Design of the Times

By Natasha Garber | Make Favorite

Photo: John Cain Photography
Flowers & Decor: Todd Events

Your wedding celebration is, quite simply, the biggest party you’ll ever throw. It’s also the most profound ritual you’ll ever engage in. Which is why every flower, every piece of fabric, every wineglass and photo frame and votive-holder, matters. These are the components that will express the depth and uniqueness of your love for each other—and for the guests who have come to honor your very special occasion. Whether your vision is grand and dazzling, or intimate and cozy—or somewhere in between—the design experts you bring on to create the story of your love will guide you through the process of translating emotion into...environment, starting here.

From Boho To Bold
If there’s one trend defining the “look” of upcoming weddings, it’s that no one trend is…“on trend.” Which makes perfect sense, considering that each and every wedding is, and should be, as unique as the couple at the center of it.

For in-demand designer Todd Fiscus, whose namesake Todd Events has locations in Dallas and Houston, the key to pinpointing a couple’s personal wedding design scheme lies in “working to inspire our clients to step out of what they are seeing other people do, and create something new!” To that end, he and his team “love to lean on interior design as inspiration.” As for colors his clients are loving? “We are doing a lot of white, silver and platinum tones,” and fall palettes, “but in softer tones, like apricot, cream and rose, with a hint of Bordeaux and celadon green.”

Couples who hire renowned Houston design firm Darryl & Co. to design their event tend to seek “an exhilarating palette of soft, sweet pastels, which I like to call my ‘sherbet tones,’” says owner Darryl Murchison. Though, he also notes, “Earth tones can be lovely, especially for outdoor weddings. The best part about having a neutral color scheme is that the colors never clash. Everything looks so effortless and classic. Nudes, greens and taupes are all perfect for a timeless wedding.”

When it comes to flowers, “We are going back to more fresh and natural design, which means we’re using the natural greens and foliage again, instead of round floral mounds,” he continues, saying that “wild smilax, string fern, black cherry laurel and other big waxy greens” are ideal for the “organic look” that al fresco weddings demand.

At floral firm Dream Bouquet, owner Rebekah Cunningham says her current couples “love the vintage-romantic look—anything with a rustic, boho-chic spin.” To achieve this aesthetic, she is using “soft pink tones mixed with champagne”—a color scheme she predicts will continue to be popular, as well as blush with accents of burgundy and marsala. Though she confesses, “I really do love the idea of tone-on-tone weddings. I always get excited when a bride will reach out to me saying she wants everything red!”

For Tom Stringer, owner of popular floral design studio and gift boutique AJ’s Urban Petals, modern wedding design is all about “BIG everything.” His couples are seeking drama on a grand scale, with “big, blowout backdrops made entirely out of fresh florals,” accompanied by “lots of gold, and lots of candles.”

Meanwhile, at Plants N’ Petals, with over 30 years of experience designing major Houston events, “pure whites with mixed metallics” and “vibrant colors, such as fuchsia, tangerine and peach, brought together through lush, textured greenery,” are meeting couples’ growing demands for “modern-classic looks that are outside the box—avant garde, with a little edge,” says senior designer Bahara Jamea.

Let’s Talk Texture
It wasn’t all that long ago that wedding design was essentially concerned with the big “cover-up,” i.e., draping, wrapping and otherwise disguising tables, chairs, walls and ceilings, for a look that was smooth, uniform…and more than a little shiny. These days, wedding couples are looking for texture, variety and movement—and Houston’s top design talents are more than delighted to meet, and exceed, their expectations.

A true fabric aficionado, Fiscus makes highly textured textiles a central focus of almost any design plan, noting, “I love laces, velvet and graphic prints in soft colors.” As for plants with appeal beyond the petal, “I am using lots of greenery lately,” he notes. “We have been working on events that have lots of clipped boxwood, very styled—I love this effect.”

