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Grand Central begins a new chapter......

I am delighted to announce that Grand Central Events and Décor will be teaming with WOW Factor/Glow Parties to provide you with a bigger and better event experience.  I will be providing design consultation to clients through WOW Factor/Glow Parties’ new enterprise, “The Event Store” opening shortly in Dartmouth.  This new venture will provide clients with one stop shopping for any type and size of event. 

WOW Factor/Glow Parties have stepped it up with the addition of new inventory to cater to corporate and weddings, large and small.  A full range of high end event décor including unique furniture, fine linens, crystal chandeliers and centrepieces, in addition to the  balloons, fireworks, themed decor, costumes, and accent pieces you have come to expect from Glow Parties .  The Event Store will be a comprehensive event experience with a storefront atmosphere. 

This is an exciting venture for me allowing me to concentrate on doing unique design work for you.  I believe the new store is scheduled to open early in the New Year and we will be rolling out lots of news in the months to come. 

In the meantime, you can find me 3 days a week at WOW Factor/Glow Parties, Strawberry Hill.  Do drop in and see me.  Rest assured that I will continue to build on my earned reputation for unique design, attention to detail and guaranteed customer satisfaction. 

You can also always reach me through my website www.grandcentraleventsanddecor.com , cell phone 902-414-9300 and through email at grandcentral@eastlink.ca for all your event needs.   Inquiries coming through my website will be quoted through WOW Factor/Glow Parties.

Mission Accomplished!

Wow!  This has been a tremendous, hot, sunny summer and I’m sure tourism is booming!  We headed to Arisaig on the evening of August 3rd for set up morning  of August 4th.  We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather, but thank goodness the hall was air conditioned. 

Dressing up a town hall is always a challenge.   A wedding in town is a curiosity and I had my fair share of folks dropping in to have a look and to offer suggestions on set up.  I was told several times over the couple of set up days that I was not following what was the ”norm” for the hall.  I then knew I was on the right track.  I am always looking to provide the “unique” and “unusual” so I did my thing.  Most appreciated the change and I was happy with the end result. 

The groom’s team was onsite on Thursday to rearrange tables and place chairs.  All the tables were banquet and we created a King’s Feast look with long rows of tables of 20 running perpendicular to the head table.    

Once the tables and chairs were placed, my team methodically worked from one side to the other, covering chairs and tables, putting up ceiling décor and back drop and fine tuning.  White, burlap and navy with pearls was the base for the room.  By the time we arrived, the families had proudly displayed all of the different tartans on the walls around the room, signifying the different clans represented from the area.  The tartans added a wonderful touch to the overall décor in the room with a sense of history and belonging.

We actually put in an 8 hr day on Thursday and managed to get almost everything completed.  That just left the flowers for the centrepieces and bits of detail to do the next day so we were in great shape.  It is lovely when everything comes together beforehand.  Reduced stress for everyone involved, including the wedding party.

As Friday August 5th dawned, the day was gorgeous and I knew this was going to be another beautiful wedding day.  We headed back to Arisaig from New Glasgow to place the final touches.  I was pleased with the finished product but more importantly, the bride and groom were delighted.  Mission accomplished! 

I know it has been a while........

I know it has been a while since I last posted.  It was my intention to pick up right where I left off once I returned from my vacation in May but things got a little crazy and time went by……..I’m sure you can relate to that. 

Upon my return in May, I was delighted to decorate two very unique venues for a wedding.  Thank you to Robyn and Mark for choosing Grand Central to decorate their day! 

We started off with the ceremony on the roof of the Seaport Farmers Market.  It was a spectacular sunshiny day and the view was wonderful.  Teal sashes and jars of simple flowers hung from the end aisle chairs.  The pergola posts were wrapped in burlap and white organza and from the overhead struts we hung rattan balls and silk flowers.  A champagne toast to the bride and groom was held under the pergola after the ceremony.  Thanks to Denise and Alyssa at the Seaport Market for all their coordination.

