Usually I only like for guests and the bride and groom to see the finished product and the final look at their reception site, but every so often there is so much team work that goes into producing an event that I sometimes think it’s worth a look at what actually happens in the hours before we are “show ready”.  It also gives you a sneak peak at how much work and cooperation is involved in the set up of an event.

Christina and Phillip’s wedding took place just this summer in July of 2012 at the beautiful Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Birmingham Alabama.  Christina had many many visions for her wedding but mostly, she wanted to add elements that have never been seen before in a wedding reception.  She definitely wanted her own style and signature on her wedding day and I believe that is exactly what we accomplished for her!

This behind the scenes look is made of mostly of my own photography and I just published a blog post on the finished production of this wedding with all professional images, so please forgive my very elementary iphone images taken by yours truly.

I will begin with this lighting and draping display on the dance floor and around the ballroom.  The goal here was to add elements of color, abstract design on the walls for interest and decor, spot lights on every guest and food table to bring out the gorgeous centerpieces and all the deep colors of purples and lavenders as well as light up our gorgeous wedding cake and dramatic draping on the dance floor.  There were quite a few challenges along the way that were dealt with quickly and efficiently thanks to this fabulous team and the bride nor the guests never knew!  Our lighting design team and owner, Andy Tolar, Design Productions LLC brought in scissor lifts and very tall truss to form a frame around the dance floor of over 20 feet in height.  This took a team of about 8 men working together to construct the frame work.

Men of Design Productions holding the framework while Andy Tolar and crew member work on the ladder
Framework of truss just about complete.  The dancefloor had not been placed yet, nor had the stage for the band
When we finally had all the truss in place before the fabric went on, we tested the screens and projectors for the Same Day Edit.  A “same day edit” is a video shot on site as events happen during the day such as the bride getting ready with hair and make up, the groom and the guys hanging out and getting dressed, the first time the groom sees his bride, taking pictures with the bridal party and even the first dance and cake cutting.  This is edited throughout the day and at some point later in the evening and during the reception, this video is shown to the guests.  In this case, it was a surprise to the groom as well.  
So in order to successfully pull this together, projectors were hung in the ceiling of the ballroom and two screens were to come down on either side of the band on cue during the evening so the same day edit video can be shown.  Sound and projectors had already been sound checked and tested with the proper computers and equipment we were using the next day but we had to have all this in sync and lined up with the screens that would come down from the ceiling and make sure the truss and the fabric and the band did not interfere with the visual for the guests to see the screens.  Of course, this was our first obstacle when the truss was complete.
So when the first test with the truss was completely in place and the screens down,  we noticed this shadow cast on the screens.  This would not work;  Andy Tolar of Design Productions and I discussed how to accomplish the best way to eliminate the shadowing.  We quickly made a phone call to John Deaver of Main Street Productions and sent him images through the iphones we all carried and had a conference call with all three of us.  We discussed raising the screens, sliding the projectors to one side, moving the screens to the other side of the room, etc. etc.  We finally decided to move the truss, which was probably the most difficult to do yet the most necessary to make all these elements work together.  I didn’t want to lower the truss in height so we decided to shorted the truss by one link.  And the link to be removed would have to be the middle link, already suspended in mid air!  Yikes!  
Okay, so Andy put two men in each of the two scissor lifts on each side and both lifts raised these men over 20 feet in the air.  This task involved detaching the center link of truss, removing it and having men at each base pushing the base together so the men in the scissor lifts could re-attach the links of the truss.  

The results…….. mission accomplished….  No more shadow.  I should mention that this was complete and I left the site at about 1:00 a.m.  Andy and his crew continued to work through the night to complete the truss and fabric.
This is the result after the fabric was installed the next morning.  
Now for the task of constructing the 12 foot pergola to hold our six layer wedding cake!
Construction begins with KG Designs Andy Hopper’s team connecting the iron frame that will eventually be our swing for our cake….
You can see the pergola together, chains attached from the top dome and the iron base being secured.
The iron base of the swing is covered with a glass plate to hold our cake stand and eventually our wedding cake.  The chains are now ready for the fabric to hide all the mechanics and we are also ready for Andy Hopper to do his magic and begin placing the florals around the base of the cake plate the next morning.  This was also at about midnight the night before the wedding day.  Our team is extremely dedicated and I am most grateful!
With the florals in place the next day, we await the arrival of our six layer cake!  
Jan O’Donnell with Cakes by Jan in Birmingham Alabama arrives with the cakes and has begun to assemble each layer.
Keeping the swing sturdy while Jan assembles the cakes is Kathy Mezrano, owner of Kathy G & Co. and KG Designs and Andy Hopper, Principal floral designer of KG Designs.  Notice the table placed under the swing………  this was the point where the cake began to get very heavy on the swing weighing well over 100 lbs. and the chain decided to give us a slight panic moment and drop about an inch due to a “kink” in the chains.  Just to be safe, we placed that table under the swing…….. AND so I can breath for a moment!
Almost finished!
Here is a final look at the set up with the truss and fabric in place, linens on the tables and centerpieces in place
And here is a non professional image of the finished product of the cake swing.  Now for some professional images of the finished products of this hard working team!
This image is from our fabulous photographer Frank Carnaggio of Christina and Phillip watching their same day edit during their reception.  A very emotional moment for all….
This is bride Christina just after seeing her same day edit, in tears of gratitude and appreciation for John Deaver of Main Street Production.   She was so overwhelmed with emotion;  it was her final request that was granted to perfection!
After seeing my very non-professional pictures above, I believe you deserve to see some beautiful images of the finished production.  Our fabulous photographer Frank Carnaggio shot these gorgeous images beginning with the image above of our gorgeous wedding cake and the images below. 
Thank you for sharing this experience with me in this blog post.  I love watching behind the scenes and I always want to know how productions are put together and appreciate the work involved.  This was very rewarding as the wedding planner, watching these professionals do what they do best and pulling this all together with them.  Thank you so very much to Kathy Mezrano of Kathy G & Co., Andy Hopper of KG Designs, Andy Tolar of Design Productions LLC, Jan O’Donnell of Cakes by Jan, Frank Carnaggio and Nicole Muro of Frank Carnaggio Photography and of course John and Angela Deaver of Main Street Productions.  I hope you enjoyed hearing about how this production all came together with me!  Thank you for letting me share with you!
Please take a look at the previous blog post on Christina and Phillip’s fabulous wedding and see more images from this beautiful day!