Design Dissection: Glam the Tent with Lights and Chandeliers

We get so many questions about how the best designers create amazing signature spaces inside everyday venues, and especially in tents that begin as giant white boxes.  Let’s take a look inside this glam affair to see how the inimitable Colin Cowie transformed a tent into a reception that sparkles.

chandeliers, vases, pillar candles, and event lighting at tented reception

Image by Colin Miller

Two elements that Colin Cowie employs brilliantly are event lighting and fabric.  The alternating strips of fabric that drape the inside of the tent, paired with gorgeous event lighting, do much of the heavy lifting required to change the look of this tent completely.

Within that stunning backdrop, chandeliers and disco balls complete the look of a custom venue rather than a boxy tent.  These pieces are durable and reusable, and a few of them go a long way, whether you’re going the DIY route or are a designer building your arsenal of staple design pieces.

On the tabletops, candles in different sizes and heights, in combination with rich fuchsia florals, add an element of romance.  To get this look, mix votives, vases, and pillar candle holders while choosing a single hue for the candles themselves.  Intersperse candelabras for an added dimension on select tables.  Build your centerpieces on display mirrors for even more design power with minimal additional cost.  These mirrors another super useful design staple that you can use again and again, and candlelight in particular plays fabulously off these mirrors ~ they’re a little trick of the trade for adding light and ambience.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this little peek inside the look that a top shelf designer like Colin Cowie achieves by transforming a plain Jane venue with vision + design staples.  We’d love to see how you implement your design ideas, too.  Email us your pics, and you just might find your business featured here on our design blog.

Total Tent Transformation – How One Designer Uses Beads, Lighting, and Feathers to Bring Brazil Home

Facebook has again transported us, along with the ever fabulous Tamara Wendt, from a regular venue into a blinged out scene from Rio de Janeiro using her creative vision and some affordable decor staples.

If you don’t believe us, take a look at this “before” shot of the event space that she transformed into a Brazil-themed wonderland for a recent charity event supporting Niabi Zoo.

In a matter of hours, Tamara and her team at Tamara Wendt Design, working in conjunction with A-1 Event Rentals, created this scene that brings the glory of Carnival home for a great cause.

Wondering how Tamara achieved this look on a budget that maximized every dollar spent?  Think ostrich feathers for affordable, reusable centerpieces, light curtains and chandeliers (again, reusable and high impact) suspended from the tent structure, LED lighting mixed with candles on the tables, and gorgeous fabric swags layered from the ceiling to bathe the entire event in the hot colors of Brazil.  We love the metallic cylinders that she hung from the ceiling, too ~ lots of impact with limited expense, easy to store, and reusable.

This shot really shows the impact of the light curtains and diamond bead curtains working in tandem to fill large aerial spaces, not to mention the original design work that Tamara and her crew did on the tent walls.  The alternating colors on the tables is another budget-friendly, high impact way to add splashes of color throughout the event.

We love this last image because it shows how clearly lighting and a chandelier can totally change the look of a space ~ in this case turning a plain white tent into a fabulous party venue for a fabulous cause.  Tamara has done it again, and we know that this event was super successful both for the Niabi Zoo and for the guests who attended to support it.  And of course, we really appreciate the chance to attend virtually through these lovely images.

Our thanks go out to Tamara of Tamara Wendt Designs and D’Lux Events.  All of the weddings and events designed and coordinated by Tamara Wendt are produced by A One Event Rental.

The Highs and Lows of Centerpiece Design

No, silly ~ not good centerpieces and bad centerpieces, but rather great tall ones and great small ones.  We really do love them both ~ low centerpieces that invite conversation across the table as well as tall, dramatic ones that let you focus on the people to either side.

When we want to share with you the very best inspiration photographs, Colin Cowie is one of our absolute top picks because he incorporates stunning design, fresh ideas, trend-setting details, and the couple’s unique vision for their event to create a look that is, well, a Colin Cowie Wedding.

We’ll start with the tall flair-for-the-dramatic centerpieces, because these showstoppers are some of the most captivating pieces in a reception.  If your budget knows no bounds, you can max each table out in this style, or to reign in the bottom line a bit, alternate more modest centerpieces on some tables to get a big effect on a smaller budget.

To get this look, you’ll need gorgeous purple chandeliers, pomanders of pink roses elevated on risers, tall candelabras, and of course some fab lucite chiavari chairs can’t hurt.

purple chandelier and bead strands

Image by Colin Miller

We sing the praises of ostrich feathers on a somewhat regular basis ~ they are one of our favorite renewable, sustainable design staples, and these spads are reusable for many events.  In this case, the contrast of sleek metallics below and soft black feathers aloft is sophisticated and certainly makes a statement.

ostrich feathers in wedding centerpiece

Image by Colin Miller

If your aesthetic is more natural, these trees on beds of moss, embellished with crystal bead strands and fresh florals, make lovely tall centerpieces, too.