Photo compliments of Jillian Kennedy Photography

Photo compliments of Jillian Kennedy Photography

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From there guests moved to Agricola Street Brasserie for the reception/dinner.  What a fabulous venue this is --- from the venue’s ambience to the friendly, very helpful staff.  I had the pleasure of working with Jenn at the Brasserie.  I can’t honestly say I have every worked with anyone so accommodating, helpful and pleasant.  She was absolutely marvelous and a joy to work with.  Thanks Jenn!

When it was all said and done, I was extremely happy with the overall look in the room.  Such an intimate setting with a Head Table of 18 centred with banquet tables of 12 surrounding.   The end result was very elegant, warm and inviting.  We delivered on a promise made and the bride, groom and family were very appreciative. 

Photo compliments of Jillian Kennedy Photography

Photo compliments of Jillian Kennedy Photography

Photo compliments of Jillian Kennedy Photography

Photo compliments of Jillian Kennedy Photography

We’re heading to Arisaig at the beginning of August for a Scottish wedding and I will report back with photos as promised.   Until then --- enjoy this fabulous summer!

Thanks so much for tuning in..........

With the much improved weather, thoughts of summer and vacation are where we are at.  For me, I will be taking my summer vacation now while there is time before the summer/fall wedding season kicks in.  I am off for a couple of weeks just to have some down time to regroup, recharge and rethink.   I will catch up with you again closer to end of May with the latest weddings and corporate work.   Thanks so much for tuning in………………

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.
— Henry Ford

My heart is here on the East Coast .......

I simply love all of the interesting places that I have discovered in Nova Scotia through my business!  I am originally from Ontario and didn’t move to the East Coast until 1988 (Saint John, New Brunswick).  It wasn’t until 2001 that I moved to Nova Scotia.  I absolutely love it here!  I go back to Ontario to visit family but I would never move back.  My heart is here on the East Coast! 

Just to demonstrate my point about discovering interesting places, I am heading to Arisaig today.  Arisaig is a little off the beaten track and this will be my second visit to the area.  I dropped in last Fall just to get the lay of the land while corresponding with a potential bride who was wedding planning from Alberta.  I have since secured this wedding for August 2016 so today I am meeting the Bride and Groom for the first time and we will have a site visit.

Arisaig is located on Route 245 on the Sunrise Trail, along the North Shore.  It was settled in 1785 and is the oldest parish of Catholic Highland settlers in Nova Scotia according to information located on the Arisaig website (which is a very interesting read, I might add).  There is so much history here from the geology to the pioneers.  The article goes on to say that the present church, of Gothic design, was built in 1816 and completed in 1878 and was dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland.  The photo is one I took last fall.  The couple will be married here.  How beautiful! 

What a gorgeous little piece of paradise Arisaig is.  I know it is probably bleak and terribly cold during the winter on that north coast, but there are so many beautiful spots of scenery along the road.  In the true sense of area history, this wedding will be a Scottish affair including the wearing of the clan tartan by the groom’s family.  I suspect there may also be many other tartans showing the area roots.  Arisaig has its very own tartan which is well described in the website http://arisaigns.com/.  I will be decorating the Parish Hall (built in 1989 to replace the old school hall) for a traditional dinner/reception to seat 175.   The Parish Hall serves as a gathering place for the community.   It is always interesting turning a community centre into an intimate dinner venue with all the trappings.  Trying to make sure everyone has a seat and then making the hall look wedding -wonderful is a challenge I always enjoy.  I will cover the décor in my blog following the wedding at the beginning of August.  It will certainly be a transformation. 

Aside from the wedding, which will draw my full attention while I am there, I fully intend to go back to Arisaig in the heat of the summer, perhaps toting a couple of grandkids.  There seems to be so much to explore and a wonderful warm beach to play on.

I believe that one of the most important things to learn in life is that you can make a difference in your community no matter who you are or where you live. I have seen so many good deeds — people helped, lives improved—because someone cared.
— Rosalynn Carter

Not so with weddings.........

