Design Advice: Event Elements Not to Overlook

Imagine you’re standing in front of your mirror, eyeing yourself in an impeccably selected ensemble. Before descending out onto the world below, you add the final embellishments: perhaps a necklace, a pocket scarf.

And what an important step this is, as it’s likely that those small details will ultimately draw attention to the ensemble as a whole. Well don’t you look fabulous, friends and colleagues will note. What a MAGNIFICENT scarf. 

It is often these finishing touches–the small minutia and final considerations–that help us to see, and therefore to better appreciate, the bigger picture.

We checked in with our design team, who shared 5 decor elements you’ll be so glad made the final cut. Whether large strokes or fine points, these items are sure to bring everything together.

Kent Drake Photography

 1) Place Setting Precedent: as you take your place at a table, a lovely sachet of herbs or a fragrant blossom is truly a warm welcome. It’s such a small touch, but in offering your guests more than cutlery, it reminds them that they are a part of a beautiful and momentous occasion, not just a delicious meal.

Kent Drake Photography / Engaging Events by Ali

Floral place setting embellishments will also draw your guests eyes to your centerpieces and tabletop decor. “They really complete a table,” says Rachel. After selecting your fresh blossom or herb accent, it’s also imperative to have a fitting backdrop on which to display it. Proper linen napkins are an opportunity to further coordinate your table that shouldn’t be wasted.

Beale & Wittig Photography / Bliss Weddings & Events
Purple roses adorn every place setting at a luxe Chicago wedding by HMR Designs
Phil Farber Photo Images, INC. / Jamie Boton, Inc.
Fandl Photography
Kent Drake Photography

2) Wick Fix: Although candlelight has been setting the scene longer than just about anything else, it’s often deemed unnecessary. “The truth of the matter is that candlelight is the magic of any well-designed event,” says John. Candles can adorn just about every surface in a room, offering endless possibilities for embellishment.

Large amounts of candlelight set an enchanting tone that reminds us of the unique occasion we’re celebrating. “It’s a light form that literally dances,” adds John, “and makes the space so much more inviting.”

Ample candlelight lines a blush aisle at Standard Club. Kent Drake Photography / Jamie Boton, Inc,
Massive brass candelabras create a stunning bar focal. Fandl Photography / Hilton Chicago
A mirrored stage surround offers up a twinkling glow. Kent Drake Photography
Gold and bold at the Ivy Room. Kent Drake Photography
Custom made candle walls complete a lounge at University Club Chicago. Fandl Photography
Stunning lush floral basks in an amber candlelight glow.

3) Powder Room Blooms: John also recommends adding nice touches where people are touching up. Gorgeous blooms in the powder room bring cohesion to any celebration by distributing the beauty and color across the entire venue, even in those spaces where people take a moment alone.

Kent Drake Photography

A small sampling of your bloom and color choices in the quiet, unadorned space reminds guests to enjoy the beauty elsewhere when they return to the celebration.

Kent Drake Photography
Fandl Photography
Kent Drake Photography / Birch Design Studio

4) Second Sitting: what better way to make your guests feel right at home than providing comfortable and inviting alternative seating options. “Guests grow tired of sitting at a dining table,” notes Christianna, adding that lounge groups keep the momentum going, encourage mixing and mingling, and put people more at ease.

Kent Drake Photography / 19 East

Coffee tables, side tables and shelves also offer great spaces for floral and decor pieces that you don’t want on your dining tables or bars.

Fandl Photography / Big CIty Bride
Tim Walters Photography / Trump International Hotel and Tower
Kent Drake Photography
Kent Drake Photography / Drish Couture Events / Field Museum

5) Don’t take lighting lightly. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, and that’s why we’ve saved this most important recommendation for last. Rick notes that while lighting might often be a last minute element on your mind, our designers are cognizant of its impact from the earliest stages of planning. So, heed their advice. “Well thought out lighting takes a party from beautiful to spectacular,” notes Rick.

Kent Drake Photography / Union Station

Skimping on this essential element is sure to have negative consequences across the board. “All of the effort and money that goes into floral and scenic design is for naught if it isn’t beautifully illuminated,” adds John. We truly can’t stress enough that cutting the lights is no way to cut costs.

Kent Drake Photography / Birch Design Studio / Frost Lighting
Kent Drake Photography / Birch Design Studio / Frost Lighting

Our wireless tabletop uplighting highlights floral from the guests’ perspective, and where budgets allow, pinspotting creates additional magic in the room.

Custom centerpieces lit from above and below.  Fandl Photography / Trump International Hotel and Tower
Lighting adds texture to a stunning reception at Trump International Hotel and Tower. Kent Drake Photography.

As you plan a wedding or celebration, certain elements may not be at the forefront of your ideas and inspirations. But remember: these sometimes overlooked elements will add significant aesthetic value to your atmosphere, and will work together to make sure the occasion is that much more memorable.


Special thanks to our design team for their contributions to this post, and to all of our creative partners who help make each event as wonderful as it is.