Balloons At Receptions: Dos and Don’ts

I know, I know. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking ‘balloons’ is Junior’s third birthday party, not a chic wedding reception. But while it’s common to think of balloons as juvenile, don’t discount them just yet.
Done wrong, they’re admittedly ghetto unfabulous. Done right, balloons at wedding receptions can be quite pretty… but there are a few tricks to using them in your wedding decor. First, think of balloons as auxiliary reception decor, not the focal point. Balloons work best as wedding reception decor when they fade into the background. Second, wedding balloon bouquets and other novelty balloon creations? Pass. And third, stick to plain latex balloons. Mylar balloons really are for the kiddies.

wedding balloons 2

For those brides and grooms even considering using balloons in their reception decor, here are the dos and the don’ts:

DO treat balloons as a means of camouflaging boring or ugly reception venue ceilings. A mass of subtly colored helium balloons with dangling strings bobbing just below a very high ceiling can look rather ethereal. A somber space can even become rather radiant with the judicious application of lighting and balloons. Rather not use helium? Balloons can be hung upside down from ribbons strung from wall to wall.

DON’T look to your senior prom for inspiration. I’m sure plenty of us remember the sand-filled, cellophane-wrapped centerpieces that serve no purpose other than using up space on a table and keeping a bunch of balloons from floating into space. These are not, I repeat not, elegant. They’re shiny, and there’s a difference.

DO stick to a simple color palette. Pastels work surprisingly well, possibly because the subdued hues let the balloons become an innocuous splash of color that blends into a larger decor scheme. In other words, think of balloons like filler flowers rather than the main blossom. They shouldn’t be standing out.

DON’T go overboard. If you have balloons floating above, don’t also have balloon columns flanking the doorways and a balloon arch over the cake and balloons tied to tables and a balloon tunnel leading into the ballroom. In fact, don’t have large archways or tunnels at all. Use balloons sparingly at in your reception space for the best results, lest your wedding end up looking like a Sweet 16 in the 80s.

DO go for larger balloons when your balloons will be tethered to a table, as seen in the first pic in this white wedding color scheme post. Bigger balloons, oddly enough, look less like balloons and more decorative, like rice paper lanterns or globe lights (especially when backed by some kind of light source).

And finally DON’T do this:

wedding balloons 4

I’m not even sure what *this* is and why it was done, but just don’t.

11 Responses to “Balloons At Receptions: Dos and Don’ts”

  1. met December 9, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    I love the ceiling full of balloons. What a neat way to dress it up, especially in a hotel or somewhere else with less than lovely ceilings. I have always loved the look of those big round balloons. They really do look less balloony.

  2. Bryan December 11, 2009 at 1:33 am #

    Balloons can be turned into something elegant…Liked the concept! It’s new to me!

  3. La Petite Acadienne December 11, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    If I walked into a wedding reception like either of those photos, I’d have to leave — I have a phobia of balloons.

  4. Never teh Bride December 11, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    I’ll admit, La Petite Acadienne, that I find the second photo a lot more horrifying than the first. Does the bride not look somewhat like an octopus? And the balloon groom… he has giant feet.

  5. Deanderthal December 11, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Balloons always seem to say Birthday Party to me as well. So I left them out of my wedding decor. We did consider them as a possible “thing to have in the pool at our venue to keep people from playing in it or thinking about throwing me in”, tied to weights and kind of half-submerged bobbing. BUT, one of my guests has a balloon phobia so we just decided to leave them out.

    It didn’t stop my MIL from, on the day of the wedding, randomly going out and buying about 50 balloons in every color, having them filled with helium, and then bringing them in insisting I use them to re-decorate because she liked them better.

    I even told her about my guest and she DARED to suggest “well tell her not to come”. WHAT. >.<

    I am FOREVER grateful that the entirety of the rest of my inlaw family put a stop to that. They backed me up, shot her down, and took them from her to hide away in a back room.

    But because I'm nice, after my friend with the phobia left for the night, I brought them out and the new hubby and I took some photos with them. This seemed to make her very happy…..and it was a nice compromise.

  6. Never teh Bride December 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    @Deanderthal I want to applaud you for not freaking out when your MIL showed up with the balloons, thinking of your friend with the phobia, *and* being so kind as to bring the balloons out for photos just to please your MIL. Not every bride would have done all that… maybe the first two, but the third? Genius. It was indeed a great compromise and probably endeared you to your sweetie’s mother for the rest of your life.

  7. La Petite Acadienne December 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    That’s awesome that you were so understanding of your friend with the phobia, as many people aren’t. Some even think it’s funny to squeeze a balloon around a phobic person or chase them around with one. Even my own husband didn’t fully understand until the time he was teasing me with one and I started hyperventilating and crying.

  8. Never teh Bride December 12, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    @La Petite Acadienne You know I never thought of it as a phobia, but I get totally freaked out when people pop balloons or threaten to pop them. Glad to know I’m not alone in that!

  9. Twistie December 12, 2009 at 9:08 pm #

    NtB and La Petite Acadienne, you should have known my mother. She was severely phobic about balloons, too. We pretty much never had balloons as kids. And no, I never felt particularly put upon over that. We had other stuff that I thought was more fun, anyway.

    Oh, and Deanderthal clearly wins Most Gracious Bride of the Decade for her amazingly deft handling of the situation.

  10. tom perera December 24, 2009 at 8:08 am #

    Very pretty… the wedding balloons look just amazing.
    All I can say is….wow.

    This was a wonderful wedding

  11. bridal registry January 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    But why? Its so cute! I have to, I have to!