Reception Style: Bold Strokes
Three event design pros spin strong, dramtic themes for an unexpected setting: Central Eastside nightclub Holocene.
Photographs by Wendi Nordeck
1 CULTURE CLUB
“Global patterns and colors are really hot right now,” says Gather Event Planning owner Katie Wilgus, whose vibrant, welcoming Moroccan tableau speaks beautifully to the trend. The idea is comfortable luxury, where guests can make fast friends over a feast of lamb tagine, vegetarian moussaka (no boring pasta primavera here!), baklava, and Moroccan milk pudding; lounge about on pillows while sampling themed cocktails; or cut loose on the dance floor. “I love Holocene for its multiple rooms and sound system,” Wilgus says, “and they’re also fantastic to work with.”
A sense of balance keeps things feeling fresh and urban: different-yet-complementary patterns and pop art hues play against the venue’s minimalist concrete aesthetic, the earthy farmhouse table, and the brass and gold décor. On the table Starflower’s verdant explosion of anemone, ranunculus, pincushion protea, magnolia, genestra, and olive branch holds court over a collection of vintage lanterns, candlesticks, and bud vases. Below, an array of rugs helps define the space. Simply project Casablanca on a loop, and your big night will be complete.
HAVE THEM AT HELLO
Give guests a taste of the unique festivities to come with a boldly graphic invitation suite—and then carry the theme through via the event’s other paper details. Here the ornate design on the face of Paper Bloom’s invite repeats in similar fashion but different hues on the place cards, menu, and tattoo favor note, while the laser-cut gold pattern on the cover and band appears again on the table numbers. To make the camel place card holders, Wilgus purchased plastic critters at the Lippman Company, drilled holes in the top, added 19-gauge wire loops, and then spray-painted the lot gold chrome with Montana Gold from Blick Art Materials.
Encore by Watters knee-length illusion neckline lace and tulle bridesmaid or reception dress and crystal bracelets (all price upon request), Ania Collection
This herbaceous sipper by wife-and-wife bartending team Mint & Mirth features Aria Portland Dry Gin, lime, pomegranate, and mint.
Custom décor elements can be both showpiece and a subtle design/theme unifier. For example, the hand-painted orange runner above by new-to-Portland studio Bramble Workshop (owner Jessica Pezalla’s résumé includes crafting sensational Hermès window displays) ties in the key pattern as it frames settings of gilded plates and flatware. Practical perk: these pieces would also make a lovely wedding memento in your newlywed abode.
Give guests something cool to take home, too, with latest-craze temporary tattoo favors (below)—that is, unless they can’t resist popping into the loo to apply these henna-style beauties on-site.
Makings of a colorful starter: Israeli couscous, frisée, apricot, feta, orange bell pepper, and preserved lemon, with citrus-beet vinaigrette.
Event design, napkins, decanter with cocktail glasses, blue rug, and blue pillows: Gather Event Planning
Printed goods: Paper Bloom
Table, benches, place settings, rugs beneath main table, bar table, patterned pillows, lanterns, candlesticks, and bud vases: Something Borrowed
Orange runner: Bramble Workshop
Pink runners and pillows: Barclay Event Rentals
Salad: White Pepper
Cocktail: Mint & Mirth
Tattoo favors: Amazon.com
Dress and bracelets: Ania Collection
2 DARK MAGIC
“Be you, be original! There are no rules with wedding design.” That’s the first thing Luxe Event Productions owner Misty Damico tells all her clients—and, happily, they listen. In fact, this striking, sultry scene she created with her team was inspired by one of their actual 2015 brides, a gal who’s equally starry-eyed about the moon. “Her theme is ‘dark and moody,’ so we played on her incredible ideas and style as an homage to our newfound friendship,” Damico says.
In the Luxe take, the night sky’s muted palette and velvety texture inform structural choices like the sumptuous gray velour drape and loveseat, blue accent pillows, and twinkling ebony tapers. Wooden bistro chairs ground the design while the gold bar cart (serving as a movable display for Rosycakes’ roughly foiled tiers of fresh ginger, chocolate caramel, and “Always Perfect White Cake”) amps up the glam factor.
Imagine an intimate, dimly lit otherworld where loved ones dressed in Holly Stalder or Michelle Lesniak couture clink crackle-glass flutes of Oregon bubbly before hitting the midnight-themed photo booth (Venetian masks! Cloud hats! Werewolf fangs!) or dancing a perfect tango. Holocene’s rock club credentials make it amenable to strong themes of any nature, Damico notes, including the personal and unique masterpiece you dream up.
IN THE MOODY
This gorgeous custom invitation suite by Tie That Binds’ Mekala Tinnin sets the event’s dreamy tone from the start. Elements of the painterly invite are referenced on the RSVP, menu, and various signage, including a cake-cart piece bearing the love poem “Moonchild” by Christopher Poindexter. Rarely used white ink glows against the twilight-colored envelopes.
Watters illusion neckline sequined lace and bobbinet floor-length bridesmaid dress or budget-friendly wedding gown (price upon request), Ania Collection
THE BRIX LAYER
Toast the night with My Bartender’s take on Aviary’s beloved signature drink. P.S. We’re obsessed with these martini glasses’ asymmetrical rims!
