As event planners, we can’t help but love the Fourth of July. After all, the entire nation is gearing up for one big red, white, and blue hued celebration! Whether you’re escaping to the beach for the occasion or planning to enjoy a little BBQ in your own backyard, we hope that these details from patriotic parties of the past will help you transition from work mode to seeing fireworks explode. Let freedom ring, and let the festivities begin!
How do you end your wedding day with a bang? By lighting the night with a private fireworks show for your guests, of course! With that said, there are certain best-practices and regulations you’ll need to keep in mind if you want to (fire)work with this type of entertainment at your next event. Click here to read our Founder + CEO’s top five tips for orchestrating a fireworks display, as shared with Inside Weddings magazine!
Playing with fire not really your thing? Distribute flags instead! Bonus points if you gift your guests with fun dance floor props. We promise they’ll be into it, and you’ll get some amazing reception photos out of it, too!
Lindsey and Ryan love the Fourth of July so much that they selected the date for their wedding welcome party! Read all about it and see every last dynamic detail by clicking over to Inside Weddings for a full recap.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 tohire 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!”
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!”
Congratulations! You’ve finally done it. You’ve dreamed about starting your own business, and now, after months—or even years—of all that planning and prep work, you’re finally ready to let the world know that you exist. What better way to do that than by planning a fabulous grand opening celebration?
The first big ticket items to consider when planning a successful grand opening are the date and time of your event. If you live in Texas, hosting an outdoor event in the middle of July is not a good idea. The same goes for Maine during the winter. Weekdays work best for groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Unless your business is located in a shopping center, you won’t get the attendance rate on a weekend that you would during business hours on a weekday. As far as time of day goes, mornings or lunchtime will usually be the most convenient for your attendees.
But wait! Before you start sending out those invitations, it’s important to make sure that no other major events are taking place on the day that you selected. Take a look at the social calendars produced by city magazines and blogs in your area. Visit your local chamber of commerce and visitors bureau to double-check that no other events are being held. You’ve put so much effort into making it this far; the last thing you want is to compete for attendance on the day of your grand opening.
Now that you’ve set the date for your grand opening celebration, it’s time to consider what you’re going to serve your guests. Will you hire a caterer, or are you providing the food and drinks? Mornings can be a lot easier to plan—especially if you’re handling the food yourself. Light pastries, coffee, and orange juice work perfectly. If you decide to host your event around lunchtime, a buffet is ideal. No need to worry about a plated, sit-down lunch.
Hosting your grand opening in the morning or at lunch also means that you don’t have to worry about buying alcohol. Generally, alcohol is only served at events that take place later in the afternoon or evening—in this case, a bit of champagne and a signature cocktail are all you need to toast the opening.
Live music is a nice touch for a grand opening, but it’s not mandatory. No matter what type of musicians you select, it’s key to have them play soft background music that allows for easy conversation. Think complementary, not overpowering.
Three Things to Remember When Planning a Successful Grand Opening:
1. First things first: business technicalities! Identify the zoning regulations for your area and the steps you need to take to secure a special event permit. If you plan to bring in outside food, be sure that all vendors have received the necessary permitting from the health department. Tackle these tasks as early in the planning process as possible to ensure that you and your team are worry-free on the day of your grand opening!
2. Inviting dignitaries, celebrities, or government officials can lend a certain amount of credibility to your business. If you have particular VIP attendees in mind, submit a request to their office as soon as possible, and be sure to follow up.
3. The last item may seem obvious, but it can easily be forgotten amid the plethora of other details. If you’re host a ribbon-cutting ceremony, remember to buy your ribbon and a pair of oversized scissors!
Grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for La Moderna Pasta Factory in Cleburne, Texas attended by Governor Greg Abbott
Marketing is a key component of any successful event. It would be such a shame to put so much time, effort, and money into producing the most glorious grand opening anyone has ever seen, only to be faced with lackluster attendance on the day of your event. To avoid that scenario, send grand opening invitations one month in advance of your event. You can send out traditional invitations, but e-vites are even better. They’re easy to create, cost-effective to send, and they allow you to get an instant headcount while also keeping track of any last-minute cancellations.
