Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Recycling: Buying used to make your design scheme come together

When I first started planning our wedding, I had only a couple visions for decor: purple, and flowers. The devil, of course, was in the details.

It seemed, at first, that there were just SO MANY OPTIONS. To say "flowers" is one thing; to come up with a color scheme and design aesthetic requires making a decision. To someone who knows nothing about flowers, that might be kind of daunting, but to someone like me who knows a decent bit about flowers, it's almost more aggravating, because I like everything and want it all. I think I blogged a little bit before about trying to narrow down those options, and since then, I've had a pretty solid idea of what I wanted. Now it's a matter of acquiring everything.

Here are the key players:

Table linens: It turns out that it tends to be cheaper to rent white tablecloths than colored ones, and even renting white ones costs what seems to be an arm and a leg. If we were starting from scratch, I would most likely use Bright Settings, which is a mail rental service that provides table linens pretty reasonably, in a wide choice of colors and patterns. As it turns out, though, our venue rents white linens for the least amount of money I've found anywhere, so we're going to go with those.

I toyed with the idea of making our own tablecloths, but quickly decided that was a little too ambitious, even for me. With white tablecloths, though, a table needs color, so I was on the lookout for table runners or overlays. A table runner wouldn't be too hard to make -- I can cut and sew in a straight line, after all -- but I couldn't find any good fabric online and our local amazing fabric store in Louisville, Baer Fabrics, went out of business this summer before I could get myself over there, and I was left with an unfulfilled intention to check out fabric row in Philly in person. Luckily, a kind soul posted her aubergine table runners on the Weddingbee classifieds a couple months ago, and I pounced on them. For $150, I am now the proud owner of 22 eggplant colored table runners that match our decor perfectly. I plan to resell them after the wedding, and pass on the love.

One of our new purple table runners. It's a little more "royal purple" here, but it's a beautiful eggplant in real life.

Paper lanterns: I've been trolling the Weddingbee classifieds and Craigslist periodically for a few months now (see my earlier post on Craigslist searching), and I've had some good finds. First, I acquired 10 12" and 12 10" light green lanterns (sorry, I know that's confusing) from a Weddingbee member for $45 (including shipping). From another Weddingbee member, I acquired 15 11", 12 17", and 15 23" white Ikea paper lanterns, and 32 of the Hemma light fixtures that will allow them to be lit with regular light bulbs, all for $179 including shipping. I'm not really sure if we will be able to rig up a lighting system to allow us to use all of those light cords, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, at our venue walk through in a few months.

So that means we have 64 paper lanterns so far, mostly in white. I'm still looking for some purple ones and some more green ones. If I haven't gotten the requisite number via the classifieds by the end of March, I'll order the rest new. Still, I like being able to buy used for two reasons: cheaper, and being able to reuse products that otherwise would be thrown away. Another issue I haven't addressed is lighting all of the lanterns, which I would like to do. I have a bunch of battery-operated tea lights I acquired at some point, and I have the 32 Hemma light cords. If that's not enough, I might consider making some LED throwies, but we'll see how crafty I feel like getting this spring.

Glassware: Once I decided to do my own flowers (which was right after Eric put the ring on my finger), I started thinking about floral centerpieces. Instead of making matching centerpieces for each table, I've decided to make a smorgasbord of vase arrangements and mix and match them all around the room. After all, the majority of the beauty of flowers is in the flowers themselves, I think, and a mass of lush blooms in a vase is at least as pretty as an overly designed arrangement. Plus, and you'll see the trend here, buying vases at thrift stores is pretty cheap, and I'm reusing products that otherwise I would have to buy new. When I was living in NJ this summer, I spent a lot of time browsing thrift stores (and also Big Lots and Tuesday Morning, I have to admit), and brought home a lot of vases. To the point that Eric would give me a raised-eye look that said, "Where are we going to put these? And how are we going to get them to Louisville?" Answer #1: They were stored in his family's shore house in Ocean City, and Answer #2: He brought them in his car when he drove to Louisville for Thanksgiving, and they are now being stored at our groomsman Shea's house. And I continue to look for glassware every spare minute I get.

Here is just a sampling of what I found over the summer. I especially love the vase in the lower left corner, which has bees etched into it! I have to make sure I get that one back for myself after the reception.

I haven't yet successfully used Craigslist for buying vases, mostly because the entries are too many to comb through and generally yield poor results. And on Weddingbee, people tend to sell full lots of identical vases, which is good to know if I get desperate in May, but for now, I'm going to continue searching the thrift stores and, once the weather gets better and my time frees up, yard sales. In general, I'm looking for short vases, no taller than 10" high or so, so that the flowers don't block the sight line of the guests sitting at the table. In addition, I'm looking for clear, purple, or green glass, and unique shapes are always a plus.

Here's a picture of one of the glass bowls I bought sitting on one of the new (to me) table runners:

You need to imagine the flowers and the white tablecloth underneath (the green striped one there is what I had on the table for Thanksgiving), but you get the picture.

So that's what I troll the classified ads, thrift stores, and yard sales for: paper lanterns, glass containers, and anything else that would be a nice addition to our reception decor.

Anyone else also buying used?