So with 2012 well underway, I get to do something I have been waiting months for! While the past two years seem to have been sucked out of me with website builds, I realised I missed you dear readers, I missed the interaction, I missed the long emails we would have, I missed the comments and the brainstorming. So with that in mind, Ms Gingham and I have been working hard to come up with fantastic new post ideas (well we think so, but that may have been the numerous cups of amazing coffee we had that day) and first on the agenda is a brand new feature on Polka Dot Weddings every Friday just for you. We have four new columns all together and they’re all about YOU. Your thoughts, your ideas and your words.

‘Ask Ms Polka Dot’ is the first one we’re kicking off with. I have so many emails with styling brainstorms, ideas and thoughts between marrieds to be and I over the years that I’ve asked if they mind me sharing them with you. If you’d like your own brainstorm with me (and it may not be fast and it will certainly only be my voice, I’m no Colin Cowie!) just contact me! From styling, to etiquette to what does one do when? Shoot it my way and let’s make wedding planning a little less stressful!

Our first “Ask Ms Polka Dot” is one I actually wrote back in 2009 for dear bride Leah. With her permission I asked to share it with you (You can check out Leah’s beautiful wedding over on Polka Dot Bride!)

Hello, I am getting married at Bellachara Boutique Hotel (Editors Notes: Now Mecure Resort Gerrigong By The Sea) located in Gerringong on the South Coast in their restaurant during summer.

The colour scheme of the restaurant is chocolate brown and cherry red, with white walls. There is not much room to play with on the tables when set for a wedding. I don’t want anything too cluttered for guests. Can you suggest some decorative/inspiration options for the tables?

The wedding is on Sunday 14 February (valentines day) to start at 5:00pm. We didn’t want a “function room” feel and felt that this restaurant has ambiance particularly at night – the restaurant lights lots of candles.

I don’t have a large budget, so wanted to use my money well on something effective.

– Leah

When working with a small budget and dominant colour scheme, I like to work with it rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.

–       Keep everything as unfussy as possible – no chair covers etc
–       Keep arrangements on the tables low but plentiful and emphasise cooler colours as the surroundings are quite rustic with stone, leather, wicker, dark colours
–       Lots of white flowers in low arrangements on the tables – perfect white hydrangeas tinged with green in white low square ceramic containers or long metal troughs, white roses, peonies, white orchids, white water lilies floating in bowls
–       Enliven with touches only of red in flowers, embroidery on napkins (monograms?) piping on tablecloths
–       The large arrangements could be mainly white with sculptural flowers such as orchids (anything cottage-y in the way of flowers will be overwhelmed by the strong décor)
–       Add plenty of soft green – orchids and hydrangeas often are tinged with soft green, soft green, lime green and dark green leaves will freshen and lighten the heaviness of the décor in the room – remembering you are having a summer wedding. Add green grapes, or carnations to this mix amongst the flowers
–       You could have pebbles in soft greys, white sea shells and white starfish generously scattered on the tables instead of flowers. Tie a pretty shell with twine or ribbon to each cloth napkin and place on the plate at each setting
–       Team the pebbles and seashells with touches of Tiffany or duck egg blue – again in monogrammed napkins, vases, ribbons tied around your cutlery, plates. This would look good with the red chairs and brown stonework and pick up the colour of the sea near the venue. If using this scheme, use only white flowers so that the room doesn’t start to look overwhelmed.
–       Your crockery could be mainly white, with one plate in red or duck egg blue – depending on your chosen colour scheme
–       Could the painting over the fireplace be taken down for the reception so that the tall flower arrangements don’t look out of place there? Perhaps a swag or wreath of perfumed white jasmine with greenery might look effective there instead of the tall arrangements. Trail white ribbons from this and encourage your guests to attach ‘wish notes’ to them
–       Candles and more candles in white mainly, with the occasional coloured one that fits into your scheme. Perhaps two tall wrought iron candelabra on either side of the fireplace if you decide to go the swag or wreath route.
–       Add shine with glass or silver candlesticks and get mirror cut in the shapes of the tables to put your arrangements on, and to reflect as much light as possible
–       Platters or baskets of fruit – green and red grapes, halved kiwi fruits or strawberries, figs – tuck single green orchid flowers and fern fronds in amongst them as your centrepieces -the key here is to make it look plentiful and abundant – look for pictures of cornucopia (horns of plenty) to get ideas. Even a  fat twig wreath could be used here to surround the fruit. Add pots of chocolate  and butterscotch sauce, later in the evening so guests can dip the fruit in for an extra energy boost!
–       Outside – fairy lights in the trees, paper lanterns hung from wherever you can, lots of candles, lots of strings of sea shells hanging from branches, tealights in white paper bags filled with a little sand dotted around the lawn – not on the tables in case of fire. Fold down the edges of the bags roughly so they don’t burn.
–       Coloured glassware – one glass at each place setting in red for instance
–       Silver dishes filled with water and floating candles
–       Do a signature cocktail – in the colour of your choice
–       A fruit and icecream and sorbet buffet would look summery

Keep your decor simple and fun and add unexpected touches.

Readers, what would your advice to Leah have been? How can you decorate a very “function” looking room to tie in with your own wedding style?