The Feng Shui of a Wedding

Recently, a friend of mine forwarded me the most ridiculous story about a restaurant in New York.  One location of a high-end Japanese/sushi chain cancelled a  previously scheduled rehearsal dinner because of the couple’s sexual orientation; the happy couple was two men.  Now there may have been some prejudicial viewpoints here, but what really astounded me was that the manager who cancelled the event claimed that it would be bad feng shui to host a celebration promoting same-sex marriage.  This is completely ludicrous!  Weddings, receptions, and rehearsal dinners held at any venue generally enhance the chi of an area, especially if the couple is truly in love.  The positive energy from the wedding party and guests seeps into a place, promoting more prosperity and abundance for all.   And this type of beneficial event is not affected by orientation, race, age discrepancy, or religious beliefs.  There are a couple of very rare exceptions when a wedding can provide negative energy, but that usually is directly connected to the health of the celebrated couple’s relationship.  For example, one part of the couple decides to abandon the other at the altar.  This is not usually good, and not a cause for celebration.   Another example would be if the couple is being coerced into matrimony under some kind of duress.   Rare events like this can attract  sha (negative chi) into the environment.   According to The Huffington Post, this specific location of the sushi chain has closed down, and a law suit is in place.  To read more about it, take a look at the article here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/new-york-sushi-restaurant-gay-feng-shui_n_1893747.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003.

In October, I attended an amazing wedding celebration of my dear friends Tracy Clifton and Michael Pierce.   I was really impressed by the feng shui elements they brought to the ceremony and following reception.  They chose to have their wedding at The Vineyards, an event location in the foothills of Simi Valley.  Currently it is being used primary for weddings, and will be in operation as a winery  in a couple of years when their grape harvests reach full maturity.  The nuptials were  held in the Vineyards’ lavish garden, where the five elements were in full harmonious play.   A beautiful waterfall brought in flowing water energy, while healthy, nurturing trees and plants were the perfect backdrop of thriving wood.  An ornate gazebo of scrolled flourishes acted as a metal canopy over the wedding party.  The earth was present in the form of garden soil and the lovely walkway (pictured below).  As for fire, that was evident in the sun’s rays gently landing on everyone.   The ceremony was one of the best I’ve ever attended, being extremely honest and heartfelt.  As well as writing their own vows, poetry was also read by various members of the wedding party.  When one’s own writing, or writing they deeply connect to, is introduced into a ceremony, it adds a beneficial wood element to the ritual.  Wood is the creative element that feeds fire, thus these personal words are feeding the fire here of love and passion.  The union was officiated by Tracy’s cousin, Tom McElroy, a Christian Science Practitioner.  The wedding party and a couple of guest can be seen in the photo above (that’s me in the brown hat).

After the ceremony, everyone made their way to the Sunset Room, where the reception was to be held.  The main building of The Vineyards has many elaborate touches I really liked, including the grand wooden staircase.  Elegantly carved, it added an auspicious sense of luxury to the entry hall.  I also liked the carpet throughout.  Golden leaves on a background of chocolate brown.  Earthy in color, this is a great example of bringing outside energy to the indoors.

The theme for the wedding was Old Children’s Books.  Not only did I think this a very novel approach (pun intended), It was yet another example of the creative wood element of books and writing.  This permeated the event in highly favorable ways.  Each table was named after a different literary work.   My table (which, I have to say, was the most lively of the gathering-not that I’m biased) was Where the Sidewalk Ends.  As party favors, each guest received a small matchbox filled with magnetic poetry, which brought out creative wood energy in everyone.  I also liked the thought that was taken as to where each guest would sit.  Everyone at each table seemed to get along famously, adding to the prosperous energy of the day.