Natural trees with crystal bead strands for wedding centerpieces

Image by Colin Miller

And on the other side of the design coin, low centerpieces can be just as eye-catching as their taller sisters, with plenty of flair and punch.  Many guests love the functionality of low centerpieces, since they encourage conversations with the entire table, and a running, table-length centerpiece like this one is a design trend that is here to stay.

The monochromatic candelabras and candles fit perfectly into the simplicity of this slate and carnation color palette, with long low blooms bringing the fresh floral element into the mix.  We’re big fans of the single amazing chandelier, too.

candelabras and beads at luxury wedding

Image by Colin Miller

This perfect mix of sleek metallics with soft candlelight and airy blooms balances modern and romantic in a perfect yin and yang of design delight.  The florals are paired perfectly with stacked candles and votives.  The mirror panels across the table’s surface are a luxe touch.

Low centerpiece with candles, votives, and flowers

Image by Colin Miller

Whatever your budget or design taste, we hope you love this mix of the highs and lows of centerpieces.  Colin Cowie dependably brings the best of the best in his work, and he’s a master of remaining at the cutting edge of good design while maximizing every dollar.


Paper Lanterns make DIY Halloween Decor a snap!

Whether you’ve had enough of carving “live” pumpkins, or you’re looking for a simple, DIY- and kid-friendly craft to do with the littles for Halloween, we’ve discovered a Halloween decor trick that we know you’ll want to add to your repertoire as the air turns crisp.  Paper lanterns + spray paint, stickers, decals, or vinyl = perfect Halloween decor for your porch or party, whether your tastes run toward cozy, cutesy, or downright creepy.

If you have a Silhouette, there’s no end of Halloween designs that will translate well to vinyl and adhere easily to paper lanterns.   If the Silhouette isn’t your thing, you can print Halloween templates and use contact plastic or plain old glue to adhere construction or scrapbook paper cutouts to your lanterns.

Just choose the sizes and colors for your paper lanterns, add your cutouts, and suspend them with jute twine, glitter tulle, or even bead strands.  And voila ~ instantly festive porch.

Image source:

Image source:

Whether you like your trick-or-treating atmosphere sweet or scare-worthy, LED lighting inside your paper lanterns can take paper lanterns well into the evening.  Vinyl or card stock cutouts in dark colors will create high contrast designs when the paper lanterns are lit from within, and you can even go with remote controlled LED lights for a freaky effect on the neighborhood kids.  We are kind of looking forward to “turning out the lights” as some of them knock on the door.  Not that we would do that.  But you tweens should really wear costumes if you want Snickers bars.  Just sayin’.

And to extend the life of your fall decor, try mixing in some pumpkins that can hang around after Halloween.  Simple stems and a leaf cut out of green card stock turn orange paper lanterns into adorable pumpkins.  As with many of our decor items, paper lanterns can be  saved and reused from year to year, too.  Just be sure that you only flatten the ones that don’t have cutouts already applied.

We’d love to see images of your fall and Halloween decor, including the many fantabulous ways that we know you use paper lanterns to capture the holiday spirit on a budget.

Design Dissection: Taking a Look Inside Crystal-Studded Wedding Reception Decor

When a show-stopping (scroll-stopping?) image comes across our Facebook newsfeed, we can’t help but mentally take it apart to see what tips and tricks went into creating the gorgeous scene in the picture.

This candlelit reception oozes class and drips bling, and it definitely made us stop our scrolling to admire the design.  And you can imagine how our design minds went into overdrive to figure out how to Get This Look.  Or rather, you don’t have to imagine…

We can’t wait to share our take on this design with you.

Floral design for wedding, crystal bead strands, vases, votives, LED lights, floralytes, floral sprays

Here’s our take on how to get this look, which we think is a hit for the designer *and* the bride.

The floral arch is definitely the piece de resistance of the affair, as it sets the scene for each guest who enters and frames the introductions of the bridal party and the new Mr. and Mrs.  Truly a focal point, a floral designer who knows what he’s/she’s doing is the best source for a floral arch like this one, since assembly must be done quickly on site to preserve the florals at their best for your big day.  (Depending on the blooms you choose, tiny water vases might even be attached to stems within the archway to make sure that they stay fresh and fragrant throughout your reception.)

