We asked Neva Ward of Bright And Beautiful – a local event decorator and flower & table décor guru – to share her passion with us. She also gives us a handful of awesome and helpful tips to make our Christmas tables pop with individuality and style this festive season!
Q: How did you get into Event Décor and co-ordination?
I have always had a passion for flowers and all things beautiful. I did a flower arranging course with Joan Pare when I matriculated although I never pursued floristry as a career path. I continued to enjoy arranging flowers in my home and was always on the lookout for new ideas.
Later in life I was involved on the Child Welfare Society fund raising committee. We organized an annual charity ball in Cape Town which was always very kindly hosted by the Mount Nelson Hotel. Beautiful, stylish table settings were very much part of the ambience of the whole evening. I was never personally involved with the flowers but it was good experience and I gained confidence. At this time I was also involved in other fund raising events and started to learn what working under pressure was all about. Being the one responsible for an event being a success or failure can be daunting but I discovered that I was really good at working under pressure and thrived on it.
Between 2000 – 2007 I worked at a private restaurant in Cape Town and became responsible for the table decor along with the other administrative tasks. During this time I was able to observe various dining dynamics eg. What made a successful party and was it good food alone or a variety of elements that contributed to the success? In 2007 I decided to branch out on my own and concentrate all my efforts on what I love best – flowers, table decor and the many elements that make the dining experience a success. Bright and Beautiful became a reality. I was lucky enough to have a very good friend who offered to be of assistance and as we have grown she has become my confidante and partner. Gill is my right hand. I am so blessed because we work well together and have the same value system.
Q: What is the focus / core services you offer?
A: Consultations for brides who are personally managing their own weddings, we provide assistance and guidance to realise their vision. This includes a consultation, styling and recommendation of reliable service providers). We also offer full co-ordination which can include stationery design, photographers, videographers, entertainment, music, bar service and specialised caterers. However, our main strength lies within flowers and table decor and design. We are available for weddings and all celebratory occasions, large and small, formal or informal.
Q: What inspires you and where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: I try to keep abreast of local and international decor trends by travelling, magazines, photographs and the internet.
Q: What strength would you say has stood you in good stead in such a demanding and competitive business?
A: Being able to work well under pressure! We also pride ourselves in our honesty and integrity within the industry and always treat clients with the utmost respect regardless of budget and/or size of the function. We are meticulous in making sure that even the smallest detail is perfect.
Q: Do you have to craft many if the elements of your décor?
A: Conceptualising flower arrangements and decor to compliment both the desired style and the venue and tapping in to various craft elements to add finishing touches. We often design accessories specifically for a wedding and have a nice range of uniquely crafted décor items.
Q: What is the frustrating part of your business or an specific event?
A: Venues that are unrealistic regarding the allocated time for setting up the function. Very often service providers can only access the venue area at 15h00 for a function due to commence at 17h30. This puts a lot of pressure on all the service providers and compromises attention to detail. The most frustrating part of our business is when a sub-contracted service provider lets us down by not delivering item/s as promised or that are sub-standard.
Q: What is the current trend in table décor and event styling?
A: Vintage, vintage, vintage! We are doing so many wedding with a vintage flavour at the moment. Most people now prefer rectangular tables to round tables as you are able to create more relaxed and eclectic decor elements. We are still seeing a lot of grey/charcoal for bridesmaid’s dresses and table decor whilst navy blue is also becoming popular. Flowers like gypsophila, hydrangeas and even dahlias are making a come-back and frequently seen in informal flower arrangements. Bouquets and arrangements of gypsophila are simply beautiful and very cost effective. I always tell brides to let their decor be an expression of their own personalities and not to be dictated to by trends. Your wedding decor should reflect and suit your personality.
Neva’s Top 5 Table Décor Tips For This Christmas
1. Embrace our warm South African climate by using cool colours with a splash of bright. I will be doing a white and silver table with touches of Aqua.
2. Always have something personalised for guests on your table like a small gift (edible gifts are usually the easiest and the most enjoyed)
3. Add something quirky to your table – always a great ice-breaker!
4. If you are having an evening dinner add loads of candles and use lighting effects for impact.
5. Remember that a great dining experience is about combining different elements to create an enjoyable experience – good background music, food prepared with love, a good mix of friends and family, well chosen wines (don’t forget to make a nice refreshing fruit punch for children and guests who don’t drink) and candlelight.
1. The simply beautiful Christmas biscuits were made by Jeandre v.d. Bergh from Love at First Sight www.loveatfirstsight.co.za
2. Tablecloth – Mr. Price
3. Christmas Crackers – CNA (they have the best range of crackers, in my opinion)
4. Aqua coloured Christmas baubles and Glitter Stars – Woolworths
5. White high gloss wooden board for centre – Bright & Beautiful (these were designed by us)
6. Silver Bling Christmas Trees – Bright & Beautiful
7. Wine Glasses – Aldona
All images via Bright And Beautiful