Consider Balloons for your Next Party

May 25, 2017 by Grand Central Party

Balloon Artists may not be the first thing that come to mind when planning a party or wedding, but Sam the Balloon Man says they should certainly be on your list!

Balloon Art is Fun

Consider Balloon Art for your Event

Gone are the days of basic helium-filled balloon bouquets as centerpieces; in fact, balloons really have become an impressive art form that appeals to party-goers of all ages.

“We’re experiencing a renaissance of balloon décor,” he explains. “Products are getting better, techniques are getting better, and color matching is getting better.”

Balloons can be broken down into two categories: décor and twisting.

Obviously, décor is comprised of all things balloon-related that add pizzazz to your event. Depending on the extent of the décor, it can be created the day(s) before or the morning of your party.

Balloon twisting, on the other hand, is created by a balloon artist (yes, artist!) on the spot during your celebration. These, too, have come a long way from the classic balloon dog to extravagant wearable airplanes and balloon dresses.

Let’s start with balloon décor.

Sam the Balloon Man (also known as Sam Cremeens) said he can match his balloons to nearly every wedding color and party theme.

If the balloon color doesn’t exist, Sam has a few alternatives up his sleeve.

He can double-up two different-colored balloons, so when they’re inflated, the color changes completely. Or, he can incorporate curlicue twisting balloons with standard round balloons designs to add a special wow factor to things like balloon columns.

“But we can also add another element to balloon décor,” Sam said. “We can install a color-changing LED light setup to match closely to the wedding colors and décor. I can put disco-type lights inside them to create splashes of color and light that move in constant motion. There is no end to what’s possible with balloon décor these days.”

Balloon Art fro Weddings

Balloon Add Pizazz to Events

If draping and uplighting aren’t your style, consider a balloon installation suspended from the ceiling. Sam can mix together balloons of different sizes, colors, patterns, and textures, and then suspend them at varying heights to create an elegant, whimsical element to your special day.

Balloon décor is completely customizable, depending on your preferences and budget. Sam said he’s created wedding décor across the spectrum, from a simple altar to an extravagant $20,000 project that required a crew of 100 balloon artists.

Now let’s explore balloon twisting.

Hiring a balloon twister for your birthday party or company picnic might be the best decision you could ever make! Seriously.

Not only are balloons oh-so-fun and creative, but they’re also entertaining – and not just for kids.

Here’s what you need to know: private parties are typically smaller and can be handled with one balloon twister.

“You’re going to see bigger, flashier, showpiece-type balloons at these parties,” Sam said, adding that means anything from a Ninja Turtle costume to a giant elephant mask to a 5-foot-tall swan hat. “It’s something that stands out and is really big – something parents will have trouble fitting into their cars. It’ll be multi-colored and intricate. I have probably 50 colors to choose from and balloons of all different sizes and designs to work together.”

For larger events like a corporate picnic, Sam will bring in other balloon twisters to help. And while the designs will still be impressive, they probably won’t be as extravagant as they might be at a smaller party.

“We’re usually trying to make them as fast as possible,” he said. “One person might take time to create a showpiece while the other is just pounding them out, then we’ll switch to show versatility. But not everyone is going to get a showpiece.”

Planning a kid-free party for adults? Even better!

“Once you get grown-ups into a party situations and they’ve had a couple of drinks, they turn into giant toddlers,” Sam laughed. “Roughly 60 percent of my business is for the over-21-crowd. They might start out with a simple fascinator or a small corsage, and then later in the night, end up with a 6-foot-tall balloon on top of their head.”

No matter the occasion, balloons can add a super fun element to your celebration. Go ahead, give it a try!

10 Tips for Throwing Stellar Outdoor Parties

May 16, 2017 by Grand Central Party


From Memorial Day to graduation to Father’s Day, outdoor parties abound this time of year! We’ve compiled a list of 10 Tips for Throwing a Stellar Backyard Bash to ensure you – and your guests – have a fantastic time at your next outdoor party!

