Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Real Party: Bayou Bash

Come on down to the bayou and prepare to party!

This Bayou Bash for 150 international guests was hosted at a Miami hotel.  However as with most hotel ballrooms, it was bland and sterile.  The goal was to create an atmosphere that would encourage attendees to interact and provide a format for conversation after sitting in sessions all day.

Planning this event presented some unique challenges.  The room originally allocated was not big enough to accommodate the 150 guests.  In order to capitalize on this "defect" I incorporated the hallway outside the room into the overall event space.  It was staged to give the entrance definition.  Guests were brought in through the swamp (complete with Florida wildlife, including flamingos and an alligator) which in turn transitioned to a shadowy dock area where the first bar was located.  Then the party opened onto the beach with treasure chest and ship's mast in the ballroom space with entertainment and buffets. 

Move-in was limited to 3 hours so many of the items were staged in an adjoining room and moved out at party time.  All items were shipped to the site and assembled.  Decor budget was under $1,000 for all three spaces.

I carved the welcome sign from pink insulation foam and painted it to match the theme.  Look for my post on the how-to's.

Multiple types of palms and landscape plants were purchased from a local farm which was very cost effective.  The blue and green lighting made the theme come to life and set the mood in each of the sections.

The stream with waterfall, bridge and resident alligator was a favorite conversation point for attendees.  The next day they even named the alligator during one of the education sessions!
The faux grass and metallic paper stream were from Stumps.

Dock pilings were constructed in various sizes with corrugated wood-grain paper from Shindigz/Stumps and wrapped with rope.  I used a hot glue gun to assemble all of these.  Bars were wrapped with the same paper.  

Faux flame tiki torches from Tiki Zone gave a lively touch to the bars.

Real whiskey barrels with natural patina coordinated with carved foam shipping crates.  This also served as the station for the game to open the lock on the treasure chest.

A swamp shack was created from a base of PVC pipe, corrugated wood paper, molded plastic roof and carved foam.  Tutorial to be posted separately.  Additional elements were added to increase the charm, including rubber spiders, frogs, and geckos.


The hallway was lined with anchors and burlap bags which were used coffee bags stuffed with pillows.

Once in the ballroom the lighting transitioned from the cool and shadowy green and blue of the docks to warm orange and yellow.

The buffet centerpiece was a wood treasure chest overflowing with pearl necklaces, giant gems, "gold" coins, and jewelry.

Fishing nets, shells and flickering candles adorned the cocktail tables.

A wall mural of a beach with the setting sun over the ocean (Stumps) served as the backdrop for the live music.  The second bar was backed by a giant mast made from PVC pipe, rope, a painted plastic bucket and fabric.  One logo was projected onto the sail and I used an iron-on transfer sheet to customize the flag at the top of the mast with another logo.

Favors included custom imprinted gold chocolate coins from RockStar Promotions and gem rings.

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