Event Design Series – Part 6: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Our final installment in the Event Design Series on the Portland Event Planner blog. Continuing our discussion of event design (and please, make it a discussion by commenting)…

More about our Event Design Series here at Part 1, and where the questions came from

Part 6: Case Studies: Of all the designs and/or event decor you’ve come up with, what has been the most successful and why? …And what was the biggest ‘bust’?

I’m not going to post any client pictures as that would probably be a shock to the client that I thought their design was “a bust“. I will tell you that my weakness is sometimes being TOO accommodating to the client’s wishes.

In this example, I had a client who told me she cared absolutely nothing for decor and just wanted to make sure that the chairs in the room didn’t squeak against the floor. She had attended an event in the same venue for a fundraiser, and was horrified at the constant squeaking and grating noise the venue’s wooden chairs made against the bare concrete floor.

Obliging as always, I agreed to rent some very basic (and in my opinion, unattractive) hotel banquet chairs with little rubber tips on the chair legs. This way, my dear client would not have to endure that squeaking sound.

However, the rest of the event decor was compelling – she worked with a wonderful florist, we printed individual menus, and her guests received an adorable favor; one per place setting. Those details, coupled with the wonderful catering and simple, chic linens she had chosen meant that her choice of chair, which I had gone along with, was glaringly out of sync with the rest of the clean, classic decor. Looking back, I wish I had just suggested we purchase soft-felt furniture sliders and offered to attach them to all 800 chair legs. It would only have taken a few hours, the venue probably would have loved it, and the overall look would have been much more appealing. (Of course, this is all in my head – not a single guest, nor the bride, said anything about the ugly chairs!)

As far as a successful design? Again it seems that it came from taking a client’s wish and running with it wholly. In this event, the only direction my client gave was that she wanted “a big red party”. Working with Portland Art Museum, Vibrant Table, Royce’s Prop Shop, and Geranium Lake, we did just that. It is still one of my favorite designs of all time.

Photos: Robert McNary for Melissa Jill Photography


What are your thoughts about successful design — what constitutes a blowout or a bust? Any great event design stories to tell? Please share in the comments below.

You might also like to look back at the previous parts of this series:
Part 1- It’s an Event Design Series on The Portland Event Planner Blog!
Part 2 – Event Design Trends
Part 3 – Sustainable Event Design
Part 4 – Event Budget and Design
Part 5 – Event Theme and Design

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{ Portland Wedding Venues } Planner’s Roundup – 5 sites that allow outside catering

For so many couples, the food is the THE most important part of the wedding celebration. I often hear from them: "The food HAS to be good"…"We like the Portland food scene and want to integrate it into our wedding"…"We want to give our guests a taste of Portland and the Pacific Northwest". Often, they already have a caterer in mind when they start their venue search, and are challenged when they keep running into venues that have strict exclusive lists.

That got me to thinking. What Portland wedding and event venues allow outside catering? Here are just a few. Know any others? Please share in the comments below!

The Eliot Center – The Eliot Center is the "fellowship hall" aspect of the downtown First Unitarian Church. Not only are they able to seat up to 160 in their conference center for a reception, the adjoining Historic Eliot Chapel can seat up to 250 in a beautiful, elegant chapel setting for a wedding ceremony. They allow self-catering, outside caterers, and alcohol service in accordance with their policies.

Eliot-center-wedding-david-barss

Multnomah Arts Center – Located in SW Portland just a few minutes from downtown, the MAC is a Portland Parks and Recreation community center venue with a large auditorium and stage for indoor wedding ceremonies that can be changed over to a reception during a cocktail hour. Mingle areas include a dance studio and an outdoor plaza, which can also be used for ceremonies. All rental rooms, including the auditorium stage, and bathrooms are ADA-accessible and air-conditioned. In addition, most spaces have free Wi-Fi access.

Multnomah-arts-center-wedding-venue

The Glenn and Viola Walters Arts and Cultural Center is near and dear to our hearts, as one of our favorite recent weddings just took place there. The site features a large auditorium for ceremony and reception, downstairs classrooms to use as changing areas, a ground-floor lobby and an upstairs art gallery where guests can mingle during a room changeover. The kitchen facility is well-appointed and convenient for self-catering or your own caterer. The outdoor plaza can also be used for ceremonies.

Portland-wedding-planner-walters-arts-center

The Laurelhurst Club – A 100-year-old property adjoining Laurelhurst park in SE Portland, this venue features an historic ballroom, mezzanine bar, kitchen facilities, bride's and grooms rooms, and outdoor ceremony lawn.

Outdoor-Ceremony-laurelhurst

NW Events & Environments – By far the largest open catering venue we have seen, NW Events & Environments can accommodate 650 in a banquet setting and over 1000 if using multiple rooms in a reception-style flow. They do not allow outside alcohol, and kitchen facilities may have limitations.

Main-ballroom-large-wedding-venue

Thanks for reading – if you found this post about Portland wedding and event venues helpful, you might also like:

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{ From the Archives } Mindy and Ashish’s Garba and Indian Wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes, Oregon

This time of year, we're fielding tons of inquiries, cleaning up the blog, receiving happy emails from brides with links to their summer wedding photos. I was just going through some photo files and couldn't believe I'd overlooked blogging Mindy and Ashish's garba (Gujarati-style dance party) and wedding weekend from a few years ago.

Garba-dandiya-gujarati-indian-hindu-wedding

The garba was held at the downtown Hilton Portland and catered by East India Company. I worked with Royce's Prop Shop and the bride, who had brought back a ton of gorgeous sari fabric that she wanted to use around the room. Royce and I came up with the idea of draping the saris over T-bar posts, and using uplighting for a festive effect:

Continue reading “{ From the Archives } Mindy and Ashish’s Garba and Indian Wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes, Oregon”

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