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Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Night at The Museum

Another oldie but goodie -- it's beyond high time for me to share some of the glorious details from Shelby and Graeme's wedding, held at the Royal Ontario Museum (affectionately known as The ROM) one beautiful day in June...

Regrettably, this tends to be a habit with me: we are so busy planning and executing events all the time that sometimes it requires real focus to go back in time and write about previous events. It's kind of like: "been there, done that." However, in the case of a wedding like this one, it's a crime for me not to have shared some of these photos before now and for that, dear readers, I apologize profusely.

I remember that we did things a little differently at this wedding and held cocktail hour BEFORE the ceremony. The problem with getting old is that I can't recall why we did it -- in that there were practical and logistical reasons -- but as I write this, it's not coming to me!! 

There's the stunning orchid arrangement in the middle of the Rotunda, that you will be able to get a better sense of the scale of it in the next photo. It literally towered above everyone's heads.

I love, love LOVE this photo -- it shows just how massive this arrangement was. And in a room that is this majestic, you really need something with true presence to even begin to compete with the spectacular setting.

Now we move chronologically with guests upstairs to the Bronfman Gallery, where the all-white ceremony took place in this clean, loft-like space. The aisle was lined with poufs of white hydrangea, as were the windowsills above. All leading down to the stunning chuppah in the centre of the room...

The four legs were pavéed with perfect, cream roses and finished with garlands of white dendrobium orchids. The canopy is something that deserves to have it's moment in the spotlight: Shelby's father had it made when her older sister got married and so far, only the two girls have their names and dates embroidered on a side each. There are two blank sides left, just waiting for Shelby's other sister and brother to join them up there when they each get married one day...

One other thing to mention is that, while it might not look like it, the chuppah was actually in the middle of the room and there was a whole other set of chairs mirroring what you can see in this photo. We had to maximize every inch of space in order to accommodate the 250 guests.

A close up of one of the legs of the chuppah. Each one of those roses was chosen for it's consistent size, condition and colouration, treated and then glued into place by members of the FIORI team. It took hours to complete. Each leg had four sides, and multiply that by 4 legs... I think you get my drift: there were a lot of roses!

So now, the ceremony is done. Shelby and Graeme are happily married and it's time to go back downstairs to the Currelly Gallery, where dinner and dancing await... In this photo, you can see the beautiful drapes we had custom made for the occasion: instead of typical, sheer fabric, these were sewn from 2 colours of gorgeous peau de soie. I doubt many guests noticed the quality of the fabric enveloping them in the room, but it was simply another small detail that went a long way to 'finishing' the environment.

Here's a close up of the head table. The regal gold cutlery sat aside beaded gold chargers and votive candles that the team at FIORI had gold-leafed by hand because we couldn't find anything we liked better! Even the menus were printed with raised, gold thermography lettering.

This is a rather abstract shot, looking head-on at the front of the head table. You can see the phaleonopsis orchids spilling over the front (casting such wonderful, animated shadows), the roses and the hydrangea behind them and then the custom-built wall in the background, behind the table.

And a cleaner view of said wall...

This wedding was the first time event designers Bill Fulghum of William Fulghum Design Associates and Lidia Tacconelli of FIORI had ever collaborated. When the original florist dropped out for personal reasons, Bill and I looked at each other and knew that there was only ONE person who had the team, infrastructure and organizational abilities to handle this job, and that was Lidia. The main reason is the museum itself: it is a fully-functioning MUSEUM! That means that we don't even have access to the rooms before 3:00 on the day of any given event. Now that you know this, go back, look at the pictures above (with the exception of the ceremony area, which admittedly we had more time in), and realize that all that set up was done in three hours.  Yes, three short hours. 

And yes, we were pretty proud of ourselves. THAT much I  do remember...

If this wedding looks familiar to you, it should! It was featured in the Winter/Spring 2012 edition of WedLuxe magazine. Click here for a link to the story and the photos.

