• Top Event Designers Reflect on the Latest Trends You Should Try

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Top Event Designers Reflect on the Latest Trends You Should Try

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Top Event Designers Reflect on the Latest Trends You Should Try

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Top Event Designers Reflect on the Latest Trends You Should Try

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE

With ever-changing shifts in decorating styles and introductions of new technology, event planners are continually thinking outside the box to bring us exciting experiences. In general, these new developments will help event planners and party hosts enhance their creativity and engage guests. As expectations continue to grow, attendees want to see more of the wow-factor experiences. To achieve this, every element of an event must be individually tailored to help create a cohesive theme. ¶ We talked to New Jersey-based event planners and decorators to see how they are handling the demand to create original experiences for their clients and their guests.


The latest trend that has designers thinking outside the flower box is the use of unexpected materials in event decorating. Designers are creating visual appeal and breaking up the monotony of traditional decorating by using unique centerpieces and decorations made from alternative materials.

“You can have great décor without the use of flowers,” says Allison Sargent, founder and president of Allison Sargent Events in Montclair. Sargent believes your centerpieces and decorations will attract the right kind of attention if you pick pieces that reflect your personality. “You will have more of an impact if there is meaning behind it.”

If you are providing takeaways for your guests, consider working it into your table décor. “Vintage books are a big trend right now in event decorating,” says Melissa Javorek, special events coordinator at Two River Theater in Red Bank. “Use a stack of old books as your centerpiece, then invite your guests to take one home. You can even sign or date the inside for an extra touch of personalization.”

Paige VanGombos, owner and leader designer of Gilded Lily Events in Red Bank, has noticed a foliage trend with the use of lots of greenery. “This trend stands out to me in particular because more and more clients are sharing lush greenery garlands and ceiling installations full of eucalyptus. The look is both romantic and organic.”

If you are looking for centerpieces and decorations that are unique, break with tradition, or avoid the heavy price tag that can sometimes come along with professionally designed floral arrangements; using nonfloral décor allows you to be creative and show off who you are.


Branding is no longer a concept reserved for marketing meetings and corporate settings. Successful event branding is about creating a unique experience for guests, while also reminding them of why they are there and what (or who) they are celebrating. Your venue, décor and event should all be part of a connected theme. Integrate event branding practices into the smallest details of your event to establish a visual identity.

Event decorating is not always about looking at the big picture; you need to think about all the individual elements. Many designers are taking events to the next level by incorporating logos, graphics or client’s initials into all the decorating details.

Event planner Kathi R. Evans, AWP, president of All the Best Weddings & Celebrations in Toms River, suggests completely transforming your space using visual identity. “Dress it up so people will feel that the whole room is involved,” says Evans, who used one particular client’s monogram in every detail of the décor from the invitations, centerpieces and linens to a set of large box hedges. “People got the immediate impression that they were going to be part of something special.”

There are new and exciting trends for displaying brand designs at events. Recently, many designers have started looking to food and drink as a way of showcasing messages. “We have seen logos used on desserts such as cakes, cookies, and cupcakes,” Javorek says. “We had one client who had a coffee barista come in and make the logo in coffee foam art.”

You can create a visual identity and brand experience by naming the event, designing a logo or using a tagline in your decorations. Take advantage of these marketing principles to enhance your guest’s involvement. The result will be an event that creates buzz and has everyone talking.


Lighting has become one the biggest and brightest elements in event design. With the right lighting you can transform a large warehouse into an intimate setting or make a small room feel twice the size. Lighting is one of the easiest and most effective ways to set the right mood and ambiance for any event.

“People are really beginning to understand the importance of lighting,” says Evans. At one of her recent events, the venue used was a room with no windows. “It basically looked like a large box,” she says. By using pin spotting on the taller floral arrangements and warm glowing candles below, she was able to turn the large room into a nice cozy atmosphere. Evans added, “You don’t want your guests to feel overwhelmed by a large room.” If the venue you are using does not exactly fit with your next affair, lighting is an excellent way to make the necessary adjustments.