The crystal bead strands, pendants, and hanging votives suspended from the floral arch add dimension and visual interest, and you might even be brave enough to use real tea lights.  If not, white LEDs are a fire-safe substitute to complement the candlelight on your tables.

The centerpieces feature loosely constructed pomanders on the top and smaller, tighter poms suspended within the bases.  Tall floral sprays break up the spheres and add height and drama to each table.  Many of the centerpieces also feature dripping crystal bead strands, and we think we might spy some suspended blooms as well?

Finally, the base of each centerpiece includes an array of votives.  Again, tealights are perfect for this purposes, or white LEDs offer similar light ~ and you can even choose LEDs that can be turned on and off remotely (no need to circulate lighting each candle individually) if time is of the essence.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our little Thursday afternoon quarterbacking of this amazing Saturday night affair.  If you’ve got a favorite inspiration photograph and want our take, or if you want to challenge us to figure out how your amazing reception was created, shoot us an image, and we’ll do our best to dissect it!

DIY Trees | Perfect Home Accents and Fall Centerpieces

We’re seeing small trees everywhere this fall ~ from weddings centerpieces to home decor stores, they’re definitely an “it” look for fall.

If you love the look but need a little help getting it just right, we have some ideas that will get you started while letting you maintain creative control.

Let’s start with a finished product and show you the ingredients that you need to create it.  This pretty tree would make a great wedding or baby shower centerpiece, or a seasonal home accent.  To make it, begin with a gold manzanita tree, and then add burlap birdies and flower clips, hanging tea lights, and a pinch off a moss roll.  The result is this reusable, customizable tree.  Add a small chalkboard sign, and you’ve got a great wedding centerpiece.

Manzanita tree with birds, burlap, and tea lights as centerpiece

For your next event, or to complement the change of seasons, simply switch out the accents while keeping the manzanita tree as your base.  (Be sure to save the accent pieces from season to season, since you can reuse the ornaments for years.)  The manzanita tree itself will also last for lots of years/events, and you can customize it to go with themes, venues, holidays, etc.

For fall, we love mixed metal bead curtains as accents on the manzanita trees ~ just snip the strands into lengths and attach them to the branches.  Add monarch butterflies, acrylic pendants, bead strands, and even acrylic sprays for a layered look that will usher in autumn in style.  For Halloween, we can see a blingalicious tree with orange and black acrylic pendants suspended from black bead strands.  Burlap wraps hide the wooden base and help make this a quick DIY project, or you can also paint the base.  And don’t even get us started on how awesome these could be for Christmas.  (Check out the Christmas clock to know how much time you’ve got!)

Fall centerpiece manzanita tree with accents

And, if this is all a little more DIY that you bargained for, may we suggest these already done alternatives?  Choose a warm white option for year-round use, or pick a color and let your favorite hue shine through.

LED bonsai trees

Make Your Outdoor Space Gorgeous ~ Just in Time for Fall

We’re *inspired,* y’all ~ this is the first weekend of college football widowhood (shopping), we’ve had some chilly mornings even in the Southland in the past couple of weeks (though it’s hot as Hades today), and we just generally have visions of a more gorgeous, functional outdoor space in place of our toddlerific screened porch.  Since we’ve probably got another year (two) before *we* can reasonably give up the ToddlerContainmentArea known as our screened porch, we invite you to daydream along with us and, if you are in a better position to redecorate, be sure to tell us how you made your dreams a reality.

There’s no better place to start than with some photographs that give us space envy.

Of all the images that inspire us, this one might be the one that we love the most. From the stacked stone fireplace and flexible, neutral seating to the lanterns scattered about and the pops of color (hello, snazzy garden stool-as-end-table!), we could definitely sit a spell in this outdoor living room.


If this isn’t the mother of all sliding glass doors, we don’t know who/what is. It’s impractical in our climate, but gracious we could live wherever this room is. A puzzle lamp could totally bring the funk over the dining room table, and we heart the bright outdoor chairs in this relaxed combination indoor-to-outdoor space.


We don’t sell any of this stuff, and we’re really not sure how one would create such a thing, but this wall of succulents ~ well, it’s divine. Love.


If you’re renovating as well as redecorating, we want to be sure you know that this amazing tile exists. Again, just gorg. Kind of brings a Mediterranean or even quasi-Moroccan vibe to this chic outdoor living space. We could totally see a pair of hanging lanterns (this one, or maybe this one?) ~ and one or two more coordinating candle holders on that coffee table, btw.  And don’t forget the fab garden stool!