Now, let’s talk branding! You want people in your area to become familiar with your brand, but even more importantly, you want them to interact with it, get excited about it, and then tell their friends about how amazing it is! For the grand opening of Interabang Books, we accomplished this by hosting different segments that engaged guests in a memorable way. A “make your own bookmark” station, a storytime reading for children, an author meet-and-greet, and other activities strongly promoted what they are all about: books and community!
Scenes from the Interabang Books grand opening
As a major shopping center, we took a different approach when working with the Legacy West team to produce their grand opening. Nationally-recognized bands, street entertainers, artists, free yoga sessions, giveaways, and other activations served to extend shoppers’ stay while making their time at the event more memorable and enjoyable.
Scenes from the Legacy West grand opening weekend of events
An entire weekend was devoted to the grand opening of La Moderna Pasta Factory in Cleburne, Texas! Guests first toasted the occasion at the kick-off cocktail party, which was followed by an inauguration ceremony featuring factory tours, mariachi music, and a ribbon cutting attended by Governor Greg Abbott. From signature cocktails, to logo-embellished menus, to lounge furniture and floral arrangements complementing the colors of La Moderna’s logo and packaging, branded touches abounded at every turn.
For smaller-scale celebrations, something as simple as a takeaway item or free sample embellished with your logo can go a long way. Hot day? Why not give each of your guests a customized water bottle or fan? Bounce-back coupons are another easy way to get people to remember your brand and return for another visit.
Last but not least, alert the local media about your upcoming event and make sure the details of your grand opening are on all of the event calendars for your city. Consider hiring a photographer or videographer to document your grand opening. On the day of the event, encourage guests to post on social media by creating signs with your event hashtag, setting up a step and repeat featuring your logo, or hosting a unique activity that is just begging to be Instagrammed. You can even hold social media giveaway contests, like Levi’s did for the grand opening of Legacy West!
You’ve done the hard part of opening up a new business. Now, it’s time to focus on getting others as excited about your company and brand as you are. Use these tips to start laying the foundation for your event, and if you would like assistance in planning and orchestrating your grand opening in Dallas, Fort Worth, or beyond, we would love for you to get in touch with our team!
Legacy West Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting photos: Taylor Kiker for DFW Events
Canon and Tate are the sweetest couple with a truly incredible love story that spans blind dates, debutante balls, and what could very well be the world’s most romantic European proposal. We couldn’t be more excited to share that their modern, glamorous wedding in Fort Worth was recently selected as a “Vows that Wow” feature in Brides of North Texas magazine!
Before we dig into all of the details of their wedding day, let’s take a moment to swoon together over the way that Tate proposed. While in Italy during the summer of 2016, Tate arranged for a personal driver to chauffeur Canon to the Hotel Villa Cora in Florence. After escorting her through a trail of candles while a harpist played in the background, Tate dropped to one knee and presented Canon with a ring box inscribed with Sono Sicuro—”I’m sure” in Italian. Want more details? You can read the entire story of Tate’s proposal in the online version of BONT’s “Vows that Wow” feature!
Speaking of popping the question, you might remember Canon from a previous blog feature on creative ways to propose to your bridesmaids and maid of honor! These two put so much thought into every aspect of their wedding day and were intentional about honoring their friends, family members, and each other all along the way. From Canon’s decision to have Sono Sicuro engraved on Tate’s wedding band, to the priceless gift of a custom clutch purse made from a variety of heirloom fabrics that Tate gifted to Canon, both bride and groom seized every opportunity to express their love in meaningful, personal ways.
Following a moving ceremony featuring a backdrop of bloom-laden branches at Christ Chapel Bible Church, Canon and Tate celebrated their reception at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite detail, but we’ll do our best—mixed-metal decor, sky-high white floral arrangements, luxury event furniture from Perch Event Decor, a live painter, custom marquee light signage, a donut wall, and a surprise performance to “Dancing Queen” put on by Canon’s mother, her mother’s best friend, and her mother-in-law rank high on our list!
