Night & Day

By Stephanie Thurrott | Boston Weddings |

Ever pause to feel the sun warm your skin on a crisp fall morning? Or make a wish on a star in the clear winter sky? Day and night are as different as, well, day and night. Your wedding—and the flowers that accent it—will be different as well, reflecting the mood of the sun-dappled afternoon or the dark night sky outside.

Daytime weddings—whether outdoor affairs in garden settings or indoor events with views through expansive windows—likely embrace the daylight their hour affords. Nighttime weddings offer dramatic opportunities to light with candles, pinpoint spotlights and even uplights and wall washes.


Ever pause to feel the sun warm your skin on a crisp fall morning? Or make a wish on a star in the clear winter sky? Day and night are as different as, well, day and night. Your wedding—and the flowers that accent it—will be different as well, reflecting the mood of the sun-dappled afternoon or the dark night sky outside.

Daytime weddings—whether outdoor affairs in garden settings or indoor events with views through expansive windows—likely embrace the daylight their hour affords. Nighttime weddings offer dramatic opportunities to light with candles, pinpoint spotlights and even uplights and wall washes. “In the evening you can completely control the environment and create whatever kind of space you want,” says Andrew Anderson, co-owner of Ilex Designs in Boston.

Candles are key to creating ambiance at evening weddings. “Fall gets cooler and feels cozier. Candlelight can really add important warmth and a romantic glow,” says Jeri Solomon, owner of Jeri Solomon Floral Design in Melrose. But in an evening setting filled with candles, it’s especially important to choose flowers that will showcase their colors. “Dark colors are not always going to show up,” explains Solomon. “If you’re doing just candlelight and you don’t have theatrical lighting or pin-spot lighting, the dark, fall palettes—the burgundies and russets—don’t always show as well.”

Nighttime lighting gives you the opportunity to add subtle elements to your arrangement. June Rubin, owner of A Wild Flower in Newton, sometimes adds teardrop crystals to give the flowers a glimmer when there’s lots of candlelight. “Guests don’t see it right away, but as they’re sitting there they notice the depth of the centerpiece,” she says.

Nancy Vargas, principal designer for Le Jardin Blanc in Southborough, used candlelight, spotlighting and wall washing to bring out the rich red tones of a traditional Chinese wedding last year. She chose a saturated red palette, and grouped together roses, peonies, cherries, red plums and grapes. Curly willow added natural gold accents, and the table linens brought more gold into the design.

THE LIGHT OF DAY
In a daytime wedding, you’ll likely take your floral cues from your venue. “The outdoors can influence how you do things,” says Jessica Wrobel, owner of Jwrobel in Ipswich. “In a garden with lots of plantings, you’ll simplify so the flowers show up. If it’s all greenery, you’ll bring in a lot more color, and you might want to use herbs and fresh fruits, which have a daytime appeal,” she says.

You also can play with bright colors in the light of day and make an impact that wouldn’t show up as well at night. For a daytime wedding on the lawn of a bed-and-breakfast, Vargas used color blocking to add interest under the tent. “On one table I did an orange runner, orange candle and orange centerpiece, then on another table I used all yellow,” she says. Each table was bright and monochromatic, and all the tables worked together to complete the look.

MOOD ENHANCERS
As a general rule, daytime weddings are more casual, informal and nontraditional. “Most guests don’t expect a formal affair at an 11 a.m. brunch,” Wrobel says. Evening weddings lean more toward formality and tradition.

“It’s not so much the flowers themselves but how you use them, taking into account the overall tablescape,” says Jennifer Cahill, owner of The Tangled Web Creative Floral Design in Whitman. “Evenings are more elegant, and you play up more of the shape and sculptural quality of the flower arrangement. It can be more monochromatic and all one type of flower. In the daytime you can really appreciate the color and use a more free-form arrangement,” she says.

Containers and table linens play their part in the daytime vs. evening debate. For a casual, daytime affair, you might choose plain glass, glazed ceramics, galvanized tin buckets, baskets or “mix-and-match china that looks like you raided your grandmother’s cupboard,” says Wrobel. A clear vase could even hold bright beads or marbles. Gold, silver or crystal adds a more formal, elegant feel to evening affairs.

When selecting table coverings, ginghams, cottons and linens are natural choices for an outdoorsy, daytime setting. For an evening reception, reflective linens—silks, satins and even metallics and beaded sheers—can enhance the candlelit ambiance. Brocade or tasseled fabrics add formality.

All these pieces—the flowers, arrangement style, containers, linens and lighting—combine to create the appropriate mood for the time of day. Last winter, Anderson had a bride tell him, “I want a winter wonderland, but I want it warm and cozy.” He aimed for the feel of a warm winter lodge, when there’s snow piling up—but it’s all outside the window.

Anderson used white table linens, but then overlaid a beaded, sparkly, cream sheer. “Just taking the color of whites down to the cream level warms them immensely,” he says.

In the arrangements, he used peonies, French and Dutch tulips, and roses. “Some of the tulips gave it that snap of pure white, but mostly it was all playing into that creamy color and edging into modern masses of blooms,” he says. Lots of crystal and frosted glass candleholders gave the decor an icy feel, contrasting with the warmth of the lit candles.

SIMPLE ELEGANCE
A different blend of tabletop elements makes for a memorable daytime event. Wrobel recalls the ambiance of an Italian-themed wedding set in a local perennial garden. “Since it was a small wedding—about 50 guests—rather than having round tables for 10, we used a double-wide banquet table that was big enough for all the guests to sit around. It was fabulous,” she says.

The table was covered with weathered burlap tablecloths and topped with loosely styled trees made of olive and curly willow branches. Pots of sunflowers and rosemary were set low, so all the guests could see each other. Then grapevines were scattered all over the table, which was dotted with lemons and votive candles. A spread of San Pellegrino water, wine, cheese and favors wrapped in grape leaves finished the look. “It was small, simple and so well pulled-together,” says Wrobel. “It felt like an Old-World party.”

Wrobel offers perhaps the best advice when you’re choosing between a daytime and evening wedding, and despite her expertise it has nothing to do with flowers. “If you’re morning people, you shouldn’t be having a late-night wedding. You won’t have fun,” she says. “Or vice versa—if you have to be up at 4 a.m. to get your hair done for an 11 o’clock ceremony, are you going to be happy?”

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2006/10/night-day/