real wedding : sundance wyoming

event planner: it’s your party sioux falls sd

event design & rentals: table 4 decor

venue: private residence

caterer: barbacoa’s

Posted in dakota weddings, real dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: part 6

On to the last bit of advice on how to get the most for your decorating dollar.

Tip #6: Enthusiastically embrace tacky.

Before you panic thinking about your uncle’s velvet painting of Elvis, that is not the kind of tacky we mean. Take a deep breath and repeat after me… tacky is not a bad word. 

zebra bedding

possibly too much in a bedroom?


i want to go to this party!

It is important when working on event design to keep the following in mind: You are designing a party in a 2000+ sq. foot event venue not redecorating your 64 sq foot bathroom. What is going to be too much in your bathroom may not even make a dent in your wedding venue. In fact, you might need 40 of that same item just to start to impact the venue space.

Consider a popular decorating item: paper lanterns. Here we have a beautiful venue with open ceilings and a view. Paper lanterns are a logical choice to bring in a pop of color without taking away from the pavilion feeling.  But this paper lantern design lacks a wow factor most brides desire.

lanterns not done well

lovely colors and idea but not quite a wow factor

Now consider the following similar style venue with dozens of paper lanterns – each individually lit…


kapow! and wow factor!

Designing on a large scale is most impactful when the transformation surprises the guests. Think textures, sensory experiences. Set the mood you want! One of the things I often hear from clients is, “I have this one idea but so and so said it would be stupid.” Well I say, tell so and so they are stupid. If you want to

Posted in dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: part 5

garden wedding

table 4 decor built 12′ tall birch trees as centerpieces for this rapid city wedding

So far we’ve talked about creating great tabletop design; renting vs. buying & using design to draw the eye away from ugly things. Now it is on to the most important design element for large spaces – scale.

The most important tip about scale from an event design perspective – things are very rarely too large. Most design mistakes come from using elements that are too small or not grouped together well. This is especially important when designing large scale spaces like convention centers and event halls. Most of these spaces have 12 – 30′ foot tall ceilings and you need to figure out how to impact that space as easily and quickly as possible.

Let’s examine this in perspective of the current trend that people can’t seem to get enough of – mason jars.  They are great and charming and cute and fit the wedding industries current economic and decorative trend of making everything old new again.  But as a design element, they aren’t the best because they are small.


found on style me pretty

This picture to the right, in my opinion, is not a great use of time, energy or mason jars. There are tons of candles displayed and tons of mason jars hanging, but the focus is scattered. It has all the right ideas, but they are not executed as well as they could be.  As a ceremony site it lacks a strong focal point: it does not highlight the bride and groom but rather the brings attention to the expanse of space.

A better execution would have had a more linear ceiling pattern to the mason jars, forcing your eye down the aisle and onto the bride and groom. Hanging mason jars on either side of the altar or around the two beams would reinforce the desired sight lines also.


4 foot chandeliers give mason jars ‘more bang’ for the buck

We faced the same mason jar dilemma a couple of years ago. A client had a 40×80 tent  and hired Table 4 Decor to help with ceiling design –  you know with the rustic elegance that has been so popular the last couple years.  The idea of hanging tons of mason jars on their own seemed to be a waste of time and resources. Additionally, how many would we need to hang to even have a minute impact on the vast ceiling? Our solution: we created these 48″ custom chandeliers with hanging mason jars and floral. Using our custom designed lighting harnesses and chandelier forms, we were able to make a much larger impact with our 45 antique mason jars.

Once the lights went down, the 108″ voile with lights criss crossing throughout the ceiling also reinforced the three focal points created by the chandeliers.

So when you are thinking about decorating the ceiling of your space – this is one of the design times to keep telling yourself – bigger is better!

contact for answers about your upcoming rental needs for the rapid city sd area.


Posted in dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: part 4

Last week, we discussed the options of renting your wedding centerpieces vs. buying them. This week, part 4 of how to get the most from bang from your decorating buck – spend money on the event flow – and draw your eye away from the ugly things.

