Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Update from Leslie: St. Mary Academy 8th Annual Auction!

This past weekend, The Wedding Belle, had the privilege of working with some amazing volunteers to put together an annual auction for a Catholic school in Dover, NH. My daughter Isabella is in first grade at the school, so the cause is near and dear to her heart. This year, I took on the role in September as Chair of the Auction Committee. The task at hand: transform the school’s gymnasium into an elegant venue fit for fun, friends and bidding!! My school volunteers and I managed to turn a basketball court into an enchanted garden on an extremely LIMITED budget. After all, this was a fundraiser, so spending on the atmosphere and décor was something that was necessary, but also needed to be kept under control!

First on site to begin the transformation was Marshall’s Rental. Marshall’s was kind enough to donate a portion of the rentals for the evening. Thank you very much! In the photos (below) you see guest tables, white garden chairs, linens and pipe & drape. As most of you know, The Wedding Belle is a huge fan of Chivari chairs and the majority of the time, feel that white garden chairs are appropriate for a wedding ceremony or backyard affair. HOWEVER, the theme chosen for the auction was “An Evening in the Garden”, therefore, white garden chairs were a perfect fit for this event in particular, and were a huge money saver for the school.

As a way to promote the “green” initiative, the committee decided that re-usable shopping bags would be a great way to advertise the school, give a useful gift to the attendees, and keep all of the “welcome” items condensed into something easily handed out upon check-in. Each auction attendee received a re-usable bag, bidding paddle, auction program, Saint Mary bumper sticker, Bugaboo Restaurant gift card, door prize raffle ticket and a personal thank you note and gift. To add a personal touch from the students, we asked the students to write out thank you notes for the attendees and attach garden seeds for the attendee’s garden this year! Thank you to Wentworth Greenhousefor donating the varieties of seed packets for the thank you notes and to Bugaboo Restaurant for the gift cards!

Another personal touch added by the committee this year was the teacher’s “Wish Tree”. We asked the teachers to put together a list of “wishes” for their classroom. These items ranged from Legos to white boards to new science books! Each wish was then turned into a leaf on the “Wish Tree”. If an attendee would like to grant a wish, they could read through the wishes and pick off which teacher and which item they would like to grant a wish for. This idea turned into a huge success and many of the teacher’s wishes will be granted! For those wishes that still remain on the tree, the “Wish Tree” will be placed in the main foyer of the school so parents at any time can pull off a wish and surprise a teacher at any time! Thank you to Ambrosia Gardens for creating our “Wish Tree."

Next up in transforming this space: pipe and drape! Now, you might ask, what is pipe and drape? It is simply that: pipes that create a faux wall and hold the drape that then creates a “wall” of fabric. It is the easiest way to transform a space and hide unwanted or unsightly areas in your space. Many volunteers arrived on-site to help with the assembly! Thank you so much to all of you for your time and energy!

Now, that we have created the walls, or border so to speak, it is time to fill in the rest of the puzzle! Up next, placing tables, chairs, and linens! You should have seen those volunteers go! They were a fantastic crew and we couldn’t have done it without them! As a silly side note, what “fuel” does it take to keep your volunteers happy and strong?? Pizza, cookies, Doritos and drinks!

As a side “fundraiser” and also additional décor for the evening, the committee decided to use candid photographs of the children of Saint Mary Academy around the pipe and drape. These photos helped to remind all of the attendees why they were at the auction and what the mission was! These photographs were sold at the event which allowed attendees to take home a piece of their child’s school history and created another source of income for the school. All photos that remained at the end of the night will be available for purchase at other school events.

So, we were creating a garden right? Then where were all the flowers? Jardinere donated all of the floral centerpieces for the evening, thank you. Tall centerpieces of flowering branches created a vertical vision while two versions of lower centerpieces added flowers and color to the other tables. Each of the low centerpieces was auctioned off as a raffle for attendees to take home, again creating an additional source of income for the school from a piece of the décor. This is the secret for how to stretch your limited budget within a fundraiser! We did this with the photos and the flowers!

Finally, to hold an auction you need…ITEMS! Thank you to all of the businesses and private families that donated physical items, experiences, and talents to the auction!

After the live event, we opened up the dance floor and DJ Tony took us into the night spinning his tunes! Thank you DJ Tony!

The Live Auction was an amazing success! New friends, old friends, parents, faculty, and board members all had a wonderful time together. The food was delicious, the drinks were flowing, the bidder paddles were used often and laughter could be heard as the auctioneer kept everyone entertained throughout the evening! Thank you to everyone that attended! The SMA Auction has turned itself into an event that should not be missed.

To all of my volunteers that worked so hard on this auction,

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Without you we would have no items to auction off. Without you we would have no tasks accomplished. Without you we would have no ideas to create and execute. Without your spirit, energy and heart…we would have no auction! I am extremely grateful for all of your time, energy and effort.

All my Love,


Stay tuned to the blog for some video of the event in full swing and all of the décor during “An Evening In the Garden”!

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