Friday, June 17, 2011

Blue and Gold

Decorating time!!!
This is the post I promised on my decoration ideas.
Like I explained in the "planning" post under the "venue" info, the Clubhouse where the wedding is taking place is a really pretty and simple medium-sized room with a beautiful balcony which overlooks the community's swimming pool. It does not need to many decorations to be pretty, and also, simple is often prettier and elegant. No visual sensory overload needed, less is sometimes more

My ideas?

The tables at the venue are rectangular and can sit 10 people (1 on each end and 4 lengthwise). Now, I am on a budget... I don't have rich parents, nor am I marrying a rich sugar-daddy. So I am definitely looking at ways to cut on the expenses while still have an simply elegant looking event -- Not platinum! Thus said, instead of renting tablecloths for $7 each for 8 tables, I went for plain white paper tablecloths lined with plastic which I got at Costco for about $7 a pack of 6. Got 2 packs. I had seen the same ones online for $2 each with a choice of my gold color, and I am not sure why I didnt buy it... I might still change my mind and get the gold ones from online.
So on top of the white paper tablecloths goes a beautiful gold table runner bought at $2 each online. I am looking a getting ivory silk calla lilies in a vase filled to 1/3rd with acrylic water (also called illusion water - which I can make at home) lined with blue and gold ribbon. For the vases, I am collecting glass juice bottles (will post picture). I am thinking about 2 flower vases per table.
I was going to do floating candles in a round bowls but nah... I don't want to overwork myself.
I am thinking of having votive candles (lined with blue and gold ribbon as well (2 groups of 3 per tables) and finally spread silk royal blue and gold petals and rocks on the tables.
Now, at each seat on the table, plastic silver-looking silverware with be tied (a fork, a knife and a spoon) with blue and gold organza (see the "Decorated Table: silverware" tab) and will be set on a marina blue personalized napkins that has our names and the wedding date imprinted in gold.
I purchased plastic wine glasses (8oz I believe) in which we will fold blue and gold beverage napkins.
Finally, we will have white chair covers (they are cheaper than color) and gold and royal blue sashes.

To better manage the space inside the room we will set the buffet tables on the balcony and since there are the only ones not meant for sitting, I will get plastic goldish/tan tablecloths that we can use as table skirt. And since the buffet are will be remove from the rest of the action, I am not planning any decorating to it other than the tableskirt. My african people don't care much about that stuff anyways lol!!! If the food is good it is good!!

I am really thinking of not having an honor table because that will pressure me into selection of certain people to seat at that table and I want to avoid frustration at all costs no matter how slight. Instead we will probably have a sweetheart table. A simple square table with a gold tablecloth and table skirt, a vase like the ones on the other tables, floating candle in drinking glasses of various heights lined with ribbons, petals and rocks spread on it. We will set in one corner, next to another table where our closest family member will sit, and not on one end throning and overlooking everybody else... (I don't like that... and he would not like it as well).
Now how do I select family members for that table since most of the guests are family? I think this little trick might work. We will set 2 or 3 tables together to form one loooong table (20 or 30 people) where the closest family members of his side and my side will sit closer to us but every family member would feel included.
Finally a few gold and royal blue balloons outside in front of the venue to welcome everybody should do.

Of course a post like this isn't worth it without pictures right? There are on their way!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Planning

Today is June 11, and I just wanted to  summarize what I have achieved sofar so I have a clearer idea what I still have to get done.

First of all, some basic info.
Type of wedding: Traditional African - meaning the actual african "wedding" where a dowry is being exchanged and some symbolic drinks and food items are being shared, as well as other rituals symbolizing the union not of 2 persons but of 2 families. I believe those same elements are found in every african culture/ethnic group with slight variations on the process depending on the culture.
Number of guests: we are just having close friends and family members. I guess we can call this a small private wedding but we still would like it to look/feel classy and elegant. To answer the questions, not more than 80 people (hopefully!)
Colors: Royal blue and gold
A few other details: We really don't have to have invitations since all our guests would be people that are part of our daily life but I still want to make them feel special and would also love to have something to look at and remember... I am not good (or interest in) scrapbooking, so this I guess is as close as it gets... By now you would have guessed that I am doing my invitations DIY entirely!! I explain how I came to doing that and the result on a different post.