Canon and Tate, we were so honored to plan your wedding and wish you much continued joy as you build your life together as husband and wife!
Put together one fun-loving couple, two different cultural backgrounds, a bevy of personalized leather jackets, and a dizzying variety of dance floor entertainers, and what do you have? Just a GLIMPSE of the excitement and glamour that surrounded every aspect of Anissa and Ramez’s wedding day!
It was important to the bride and groom to incorporate traditions from both of their cultures throughout the wedding weekend. With this in mind, following the conclusion of the rehearsal dinner on Friday evening, Anissa changed into a red gown and veil to honor her Albanian heritage before hitting the dance floor. After saying “I do” at Perkins Chapel on Saturday, Anissa and Ramez entered their reception at The Joule as guests participated in a traditional Pakistani dance led by the groom’s family!
Anissa has impeccable taste (did you see those personalized Zara jackets she gifted to her bridesmaids?) and we had so much fun planning an ultra-modern black and white reception with her! Her adventurous decor choices resulted in a look that was both glamorous and fresh. The stunning floral arrangements crafted by Garden Gate, the globe the couple used as a guest sign-in book, and the acrylic seating chart created by DFW Dance Floors were among our favorite design details.
The bride and groom’s first dance to a soulful version of “Firestone” by Kygo was an emotional highlight of the night. It was the perfect song choice for Anissa and Ramez, and beautifully performed by local duo Hunter and Savannah! Last but not least, you’ll notice that the dance floor is consistently packed in all of these photos. Ramez and Anissa both love to dance and wanted to ensure that their guests had an unforgettable evening—a goal they MORE than accomplished by incorporating a variety of great entertainers at the reception! From the electronic violinist to the dancing robot, the dance floor was packed from start to finish.
It was such a privilege to help bring your wedding day to life, Anissa and Ramez! Wishing you two all the best…and plenty more opportunities to dance!
Church: Perkins Chapel
Reception: The Joule Hotel, Dallas
Officiate: Boo Kay
Ceremony Strings: Dallas String Quartet
Ceremony Organist: Jordan Smith
Caterer: The Joule Hotel
Alcohol: The Joule Hotel
Valet: The Joule Hotel
Magician: David Gabriel
Robot: Reilly Robot
Electronic Violinist: Sarina
Reception Singers: Hunter and Savannah
Photographer: Paige Greener Photography
Videographer: Elle Films
Band/DJ: DJ Ehab
Florist: Garden Gate, Junior Villanueva
Dance Floor and Acrylic Seating Chart: DFW Dance Floors
Lighting: The Joule Hotel
Cakes: Fancy Cakes by Lauren
Wedding Planning: Brooke Nappier for DFW Events
We’ve been sharing sneak peeks of Meghan and Jay’s wedding on Instagram, and today we’re thrilled to be sharing their entire gallery from Tyler + Lindsey (or the vast majority of it, anyway!). From those beaming first look smiles to Jay’s victorious fist pump after being pronounced husband and wife, these two radiated absolute joy on their wedding day.
From Portico to Pavilion, Arlington Hall boasts a variety of beautiful event spaces. As Meghan and Jay’s wedding and reception made use of several on-property locations, Junior at Garden Gate designed a lovely lantern-lined walkway to guide guests from dinner in the Sunken Garden to the Ballroom for dancing. Another favorite detail: Meghan and Jay’s vintage cake topper! As a special nod to the Baumgardner family, the couple’s cake was topped with the same figurines that were featured on Jay’s grandparents’ and parents’ wedding cakes. A “sweet” tradition in every sense of the word, and the perfect Something Old, too.
Meghan and Jay’s “I do” date fell on Veteran’s Day weekend, and since they both have family and friends who have served in the military, they gave a special toast of thanks to honor veterans and soldiers during their reception. Other all-American touches included the distribution of flags for guests to wave as the bride and groom made their exit, and a surprise fireworks show gifted to the couple by Meghan’s parents—it began as they were cutting their wedding cake on the Arlington Hall porch!
