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Ready, set, decorate!

At first, I was determined to DIY everything, but the more I did my research, the more I realised that if the kind of decor you desire isn’t DIY-friendly (like mine), it pays to get a pro on board. So I entrusted wedding and events specialist Nicola Jane Gibberd with the decor for my big day. One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with Nicola Jane was because she totally got my vision. After sharing my mood board and budget with her, Nicola Jane immediately had great ideas – ones that fitted with the dream I had in mind and the money I had to spend. Here, Nicola Jane – who has a degree in hospitality management and is a graduate of SA School of Weddings – shares her tips on getting wedding decor right.


4 Important steps for choosing your decor supplier

1 Do your research

“A good decor supplier will have an informative website with a strong portfolio of their work,” says Nicola Jane. “Start by going through images of previous weddings they’ve done. You’re looking for a decor supplier whose style and creations catch your eye.”

Don’t fall for a supplier who clearly only has one strong look: “You want a decor supplier who has successfully catered to a range of tastes and ideas across a variety of weddings,” explains Nicola Jane. “If they only have pictures of one kind of centerpiece arrangement, or they default to the same theme or colour, they may not be suited to creating your dream decor.”

2 See if you connect

“Your decor supplier must be able to interpret your ideas into an overall style, and then into reality,” advises Nicola Jane. “If they don’t get you, there’s no way they’ll get what you’re envisioning for your wedding.” So, if after having a coffee with a potential supplier you’re just not feeling it, follow your gut and look for someone else. “Brides can really underestimate the importance of this,” continues Nicola Jane. “Don’t just go for the cheapest or most convenient supplier – you’ll only end up disappointed on your big day. You want someone who is not only able to understand your vision (and you), but who can conceptualise new, creative ideas around yours. They shouldn’t just follow your instructions, they should have constructive input and exciting suggestions you may not have thought of – all in keeping with your initial brief and budget.”

3 Be up-front about pricing

“Never lie about your budget,” warns Nicola Jane. “The more realistic you are, the easier it is for a decor supplier to be honest about what you will and won’t get for your money. This in turn allows you to make the right decisions about what to prioritise and where to cut back. The worst is when you’ve spent months planning, and then, when it comes to crunching numbers, your dream ideas get canned.” On that note: ask them to be up-front about their pricing, too. “Check what’s included in their package – for example, does it include labour for set up and breakdown? If not, ask her to build this into her quote by default, or you’ll end up with a nasty surprise.”

4 Think about how much help you really need

“So many brides assume their mother will help with the flowers, their bridesmaids will help with DIY decorations, and the groomsmen will spend the morning of the wedding setting out tables,” says Nicola Jane. “But fewer brides are realistic about who will actually help where, and how much work is involved. Utilise your friends and family where you can, but don’t expect them to do it all – that’s where a decor supplier comes in. Even if you can’t afford to do everything through your decor supplier, they will certainly help ease the load.” For example, maybe Mom can do the flowers, but a decor supplier can set up tables, linen, candles and lighting.

 Ask these questions

1 “Are you available on my date?”

“Sounds simple, but you won’t believe the number of brides who fall in love with a decor supplier without first checking they’re free to work on their wedding date,” says Nicola Jane.

2 “Based on the ideas I’ve suggested, what would you do?”

“This is the best way to ascertain whether the supplier has really understood your vision, and if they can turn it into something you’ll love.”

3 “Do you offer a mock-up, and is it included in the quoted price?”

“A mock-up is basically a dummy run for your wedding day,” explains Nicola Jane. “Your supplier will show you a table setting featuring the elements you’ve discussed, and you can see where you need to make tweaks. A good supplier should include one mock-up in their package, a month or two before your wedding date.”

4 “Are there any additional costs?”

“Common things people forget to ask about: the cost of labour for set up and breakdown; an overtime charge if your supplier has to clear away on a Sunday or late at night; and the cost of travel to your venue,” says Nicola Jane. “Get everything in writing to avoid any last-minute money worries.”

Nicola Jane answers common bride-to-be questions

“My friends keep saying a decor supplier is a waste of money – is it worth the spend?”

