Flower Arrangements for a Big Party
An auspicious event deserves fresh flowers. Decorating for a banquet is quite different from creating a single arrangement! It is a marathon of repetitive actions with a looming deadline. It is a performance for a crowd, which can be a triumph, a tragedy, or just plain boring. Proper planning and efficiency are essential to making the event planning happy for everyone. Creativity and exciting design play an essential role. Here is a checklist for flower-arranging for good times for a big celebration.
Coordinate with the venue management. Try to get access to the venue at least a day early.
Plan on spending an entire day. It takes hours to assemble twenty or thirty centerpieces.
There should be one design leader directing the team, with a clear understanding that workers check in before doing any ad hoc decorating activities.
Use a crew of three to five. Too many people slow the work through interruptions and blocked circulation paths.
Have a plan you can communicate easily to volunteers, with the right jobs geared to the right people. A separate, written set of instructions for each helper helps things go smoothly.
You will be coordinating with other teams—the table setting team, the band, and the food service. Try to stay out of their way, and wait until they have a complete table set before adding arrangements. Flexibility in accommodating other teams is really important. As much as you would like to hope others respect and appreciate the flowers at a banquet, realize many people see floral decoration as a frill—not an essential part of the event.
Plan and organize the move in and the move out. The cleanup process is hectic and fast-paced. Items get lost, broken, or inadvertently thrown away. The design leader needs to continue providing strong direction to the very end of the cleanup process.
Flower walls can be wasteful and cumbersome, but an attractive backdrop for pictures is a must in these days of selfies. Try to keep the fresh flower embellishment on backdrops to a minimum. You do not need to carpet the entire surface with blooms. You can use flowers as an accent feature to powerful effect.
It is easy to spend huge amounts of money. Don’t try to impress with sheer volume or size. A good design uses components in an effective, well-organized, resourceful way. Less is more!
Save money by using greenery growing in the back yard. Test what you have to see how long it remains fresh in a vase. It is surprising how well some everyday foliage performs in arrangements.
Don’t substitute new gimmicks for clever design. Test new ideas prior to the event to be sure your decorations will work seamlessly with the event activities.
Plan on creating a mess. Bring water, finger food, clippers, garbage bags, sheets, scissors, tape, brooms, dustpans, towels, a dust buster, a table crumb-er, a small watering can, ribbon, wire, and beeswax.
Take breaks to hydrate, keep up your energy, and to assess your progress.
Plan on glass vases, flowers, and decorative items being damaged. Have a couple of extras in case of breakage.
Carry tall, narrow cylindrical vases from the bottom rather than the top edge. The sheer weight of water and plant material will easily crack a thin vase.
Mark decorative items and vases to prevent losing them. Save precious keepsakes for personal use.
Use roll around carts or wagons for moving items.
Put down drop cloths or sheets for easy clean up.
Candles should be pre-lit for easy lighting before the event.
Secure candles in their holders, and have plenty of beeswax to keep them plumb. Vase bottoms and candle holders are not always flat and some handy wax can save the day. It is quick and easy.
Secure all vases so they won’t spill or fall if the tables are bumped.
Try to set up a large work table inside the venue to cut stems, strip foliage, and arrange flowers.
Use lightly-scented or non-fragrant plant material and candles. A banquet is a meal, and strong odors can conflict with the food.
Water is your enemy. Try to avoid water damage to tablecloths and menus, brochures by using foam mechanics without excess water in containers. Add water carefully with a precision watering can very carefully after designs are in place.
Pre-condition and pre-groom flowers. Store them loosely in a cool, shady area in five-gallon buckets or tall containers, to keep the taller stems from bending.
Make sure all the bugs have found a new outdoor home before transporting flowers to the venue. Banquet food and bugs are not a good combo. Remove most of the debris on stems before placing them in buckets.
Use roses which will be open by the time of the event. Roses are purchased in tight bud and open to full beauty with time. They are much more luxurious when fully open.
Hydrangeas are popular right now, but they have a very short life span. Put them in designs no earlier than the day before the event, and check them prior to the event to replace wilted flowers.
Listen to the event organizer and follow their wishes. You can work with them to tweak ideas for a more efficient, realistic plan, but don’t go rogue on the design. Run everything past them before executing the plan.
Pre-assemble what you can off site. Set up a unit module system if possible, so design components can be moved and rearranged easily to suit the configuration of the tables.
Keep table designs low to allow diners to make eye contact while talking.
The use of Eiffel Tower vases or tall, narrow cylindrical vases topped by a starburst arrangement is popular, because diners can see around the narrow vases. They can be top-heavy, so take care to secure them properly.
Floor arrangements at entrances or near the speaker’s podium can provide drama without obscuring sight lines.
Floral designs on food-service tables should yield most of the table-top real estate to the dishes.
Design the arrangements and then re-visit them at least a few hours later to evaluate the designs. It is surprising how well a break from the chaos can clear your mind and help you see flaws.
Have fun. Enjoy the party mood. Be a part of the celebration and it will elevate your creativity.