Don’t spend $ covering up ugly things – spend $ drawing your eye away from ugly things. This design rule is broken probably more than any other. Today’s brides see so many detail pictures in magazines, on the internet etc that it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. What we mean is that it is easy to focus so much on the cake tables stands that you forget to make sure there is adequate lighting for the event. Or spend so much time and money collecting vintage centerpiece items that you don’t provide an adequate cocktail hour.

For example, your venue has a giant garage door for loading in and out and you desperately don’t want guests to notice the door. Covering it up is a good option – but you have to do it wisely.

he man pimple

we all wanted to say it. from whoreders.

Covering an eyesore up just because it is ugly is not always the best choice. Think that poor acne’d up kid in high school + a bad zit + too much concealer. How much did you  stare at that person’s zit and think – do they really think we can’t see that?

Understandably, weddings cost money and most of us can’t get everything we want. But a wow factor can be achieved on most budgets as long as you spend your decorating budget correctly.

Back to the garage door design dilemma- the worst thing to do in decorating-picturethis situation is to cover only the eyesores and pay too much attention to the cute burlap bunting for the dessert table. (see our earlier blogpost I have ugly chairs, now what?) By covering ONLY the garage door, it actually brings attention to that area – or at least the drape in front of that area- and leaves your guests wondering, what is going on behind that drape? And in that one second, your cute, well planned details will be lost in the overall landscape of poorly designed space.

This is how we would handle the space given design obstacles. decorating-picture-2Let’s use pipe and drape to create a design focus as well as cover the ugly up. This option will cost you more for the pipe and drape but it will provide a unified backdrop from which any amazing event can grow. I have added the head table and cake table to this plan and would strongly advocate for a centered dance floor (why you want a centered dance floor). Imagine the wow factor when you walk in and see an impressive wall of drape and lighting. Against this blank canvas, each and every detail you have will pop.

behind the drape there is an american flag, a doorway and various pictures of elderly gentlemen.

This drape is covering an American flag, a doorway and various pictures of elderly gentlemen.

Posted in dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: rent

layered linen and a strong color scheme really make this table pop

layered linen and a strong color scheme really make this table pop-designed by Table 4 Decor

Last time we talked about how important it is to work your tabletop design for maximum impact on any budget. As the tables dominate most event spaces, great table top design will have high drama even if you don’t drape the ceiling or uplight the entire room.

This week we are going to do some price comparison and prove why in most cases it is better to

Rent instead of buy

full disclosure, I own a rental company. However, at least once a week, we hear some variation of this phrase, “man I wish I had known I could rent this stuff.” I am not here to argue that there aren’t some very inexpensive centerpiece ideas that work well. Maybe spending part of your budget on centerpieces isn’t your thing…

But even if spending tons of $$$ on centerpieces or linen isn’t your thing,  don’t count us out yet.

Before we go further, let’s talk about what we mean by inexpensive. That word is thrown around a ton on blogs and wedding websites without any real definition. To us, an inexpensive centerpiece will be under 20.00.  Let’s compare what we can buy for 20.00 to what we can rent for 20.00. Since we are in the beautiful black hills of South Dakota, we used Hobby Lobby for price comparison. (We also assumed that you will be purchasing the items at half of retail price so prices listed are at 50% off.)

large-iron-lantern-rental table 4 decor

rent this lantern for 8.00  with LED candle 11.00


buy this lantern for 17.50  candle not included

How about a lantern centerpiece? It can be decorated any number of ways. Both these lanterns were large – ours is 9x9x18″ tall. Hobby Lobby’s is 5x5x22″ tall.

Hobby Lobby $: 17.50 candle not included.

Table 4 Decor $: 8.00; add an LED candle for 3.00

Thinking about something a bit more grand for less than 20.00? Consider the wild wire candle tree.


it’s like your sitting under a canopy of candle light.

candle tree purchase

do you really want to own and store these for your wedding?

You can purchase this online: 98.00 + s/h. candles not included

Compare to Table 4 Decor rental price: 18.00 includes candles.

Saves you at least 80.00!

Of course, glass vases are the go to centerpiece option. They are versatile and come in many shapes and sizes. Here are four popular options:

vases for rent rapid city

i might have been creeping on hobby lobby. no centerpieces were harmed in the writing of this post.