Outdoor Party Cook out

Grilling for Outdoor Party

Don’t sweat the small staff – Your friends and family have all gathered to celebrate a special occasion, not critique the egg yolk-to-mayo ratio in your deviled egg recipe. Forget about making sure every tiny detail is oh-so-perfect, or you’ll miss out on the good stuff. People love to reminisce on old memories – and make new ones – during parties; it’s one of the best parts of getting folks together. Put down your apron, grab a drink, and relax. You’ll remember those conversations, not the sink full of dishes.

Consider a caterer – Depending on the size of your backyard party, you may want to consider having your event catered. This works especially well for graduation and Memorial Day parties. Opt for smoked BBQ, and ask everyone to bring a side. Or stick with basics like baked beans and coleslaw. And if you plan on grilling, make sure you have propane (or charcoal) to avoid a last-minute dash to Walgreens.

Spring for a tent – Summertime can be H-O-T in Middle Tennessee. Let’s be real, it can be hot in the middle of October, too! If your backyard doesn’t have any shade trees, consider renting one of our tents. We’re happy to bring everything, set it up, and then take it down after your party. Easy, peasy.

Pick your playlist – Complete your perfect backyard barbecue with some music! Whether you’re a fan of pop, hip hop, or rock ‘n’ roll, be sure to consider your crew’s preferences, too. This is especially true if you’re bringing together different groups of friends and family whose only thing is common is you. Pandora has a fun Hipster Cocktail Party station that works well for just about any outdoor celebration.

Have a seat – When parties are held indoors, people will find a place to sit – couches, bar stools, ottomans – but outside is a different story. Once your party-goers make a plate of food, they’ll want to sit down and eat. Don’t be caught off guard without enough folding chairs. Rest assured, we’ve got you covered! We can be as casual or as fancy as you’d like, plus you don’t have to worry about purchasing (and storing) a ton of chairs all year long.

Yard Games – How fun is this list of 25 Yard Games?! Pick your favorites and set them up for your next backyard bash. If you’re feeling crafty, make your own; if DIY-ing isn’t your forte, you can just purchase giant Jenga or cornhole from a store. Oversized yard games offer your party-goers something another way to interact with one another and have some fantastic fun!

Don’t forget sunscreen – If you’re planning a pool party or just an outdoor barbecue, provide your guests with sunscreen and bug spray. Toss them into a cute basket by the door for easy access. Most folks aren’t in the habit of applying sunscreen until temperatures warm up for good, and they’ll be grateful you remembered.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Nothing kills a festive party quite like someone overheating. We all love a nice ice cold beer on a hot summer day, but it’s easy to get dehydrated, so be sure to stock up on bottled water for your party, too. Offer them on ice in a colorful party bucket so guests can easily hydrate during the festivities.

Get creative with your cake – Skip the sugary richness of a sheet cake and opt for a super fun fruity version instead. We absolutely love this No Bake Watermelon Cake (or even this super cool Edible Watermelon Art Pirate Ship)! Strawberries are in season right now, so head over to the Nashville Farmers’ Market for perfectly ripe produce, or wait a little longer for blackberries and blueberries. Yum!

Can I park here? – Once you know how many guests are attending your party, consider all your parking options. Can they park in the grass? Or maybe a neighboring elementary school? Go ahead and let them know what the parking situation will be before they arrive. This is absolutely essential if you live in a neighborhood where parking is limited. Or better yet, encourage them to carpool or take a Lyft.

What You Really Need to Know About Wedding Photography: Part II

May 3, 2017 by Grand Central Party

We’re back again with the fabulous Rachel Tenpenny of Brasspenny Photography to learn more about wedding photography.

We covered quite a bit of general wedding photography questions in What You Really Need to Know About Wedding Photography: Part I, and now we’re asking more specific questions.

Strike the perfect Wedding pose

Image courtesy of Brasspenny Photography

So, cozy up with your spouse-to-be and get answers to all the questions you’ve been dying to ask a professional photographer.!

Q: How soon should couples take engagement photos? And how can they use these photos besides posting them on Facebook?

A: How soon you take engagement photos is totally up to you, but most people want to use them for Save The Dates which typically get sent out about six months before your wedding. Side note: You’ll need to see what your photographer’s turnaround time is for photos to ensure they can be ready in time.