And finally, proving that some people with toddlers are a little more fabulous than, ahem, others, this lovely courtyard is rocking the light strings, and even letting them coexist with a “baby fwing” (very popular at our house right now) and a gated play area.


Whatever weather the end of August is bringing to your neck of the woods, fall is coming, and we plan to be ready to enjoy the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy it.  On furniture.  Y’all.  In a year (two).  Now show us how you’ve transformed *your* outdoors into something great.  (Extra cool points for before-and-after shots, btw.)



Throwing a Pretty Party ~ Pink Accessories for a Picture Perfect Pink Party

Whether your tastes run more toward Pinkalicious or Fancy Nancy, Shabby Chic Vintage or Blinged Out Bedazzled, one of the most versatile party themes is a favorite color that you can build decor, food, and favors around.  For impact on a budget, choose table dressing, balloons, paper lanterns, and a few other key (large) pieces to set the tone, and then supplement with some swanky details like paper straws and chic little favor bags.  If you’re into repurposing your party stash and have a little bigger budget, we love it when mamas choose a splurge piece or two, like a chandelier or a bead curtain, use it as a party prop or backdrop, and then incorporate it into a bedroom or play space when the party’s over.

So whether your upcoming soiree is a five-year-old’s birthday party or a breast cancer fighting celebration, you can’t go wrong with a pink theme and lots of pops in shades from cotton candy to fuchsia.  (And if pink isn’t your thing, click your favorite color to see lots of options in *your* preferred hue.)

This Shabby Chic Party with styling and photography by Louise Sanders shows exactly how alluring a table set almost entirely in pink can be.  Sweet, romantic, and classic.

pink party decor

Image by Louise Sanders

So without further adieu, here’s a sampling of our favorite pink pieces ~ just waiting to make their new home in your little (or big) girl’s next party (room?).  For a great deal, select a Room-in-a-Box kit and then think outside the box ~ use the pieces as party props-to-be-turned-room-decor once the party’s over.  Provide scrapbooking paper, washi glitter tape, and pink rhinestone stickers as a combo craft + favor that is sure to delight the bling-loving crowd.  Or just go crazy with paper party straws, favor bags, and pale pink lanterns for a to-die-for vintage party.

pink party decor available at

We can’t wait to see what *your* next over-the-top party looks like.  Be sure to show us photographs of your results (pro or DIY) for a chance to win store credit and a feature on our blog.

Our Top Five Wedding Trend Predictions for 2015

We’ve been reading the tea leaves [orders] and talking to the spirits [wedding planners], and we can’t wait for the New Year to share our predictions for 2015′s top wedding trends.  Whether you’ve got a rock and a date or are planning to start *planning* (a Pinterest board between friends doesn’t count, right?) as soon as he pops the question, it’s never to early to divine the most *divine* looks for next year’s chic-est weddings.

1.  Wedding Dresses ~ The Lace and The Lines Are Key

We’re seeing lots of naked lace, open backs with lace embellishments, halter tops with to-die-for mantillas, and generally stunning dress lines to flatter every figure.  (We can’t help but be a little thrilled that the strapless dress ~ still a staple but not always easy to wear ~ is getting some comp. from her elegant sisters.)  Check out the 2015 collection from Pronovias, one of our favorite design houses, here.

Source:  Pronovias

Source: Pronovias

2.  Rose Gold

This metal has been around since forever, with flattering warm tones that fall somewhere between yellow gold and copper.  It roared into jewelry stores in 2014, and it’s taking over the engagement and wedding sections as we speak.  We don’t always love metal trends ~ no one wants her engagement ring to scream “2014!” from her finger ~ but in this case rose gold is a time tested metal that’s getting some well deserved popularity.  It flatters lots of skin tones, sets of a great diamond beautifully, and will be just as gorgeous at your silver wedding anniversary as it is at your paper one.  (Sorry, y’all ~ the first year is paper… or a clock…  and come to think of it, a rose gold watch would look pretty sweet with that rock.)  For the uninitiated, the full guide to traditional anniversary gifts is here.)

3.  Tall (fabulous) centerpieces

We’ve been seeing over-the-top (literally) centerpieces at celebrity and luxury weddings for some time, but we think that they’ll make their way into “regular” weddings in 2015.  Towering centerpieces using candelabras and florals (often dripping with crystal strandspendants, and suspended candle holders to bring the height down without obscuring your dinner partners) are an effective way to achieve maximum impact from a limited number of pieces, and in any case we never argue against dramatic wedding reception decor.  If your budget is limited (and really, everyone’s budget is limited), we suggest creating the splashiest centerpieces that you can afford on a few tables and filling the rest with more modest ones for the most Wow! for the price.