1 slice of orange
1 sugar cube
8 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
2 oz sour
2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
3/4 oz cabernet sauvignon
An avid lover of animals (she runs a charity for dogs and cats called Operation Warm Paws), Damico digs the idea of favors with a heart—e.g., making a donation on behalf of each guest to the Audubon Society of Portland. A tiny totem perched at each place setting is a great way to both let guests know about the meaningful gesture and take home a fun reminder of your I do’s.
Here Damico paired little owls with an explanation on the back of favor tags attached to delicate branches. The phrase on the front (“I love you to the moon and back”) appears again in gold notes tucked into Botanica Floral Design’s ravishing arrangements of crimson David Austin Tess and Darcey garden roses, anemone, ranunculus, stock, clematis, carnations, boronia, begonia foliage, and more. (Also check out the modern, spare bridal bouquet on the bottom shelf of the cake-cart) The drama of the lush blooms’ deep hues set against raw-edged charcoal dinnerware, slate-colored napkins, and modern gold flatware makes for a magical meal.
Bring the sky down to earth by mixing moonlike marble orbs into the centerpieces, and penning names on azure agate slices.
Event design, chargers, plates, glassware, napkins, stone elements, candlesticks, and owl favors: Luxe Event Productions
Flowers: Botanica Floral Design
Printed goods and cocktail tray: Tie That Binds
Table, chairs, loveseat, flatware, and cake cart: Classic Vintage Rentals
Table drape: West Coast Drape
Cocktail: My Bartender
Dress and bracelets: Ania Collection
3 GARDEN PARTIED
“With a bold theme, guests get to feel like they’re part of something completely original,” says Vibrant Table Catering & Events creative director Kurt Beadell. “Our hope is that they can get lost in the atmosphere we create.” Here Beadell and his team turn expectations about a stark nightclub setting on their head with an elegantly opulent arcadian design inspired by the Marqueyssac (a famed French topiary garden) and rococo style.
A grand vintage chandelier centers a tablescape that’s intentionally messy-pretty: decorative iron garden globes are scattered among Party Place’s antiqued Louis chairs, and a mix of eclectic floral arrangements, luminous gold-stripe votive cups, vintage statuary, and a wooden bowl of rustic baguettes nestle within the folds of a striped linen that serves as a runner, spilling over to the floor and showcasing the farmhouse table beneath.
It’s a vibe that would work any time of day (from a decadent brunch reception to a formal dinner extravaganza) and in any season. We’re besotted with the idea of a midwinter event, where guests are transported from the dreary rain to a pastoral paradise of exquisitely pretty things, ever-flowing Penner-Ash pinot noir, steamy wild mushroom bisque, and a fresh surprise (Circus performers! Indoor lawn games!) at every turn.
It’s only natural that a bucolic theme would garner abundant use of flora. Angled boxwood walls suggest you’ve stumbled into a nuptial secret garden, where bursts of blossoms top faded columns and stephanotis vines wind around and down the table between mossy branches, tiny topiary, and vases of textural, romantic blooms like double variegated ranunculus (those trippy ruffled darlings on the pedestal below), feathery double parrot tulips, dainty anemone, and fragrant jasmine.
Vibrant Flowers also created this voluptuous bridal bouquet in the green, white, and palest-blush palette, and the pared-down, masculine boutonnieres. Frocks from Allure Bridesmaids’ new In Bloom collection (like this chiffon style, price upon request at Ania Collection) are the perfect way to outfit your garden party’s ladies-in-waiting.
Unexpected details, like this little birdie from Paxton Gate, give a table immediate impact—and guests something to talk about.
Even lavish event designs benefit from tastefully restrained details. For instance, all of Studio Olivine’s simple yet chic letterpress paper goods feature embellishment in basic black and white inspired by vintage French textiles. Printed with soy ink on recycled bamboo paper, they’re also a way to “green” your celebration beyond the palette. More eco-tips we love: have both the ceremony and reception at Holocene to cut down on transportation needs, and donate leftover florals to hospitals and nursing homes.
On the table, rustic dinnerware, weighty flatware, and hemstitch napkins set a serene stage for a five-course feast. (Spotlight on the starters: beet and chèvre napoleons with orange honey and toasted hazelnuts, and spicy prosciutto-wrapped, port-poached figs!) Little touches like an Oregon-ized French 75 signature drink (Aviation gin, Argyle Brut, lemon, and a sugar cube) passed by servers and individual salt cellars (found at Zupan’s Markets) at each place setting feel quietly luxurious. At evening’s end, each guest will go home with an apt keepsake from your indoor garden gala: mini cloche planters filled with succulents and reindeer moss.
Close dinner with a classic: apple crostada with calvados (French apple brandy) Chantilly cream and caramel sauce.
Event design, flowers, dinnerware, flatware, salt cellars, table décor, chandelier, column, dessert, beverages, bird skeleton, and cloche favor: Vibrant Table Catering & Events /Vibrant Flowers
Printed goods: Studio Olivine
Boxwood walls, table, chairs, glassware, and napkins: The Party Place’
Table cloth: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental
Topiary: Pomarius Nursery
Dress and bracelets: Ania Collection
Model: Kara Jean Caldwell / Option Model & Media