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Welcome to our wedding receptions style webchat

Hi everyone

Want gorgeous style for your wedding reception? Want to style your reception yourself to save on budget and don't know where to start?

Style guru Karen Bussen is online and ready to answer your questions (all the way from New York!)

Karen is an expert in food, wine, hospitality, flowers and design and believes a truly great party is filled with unique, well-chosen details and inimitable personal touches - she's got all the experience to help you with your wedding reception!

If you'd like to ask Karen a question, simply click "post reply" in this thread and type your question into the box. Karen's reply will appear in the same thread (but please bear with us if we get busy, your question will be answered as soon as we can!)




  • Hi all and congratulations to all the brides out there!
  • WeddingFeverWeddingFever Posts: 671
    Hi Karen,

    Any help would be apreciated!!!!

    Looking for some inspiration for my table centres - we are getting married abroad and having an evening reception when we get back home - our colours are purple with a hint of pink and would love something really different!

    We have a small budget as there will be 20 tables

    Thanks! x :\)
  • Hi Karen,

    Welcome to the chat. I hope you can help. I am getting married on the 9th October in a Grand 17th Century House called the Treasures House in York. The place is stunning however the areas we are having are reception in is like a tea room. The walls are brick and we are having a mixture of small round and rectangular tables which seat 4 and 6 people. I am not sure about what to put on the tables as regards d????cor. I really want to work with the autumn season. I am also not allowed candles at the building as it is so old.

    Do you have any ideas for table d????cor and how to create a warm autumn feel.



  • Hi! What if you took just 6 small vases, either cylinders or squares, and put a single purple blossom in each one--lisianthus would be lovely and isn't too expensive. Then collect the vases in the middle of the table, so they'll make an "arrangement"...add a few votive candles or tealights (maybe in pink?) and then let the ladies at the reception take home the vases as a favor at the end of the party.
  • WeddingFeverWeddingFever Posts: 671
    great idea - thanks!
  • Hi Sarah,

    Your venue sounds lovely! Since you're alternating your table shapes, what about the idea of also alternating your centerpieces, so that one table might have a bouquet of feathery celosia, while another might feature a big bowl of autumn fruits, and yet another might have a vase filled with pretty fall leaves? It would add warmth and texture to the room and would also be very simple to accomplish. If you want the feeling of candles, there are alternatives out there. One company we have here is called Acolytes--they are like mini LED lights that mimic the look of a candle. If you put them in frosted or amber glass votives, they really look just like candles. I used them for Robert Downey Jr.'s wedding and they were beautiful!

    Best of luck.
  • thank you so much for the advice. I love the idea of of having bowls filled with autumn leaves and also fruit...Great idea.

  • I just have to share a really lovely idea we recently used at a wedding here in New Orleans. We hired a local artrist to sit on the verandah of the old historic home where the reception was held. While the guests dined at a 50 meter-long table, the artist painted a portrait of the wedding banquet. Isn't that fabulous?
  • Hi Karen

    I'm considering booking a local village hall for the reception as we're on a tight budget, but it would need completely dressing as currently it's very plain and looks, well, just like a boring hall - with a wooden floor and plain white walls. What can we do easily and cheaply to transform it into a gorgeous wedding reception?


  • Hello Hels,

    If your reception is during the daylight hours, the most important thing to think about will be color. By just adding a few bold touches, you'll warm up the space in no time. Consider using colorful table linens, or if the venue only provides white, you could sew some simple squares to cover the tabletops. I'd suggest bold colors for the best effect, and no more than two or three dominant colors. Tangerine and Fucshia are beautiful together, for example, and they will make the space POP. You could also add a colorful signature drink--strawberry lemonade or a red sangria, for example, or just pink champagne. Adding warm touches like this will do more than you can imagine.

    If you'll celebrate at night, there is nothing more important than light. I'd suggest stocking up on a bunch of white, unscented candles (tiny tealights, votives, and thick taller pillar candles). Arrange them everywhere--in clusters on your tables, along window sills, etc. Add a handful of rose petals at the base or a few simple flowers and you will create magic even in a very plain space, I promise!

    Congrats to you!
  • Hi, we are getting married in 6 weeks and trying to sort out the final details - I am going to tie the napkins with lenghts of pink ribbon which is about 1 inch think, and am trying to think of a nice way to do place names rather than just a folded card which would look elegant on the table. any ideas would be great!

