A Basic Guide to Wedding Balloons
No matter how big or small your wedding, balloons can transform your venue and create that special ‘feel good’ feeling, not only for you, but especially for your guests when they see the room for the first time. This guide is intended to point you in the right direction when booking someone to decorate your wedding.
Before we start; we get a lot of phone calls from UK mainland about balloons for weddings, but as we are based in Northern Ireland, that’s the area that we cover when decorating venues. Sorry.
FINDING A SUPPLIER
The best way to find someone to supply your balloons is by recommendation from someone who has used them in the past, or, failing that, by a bit of careful research. In the first place, it isn’t rocket science to blow up balloons, but we have seen some pitiful attempts at decorating where the balloons are all different sizes and every table has balloons at different heights.
If you can’t get a recommendation from a friend, the first place to try is the wedding coordinator at your venue; but don’t stop there, ask at reception for the person who normally looks after setting up the room as they are usually there when the balloons are being blown up and know both the person and how professional they are.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
And not just any old pictures but ones that show LOCAL venues or even your own wedding venue actually decorated by the person you are considering booking.
Ask them if they wouldn’t mind giving you a couple of names of weddings that they have recently done.
Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but cheap balloons are widely available. Nine inch balloons are sometimes used and the cheap ones will only float for 3 - 5 hours, so they will be just about landing on the table when you are starting your desert, we use them ourselves for balloon releases or promotional balloons for filling with air, but for a wedding?
You should ask them what make they use. Qualatex balloons are full size 11” balloons which hold the gas well and have a long float time. (about 18 hours) They are the only balloons we ever use for weddings or dinner functions and are normally pearl or metallic finish. Always ask for a sample balloon so that you can blow it up at home and match the colour. Make sure that you blow it up to the full 11 or 16 inches by measuring between two chairs set at the correct distance apart and hold it up to the dark side of the room as well as the well lit side.
Balloons have to be done on the morning of the wedding unless they are all foil balloons or they have been treated with ‘Hi-Float’ to make them float for an extended period.
If they are going to deliver the balloons the day before, ask for a full explanation on how they stay up for so long and why you can’t have them on the morning when they are fresh and haven’t oxidized. (balloons - even the best ones - fade the longer they stay up)
QBN (Qulatex Balloon Network) or NAABS (The Balloon Association) are the two of the best known in the UK and both have websites with a list of members that are searchable for your area.
Don’t however get too hung up on membership as a lot of balloon professionals haven’t bothered to join any association or have let their membership lapse, but are still extremely competent.
We always recommend that before confirming your balloons you should meet up at the venue (on a day when there isn’t a function on) and take a walk around to see the various areas in daylight that could benefit from balloons; and if the wedding is months away, we organise to meet when we are actually there, decorating a wedding, so that we can show you some balloons in your colour scheme and let you see the room decorated.
A lot of balloon companies baffle you with fancy names for standard decorating designs and then charge the earth for them because they sound impressive. ie: You have to buy one of our Pearl Rainbow Delight Canopies - a balloon arch.
Some other companies will make suggestions for every area and then hit you with a totally amazing price without actually explaining what they will be supplying. Always get a detailed quotation BEFORE you pay any deposit
You are told that your balloons will cost £150, but after paying your deposit they then add on delivery, set-up charges, balloon weights, mileage, helium gas and even VAT, which incidentally is illegal - all prices quoted to private individuals must be all inclusive of VAT.
Make sure that the price you think you are being charged includes delivery, mileage, set-up, 11” or larger balloons, ribbon, gas and VAT, basically everything.
If it looks like they are trying to hide something, walk away.
Obviously you can have balloons anywhere you want but the main areas are: the entrance, the guest tables, the top table and the cake table.
The dance floor is also very popular but we always try to use re-use the balloons from the entrance and the top table to decorate the dance floor. Yes - we could charge more for decorating the dance floor separately, but when you treat customers as you would like to be treated yourself, it’s just plain old ‘word of mouth’ advertising at it’s best.
After all of the above, don’t forget that everybody has to start somewhere; so if the person you are considering to decorate your wedding is only just new to the business, give them a chance to show you what they can do and let them convince you to use them.
I think that if you even follow some of the tips in this guide, you won’t go far wrong.
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