When a hotel management company brought us on board to design its annual sales team meeting, we took inspiration from the New Orleans location to create a festive two-day event with a Mardi Gras theme. And just like the city’s annual anything-goes celebration, we pulled out all the stops.

The fun atmosphere started with registration where colorful signage and a jazz band welcomed guests who had the chance to partake in fresh, fruity cocktails and shrimp & grits. We branded the check-in booths and the bars to make the public space feel like the client owned it.

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At the general session, WM Events created the overall look, which subtly presented Mardi Gras colors. The stage backdrop mixed tiles in the brand’s logo with a stylized floral design reminiscent of French Quarter tin ceiling tiles. With stage lighting in purple, green and yellow and a branded podium, both the theme and the client were honored. Break time meant socializing and a creative interlude with an optional painting activity.

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After two days of team building and informational presentations, it was time to party – New Orleans style. As the final general session came to a close, our Leigh Clemmons waited backstage with a second line band. Playing New Orleans jazz, the brass parade marched off stage to lead participants to the waiting buses outside. During the bus ride, guests enjoyed a video of fun facts and features of The Big Easy.

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It was destination Mardi Gras World, and guests exited the buses to be greeted by a carnival-friendly bevvy of jesters, stilt walkers and a Louis Armstrong big head. Mardi Gras World is a New Orleans venue that lets visitors get a carnival-like experience year round. Its origins are steeped in local history. Initially Kern Studios, it was home to a father and son team who built Mardi Gras floats and were instrumental in helping to develop the monumental scale and lavish ornamentation the city’s floats are now known for. Kern Studios, where Krewe floats and decorations are made and stored, opened to the public as Mardi Gras World in 1984 and offers a behind-the-scenes look at a key element of the city’s parade style. We knew it would be the ideal setting for a true NOLA bash.  

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Guests were paraded into the den where the spectacular, gigantic props are stored, through the warehouse for the floats, outside, and finally into the ballroom. On the way, an outdoor tent offered a low-country dining experience with a crawfish boil served on newspaper. Farm tables and market lighting enhanced the authentic experience, while a female jazz band provided more music. At WM Events, we’re known for our floral presentations, but in this case, we focused on the local fauna and included an alligator meet & greet. One thing this event didn’t lack was interesting photo ops!

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Inside the ballroom, the big party featured a progression through atypical entertainment that was all about N’Awlins, like a zydeco band, a bottle walking performer and unicyclists. Mardi Gras Indians offered a nod to history with their extravagant costumes and feathered headdresses. It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without beads, and we brought them in by the pound, and we’re proud to mention that they were recycled. In addition to offering strings of beads to guests as wearable art, we created an interactive art project that invited revelers to glue beads into an image that was provided to the client afterwards.

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There was plenty more fare to enjoy in the ballroom with local favorites like gumbo, a tapenade bar, and of course, beignets. Eclectic Victorian-style furniture completed the look. To add a final bit of panache, we dubbed each area of the massive party, so guests at the Royal Party meandered through “neighborhoods” like Dixie Den, Bayou Boil and Parish Party.

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Event Planning & Design: WM Events
Photography: PWP Studio
Venue: Hyatt Regency New Orleans & Mardi Gras World
Rentals: Collection Event Furnishings, CORT EventsMonte Carlo Productions, Your Event Delivered

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