Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wedding Balloons and the Great Outdoors

A few years ago I was the decorator of a wedding in which the bride was very specific with her decor ideas, thanks to Pinterest! Don't get me wrong, I love Pinterest, and think that it is a great source of inspiration. But I also think that many of shots that can be found on the site, especially of 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 recreate beautiful but unrealistic decor that she has viewed on Pinterest? 
Unfortunately, unlike the bride, I did not see beautifully arranged sets of helium filled balloons. I saw the potential for a tangled mess of balloons!

Honesty being the best policy, I decided that it would be in both of our best interests to explain all the potential problems of creating what she wanted, in this case having helium balloons outside, while also providing better ideas and suggestions of what would work well instead.

Topiary and Greenery Column by Sue Bowler

So what factors should you look out for 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 slightly is a very good idea if you know they will be used outdoors. 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 will give them plenty of room to expand in the heat. You could also 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 an inevitable occurence 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 advices 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 prevent your decor from falling over or blowing away, it will also help to inhibit people taking your work! 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, as  I felt that they would not retain their elegant appearance. I was able to steer her towards what I believed would make a perfect substitute.

Air-Filled Balloon Topiaries.

The term 'topiary' refers to a three-dimensional frame whose surface is covered with air-filled balloons, which forms a three-dimensional sculpture. This technique 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. The latter option is the version of topiary that I will be using.

Some really excellent features about this type of design is that it is:

  • Air-filled.
  • The balloons will be under-inflated so they will cope well with heat and temperature changes.
  • They will be secured to weighted bases, which increases stability and prevents them from falling over. 
  • They can be pre-made and transported to the venue
  • They will last many days, or even weeks or months!

My Bride's colour scheme was Classic Blue. I previously wrote a blog called Working with Colour Trends - Shades of Blue that has some creative ideas on how to work with this colour scheme.

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 it was important that the decor survive being left outdoors, using predominantly under-inflated Pearl White balloons was my best choice. I also wanted to introduce a small element of the accent colour, which I was able to do using small double stuffed under-inflated 5" Jewel Sapphire balloons and Sapphire Blue ribbon.

The test design that I made (on the left) stood approximately 5' or 1.5m. I felt that this was a good height, not too over-bearing and would work well when positioned on either side of the venue entrance. The 11" Pearl White balloons were inflated to approximately 7".

The pole of the stand was first covered with a 646Q white balloon that was stretched over the pole and then covered again with white tulle. 

The Base 5-balloon cluster was inflated to 7", the 5" balloons were inflated to 4".

I used the tulle from the column to secure the topiary to the pole.

Here are instructions on how to make the perfect Topiary Ball:

I would like to thank you to Kathy BuellMike HarrisDave RobertsSteve Painter, Connie Iden-MondsRuti Grodzinsky and Jun Lor for their ultra helpful tips and suggestions for working with balloons outside.

Here are a few more wedding ideas that would be "safe" to use for outdoor wedding decorations. All these designs and more are available to view in the Balloon Decor section of the Inspirational tab on If you are a QBN member, you can download these to use for your marketing and social media campaigns.

Radiant Heart Column

This shiny column featuring Chrome™ latex balloons is a gorgeous way to spread the love and dazzle all who encounter it.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Peach/Pink Arch

For weddings, anniversaries, or any other event, this amazing Arch will leave spectators spellbound.
Designer name: Sue Bowler, CBA, BalloonArt by Sue Bowler, Oxfordshire, UK

Wedding Arch

Balloons integrate perfectly into the ceremony in this wedding scene!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Elegant Air-Filled Column by Sue Bowler

Mr. and Mrs. Tassels

Helium inflate these giant 3' latex balloons for a lucky bride and groom. Perfect for a great photo shot! 

Happy Ballooning!



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Buy Personalised Helium Balloons said...

that topiary and greenery column is just beautiful, no wonder party balloons can exhilarate the ambience if used in such creative ways