Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wedding Balloons and the great outdoors!

I will be decorating a wedding later this year. The bride has been pretty specific with her decor ideas with thanks to Pinterest! Don't get me wrong, I love Pinterest and think that it is a great source of inspiration. But I think that many of us are aware that a great deal of the shots, especially wedding designs are staged and therefore are not always as practical as they appear in the picture!

So what do you do when a bride asks you to provide large helium filled balloon bouquets that are to be positioned outside the entrance of the venue that you are decorating?

Unfortunately, unlike my bride,  I don't see beautifully arranged sets of helium filled balloons. I see a tangled mess of balloons flying horizontally!

Honesty being the best policy, I decided that it would be in both our best interest to explain all the potential problems of putting balloons outside, but also gave some great ideas and suggestions of what would work well instead.

So what are the potential problems when decorating with balloons outside?

Here are a few great suggestions and solutions from a group of industry experts from the QBN Facebook Group.

  • Both air and helium expand when they get warm. So under inflating balloons is a very good idea. This applies to both latex and Microfoil® balloons.
  • Avoid using dark colours in bright sunshine. Dark coloured balloons absorb the heat and can easily pop!  If you have to use dark colours use bigger balloons such as 16" and then size them down to 10.5", this give them plenty of room to expand in the heat. Or pre-stretch your balloons prior to using them and do not use them fully inflated. 
  • Balloons displayed in the sun will oxidise pretty quickly. Oxidation gives the balloons a 'frosted' or 'velvety' appearance. You can use Balloon Shine to help prevent this process or you can explain  to the customer that this is what will happen and that it is normal. Pearl Tone balloons do not appear to oxidise as much as other balloons and therefore make them a great choice for outdoor work. However, another member suggests that you should avoid using Balloon Shine as this can cause the balloons to stick together and potentially pop due to movement. I suggest that you test working with Balloon Shine in hot, sunny conditions to ensure that it works well for you.
  • The wind is something that you will need to consider. Balloons can act like a kite or a sail, so depending on what you are doing, you may need to use guidelines or tethers to keep everything in place.
  • If you are using anchors in the ground for your tethers, ensure that there are no water, gas, phone or electrical lines where you want to install your balloons.
  • It is recommended that you always use heavy weights when working outside regardless of the weather. Not only will it secure your decor from falling over or blowing away. It will also help to prevent people taking your work! And if you can add extra tether lines too that will give it extra stability.
  • Using nitrogen to inflate Microfoil balloons can prevent them from deflating in cooler temperatures. 
Our members also say;
  • Don't be afraid to do outside jobs, have fun with them. With the right framing they can be air-filled rather than helium filled, making them more stable and less vulnerable on windy days.
  • Adding inflated 260Q, 350Q and ribbons will add movement to your designs. It enhances designs and uses the element of wind in your favour.
So with all the suggestions and solutions in mind, I decided to recommend to my client that we replace the suggested large helium filled balloon bouquets which I felt would not retain their elegant appearance even with the slightest of wind with something that I believe would make the perfect substitute.

Air-Filled Balloon Topiaries.

The term 'topiary' refers to a three-dimensional frame whose surface is covered with air-filled balloons forming a three-dimensional sculpture. This techniques is often used by balloon artists when building a large sculpture. It also refers to the free-standing sculpture formed when a large cluster of balloons is placed on top of a rod or dowel attached to a base, and that is the version of topiary that I will be using.

The great thing about this type of design is that it is;

  • Air-filled.
  • The balloons will be under-inflated so they will cope with heat and temperature changes.
  • They will be secured to a weighted bases therefore they will be stable and should not fall over.
  • They can be pre-made and transported to the venue
  • They will last many days, even weeks or months!

My Bride's colour scheme is one of this year's top Pantone colour schemes, Classic Blue! I wrote a blog earlier this year called Working with Colour Trends - Shades of Blue that has some great ideas on how to work with this colour harmony.

When you work with such a strong colour, you need to be careful as it can be very domineering and overbearing. In reality the 'colour' of a wedding is generally only an accent colour as white tends to be the domineering colour at most traditional weddings.

As I want the decor to 'survive' being left outside, using predominantly under-inflated Pearl White balloons would appear to be my best choice. I do want to introduce a small element of the accent colour, which I will do with small double stuffed under-inflated 5" Jewel Sapphire balloons and Sapphire Blue ribbon.

The (test) design that I made (on the left) stands approx. 5' or 1.5m. I felt that this was a good height, not too over-bearing and should work well when positioned on either side of the venue entrance. The 11" Pearl White balloons have been inflated to approx. 7".
The pole of the stand has been firstly covered with a 646Q white balloon and covered again afterwards using white tulle. 
The Base 5-balloon cluster has also been inflated to 7", the 5" balloons have been inflated to 4".

Use the tulle from the column to secure the topiary to the pole.

To learn how to create the perfect topiary download these great Instructions from the Qualatex website. For a direct link to these great instructions click here.

I would like to say thank you to Kathy Buell, Mike Harris, Dave Roberts, Steve Painter, Connie Iden-Monds, Ruti Grodzinsky and Jun Lor for their top tips and suggestions for working with balloons outside.

Here are a few other wedding ideas that could be safely used for outdoor wedding decorations. 

For more details on how to make this design
Click HERE
Design courtesy of
For more details on how to make this design by Fiona Fisher CBA
click HERE
For more details on how to make this design by Fiona Fisher CBA
click HERE

For more details on how to make this design
click HERE
Design courtesy of

And don't forget to check out the Wedding Business Booster that is packed with some fantastic wedding ideas, and if you are a QBN Member there are some great extra tips and an exclusive QBN Member Bonus Design too!

Happy Ballooning!


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