When it comes to corporate décor work, I can usually count on using the same individual corporate colour palette year to year.  For the most part, there is no guess work here.  Gala dinners are where the look and palette varies introducing a specific theme or a classic black/white/gold or silver with perhaps a pop colour.  Corporate is far more predictable  and there is great comfort in that as the amount of inventory necessary to decorate an event of sizable proportions is immense so I don’t want to be changing it year to year.   I have a wonderful assortment of linens, centrepieces and props specifically aligned to corporate décor business.  I am always thinking of how to present a unique look year to year for my corporate clients.  The thing is, I don’t have to be constantly wondering what colour changes I need to make this year in the corporate world.

Not so with weddings…….

As I come into the wedding season once again, the favorite colours for the year are making themselves apparent in all of the wedding sites and online photo galleries.  When the specific palette is requested more than twice, it is a trend for me and if I don’t have it in my inventory, I know I need to get it.

Colour trends are curious.  I am heading into my third wedding season and originally I thought that there would be a logical progression and development year to year from one palette and theme to another.  I thought this would be through a variation on colour and an addition of “items” to enhance or change the look slightly.  Themes would evolve and with them, the colour trends within the theme.   For instance, I had thought that the logical enhancement or progression from “Rustic” would be to a “King’s Feast” look which would be swapping rounds for banquets with lots of fruit and candles and medieval fare.  This would be a dressed up affair with rich textures and colours, marsala/chocolate/orange/berry, especially in the fall.

Much to my surprise, the newest trend 2016/17 seems to be pastels and in particular, blue/green palette and the blush/cream/ivory palette.  I am being asked to design a more refined, elegant look with lots of flowers and candles to accompany these colours.  I would define this as a Classic Vintage theme.

As a designer this Classic Vintage theme is wonderful for introducing very individualistic elements into the décor.  Every wedding has a different look, no matter that the palette remains the same for many.  There is so much to work with here and it is delightful.  The end result in this theme is always gorgeous, full blown, over-the-top --- WOW!  

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love working with the “Rustic” of last year which offered its own individual tastes and looks.  This year my “Rustic” will look a little different again and I absolutely enjoy that.  Working in totally different artistic directions with each theme with the latest variations, keeps me fresh and thinking.  I love the challenge of providing each and every bride a totally new, special look created just for them.  

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
— Mother Teresa

Documenting your day.......

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend with family and friends.  Monday has come all too fast!  March has given us a time change so our days are brighter and  we have had Easter, so all we need now is that lovely warm Spring weather.  I’m good with rain as long as the temperature is warm.

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We are heading into a busy wedding season and I have been trying to offer some advice for brides who will need to hire services and vendors.  We have touched on Décor, Audio/Visual/DJ, Venues and Flowers.  Another huge piece of the day will be your photographer.  Who will you choose to document this momentous day in your life.

We are so lucky to live in such a picturesque place.  People from across the country and from other countries come here to spend their vacations, simply because it is so lovely.  This beautiful coastal area with its unique surrounding regions automatically attracts artistic creative people.  Photographers are definitely among those creative folks.   There are a wide range to choose from and this is a great benefit to brides looking to hire that perfect person to record the day.  Styles and price ranges vary and it will take some homework to decide on exactly who that person should be. 

Here is a synopsis to perhaps make it easier for you in your selection of a photographer. 

I think word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising.  Start your search by asking friends and family.  Take that list and research websites to get a good idea of the photographer’s style as each is as unique as an artist’s brush stroke.  Decide what you are looking for in your album.  Perhaps you want posed still shots and portraits of your bridal party, friends and family, traditional ceremony shots and the first dance, cutting the cake.  Or perhaps will you be looking for a candid documentary style that will catch moments of laughter, quiet conversations, and spontaneous pictures of the day.  Maybe your preference will be somewhere in between. 

Spend time looking at albums on photographer websites, read the reviews/testimonials, check out blogs, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages also.  You should be able to get a feel for the photography style and a little of what the person behind the camera may be like.  Keep in mind that you will be reviewing all of the photographer’s best work on the website so you will want to see a full wedding album when you finally meet. 