Thank you to our friend Storey Wilkins for being on hand and doing what you do best: taking beautiful and meaningful photos of days that go by so quickly. Months and months of planning and then --poof-- it's over in a matter of hours. We are very reliant on our photographers to capture and immortalize these days for us. And Storey is one of the very best at doing that...

Putting the Fun Back into FUNdraising

Back in November, we planned a cocktail reception for the Lung Cancer Canada annual gala at The Arcadian Loft. Our mandate was to design an evening that was as far-away-as-possible from the typical sit down dinner/rubber chicken affairs that too many gala-goers have to endure. We were also asked to come up with something novel to replace the omnipresent Silent Auction... And to that end, we incorporated a "game" into an otherwise elegant and on-point evening. 

I can't take credit for the idea: my mother used to do this at my birthday parties when I was but a young 'un. Everyone would sit in a circle and pass a present (wrapped in multiple layers of paper) around, while some random song played on my 45RPM record player. When the music stopped, the person holding it would unwrap a layer and so it would go until the final layer revealed the prize inside. We thought it might be fun to try this on a larger scale -- because, really, who doesn't love to open presents? -- all while raising funds for lung cancer research. I'll show you the pics from the game, but first, a little background:

The Lung Cancer Canada logo is a pair of green leaves, attached to look like a set of lungs. The symbolism of the leaf was a big part of our mandate that evening. This photo is of the pins that were given out to guests when they registered that evening.

Decor was kept simple, both for financial and esthetic reasons:  vases, filled with salal leaves and green votive candles everywhere.

A big, (wo)man-made tree stood in the centre of the room, representing The Grove, a memorial area in Sunnybrook Park where trees are planted in memory of people who have lost their battles with lung cancer. You can see some of the leaves that we 'sold' that evening to play our game dangling from the branches.

The next photo lists the prizes to be won and the costs associated to join the fun. This is something we stressed very heavily to the committee: we didn't need a lot of prizes, but we needed really, really great ones. There was nothing on that list that was worth less than $500; the Grand Prize was a diamond necklace worth $2200! Talk about a good return on a $20 leaf!

So here's the promised explanation of the gist of the game: there were 11 presents, all wrapped in different shades of green on the table. Guests needed to 'buy' leaves from volunteers wandering the room; and could, in turn, redeem each leaf to unwrap ONE layer of paper on the present of their choice. What people didn't know was how many layers of paper there were on any given box... some had as many as 47 (and yes, Gabi and I had the pleasure of wrapping each and everyone one of those!) and some had as few as 10. An important rule was that people couldn't touch the parcel before taking off a layer, because you could feel which ones had a lot of padding... And that would be cheating...

And so, once the speeches were done, our little corner of fun opened up and it was so exciting for Gabi and I to see the great response to our idea. Not to mention the gratification for the seemingly endless hours we spent wrapping... Here are a few of shots of the first people to partake:

Here's a picture of the very first winner, who won a $500 gift certificate to William Ashley! Look at the smiles on their faces -- one of the best parts of this game was how people reverted to their childlike selves:

Next I'm going to show you an uninterrupted series of pictures of a woman who THOUGHT she'd won, only to discover that we'd tricked her. Here's the reason: some of the wrapping was getting so thick (and you could visually tell there were a lot of layers on there), that we started putting boxes inside boxes, so that we could start with a clean slate, wrapping wise. Watch the progression of her experience:

What a fun part of the night it was -- people LOVED it and it created excitement all 'round. We sold out of leaves sooner than we ever could have imagined; the response was that enthusiastic. Gabi and I looked at each other at the end of the evening and said, "Could you imagine how much more we could've raised if we'd had more prizes and more people to help us wrap these damn boxes?!!" Alas... It's good to set goals and now we have something to work towards for NEXT year!

Very sincere thanks to our friend T.H. Jackson Huang from IKONICA for donating his time and talent to take photos for us. And to DJ Michael Coombs for spinning the tunes and giving the space a great atmosphere from the moment it kicked off. And to Gisele Sterling from Sterling Kjargaard for tying all those ribbons on the leaves, making our tree and for working so tirelessly, even with such a small budget. Go team!