From left at Hobby Lobby:                      6×20″ cylinder vase             10.00          24″ trumpet vase                 15.00                 4×10 cylinder vase               3.00             15″ tower vase                   7.50

Compare at Table 4 Decor:                        6×26″ cylinder vase             10.00                28″ trumpet vase                 8.00                   4×10 cylinder vase               2.50                   15″ tower vase                   3.00

Not only are the rental prices less, you can also get more for your money.

So how about an actual centerpiece example? We found this submerged floral centerpiece on pinterest when we typed in cheap/inexpensive DIY centerpieces

glow stick vase

don’t let pinterest lie to you – this is not being lit by a glowstick.

We estimated the cylinder height at 12″ based on the fact that the LED uplight is 4″ in diameter. We also used comparable quality orchids. Since ours are very high quality, we did not use the cheapest orchids we could find at Hobby Lobby. Plus, quite frankly, they looked cheap and not very full.

                                  Hobby Lobby           Table 4 Decor
4×12″ cylinder                N/A                3.00 
glass gems                   1.50/2 lbs        1.00/centerpiece
Orchid                             8.50               4.00
3″ floating candle         1.00               1.00
4″ LED light base          N/A              5.00 with batteries
labor                              unknown      3.00 ready to use
total                                11.00             17.00

As you can see, Hobby Lobby did not offer all the items required for this centerpiece. They did have a 4×10″ cylinder that sold for 3.00. But you will need to source and purchase the LED uplight elsewhere (and no, contrary to what pinterest tells you, this is NOT a glow stick). The labor for DIY is unknown since you will have to make multiple trips to the store, clean the items, weight the flowers, insert batteries, assemble the centerpieces, etc.  I don’t know what you would pay yourself to do these things IF you were getting paid but it would probably be more than 3.00/centerpiece.

Or you can pick them up from Table 4 Decor, clean, assembled & ready to be put out.

And before anyone mentions that they can just sell this online or have all their friends use them – consider this – do you want sloppy seconds for your wedding? Or do you have a specific vision that is uniquely you? There are literally millions of used wedding items for sale online right now – what makes your item the one that will sell? Just as you wanted something special for your black hills wedding reception, your friends probably want the same for theirs.

centerpieces using glass cylinders and slinky's - designed by Table 4 Decor 2010

tabletop design using glass cylinders, yellow calla lilies and slinky’s – designed by Table 4 Decor 2010


great design companies will have products and options you might not even know existed! designed by Table 4 Decor 2010

We have focused specifically on centerpieces here, but this also applies to linen, charger plates, china etc. A reputable rental company will have a deep inventory and high quality items at a fraction of the purchase price. We constantly work to keep our inventory fresh and versatile – staying on the cutting edge of event design. (acrylic cubes anyone?)

Plus, when you work with a great design team, you have the added benefit of their insider knowledge – they will work with you to create an event that is budget conscience and totally you.

join us next week when we discuss  how to use design to draw your eye away the ugly stuff in your event space.

Posted in dakota event, dakota weddings, wedding tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: tabletop design

Last week we talked about focusing your design dollars on where the pictures will be taken. Years down the road, you will look back on your friends and family that day with great memories and have the pictures to prove it.

Today, we are talking about the one thing that dominates any event room and where your guests will be gathered 90% of the time (and no, it’s not the bar). It is the tables. So tip number two for making your wedding design budget work for you is…

Create great tabletop design

eye catching and over 5' tall - these centerpieces matched the design and the space flowers by bent willow designs

eye catching and over 5′ tall – these centerpieces matched the design and the space flowers by bent willow designs

when you walk into any event, the tables dominate the space. Make them work for you. If you want a space that blows people away when they walk in the door, work your tabletops.

