Cheers to 20 Years: 20 Ways Event Planning Has Changed Since DFW Events Was Founded

CelebrationDFW Details

The death of landlines and the omnipresence of iPhones. The rise, fall, and reinvention of the boy band. The exchange of Blockbuster rentals for Netflix binge-watching. The nearly universal adoption of athleisure. From technological advancements to fashion trends, the last 20 years have produced seismic-level shifts in every sphere, and the world of wedding and event planning is no exception (event hashtags, anyone?). In celebration of DFW Events’ twentieth year in business, let’s take a look back at some of the trends and transformations that helped shape the landscape of event planning into the industry it is today…no #throwbackthursday required!

20 WAYS EVENT PLANNING HAS CHANGED IN 20 YEARS
as told by Mary-Frances Hurt | Founder & CEO, DFW Events

1. YOU’RE INVITED. “Twenty years ago, it was exclusively Crane and William Arthur for invitations, and engraving and thermography were the only options for differentiating your typography. Today’s couples have the option of incorporating calligraphy, foiling, letterpress, and a variety of colors into their suites. Ecru paper with black ink is no longer a must-do—invitations have become wildly inventive and representative of each couple’s personality and style.”

Complete wedding invitation suite featuring matte gold foiling and inlaid lucite | produced by Melanie Frazier for DFW Events | photo: Katie Pinson Photography

2. SO GIFTED. “Couples registered exclusively at department stores. Now couples have the option to work with registry specialists like Consilium Lifestyle Collections, to register at stores like Anthropologie, to request honeymoon contributions, or even to sponsor charitable causes through services like The Good Beginning.”

3. SAY “I DO” TO SPECIALTY VENUES. “Churches, country clubs, and hotels used to be the only venue options. Now there are a wide array of specialty venues—in Dallas, Hickory Street Annex, Brake and Clutch, The White Sparrow, Empire Room, Marie Gabrielle, and Arlington Hall all come to mind.”

Wedding ceremony at The White Sparrow Barn | photo: Grant Daniels Photography

4. SPOTLIGHT ON ENTERTAINMENT. “Bands and ceremony musicians have always been around, but musical selections have definitely changed. Some church weddings are incorporating secular music in addition to traditional liturgical selections, and receptions are featuring vendors like tap dancers and live artists to keep guests entertained throughout the evening.”

5. HAVE A SEAT. “Chairs and table linens were always rented from your venue—white, cream, silver, or gold only. Today, a variety of specialty rental companies exist that provide truly unique linens and residential-style event furnishings in the entire Pantone spectrum.”

Lounge furniture from Perch Event Decor | photo: Sarah Kate, Photographer

6. DINNER IS SERVED. “Twenty years ago seated dinners were a must! Then came buffets, and then food stations. Now we’re seeing a hybrid—everyone takes a seat, the first course is served, and then guests go to serving stations. This provides the elegance of a seated dinner with greater menu variety and mobility.”

7. SECOND CHANCE FOR THE SECOND LOOK. “While second looks were really popular in the 40s and 50s—brides of that generation typically changed into a travel suit after the reception—the practice fell out of fashion in the 90s. Today the trend is in style again, with many brides wearing two or even three gowns over the course of the evening.”

Second look for a wedding reception at The Modern Fort Worth | photos: Sarah Kate, Photographer

8. NOW INTRODUCING. “The bride, groom, and the wedding party were announced, but there were no choreographed dances…unless you count the macarena and train dances.”

9. DRESSING DOWN. “Grooms almost exclusively wore black tuxedos with tails twenty years ago. We see a stronger preference for suits today. Grooms have a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from thanks to upscale online rental companies like The Black Tux.”

Left: Wedding fashion according to Beverly Hills, 90210 circa 2000; photo: Everett Collection via Us Weekly | Right: Styled Shoot at The Mulia Bali featuring The Black Tux; photo: Brian Leahy Photography

10. VENDOR SEARCH. “There was no social media or custom event hashtags…because there was no internet! Until wedding-centric magazines and blogs came along, you had to rely on a printed directory to find vendors.”

MF’s first ever Dallas wedding guide (circa 1996)! At the time, Arlington Hall could be rented for $85 from 6 p.m. to midnight.

11. CHOOSE YOUR SHOES. “In addition to matching their gowns, bridesmaids always wore matching shoes. Today we see bridal parties wearing complementary looks in a variety of styles for the wedding ceremony. The new trend is to gift your bridesmaids with matching Converse or Keds for the reception!”

photo: Haley Rynn Ringo | more from this wedding here

12. JUST DANCE. “Dance floor props and photo booths are reception staples today, but they weren’t around twenty years ago.”

13. SWEET SOMETHINGS. “In the Dallas area there used to be just three cake bakers. Today there are many more, and designs have gotten so creative. No more plastic pillars in between cake layers! Faux cakes were also unheard of when I first started planning weddings, but they’re common now—a great way to achieve visual ‘wow factor’ in a more cost-effective manner.”

Typical early 2000s cake with plastic pillars in between layers | photo via Delish

14. NEW DEVELOPMENTS. “Wedding photography was exclusively done in film; there was no digital photography. Videography equipment consisted of fifteen-pound cameras, whereas today drones are often brought in to capture a bird’s eye view of the ceremony and reception.”

15. LOVE IN BLOOM. “Floral was loose, then transitioned into tight, formal, ball-shaped bouquets and arrangements. Now we’re back to loose yet stylized floral arrangements that truly look like works of art.”

Loose and lovely ceremony floral by Bows and Arrows | photo: Grant Daniels Photography

16. LIGHT THE NIGHT. “Until ten or twelve years ago, there was no pin-spotting or uplighting at events. Now it’s a mainstay at every event we produce.”

17. HITCH A RIDE. “I used to hire seven limos on the day of a wedding for the wedding party, and the bride and groom always left in a limo or a vintage car. Now we see couples exiting in bicycles, side cars, pickup trucks, and more!”

Decorated pick-up truck used as a getaway car | photo: Karlisch Studio Weddings

18. DO ME A FAVOR. “Everyone gave guests take-home favors, like candles or picture frames. Now the trend is to surprise guests with after parties, food trucks, and late-night snack passes.”

19. GRAND(ER) EXIT. “Birdseed, rose petals, and bubbles were given to guests before the couple’s getaway. Today it’s confetti, streamers, and sparklers!”

Sparkler wedding exit | photo: Caroline Jurgensen Photography

20. WHAT WE OWE TO J.LO. “Last but not least, when I got married, there were only a handful of wedding planners and they all catered to exclusive zip codes. There were not many who worked with ‘regular brides,’ which is what motivated me to start my own business. That all changed after Jennifer Lopez starred in The Wedding Planner in 2001—there was a huge jump in interest after that!”

J. Lo in The Wedding Planner | photo via Harpers Bazaar

WANT MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS IN YOUR INBOX?
Click the button below to join The List, a community of engaged couples, aspiring event planners, and DFW Events clients + vendors!