Real Weddings: A Romantic Red Wedding

Sarah and Daren, a Portland, Oregon couple, chose a downtown art museum for their wedding location, and the bride's signature color -- red -- inspired the decor.

Wedding Day Prep

About the Couple: After meeting through, Sarah and Darren instantly knew they'd spend their lives together. In a yearlong whirlwind, they met, fell in love, got engaged, married, and went on their honeymoon. See how Sarah's vision of a soft, romantic wedding and a crimson-saturated reception came to life.

Sarah and her bridal party got ready for the big day in her parents' chic downtown loft. To help them prep for the wedding, The Bridal Loft, a local wedding assistance company, helped everyone with makeup and dressing.

Smooth and Classic Hair

During dress fittings, Sarah knew she wanted her hair in an up-do. Sharing one hair stylist with 10 bridesmaids and Mom could get a little hectic. But Sarah found an amazing stylist who was understanding, patient and flexible.

Brides Tip: Make sure to do a test hair session before your big day.

Only Red Would Do

Sarah is known for her vast collection of red shoes. She has always considered it her signature color, so it was only fitting that it was the foundation of her wedding colors. For the ceremony, she chose bold 4-inch Stuart Weitzman heels (on the right). Afterward, she changed into adorable Kate Spade flats, perfect for dancing (on the left).

Custom Monogram

The Thursday before the wedding, Sarah threw a bridesmaids' tea to kick off the wedding weekend for her attendants. These adorable mugs were made for the event and featured the happy couple's custom monogram. Inside the mug is a giant faux-diamond napkin ring.

Pretty Programs

Sarah and Darren's monogram was featured throughout the wedding events, appearing on the programs, dance floor, and cake. A different monogram, reflecting their unmarried initials, was used for all items before the actual ceremony.

Bridesmaids' Bouquets

Sarah gave her florist plenty of artistic freedom when it came to designing the flowers. She explained what colors and the look that she wanted, then just trusted her florist to deliver. In the end, it was exactly what she'd imagined.

Cute Flower Pomanders

Sarah and Daren had 10 children in their wedding party -- 8 little ring bearers (their nephews) and two flower girls (friends' daughters). The girls loved twirling in their adorable red dresses from Chasing Firefly. Instead of tossing petals they carried sweet pomanders down the aisle.

Elegant Bridal Bouquet

The bride wanted a mix of large, soft flowers with a few green accents to carry down the aisle. Her bouquet included hyacinth, roses, tulips, peonies, and hydrangea.

The Stunning Dress

Sarah's gorgeous Jim Helm gown was the first dress she tried on at the first store she visited. Although she tried on a few others to be sure, everyone agreed this was the one. She chose a long, veil with satin ribbon that matched her dress.

Bride's Tip: Go with your instincts when it comes to ordering your dress size. Sarah was training for a half-marathon during her engagement so when the dress arrived, it was several sizes too big and a nightmare during alterations.

An Elegant Location

Sarah and Daren wanted a downtown wedding filled with character and charm, so they chose the Portland Art Museum as their venue. The newly remodeled location had plenty of room for 250-plus guests and provided the simple, elegant, warm feeling they were looking for.

Candle-Lit Glow

The couple's florist created these simple candle vases that lit the aisle. For an elegant impact without a high price tag, the candles were placed at the ends of every-other aisle.

Budget Saver: Substituting candles for flowers is a major budget saver.

Petal Cones

Sarah wanted the romantic experience of having their guests throw flower petals at them, but was afraid many people would be gone by the time the couple left the late-evening reception. Sarah's mom thought of these clever petal cones placed on the first three chairs of every row. As the couple descended down the aisle, Sarah's mom threw the first petals and everyone followed suit.

Effortless Decorations

The ceremony decorations were kept very simple. Different size candle vases were used in place of flower arrangements.

Photography Session

The couple was adamant about not seeing each other before the ceremony, so photos were taken while guests enjoyed cocktail hour. Sarah and Daren's photographer, Melissa of Melissa Jill Photography, spied this cool location across the street from their venue and snapped this artsy shot.

Stylish Wedding Party

Sarah and Daren had a very large wedding party -- 10 people standing up for each of them, plus 10 kids. Sarah had originally planned for her bridesmaids to wear champagne colored dresses, but when they arrived, they were the wrong color. At the last minute, Sarah picked three simple black dresses and let her girls wear the one they liked best. Her bridesman wore a simple black suit.

Bold Red Decor

At the reception, the crimson theme was kicked up a notch. Custom lighting flooded the walls and stage in red light and gave the space a dramatic flair.

Chic Settings

Simple white dishes popped against red table linens, red napkins, and black chairs.

Adding a Personal Touch

Years ago, Sarah fell in love with the dance-floor monogram she saw in a picture of Courteney Cox and David Arquette's wedding. When it was time to plan her own, she knew it was a must-have. Sarah was thrilled with the final look and said it made the reception truly feel like a big celebration.

A Grand Head Table

Sarah and Daren wanted a long head table that allowed those in the wedding party to sit with their significant others. The newlyweds sat at the very end, near the dance floor, which allowed them to interact with their guests all night long. The rest of the guests were seated at round tables.

A Florist's Touch

After finding a florist whose work she loved, Sarah told her how she wanted to feel when she entered the reception. The florist expressed that mood with a mix of red, green, black, and white. It was a complete surprise for Sarah and Darren, who loved the bold palette and pretty blooms.

Bride's Tip: If you have a florist who you completely trust, let the reception surprise you. It will leave a lot of stress out of the process.

Extravagant Centerpieces

The florist created this stunning tall centerpiece for the head table and some of the guest tables. A tall, cone-shaped vase was filled with red apples then topped with an explosion of roses and greenery.

Flower Cones

Black-and-white paper cones dangled from pretty red ribbon and were filled with roses and greenery.

Get the Look: Scrapbooking stores are a great place to find pretty papers in your wedding colors. Simply twist them into a cone shape, secure with glue, and fill with the flowers of your choice. Hole-punch the top and string a loop of ribbon to hang the cones.

Glowing Candlelight

Some of the round tables were topped with a simple candle arrangement. Red flowers were also nestled in the vase with black ribbon to complete the look.

Bowl of Flowers

The third centerpiece was a short, lush arrangement of red flowers and greenery in a glass bowl.

A Perfect Match

As a nod to Daren and Sarah's romance, personalized matchboxes were a cute wedding favor.

Budget Saver: Customized matchboxes are an inexpensive and practical wedding favor.

Let Them Eat Cake

Beaverton Bakery created the couple's four tier wedding cake. Square layers were topped by an antique vase, which previously topped both Sarah's mother's and grandmother's wedding cakes.

Personalized Groom's Cake

Daren is a podiatrist so this giant pair of feet was his goofy groom's cake. It was filled with yummy chocolate.

Vendor List

Florist: Geranium Lake Flowers;

Dress: Jim Helm, AniA Collection; 503/796-9170

Hair: Lynn's Oasis Day Spa, Kelly Wisehar; 360/737-1789

Ceremony and Reception Site: Portland Art Museum;

Reception Decor: Royce's Prop Shop;

Wedding and Groom's Cake: Beaverton Bakery;

Invitation, monogram and all graphic design: Boden Designs, Katie Boden; 503/206-6110

DJ: A Sound Choice Entertainment.

Photographer: Melissa Jill Photography;

Caterer: Vibrant Table;

Videographer: Nick Boxwell; 503/702 2863

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