Each table had a lovely centerpiece made from old books, vintage book paper, and flowers.  My friends Kristy and Zach graciously posed behind it.  As an avid reader, I love books.  One common misconception about books in feng shui is that they should never be stored in the bedroom.  Many consultants feel that the creative energy put into process of writing books can damage the occupant’s ability to rest.  I disagree with this.  If space is limited, or one is sharing a home with roommates, books can indeed be stored in the bedroom.  It is just a matter of how.  A proper bookcase should be used and placed away from headboard and bed.  No one wants books falling on them while they slumber (those headboards with bookcases in them should be removed promptly; they’re no good).  If possible, one should get a bookcase or cabinet with doors, to “conceal” the books.  And never put books under the bed.  This can negatively affect the health and romance of those who sleep there.  I have two bookcases in my bedroom, but they are not close to the bed, kept free of dust, and artfully arranged by author.

Rather than use real flowers for the bridal party bouquets, Tracy went with a more literary alternative:  paper bouquets made from vintage book paper.  I believe she had them specially made from a craftsman on Etsy.com  I will have to find out and update this information at a later date.

The view from the Sunset Room was absolutely sublime.  Lazy clouds lingered casually over a residential area of Simi Valley.  It had rained earlier in the day, long before the ceremony.  According to many different traditions including Hinduism, rain on one’s wedding day is a sign of prosperity and fertility.  Others feel it is the tears of God blessing the marriage.  From a feng shui perspective, rain on the day of the event is very auspicious!  Not a lot, mind you, but enough to add a little water influence to the festivities.  Water is the source of all life on Earth, and rain on the happy day adds a prosperous, stable element to the life of the marriage.   Rain also alters the physical environment of the sky, which can enhance photography for the event  (such as the clouds pictured above).  And, an umbrella can make for an endearing photo prop.

And then there was the tantalizing meal!  Rather than having servers maneuver plates of food around guests, Benni and Tracy chose to have a buffet  (We call Michael by his nickname, Benni, because of his love for the comedian Benny Hill).   The food, deserts, and appetizers were provided by Dave’s Catering and Event Planning.  Every morsel was a taste in heavenly perfection.  The filet mignon was tender and succulent.  The butternut squash lasagna captivated everyone.  The chicken cordon bleu melted in one’s mouth.  All of the appetizers were also sinfully good.  My favorites were the sliders (I think made of turkey?), Caprese skewers, and this little item to the left.  Mouthwatering ahi nestled into a little won ton shell and topped with wasabi mayo.  I could have eaten them all day (I consumed at least a dozen).   Rather than go with the traditional wedding cake, the couple opted to go with cake pops of varying flavors.  They also had chocolate covered strawberries, and these amazing mini cheesecake bites (pictured below).  For more information on Dave’s Catering, and some purely intoxicating recipes, one can visit their website and blog here:    http://davescatering.wordpress.com/

Another important aspect to any wedding that I have yet to mention is the dancing.  I feel dancing at weddings is extremely vital.  It speaks to a more tribal element of loved ones coming together in celebration, and adds a wonderful yang energy to the gathering.  The dance floor was situated underneath an elaborate chandelier (pictured at top).  I was quite impressed by some of the humorous and talented dance moves exhibited by my friends and other guests.  I, too, shook my tail feather a bit.  As for the chi of this specific wedding and reception, I would have to say they were both highly auspicious.  These were the perfect inaugural events to further Tracy and Benni on a lifetime of prosperity, love, and abundance.  I wish them all the best in the world, and may their lives be continually auspicious.

*Chandelier photo courtesy of  E. Osbaldeston.  Ceremony photo courtesy of J. Sosta.