When designing any table, keep in mind the goal -which is to create a cohesive design that starts at the outside but ultimately drives your eye to the center(piece). Use charger plates, fun napkin folds and even pull in the chairs to create a cohesive tabletop design.  Usually this means not using the linen and centerpieces provided by the facility but do you really want the same tired centerpieces that have been used by every meeting, trade show and half the other brides that year? Here are a few tips:


    • Vary centerpieces.Use 3-4 different centerpieces with similar elements.
two of the three centerpieces we designed - both have feathers, red roses and black accents but are totally different

two of the three centerpieces T4D designed – both have feathers, red roses and black accents but are totally different

  • Upgrade your linen. Table 4 Decor offers over a hundred rental options for your Black Hills reception. Simply changing the tabletops to a colored linen or adding a textured runner will put your own stamp on an event and show your guests that you want this to be special for them too.
  • Invest in better chairs or chair covers. Granted not everyone’s budget allows for all these as options but chair covers are a very unifying design element.On the rare occasion a groom comes to a decorating consult and I ask them to look through our books and tell me what they like, 100% of the time the groom’s pick the events that have chair covers. And what they find most attractive about the pictures is that it looks “clean” or “complete”. I credit the chair covers.
  • Play with your napkin folds. If you have a 4 foot tall centerpiece, use a candle napkin fold that has some height. If you want a linear feeling, fold the napkin in thirds and lay it on the table.


  • Alternate napkins on every other place setting. If you have a varied color scheme, keep it table to table. Walking into a room with alternating napkins on each place setting is like looking at a room of polka dots and has an effect similar to watching Japanimation. There is a heckuva lot going on without much point.
  • Use exposed candles.
    brand new real wax LED candles for rent for your Black Hills wedding reception

    brand new real wax LED candles for rent for your Black Hills wedding reception

    All candles should be enclosed in containers. It is not only a safety issue, it can also save you money by not getting wax all over the tablecloths.  Or you can rent real wax LED candles (shameless plug for Table 4 Decor’s fantastic new very high quality LED wax candles)

  • Allow your guests to ‘pot luck’ your centerpieces/decor. Besides the fact that you are giving your guests a chore and creating a logistical nightmare for yourself, it also ends up looking like decorating vomit.
  • Underwhelm with centerpieces. The mason jar trend is a perfect example. All the cute close up pictures we see on the internet make them seem so perfect. And they can be – when used en masse. (check out more insider thoughts on mason jars here:
    lovely but not statement making and shouldn't your wedding make a grand statement?

    lovely but not statement making. shouldn’t your wedding make a grand statement? photo by

    But plunking down a wood cookie, a quart sized mason jar with wildflowers, maybe an old book and some pearls  in the center of a 6′ round table does not a grand statement make.  A 6′ round table leaves at least a 3′ circle in the center of the table unused. Now add a mason jar that is less than 6″ in diameter – not particularly impressive to the overall design unless photographed up close.

Join us next week when we talk about part 3 – why to rent instead of buy.

Posted in dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

get the most bang for your wedding decor buck: part 1

The wedding machine never ends. There are thousands of websites, hundreds of magazines and dozens of television shows dedicated to one upping the wedding of last season.

image from

image from

As a bride or groom, the landscape is filled with wedding options too numerous to list. It is easy to get caught up in the latest trends, the cute favors, the unique ideas for placecards.

ivory drape country club

a different type of draping

It is also easy to be shocked at the price tag as each of these details is added. The perfect favor that only costs 1.50 is now multiplied by 200. The placecard that only takes you 5 minutes to make x 200. The chair covers that are only 2.00 each x 200. And the list goes on…

None of the items are required to have a party but the design, flowers, lighting and decor are the elements that can turn it into a fab-u-lous party. Over the next few weeks we will share 6 design tips to help focus your decor budget and add cohesion to your event design.

Part 1: Focus on where pictures are being taken


a purple head table designed by table 4 decor

Down the road, beyond the memories of your special day, you have the photo albums. There are pictures cutting the cake, kissing at the head table, having your first dance, making a grand entrance. Create large scale backdrops and blank canvases for design behind these areas.

If you can only afford to pipe and drape one wall – make sure it is the wall behind the head table and cake table.  Don’t skimp on the head table linen – make sure you have floor length cloths or skirts at any tables where guests are not seated.


sweetheart table by table 4 decor

Upgrade the linen at the head table or embellish it with lighting, garland, beads and candles. Be careful using lighting under the head table however,  too  much lighting will pull your eye to the ground.

