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Archive for September, 2011

Decorating Your Outdoor Wedding

As the weather turns warmer, some couples do not want a traditional chapel wedding with all the formal decorations and traditions. This desire is especially popular with older couples or those planning a second marriage. The setting for these weddings can be a park, beach, hot air balloon or even a deck in a backyard garden.

One simple solution that maintains the beauty and splendor of traditional ceremonies is an outdoor wedding in your own backyard. While the setting might be casual, decorations will still be a primary concern of the couple.

Before you do anything, pick your theme and color scheme and work from there. Coordinated weddings and receptions, even those in backyard gardens, need to look not only festive, but organized around a theme or color scheme. Your theme doesn’t have to be fancy or formal, like Victorian, but can easily be a simple and beautiful free-flowing ceremony.

Check out the backyard and notice the major colors there. Do you see lots of flowers or mainly green bushes, trees and grass? Are there patches that need a little sprucing up? With a little creativity, you can transform a normal backyard into a magical wedding site.

Prior to the wedding, visit florists and choose your flowers and order any arrangements you might need. You will want an abundance of flowers to maintain the festive atmosphere.

The day before the wedding have the yard professionally mowed and raked by a trusted garden service so it will look fresh the next day. A day or two ahead of time, cover those bad patches with shredded cedar or some other colorful mulch and put a pretty pot of flowers on top of each one or plant a blooming bush as early as you can. If your backyard is contained inside a fence, decorate it with ribbons and bows that match your colors. Hide anything you don’t want to be part of your celebration behind screens, rented bushes or trees. Wrap the pots they come in with pretty foil or wrapping paper.

Wedding rental companies will deliver and pick up arbors and even gazebos for the actual ceremony. Have the gazebo delivered a few days before the wedding and decorate it with flowers and ribbons. Make sure your florist delivers your floral choices when you need them for your pre-wedding rush of decorating.

You can also rent chairs for the guest’s comfort during your ceremony and the carpet to walk down on your way to your groom waiting at the gazebo with the minister. If it is particularly hot in your part of the world, add a canopy to shield your guests from the sun to your list of rentals.

You reception can be held in an open-sided white tent decorated with tables draped in white tablecloths and holding baskets of flowers and candles. If your reception is at night, hurricane lamps might be a better choice than candles because the nightly breeze won’t blow them out. Outside lighting in the yard will be necessary for safety. Use netting if mosquitoes are a problem.

Many outdoor weddings have an outhouse delivered for guests to use. Don’t forget to decorate it. Rent another arbor, decorate it and place it in front of the outhouse. Place a large, colorful ribbon bow on the door. Inside, add a few sprigs of flowers in the corners or some silver wedding bells.

Finally, make sure whatever music you have chosen for your reception and your wedding, can be heard by your guests. If you hire a DJ or band, discuss volume with them. You need it to be pleasing in the background during the reception and just loud enough to be heard by your guests and at the gazebo, but not so loud your neighbors call the cops. That problem could be avoided by inviting them to your backyard wedding.

These decorating suggestions should give you a starting place. Use your own creativity and make your backyard wedding be something you will remember everytime you look out your kitchen window or sit on your deck.

How To Buy Pearls

If you’ve ever attempted to buy pearls, you’ll already understand the muddle you can soon find yourself in. Purchasing pearls isn’t an insurmountable task, but for those just starting out, it would be nice to have someone with a little expertise guiding one through what can and should ultimately be a pleasant time. For more in-depth coverage into buying pearl jewelry you will need to consult other sources, such as our Learning Center, but read on for some basic hints to help you through your first pearl buying experience.

First thing to know

Unless a set of pearls is labeled as natural, you can assume they are “cultured pearls.” If you’ve ever thought of freshwater pearls as cultured, and any other pearl not cultured, well, that’s not correct, since Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea and Freshwater pearls are all cultured. Consult a knowledgeable dealer or jeweler who will refer to pearls by their correct pearl type if you want to avoid confusion.

Figure out your parameters

You’ll need to decide what sort of pearl you need before you begin looking. Think about how you’ll be wearing them, whether at formal affairs or to the workplace. Your personal style will inform you, as well as how much you want to spend. A strand of pearls can range from thirty-five dollars, to thirty-five thousand dollars, so you’ll want to look among the choices you can afford.

Cultured pearl types

• Akoya: These are the classic white pearls which are known for their metallic, almost mirror-like luster, and their perfectly round shape. Although they are usually thought of as white pearls, they are also offered in dyed “black” versions, in a range of hues. They range from sixty-one to three thousand dollars.
• Tahitian: The only naturally “black” pearls, which range in color from silver to dark green, with multicolored peacock hues being the most popular choice. They can be seen in perfectly round to more commonly off-round shapes, and are mostly larger sized, from eight to sixteen millimeters. They can go for one hundred twenty to more than ten thousand dollars.
• South Seas: These large pearls, which range from nine to eighteen millimeters, can be anything from a silky silver to a deep gold, and are the most expensive of all the cultured pearls. Since they are so large and so valuable, they are often showcased in pendants, rings and earrings. They range from four hundred to thirty thousand dollars, the latter being for a full strand of them.
• Freshwater: Because of their long history and their recent rise in popularity as their culture has evolved this past century, this category of pearls is perhaps the most interesting. Long considered costume jewelry, due to inferior farming methods, they were widely available, but poorly regarded. Since the Chinese have improved culturing techniques, we now find Gem Grade Freshwater pearls commanding the prestige of Hanadama grade Akoyas in quality, and South Sea pearls in size. People who know and love pearls now consider high quality Freshwater pearls to be the cultured pearl of choice. They come in sizes from two to eighteen millimeters in size, and they can have colors from natural lavender to pink to bright white, so there can be one style found to suit anybody. They range from forty-five to fifteen hundred dollars.

Think about colors
Now that there are so many colors to choose from, this aspect of how to buy pearls can be a challenge. Anything from white to lavender, gold, pink, green, blue, purple, and every shade in between can be seen in natural and in treated form. If you only purchase one pearl necklace, then many think it should be the classic white. It goes with everything, and can go everywhere with you. It’s a good one to start out with. So-called “black” pearls aren’t really black, but their dark surface reflects with shades of gray, green, and blue, working well with darker skin tones and lending themselves to an exotic look. The pink, peach and lavender shades are always fun, and can be both appropriate for the younger flirty style, or matched well with an outfit, transform themselves into a sophisticated look for an older woman.

Color is such a personal choice, and since it doesn’t affect the price of the pearl, you can let your imagination and taste lead you to any color you desire. Check out our pearl color page to see some of the choices.
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