was the wiser.  
For the flatware I combined my sterling service for 18 with my mother in laws service for 8, then added two services in silver-plate for a very elegant table setting.  One could easily set a table in gorgeous silver plate, found at most vintage and thrift shops for little money.  At home we use vintage silver plate services for our everyday knives, forks and spoons.  (I hate eating a nice dinner with crummy silverware.  It bugs me!)  
 Other details that made the table setting memorable, was adding special seating for the bride and groom.  You could use your own dining chairs adorned with ribbons or a fancy settee, like this one that I have in my dining room.  I added two needlepoint cushions to give it that extra dose of romance.
I painted and gilded the bench to echo their pretty wedding invitation in grey and gold.
It made for a special  focal point for the bride and groom
And at the end of the night....  
Champagne still chilling, half filled glasses abandoned, and other detritus of the night.
Love this photo and the story it tells.
A lot of little details all add up to create a night to remember.
 One of the few pics I stopped to take, as if on the outside looking in. 
 The tent was like a magical tee-pee, making for a memorable yet affordable wedding.
So much cozier than a big ballroom, it was personal and joyful being tucked inside with one another.
We created a fairy tale wedding  
and it didn't cost a fortune.  
Next time,  Part Three
  More details on getting that dreamy fairy tale look and
 the "splurge" I couldn't resist!

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fairy Tale Wedding without the high price tag: Part One.

Enchanted        Fairy Tale       Magical
All these words would be the way I would describe my son's wedding this past weekend.
While many weddings are often beautiful and amazing, this wedding was created 
on short notice and on a tight budget.  A very tight budget.  
Often that leads to missing elements in a wedding.  So take a good look
at  the magical photos taken by my amazing 
friend, style guru Matthew Mead and his talented wife Jenny.
Because looking at these photos, you won't see a budget wedding... 
It was a lush, intimate and romantic affair.
Lets start with the dress. 
 Mimi and I went shopping for a wedding dress, and upon doing
that were able to narrow down the dress designer that she loved best, and the basic style that
she wanted to wear, which was the princess look.  Tight at the waist and flowing out to the floor.
The stock photo on the left was by the bridal company, and here on Mimi it looked equally wonderful.  These dresses cost thousands of dollars, and so she searched bridal shops online that
were selling their samples from discontinued dress styles.  There she was able to score a dress
from a bridal shop that was never worn, and was made by the dress designer she loved, for a 
heavily discounted price. These retailed at $2000, she got a similar dress for $500. 
The dress was a big part of the Fairy Tale.
We were shocked to find out that bridal alterations can cost between $400 and $600.
So I decided to try to do it myself and since she bought a sample in a size that
fit her best that made it a bit easier.  However she lost some weight and I had to 
not only hem it, but take it in at the shoulders and the waist.  I was a bit scared to
be honest, so I used safety pins on the inside of the dress, synching it in about an inch 
on each side and then had her try it on again.  It made a world of difference.  Then I pinched 
up a bit on the shoulders and pinned that part too.  After she took it off, I hand stitched the 
pinned areas without cutting any part of the dress, and it fit like a glove!!
So pin, then hand stitch.  We saved as much as the dress cost!!
I hemmed the bottom after pinning it up as she stood in her shoes.  That was scary too, but with tulle
fabric (the fluffy netting over the dress) it is cut simply using scissors, no hemming needed.
And you cut it a bit longer than the dress fabric underneath.  So even though I may not have sewn
it perfectly, it was not noticeable because, (1),  who is looking at the hemline? and (2) the tulle netting
covers the skirt hem and hides the stitching.  So our dress cost $500 and it would have been $2500.
We went to a fabric store and found the same nude colored tulle which I created a veil.
The veil was simple to make.  We made it hit the floor, and then trimmed it afterwards.  Two 
lengths of tulle were gathered with a big basting stitch and then pulled to shirr it tight, and then
hand stitched to a hair comb with button thread, which is a heavy duty thread.  Easy Peasy.
I had the veil made in 20 minutes. And it cost less than ten dollars in fabric and maybe five bucks for the comb.  
This was a backyard wedding in a small space, so that meant it would be 
a very small group of guests.  Cutting down the invitation list was difficult, but in the end
it was exactly the same thing my husband and I did and it lent itself to a very intimate and romantic feeling.  This wedding had under 30 guests, and the costs associated with bigger guests list will automatically drive up the cost of a wedding.  So think hard and long before inviting people just because of this or that.  Are they connected in a real way in the couple's lives?  If not, leave them off the list.  After all, it is THEIR wedding, not their parents, and it should be who THEY want to witness their marriage.  Then shop around for a caterer, as there are price lists online from local caterers that have great reputations.  We saved money on the venue, as it was our own yard.
That is a great way to slash wedding costs.  We had to rent a tent and chairs, tablecloths and stemware.  I had dinner plates, napkins and silverware, and when I was short, I borrowed what I needed from my mother in law next door.  My collections served me well, as my gold rimmed dinner
plates were finally looking incredible set up on the long tables in the tent.
The tent, tables, chairs, stemware and tablecloths and the caterer cost just under $1500. 
We bought all the wine, beer and champagne and soft drinks at big retailers to save money.
The table flowers and bouquet came from a local garden center after we visited and the bride picked out her flowers of choice.  The groom's dad works for this garden center so he was given a discount. 
I augmented the flowers with more flowers from Trader Joes to created massive bouquets for the house.  After spending $50 on roses and hydrangeas, I created many arrangements, including my favorite, using my French magazine basket as a container.  I place five vases inside the basket
and then stuffed extra tulle around the vases to hide them through the cane exterior.
While we had a connection for better pricing for flowers at a nursery, we saw amazing and 
beautiful flower arrangements in all sizes at our local Whole Foods at super affordable prices.
Talk to the manager in the flower section there to order great looking arrangements for tables,
or simply buy from their composed arrangements, of which there were many.
 This amazing idea came from Matthew himself, who suggested using the basket
as a flower centerpiece.  Truly gorgeous!
Next was the tent...I wanted to make it magical and give it an enchantment 
and that meant putting up lights and some white tulle. I ordered 50 yards of white tulle that was 108 inches wide.  It also comes in 54" width, so get the wider if you plan to do this.  The overall effect
was pure magic! In the center I had hubby hang an old chandelier.

Mimi and I did all of this OURSELVES!! 
We used an 8 foot ladder to get close to the peak of the tent and then I used 
rolls of white wired satin ribbon from Costco to 
attach the tulle and the lights one row after another, layering from one corner to the next.
The wired ribbon is easy to tie and strong, and it cost about $7 for a roll of 50 yards.
 This was pretty exhausting, it took us about three hours, but we did it!

When hubs came home from work, he rigged up the chandelier to an old extension cord,
then used zip ties to attach it to the center of the poles.  By then it was evening and 
while I had ordered perimeter lights with the tent at a cost of $50, they had a 
weird greenish color when lit up so we kept them unplugged for the wedding.  
It was coming together, and I was excited to get to setting the table.
But that would have to wait for the wedding day, which was only in a few hours.
That will be part two of this series, and I can't wait to show you more.

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