We have a bride-to-be that doesn’t love her venue. Whereas she dreamed of a traditional romantic ballroom, her fiancée leaned toward industrial modern. He won (and more power to her for practicing compromise which sure comes in handy in any relationship!), so the bride has asked Vibrant Table to help her transform the event space into something closer to her vision. It’s her big day, and she deserves to have her dream wedding.
Before we even begin the rest of her decor, we’re draping the entire perimeter of the nearly 7,000 square foot ballroom to hide the raw brick walls. Then comes the rest, which includes ribbons, flower arrangements, and lighting. Don’t get us wrong, we pride ourselves on transformative event designs and LOVE these challenges, but weddings and events are expensive. If you have room in the budget, then great, but we find most hosts carefully monitor those dollars and cents.
work with the venue’s canvas
Assuming that the vast majority of our clients will find a venue that works for all parties involved, one of the best ways to optimize your budget is to choose floral and decor that enhances the provided canvas. Although tension between seemingly juxtaposed elements can become a dynamic part of your event decor, it generally takes more resources to make this tension work successfully. Complementing the venue, on the other hand, provides a cohesive backdrop with minimal effort.
Vibrant Table and Vibrant Flowers have prepared a few best practices to help you choose floral and decor that works with your selected venue, no matter the type of event.
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Botanicals are an essential feature of any event. Organic elements add life to a space and help ground it. While weddings will generally include more florals, even corporate and non-profit clients will benefit from having some organic elements at their events.
Full arrangements of garden blooms work very well in the traditional ballroom and anything goes – white peonies and roses, cascading tropical orchids, or bright local blooms. Table centerpieces can be tall or low (but don’t block your guests’ view) and the containers be a wide range of styles and materials, i.e. gold candelabras, clustered glass pillars, or a single geometric vase. Corporate clients benefit from focusing their floral budgets on large arrangements to decorate important stations, such as the buffet or bar, and then choose simple table centerpieces with only a few flower types or even single floating blooms. Wedding clients can save by incorporating the same flowers used in the bridal bouquets to take advantage of bulk savings.
Is your venue modern-chic with exposed raw surfaces? Choose a floral container made of industrial materials. Think wrought iron candelabras, brushed silver, or cement plinths. Sculptural botanicals like succulents, branches, or clustered single blooms complement the minimalist backdrop. In bridal bouquets, incorporate textural elements that surprise, like billy balls or pin cushion prodia. Consider using metallic ribbon to add a touch of raw element.
GARDENS & VINEYARDS
Floral arrangements can get lost in outdoor event spaces, so if you’re going to have them, it’s generally best to have few, but go big, and be selective about placement. If you need to section a special area, for example, consider potted trees or topiaries. For weddings, focus your efforts on the ceremony area. Flank the altar with two impressive arrangements (large blooms fill better), decorate the arch with hanging pomanders, and highlight the aisle with small arrangements and petals. An outdoor space can handle any theme from tropical paradise to country kitchen, but try to work with the landscape provided. If pink hydrangeas and peonies abound at your venue, then yellow sunflowers and gingham might not be the best choice.
Lighting adds drama to your venue and focuses the eye. First, take advantage of natural light. Placing event areas where they will be sunlit reduces the need for additional lighting. Brides and grooms, if your photographer is familiar with the venue, consult them about best locations for the head table. Second, highlight the functional elements of your event such as bars, food stations, entertainment, and dance floor. At outdoor venues, marking pathways to the restroom and parking lot is an important safety precaution at evening events. You can turn lighting on and off throughout the event to draw guests to where you want them – like moths to a candle! If there’s room in the budget, uplight walls, pillars, or interesting architectural elements to create height. Pale backgrounds can take any colored gel lighting and completely transform the feel of the room. For darker walls, color can get lost, making the white light the go-to option. If you’ve invested in beautiful floral, pinspotting arrangements on tables creates a jaw-dropping effect.
Drapery turns positive spaces into negative. We’re not draping every single wall here, we’re carefully using drape to direct focus and optimize space. For weddings, drape is a classic way to frame the ceremony space. It also hides eyesores, such as an unattractive wall behind the head table or service areas at venues that don’t have extra space for your caterers. At corporate and nonprofit events, it can create VIP spaces, mark entryways, or close off-limit areas.
What are creative ways you’ve incorporated a venue’s qualities into your event decor or theme? Are you an event or wedding planner; what tricks do you have for bringing out a venue’s best attributes? Tell us in the comments below!
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As always, we are indebted to the photographers that share there work with us. They make us look good! These artists contributed to this blog:
- April Greer – Header image of Lan Su Chinese Garden
- Evrim Icoz Photography – French garden at the Portland Art Museum and post-apocolyptic ballroom, also at the Portland Art Museum
- Soul Mates Photo – Wedding at Zenith Vineyard
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