Sargent also understands the impact great lighting can have on any event. When one of her clients was hosting an affair inside a large building, she wanted to create an immediate wow factor. Sargent changed the color of the building’s exterior lighting to blue, the hosting company’s brand color. “For three blocks you could see the blue lighting,” she remembers. “Before the guests got to see the party décor, they were already immersed in the event.”


One way to change an event’s overall look is through the furniture, since the furniture tends to have the largest quantity in the room. For many events, traditional conference and dining seating can often hinder communication or may create dead space. It is important to find seating arrangements that help guest interaction and give your space the look you desire.

VanGombos suggests using unconventional furniture for your next event. “One of my favorite trends is still incorporating vintage furniture and farm tables,” she says. “Even in traditional venues, clients are finding ways to personalize their space and creating a cozy atmosphere where guests feel comfortable.”


Maintaining a cool technological edge while making a space feel warm is no easy task, but the best designers are discovering a balance.

“In terms of décor, technology is making all kinds of amazing new things possible.” says Lindsay Campbell, founder and lead designer at You & Yours Celebration Design, Stanhope.

One of the newest technological effects is the use of video mapping. This exciting new projection technique can turn any object, no matter its shape, into a video display surface. “Video mapping has truly changed the way one brands their event and expresses marketing goals,” says Jennifer Kraft, founder of Kraft Events in Basking Ridge. “It allows the event to be dimensional, creative and engaging.”

As the use of mobile phones, computers and tablet devices continues to grow, so does the use of social media for events. More and more, attendees are looking for ways to interact with their environment. Social media has become one of the primary ways that people connect with each other. With this in mind, it’s time to embrace social media and implement it to drive excitement about your event. Create hashtags that are exclusive for you and your clients. For her event, Evans displayed guest’s tweets and Instagram posts on a screen as they were being posted. This live feed will keep your guests entertained while encouraging them to promote your event.


No matter what the latest trend in event decorating is, the one thing that will never go out of style is personal taste and objective.

“I frequently tell my clients that there are no rules, and anything is possible!” says Campbell. “One part of my process that never changes, though, is that with every event that I plan, I start by determining how my clients want their guests to feel when they attend, and then work my way backwards from there.”

“Be true to yourself. Your event should reflect who you are and your personal aesthetics,” adds Kraft.

The most important tip to remember is to do what works for your event. There are a lot of exciting trends in event decorating, but if the newest craze does not fit your theme, you can always save it for your next event.

Get ready for fall with this seasonally appropriate cocktail. Corgi Spirits, an independent small-batch distillery located in Jersey City, has hosted a variety of private events including corporate parties; catering is BYO. The Lounge—a plush drinking parlor—is spacious yet cozy and the entire tasting room can be rented to accommodate larger groups.

—1.5 oz. Corgi Spirits Pembroke Gin
—3 oz. fresh apple cider
—0.25 oz. ginger simple syrup*
—3 thyme sprigs
—thyme sprig for garnish


About the Cocktail: Two European beneficiaries of the spice trade are referenced in a split base of gin and rhum agricole; with Greek yogurt, coconut water and makrut lime leaf adding creamy echoes of an Indian lassi.

Pouring Ribbons, a second-story bar in New York City’s East Village, can accommodate groups of 30-40 people; the entire bar can hold 100.

—1.5 oz. Tanqueray gin
—.5 oz. JM Rhum Agricole 100 Proof
—1 oz. coconut water syrup
—.5 oz. lime juice
—1 tsp. Greek yogurt
—1 makrut lime leaf


Atop the new Pod Brooklyn is RFTP, a bar and lounge with views of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood and the Manhattan skyline. Much like the Pod Hotels brand, RFTP is modern, minimal and cool. With a zinc bar and cushioned wooden “banquettes,” the space can host private events for up to 200 guests.

—1.5 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
—mint leaves
—soda water