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Wedding Planning > African American Weddings
African American Weddings: Decorating Ideas for your reception

Answers to your most important bridal planning questions on African American Weddings
 
Its our step by step guide to making a wedding speech.  No matter the style, we've got an example or answer for you

The following information is articles, questions, and answers that have been submitted by ForeverWed readers.  Should these not answer your questions. Feel free to ask an expert.


Beyond Flowers
Decorating Ideas for your Reception


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 offer interesting alternatives, as does using Afrocentric traditions and decorations. Used together or alone, each of these decorating ideas can add spice to your wedding reception.

Balloons

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 favors.

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.

Ice Sculptures

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 it’s ice."

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 beauty.

Afrocentric Themes

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 into matrimony.

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.

 

 

 

 
 

e information contained here are questions that have been previously answered by our consultants, our readers have generously allowed us to post their questions to help future readers.  ForeverWed does not post questions/answers without the permission of the authors first.  All names have been changed to protect our readers. 


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