Get Inspired by Color for your Summer Event

When planning a spring or summer event, it’s easy to get stuck in the garden-party rut. Surrounded by a sea of blush tones and matchy-matchy place settings, things can easily start to feel stuffy.

But three event designers from the Chicagoland area have exactly what you need when it comes to out-of-the-box inspiration. After styling tabletops for an event on private yacht Chicago Elite in partnership with Modern Luxury Brides Chicago, it’s clear that breaking a few rules can lead to event décor that’s vibrant and unexpected.

Morocco Meets the Sea – Debi Lilly, A Perfect Event


While the vintage Moroccan linen is certainly a stand-out piece, everyone can take inspiration from Debi Lilly’s mix of colors, textures and metals. Gold, silver and copper all make an appearance on her table, as well as mismatched china. The china, crystal and silverware are from The Festive Frog.

“So many times people worry that they can’t mix and match, but doing so looks much more interesting. I love elements that look like family heirloom pieces, something special and meaningful,” she said.

Another highlight from her table? Ombre centerpieces moving from pale to bold pink.

Understated Elegance – Jess Syburg, The Eventful Life


For Jess Syburg, this tabletop started with the color palette.

“We love blush pink as much as the next girl, but we wanted to display it in a unique way,” she said.

The answer? Deep purples and blues brought out with candles and unique components in the floral display like artichokes, fern heads and purple tea leaves. A dove-grey table cloth, vintage gold accents and hand-lettering by Bushyl keeps things light and fit for the summer.

As proof that inspiration can come from anywhere, a particularly elegant powder room at the new Rent the Runway store in Chicago inspired this design.

Keeping It Personal – Christine Janda Design and Events


When planning a summer event, starting with a theme can be a tempting jumping-off point. But for Christine Janda, it’s always better to start with what’s close to the heart.

This tabletop started with the Blue Willow China print. With historic ties dating back to the 1800s, it’s near and dear to Christine because it’s a print she associates with her grandmother.

She amped up the traditional print with poppy pink and yellow flowers, and kept the nautical touches subtle, including gold spray-painted rope tied around the menus.

“Don’t back yourself in to a theme or a trend,” she said. “Think about your personal style, the guest of honor and the type of energy you want to give off. Have that lead the design.”


Ready to start planning? Learn how to pick the perfect bar package for your summer event.

How to Start Your Wedding Planning

You’ve told your friends and family the big news, popped the celebratory champagne and are getting used to the sparkling gem on your left hand. But be prepared – after the excitement of the proposal settles the reality of the wedding planning ahead can hit hard.

The wedding industry can be overwhelming. Couples are left wondering how they’re supposed to execute it all without breaking the bank.

My tough-love answer? You just can’t.

Unless you have an unlimited amount of time and money, it’s impractical to think you could or should do everything bridal magazines suggest you must.

First Things First
The best way to maintain your engagement bliss? Precede your wedding planning by outlining your priorities. Sit down with your fiancé and chat about what’s most important to you both in your ceremony and reception.

Try approaching it like an easy game of would-you-rather. Ask yourself these questions to help determine what’s most important to you.

If you could only pick one, would you rather have…
Personal, DIY decorations that come with 100 hours of work, or more expensive, pre-made decorations?
Stunning, large floral centerpieces, or the ability to invite 50 more guests?
A ceremony that will move your mom to tears, or a reception your BFFs won’t forget?
Romantic, live music at your ceremony, or a crazy-great DJ at your reception?
An expensive but delicious, gourmet meal, or a menu filled with casual favorites?
A selection of fine wines and craft beers, or a crowd-pleasing open bar?
A guest list of 25 or 525?
An celebration that’s anything but typical, or one characterized by family traditions?
Two more hours of your DJ, or two more hours of your photographer?

Imagine looking back on your wedding day 20 years down the road. What is it that you most want to remember?

Set Yourself Straight
Write down what your top 3 priorities are for your wedding day, and 3 things you’d like to avoid, or are willing to save on for the sake of your wallet.

During your planning, keep referring back to this as your guide. It will be especially helpful as more and more people share their opinions during the planning process, or when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your Pinterest board.

This is a party to celebrate the love between you and your best friend – so refuse to let it stress you out! Focus on your top priorities and you’ll have a day that’s unforgettable for all the right reasons.

Secret to a Stress-free Wedding Day

Some brides think that once they have a ring on their finger they’re given multi-tasking superpowers.

Planning a wedding is a ton of work, and when it comes to your day-of, your inclination will be to micromanage everything so it’s as perfect as you’ve envisioned.

But ask couples who’ve been through it they’ll tell you again and again – your day is going to fly by.

You’ll be so caught up in the emotion of the day and busy spending time with your guests you’ll barely remember to eat the menu you took so long to plan.

The last thing you’ll want is to be preoccupied worrying about putting the bathroom basket in place.

The key to a stress-free wedding day? Use your crew.

Talk to your event coordinator, bridal party or other trusted guests, and divvy up day-of responsibilities so your event goes off without a hitch. The best part? Studies show that when everyone has one, specific task assigned only to them they’ll be less likely to drop the ball. See? This strategy is scientifically proven.

