Motown Magic

On July 28th, I was lucky enough to design and plan a 40th Birthday party for a dear sweet client of mine. The theme was MOTOWN! Once a bride-to-be, now a beautiful Birthday Babe, the party paid homage to Motown my clients favourite musical #tbt genre. To bring the theme to life, we were graced with amazing live music by the St. Royal's featuring songs like “Heard it through the Grapevine”, “ABC”, “You Make me Feel”, and so many others.

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The party was held at the Storys Building at 11 Duncan St, if you haven't been there or to their sister restaurant Byblos downstairs, do yourself a favour. The food was some of the best I've ever had in Toronto. The venue has a super cool, laidback vibe, with exposed brick walls, industrial wood beams, and moody marble washrooms. 


The challenge of turning this space into a retro Motown theme was a bit daunting. Firstly, I wanted to make sure that the theme was done in a fresh new way, since Motown has been a party theme since the musical label originated in the late 50s. The first thing I knew we needed to do was find an awesome florist who could bring some funk into the space without making anything too contrived or cheesy. Posies Flower studio, owned by Araz Adam is one of my absolute faves! We worked together to come up with tall, colourful, cascading arrangements. Our Birthday girl loves Birds of Paradise so we were sure to include those in our pillar arrangements. We went with a more organic design for our stunning cake/dessert table to add some whimsy and keep things light and fun.

We chatted in depth about how to ensure guests would have a good time.

"It's a birthday party, what do people do? Dance and eat cake, right?"

When Shelly asked me this I agreed, but after leaving that meeting I decided there HAD TO BE MORE! So we decided to add an epic midnight balloon drop on the dance floor to kick off the final set from the St. Royals band. Balloon Queen are my inflatable heroes, they are so easy to work with, give you exactly what you want, and all for amazing prices, so naturally I brought them in for the balloon drop.


Patricia's Cake Creations once again created beautiful delicate sweets for our gluten-free birthday girl. Our stunning birthday cake and cupcakes, made with vanilla cake and a fresh strawberry pureed icing were so delicious. And look at the beautiful sugar flower Patricia hand crafted for the cake. We added some fun hand-painted gold and fuchsia macarons to round out the options, and believe me- they were a major hit! People waited near the sweets table for so long eager to dig in once Shelly cut her b-day slice. 


When researching the Motown record label, Motown album cover art, and the artists who contributed to this timeless musical genre, I found it actually very hard to find consistent design elements. Motown was all about the feel, and the groove, so I decided rather than try and force the theme with obvious music-y stuff, to add tons of colour and make sure the space stayed comfortable and fun. Thank goodness for the amazing Yummi Candle company. The furniture was provided by the Storys building- a great added perk. I spent about an hour laying out all of these funky colourful candles. We featured 5 of their colourful pillars: Sunshine Yellow, Celery Green, Bright Orange, Coral, and Magenta. I also added a few tiny scented tea light candles from Yummi to add a pop of floral smell when guests first walk into the room. The tea lights lay on a bed of confetti sparkles and "40" numbers that refracted the candle light to add a bit of disco fun.

Our sweets and bar menus, and bar logo were super fun. I designed vinyl albums for Shelly's 40th that listed all of the drinks and sweets available that evening. It was a super simple way to customize the party while reinforcing the musical theme.  We also added some fun "40" birthday napkins, some confetti sparkles, and some tall climbing ranunculus, and voila, a vibrant and stylish way to ring in a milestone birthday.

Lastly, the food for the evening needs to be discussed. Shelly and I went through the menu and it took us so long to land on our final menu because everything sounded SO good! Check out some snapshots from the amazing taco bar we had and some of the delicious savoury canapés being circulated. 

Even though it was super bold and funky, we kept is simple and that went a really long way to pull in the industrial cool vibes of the space back into the funky Motown era of good vibes, good tunes, and sweet dance moves. I've been humming Michael Jackson's ABC ever since...

Shoutout to all vendors who participated: Jason Tenn Photography, Storys Building, Event Graffiti, Posies Flower Studio, St Royals Band, Patricia's Cake Creation