Not Your Mother’s Party

By Linda Marx

Today’s entertaining trends range from living floral themes and botanical bars to venues that feature cutting-edge technology nightclub scenarios, bohemian tableaux and rustic motifs with nature-inspired decor.

Wedding Reception Candle Centerpiece

Some hosts want to emulate the floral entrance of the recent royal wedding. Others offer flash tattoo sta­tions, virtual reality rides and laser-cut linens. And younger revelers are designing public spaces-think late­-night dance clubs with dramatic marble floors. But no matter how elaborate the theme, entertaining trends have become creative and contemporary; with some traditions being packed away with Grandma’s china.

While classic, timeless touches rarely go completely out of style, what happens in pop culture, on the Internet and in the news definitely plays a bigger role in establishing today’s entertaining trends. In fact, most trends leading the industry seem to be linked to the latest in technology; custom bars with greenery; midnight snacks so guests can sober up before driving home, and recently televised events that rock the imagination and roll out the red carpet.

“The floral entrance we saw at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be a major trend for a long time,” says Telsys Tarallo, owner of Afterglow Marketing based in Miami Beach. “There was a lot of creativity in the details and a sense of free-flow, almost as if those flowers were always there. The grandiose, eye-catching appeal will be a trend for many entrances in coming months.”

Already popular in Miami-Dade and Broward counties is the trend of displaying tropical flowers in vivid oranges, yellows and pinks to add pop to the decor of an event or wedding. People see what they like on Pinterest and try to copy ideas from the images. “Guests look at appearances the mo­ment they enter an event so you must grab their attention,” says Mary Araujo, of Art of Flowers in Weston.

Other experts agree. They predict that orchids, peonies, roses and hydrangeas in pretty shades of burgundy will be big for fall. “I encourage out-of-­the-box flowers like peach peonies or coral charm tropicals just to be different,” says Cathy Smith, owner of Forget Me Not Flower Shop in Weston.

“People bring in pictures of what they have seen on the Internet and we go from there with full­-scale floral themes.”

Entertaining is about creating an experience by setting the right tone, from simple to complex, depending on the host. From an intimate 10-guest dinner to a 1,000-person wedding, it is all about engaging the guests and providing a sensorial experience. The key word is “engaging”-it’s not just about how beautiful a room looks, but how it makes guests feel. Without a sensorial “experi­ence,” an event is just like any other. And who wants that?

“One of the top trends today is a natural theme that’s rustic yet elegant.”

“Every event offers food, decor and music, so I pick elements in each category and elevate them,” says Lisi Korn, owner of Forever Events in Miami, who believes “martini magic” is a current trend. Imagine sipping a dazzling, “three-course” welcome martini. First, guests are given head­phones with music to set the tone, and a cotton candy cloud by a gentleman on stilts. Then they are handed a martini and invited to insert the cotton candy cloud into their drink. For the final course, the martini gets torched with a flame, a fascinating and unexpected touch that leaves guests with a lasting impression.

Fabulous color also provides entertainment and is a current trend, especially when it comes to can­dle centerpieces. Whether the event is outside in a garden, the woods or on the beach, or inside in a hotel, industrial loft, museum or event space with a sheltered rooftop, the decor should highlight colors to amplify themes like Paris, princess, candy land, Victorian, bohemian, neon, nautical (with a mermaid backdrop for photo walls) or natural.

In fact, one of the top trends today is a natural theme with rustic yet elegant. For example, Aly Ramos, owner of Que Belle Events in Doral, says nature is major right now when it comes to entertaining decor. Hosts often request neutral colors and natural woods for a rustic-themed fete using farmhouse tables, wine barrels, potted plants, metal or gold chargers, and different textures that spell out the theme. “People want a lot of detail today-there is no such thing as a simple piece,” says Ramos. “They want four or five centerpieces and different elevations, like two square, two oval and two round tables to add definition. They also want neutral colors and natural woods.” Ana Mantica of Pristine Events, who plans soirees for the Pullman Miami Hotel, agrees that country-themed events and grass-wall backdrops are on trend now. “Modern earth tones prevalent at the Pullman have raised the bar for better-quality photos and videos, which are all the rage,” she says.