We love the way that the suspended glass globes and the tabletop mercury votives work together to create layers of candlelight.  A luxury look that you can absolutely get on a budget.  Place card holders are another place to make each guest feel special without breaking the bank.

details with bling at Colin Cowie Wedding

Source: Colin Cowie Weddings

Wondering how the ever fabulous Colin Cowie achieves such height  in centerpieces like these?  All you need is a riser kit and some bling.

tall centerpieces at a luxury wedding

Source: Colin Cowie Weddings

4.  Speaking of ~ 2015 will be a year for bling, bling, and more bling

We kind of love the rustic/traditional/vintage/bespoke feel that we’ve been seeing, but we expect more weddings to head in the direction of sparkle for 2015.  We’re seeing a spike in metallics, beads, jewels, and pearls as embellishments for everything from place settings to centerpieces to cake tables.  Add a metallic table cloth and mercury votives all around, and you have all the shimmering, sparkling decor that you need for a cutting edge event.  And as you might imagine, we’re not complaining.  Bling makes the world go ’round, y’all.

5.  Original wedding decor

Whether couples are choosing sentimental locations or top shelf destinations, we’re seeing more and more people incorporating statement decor pieces into their weddings.  We’re predicting that marrying symbolism and design impact in objects like paper lanterns, tissue poms, and bird cages will continue apace in 2015.

We can’t wait to see our newsfeed light up as engagement season gets into full swing, and our surest prediction is that 2015 will be full of celebrations of lasting love.  As always, we’d love to see your pictures ~ from engagement ring snaps to perfect wedding photographs.


How To: Using Magnets for Quick, Easy, Versatile Bling-stallation

We are lucky to be in a biz that feeds our fascination (obsession?) with pretty pictures, but once in a while we have to share the behind-the-scenes tips and tricks that make those pretty pics a reality. And more importantly, that make gorgeous installations of beads, crystals, and even hanging columns possible in the short set-up windows that are typical in event planning. Whether you need a few small pieces to change up the look of your staple centerpieces, the ability to bling out a chandelier on a tight schedule, or even a no fuss way to hang a bead column or curtain, we have the key to making this particular magic happen: magnets.

Specifically, we’ll take you behind the scenes of ShopWildThings event decor pictures, where you’ll find a selection of carefully vetted, thoroughly tested, high quality magnets that can hold bead strands, bead curtains, and many other gorgeous decor pieces securely without leaving marks or messes. Whether you are drawing attention away from a drop ceiling (and its secretly fantastic metal strips) or suspending large columns above a cavernous commercial space, we’ll show you the right magnet for the job — and how to use it.

Because behind every pretty picture like this one:

Image Courtesy of the University of San Diego

Image Courtesy of the University of San Diego

There are shiny little workhorses holding up everything from beaded crystal columns to shimmering fabric swags:

Graphic 2

For the heavier objects, we use heavy duty magnet hooks ~ each one supporting up to 64 pounds.  These are great for aluminum chain curtains, crystal ceiling drapes, long bead curtains, and other decor pieces that pack a little heft.

If your pieces are lighter, we offer 41 pound magnet hooks and 23 pound magnet hooks that are sufficient for most jobs.  (We suggest purchasing an assortment for the best combination of value and flexibility and the best results with a variety of projects.)  If you want to see how to easy it is to hang a bead curtain using a set of two hooks, check out this short video for a quick how-to.

As great as hook magnets are, they are overkill for many detail situations ~ everything from centerpieces to chandeliers can easily be bedazzled thoroughly using ball magnets and barrel magnets.  These ingenious little cousins of our hook magnets are great for adding extra bling in the form of crystal bead strands and pendants to staple metal pieces (chandeliers, candelabras, etc.).  These magnets are one of those behind-the-scenes worker bee products that professional planners use to customize the key pieces for each event while getting the best value out of staple decor items.

Clueless about where to start?  This video tutorial will show you just how easy it is to add bead strands to metal objects using our ball magnets and barrel magnets.

(Hint:  Be sure that your candelabras, chandeliers, and the like are made of metal and are magnetic, of course!  You can test them with a magnet right off your frig to be sure.)

Whether you’ve got a doorway (with a metal frame) that needs a bead curtain or an entire ballroom that needs some extra sparkle, our magnets are the ultimate handy helpers when you need a no fuss, no muss solution that installs quickly.  If you have questions about these products, compatibility, or how to use anything that we sell, don’t hesitate to call us at 928.855.6075.

heavy duty hook magnet for mounting bead curtains and even decor

ball magnet for mounting bead strands and other event decor

barrel magnet for event decor