Here’s a list of tasks to consider assigning:

-Buy food for the bridal party to eat as they get ready
-Greet guests upon arrival
-Set up name cards, favors or any last minute decorations
-Manage your vendors (Read more about that here!)
-Transport your second outfit if you have one
-Keep track of the ring bearer, flower girl and their various props
-Act as the contact for lost guests seeking directions
-Take candid photos to supplement your professional photography

If hiccups happen, don’t stress. Sometimes those imperfections end up being exactly what you remember most fondly. When one of my brides experienced an unexpected, brief rain shower during her reception her DJ started playing “It’s raining men” and she loved it.

When your big day arrives, you want to be free to soak up every moment. So get delegating!

Your Pinterest Intervention

There’s something troubling sweeping the nation making brides feel a little faint: The Pinterest bug.

Pinterest means endless inspiration for whatever kind of wedding you’re planning. It’s your perfect wedding guide, right? Well, not exactly.

Brides know the feeling all too well. Spend a little time on Pinterest and suddenly it feels like your to-do list has tripled in length.

Should I personally embroider handkerchiefs for all 150 of my guests? Grow all the fruits and vegetables I’ll need in my garden?  Transform my backyard into Narnia? And where can I find a vintage car, lawn games, 2,000 lanterns and fireworks?

Your wedding planning should be FUN, not stressful. Yes, personalized touches are great, but don’t let today’s Pinterest culture lead you to a matrimony meltdown. Repeat after me: I am marrying my best friend, and then we’re throwing a party. That’s it!

How to fight the Pinterest craze:

1. Prioritize
Pick your five favorite pins or types of pins. Then, break down the ideas. What about the image inspires you the most? Watch for common themes that emerge like personalization, a casual atmosphere or interactive activities for guests. Also, pay attention to general aesthetics that you’re drawn to. Are you dreaming of a garden party, boho chic affair or a celebration that’s country-inspired?

2. Budget
Crafty doesn’t automatically mean affordable. In fact, adding up the cost of a Pinterest-heavy wedding celebration is enough to make a bride consider eloping in Vegas.

Pick high impact projects and give yourself a budget. Which pieces and parts would most clearly communicate your big-picture theme? Let’s say you love a pin that’s heavy with flowers and twinkling lights. While hanging crystal chandeliers over each table may be out of the questions you could integrate a lantern in your centerpieces. Can’t afford renting and dressing up an entire barn? Create an outdoorsy environment with soft fabrics and wildflowers in a more traditional space.

3. Use your crew
Don’t go at this alone. Chances are you have a whole network of people who are ready and willing to help. Invite over your crew and put them to work! (Reward them with a little pizza and champagne and suddenly being crafty is more fun than stressful.)

4. Bring in the experts
When selecting a venue, consider if they provide complimentary wedding planning services. Struggling to plan a reception that’s classy with a hint of country? Your event coordinator can be your wedding guide – giving advice on how other couples have done it before. Focusing on the overall atmosphere, rather than a million different projects, will help you organize an event that will wow.

Now go out there and show Pinterest who’s in charge!

Happy Pinning.

Insider Tips for a Flawless Day-Of

I know, I know, you’ve been staring at your planner for months preparing for your big day. You’ve made one big decision after the next, and now you’re just ready to put a ring on it, cut the cake and enjoy the party.

But don’t run out of steam just yet! Grab a coffee, take a deep breath and work with me through this one final wedding to-do list. Afterward you can rest easy knowing you’ve tied up all those little loose ends so you can enjoy your day.

  1. Don’t stress … delegate

Give yourself a break! You’ve done months of work, and there’s just no way you can micromanage the events of your big day. There will plenty of loved ones around offering to help, so divide up some day-of tasks. Just give people a heads-up to make sure they’re comfortable with their responsibilities. Check out my list of tasks to consider assigning.

  1. Happy vendors, happy wedding day

You’ve already crossed “decide on flowers” and “find DJ” off your wedding to do list, so now you just have to enable your vendors to do what they do best. Let them show up early so they have plenty of time to set up. Assign someone to manage those relationships and answer their questions (see #1). Also, don’t forget to offer them something to eat and drink! A DJ has to eat too you know…

  1. Give your guests the 411

The key to a smooth sailing event is good communication. Let your bridal party know the schedule of the day and when you’ll be taking photos. Also, make sure to equip guests with directions so they know how to navigate to your location and find parking. Add directions to your wedding website, or make flyers available at the end of your ceremony if your reception is at a different location. Then Aunt Martha won’t be blowing up your phone asking for directions while you’re trying to take gorgeous photos.

  1. Rain? What’s Rain?

Rain on your wedding day is good luck, right? Of course I’m hoping you only have clear skies, but make sure you’ve discussed a backup plan with your vendors and venue. Talk to a few friends ahead of time so they know what to do in case you need to change plans quickly.

  1. The Night Before

Plan enough time in the chaos of the weekend to do whatever will relax you – take a bath, break out your Olivia Pope wine glass and watch some Netflix – just calm your mind. Avoid any crazy skin or hair treatments, and just follow your normal routine. Work with your hairdresser to decide if you should come in with hair that’s freshly washed or a little dirty and easy to work with. (This depends on your desired style.)

Brides are always telling me how quickly their day flies by. Follow this list and you and your partner can just focus on soaking in every moment of your big day. Let’s do this!