Once you have a candidate list, set up face to face meetings where you can get to know the photographer and decide if this is a person you can work with.  You need to feel  comfortable, relaxed and confident with your choice.   The most expensive photographer in the city might not be a good fit for you --- there may be no doubt that he or she takes exquisite photos but if the chemistry between you is not happening and you feel uptight and pushed in directions you don’t want to go, this will be reflected  in your wedding photos.

Check out the following points during your meeting:

  1. Confirm photographer’s style and how that aligns with what you want;

  2. View some of his/her full Wedding Albums so you will know what scope and quality to expect from the package you choose;

  3. Cover any questions that you may have had while you were originally browsing the website;

  4. Does the photographer use both Digital and Film?  Black and White and Colour?

  5. Will the photos be available high resolution for prints and/or low resolution for forwarding by email to family and friends?

  6. Who will actually be the photographer the day of your wedding.  Sometimes photo studios have more than one photographer on staff.  Ensure that the person you meet with is the actual person that will be attending on your wedding day;

  7. Question your rights to photos taken --  both digital and film;

  8. Any Cost of sharing proofs online with friends and family;

  9. Turn-around time for receiving proofs or prints after wedding

  10. Ask for a general price-range based on the shooting fee and the album you might be looking for. How many photos make up the album?

  11. Breakdown of number of photos for pre-ceremony, ceremony itself, bride and groom, bride and groom photos with wedding party, family photos with wedding party and other, introduction of Bride and Groom, first dance, cake cutting, depending on the style you have chosen for the day.

  12. Will the photos be edited / touched up by photographer?

  13. When will the photographer arrive on wedding day and when will they depart?

  14. What deposit will be due to secure the date in the Photographer’s calendar.

Be selective in your choice of photographers.  Creative style, professional skill and personal behavior are of utmost importance.

By choosing to believe and expect the best about people, you are able to bring out the best in them.
— Bob Moawad

Flowers are personal........

Flowers touch our senses and our emotions…..each and every one is an amazing creation as individual as each of us.  They are colour candy for our eyes and we are irresistibly drawn.  To me they are a little like kittens…..I can’t help but go over and see, feel, enjoy.  They are simply delightful!    

I thoroughly enjoy working with flowers but acknowledge that I am not an expert.   I do, however, instinctively know what looks pleasing and believe I have a natural creativity.  When I am designing a guest table for a bride, flowers are often the focal point.  They certainly work with all of the other room décor to create the “wow” factor.   I also so enjoy creating the urns and ceremony flower arrangements.  I have received lots of great feedback and complements on my flower arrangements.

Flowers are a big budget item for your wedding day but that is not to say that you can’t find a florist that could work within your budget.  You need only ask.  Don’t just go by the prices you see on their website.  Ask what they can do for the amount of money you have allotted. 

A word of caution if you are considering DIY.  Check out the online articles and tips about bridal flowers.  I fear that one of the biggest mistakes a bride may make is deciding to do flowers themselves to save money.  From my own experience and from the replies I periodically get from brides, there are at least two different local stores that brides choose for their DIY flowers.  I try to dissuade them from going this route because quite honestly, it has been a disaster for me on more than one occasion.  Let me explain.  I usually purchase my flowers wholesale from out of town but this comes with having to preplan and carries a delivery fee and minimum order required.  If I am doing a table mockup at my home office for a bride booked just days out or I am taking part in a tradeshow, I do not need bulk flowers, nor do I need them to last any great length of time but I have a reasonable expectation.   I am not talking about flowers I have purchased at half price by any means.  The flowers look fresh but I really don’t know how long they have been sitting in the store, at room temperature.  I have had to repurchase flowers on my way to a tradeshow because the ones I purchased a day or two ahead are blown and wilted even with careful processing and keeping them cool.  I know stores offer guarantees but that is really worth nothing on your wedding day when you no longer have bouquets you can be proud of.    

Flowers are very personal and choosing the right florist for you can be difficult.  The best way to find the florist for you is by recommendations from friends and family so you can compile names.  These recommendations come to you with the comfort of trust.  Have a look at websites and testimonials.  You can then contact the florists and meet.  You will ultimately go with a florist style you like and a florist you feel comfortable with.  

