Let’s be real. Every human on this planet loves a bargain. But here’s the thing, no one wants to look like they love a bargain. And boy, do we get it! At OTR, we understand this balancing act better than most. In event planning, there are tons of ways to save money while maintaining a luxe look and feel. A great way to cut costs right from the get-go is to find an affordable venue. A raw space may have a few rough edges and might not include some of the luxuries a top-dollar venue may include, but that’s okay! Rough edges can be smoothed, luxurious pops can be added, and an elevated look and feel can be achieved in any space with OTR’s go-to tips.
Use lighting to achieve the perfect mood. Whether it’s uplights or stationary lights placed around the space, lighting one of the easiest ways to go from basic to bold, creating a dramatic effect. Standard, harsh lighting can look cheap. So for a quick and easy fix, see if your venue will let you swap out the lightbulbs in the space. This will allow you to control the mood without having to rent lighting or engage a team. It may sound retro, but we recently swapped out regular bulbs for black light bulbs to make a party transition to evening glow fun, and it was a huge hit.
Display your food creatively. Unique ways to display food can even make store-bought frozen apps look fancy. We love to use different levels to create depth, displaying the food like art. Risers can be made of sturdy boxes draped with pressed cloths or lace (depending on the look you’re going for). We also love skewers for an unexpected twist on things like fruit or pastas. Food stations look great, help facilitate flow, and are a cost-saving alternative to a paying waitstaff.
Add even more visual interest by creatively using glass vessels. Fill glass vases or vessels of any shape or size with something unique to your theme and add them to tablescapes, food stations, or drink tables. We’ve added everything to vessels from candy to toy cars, and recently, for a client of ours with "being green" in mind, we used wheatgrass inside glass vessels and used them as food risers. Just make sure your vessels are sturdy and won’t tip easily!
Get colorful, but keep it in check. At OTR, we recommend a two color palette max. Paring down your color palette creates a more controlled, elegant feel. Let black, white, beige, or taupe rock out as the event’s central color, and choose another coordinating color as your pop. A good thing to remember is that choosing white as your base could save you a bunch of cash. Most vendors have their basics in white, therefore additional costs can be avoided. Keeping a simple palate avoids the “clown effect” which leads to a whole lot of “in your face” stimulation. The modern, sleek look evoked by keeping colors simple is especially popular now, and allows room for texture play.
Choose a texture or print. . .just make sure you pick right! Lace, burlap, velveteen, or stripes in solid colors are all examples of textures or patterns that work well. Leopard, checkers, stripes and circles, multi colored floral patterns are harder to win with, so when testing the waters with print and pattern for an elevated look, we recommend you stick with what we know works. The look above is tied together so well without being tacky or gaudy, in our opinion.
Get hands on! DIY? Yes, please! All you’ll need is some materials, a few people, a few hours, and maybe some tunes. If you have the manpower, pick a project and rally the staff to create a special focal point. We love placing something original and amazing at the front of the venue, wowing the guests right when they walk in. First impressions mean a lot and tend to set the mood.
Go disposable, or even compostable. Today, not only are these items completely acceptable, there are options that look fantastic too. Compostable plates, cups, and utensils come in a variety of colors and patterns now like these lovelies from Susty Party, who we use for our compostable wear. This saves a lot of money in rentals and avoids the crowd-wide cringe (and the one-man slow clap) when someone inevitably breaks a plate.