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Special event trends constantly challenge event designers to find new ways to show off their best. From thematic design statements to technological advances,these eight trends are the ones to know in 2014:

Return of the black tie: Thank Hollywood for the reemergence of luxury and formality. Movies such as “The Great Gatsby” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” have brought back the elegance of black tie formal style,lavish celebrations and stately sit–down dinners. Expect to see grand house parties with plenty of sparkling crystal stemware; polished silver vessels,vases and serving pieces; traditional fabric tablecloths,napkins and runners; and shimming chandeliers suspended over long dinner tables and place card tables.
Midas touch: Something on the dinner table has always glimmered and shined. But thanks to a spotlight on the Art Deco era,gleaming,glittering gold is the hot color. Gold adds a sprinkling of sophistication,and it looks fantastic paired with any color. Softer shades such as pale blue,lavender and pink keep gold toned down,whereas cranberry red,crisp white and midnight blue turn the drama of gold up high on the designer dial.
Tradition tops the table: Heartier,sit–down meals that show off the plated classics will return in 2014. Caterer Max Hansen,a classically trained chef and cookbook author in Bucks County,Pa.,says,“The most popular foodie choices for 2014 events seem to be stylishly plated dinners that feature elegant–but–modern presentations of the best local ingredients available. Hosts are savvier than ever,requesting seasonal entrees like venison,pheasant,roast beef and salmon,served on fine china from covered silver platters by formally trained servers.”
Tall floral arrangements: Tall arrangements disappeared for a spell due to design preference,perceived extravagance and budget constrictions. But oversized floral decorations are back,making bold statements in traditional silver candelabra,sculptural glass vases and sleek modern metal containers. “Mixing high and low floral across a party room makes such a visual impact,and when guests spend four to five hours in that space,it’s an event designer’s dream to create an environment with layers of color and texture,” says Brian Kappra,creative director of Evantine Design,an award–winning floral design and event planning company in Philadelphia. “It tells a story like nothing else.”
Living walls: Living or “green” walls—vertical displays of plant material and/or flowers applied to tents,along walkways and marquees,or behind stages—take floral design to a new level of artistry and also disguise unsightly equipment or views with stunning efficiency. “With a nod to theatrical set design,using dried flowers mixed with fresh can make this extravagant element more affordable without sacrificing impact,” Kappra says.
Dramatic destination venues: With their natural beauty and dramatic views,destination locations continue to gain in popularity and move beyond weddings. Corporate conferences,retreats and political gatherings are discovering the allure of tropical destinations,if only for small leadership meetings. A related trend is an increase in larger tented celebrations. “Once considered the ideal way to elope or enjoy a smaller,intimate wedding celebration,we’re seeing destination weddings expanding into grand ballrooms and tented spaces in 2014 and 2015,” says Carlos Damy,owner and business director for Elena Damy Floral and Event Design in Los Cabos,Mexico.
Shared experiences: Today’s successful events need more than seamless planning and impeccable execution to achieve greater impact,particularly for corporate launches,non–profit fundraising and social awareness campaigns. Corporate clients are asking event professionals and experiential agencies to leverage parties and events into opportunities to meet,exchange,share and build community engagement.
Get techie: Technology and strategic communication are key in today’s party planning world,with all–in–one apps to track activities,connect with business contacts and share experiences via social networks. This now includes using apps before,during and after an event to engage with attendees and guests for lasting impressions,and applies to weddings,social parties and non–profit as well as corporate events. Don’t ask a client,“Are you using an app?” Instead,show you’re aware of the trend and ask your clients,“Which app are you using?” and incorporate it into the planning process.

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