Weston Hills Country Club

Yuleika DeCastro, former owner of A Splendid Soiree, an event design business in Weston, believes that natural elements like sunflowers, burlap and barbecue themes will continue to be popular, but there are always traditionalists who opt for a mix-and-match of age-old staples like glitz, glam and crystal. “We see mirrored tables to reflect the flowers, a mix of high and low centerpieces, and
square tables instead of round,” says DeCastro, who now works for the Alzheimer’s Assn. of Southeast Florida, and is planning three fall events using her design savvy.

Local planners also report that millennials’ desire for their own blend of “experience” technology is also a wave today. Since these young adults like to party and play by their own set of rules, they should not be overlooked-especially when it comes to high-tech specialties. “Innovative live sync is huge,” says Anna Noriega of the Alore Event firm, which plans parties and weddings for the Newport Beachside Resort & Spa on Sunny Isles Beach. “Posting photos during an event from a photo booth to be shared on social media is very big for this age group. We also see flash tattoo stations and visual reality rides. The sky is the limit!”

Destination Parties for Teens and Quinceaneras

Maybe what popular formal gown design veteran Zola Keller says about her brides is dictating entertain­ing trends in general, especially for teens who want to grow up fast. She says young girls want to wear as little as possible because it’s all about the back and the booty. “They want to be as sexy as possible without exhibiting bad taste,” says Keller, who has owned her namesake business on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale for 37 years. “They work on their bodies and want to show them off.” Portions of that trend have indeed spread to teen parties and quinceaneras, where hosts and friends strive to appear older than they are, holding their parties in spaces designed like clubs. “Teen parties and quinceafiera themes have become very nightclub-oriented,” adds Ramos. “They want to appear
older than they are, so they decorate an event space to look like a hot club complete with lounge seating, VIP access, club-style dancing, and a bouncer at the door with a list to guide guests in.”

Patricia Leon of Slice in Weston agrees that quinceaneras used to closely follow Latin tradi­tion, but now the celebration, which has become more popular than weddings, is a hybrid. “They try to hold onto the past with the father-daughter
dance and candle ceremony; but the event has become more of a party like one held in a night­club,” says Leon. “And food is huge, keeping to the tradition of the girl’s background, from Peru­vian to Brazilian, Colombian or Venezuelan. It’s
all taken to the highest level, and of course, the photo booth is big so that they can quickly share their joy on social media.”

Tiffani Prewitt, owner of Supreme Dream Parties in Weston, says young girls also want glitter, mermaids and unicorns with hot colors like turquoise and pink in shimmering fabrics. She sees a trend in music festival themes where the girls wear white glittery headbands, affix glitter to their faces, pile on fake lashes and lots of makeup, and get hair extensions. “They want to look like the Kardashians,” says Prewitt.

Other teens want parties, bat mitzvahs and quinceaneras decorated in Broadway show themes complete with accompanying music, and even with fathers and daughters performing complete dance routines.

“These parties have become major events using photo booths, dessert tables, even doughnut walls,” says Anna Noriega. “Performers are hired, themed greeters get the party rolling early; and guests enjoy late-night snacks before their ride back home. The trend today is to offer culinary goodies in the form of favors to take along.”

Diplomat Resort & Spa

Midwin Alphonse, a catering sales manager at The Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, says golf is also popular for teen destination parties. Other experts agree. Especially for boys-it might be a soccer destination, or a visit to the arena of another favorite sport. But the recurring trend in common among every event is for hosts to take the concept of entertaining to the highest level ­no matter what the cost.

Top locations for hosting trendy events:

Weston Hills Country Club, Weston, westonhillsgolfclub.com

Slice, Weston, sliceweston.com

Upper Buena Vista, Miami, upperbuenavista.com

No. 3 Social, Miami, no3social.com

Diplomat Resort & Spa, Hollywood, diplomatresort.com

Newport Beachside Resort & Spa, Sunny Isles Beach, newportbeachsideresort.com

Pullman Miami Hotel, Miami, pullmanhotels.com

Bonaventure Country Club, Weston, golfbonaventure.com

Trump National Doral, Doral, trumphotels.com/miami/spa

InterContinental at Doral Miami, ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/us/en/doral/miahc/hoteldetail

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