10  years down the road, the pictures you remember are the ones of you, with your family, those are the ones you look at. turquoise black head table decorGood design will become a part of the feeling of the day, a subtle backdrop to each memory. There are many smaller design details that are easy to get caught up in but never stop looking at the big picture. The cute burlap ribbon with everyone’s name clothes pinned to it is great, but it should be lower on the list of design priorities than your head table and cake table design.

Posted in dakota design::how to, dakota weddings, wedding tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

how a bride should actually use pinterest

I have recently come to the realization that I might hate pinterest. Or more to the point, I hate how pinterest has taken away the concept of editing.

If you’ve ever read this blog, you know I design events for a living and Pinterest has become part of the event lexicon overnight. But what does it mean to event professionals?

We use Pinterest to post pictures of our events and that is pretty much all we have time for. I have a board because I should but that is the extent of my personal business commitment. However, our clients are in love with Pinterest. They have tons of fun and time invested in creating board after board of event ideas. But only about half of them are using it properly and here’s why –


old school pinterest board

Imagine pinterest as a large corkboard in your home and somebody handed you 50 thumbtacks and said “go – design an event.”

(each item on the board would have to be an actual sample or photograph) What would you think? Is 50 thumbtacks too many or too few?

After you spend time tracking down fabric samples; candle samples; china patterns; centerpieces; décor, are you going to fill the board completely or need more space? Will you be more cautious about your selections? Reevaluating continually, weighing the value of each item?

hilariously perfect from

hilariously perfect from

Then there is the vitual corkboard- pinterest – Only on this corkboard you can add as many ideas or pictures that you want with nothing more than the click of a button. You add it here, post it there, click on to the next thing without any thought to what you just posted. In ten minutes you can have 10 different pinterest boards with 50 pictures each. Amazing yes. Useful?  To be determined.

When planning an event, is every single thing you come across worthy of a thumbtack? Is every single hair style or party favor or appetizer that grabs your attention worthy of a thumbtack? Would you commit to that item especially if it means discarding others?

Probably not…

Should you start by researching and collecting data? Absolutely. Should you have 25 pinterest boards like hair, centerpieces, lighting, etc? For sure! But then YOU MUST EDIT.

reminder not to share from

reminder not to share from

Too much information is not only bad when your boyfriend tells you he once used your toothbrush – it is also bad when planning any large event.

Too often we see pinterest accounts that are filled with so much information it has no point of view. It reads as a disorganized mess with little cohesion or voice.

After you put the research boards together, you must pare them down. You must make decisions and use your discerning eye to put it together. Remember – the last board only has 50 pins on it – make them count!


say it with me – Pin then edit!

Posted in dakota design::how to, dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

design case study: a centered dance floor

Actual Case Study: Centered Dance Floor: Blessed Sacrament Church

This is a large space – 60×120′. The ceilings are over 25′ in the center and angles on each side (sort of like a barn ceiling). We are not allowed to hang anything from the ceiling. A couple other design issues are the vending machines and recycling bins in the corner. The back wall has a number of double doors that not ideal backdrops for a head table.


example 1a

Example #1a is how they normally set up the room. The dance floor is in the corner, the head table is straight across from the entrance and the cake table is right in front of the vending machines.

When the guests enter – with three separate design points, their focus will be jumping around the room. The head table and dance floor in particular will compete for their attention – both upon entering and once the dancing starts.

example 2a

example 2a

Now look at the sightlines from the entrance with a centered head table and dance floor (example 2a). The guests are drawn into the room with a strong center focal point and clean back drop. The centered dance floor unifies the design.  It also concentrates the budget. By pipe and draping the entire back wall with ceiling height drape and lighting, then creating a light and fabric dance floor frame you can do more with less.

example 1b

example 1b

Which brings up argument # 2 for a centered dance floor – prime real estate. With a corner dance floor, it puts your best guests at a disadvantage. Note the three pink reserved tables (example 1b). Your parents, grandparents, etc are seated closest to the head table, but that only gives them front seats to the head table action. Then, when you have your first dance and for the rest of the evening, they are removed from the action.

example 2b

example 2b

Now look at the pink reserved tables in  example 2b. The best guests have only to turn their chairs to be a front row participant in all the evenings events.  Much more river front property. Also, note how more tables are exposed to the dance floor. This event floor plan engages more guests in all levels of the reception.