Wine: An Old School Perspective

On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I was introduced to an unusually captivating wine merchant known as Municipal Winemakers.   While I was waiting for my friends to arrive, I grabbed a glass of their robust MCS, and perused my surroundings.  The tasting hall here promotes comfort in an artistic and environmentally-conscious fashion.  A large warehouse door (pictured above) opens up to the outside world letting in light and fresh ocean air. Surplus wine bottles and tasting glasses are stored in upcycled file cabinets. The seating is a mixture of reclaimed wood benches, padded folding chairs and classic science lab stools.  Bookshelves constructed of wooden crates are laden with 1980’s textbooks and vintage high school trophies.  One of the many items that captured my attention was the illustrious chandelier (pictured below).  This is actually constructed using a wine bottle washer, which is the large metal frame holding all the bottles in place.   Lovely and enigmatic, this piece is a wonderful example of water, metal and fire elements.  This also helps to counteract the negative influence of the beams present.  I am not a fan of exposed beams in any environment.  From a feng shui standpoint, they create negative influences in health and relationships.  The fastest way to alter the beams here would be to paint them and the ceiling the same color; thus making them symbolically disappear into the ether.  However, the various lighting in the space helps to soften the unfavorable effects of the beams.

On the right we have a more detailed image of the wine bottle chandelier.  On the left are the metal lanterns inscribed with Dan’s in primary red, which hang about most of the ceiling.  My guess is they reclaimed them from somewhere, but I’ve no idea where.

The momentous piece of art above is actually raised a bit, encompassing paint and other materials.  The gold pieces in the ore are shards of brass veneer from vintage high school sports trophies.  From a feng shui perspective, the environment at Municipal captures most of the five elements beautifully:

  • Wood –The art hanging about the walls, and the plants located directly outside.
  • Fire – The nostalgic wood-burning stove situated in one corner of the room.
  • Metal – The art, tables,chairs, chandelier, roof, and file cabinets.
  • Earth –  The rich colors of browns, grays, and earthy reds.
  • Water – The glass bottles, the horse painting in the bathroom, and the blue and slate gray hues.

Now while the metal, water, and fire elements are displayed here quite well, the room is lacking a little wood and earth energy for my liking.  Even though they have a lot of wonderful wood furniture – which is best material for furniture in my opinion – it cannot be considered a wood element because the wood is dead.  However, the sheer amount of art from various craftsmen, displayed around the environment, helps to foster the creative wood energy.  As for earth, the main examples here are in the form of different colors.  But I do love the classic globe perched atop one of the file cabinets.  So here symbolically, the earth is also present.

And now on to the wine.   I sampled six delicious wines, and fell for each one of them:

  • 2011 Bright White – an arid riesling with hints of tart citrus.  Perfect for a summer day.
  • 2011 Sweetness Reisling – Sweet and clandestine, this white wine has an alluring bouquet with hints of honey and orange.  Intoxicating.
  • 2011 Rose – A refreshing, subtly sugared beverage.   Cool and crisp.
  • 2010 Bright Red – An amazing classic red blend with strong hints of dried herbs and cranberry.  It reminded me of good holidays past.
  • 2010 Grenache – Chocolate nuances abound in this rich and robust elixir.  A must for any red wine aficionado.
  • 2010 MCS – My favorite of the group.  A complex blend of Mouvedre, Carignane, and Syrah grapes.  This is a bold and brazen red that will make your head turn.  A bottle of this came home with me, and I’m saving it for a special occasion.

In addition to their retro-esque decor, another aspect I love about Municipal are the hours.   The tasting room is open from 11:00 to 6:00 daily – where as most tasting rooms close at 5:00.  And on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they stop tastings promptly at 6:00, but remain open until 11:00, transforming into a wine bar!   Wine, by either the glass or bottle, is available to drink on the premises.  Pre-made cheese plates from C’est Cheese are available if one is feeling peckish, and classic board games lie about for one’s leisure  (A very studious couple was playing chess in the corner)  Unlike my other wine adventures, I visited Municipal twice in one weekend.  I experienced the wine bar environment on Friday night, and then returned Sunday afternoon for tastings.  They also offer free local delivery to patrons who arrive on a bicycle.  The metropolitan class of Municipal Winemakers will leave you with a feeling of warmth and abundance.  I’m very much looking forward to my next visit.