Now, if your wedding is in August, then six months prior is February, so my couples would need to shoot no later than the beginning of January. That said, if shooting in the dead of Winter is not your thing, then I’d suggest moving it up to catch the Fall colors in October or so!

Q: Oftentimes brides (and grooms!) want the exact same pose, look, etc. they see in a Pinterest photo. What’s your advice in these situations?

A: I always tell my brides that if there’s one or two shots that they will #literallydie without, I will totally honor those requests. But aside from that, I do not accept Pinterest Request Lists.

For starters, there are too many variables. When I see the photo, I’m thinking, “Okay. What is it she loves about this? The pose? The lighting? The location?”

Secondly, some poses truly only work with certain couples; some are so height-specific that they only truly work well if the couple is close in height. So, if you are in a relationship with someone who is a foot and a half taller than you are, we’re going to have to play with the positions to make it perfect for you.

Relax and have fun with Wedding Photography

Image courtesy of Brasspenny Photography

And thirdly, if your photographer is checking off a list of Pinterest poses all day during your wedding, they’re not going to be able to truly capture YOUR wedding, as it is unique to YOU and your fiancé. Wanting a few generic Pinterest poses is fine, but it shouldn’t consume your wedding day.

Q: How can the bride and groom relax before a photo shoot?

A: Have a glass of champagne. Just kidding. But really, seriously, sometimes before an engagement session, I grab a drink with my couples!

I also feel like the couples I work with who come to the shoot with a really laid-back attitude have more fun; it seems counter-intuitive, but if you make it a big deal in your head (of course it’s meaningful and important and a big deal, but hear me out), you’re going to feel more nervous!!

If you encourage yourself and your sweetie that it’s all about fun and flirting with each other, if you make sure to whisper jokes to make them giggle at inappropriate moments, etc., then you’re going to have so much more fun and get photos back that feel natural and genuine.

Q: Pre-wedding reveal – do or don’t?

A: All photographers are biased for the First Look because it’s the most logical and photo-friendly way. But like I said, with proper planning, everything can be done the way you’ve been dreaming of doing it without an insane timeline and tons of stress.

Rachel covered more First Look details in What You Really Need to Know About Wedding Photography: Part I

Q: Boudoir photos are so much freaking fun — what’s your advice for ladies who are nervous, but want to try it?

A:  GO FOR IT. Show me a lady who wasn’t nervous before she did a boudoir shoot, and I’ll give you $100. Seriously!!

Everyone is nervous, but no matter what kinda body you’re rocking, no matter what your style is, no matter how shy or outgoing you are, I have yet to see a woman walk away from her boudoir shoot feeling bad about herself.

And I’ve yet to see a groom who didn’t SERIOUSLY love his Little Black Book. (Plus, one secret nobody tells you is that boudoir photos are just as much as a gift to yourself as it is to him.)

When I did my own boudoir shoot, I was so nervous!!! I was worried about my mom tummy and all my little imperfections. But the entire process – between the music and my photographer and having someone make my hair and makeup look gorgeous and the mimosas – I felt like SUCH a babe. And when I saw the photos on the back of the camera during the shoot, I was just thinking, “WOW. ” It was way more rejuvenating than any massage or hair appointment.

What You Need to Know About Wedding Photography: Part I

April 24, 2017 by Grand Central Party

 If a picture is worth a thousand words, then wedding photographs are priceless.

You’ve already found THE PERFECT dress and a handsome groom. Plus, you’ve designed your wedding bouquet (with hot pink peonies, of course), rented a tent, selected a cake. The list goes on.

Wedding Photography

Image courtesy of Brasspenny Photography

Don’t forget to capture the magic of your special day with professional photographs – the key word being “professional – that will last a lifetime.

We sat down with Nashville-based wedding photographer, Rachel Tenpenny of Brasspenny Photography, to get the scoop on wedding photography! This is only Part I, so stayed tuned for Part II.

Q: What is your number one recommendation when selecting a photographer?