Here is the end result: Red-Dance-Floor-decoration

Posted in dakota event, dakota weddings, wedding tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 unglamorous wedding guest expectations

Before we even put flower to vase or linen to tabletop, our goal is to educate our clients on the importance of being a host/ess. The following is the quintessential start to any Table 4 Decor event – if the following items aren’t handled, it doesn’t matter how pretty the decor is or how fabulous the food is – once a person is uncomfortable, discomfort becomes their priority.

  1. bathrooms – i know this should go without saying, but it is the unglamorous details in planning that are often overlooked.
    porta potties

    found this great porta potty set up on

    If you are having an outdoor wedding in the park, make sure there are bathrooms close by – not more than 50 steps away. Remember, someguests will be elderly, have children, take medication etc. If you are having 200 people at your home, don’t rely on your home bathroom and get at least 4 porta potties and 2 hand washing stations. which reminds me – don’t forget the handwashing stations. Very chic brides even offer a tray of toiletries near the portapotties for their guests.

  2. food/drink – if you invite people out to anything, they will expect to be fed.

    from ryan becker photography

    I love food so I am easily bribed with a decent steak sandwich or a good bottle of whiskey but that’s just me. Social engagements revolve around food and drink. That does not mean you have to feed them a bollywood style feast but food and drink is always implied. There needs to be easily available water, coffee and hopefully punch or tea available. The food should coordinate to the time of day. If you are on a budget, invite people out for an early afternoon wedding followed by a dessert buffet (served around 3:00 in the afternoon). If you invite people out for a 5, 6 or 7:00 event, expect to feed them a full dinner.

  3. comfortable environment – we harp on this a lot in client consultations. no doubt

    tent wedding in chadron NE

    about it, outdoor weddings are amazing. they have a backdrop painted by Mother Nature and a charm that can’t be duplicated.but never forget it is still outdoors. the variables are great and unpredictable. just because you have always dreamed of an outdoor reception in Spearfish Canyon, your guests are mostly there for a party. Your guests need shelter from the sun and weather. They need heat when the sun goes down. They need adequate seating and space to move.

  4. safety–  Offering a safe environment to let your hair down is any host/esses job. First there are the basics – sound structures, adequate lighting, clean and useable kitchens/bathrooms/entrances.
    found this from blue pueblo on

    found this from blue pueblo on

    You don’t have to go so far as creating a whatever happens in vegas stays in vegas type vibe, but creating a sense of personal security for your guests is easy and expected.  Use reputable vendors with reputable inventory and insurance. This especially includes food and beverage purchases; dj and lighting; decor. It can be easy to exchange an unlicensed kitchen or a green designer with very little carpentry experience for a lower price tag. But reputable vendors will be able to provide you with any certificates, licenses and proof of insurance. And don’t forget to provide well lit parking areas and pathways for guests.

  5. Expectation of behavior – or as the adults like to call them – rules.  Never underestimate a guests discomfort when confronted with many other adults they don’t really know but are suddenly related to.

    the brides sis did a great job on these chalkboard signs.

    Are you doing food stations, having a line dancing seminar, expecting people to go around inside for the bathrooms – then TELL THEM. This is such a vital key to a successful party. Most of the ideas we hear are great in theory but bad in practice – due to poor planning. Most people have gone to many weddings in their lifetime – they all essentially have the same flow – with small variations. So when they get to your event and you wanteveryone to take off their shoes and have a formal Japanese style tea service (very awesome idea, btw) – you need to TELL THEM. They have a preconceived expectation of behavior and you are expecting them to act in a manner different than what they expect. Don’t get discouraged – people really love new ideas – they just need to be told how to expect to behave when they participate. It doesn’t matter if you are 3 or 30, knowing how to behave in any situation is key to not getting spanked.

Posted in dakota weddings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment