Recently featured in our Expert Series, Tim Hanbury, Managing Director at Apollo Event Consultants, shared his top tips when transforming a venue. As experts at creating a great themed party we have asked the Apollo team to elaborate further and showcase their favourite themed parties.
A recap on venue transformation
“Venue transformation is taking a blank canvas and creating a wonderland…
In our opinion marquees offer the best solution. It really is a blank canvas in which to work. Once the theme has been agreed we will then work with our design team to work out the best ways of implementing the theme into the marquee. We will know all the dimensions and can therefore create elements that will fit perfectly. To be able to build a theme is brilliant – it’s like painting an original master piece. The only difference is that it doesn’t last as along!”
A great themed party…
“Never spend any money below waist height (literally!), once the room is full of tables and chairs your guests won’t see it. Try and keep everything within the theme. Try and incorporate gorgeous styled table centres that are extravagant and that the details are related to the theme – you don’t want these letting the side down now.
Also, there are plenty of ways to bring a theme to life without having to spend a fortune. For example, focus on the signature pieces – the bar is a great example. Everyone will visit the bar throughout the evening therefore make it a wow factor!”
Include a reveal
“Never give the guests too many surprises at the beginning of the party. A great party should have a start, middle and a finish. That way the guests, and client are always waiting in anticipation for the next reveal. Host an alfresco drinks reception on the lawn with themed canapes and staff. At the call for dinner wow guests with the decor of the marquee and finally you could include a reveal into the dance floor space! It re energises the party and lifts everyone for the last push through till dawn.”
“In conclusion, don’t forget the moment the invitation lands into your guests hands – create a design that will get them excited. If it’s fancy dress, don’t make it too difficult… remember, not everyone likes dressing up. A good theme is black tie with a hint of your theme… this allows everyone to feel comfortable. Also, girls love an opportunity to dress up and look their best!”
A Boho Chic Summer with an African Twist
“Our client wished to hold a big celebration to mark two very special birthdays – an 18th and a 50th. They wanted to have a relaxed summer festival vibe as well as reflecting their love of Africa. We came up with a Bohemian concept featuring a series of interconnected tipi tents with an African twist, an informal dinner and dancing.
The Look and Feel
“The five tents were all interlinked to create one big event space with separate areas for drinks reception, dinner and dancing. In the reception space, we built a rustic bar with bespoke bark fascia and installed a series of fire pits. These added warmth as the sun went down yet also added flickering light and a warm glow to the insides and walls of the tents.
For dining, we installed a series of natural wood tables and styled them with faux animal furs, South African memorabilia and informal flower arrangements. A relaxed area of the space featured cosy animal hides, low level seating and bean bags. For dancing, we installed colourful moving lights, a gorgeous glitter ball as well as a dance floor. We dressed the garden with lanterns and festoon lights.”
What we loved
“We sourced a fantastic troupe of striking Zulu warriors and musicians who performed upbeat rhythms of background music and demonstrated their traditional dances to the delight of the guests.”
Secondly, an Arty Party!
“Our brief for this family party was to use our expertise to transform a multispan marquee structure into a spectacular ‘artist’ themed party. Colour played an important part in the overall aesthetic and atmosphere. We also incorporated quirky, arty furniture and wild decorative elements. The colour scheme was vivid and the colours were carefully selected to complement each other. Also, the effect was as if a giant bucket of colour had been thrown over most of the reception space and has started to bleed into the rest of the marquee. Shaped carpet, curtained drapes and art inspired table centres added intricate and Instagrammable elements – they made the party unique in its layout.”
The Reception Look and Feel
“As guests arrived they were warmly greeted by comedy walkabout performers. These included a mime artiste and a ‘flip flap’ man in a bespoke Warhol box who wow’d guests with his crazy antics whilst an acoustic band played upbeat tunes. In the marquee, guests were immediately plunged into an oversize world of art and colour! Two of the marquee legs were cleverly disguised by giant paint tubes, a series of larger than life artist’s tools were dotted around the space and a bespoke bar was built to look like differently coloured paint tubes. To relax, guests could sit on the black and white island seat, an intricate detail included the seat pads being covered in an unfinished paint-by-numbers scene.”
What we loved
“The photo opportunity of the night was the giant paint ‘splat’ on the carpet as if spilling from a giant “Quink” bottle.”
The Dinner Look and Feel
“Each table had a unique table centre inspired by an iconic piece of work by a different contemporary artist. Examples included Magritte, Piet Mondrian, Damien Hurst, Banksy, Esher, Picasso as well as Warhol. After dinner, guests were invited back to the reception area which had been transformed into a night club. The Apollo team continued the artistic theme by commissioning bespoke white furniture, complete with bespoke graphic line art on the cushions. A quirky ice cream tricycle was on hand for guests who needed a sugar boost as they danced the night away!”
“On the tables we placed communal pots of pens and brushes. Also, each guest was gift an individual mini easel on which they were encouraged to create their own masterpieces!”
Lastly, but no means least… fun, frolics and fairyland!
“Our brief for this themed party was to use our expertise to transform a stretch marquee into a magical wonderland consisting of five themes – all under one roof! The five ideas were Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Peter Pan and an Enchanted Woodland, all brought together with the Wizard of Oz. The marquee was split into 4 separate areas, giving identity to four of the themes. Peter Pan had silhouette cut outs of Tinkerbell flying from the ceiling, pirate ship decks as table tops and miniature treasure chests with pearls and gold coins spilling over.
For Harry Potter, we had long wooden tables with magical candelabras of all shapes and sizes depicting the Grand Hall. At each table setting the guests received their own magic wand. Alice in wonderland had giant playing cards floating above pastel blue tables with white chairs and red seat pads. Table centres consisted of piles of books and quirky tea pots. All that was left was for the Mad Hatter to turn up! Finally, the Enchanted Wood portrayed a beautiful forest with extra touches of magic. Theming included greenery covered in twinkling lights, low candles and green uplighters, arches of birch trees created a magical haven in which fairies and magical creatures could gather.”
The Look and Feel
“Reception drinks took place in the client’s garden which was decorated with giant tulips standing 20ft high. These lit up at night to create a wonderful walkway. There were toadstools dotted around the place, everywhere you looked was something magical. As guests arrived they were given an element of the theme in which they would sit for the evening – a way for everybody to subtly be involved.
Caricaturists wandered the gardens creating magical images of characters from a far away land. At the call for dinner, guests made their way down the yellow brick road. The main circular bar was built especially for the party and consisted of a giant mushroom. It was vivid red with a white spotty roof, covered with real grass!”
What we loved
“As the sun went down the garden came to life as the giant tulips illuminated. The LUCYLAND sign glowed, spelt out with stunning giant letters as well as festoons completing a magical garden scene. Plenty of photo opportunities all round.”
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