A: Find someone whose style you love and whose work is consistent and trustworthy. Ask the prospective photographer to send you 2-3 full wedding galleries. They should have no problem obliging – and it gives you a glimpse into the kind of work they do for a full wedding, not just the best images that they share on their website or Instagram.

Also, ignore the “What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” lists that are scattered across Pinterest; it doesn’t really matter what gear your photographer uses, as long as they are delivering work you love.

Q: What does a typical wedding day photo schedule look like? And how do you get all the photos without keeping your guests waiting forever?

Day-of wedding schedules vary from wedding to wedding, but here’s a typical wedding day for me:

I arrive about an hour before the girls finish getting ready, so I can snag Getting Ready shots of the girls and guys, as well as set-up shots, hang-the-dress, and gorgeous detail shots of the rings and other goodies.

After everyone is dressed, we start portraits. If we do a First Look, then it goes first, and then we finish as many photos as possible prior to the ceremony; we finish the rest afterward.

First Looks are a great way to speed up the post-ceremony photography process and get you to reception – and to partying with your guests – sooner. But certainly, don’t feel obligated to do one if you’re a more traditional bride.

About 50 percent of my brides don’t do a First Look, and we’re still able to get about 60 percent of photos done prior to the ceremony (shots that include the bride and groom together can be done after nuptials are exchanged).

When a bride and groom does a First Look, we typically ONLY do golden hour couples’ photos after the ceremony (the rest is finished beforehand). And if they opt to keep it traditional, then we usually have about 30-40 minutes of photos before the reception.

I always ask my brides to fill out a formal Family Shot List so we know exactly what we’re working with prior to the wedding day.

And sometimes, if schedules are tight after the ceremony, we will finish bridal party and family, then go to the reception for the introduction/first dance, and while guests are being served dinner, the couple and I sneak out for 15-20 minutes of golden hour photos.

There are a MILLION ways to make your wedding day dreams work for you, but they key is proper planning from the beginning.

Learn about Wedding Photography

Image courtesy of Brasspenny Photography

Q: Let’s talk dollars and cents. Wedding photography can cost more than the dress! Please explain.
A: I think a lot of couples are shocked at the sticker price of wedding photography. As cheesy as this saying goes, it’s true: other than your all-consuming passion and love for each other, wedding photography is literally the ONLY thing you are purchasing for your wedding that is going to last forever – and that you will be using again and again.

Don’t you want to make sure it’s of high quality???

If a price tag looks low – and you know you’re paying for a beginner or student – you have to expect that quality of work. If you are working with a full-time wedding photographer who has been in the industry for 8 or 9 years, their prices will reflect as much.

Never be afraid to do your research, so you know what the going rate for quality wedding photography is in your area.

Know that your photographer isn’t “just getting paid for 8 hours at your wedding.” Oftentimes, the price tag can very easily be broken down beyond the time spent shooting on your wedding day and time spent editing. Photographers still have to keep up their business, and their pricing factors in things like business insurance, equipment upkeep, the little amenities you receive throughout the process like online gallery delivery, etc. that aren’t necessarily included in the “wedding package,” but are all very much part of the whole package.

Keep in mind: most photographers are aware that every couple has a budget, and most photographers are also willing to work out personal payment plans, as well as tailor packages to fit your needs.

Check out Part 2.

Alternative Wedding Times: Say ‘I Do’ Over Breakfast

April 13, 2017 by Grand Central Party

Who says weddings have to start at a particular time? Sure, there’s traditional etiquette that dictates black tie and seated dinners, but why not have some fun and  plan an alternative wedding time?

Alternative Wedding Times

Break Tradition with an Early Morning Wedding

If you’re looking for a way to make your special day unique, consider an alternative wedding time: breakfast, brunch, or late-night.

This is especially helpful if your venue’s availability is limited or if you want to schedule your wedding on a Sunday or weekday.

One tidbit of advice: while your wedding day is your special day, be considerate of your guests (especially younger and older family members), who may not be night owls.

Whatever time you select for your big day, let it represent your style as the bride and groom. Personalized weddings are not only more fun, but much more memorable for you and your guests.

