How do you style an event?

Planning and styling a special event involves making decisions about the venue, layout, decorations, catering, entertainment, and other elements that come together to create the right atmosphere. The event style should align with the event purpose and brand.

How do you style an event?

Key Factors to Consider

When determining how to style your event, some key factors to consider include:

  • Venue – Consider venue capacity, layout, existing decor and policies when selecting a location. Outdoor or indoor venues set different tones.
  • Purpose – The event purpose and formality level should guide stylistic choices. A corporate conference requires different styling than a birthday party.
  • Branding – Incorporate company or product branding through logos, signage, branded items, colors and themes. This helps reinforce key messages.
  • Theme – Select an overarching theme if appropriate, and let it inform stylistic decisions on decor, food, music and more.
  • Budget – The event styling budget significantly impacts what is feasible. Set realistic expectations based on available funds.
  • Layout – How furniture and fixtures are arranged directly impacts guest experience. Plan smart traffic flow and seating layouts.
  • Food/Beverage – Menu options should suit the event style and dietary considerations of attendees. Bar service type also affects ambiance.

Choosing Decor, Colors and Materials

Thoughtful decor choices help set the perfect mood and appeal to the senses. When selecting:

  • Use color palettes sparingly to easily match items like table linens, florals and signage across the event. Monochromatic or contrasting color schemes both work well.
  • Rent items like lighting fixtures, drapes, furniture/tableware and AV equipment to elevate ambiance without purchasing. Consider renting items unlikely to be reused.
  • Incorporate branded materials like banners, signage, swag and props to reinforce messaging and themes. These help identify event purpose and sponsors.
  • Use lighting creatively to spotlight architectural elements, make a statement or set a mood – string lights and gobos create magical effects.
  • Consider florals to provide bright pops of color and natural beauty. Work within seasonal availability and orient arrangements to enhance focal points.

Some popular event decor trends:

  • Luxe metallics, marble and rose gold
  • Lush greenery and living walls
  • Hanging installations and canopy draping
  • Fun use of color like vibrant hues or dichroic filters
  • Textured accents and eclectic vintage items

Selecting Catering and Entertainment

Catering and entertainment significantly impact the event experience. When selecting:

  • Offer creative catering that speaks to the theme like interactive food stations, regionally inspired cuisine or molecular gastronomy to delight guests.
  • Curate music that fits the overall vibration whether DJs, live bands or specified playlists create ambiance.
  • Hire performers that entertain guests in unique ways and encourage interaction like caricature artists, magicians, dancers or aerialists.
  • Consider event styling rentals offered by many caterers and rental companies consisting of themed decor, furniture, and prop styling in popular motifs like Tuscan vineyard, Boardwalk, Parisian bistro or winter wonderland. These complete looks save sourcing time.
Event Type Popular Catering/Entertainment Options
Corporate Events Business speaker, sleek furniture rentals, gourmet salads/sliders, coffee bar
Weddings Florals, string lights, specialty cocktails, violinist, photo booth
Holiday Parties Seasonal d??cor, passed heavy hors d???oeuvres, champagne toasts
Fundraisers Local cuisine grazing tables, silent auction displays, jazz quartet
Kids Birthday Character appearances, carnival games, cotton candy vendor

Key Takeaways

Some key points when styling your special event:

  • Decorate intentionally in alignment with the event vision using unifying elements like color schemes and signage for optimal ambiance.
  • Select venues, catering and entertainment that weave together into an appealing aesthetic for attendees that underscores key messages and branding.
  • Strike the right balance between polish and over-the-top flair based on the formality and purpose of the event itself.


The hallmarks of a well-styled event are thoughtful cohesion between venue, layout, decor details, catering, entertainment and purposeful creative vision that delights the senses. Any event can be styled to suit, from luxe black tie galas to backyard barbeques. Determine practical needs, build off inspiration images and stock rental catalogs, collaborate with experienced event partners and get creative to style an impactful atmosphere. Attendees will appreciate the planning and personal touch.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What are the first steps in planning event styling?
    The first steps are finalizing the event vision, overall purpose, audience, timing, budget and broad messaging before locking down a venue and date. These details provide directional guidance around all other planning decisions.

  2. How do I match event decor to the venue?
    Study the venue carefully regarding permanent architecture, layout, existing furniture and overall aesthetic. Then select versatile event rentals, lighting and soft decor that enhance and complement the venue itself. Creating a cohesive feel between fixed and brought-in elements grounds the event.

  3. What type of event rentals contribute to styling?
    Common rentals that contribute to event styling include chairs/tables, linens, centerpieces, lighting, draping, dance floors, bars, lounge furniture, tenting and decorative props aligned with the theme. Renting contributes vital decor components without purchasing.