Where we are at this point
we have:
- the venue: It is a small and beautiful community room that belong to small townhouse community in the outskirts of the DC metro area in Germantown, Maryland. It is the kind of room that does not need to be decorate too much to look elegant. The walls are a creme color with some crown molding. There is an adjacent kitchen with a fridge, a stove, a microwave and the restrooms are super clean with a hotel feeling. The room also opens up to a white balcony that overlooks the community's swimming pool. Finally there is beautiful landscaping in front of and around the venue with the added value of the clean, quiet neighborhood. There is also some parking spaces (maybe not enough to accommodate everybody but we are all friends and family so I guess carpooling would be okay).
- the photographer and videographer: I got an extra sweet deal with a combination of both services for an unlimited duration. It is unbeatable! I looked a lot on craigslist, almost everyday for professionals offering their services at a discounted price. It paid off. I got redirected to their website and got it rolling from there. It looks like they are just starting out as a business and are trying to build their clientele. Must I add they are based about 83 miles away!
- the DJ: I had gone to a baby shower about 3 months ago or so (at that particular venue- that's how I got to know about it as it is not advertised) and he was the DJ; he had the songs I wanted (from coupe decale to old school congolese rumba, to ndombolo, to zouk and afrozouk to african dancehall!!!) and played that in smooth transition. I asked him for his business card and here we are.
- The coordinator: A friend that coordinated the baby shower that took place at the venue that I'm using... and it is free!!!
- the MC: a friend of a friend who has exceptional artistry skills, who is extremely eloquent and knows how to interact with an audience.
- Decoration: this are deserves a post of its own. I'll outline websites where wedding decorating material can be purchased from.
- The Makeup: a very talented nigerian lady who does an excellent job, very subtle and elegant makeup. I discovered her browsing for a good african makeup artist who understands the essence of a traditional african ceremony.

In working progress:
- I still have to sign a contract for the rental of chair covers, sashes and table cloths. I am ordering personalized napkins (with our names and the wedding date) for dirt cheap. Look for the post on decorating my venue for details and upcoming pictures.
- The menu has been finalized for the most part. Some items have been assigned to different friends for cooking, some I will actually cook myself the day before, and some will be ordered from various african restaurants.
- My outfits: I decided to treat myself and following my love for african clothing, I will be wearing 3 different outfits, all sewn by a tailor (whose elegant work I have seen before). I purchased the material from a nigerian store that sells laces and various fabrics. See the upcoming post on my wedding look. As I speak my fabrics are at the tailor's, in queue, due for sewing in a few weeks.
- I have not started working on my fiance's outfit for the day... as I meaning to have a final idea of what mine would look like. But I think I have found what would look good (he is naturally cute ;-) hehehe, just need to convince him that my idea is THE idea that would make him look like a prince and THEN convince him to go to the tailor for measurements.
I am probably forgetting a few minor things... but it is currently 85 degrees outside, and my brains are slowly turning into jelly 8-l

Good morning! Today is June 17... A little more than 60 days left!
Just an update on the planning.
- This past week I got all of the flatware. They are plastic silver looking flatware; they look chic and elegant and save the hassle and the cost of renting and cleaning afterwards; they can even be reused because they are sturdy (See the Decorated Table tab for pictures of the blue and gold-decorated flatware).
- I also got the dishware;  white plastic disposable sturdy china-like plate with a silver rim. Got it from an online store but I wish I would have just driven to Costco as they were a little cheaper there and no shipping to pay for (I got a set with the dinner larger plates and the smaller salad/dessert plates). But I guess I am okay as I saved a little bit at the online store on the flatware as compared to Costco.
- I got the plastic 8oz wine glasses from the same store.
- I also got dinner and beverage blue and gold napkins as well as some that were personalized with our names on it imprinted in gold.
- Finally we got chafing dishes and aluminium foil pans as well as the burners for darn cheap.

My goal is to have at home everything that we possibly need before the end of month and at the same time be able to focus on saving the money for food items through July.

I have also been working on the invitations and purchased all the material needed for it. I made one to have an idea of the final result and I was really pleased. I'll describe the process and the final result in a dedicated post.

A few resources

I would like to share some resources that have tremendously helped me and given me inspiration on how and where to start. We're talking colors, clothing styles and design, picture quality, wedding party outfits, venue decoration and arrangement etc. is the ultimate nigerian fashion website (in my book) and clicking on the "wedding" tab ( ) takes you to hundreds and hundreds of pictures of nigerian celebrities weddings. Simply breathtaking! Before discovering this website I really did not much about nigerian weddings or other african weddings for that matter. I was appaled at the beauty and the creativity in the bridesmaids traditional outfits, the beautiful and elegant headties, the flawless makeup and pictures (God bless PhotoShop!), the classy yet simple decorations and just the way our beautiful african culture is portrayed and upheld (with a touch of pizzazz!). I believe the website started as a blog as well... anyways, please go check the wedding page on every now and then and let yourself be inspired!

The other essential resource is.... Facebook!!! Why? Because depending on how big your network is, you can ultimately browse through hundreds of pictures of regular/normal everyday common citizen's wedding/party pictures and get inspiration for what is realistically doable/pretty/appropriate. My focus what mostly the decoration and the attire and I find myself going back to those pictures of my facebook friends whenever I feel a need to compare, re-inspire myself or simply have fun...

Getting started

So here we are, this is my first blogging experience and I hope it will be a pleasant one!
I would love this is to be a guide to the young, independent and ambitious african girl who lives in the diaspora and does not have a lot of support (financially, family-wise etc.) and would like her wedding, and any ceremony/event that are part of her wedding activities, to reflect who she is: classy, casual yet warm just like we do back home (minus the uninvited guests who take some of the food home and the annoying relatives who spend most of the day complaining and trying to steal the attention...)
By now you would have guessed that I am in the middle of planning my wedding... and this has gotten me interested in sharing what I have learned so far.
So hopefully, you enjoy it as much I will.