EVERY WEDDING IS loaded with challenges, whether it's a hard-to-please bride, a remote site or transporting guests smoothly. For a weekend wedding on a small island off the coast of Los Angeles, Long Beach, California-based A Great Event greeted each new challenge with a heavy dose of creativity.
The night before the wedding, the celebration began with a casual Hawaiian luau for the 300 wedding guests. With the Pacific Ocean for a backdrop, guests were greeted at the outdoor Descanso Beach Club on Catalina Island, California, with traditional floral and sea shell leis. It was imperative to the client that the luau be a traditional Hawaiian feast. The solution: A Great Event had a 300-pound pig prepared and cooked for four days in a pit on Maui, Hawaii. When done, the pig was wrapped in canvas and flown to Catalina Island. "We built a platform to hold the pig and had it carried through the party to start the feast," says Kevin Lemmon, president.
Eight-foot tables were covered with brilliant multicolored tablecloths made from Hoffman's Hawaiian Fabrics. Each table featured a small hammock centerpiece filled with tropical fruit and Hawaiian nuts. For entertainment, the event team staged an outdoor Hawaiian show.
The wedding, which took place in the Avalon Theater on the bottom level of the Catalina Casino, was six months in the planning. The main challenge was shipping 18,000 pounds of decor from Long Beach to Catalina Island. "We had to be involved in every aspect of shipping-from how it's packed to how they ship it to who unloads it," says Lemmon.
The architecture and interior design of the vintage theater-art deco-dictated the theme of the wedding. To that end, the designers added touches of elegance throughout the theater, using lots of floral, specifically calla and casablanca lilies, which set a sophisticated tone. "We had the calla lilies flown in from a grower in Mexico," Lemmon says.
Tulle and candles were placed on the half walls that circled the sides of the theater. "Because no lighted candles were allowed, we brought in 400 electric candles with twinklelights and wrapped them in beeswax," he says.
One challenge was to modify the Avalon Theater design so that the bride could walk to center stage. The theater had an orchestra pit between the stage and guests' seats and two small side stairways. The solution was to construct a platform between the stage and seats.
Twelve-inch sweetheart cherubs holding a special candle graced the front of the stage, creating a romantic mood. At the back of the stage, large Italian pillars held centerpieces of cascading calla lilies.
Baseball-style stadium ramps moved people to different levels of the ballroom. To make these "more romantic," Lemmon and his team wrapped them with yards of lame. "It took a crew of 10 four days to wrap ramp railings in aqua velvet and purple lame with gold/pink lame swaggings," Lemmon says.
The casino also boasts the largest circular ballroom in the world. The ballroom has three tiers and a surrounding terrace overlooking the ocean-all of which had to be decorated. One directive from the bride was that her collection of moon ornaments be included in the decor. On that note, the centerpiece of the ballroom was a hanging 18-foot-long recreation of the bride's favorite moon ornament with the bride and groom's first initials mounted in neon. Under it was a colonnade of gold and silver leafing with cascading floral arrangements and cherubs.
The guests' tables, covered with custom ivory linens and silver overlays, circled the colonnade. Chair covers were also custom-made in ivory with silver overlays. Each table bore a 9-foot wrought-iron centerpiece, festooned with calla lilies, casablanca lilies and palms. A metal hanger towered out of the arrangement top, displaying the bride's collectable moon ornament. A gift ornament for each guest hung from rods curling up from the base.
To complete the look, Lemmon says, "we used more than 1,300 yards of rose, purple and silver lame to cover the stage, and then added balustrades and pillars to frame it."