“I love it when a plan comes together.”
Wedding reception decorating. Doesn’t sound very exciting? Well, what if I mention helium tanks, balloon volume, problem solving, time crunch, gas capacity, and lift ability? All of that makes for a very exciting afternoon on the day of your son’s wedding when you are attempting to decorate a church’s multi-purpose room/gymnasium to make it look not so gymmy (I know it’s not a word, but I’m using it, anyway). And in a way that none of you have done before. A way so unique, it’s not even on Pinterest….yet!
So that was the task ahead of us–to make delightful decor that would add pizzazz, yet not break the bank. And I had an idea–I had seen it about 25 years ago at my younger brother’s wedding. He, too, had the reception in a church gym, and his bride had used an idea to make a not-so-exciting room look amazing. She had hung white tulle in lovely swooping swags across the ceiling of the gym, suspended from clouds of white helium balloons.
But I didn’t know how to do it. My sister-in-law lived in another state and was busy with little ones. I couldn’t find instructions for anything similar on the internet. I actually had lots and lots of tulle that a friend was letting me borrow. But I didn’t know how many balloons or how much helium to use.
Thankfully, it’s amazing what you can find on the internet. I downloaded a helium balloon weight and lift capacity chart. There really is such a thing! My husband and I grabbed pen and paper and began doing the math. The tulle we borrowed was in 20 ft sections, so we weighed a section, figured out what size balloons we wanted, and made our estimation for how many balloons we would need. We reserved a helium tank from a local party store, and enlisted the help of friends and family for the day of the wedding.
We couldn’t try out the idea the night before, since helium balloons lose their air too quickly. It had to be done the day of the wedding, only hours before the big moment. But the night before the wedding, when we did the other decorating, people started doubting my plan and suggesting lots of ideas for other ways we could use the balloons and tulle. My confidence burst…well…like a balloon.
But I rallied and insisted we must try the idea first. If it didn’t work, we would do something else–really fast.
And do you know what? It worked!! It was actually amazing! We had our little mishaps and figured out things we should have done differently, but we did it! When the guests walked into the gym, their eyes were drawn upward and many “Oooh” and “Wow” and “How did you do that?” were heard.
So that’s why I’m writing this post—to give specific tips and directions from all that we learned, so you can do it, too!
Tips and Directions:
- Enlist help. You’ll need people to inflate the balloons, tie ribbon to them, tie the balloons together in groups, and tie the tulle together. This will take several hours.
- Since our tulle was already cut in 20 ft sections, we used a rubber band to connect them and tied the balloons to that spot. If you have one long, continuous piece, just figure out a simple way to attach your balloons at regular intervals.
- Inflate the balloons in a hallway or room with a low ceiling, in case they escape.
- Attach each row of tulle and balloons at each end of the wall with fishing line and a removable Command strip. You can attach tulle to the wall instead of fishing line, but it weighs more. Attaching to the wall stabilizes each row and gives you a way to get it all down when the party is over.
- Order your balloons and ribbon in bulk from a place like https://www.bargainballoons.com/ If you run short, you can always run to Walmart (we did).
- Use the chart to figure out how many balloons you need. Then double it. The weight of the tulle makes the balloons sink faster than you’d expect. For example, I thought we would need 6 balloons at each peak. We used 9, and had to add more.
- Rent a helium tank from a local party store. Actually, rent 2 so you don’t have to go back for another one, like we did. (See #6)
- Have extra balloons ready to go in a nearby room for reinforcements. When we had some sections begin to slowly droop, my brother-in-law was ready with a pair of balloons with their ribbons tied together at the end. Pulling apart the 2 balloons, he would let them loose below a grouping and they would catch in the peak and give the others a needed lift. The guests would cheer!
Above all, enjoy the day! The point of it all is for two people to get married. And that is what will happen, no matter if the balloons sink, or any other minor mishap occurs. And remember, they are all minor mishaps in the big scheme of things. Have fun!