Some key pieces of information you should share with your florist includes descriptions of the wedding dress, bridesmaids dress colors (bringing a fabric colour swatch is helpful) and pictures of arrangements you like and don't like.

When choosing your flowers, to be cost conscious, ask what is in season.  You can, of course, get most flowers year round but some come with a heftier price if the flower is not in season. 

Select flowers with special meaning.  Most flowers have a specific meaning, for example, Gardenia means  joy, Holly means domestic happiness, Hydrangea means perseverance, Ivy means fidelity while Calla Lilies mean regal, Orchids mean delicate beauty and Zinnias mean thoughts of absent friends.  Roses have meanings depending on colour (as do some other flowers) for example, Pink Rose means admiration/appreciation, Red Rose is passionate love, White Rose is purity and Yellow Rose is friendship. 

Whatever your choice, enjoy this experience.  Leave your flowers to someone you trust and there will be one less thing that you don’t have to think or worry about on your wedding day.  You will be much busier than you think leading up to your wedding day.  Friends and family will be arriving in the days prior and everyone will want to see you and spend time.  You will not have the time that you think you will have and flower processing and bouquet preparation will take hours.  

Enjoy the upcoming long weekend!

Somewhere someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer.
— Louise L. Hay

Wedding Reception Lights and DJ Services………….

Let’s talk about your A/V, DJ, and lighting needs.  Most DJ- A/V companies can help with the whole wedding package including your Ceremony Music, DJ Services, A/V for presentations, Audio for podium and of course, your Lighting. 

If you are not having live music at your ceremony, the musicians are self-sufficient and you need not worry about a sound system.  If you opt for recorded, predetermined ceremony music, your DJ-A/V company will be able to help with setting this up for you.  You don’t need to be fussing over whether the CD player is working and queued on the right song to accompany you down the aisle.

For your dance, consider the age range of your guests so you can provide music that will appeal to all.   Your DJ may offer the ability for special requests in advance of the party so they can ensure they will have what you will want to hear. 

You may decide to have a slideshow with an intimate array of family photos including those amusing childhood photos of the bride and the groom.   If you have already chosen your DJ, make sure you let them know what you are planning on the A/V front.  Believe it or not there have been more than a few times that the DJ is told at the last minute that a presentation is intended and he is not prepared.  He has not brought the equipment to make that happen.  If you are lucky, he is within distance to be able to get what he needs but it will cost you.  I know that with all the excitement surrounding your wedding day, you have talked about the presentation so much that you just assume you have let your DJ know.  Make sure you add “Presentation” to the list of things that need to be discussed with your DJ so you are not disappointed at the last moment.  If he is unable to provide what you need, you will then have time to look at Plan B.

If the venue does not offer a sound system attached to the room for the podium, this is also something to consider as there is nothing worse than sitting at a back table and not being able to hear any of the speeches and banter going on at the podium.  Once again, this can likely be looked after by your DJ - A/V company.  If nothing else, they can provide a simple amp with a plug-in microphone so that everyone can hear clearly.

I find that often brides think about lighting needs when they are choosing décor and backdrops, which does make sense but your DJ or A/V company is really the place to ask about lighting.  You may get a better deal on the uplights as they are bringing all of the audio equipment and looking after your evening.  As decorator, I am happy to provide the uplights but I need to rent them from an A/V company and transport them and install them.

I have had a the pleasure of working with lots of excellent A/V companies and DJ’s over the years,  of note;  Atlantic AudioPro, Brooks DJ Entertainment, Basil, True North,  Mac and Hawes, Sound Systems+,  Classy DJ Services, to name just a few of the excellent companies out there.  Do your homework before hiring for your wedding day.  Make sure you are hiring credible, trustworthy, experienced and compatible people to create yourfabulous and flawless wedding day.  If the deal sounds too good to be true…..you may be right!

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
— Henry Bucher

And its February already!

January simply flew by, with so much preparation for the end of month events.  I am late getting my Monday blog out on the wire as I have just finished tearing down at The Westin where they had their annual Holiday Staff Party last night.  Silver and Garnet were the colour scheme and I “blinged” it up a bit to make it festive, with crystals, candles and lots of silver.

