Crucial Times to Listen to Your Event Designer

When we entertain at home, we know exactly how things should look and feel. “Everything was just perfect,” our guests (hopefully) say, to which we casually reply, “Oh, it was nothing.” Which (hopefully) it was. Like most things, entertaining becomes easier the more you do it.

When it comes to planning weddings and other milestones too large to do ourselves, even the most seasoned entertainers gladly turn to the experts. We hire planners to help us put all of the pieces in place, and designers to make sure our visions come to life.

For many, though, what is perhaps one of the hardest parts of this process is relinquishing control, and really trusting the people that we’ve enlisted to host and decorate on our behalf.

Naturally, there will be times during the planning process that you might disagree with advice you’re given, regardless of the experience or expertise of those that you’ve hired. And while it can be difficult, our design team shares some pieces of advice that cannot be ignored.

HMR Event Designers and Producers share advice for your wedding or event
Kent Drake Photography

Give the Greens Light: Don’t Leave Your Floral in the Dark

You’ve spent time and money finding the perfect hues, varieties, and combinations of flowers. Your floral designers have carefully and artfully fused these into gorgeous combinations that will breathe life and color into your celebration. But as budgets close in and decisions are made, notes Event Producer Staci Miller, “people sometimes look to lighting–pinspotting in particular–as an area where costs can be cut, when in fact the opposite is true.”

The darkest hour: gorgeous floral disappears into the dark without proper lighting.
The darkest hour: gorgeous floral disappears into the dark without proper lighting.

Whether alone, or in combination with the overall lighting scheme, pinspotting (the direct beams of light that illuminate tabletop floral) are worth every cent. Without proper lighting dedicated solely to these tabletop tableaux, you and your guests can kiss them goodbye after dark.

Bright yellow daffodil centerpieces and forsythia room focals line the Modern Wing of the Art Institute for a modern gala
As dusk settles on the Modern Wing, the impeccably lit floral remains as vibrant as sunshine. Photography by Tay
Bold bursts of fuchsia, green and red pop from tabletop floral arrangements at a modern wedding at Trump Hotel by HMR Designs
Bursts of color pop forth from the Grand Ballroom at the Trump Hotel, bathed in purple light.

If you’re looking to cut costs, cutting the lights is not the way to do so.

Want to learn more about lighting up your special day? HMR Designers share their insight in the article Love at First Light featured on Mod Wedding.

Architectural Significance: Design for Your Venue

One of the first steps in your event planning and design will be selecting your venue. While we’re typically drawn to spaces that are similar to our overall style, sometimes we can get caught up in moment, forgetting that where we will put our floral, furniture and decor will affect what floral, furniture and decor we might choose.

Blush, greens, and rustic wood decor for a wedding at Bridgeport Arts Center by HMR Designs
Blush hues, greens, and rustic accents perfectly complement the Bridgeport Art Center. Julia Franzosa Photography

Much like a menu, one decision will affect many others, and you need to be prepared for that. You might love both Italian and Thai cuisine, but you likely won’t serve them together. Keep your vision close at hand as you look at venues, and when you find a space you love, make sure you’re comfortable with how this choice will influence others.

“Venue selection comes first, and for many, their original design ideas don’t change,” notes Event Designer Rachel Silverberg. “You have to be open to amending whatever your ideas of ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ are to better match your space.”

Bright pink and yellow centerpieces splash color into the modern white backdrop of the Modern Wing for a summer wedding by HMR Designs
More traditional, garden floral is modernized with monochromatic containers and bold patterns to better suit the sleek, stark Modern Wing. Jeffrey and Julia Woods Photography

Lay of the Land: Let the Pros Handle Your Room Layouts

Much like measurements do in a recipe, room layouts and configurations greatly influence the outcome of the event.

When we entertain at home, we know how many go best where depending on what, and we know this from seeing the possibilities firsthand. The same is true for event designers and the venues they work with.

As Corporate Event Director David Epstein notes, “The layout is an integral part of any event having a successful flow, both aesthetically and logistically.”

Chic lounge furniture and cocktail hour decor for a corporate event by HMR Designs at Union Station Chicago
A functional and fabulous use of Chicago’s Union Station for a corporate event. Kent Drake Photography

What David is referring to are the considerations that are undoubtedly in your designer’s mind, but may not be in yours: things like traffic management or hiding unsightly production and technical equipment. “Of course you want to space to look great,” adds David, “but you also want to avoid bottlenecks, lines and other issues.”

A full room view of a corporate event at Chicago's Union Station with lighting, floral and decor by HMR Designs
Best laid plans: an aerial view of lounges and bars for a coprorate event at Union StationFandl Photography

Wet Cement: Make Concrete Gametime Weather Decisions

Finally, when it comes to elements of your events being contingent on, well, the elements, don’t rain on your designer’s parade. While it’s fine to have hope, when things aren’t looking good outdoors, insisting on waiting until the last minute can create chaos for installation teams already working amidst the delicate balance of caterers, lighting crews, venue maintenance teams, and photographers. In these situations, it’s often better to put the decision into the hands of the people who know exactly how much time is needed to execute your vision.

A steel framed canopy or mandap is draped with peach, pink and coral fabric and flowers for an outdoor Indian wedding by HMR Designs
Many people dream of the perfect outdoor wedding. Often, mother nature has other plans. Photo courtesy of HMR Designs

Senior Event Designer John Hensel puts it quite simply: “listen to the people who are working so hard to make your day perfect.” Taking chances on the weather not only sacrifices your decor, notes John, but can also put the production teams…and your guests at potential risk. While you can’t control the weather, your event designer can ensure that you have the most beautiful possible scenery.

Gold candlesticks, greenery and roses line the long tables of a tented summer wedding by HMR Designs
Though originally hoping for an outdoor wedding, this couple opted to stay on the safe side, asking John to bring the outdoors into their tent rather than take a gamble.
Greenery in the shape of trees covers tent poles for a wedding lit by chandeliers and projections by HMR Designs
Trees were created out of greenery and tent poles to give the wedding an outdoor feel. David Wittig Photography

In closing, remember that you hired professionals because you wanted the best for your event, and you truly get your money’s worth by trusting their advice and accepting their expertise. In the end, when everything comes together with absolute perfection, your event designers and planners are just as ecstatic about it as you.