For much-loved design firm Haute Flowers & Events, an attention-catching design relies on “visual experimentation,” notes company president Teresa Vencil. To create texture and dynamic appeal, her team likes to bring in “an element of reinvention in purpose, using botanicals such as kale and succulents,” along with “geometric shapes and terrariums,” which don’t just provide an unexpected aesthetic, but meet the couple’s growing demand for “eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives to perishable flower choices,” and their desire for botanicals “grown locally, or on U.S. soil, rather than being imported from other countries.”

Whether done in a Hill Country barn, a Houston ballroom, or with “creative tenting on farmland or on plantations,” a look that blends “luxurious atmosphere with elements of outdoor textures, such as natural stone and wood” is growing in popularity among clients of EB Inc. Event Rentals & Design, notes owner Jill Vidal-Raines. Her design staff brings additional texture and contrast to these designs with “industrial furniture and chairs, paired with soft, natural accents.” For decidedly uncovered elegance, with a hint of architectural edge, she suggests “farm tables with simple runners” rather than lush linens, paired with “industrial metal bistro chairs.”

Lisa Anheiser, owner of LBL Events, Design & Rentals, notes that her couples are seeking, for the most part, “a less formal feel.” While blush, ivory, champagne and green still dominate color schemes, the ways in which these colors are being used is changing: “We have moved away from chair covers, and are going with dark wood chiavari chairs with a simple sash,” and topping tables with tall crystal candelabras, white-washed boxes, and tall mercury pilsner vases.

“I recently did a wedding for a couple that loves reading and books,” recounts Andy Hopper, creative design director for Blooms Design Studio—the event design arm of grocery chain HEB. “The couple gave me their favorite books and I took the actual pages out and made flowers and boutonnieres by hand. The couple loved how personal it was to them and how out-of-the-box it was.” For a touch of texture anywhere in the design scheme, Hopper recommends mixed metals, such as a combination of gold, silver and rose gold, along with “raw silk, dupioni and natural-feeling fabrics, rather than traditional, shiny silks.”

Art & Soul
For Elaine Johnston of E. Johnston Designs, the latest look in reception design is “artwork that has fresh flowers incorporated”—for example, “a painting of a vase, to which we’ll add fresh florals.” To evoke romance and set the stage for conversation, she is setting tables with hurricane lamps, elaborate candelabras and “large, bulky candlesticks,” rather than vintage lanterns and birdcages—a former trend she says is starting to wind down.

Sherronda Scoggins, creative director for KC Events & Florals, is seeing a similar trend developing. “Our clients are looking more for ‘sculptures’ rather than typical centerpieces. With these pieces, the flowers actually have to look like modern artwork.” She adds that, to meet this demand, her team is making custom scroll designs, and creating wood sculptures filled with succulents and other nontraditional greenery.

Keisha Ervin, creative director for Keisha’s Kreations—where high-luster dazzle is very much in demand—says that mixed materials give her the tools she needs to give clients what they want. When it comes to linens, Ervin says her brides are heavily into “sequins, sequins, sequins!” Meanwhile, for ceremonies and receptions with an intriguing variety of height and tone, “I’m a really big fan of clear acrylic pieces, because they’re so versatile,” she notes. In addition to providing support for larger arrangements, whether down the aisle or on top of a table, “They have their own unique feel, and are an easy way to create a clean, modern, high-end couture look.” She especially loves using clear acrylic to present “large-scale centerpieces that have tons of tulips, phalaenopsis orchids and garden roses, and I’ll tie in hanging crystals as well.”

At Flora & Eventi, “We are loving using different types of metallics and geometrics” to create conversation-worthy focal pieces that are a far cry from the table arrangements of yore, says event designer Sheli Hart. “Gold mercury glass, for example, makes a bold statement—really, the focus is less about tall flowers and more about statement-making configurations, such as a metal piece, surrounded by lots of candle-work, where the floral is more of an accent to the central piece.”

She adds, “Couples really want a more collective look, with far more details that people can really appreciate. We’re using flowers less as bulk decor, and more as unique elements that can be appreciated for their color and individuality.” On the whole, she says, “Couples are finding ways to take the space and make it their own, instead of feeling like they’re forcing design elements into their event space.”

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