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Beautiful Wedding Decor Also Needs to Actually Work for the Event

17/07/2015 12:51 AM IST | Updated 16/07/2016 3:29 PM IST

I'm a wedding planner and I have to admit that when I scroll through Instagram or troll Pinterest, I'm always seeing amazing décor that makes me shiver. Lighting I could never recreate in some of the more remote destinations where I plan makes me jealous. Tents you can only rent in more densely-populated areas that have crazy chandeliers make me swoon. Even though I do this for a living, I'm easily impressed by beautiful wedding décor.

With that said, I'm not an advocate of stupid wedding décor.

Let me give you a very good example. Just the other day I saw an absolutely, positively gorgeous table runner made entirely of live flowers featured on an Instagram account I follow of another wedding vendor. It was so pretty that I wanted to recreate it so I looked closer. And closer.

For anybody who is paying attention to the picture, the table runner is INCREDIBLE but it's so damned big that I could barely see the place settings. Time to zoom in. Alrighty now, you cannot see the place settings because it's a fully "staged" picture (as in, not a real wedding) and there's not enough room on the table for dinner plates, place settings, wine glasses, etc. God forbid you're using placecards! That table runner of flowers was fully two-thirds the width of the entire table.

So I messaged the vendor who posted the picture and said "I don't get it. Where do the plates go?"

Their response - I swear to God - was this: "We love ideas that are dramatic and different. Maybe not for everyone, but we would totally take a little less space for place settings to create a showstopper like this!"

Yep, that's a showstopper alright. As in, the perfectly-executed wedding will come to a grinding halt when the guests try to get seated for dinner and have zero space in front of them to put down their drinks. And can you even imagine what a disaster the service will be? OMG. Clearly this vendor isn't the wedding planner or the caterer or they would understand why a giant floral table runner is an absolutely RIDICULOUS idea unless the table is wide enough to hold both the runner and the place settings!!!

I probably look at it from a different perspective because, while I do the flowers for most of my destination weddings because there isn't another florist to be had, I don't sell my clients ridiculously expensive arrangements that don't fit their tables just so I can make an extra buck.

Gorgeous floral displays, centerpieces and other décor can be the highlight of your wedding event, but you want to try to avoid the totally impractical. I get requests for "Italian lights" all the time - those are the strands of lights with bare bulbs hanging off of them that you see featured so frequently in garden wedding pictures. We have them and we put them up in tents all the time, but you can't use them when you're trying to light concrete columns at a venue.

Many private homes, villas and historic buildings were not designed to be wedding venues and when you're decorating, you have to find a way to hang things (safely) that doesn't compromise the actual structure. You cannot drill into walls to put in hooks. You have to work with what's available. If you're trying to light concrete or stone columns on a porch, you can't use "Italian lights" or anything else that's meant to dangle. You're stuck with using "fairy lights" (Christmas lights on white electrical cords) or rope LED lights. You can also have uplighting done from the base of the columns if it won't create a trip hazard for your guests, and if it will give off enough light to actually let people see where they're going and what they're eating.

Pinterest has become an amazing channel to market my own services, and Instagram is a hoot because you see the good, bad, and the truly ugly from other weddings all posted by wedding guests. But what's important for brides and grooms to realize is that not everything that looks pretty is functional. Much of it is not affordable. And a good bit of it (unless you're only looking at pictures on my social media pages) was created solely for a professionally-staged shoot and was never intended to actually work at a wedding. Most of what you see in glossy bridal magazines could never be executed the same way at a wedding actually attended by real people.

Massive, top-heavy centerpieces on your dinner tables, dripping crystals in the faces of your guests, may be the look you really want, but what will happen when your guests get frustrated because they can't see each other through the bling and try to move them a little? They flip ass-over-teakettle almost every time. I've seen it happen as both a planner and a wedding guest. And don't pretend guests are too well-mannered to move centerpieces. They do, and they will. After six cocktails, it's all about keeping themselves happy. To hell with what the bride and groom wanted to see in their wedding pictures.

I know some couples are all about "go big or go home," but at the same time, not everything that is big and fancy is actually practical and reasonable for your wedding and your venue. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations in order to actually execute a flawlessly beautiful wedding. I have never heard a wedding guest complain that there wasn't enough table décor. But I have listened to many people bitch and moan about how tightly packed it all was. Cuz let's not pretend the bride and groom are going to spend money on two more tables and associated arrangements to compensate for the space being lost to the décor. They're still going to jam in 10 guests at a table meant for that many, even if the space the centerpiece takes up is akin to having a dead body in the center of the table.

Be smart. Look at wedding pictures you like and then modify them to fit your taste, style and the scale of your wedding venue. If you're working with a planner or vendors who say something can't be done, listen to them. If you do it, they make money so they have no motive to lie to you about this. They're trying to prevent the inevitable problems that will ensue if they give you EXACTLY what you're asking for.

You don't have to "keep it simple," but you do need to keep it REAL when you plan your wedding décor. Otherwise, people are more likely to remember that they struggled around your flowers than how beautiful they were in the grand scheme of things. And you'll spend a lot of money for something your guests will not enjoy.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!

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