Rise & Shine

If you’re truly a morning person, early-morning is the perfect alternative wedding time for you! (Side note: If you’re not a morning person, don’t even chance it. You DO NOT want to oversleep on your wedding day – or wake up super cranky because you didn’t get enough rest.)

You – and your entire wedding party – will have to wake up early. Read: E-A-R-L-Y. Morning ceremonies typically start around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. Any later, and you’re having a brunch wedding. More on that later.

Chances are, your pre-ceremony to-dos will be slightly rushed (there’s just so much to do), but that means more time for the reception!

If your ceremony is outdoors, you’re almost guaranteed the most beautiful natural lighting (barring any unforeseen weather, in which case, we have tents!). And if you’re planning a summertime wedding, an early-morning ceremony means you’ll miss the noontime heat.

Not everyone is ready for a heavy breakfast first thing in the morning, so consider fruit, light breakfast-y foods, and hors d’oeuvres like these French toast and maple syrup cups.

If you and your groom are super fun and playful, opt for a cereal bar, complete with a variety of milks, cereals, and toppings.

Coffee is always a good idea, but it’s an absolutely must for pre-noon weddings. Offer Bailey’s as a creamer with an extra boost to get your guests relaxed and ready to mingle.

An array of freshly-squeezed juices adds a nice touch to an early wedding reception. Break open some champagne, and voilà! Now you have a pretty, fruity mimosa bar!

While most morning ceremonies are very mellow and relaxed, the reception is sure to be just as energetic as an evening wedding. After all, who doesn’t love an afternoon dance party?!

The best part about a morning wedding? When you lovebirds leave, it’s still early-afternoon, so there’s plenty of time – and daylight – to be giddy newlyweds.

Go enjoy the expensive hotel suite you booked for your wedding night! Not only will you have time for a truly romantic dinner with your new spouse, but your wedding hair and makeup will still be oh-so-lovely from your morning ceremony.

Bonus points if you wind up in bed at a decent hour and wake up the next morning sans hangover.

Brunch, anyone?

Brunch may just be our favorite meal of the day. If your closet is full of super cute brunch tees, then it’s probably your favorite meal, too!

If that’s the case, opt for a brunch-time wedding. Seriously. It’s totally a thing.

You’ll get to sleep in later than you would for a morning ceremony and you still get to enjoy the mimosa bar!

Speaking of bars, let’s explore our options. BuzzFeed compiled a list of the Top 10 Beautiful Brunch Bars, and we are absolutely smitten! Spice up No. 10 with some Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for a touch of Nashville flair.

Brunch is inherently casual, but dress it up with china and fresh blooms for a soft, romantic feel. This works for indoor and outdoor weddings.

If you are planning an outdoor wedding, keep in mind that your ceremony and reception will take place during the hottest part of the day (sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.). Be sure to visit your venue during that timeframe so you can have an idea of lighting and temperature.

Liven up your early-afternoon nuptials with some interactive games (think: croquet, corn hole, jumbo Jenga, and even mini golf) that will keep your guests entertained while the wedding party takes photos. Plus, it can also keep younger family members entertained because, let’s be real, kiddos get wiggly during weddings.

The early-afternoon wrap time still applies to brunch-time weddings, which means the bride and groom will have a full evening to bask in their newlywed glow.

Calling all night owls

If mornings aren’t your thing and a dinner reception is out of your budget, consider a late-night ceremony-and-reception combo.

This your chance to be super whimsical and non-traditional. Maybe you offer cocktails to your guests upon arrival and invite them to toast your vow exchange. Invite a local food truck for quick, quirky menu options.

Aim for an 8 or 9 o’clock start time, so older family members can head home after the reception.

Guests will likely have had dinner, but they’ll definitely want some munchies. Go ahead and plan for a coffee bar to keep friends and family awake for the late-night dance party.

Splurge on lighting – whether you love string lights for an outdoor ceremony, ornate chandeliers for a romantic reception, or swirling LEDs for the dance floor.

We also recommend a shuttle service for guests to get safely back to the hotel. This is a nice amenity for all weddings, but especially one with a late-night (or very early-morning) end time.