This past Thursday we decorated the 550 seats at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Gala held at World Trade and Convention Centre.  Grand Central was Décor Sponsor for the event.  Everything went like clockwork!  We actually started the set up on Wednesday with table linens so the tables could be set ahead of time by venue staff.  Advanced Systems were already onsite setting up the stage and the AV.  We also dropped all of the gear we would need for the morning, when my staff would be arriving early to start chair covers.   My team was amazing once again, even though we were 2 bodies short due to last minute absences, we managed to finish everything up by mid afternoon.  I was happy with the overall look in the room when it was all said and done.   I sat with Dalhousie University  Faculty of Management and Supplement King, two other event sponsors.  At one point the gentleman sitting next to me at the dinner leaned over and said, this reminds me of The Great Gatsby.  I was absolutely delighted!  This was exactly the theme I was trying to achieve.  And to top it all off, a full live orchestra, Partner Sponsor, Sackville Community Band Society, played tunes from the era.

The grueling part of my business is the tear down and putting away.  At 9:30PM the party moved across the hall for the post reception and we began our job.  Working in unison with the excellent staff at WTCC, we tore down the linens, centrepieces, props, putting away what we could and piling laundry for bagging.  You can well imagine the size of the piles with 55 tables and 500 chair covers!  It took 2 trips from WTCC to the warehouse in a cargo van to move all of it out.  We finally returned home, very tired but elated, at 2:30AM Friday morning. 

Friday lunchtime rolled around and we were off to The Westin where they awaited the linens for setup of their annual Holiday Staff party, which is where I started my entry.  I am just sitting down now at 3:30PM to get my blog out for this week.  Next week I will be passing along some info and advice to brides trying to decide whether to have a decorator look after their special day. 

Have a grand week!

Time, indeed, is a sacred gift, and each day is a little life.
— Sir John Lubbock

Next Up --- the Atlantic Wedding Showcase ......

It has been a busy week and weekend past!  I have been preparing for the upcoming Atlantic Bridal Showcase on Sunday January 17th at the Cunard Centre.  I’m part of the “Win A Wedding” grand prize being sponsored by Hot Country 103.5.  Hot Country has pulled together 6 partners to work this wedding including Atlantic Wedding Showcase; The Westin Nova Scotian; Advanced Systems; Vogue Formal Wear; Karma Bridal and Formal Wear; and Grand Central Events and Décor.  I will be providing both the Wedding Planning and Decor for the lucky couple.  This was my table in October, preparing for the holiday season in golds, reds, greens and silver.

I’m packing today for the Atlantic Bridal Showcase as I have a few things coming up this week and don’t want to be left scrambling.  I am a very organized person and when it gets busy, I don’t like feeling like I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  I am decorating a booth and a contest table at the event so it means I need 2 complete sets of dishes and cutlery, glassware, etc.  I also need centrepieces prepared for both tables and this entails buying flowers, processing and preparing and then assembling.  From what I have seen and read, (and perhaps a little intuition), I’m thinking that that copper will be a big colour this year and with that in mind, I am having a Shantung Back Satin table runner and 6 copper satin napkins made for my contest table.  The colour is rich and fabulous!  Earth tones are always pleasing to the eye. 

For my booth, I will be going with a proven classic --- Navy blue, Gold and White.  I have had several inquiries for this colour scheme for 2016.  This combination never goes out of style.  It is so crisp and clean and sleek.  I will also, of course, keep some of my “rustic” items on hand in the booth --- items like burlap table runners, cutlery bags and wooden slices as I’m sure it will also prove to be in demand again this year.  Last year was certainly a “rustic” year.

January is typically busy in the industry.  We get back at it, coming alive after the holiday season with great plans for the year.  We shake off the extra pounds and the lethargy and put our energy into the year to come.  I have the 2 bridal shows, Atlantic Bridal Showcase and BRIDES2016 and then 2 large corporate events, Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Gala and the Westin Nova Scotian Staff Holiday party before the end of the month.  I love it! 

If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it.
— Mahatma Gandhi