Meghan and Jay, thank you so much for trusting our team to plan your wedding. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of your day!
There is something so special about a night at the museum—and no, we’re not talking about the Ben Stiller comedy that brought exhibits to life on the big screen. Rather, we’re thinking of artfully-imagined weddings and special events hosted at locales including the The Modern, the Dallas Museum of Art, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and The Nasher, just to name a few. While you may have previously enjoyed perusing a gallery or two during business hours, it’s a completely different experience to get up close and personal with dinosaur fossils while attending an after-hours wedding reception (with a glass of Chardonnay in hand, no less). Let’s explore the logistics of hosting a wedding or event at a museum!
Museums are open to the public during the day, which means set-up for a private event typically begins later than it would at a hotel ballroom or other event space—we’re talking a 5 o’clock start time at a museum versus an early morning start at most other venues. With a carefully planned timeline and strong vendor team in place, however, rest assured that set-up can go off without a hitch!
If you’ve chosen to host your wedding or event at a museum, then obviously there is something about that space or a particular exhibit within the museum that initially drew you toward the idea. Although you could try to mask the fact that your guests will be enjoying cocktail hour amid ancient fossils or spectacular art, why not play it up instead? This doesn’t mean you have to go super theme-y, but you can play off the color scheme already in place or incorporate a small nod to your favorite exhibit. In short, celebrating what’s unique and interesting about your event space is the way to go at a museum.
wedding at The Perot with decorative details inspired by the museum’s geological exhibit | photos: Kelly Alexander | planning: DFW Events
We’d be willing to bet that the majority of your wedding or event guests don’t have the opportunity to privately tour a museum (with a cocktail in hand!) on a regular basis. Although different rules apply at different museums, for the most part there is always a workable way to incorporate drinks, live music, dancing, and other must-have elements into your event. Depending on the museum you select, you might consider hosting a progressive event that spans multiple levels—it’s a great way to expose guests to as many exhibits as possible, which makes for a truly one-of-a-kind experience!
Progressive dinner and 50th birthday party at The Perot Museum—see more here photos: Jason Kindig | planning: DFW Events | floral and design: David Kimmel
3 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN PLANNING A MUSEUM WEDDING
Read your contract, then read it again! Every hotel and event venue maintains a certain set of rules that are listed in the fine print, but museums tend to have more specific regulations in place to protect their exhibits. If you’re passionate about serving red wine or saying goodbye to your guests via a sparkler exit, for instance, then a museum wedding might not be for you.
Verify what the museum is able to provide in terms of furniture and rentals. In addition to checking out the look of the house tables and chairs, it’s important to ensure that the museum has enough of each available for your event.
Exhibits come and go. While the museum you selected might currently be housing works by your favorite artist, it could only be a temporary exhibit. Be sure to check the museum’s exhibition schedule against your wedding date!
It’s a toss-the-confetti and pop-the-champagne kind of day around the DFW Events office—Bela + Chase’s wedding is featured in the Winter 2018 issue of Inside Weddings!
The couple wed in May of 2017, with both the ceremony and reception taking place at The Four Seasons Resort & Club, Dallas. After exchanging vows beneath a stunning floral archway set up on the lawn, Bela and Chase treated their guests to a special cocktail hour featuring his-and-hers areas—a rosé and champs bar for the bride and a succulent-covered scotch station for the groom. Up next: a breathtaking ballroom reception! Blush draping, mirrored surfaces, crystal accents, and sequin-covered textiles combined to create a luxurious ambiance, which was personalized thanks to the addition of custom neon signage and throw pillows bearing the couple’s duogram.
It was our absolute pleasure to help bring Bela and Chase’s wedding day vision to life, and we are honored by what Bela shared with Inside Weddings: “I had a superstar wedding planner who has been in the industry for 20 years. She called in so many favors, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish by planning on my own.”
