Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Candlelit Event

Yet another fabulous installation from the very creative ladies at Branching Out. This time they transformed a formal vintage ballroom in an historic hotel into a hip lounge. Because of the size of the guest list (480) a sit down dinner was out of the question. Instead the ballroom, lobby and veranda were turned into one massive cocktail space with tables and banquets. The guests were served seven courses as passed hors deouvers and danced the night away to two different bands.

In all, over 500 candle were used to create an amazing ambiance. Beginning with luminaries outside the church and ending with candle lit stairways for the getaway, the entire evening was a-flicker.

Can’t we all agree that everyone looks better in candlelight?

Edited to add:

One of the reasons I started this blog is to show the real world behind the beautiful events in life. Well I got to thinking that this is one of those times. The photo and the description above is indeed what the bride and her guests experienced. This is what they didn’t see:

This was the day of the possessed candles. From the beginning they refused to behave. It started at the church. We had 4 candelabrums, 2 3’ tall and 2 4’ tall with mechanical candles all from the rental company. The taller ones were fitted with bowls in the center to hold flower arrangements of freesia, stocks, hydrangea, Casablanca lilies and vendala roses. Unfortunately the candles were 13” and they should have been 15” or more, so the tip of the candles nestled perfectly in the middle of the floral arrangement. Great; flowers were trimmed or remove to prevent forest fires. That however was the least of our worries. The damn things fit funny and kept leaping out of the candle holders. Not falling mind you, LEAPING! Each time with a resounding CRASH as these metal monsters hit out glass table tops. Again, great. That doesn’t account for the one that seemed more possessed than the others; something was wrong with the locking mechanism that keeps the sleeve on the holder. At random times and for no apparent reason the lock would fail sending the spring loaded cover flying like a demented missile. This was the scene as we tried to finish the rest of the décor: place a flower, catch a candle, leave message for the rental company, duck to avoid missile. This was repeated quite a few times. Eventually 3 rolls of florist tape, a lick and a prayer later and the décor was finished. Yet another save the day moment. We still haven’t heard from the rental company.

On to the reception venue and the votive candles from hell. First off any time you are planning on using over 500 candles on an event you know what you are up against. At this particular venue there is a ledge surrounding the entry stair. The ledge is marble and there is an ever so slight downward angle to it. Because of its location it can only be reached by hanging over the edge of the railing above to place the candles. We have done this many times and knew it was a big job but didn’t foresee any problems. Silly us, we should have known better.

We placed all 150 candles on the ledge and the minute we turned our back they turned on us. As I said we have done this many times before, but never in January. Something about the winds outside and the air pressure was causing them to move each time the doors would open sending random glass votice holders crashing anywhere from 4’ to 10’ to the marble floor below. Well holy leaping flames Batman!!! You can’t have guests arriving at a 5 Diamond hotel being pelted with flaming hot wax and shattering glass. Off come the candles. Ya think? We distributed then around the venue and began the tedious task of lighting all these things.

That is until we told the event planner. She was not about to loose the lovely detail of a candlelit entrance. Say what? Hon you can’t really expect us to bomb the guests like invaders storming the walls of a citadel. Apparently she did.

By now we had started the task of lighting all 500 plus candles at the hotel when the call comes in saying that the hotel had been contacted and they would indeed have to allow us to put the damn things back on the ledge. Quick blow out the candles you have lit so the wax will harden and they can be moved---back to the ledge. Still possessing some semblance of sanity we insisted that we would only place them on the very nearest 1/3 of the ledge, the section farthest from the draft.

That’s when the event planner called from the church…

“The church lady won’t let us light the candles”

“Why Not”

“She says they will drip on the altar”

“No they won’t, they are mechanical candles.”

“She doesn’t care. She won’t let us light them until you get back here and wrap the altar in saran wrap”

“Do what?”

“You heard me. She is demanding that you wrap the altar in saran wrap or we can’t light the candles”

“Oh sure why not I have absolutely NOTHING better to do.”

Off half the team went to custom wrap an altar across town.

Of course it turned out to be the beautiful event you see above, but never believe that it didn’t have its trails.

It’s all just on a days work.

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