“It all boils down to time, effort and stress,” says Nicola Jane. “Your decor supplier will have the knowledge, contacts and experience to source everything, pick everything up, style everything and then return it all at the end – doing this yourself is incredibly time consuming. Most importantly, you don’t want to spend your big day running around your venue, desperately trying to get everything ready – nor do you want your mom and bridesmaids running around when they should be popping champagne with you!” And you’re not just paying for someone’s time and labour, you’re also paying for their creative flair, eye for detail and professional knowledge – things not every bride may have at hand without a pro supplier.

“Help! I’m strapped for cash – do you have any suggestions for achieving striking wedding decor on a tight budget?”

1 Be minimalistic

“Make a beautiful statement and save cash by opting for a chic, minimalistic look,” suggests Nicola Jane. “Instead of expensive flowers arrangements, why not place single stems or flower heads in thin vases, at different heights, on tables? Or chose a detailed tablecloth or table runner that all but nixes the need for further decor elements?”

2 Go green

“Be a little eclectic and opt for greens instead of blooms,” advises Nicola Jane. “Ferns, eucalyptus or olive branches look beautiful when arranged in vases or draped artistically across tables. Add candles or fairy lights and you’re done!”

3 Stay in season

“If you’re determined to go for floral arrangements, you’ll save a fortune by sticking with stems that are in season,” says Nicola Jane. “Speak to your decor supplier or florist about the cheapest flowers for your wedding date, then plan your decor around these.”

 Wedding decor trends for 2014/2015

“I love that brides are becoming increasingly experimental with their ideas – gone are the days when pink roses were the only flower you could use!” says Nicola Jane. Her favourite decor trends for 2014/2015:

- Eco-chic: think succulents, greenery and the use of natural elements like wood and stone on tables.

- Exotic brights: tropical flowers and bold, bright hues, plus the use of exotic fruits in your centrepieces and floral arrangements.

- Graphic, monochrome print: a black and white colour palette underpinned by striking geometric patterns.

- Glitzy romance: soft, pastel shades get a modern hint of sheen with the use of metallic, like hints of glitter and rose gold.

- 50 Shades of grey: yes, really! Mixing a variety of grey tones – from dark charcoal to gleaming silver – looks super sophisticated.

- Texture: touch has become an increasingly important part of wedding decor, giving rise to 3D flower sculptures and tactile surfaces such as wood and stone and embroidered linen.

 What decor elements are easy to DIY?

“To avoid unnecessary stress, the best DIY ideas are the ones that can be completed weeks before your wedding date. Things such as favours for guests and your wedding stationery are quite easy to do yourself – this is where you can rope in friends to help without worrying about people running around like crazy on the day,” advises Nicola Jane. “One decor element I really loved was when an incredibly creative bride made paper flowers and combined them with succulents and greenery to create her own table arrangements. It was simple but striking, and she could do it all in advance.”

“Another bride of mine created origami birds,” continues Nicola Jane. “She worked tirelessly to make hundreds of them, which we incorporated throughout the wedding. They hung from the ceiling, were styled onto the cake and used as the name place cards.”

Nicola Jane’s decor DOs and DON’Ts

DO search for inspiration on Pinterest, blogs and magazines

“They’re a great source of ideas for everything from table names and centrepieces to cakes and favours. Plus, on these platforms brides are often honest about what worked, what didn’t and what they’d change if they could do it again – pearls of wisdom!”

DON’T get carried away with too many concepts

“You want your decor to feel coordinated and focused, so once you’ve decided on a decor direction (such as a colour scheme or mood), stick to it. Whenever you have a new idea, ask yourself if it fits with the decor you’ve already planned. Often the simplest of decor is the most striking.”

DO enjoy your day

“Things may not go completely as planned, but you will be the only person to notice. Don’t let these small things ruin your special day. The reason for your wedding is to celebrate with your nearest and dearest so have fun, relax and enjoy the celebrations.”

What are your money-saving tips for wedding decor? Tweet us at @GLAMOUR_sa with  #GLAMWedding to share.

Sarah Browning, 24, is the managing editor of GLAMOUR. She moved to SA from London three years ago and lives in Cape Town. In this  #GLAMWedding Wedding Blog, Sarah’s sharing her wedding-planning journey with you.  Join the conversation! Tweet your thoughts to Sarah via  @GLAMOUR_sa using  #GLAMWedding. For more about Nicola Jane, click here.

Follow Sarah on Twitter:  @sarahmbrowning

Find out more about the #GLAMWedding blog  here!

Click here to learn how to beat wedding-budget blues with the help of a financial advisor.

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