That’s what we’re here for, and exactly the sort of thing that makes our hearts sing. Congratulations, Bela and Chase!
If you’ve been dreaming about your wedding for your entire life (or even just for the last year or so), chances are that at least a few of those dreams have included a very specific setting. But whether you’re instinctively drawn to the rustic ambiance of a ranch wedding or have a more traditional ballroom affair in mind, there are a few essential questions every couple should consider before booking a venue for the Big Day. Ask yourself these five questions to ensure that your wedding venue is a perfect fit, then prepare to ink those final contracts with confidence!
Question One: “Indoor or outdoor?”
Consider this basic question your starting point when identifying potential wedding and reception venues. Answering it from the get-go will automatically simplify your search!
Question Two: “How would you describe your style?”
When it’s time to start narrowing down your options, think about your personal style. Are you drawn to modern and contemporary looks with a preference for clean lines? Consider booking a museum for your ceremony or reception—The Modern in Fort Worth, The Nasher, and the Dallas Museum of Art are all beautiful options that don’t necessarily require a lot of extra table décor.
Question Three: “What are my décor and rental needs?”
If questions one and two have helped you determine that an outdoor wedding in a setting that is not typically used as an event space—this includes a ranch, field, or even your own backyard—is for you, keep in mind that you will most likely need to bring in absolutely everything from the ground up. We’re talking tables, chairs, linens, and back-of-house catering rentals, plus a trucking service, a generator, a dance floor, and a valet company just to name a few. You will also need to secure an air-conditioned tent in case of rain or extreme temperatures on your wedding day. Don’t let that scare you, though. If you’re open to the idea of managing these additional details or have hired an event planner to help manage them for you, this can be an extremely rewarding way to build a completely unique event space!
By contrast, country clubs, ballrooms, and other traditional event venues maintain a supply of house linens, house chairs, tables, and in-house catering rentals, and will also provide your catering services. While this option will probably save you some time, it won’t always save you money—especially if you’re planning to outfit the space with custom décor, which will require sourcing outside vendors.
Question Four: “What are my power and sound needs?”
If you’re planning to have a live band at your ceremony or reception, ensure that your venue has the necessary power and circuits. A back-up generator will be required if your power needs exceed your venue’s capability or if you’re planning an outdoor wedding. And don’t forget to inquire about lighting! Some venues keep their lighting on dimmers, which provides a built-in transition from dinner to the dance floor, whereas other spaces might benefit from an additional lighting package.
Question Five: “How much time do I need for set-up?”
Load-in and strike times are of major importance for your vendors, so make sure to ask your potential venue what time set-up can begin on the day of your wedding. Dedicated event spaces will typically allow set-up to begin early in the day, but locations that primarily function as public spaces—think art galleries and restaurants—might restrict set-up to after the five o’clock hour. If you choose a venue with this kind of time constraint, be prepared to pay an additional fee to cover the cost of the extra laborers it will take to prep your event space in a shortened time frame.
The bottom line? Spend some time thinking about the look and feel of your wedding as a whole, and then choose the venue and vendors that are best equipped to bring that vision to life!
In need of even more inspiration? Stop by our “Venues” board on Pinterest, and don’t miss our feature “From the Ground Up: How to Create an Event Space for Your Wedding Day” in the Winter 2018 issue of Inside Weddings.
‘Tis the season for decking the halls and spreading Christmas cheer, and as event planners, nothing makes our spirits brighter than reflecting on the details of a festively-arrayed wedding day! In anticipation of holidays past, we’ve featured a round-up of our favorite white wedding detailsand we’ve also shone the spotlight on colorful winter soirees. What we haven’t celebrated yet? A classic Christmas wedding—one that’s rich in velvet textiles, potted poinsettias, gingerbread bars, magnolia garlands, and a traditional palette of red, green, and gold. Until now, that is! From altar to after party, these wedding details are wishlist-worthy for any bride dreaming of a Noel nuptial.