{review} Decorate Victoria with Huff n Puff

Decorate Victoria

With 10,000 square feet of design ideas, linens, props, décor & experts, weddings are big business at Decorate Victoria

Decorate Victoria with Huff n Puff is where Victoria brides and grooms go to find decorating expertise, a nearly unlimited selection of décor items and more than anyone’s fair share of design inspiration to help get the creative juices flowing in preparation for planning the ultimate Vancouver Island wedding!

Sandra and Ian Long, Owners of Decorate Victoria with Huff n Puff, offer the selection that only a huge inventory of options, themes, props and colours can provide, in addition to the assurance of working with a company that is well known to local couples and event professionals for having decorated over 2000 weddings in Victoria and area. Their success likely revolves around not just their incredible selection but also their reputation for designing countless wedding dreams, and their mission to treat each event as if it were their own “when the décor looks good, you look good!”

The Ring first met Sandra as she put together the décor for multiple venue booths at the local Bridal Exhibition wedding show. Let us explain why we singled out Decorate Victoria as experts in the décor and event planning field…

Family business grows into big business

Well-respected by local experts, and loved by local brides and grooms, Decorate Victoria is a family-run company headed up by husband-wife design team, Ian and Sandra Long. In 1995, they opened Huff n Puff Party Stuff, a 600 square foot store in Sidney that offered balloon and party supplies. Over the last 20 years they’ve moved and moved and moved again, doubling their space each time until today they have almost 10,000 square feet of décor, floral and glassware to serve every need for every event. And to prove it, they also house a 1400 square foot Christmas décor section.

Today, Decorate Victoria says they offer the largest selection of specialty linens, props and glassware in Victoria, providing uniquely designed décor for weddings, movie sets, conventions and special occasions. They also carry an infinite number of props to choose from for themed occasions.

Sandra, Ian and the Decorate Victoria team have decorated well over 2000 weddings across the Victoria area, and it’s a unique combination of talent and determination that brought them to this point.

Decorate Victoria has been fascinated with their journey as technology evolved and social media came about over the years. Sandra points out, “The décor business has changed so much. When we started, there was no Pinterest! We had to help a bride come up with ideas. Now they come in with the ideas. But we love the challenge of not only keeping up with the trends but trying to be the leading edge with trends.”

Sandra’s extensive experience as a wedding planner includes designing and managing weddings and other events. This experience makes it easy to serve brides and grooms with the personal attention she knows they need throughout their planning process. Especially is the case for destination wedding couples who are coming to the Island to get married and who need to trust that their day is viewed as just as important as if they were present to oversee the planning.

Between Sandra and her team, they can offer wedding day expertise, beautiful designs, and the ability to custom-manufacture just about anything. “Style makes us different. And our showroom where we carry 10,000 square feet of selection is what sets us apart. We are full-time, seven days a week focused on décor of all types.”

One bride’s mother, Maria, was effusive. “In many different ways you brought all of us joy and peace by your professional service, amazing staff, dependability, calm words, honest work ethics, bright smile, warm hugs… and always being there for us!”

Loving what they do…

Sandra and her team love creating weddings so they put their heart and soul into every one of them. Even with over twenty years of experience in the wedding industry, Sandra still talks about her work with passion, “After years in business [and 2000+ weddings], I still walk into one of our fully decorated halls and feel such gratification. I’m so proud of our business and of what it has become today. I treat every wedding like it is my own!”

One 2014 bride commented, “Sandy is much more than a decorator, she is a dream maker. Sandy and her team at Decorate Victoria translated our wedding day dreams into reality. It was amazing to see our family and friends’ jaws drop to the floor when they walked into our reception venue. Four months later, and we continue to be told that the banquet hall has never looked so beautiful. Sandy and her team went above and beyond to make sure that our venue looked royal and elegant. Sandy also held our hands throughout the wedding planning process and stuck around during our event to make sure that everything ran smoothly. We are forever grateful to Sandy and Decorate Victoria for making our dreams come true!”

Brides have the choice of a variety of event décor elements such as chair covers, table linens, backdrops and more. They also offer various fabrics such as rich satin, elegant chiffon and organza. They have a selection of faux flowers you have to touch to know they aren’t real, romantic lighting, and several matching elements of décor that you have to see to get the full picture.

Sandra is famous in Victoria for many things but one of them is definitely how she takes large unadorned community centres and halls and turns them into wonderlands of décor. The Mary Winspear Centre, the Convention Centres, DaVinci Centre… Sandra admits that many guests comment that they can’t believe they are in the building that they know they are standing in!

The team at The Ring loved the fact that Ian and Sandra work hard to stay ahead of the trends with lots of new items each season. They’ve always been able to tie their décor in with what a bride wants, when she wants it. To prove it, you’ll find their newest customizable backdrops to be a mix of elegant, classical and contemporary styles – all without being fussy or overly complicated. Sandra and her team pride themselves on being able to take on any wedding style, from vintage to rustic to modern and contemporary. We are especially amazed at the Indian weddings that Sandra creates on a regular basis!