Municipal Winemakers Tasting Room

22 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101

805 931-6864

Hours:  Open Daily from 11:00 – 6:00,  Wine Bar:  Thursday – Saturday 6:00 – 11:00

http://www.municipalwinemakers.com/

How to Choose a Dining Table

Once upon a time, in an age before the term TV Dinner was coined, people actually had most of their meals in a room devoted to dining:  The Dining Room.   Can you imagine that?  All kidding aside, due to our fast-paced modern world, most of us rarely have time to sit down with our loved ones around a large table and catch up over food at home.  The Dining Room in feng shui is one of the most important rooms in the home that often gets overlooked.  For example, most condos and apartments do not have a separate dining room, but a dining area or breakfast nook.  Not having a separate dining area is neither good or bad, it’s what one does with the dining space that is important.

There are many aspects to the dining room that need attention, but the one we’re going to look at today is the star attraction of any dining room – the dining table.  A round or oval table is considered to be the best by feng shui guidelines, as the smooth flow of the curves can be relaxing to the diner.  Square and rectangular are tables are not as good; the harsh corners can affect how people interact within the space negatively.  Also, children (and some adults) can bump into the sharp corners, causing pain.   Two ways to fix the “harsh corners” would be to select a table with softened or rounded edges.  The other way is to put a tablecloth on the table.

In feng shui, we generally like  some open space in the middle of each room or area.  One of the few exceptions to this is in the dining room.  The table should be placed within the direct center of the room (or close to it) with enough space for each guest to move from seating to standing position around the table and not bump into anything.  If you have more of an open floor plan with a dining area rather than a separate room, try looking for a light source – such as a chandelier or ceiling light.  The table would then be placed underneath it, with the light over the center of the table.  Enclosed dining rooms should have a light source as well; this can help in finding the best location for the table.

Below are some examples of the best tables I could find currently for purchase, and all of them are under $250.00 (shipping and taxes excluded).

The Svalbo table from Ikea is an excellent choice.  Although it is more rectangular in shape, the corners have been completely rounded, making it more harmonious for any room.  Also, it comes in unfinished pine, which can be left as is, or finished to one’s desire.  Four sturdy legs support the table top, and an extra leaf is included, so the table may accommodate four to six people.

Another Ikea option is the Liatorp.  Curves abound in this charming white table that can easily blend into most environments.   A pedestal base acts as support, with an extra leaf for additional table space, altering the circle to more of an oval.  Both of the pieces above are available at Ikea.com.

Amazon Tables 01

Amazon.com also has a few choice selections.  From International Concepts comes their Dual Drop Leaf Table (left).  Ideal for apartments, this little table has two leaves that fold down, as well as softened edges all around.  The item also comes unfinished.   The Light Oak Dining Table (right) from Winsome Wood is also a great piece.  In addition to the two drop leaves, the legs fold inward, making it perfect to store away if need be.

Another example is the Brannan Pedestal Dining Table by Coaster.  The elegant curves and ideal size make this a classic table for any home.  Available in Cappuccino (pictured) or Dark Oak.

And for those who are in need of extra storage space, the Cottage Drop Leaf Table by TMS comes with two large square shelves in the support base of this round table.   The shelving here would be an ideal storage space for table linens or pottery.  All four of the above mentioned tables can be found at Amazon.com

Home and Living.com is an excellent online source for furniture, and they offer free shipping for most of their items.  The Rich Cappuccino Table is an excellent choice if one is looking for a more oval table with a contemporary feel.  And, for those who want a more rectangular table, The Cappuccino Finish Dining Table (below) is another prime selection, with its softened corners and beautiful finish.

I have perhaps neglected the most important thing when selecting a good dining table.  It’s important that you like your selection.  If you purchase a dining table that you’re not thrilled about, chances are you will rarely use the table.  Stay on the lookout for my article on how to select the best dining chair, which will be posted shortly.