How Decor Can Transform a Ballroom

Designing in a big open ballroom space can be intimidating! In New Orleans, we are very fortunate to have a number of amazing historic venues right in our own backyard. When venue hunting with our destination clients, we are almost always told that they’d want to see ANYTHING except big hotel ballroom spaces (which they feel they could see in any other city, and come to New Orleans for a unique venue to host their spectacular experience). And while we agree that there are plentiful venue options in town, sometimes a client’s guest count warrants a larger square footage that only a ballroom space would be able to support. Today we are sharing tips on how to make a ballroom space feel both intimate and beautiful using design techniques to make any event a spectacular and memorable experience for your guests!

We toured venues with Lia and Barclay and their families from Texas to kick-off our planning process. As we stepped onto the property at the New Orleans Board of Trade, Lia immediately knew this venue was perfect for her 200+ guests, specifically because of the large ballroom space with the soaring ceilings and open floor plan.

Our design challenge was to create within the space an intimate feeling while highlighting the beautiful architectural details of the trade room. These are the tips we kept in mind while working through the design to fulfill Lia and Barclay’s design needs, that you can apply yourself when tackling a big open space:

1) It’s all about variety: mix up the size and shape of the tables on the floor plan.

We incorporated a mix of long banquet tables and paired with large and medium rounds to help break up the footprint on the floor plan, allowing guests to move about the space while avoiding the feeling of monotony and “sameness” among the table layout.

2) Play up the height of the ceilings with a selection of tall centerpieces strategically placed.

When you have a mix of tables sizes and shapes, the natural decor choice for floral and candle decor is to mix up the heights of the arrangements. For Lia and Barclay, we strategically focused our tall centerpiece arrangements throughout the center of the room and only on our large round tables. One the long banquet tables, we focused more on long low lush garlands down the length of the table and mid-height candle decor to compliment the arrangements on the other tables. The result was both stunning and effective in filling the space visually with a variety of heights to play up the space.

3) Select table linens that offer different finishes and/or prints that are complimentary to the overall aesthetic.

The variety in table shape and size lends itself to a natural use of varying table linens in texture and prints. Here we used a mix of an oyster colored velvet linen on the long tables, and a delicate damask print in a complimentary neutral tone on the round tables. For stand-out vignettes, such as the cake table, we selected a specialty linen with an intricate embroidered pattern also in the overall color story for the event. The result was a variety of looks that all came together to work well in the space and elevate the overall design.

4) Don’t be afraid to buck the “status quo” and create a floor plan that is atypical in the venue.

The standard floor plan at the Board of Trade calls for all round tables for guest seating, with the cake table placed along the bank of windows overlooking the courtyard. Not only did we rewrite the map by using tables differently throughout the space, we took a chance by moving the cake table outside in the “arcade” area, a long covered walkway with huge architectural columns and cutouts in the wall which were perfect for inserting candle light on custom-built ledges to bring life to the space. By placing the cake table in this area we were able to set it off as more of a focal point and a unique space to conduct the cake cutting ceremony. It worked well and made for an excellent photo opportunity!

Take a look at the photos from Greer G and see for yourself! This was an amazing experience with a great group of destination guests from all over the South. We relied on a stellar team of creatives including Melissa’s Fine Pastries, Luminous Events, Kim Starr Wise, Perrier Party Rentals, and Pigeon Caterers to make all of Lia and Barclay’s dreams come true. Be sure to check out the teaser from Studio Vieux Carre to see everything unfold.

How would you incorporate different design elements to tackle a big ballroom space?

wedding invitation details with white paper stock and gold envelope liner, gray silk ribbon and floral details
beaded bridal gown hanging with veil over a gold hanger
badgley mischka peep toe pumps on top of a wedding veil
rings in a blue and copper ring dish detail with a lace vintage handkerchief and tulle
bride with bridesmaids in robes toasting champagne and smiling
back of bride getting dressed with long cathedral length veil in a window
bride smiling as she puts on her earrings standing in the light of a window with veil trailing down
full length of bride standing in wedding gown with long veil by a window
four white rose and rosemary boutonnieres lined up on a lace backdrop
bride and groom first look, holding hands in a courtyard while looking in each other's eyes
bride and groom holding each other and smiling at the camera as bride holds large white floral bouquet
excited bride smiling and holding a white floral bouquet in her wedding dress and veil
closeup of white peonies and white garden roses in a bridal bouquet being held by a bride
slate gray bridesmaids dress closeup holding bridesmaid bouquet with white and blush roses
bride with bridesmaids in gray wedding dresses outside in a courtyard standing next to each other
bride and groom walking away from the camera hand in hand with city skyline backdrop
bride and groom holding each other and looking into their eyes with city in background
back of bride in gown wearing fur stole with long white veil flowing behind her as she looks at the city skyline
interior architectural details of catholic church in new orleans
bride and groom kneeling at wedding chapel altar during catholic ceremony
asymmetrical floral wreath on open gate at night with candle light at reception venue
small wedding reception table with golden lantern and candle light around a fountain in an outdoor courtyard at night
white florals in antique gold bud cases on table top outdoors in a courtyard at night
fountain with white and green floral decor and candle light surrounding in a courtyard at night
lamp post with wood detailed bar and back bar in a courtyard at night for wedding reception
wooden engraved with gold stir sticks for cocktails at bar closeup
lots of pillar candles in glass hurricane vases surrounding the edge of a fountain in a courtyard at night
white hydrangea flowers on a table with golden lanterns in an outdoor courtyard wedding reception at night
wide angle of a wedding reception courtyard at night with candlelight and wedding guests
white and gold wedding cake in front of wall of candle light with magnolia flower details
detail shots of white and gold wedding cake with magnolia flower details in front of a wall of candle light
wide shot of large ballroom with long dinner tables featuring candle light and tall white and green floral arrangements
wide shot of reception room with round tables and long tables featuring candle light and tall white and green floral arrangements
closeup of tall white and green wedding centerpiece arrangements on round tables with gold chairs in a wedding reception
closeup of candleabra on long dinner table with candle light in a wedding reception ballroom at night
Long rows of various height candles and vases with green and white floral runner at a wedding reception
wide angel of room with long dinner tables and gold chiavari chairs with tall green and white floral arrangements
wedding reception place setting with velvet linen, beaded gold charger, white place setting, gray napkin and single garden blossom
wide angle reception tables with lots of candle light and tall floral arrangements and low garland runners
seated wedding reception tables with long greenery and white floral runners with candles and architectural details
ceiling with mural and lights in a dome with wedding guests at reception
bride and groom cutting a large white and gold detailed wedding cake in front of a wall of candle light
bride and groom first dance while looking into each others eyes on the dance floor
bride in short dress with groom walking in the street with mardi gras indian second line parade
bride waving white napkin in the air during a second line parade with her groom and wedding guests