About Darleene Powells

Darleene Powells was in her teens when she began decorating weddings with her mother, the late Aida Barrientos. Darleene developed her own style of draping tables and other elements for weddings using fabrics like organza, English netting and chiffon. She now works as an online journalist at cbsla.com as an online news producer. She also blogs at darleeneisms.la and Hack Mom.

Dear Wedding Decorator: Where do you recommend I get married near San Gabriel?

DSC04747Q: Hope this finds you well. I had a great time reading your blogs and found some interesting ideas for my wedding in September this year. My fiancé and I are searching for a perfect venue for our tight budget. We are looking at about 50 to 60 people, and less than $5000 for ceremony and reception including catering and decorations. With your excellent past experience in the industry, I am wondering if you could kindly provide some recommendations? Preferred locations are anywhere near San Gabriel. Much appreciation for your attentions and I hope to hear from you soon.

A: If you are looking for a venue near San Gabriel, I would recommend Almansor Court in Alhambra. I can’t say for certain if they will fit the $5,000 budget for ceremony and reception, including catering and decorations, but they do have the details of their wedding packages available online — always a plus in my opinion.

Almansor Court gazebo in blueI know there are also a number of picturesque country clubs in the San Gabriel Valley, including San Gabriel, Altadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Azusa.

Real wax, flameless candles for your wedding

I’ve decorated any number of weddings in which the bride wanted lots of lighting incorporated in their flowers and decorations, including candles and Christmas lights. Both those options had their difficulties — candles are not always allowed or require a permit from the fire department and Christmas lights require a power source, and its not like you can link together 20 table arrangements with normal Christmas lights. I’ve spent many nights loading batteries into yard-long Christmas light strings, wrapping up the battery pack to protect it from water in the arrangement, then taking it all apart at the end, believe me. And let’s not talk about the fire danger of traditional luminaries, where you light a candle inside a paper bag.


Image courtesy Candle Luminary

However, there’s a Southern California company that is making real wax candles, but instead of lighting them, you use rechargeable lights to light them up. Candle Luminary is making these candles in several sizes and shapes and, as you can see above, there is also a floating option. I got a chance to check them out recently.

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Dear Wedding Decorator: How much would you charge to decorate a wedding of 75+ people?

IMG_7766A: Prices on decorations wouldn’t (at least, they shouldn’t) be dependent on the number of people attending. If I were charging, the factors I’d be considering would be the materials desired (number of arrangements, types of flowers, draping, equipment), time (how much time needed to create arrangements, set up, break down), and location (far vs. close by) — that sort of thing.

I couldn’t really give you a ballpark on what a potential decoration fee would be without those factors. And beware florists and flower shops who give you a flat fee without asking for those particulars — either they will tack on fees for any or every little thing or give you the lowest-quality flowers and decorations available. You get what you pay for!

Bridal bouquets in wild colors

Because the economy is in the dumps, we’re apparently supposed to be all dour and serious and sedate is supposed to be in. But when it comes to your wedding? I think not. Your wedding day should be a joyous event, so if you want to have shots of color, by all means, go for it!

Photo by Flickr’s rydeeroo

I once did a story, a long, long time ago when I was an intern at the Arizona Republic, about brides who opt for colored wedding dresses, as opposed to the traditional, American white wedding gown. Apparently, the tradition still holds when it comes to wedding gowns, seeing as how the majority of wedding gowns are white or cream, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a shot of color with your bridal bouquet. For example, check out the bouquet above — it would be a very traditional bouquet, except the bride opted for those velvety red roses, rather than white. I love the effect.
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A spectacular home wedding

I haven’t had the pleasure of attending or decorating too many home weddings, but this wedding has basically ruined me for all future home weddings, I think.

I was thoroughly, thoroughly impressed. This was the wedding of Sid and Maureen, who met while working at Fox Sports, where my husband spent some time a few years ago. Before I get into the decorations and such, I first have to say this was one of the most enjoyable weddings I’ve ever attended. It’s truly a testament to the couple when it feels as if all their wedding guests are so incredibly nice.

There was probably one thing I would have changed — I would have added “garden wedding and reception” to the invitations. It would have signaled to all the women attending that they’d be walking in grass during the entire event. I happened to be nearly 8 months pregnant when attending, so there was no way I was planning to wear heels anyway — I wore a long dress and flat sandals and was apparently the only woman at the wedding who felt comfortable walking, heheh.

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2 Weddings, 1 ritzy wedding venue with an ocean view

A friend of mine often works weddings at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, and whenever she does, she snaps photos for me. It’s a nice peek into the world of very fancy weddings — I don’t think I ever got a chance to decorate a wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (although I have decorated weddings at other Ritz-Carlton locations).

The first was a Pakistani-Bulgarian wedding, but you would never know it from the decorations. These are just a few photos from what my friend sent.

An overview of the setup. I love the simplicity.

An overview of the setup. I love the simplicity.

The vases holding the flowers are no doubt glass, but I would bet that the stands are clear acrylic. I would also bet that the frosting effect was achieved with either baby powder that’s easy to wipe off, or possibly just a result of condensation from the grass they’re sitting on.

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Money-saving wedding planning tips

Flickr photo by Daniel Chang

Flickr photo by Daniel Chang

Getting engaged and married is a rite of passage, but why oh why is it so expensive? I have a few friends experiencing sticker shock as they plan their upcoming nuptials, and all I can do is shake my head in sympathy. Depending on your geographic location, weddings cost an average of more than $28,000 these days, which is not easy on your personal finances.

Fortunately, there are ways to save on your wedding, but these tips have to be considered from the very beginning — before you even set a date. Still interested? Read on.

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