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Creativity Beyond Fashion: Event Design in My Professional Life

I've found that my sense of fashion is just one part of a larger sum of my creativity. I was always a doodler growing up; never great at drawing but my cartoon figures were a notch above novice. I remember painting with acrylics as a young lady, not knowing technique whatsoever, but enjoying the spontaneity and imperfection in my free form. As I got older my creativity manifested into special events and design through the professional organizations and events I've had the honor in which to participate, winning several design awards in my 10+ years of special events experience.

My most memorable experience was the garden wedding ceremony I recreated for Norfolk Botanical Garden at the Vow Bride Show in January 2008. I wish I had a photo of it because it was truly magnificent. My inspiration was the Japanese Cherry Blossom. My mission was to showcase NBG as a wedding ceremony and reception venue. We had a 20ft x 20ft space to design for the purpose of attracting potential brides. To recreate a garden wedding scene made perfect sense to me. An arborist from the Garden found a felled dogwood limb, as it was the most similar tree on the grounds because the branches grow laterally, like a cherry blossom tree, not vertically. I handmade tissue paper cherry blossom garland and strewn them over the branches. The limb was hung on one side of an arched trellis that served as the wedding altar. On the other side fresh forsythia was hung. White garden chairs placed in rows created an aisle and green astro turf carpet created the look of a grassy ground. Flowers of all colors were placed in, on and around the 20'x20' space. Three small tables were in the front of the booth and each one was decorated differently to represent the venue options we offered. We won Best of Show that year! Kim Wadsworth, editor in chief, of Vow Bride magazine personally announced us as winners and shared that the booth was decorated so distinctly she instantly knew and felt where she was when she saw it. She also told us that the Garden had not done anything creative in years and she was floored with the ingenuity. Since then I have won four table top design competitions, all at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront where I have worked for the last six years. Pictured below are photos of the Cuban Nights table we won at the 2017 ILEA Hampton Roads Tabletop Competition Judge's Award AND People's Choice Award, as well as the Steel Magnolias theme table from this year. (No awards for that design.)

All photos courtesy of Caitlin Gerres Photography

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