  • Hello Septemberstar!

    You could use a flat card, about the size of a business card--choose a pretty paper stock and you could even trim it with a special scissors to give it a flourished edge. Then punch a hole in the center or corner of one end (you could buy a decorative hole punch as well), and run your pink ribbon through the hole. Then tie the ribbon around the napkin, looping it back to make a sweet bow.

    Another, more earthy idea. Turn mushrooms upside down, cut a small slit in the woody stem, and place your flat table cards in the mushroom "place card holder" ...there's a photo of this idea in my new book, SIMPLE STUNNING PARTIES AT HOME. There are actually some fun table card ideas in my SIMPLE STUNNING FLOWERS book as well...

  • thankyou great suggestions!
  • cl_abbottcl_abbott Posts: 66
    HI Karen,

    Im not getting married untill 2011 but I am trying to pick a colour scheme and flowers now!! My venue is Halton House please see links with pics

    My main problem is th carpet is bright red and my h2b is getting married in his uniform which is dark blue (RAF). Im having problem matching colours at first I though deep purples and green but then the red carpet put my off that idea, so I am now looking at Ivory, Latte and and antique gold. I am also unsure with regards to decoration as the room is so grand, but can lack intimacy and look bare due to its grandness. I want something wow and but not take away from the beauty of the room.

    any help would be much apprciated.
  • BigGuk1BigGuk1 Posts: 4

    I am getting married at the beginning of September. I am really struggling with flowers and centre piece ideas. I would like to go for a vintage/hollywood glamour look however, we are getting married in a barn. The barn is very rustic with a terracotta carpet and red brick. I really want to avoid red flowers as much as possible but cannot see a way round it. I am not having bridesmaids so have no colours that i need to match to.

    Any ideas you have would be very much appreciated.

  • Hi Catherine-Louise,

    Your setting is beautiful--thanks for sharing the links. I really like your color ideas--ivory, gold and latte make a wonderfully sophisticated palette, which I think is the right way to approach this space. Your h2b's uniform will be lovely, even with the red in the room, and you shouldn't worry about matching him at all.

    If you want to bring in a bit of that navy accent, you could wrap your centerpiece vases in thick navy satin ribbon, or use navy ink on your menu card or table cards.

    For your decorations, I would keep them understated and elegant rather than trying to compete with the grandeur of the space. Keep them low, and perhaps you might alternate designs from table to table, so that one table has a single arrangement of ivory roses, and another table has multiple smaller vases filled with red flowers, picking up on the carpet. If you want to stay all ivory with the flowers, you could just alternate the designs, so that one table has roses and calla lilies, while another has cream lisianthus, for example. Alternating various blooms and containers will give the room warmth and a more bespoke quality, as if each table were designed especially for your guests. Personalizing a grand space is the best way to make it feel more intimate.

    Cheers and all the best!
  • Hi everyone

    Karen will now just answer the remaining questions

    Thanks to Karen for all her detailed expertise on wedding style...



    PS: Don't forget next week's webchat with wedding planning expert Kathryn Lloyd

  • cl_abbottcl_abbott Posts: 66
    Thanks soo much Karen Great suggestions and you've made me feel alot better now about the colours Iv chosen.image
  • Dear Big G,

    You can have glamour in a barn! Like the above idea, I'd recommend you alternate your table designs, using vintage-inspired pieces like old silver candleabras on one table, and a big silver bowl of apples on another table, and a silver compote or vase filled with blowsy roses on another table...

    For more of that Hollywood feeling, create a vellum overlay for your menu cards. Take your favorite photo of you and your hubby to be, and print it out in sepia tones. You can do this on your home computer if you have a good printer. Lay the vellum over your menu card and punch two holes through both cards, lining the holes up. Join them with a beautiful satin ribbon.

    If you won't have menu cards but like the photo idea, print out varying favorite photos on vellum and wrap the vellum paper prints around votive candles or narrow vases to hold flowers.

    Also, music really can add to your vintage Hollywood mood. If you have an ipod, download classic Cole Porter or Irving Berlin romantic songs, like "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Our Love is Here to Stay..."

    Your wedding sounds fabulous--have a great time and enjoy every minute!!!
  • Thanks everyone! This was so much fun!!! xoxo
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