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Designing intimacy

June 1st, 2015 / By: / Feature

Taking inspiration from the natural setting offered by a venue or event space helps to keep the design focused, says Anna Noriega of Aloré Event Firm. Photos: Soul Echo Studios
Taking inspiration from the natural setting offered by a venue or event space helps to keep the design focused, says Anna Noriega of Aloré Event Firm. Photos: Soul Echo Studios

Transform open spaces into warm, distinctive and elegant affairs.

By Anna Noriega

As the event designer and owner of the luxury floral design and production company AlorÉ Event Firm, I’m constAntly asked by clients to create event experiences that are both unique and elegant. More and more guests are shying away from the typical ballroom-style setting and aiming to create event spaces outdoors that boast unusual backdrops in distinctive locations. Whether the location is a remote island, an open avocado field or a sandy beach, weddings today are expected to be unique.

If that weren’t enough pressure, the advent of social media has prompted every bride to want her wedding to be published, featured and pinned. It’s the job of event professionals to bring the client’s unique vision to life. With a tent, open spaces can be transformed into intimate and elegant affairs. Tent decor that takes inspiration from the natural surroundings elevates the guest experience and provides an anchor for lighting and draping.

Wedding decor in 2015 is all about making a statement, from
the color palette to the accents that will define the day. Grand entranceways, unique tent treatments, bold prints, green and tropical color schemes along with events in unusual spaces are all on the radar for the season ahead.

Unique floral chandeliers adorn the draped ceiling of this 40-by-120-foot tent at Estancia Culinaria, Redland, Fla. Photo: Daniel Lateulade Photography  in partnership with Fiction Events and  Mena Catering
Unique floral chandeliers adorn the draped ceiling of this 40-by-120-foot tent at Estancia Culinaria, Redland, Fla. Photo: Daniel Lateulade Photography
in partnership with Fiction Events and
Mena Catering

Green destinations
Turning an avocado farm such as Estancia Culinaria, Redland, Fla., into a five-star affair might not be for everyone, but luxury can be created anywhere. “Our venue is filled with endless magnificent sunsets over our avocado fields and perfect for a client looking for a truly remarkable experience,” says executive chef Santi Gabino. “But above all it is that same open space that gives you a blank slate for creativity.”

Eunice Rodriguez, wedding sales manager at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas, likes to entice couples with the breathtaking views the 750-acre property has to offer and assures that picturesque events can come to life at any time of the year with the help of a tent.

Building a design is the most challenging aspect of planning an event. It’s critical to stick to a key focal point and work around it. Build from the natural setting the venue or event space has to offer and, when in doubt, stick to shades of white and green, because those are the most common elements found in nature. Effortlessly matched with any other shade, green has the ability to provide any venue a lush, romantic atmosphere. Pair your favorite shade of green with neutrals such as cream or white for a more classic approach or combine lighter hues with bright colors and metallics to create a mod mood.

Tent swags along with ambiance mood lighting and lounge furniture create an elegant and chic atmosphere for this event at Thalatta Estate, Palmetto Bay, Fla.  Photo: Soul Echo Studios
Tent swags along with ambiance mood lighting and lounge furniture create an elegant and chic atmosphere for this event at Thalatta Estate, Palmetto Bay, Fla.
Photo: Soul Echo Studios

Tent draping and pole treatment is a great way to create a “wow” factor. Oversized chandeliers and unique lighting fixtures also create a statement and further develop the theme. Unique elements such as colorful draping, floral garlands and even aerial-rigged entertainment all give an event content and dynamic appeal.

If you have a large reception area or event space, you can get creative and transport your guests to an exotic place by setting up individual tents over each table. Then take it a step further by projecting intricate light patterns over them. Suspended tent decor featuring floral garlands, driftwood or even crystals is guaranteed to leave guests mesmerized. Design is all about taking risks while ensuring that in the end, all the pieces come together to create one memorable experience.

Profiling the client
Many clients demand and are willing to pay for whatever it takes to create their unique event, but most have strict budgets. And so the challenge arises: How does one create an event that delivers a “wow factor” while not breaking the bank? For weddings, I start with basic questions to help understand the clients and create an event tailored just for them.

First and foremost, identify your clients’ anticipated guest count and budget. Most clients understand that with a growing guest list they will need a larger budget, but this tends to be the single most overlooked component. And why waste your time trying to sell your most expensive product or service to clients if you can essentially hit their target range on the mark?

Next, identify the style your clients are trying to achieve and their wish list. Whether it’s simple, elegant, chic, rustic, vintage, modern, fun, intimate or casual, every wedding has its own flavor and it’s important to embrace it. Looking over the clients’ wish list will allow you to know where to start when budget planning and ensure you identify where to focus the most attention.

Once you establish the basic event details (guest count, overall budget, location details, event date), create a client profile. The client profile serves as a reference to remind you of what other services or products you can potentially upsell to the clients down the road. The style of your clients’ event will allow you to further build the profile by outlining what’s most important to them and exploring distinctive ways of bringing those elements to life.

Wedding decor in 2015 is all about making a statement, from the color palette to the accents that will define the day.

Tailored options
After analyzing the clients’ budget, guest count and style, direct your efforts into building the event. Items such as lighting, flooring, furniture and florals can go from a low cost product to high-end alternatives, and knowing your clients’ budget allows you to propose a range of tailored options. As a professional you always want to present a few options to a client within their price range and assist by giving them some basic low-end versus high-end alternatives.

To pitch your design ideas, you must know the space and its dimensions as well as its rules and regulations. This allows you to sell the most out of your services. You capture the clients with your confidence and ability to recommend the items best suited for their needs without wasting time.
Keep in mind that many event spaces require permits for tent use but don’t always communicate that fact to clients. Take the time to research any venue you are not familiar with to ensure you not only sound knowledgeable and professional about what you are selling but most importantly that you don’t incur any fines or permitting delays.

Acknowledging what the event space is and has to offer is important because as a designer and event professional, you can incorporate and create staple pieces that bring the natural surrounding elements to life. Every minute of content during a wedding plays an active role in establishing how guests feel. A good event designer will ensure that at every step of the way, guests feel important and intrigued.

From creating distinctive lounges and settings to bringing in live interactive entertainment, the beauty of hosting an event that is held in an unexpected location is the fact that you can extend yourself beyond the standard limitations of design. For me, designing an event is like preparing for a performance. Focusing on moments that take your breath away ensures you will get a standing ovation.

Anna Noriega is founder of the award-winning Aloré Event Firm, Miami, Fla. She’s been a Readers Choice Biz Bash finalist for Social Events, has worked with numerous high profile clients and has been featured on several TV shows including “MTV Movie Awards,” “BET Source Awards,” “Making the Squad,” “FINS TV,” “Ambush Makeover,” “Deco Drive,” “Four Weddings,” “Monday Night Football” and the Travel Channel.

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