Decorate Victoria offers extras as well. They can take care of your fresh floral needs as well as any balloon requests. Ian and Sandy are award winning balloon specialists and still get many requests. As Sandy points out, “balloons are not used in the way they used to be. Now it is more of a trendy look with special requests.”

Ian and Sandy felt they could start fulfilling their client’s fresh floral requests for many of the centrepieces and have found this works well. “We are able to time when the floral need to go on the tables and how to keep them at their freshest.”

Matt and Ashley, who married in Sept 2014, loved their Decorate Victoria experience. “We would like to thank you a thousand times over for the incredible and amazing décor at the DiVinci Centre. Full of suggestions, imagination, ingenuity and talent my vision of a perfect venue was brought to life. From the backdrops, chandeliers, the centrepieces, sequinned linens and more! Not one detail was missed. Your confidence in your abilities and your fantastic team really does put everything into perspective. I was never stressed out. You made the whole planning process easy and flawless. Friends are still commenting on how beautiful everything was! You truly added to the perfection of our day.”

James and Sam, another 2014 wedding couple, also loved the creativity. “Your talent for taking a space and making the most of it was clearly evident to everyone. You listened to our general thoughts about what we wanted to do and then with great creativity you designed detailed plans to make these concepts a reality. The attention to detail in every aspect of the planning from designing the décor, creating a seating plan and making sure the receptions, dinners and ceremony worked in a seamless fashion was impressive.”

Weddings from afar…

Sandy loves to talk about the couples who have travelled from around the world to marry here on Vancouver Island. She has dealt with weddings from as far as Australia with the usual assortment from the United States and Canada. One thing in common is that they are all looking for assurance that the details will be taken care of by the time they arrive.

Ron and Laura, who married in 2014, hail from Edmonton, Alberta. “Once we started to work with Sandy it was like a weight had been taken off our shoulders. Sandy had all the contacts we needed. The reception hall décor and flowers were beautiful. Sandy took over all the details and made things so much easier. On our wedding day they were there to make sure everything ran smoothly and everything was perfect.”

Dealing with the unexpected…

Experience is what helps Ian and Sandra deal with the unusual surprises that often take place with events. Vancouver Island provides natural surprises which Sandra laughs off. “Always have a Plan B in place for weather or some other disaster!” Then there are the more expected ‘unexpected’ to deal with – extra guests and forgotten items.

James and Sam were impressed with how Sandra dealt with a few wrinkles on their special day. “We particularly appreciated the calm reassuring way that you and your team handled the last minute guests who showed up shortly before dinner. You and your team did everything necessary to accommodate this last minute change with speed, confidence and grace. That is just one example of the strong support that you offered that made the entire long weekend easy and stress free for us. We also appreciated the way you and your staff helped manage the actual events ensuring the guests were where they should be when they should be!”

Showing off…

Decorate Victoria has a studio located in Victoria, where they show off the seemingly limitless inventory and offer portfolios filled with options. Sandra is proud of their newly renovated offices where you can comfortably meet to discuss your plans and ideas with her.

“Our showroom is what makes us stand out” says Sandra. “We are not working out of a garage because we take this very seriously.”

The Ring has to agree as our tour through the showrooms was filled with fun discoveries – candelabras of all sizes, shapes and colours, unusual centrepieces right alongside the more West Coast looks, surprising colours and textures in the linens area and crate after crate of detail looks.

Pricing it out…

When you think of personal decorators, your first thought is that you can’t afford one! But Decorate Victoria can create your wedding look while working with your budget.

While Decorate Victoria provides tons of options while offering a straight forward, detailed price list to each bride and groom that visit them. Each item has a set price and you can add what fits within your budget. Once you have phoned or emailed them you will have a consultation right away whether in person or through another form of communication that works for you. They love for you to come with your ideas or if you are looking for ideas, they have the look books.

Deposit is fifty percent with the balance payable three weeks prior to your event. Book in advance as Decorate Victoria usually booked a year out. Minimum for a full set up is $1500.00.

All prices include delivery, set-up and take-down. As many halls demand that your hall be clean by 2 or 3 am, this means lots of work for the Decorate Victoria team, and peace of mind for you. They are hands on at every wedding and they admit that summer weekends are extremely crazy!

Regardless of the pressure of strange hours, the requirement of climbing ceilings to install canopies and the job of flawlessly arranging every floral stem and every fold of fabric, Sandra and her team just shrug it off… “It all goes with the territory and we love what we do! We love decorating weddings! Our passion and commitment is providing unique and stylish products, attention to detail and excellent customer service.”

Booking Decorate Victoria

Brides usually contact Decorate Victoria at least six to twelve or more months before their wedding day. To find out more, visit the Decorate Victoria website at www.decoratevictoria.com or call Sandy at 250-382-4833. Consultations by appointment only. You can also email Sandy at info@decoratevictoria.com. She’ll be happy to answer any of your questions or set up an appointment to visit their showroom.

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