Guest Post: Social Butterflies… Sweet 16 at The Cotton Gin!

A few weeks ago we had a client who wanted to surprise her daughter with a Sweet 16 party. Their family has owned a cotton farm for many generations, and they wanted to host the soiree in their retired cotton gin. I was thrilled to use an out-of-the-box venue and excited about the challenge of designing a “Country Couture” event in such utilitarian space.

I began brainstorming for decor details by getting to know the client’s daughter. Because the party was a surprise, I had to do so through photographs and stories from her mother. She wanted “country,” but not “cowgirl.” Her favorite color is teal and she loves shopping at Anthropologie She is chic yet laid back, athletic and a social butterfly (like us!). I knew the client wanted to use resources already available, such as bales of hay and twinkle lights. Check out what we came up with, most images beautifully captured by photographer Angie Gibson Ford, the less professional ones by us!

Rice plants and cotton stalks right from their farm were affordable and oh so shabby chic! We love them nestled between the gin’s retired utilities.

To fill the large ceiling space of the gin, we needed more than twinkle lights. Full country moons inspired these round orbs floating in the rafters. Guess what they are – latex balloons! We found 3′ diameter circular balloons and had them strung with fishing wire at varied heights. They drew the eye upward and glowed in the party light. A birthday party is not complete without balloons, but we of course had to think of an out-of-the-box way to incorporate them.

The client had this custom banner printed to welcome guests. You can see the twinkle lights and “moon” balloons peeking through the entry way.
We got creative to work within the budget. We used wonderful resources at the farm to craft country couture centerpieces. We filled assorted vases with tied wheat and grains of rice. The ribbon and butterflies add pops of color to the neutral, organic palette of the farm.
Tall cotton stalks add height to table arrangements in dramatic glass cylinders.
We created long tablescapes on each 6′ table by staggering clusters of glass vases filled with various materials. Floating candles compliment the white pops of cotton.We mixed in soft, worn cotton linens with our chocolate brown ones to create an eclectic country vibe.
Short, square chunky vases mix it up. We filled them with rice and planted white paper roses on floral wire.
Brass lanterns and bird cages sprinkled the gift tables.
To bring country to chic, we created lounge areas with bales of hay and linens. We mixed burlap linens with teal and white and added chocolate sashes to tie them together (linens and sashes courtesy of Mahaffey Tent and Party Rentals. The lounge vignettes, also provided by Mahaffey, fringed the dance floor so guests could flop down to rest their dancin’ feet!
In lieu of a candy bar, we created a country tea and lemonade bar with our assorted apothecary jars. We mixed raspberry sweet tea, peach lemonade and other delectable mixes to quench the thirst of those teenage dancers.
The focal point of the decor was a 20 foot burlap back drop strung with a Happy Sweet Sixteen message to the birthday girl. We ordered the letters from Etsy and they came out perfectly! We strung them on twine and ribbon and used clothespins to pin them up. We also strung pictures of the birthday girl – from high chairs to high heels – for guests to reminisce over.
The whimsical cake came from Cakes by Mom and Me was a hit! We elevated it on a stand covered in a burlap linen tied with a chocolate sash.
Guests signed a framed invitation so the birthday girl would remember this party for birthdays to come.

This party was a great experience for us- we got to think outside the box and utilize a totally different space. We had a great time and we hope the guests did as well!

- Thanks to Social Butterflies for this fabulous guest post!

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Social Butterflies… Sweet 16 at The Cotton Gin!

  1. Pingback: Decorating For Fall With Natural Elements! | Woodstock Furniture Outlet

  2. Pingback: Fall Decorating With Natural Elements~Cotton Branches - All Things Heart and Home

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