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Decorating Ideas for your
Flowers have long been the
mainstay of wedding
reception decorations, but
many brides today want
adornments that are either
more unique or personalized,
less expensive or both.
Balloons and ice sculptures
alternatives, as does using
Afrocentric traditions and
decorations. Used together
or alone, each of these
decorating ideas can add
spice to your wedding
Picture you and your groom entering your reception through a
heart-shaped arch made of beautifully colored balloons and sharing
your first dance underneath a floating balloon canopy. Believe it or
not, many brides and grooms are doing just that.
"Balloons are a cost-effective way
to turn a plain room into a fantasy, " explains Arlene Kronowitz,
owner and president of A Whimsical Expression, a Chicago-based balloon
decorating company. "You can decorate a large room using balloons much
more inexpensively than if you used flowers; and the options are
almost endless," she continues.
In addition to the arch and dance
floor canopy, colorful balloon drops are a popular choice. Scheduling
the drop after your first dance or at the end of the reception
provides a festive kick-off or finale. If you really want your
reception to start (or end) with a bang, try exploding balloons. A
large (usually between 3 and 8 feet in diameter) balloon decorated
with ribbons and bows is stuffed with dozens of smaller balloons and
confetti and suspended above the dance floor. At the appropriate time,
the disc jockey or bandleader activates a control and the balloon
explodes, releasing its contents.
Lighting provides an elegant
highlight to balloon decorations. Lights can be run throughout the
framework of a structure like an arch or heart, and they can be placed
underneath the structure as well.
With just about any color
combination and endless options of patterns, balloons are fast
becoming the number one choice in decorating options. Aside from
sculpture-type décor, balloons also make great centerpiece
arrangements. They can be intertwined with candles and tulle; attached
by ribbons to bud vases; party bags or baskets; or used to highlight
theme and holiday decorations, such as top hats, Christmas stockings
and party horns. Joyce Gruberman, co-owner of Chicago-area Chuck’s
House of Magic, says one of her most requested items is a wicker
basket with a balloon tied to the top that resembles a hot-air
balloon. The basket can be used to hold gift envelopes or reception
If you are considering adding
balloons to your décor, pay close attention to the ceiling height of
your reception site. Kronowitz recommends that at least 10 feet be
available to accommodate arches and canopies. She also suggests that
the color(s) of the balloons should complement your color scheme or
the room’s décor.
For an eye-catching way to add
exquisite beauty to any décor, consider an ice sculpture. "They really
are a crowd pleaser," says Debbie Muckerheide of Chicago-based
Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures. "People just go crazy; they can’t believe
The sculpture can serve as a
centerpiece on a buffet or sweet table, or can be placed to the side
of the head table, illuminated by lamps. "They can be functional; you
can serve food out of them," Muckerheide says.
Popular sculptures include bride and
groom, and a heart, dove, and swan combination. Brides also request
personalized sculptures. For example, Muckerheide once sculpted a
fighter plane for a client engaged to an Air Force lieutenant.
While an ice sculpture might seem
elaborate, Muckerheide says they are more extravagant in appearance
than price; a typical piece runs just under $300. And, she adds, ice
sculptures are more practical than one might think; drip trays and any
other maintenance requirements are generally included in the cost, so
all a couple needs to do during the reception is enjoy the sculpture’s
Afrocentric traditions can add a
special touch to your reception, either on their own or combined with
other decorations like balloons. Kente cloths, which are woven with
traditional African colors of red, green, and black, offer an
abundance of decorating options and can help you cut costs.
"You can make a centerpiece that
doubles as a guest favor, for example, so you’re saving money,"
explains Deryl Wallace, owner of Flowers to Remember, Vallejo, CA.
The cloths can be used as table
coverings or table runners, and decorated with ribbons in colors
corresponding with the Kente. The ribbons can be garnished with bows
and dried flowers, which, according to Wallace, are not only less
expensive than fresh flowers, but they better complement Afrocentric
decorations. The Kente can also be draped behind the bride and groom’s
seats at the head table, providing a personalized backdrop. You can
even arrange the Kente around the wedding cake and add ribbons and
flowers for a special touch.
Kente cloth can also be used as
napkins. Wallace suggests tying the rolled napkin with ribbon and
tucking a bit of baby’s breath underneath. Adding a card printed with
the bride and groom’s name, along with the wedding date, transforms
the napkin into a keepsake guests can take home.
Other African traditions can be
easily incorporated into the reception. "In Ghana, they give the bride
a pot to symbolize her new role as a homemaker," Wallace says. "This
can be tied into the reception by using similar pots to hold favors."
Perhaps the most popular African
tradition you can include in your reception is broom jumping. Brooms
are used by African wedding guests to sweep evil out of the new
couple’s lives. During the turn of the century, jumping the broom was
one way African-American couples chose to show their commitment to one
another. The tradition is finding its way into many African-American
weddings, as it not only sweeps out evil but also symbolizes the leap
Chicago wedding consultant Rosemary
Gordon suggests passing out miniature brooms as guest favors. Wallace
suggests another way to play off of the broom jumping tradition:"
Africans view weddings as a union of two families, not just two
individuals. Having each family member and close friend tie a ribbon
onto the broom handle, and voicing their blessing to the couple, is a
nice way to show that these people will be there for the couple,
throughout their lifetimes," she says.
The bride and groom can complete the
ritual by tying a ribbon and saying a few words to each other.
If you plan to add Afrocentric
touches to your wedding reception, it’s a nice idea to make a short
announcement during dinner explaining the tradition behind the
decorations so all your guests can appreciate them and truly
experience your celebration.
Editorial Note: Excerpted from
Signature Bride Magazine, Fall/Winter 1995 issue. Copyright 1995.
Reprinted with permission from Signature Bride Magazine.
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