The creative process is such a funny thing. When I started conceptualizing this shoot, I didn’t have a certain venue in mind. As the design started falling into place, and I realized what size room I needed, and what aspects would make a difference. I decided to take on Marble Hall at the VMFA. This is a very challenging space as the there are several rules, it’s a public venue, the logistics are tough, and the room is a certain shade of pink.
When I design, I create atmospheres. I want people to experience something that they won’t experience anywhere else. I love interactive events, with unexpected details with people who are actually part of the decor. Humans are so fascinating. When you combine that with art and strong logistics it creates a great experience.
I am a huge believer that even the best plan is only as good as it is executed. Serpentine tables have traditionally been used for buffets. They are finally making their way into the design space, but not without some challenges. Standard linens don’t fit on serpentine tables. Traditionally you would drape a linen over the table and secure a pleated skirt with clips around the edges. Personally I find that tacky as hell. It reminds me of my childhood brunches at The Officers Club with my family. I searched trying to find a better solution. The better solution was to have them custom made to fit. Party Perfect was more than accommodating with my outlandish requests. They contacted their supplied and had them whipped up in no time. With the linen situation figured out we needed to set the table. The idea was to have the dancers dance along the length of the table, almost as it it were a runway. The tables were not secure enough for this, so static dancers was our next best option. (If we had a client who wanted the runway dancers we would ensure the tables were secure enough.)
Being as we didn’t rely heavily on florals for this table it was up to the catering team to bring it in. I was so impressed by Groovin Gourmet’s presentation. I wanted to tie in the Russian aspect of the ballet and the Faberge Eggs with the tablescape. The vision was as guests sit down they are presented with a cracker spoon, caviar, and a shot of vodka. Apparently the cracker spoons that were originally ordered didn’t come out as they had hoped. The chef took it upon himself to create a cracker batter and hand mold each individual spoon. This is the importance of vendors who pay attention to detail, understand the minutia, and do what it takes to get the job done. They plated the handmade cracker spoons with caviar on a bed of micro greens. The little splash of color just popped.
Historically chair covers get a bad rap. You should have seen the face of some of the vendors when I told them I was using chair covers. Chair covers have a place in low budget weddings when they are used to cover banquet chairs, but also in luxury events when they are used to add an additional layer of design. I really love them, the luxury ones. The table always looks so pretty, the linens look great, but once the guests sit in the chairs you can’t see any of it anymore. When you add this additional level of decor the table still has life, even when guests are seated. There are a handful of companies that create these high end chair covers. These came from one my favorite rental companies, Wild Flower Linens.
The second table was a design challenge as well, but in a different way. We used serpentine tables here too, but we put them in a circle. The inspiration here was a jewelry box. If you were a little girl in the 80s you probably had the ballerina jewelry box. It was the one that when you opened it, it played music, and the dancer spun around. We did not get custom linens made for these tables. There was a lot of strategic draping and clipping of things. The box that the dancer is standing on is actually a cross fit box stood on it’s end. We needed something that was table height, but was also strong enough to hold the weight of a person. The florals cascaded into the inner circle like a waterfall and really added some additional interest.
The sweetheart table was a floral showpiece. I felt like we had done several features of linens, chair covers, etc. and we needed a new textile. I asked Bron if he know how to make a floral skirt. Of course he did, and off to the design board he went. I had a piece of glass balanced on a table. This of course was treacherous as we had to make sure that the glass was strong enough and had enough support to not crack. All of those math classes throughout school I swore I would never use again, yea we used it here. We anchored the glass by one of Bron’s signature topiaries, and draped silk chiffon off the table and let it puddle on the floor.
The cake was a sculptured masterpiece. Sweetfix hand carved a large faberge egg to sit on top of the cake. When you open certain faberge eggs there is usually something very pretty on the inside. It may be a gorgeous interior or an actual trinket. The cut out on the large tier of the cake is a representation of that. The cake was displayed on one of our chasing unicorns tables. I found this table online and had to have it. It took a few weeks of sanding and painting, but I think it turned out just right.
The gown was custom made by House of Laposh. We wanted to be a bit playful with the ballet, but still bring the drama. This would be a bride that loves to push a few limits and is a ton of fun. The festival inspired makeup and glitter makes this event a bit less serious. I envision this bride being of a certain upbringing, but bending the rules just a bit to make it better fit her personality and style. The groom was wearing a traditional white tie tuxedo, however he was adorned with a large sash of greenery.
This shoot had several elements and an A-team of vendors. To see more about the inspiration behind the shoot check out our feature on Wedding Chicks.
I do have a disclaimer. I wrote the post for Wedding Chicks and apparently I was one Tsar Alexander off. The correct Tsar is Alexander III.
The vendors on this team were strategically selected for their area of genius. They are some of the best in the market for this style of event.
Here is a behind the scenes video showing the set up behind the images:
Nails: Sojheata Niang
Box for Dancer:
Lighting and Draping:
Let me know what ya think.