Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't Forget Your Mask!

For an Eastern Shore college, what’s a better way to celebrate the school’s anniversary then with a huge blow out for the students, alum, faculty, and staff?

One thing I find to be very cool about this event is that the current students get to pick the theme. For previous themes they have had A Night at the Ritz, NY Club, and more. Last year the theme was Venetian Masquerade.

What I love about this event is that I really get to be creative with the floor plan and décor. The event takes place in the school’s field house. So, I have a very plain pallet to work with.

Because of the size of this event, we start setting up on Thursday. The event isn’t until Saturday! To start, I bring in 650’ of pipe & drape to run around the perimeter of the room. This hides the ugliness of the actually facility. It is an oversized sports complex.

Next, theatrical lighting is installed. There is a large truss structure that is built and flown from the ceiling to light the main event side of the room. For the bar, light trees are constructed to provide a wash of light. While the décor for the event really does bring another element of “WOW” to the night, the lighting is really what does it.

For the décor, let’s start with the bar area.

A 24’ square bar is built using 6’ tables. In the center of the bar, a large decorative display is built. For this theme, we went with a 3’ tall water fountain surrounded by ferns and other greens in gold urns. For an even bigger “POP” the display sat on top of a table to give it more height. The whole display sat about 6’ tall.

Twenty-five cocktail tables are placed sporadically around the bar area. The tables are dressed in linens whose colors compliment the theme. We alternated colors using burgundy and gold linens. For the cocktail tables centerpieces, they are very simple. We used small bubble bowls and square vases. In the vases were colored gems (gold on burgundy linen and burgundy on gold linen) and flowers. To make them sparkle a little more, small submersible LED light were placed in the vases to give them a nice glow.

Off to the main event room!

When I think of a Masquerade Ball, I see long rows of tables for guests to sit at. So, that’s exactly how I designed the floor plan. Again, the table linen alternated in color by row. The colors were burgundy and gold fuchsia. The style of linen that was picked is known as “galaxy.” I LOVE THIS LINEN! The best way to describe the linen is “crushed silk.” The sheen of the silk allows light to bounce off the linen and the crush gives a great texture.

For centerpieces, we had a total of 3 different ones. Centerpiece #1 consisted of varying masquerade masks with decorative ting and accents in an ornamental base. Centerpiece #2 and #3 were two different styles of candelabras.

The 10-piece band played on a 16’ x 32’ stage. The stage was dressed with a 20’ tall by 40’ wide Venetian themed, hand-airbrushed backdrop.

If all that weren’t enough, a 42’ square, black and white checkered dance floor sat right in front of the stage. Talk about WOW!

Each year, a large marquee piece is hung from the lighting truss directly over the center of the dance floor. I saved this for last because it was my favorite part and there are two reasons for that: reason #1 – it was really cool; reason #2 – I am the one the came up with the concept!

What we constructed was a 5’ wide by 7’ tall picture box. On each side of the box was an ornate picture frame with the image of a Venetian mask in it. Hanging below the picture box was a 4’ in diameter chandelier.

The chandelier I was lucky enough to find at a local prop house. As for the picture box, that had to be constructed from scratch. The frames were built in our warehouse. You can imagine my excitement when the first frame was completed. I was actually up on the worktable working of the frame and when the last screw was in place, I actually started dancing on the table to the music we had blaring in the background. It was such an awesome feeling to see my idea come to life!

I sure hope you find this event as awesome as I did! I can’t wait to start planning for next years and share all the details with you. I already have a ton of really cool ideas running through my head!

Cheers, -Vicki

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