Just Because It’s Modest Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Be MODIFIED!Nicole Sparks
Just Because It’s Modest Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Be MODIFIED! In the past, we’ve highlighted an assortment of “over-the-top” ideas for venues to set your event apart – from destination locations to famous pop culture landmarks. After all, who DOESN’T want that fairy tale setting for their special day?!? However, not everyone has a “Hollywood” budget available for their wedding, anniversary, birthday or other noteworthy occasion. And even if you CAN afford a lavish setting, you still face the daunting task of putting your personal imprint on the venue. Sure, you may HAVE scored the sumptuous “Pretty Woman” hotel or picturesque “Groundhog Day” inn, but your event theming needs to extend BEYOND simply booking a unique location.
Regardless of WHERE you decide to hold your event, when planning any affair it’s always a good idea to remember the Gustave Flaubert quote: “God is in the details!” Even famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe took this quote to heart when creating his enduring buildings and Bauhaus-style furnishings… so much so, he is frequently (erroneously) credited with this quote! And as you plan your event, you would be wise to take this counsel in your execution. ESPECIALLY if you have a “modest” budget and venue!
Think back to your prom or homecoming… the theme was EVERYTHING! Coupled with miniscule funds available to transform the school cafeteria or student lounge, creativity ruled the day. And you can take a page from those earlier days when planning YOUR event. Just as you had to transform those “less-than-glamorous” sites into magical wonderlands, you still face a similar task with your selected event venue.
Even if the location is dripping with crystal chandeliers and silk wallpaper, it’s STILL a blank canvas! Granted, a fancy “canvas” but an empty box waiting for your personal theme touches. Now, HERE is where you can shine, if your chosen venue may lack that “je ne sais quoi” usually associated with pricier venues. With a little imagination, you can perform the ultimate metamorphosis of even the most humble space! It’s possible to transport your guests into the magical world of your choosing – with the proper attention to those “details.” And, the BEST part? These modifications are not necessarily limited by a “modest” budget!
For example: Your obsession with all things “retro” can carry through into your entire event. If you have a fond spot for those bygone days of bobby socks, poodle skirts and saddle shoes, transform your space with vinyl records, a few vintage items from the era and themed foods. You could even have a “soda fountain” – complete with “soda jerks” – staged as your bar and/or appetizer station. Most food and beverage staff or venue-approved vendors will gladly accommodate specific wardrobe requests… and usually enjoy the chance to be a part of the fun scene you set!
Or perhaps your preferred era is a few decades later. A glitter ball and a few “period” tchotchkes – like disco whistles and famous pin-ups from the 70s – is all it takes to recreate those Studio 54 days. Of course, with ANY period you may choose, the music should play a major role in creating your vision. Complementary foods and beverages can also set the proper mood, and many of these “period” menu items usually fall on the lower end of most catering menu prices. Win-win!!!
If your tastes happen to be more “locale” centered, don’t despair. Some tiki torches, tropical silk plants in pots, exotic drinks and flowers, and thatch accents, can go a long way in bringing a little piece of Polynesia to any venue. Perhaps the “glitz and glamour” of Las Vegas are more your style. No problem! Whether it’s classic “Rat Pack” Vegas or the modern entertainment mecca it has become, you have a VAST array of décor options. Think dice, neon, glitter and stunning buffets (which are also more cost-effective than seated meal service).
None of these mentioned items will make too big of a dent in your budget, either. Spend some time visiting thrift stores, vintage shops and “dollar” stores to find those “special touches” to add to your venue. And, depending upon your financial resources, any theme can also be enhanced with some affordable – and innovative – additions. Custom-printed artwork and photos are more affordable than you may realize. Decorate your walls with scenes from any location or time you desire. And, for those REAL “wow” moments, consider allocating a portion of your modest budget for just ONE big “show-stopper.”
Looking to recreate a specific era? How about having a classic car from that era IN THE ROOM as your “centerpiece!” Most cities and towns have one or more clubs devoted to auto enthusiasts, many of whom are willing to allow their prized vintage car(s) to be displayed. Some will do it for free, others may request a donation to their organization or have a small fee. But, it’s a LOT of bang for your buck! You’d be shocked at exactly WHAT you can rent for your event. For a Las Vegas theme, you can hire an entire casino set-up… complete with dealers, croupiers and pit bosses. Or maybe you just want some slot machines for your guests to enjoy, those are available for parties and receptions – complete with delivery and set-up.
For those “tropical” events, some local pet stores may have “portable” aquariums filled with colorful fish available for display at your venue. Or, you could even have guest “party favor” fish bowls – with live goldfish or betas, of course – on each table. You can even use an appropriate marking or paint pen to use those bowls as place cards! A few plastic “kiddie pools” filled with playground sand (yes, they actually sell it at your local home improvement stores) can quickly and inexpensively set a beach scene for your guests.
And speaking of guests… THEY can be a big part of creating a memorable environment, without costing YOU one, red, cent! Sharing the theme of your event in your invitations – and asking them to dress accordingly – gives them time to plan their attire for this special occasion. All it takes is a couple of white suits and outrageous platform shoes to complete your disco scenario. The same holds true for virtually ANY gathering. Whether tropical shirts and skirts, or vintage Vegas fedoras and cocktail dresses, incorporating these “details” can truly “MAKE” any event… and all on a budget!
Of course, you need to make sure the now-requisite “photo booth” also reflects your theme and contributes to the overall ambiance you want to create. This, too, can be much easier and affordable than you might imagine. In fact, we did an entire post devoted just to THIS topic!
Now, to check-off that last component on your list, you can rely on your selected “entertainment” to provide those finishing touches for a picture-perfect celebration. If you’ve hired a DJ, be sure to share your theme and request music to match and enhance the mood. Live entertainment options also go waaaaay beyond the generic band or orchestral group. Singers and musicians who specialize in “era-specific” tunes can usually be found – from Motown to Frank Sinatra – and will GLADLY coordinate their set lists and performances to fit your vision. And, did you know, you can hire magicians to work your event?!? Some specialize in “close-up” or “table” magic so they can sprinkle the mystique among all your guests; or they can stage an actual show! And, what “tropical” evening would be complete without dancers performing their native gyrations? You see where we’re going here, don’t you. FIRE DANCERS!
But, why should the dancers – or other entertainers – have all the fun, when you can integrate some premium pyrotechnics into ANY event?!? With a dizzying array of colors and options available – again, all at affordable pricing – our event experts can recommend the perfect “details” to ensure you have a customized event that will make all your dreams come true, even IF you only have a “modest” budget. After all, “God IS in the details!”