This post is about aisle decor, but it’s also about a store. First, let’s talk about decor.
When I originally imagined walking down the aisle at our wedding, I pictured a white aisle, a floral arch, and flowers on the end of each row of chairs. I saw this on so many wedding blogs that I think I must have assumed this was standard ceremony decor.
Just as I got scared away from bringing lighting into our venue because I thought it would compete with the beauty of our venue, I started to think that going too over the top with ceremony decor would detract from the environment around us. Interestingly, the person who got me thinking about scaling back was my florist!
I don’t know how she picked up on my being interested in playing up the Blue Ridge Mountains and being concerned about all the consumption related to weddings, but at some point in our meeting, she definitely got it. She really caught my attention when she said something like “too many people walk away from their flowers.” She was talking about those elaborate floral arches, which can’t really be repurposed after the ceremony.
We decided that we’d have flowers in glass vessels on the end of each aisle and those flowers would be moved inside during our cocktail hour. In my search for some inspiration pictures, I came across quite a few that had large lanterns on the ground, too. I thought the combination was lovely.
I started to look for lanterns in home stores like Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, and Restoration Hardware. There were some interesting options, but most were shiny silver or black, which wouldn’t go with our aesthetic. I saw many people buying and selling IKEA lanterns in the Weddingbee classifieds, but they were also silver or black. I was hoping to find lanterns made of wood. I was fine with metal being on the lantern, but my hope was that it would look distressed or antique.
Photo by Millie Holloman Photography
Discount stores were my next stop. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods all had exactly what I wanted, but I could never find more than two or three lanterns in the same size or style at those stores. A local business that rents vintage pieces for weddings and events had some lanterns, but their online inventory didn’t show a large cache of lanterns in the same size. Eventually, I gave up on the lantern idea and settled on just having flowers on the end of each aisle.
I few weeks later, I found myself back in Boston on business. I got to town a few days early and decided to go shopping at some of places I used to frequent when I lived there. As I was leaving one of my favorite malls from my Boston days (The Natick Collection for you Bostonians), I decided to go into The Christmas Tree Shoppe for a laugh.
If you live in New England, you either love or loath The Christmas Tree Shoppe. The first time I visited one of these stores, I remember being stunned by the way people were piling things into their carts. One side of the store is usually holiday themed (it only has Christmas stuff around the holidays) and the rest has all kinds of decorative things for the home. The inventory is cheap and oftentimes random. It’s rare to recognize a brand name. If Wal-Mart and Home Goods had a baby, it’d be the Christmas Tree Shoppe.
I have to admit that I was looking for entertainment when I went into that store on my business trip. I was stunned when I saw this display just ten yards into the store.
Photo by Miss Mink
I couldn’t believe I was seeing lanterns so close to what I had in my head. I couldn’t believe I was seeing them in the Christmas Tree Shoppe. I also couldn’t believe that I was on a business trip and there was no way I could buy them. While my brother’s family is in Boston, I couldn’t expect them to store a ton of large lanterns in their home.
When I got home that night, I called my mother in New Jersey. The Christmas Tree Shoppe moved south in the years since I left the area and there was a store one town over from my hometown. My mother went to the store the next morning and bought every lantern they had in stock. Apparently, she had the staff running all over, checking every nook and cranny for lanterns. I never thought of Christmas Tree Shoppes as a place with stellar customer service, but I was so thankful that they went out of their way to help her.
A few weeks later, my mother came to Virginia for a visit and delivered the lanterns.
Photo by Miss Mink
Did you find something for your wedding in an unexpected place?
*The title of this post is an homage to the hilarious commercials that Christmas Tree Shoppe used to run when I lived in New England.