  4. How do I choose an event color scheme?
    Consider color palettes that align with the season, overall theme, sponsor branding, complementary hues or monochromatic simplicity. Limit the palette to 2-4 colors for cohesion. Accent with metallics/neutrals. Use colors consistently across rentals, stationery, signage, lighting, floral and food display.

  5. What types of signage help with event styling?
    Branded welcome signage, directional signs, food/beverage identifiers, table numbers, reserved seating signs, sponsor branding, hashtags/social media reminders and thematic props with custom messages help reinforce messaging. Signage guides guests seamlessly.

  6. How do I select event lighting?
    Task lighting ensures guest safety while ambient and accent lighting set the mood. Use string lights, lanterns, gobos, spotlights and creative fixtures near focal points. Program color-changing lights to reflect branding or themes. Combine lighting types for depth throughout the venue both indoors and outdoors.

  7. What entertainment should I provide?
    Entertainment spanning live music, performers, games and activities encourages guest interactions to remember. Align entertainment with the event purpose to underscore key messaging through the attendee journey. For example, trade shows offer product demos, weddings provide photo booths and fundraisers host silent auctions.

  8. How do I incorporate branding during corporate events?
    Print sponsor logos onto swag gifts, projection slides, signage and step & repeat backdrops. Use brand colors in lighting. Choose catering that reflects company culture alongside matching paper goods. Infuse branding subtly yet meaningfully.

  9. What considerations apply to outdoor event styling?
    Provide sufficient tented coverage for unpredictable weather including lighting and power inside. Anchor elements properly and use easily reusable decor. Rent portable flooring if grass would get muddy. Provide heating, fans, bug spray and sunscreen if guests will be outside for long periods. Have wet weather backup plans.

  10. How should I style events focused on causes/non-profits?
    Research issues meaningful to the organization and reflect them appropriately in graphic displays. Provide thoughtful takeaways like wildflower seed packets from ecological groups or relevant swag. Infuse the cause tastefully throughout with facts and stories shared during presentations.

  11. How can I style events on a budget?
    Prioritize spending on lighting over decor since lighting transforms spaces more dramatically. Repurpose venue properties versus renting excess items. Choose in-season flowers for lower cost. Use potted plants that can be replanted afterwards as centerpieces. Consider community buildings allowing external catering and alcohol that have very low facility fees.

  12. How should I use flowers and greenery during events?
    Strategically place floral arrangements near entryways, food displays, registration tables, bars and focal points around the room. Repurpose ceremony florals to reception areas afterwards. Use blooms matching color schemes like roses, hydrangeas and ranunculus. Incorporate living walls, hanging vines, bud vases or greens lining stairways and mantels for modern organic flair.

  13. Can I hire an event stylist?
    Yes, professional event stylists and designers manage all decorative details so clients focus on guests rather than logistics. Designers own extensive prop inventories to elevate on-site arrangements. Full-service firms save significant planning, sourcing and setup time especially for lavish occasions. Establish the creative direction, then allow them to handle all styling.

  14. Why should I layer lighting at events?
    Layering lighting builds depth throughout the venue using ambient light to wash walls/ceilings, focal pools of accent light drawing attention towards focal points and display lighting showcasing featured objects. Combining varied lighting builds excitement and dimension venue-wide.

  15. How do I make corporate events stylish?
    Create designated lounge areas with modern furniture groupings and side tables to mingle. Use sophisticated metals, woods and marble finishes in decor. Drape ceiling bays and up lighting architecture improves blank hotel ballrooms. Infuse branded textiles, glassware and gifts. Display technology innovations. Hire upscale caterers to provide interactive culinary action stations.

  16. How can I make weddings stylish on a budget?
    Opt for economic venues allowing external catering and alcohol, rent lacking items only and reallocate more funds towards distinctive lighting, linens and elevated culinary options to impress guests. Repurpose ceremony flowers at the reception. Print homemade signage using templates and DIY some accent decor. Borrow non-rentable items from family and friends to supplement.

  17. What are unique entertainment ideas?
    Make lasting memories using old-fashioned photo booths, interactive artists, musicians serenading tables, vintage arcade games, dance instructors teaching the cha cha slide, personalized monogram/caricature artists onsite, unique craft cocktail bars using herb/spice infusions or hand-rolled cigars passed after dinner. Surprise guests with distinctive interactive entertainment.

  18. What should be included in an event style guide or inspiration board?
    Compile examples of preferred invite suites, branded collateral, venue inspiration images, Pantone color swatches, potential patterns/textures, catering menus, rental catalog clippings, lighting visuals, floral examples by season and entertainment mood boards aligned with the overall vision. Shared digital inspiration boards help vendors understand styling goals.

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