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The Special Event Trends Upward

Top trends seen at The Special Event 2022

Early this May, caterers and event planners gathered for the annual Catersource + The Special Event conference in sunny Anaheim, California. All throughout the week, innovative trends could be seen in session topics, tradeshow booths, and evening events. Here are some of the top trends that you can integrate into your business to stand out to your clients. 

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Florals, Florals, Florals 

There’s no doubt the pandemic has impacted the floral industry and its designs: with limited materials from supply chain issues, client preferences changing, and a deep desire for celebration, floral design is finding a new role in events.  

In their joint session What’s Trending in Floral Design? Derek Woodruff, Brand Ambassador for Syndicate Sales, a floral hardgoods company, and Liza Roeser, CEO of FiftyFlowers discussed the dichotomy of floral preferences these days: people want either simple, minimalist pieces or luxurious, extravagant arrangements, with no in-between. 

Bridal bouquets and boutonnieres have gone back to basics. Arrangements are simpler, often deconstructed into multiple singular vases with one bud apiece instead of one large vase. Yet over-the-top statement pieces live on through sprawling tablescapes and massive arches, which can be reused for each stage of the event (and even broken down and used for multiple events.) 

The Pantone Color of the Year, Very Peri, has inspired hues of purples and blues. Bron Honsboro, owner of Bron the Flower Guy, spoke on the various ways to use periwinkle in his session Floral Forecast: Looking Ahead at Industry Shifts and Trends. “Trying to incorporate the Pantone color of the year, feeling obligated to do that in fresh floral, is not the goal,” he says. “The goal is to be thoughtful, to be intentional, but not to inundate it.” 

Beside periwinkle, floral design is returning to bright pops of color. Woodruff says this is because “we’ve had five to seven blasé years of blush, nudes, and neutrals. [There is] oversaturation in the industry, which is really bringing a draw back to some color.”  

And at each stage of floral design, cutting down on waste is key. Reusable bouquet egg cages (along with sphagnum moss and aqua tubes) are great foam-free mechanics. Reuse transportation materials and even broken flowers for corsages. Think about how you can make the best use of product at each level of planning. 

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Dazzling Décor 

With post-pandemic budgets and desire to celebrate, event spaces are undergoing total, elaborate transformation. 

Living activations bring décor to life, with costumed actors and servers setting the scene. Keeping servers, greeters, and entertainers themed and mingling with guests keeps any space lively. At the Closing Night Party, there was even a living fountain, with costumed and made-up actors posing together in a pool with tubes of water streaming from them, fascinating guests all night. 

Floor-to-ceiling detail is more important than ever. Art Deco is here to stay, with its geometric, linear designs, metallics, and bold statement mirrors. Ceiling treatments with elaborate, dripping florals help transform the room and set the stage. Illuminated scenery, like balloons and trees, draw eyes across the venue. Custom-wrapped dance floors bring a personal touch to the event. Pay attention to design details at every corner. 

In his 2022/2023 Global Wedding Trends session, event planner Brian Green said, “We’re really trying to create guest-centric experiences.” Immersive activities from 360-degree selfie stations to paint-by-number murals to mystery print-on tattoos allow guests to move across different stations and interact with each other (or take a social break). Make sure your event space has entertainment, activities, and décor that totally immerse guests. 

Sustainability & All It Entails 

Sustainability refers to more than just the environment: as a whole, all business practices should contribute to long-term healthful outcomes. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is one sustainable practice to incorporate. In her session DE&I: What’s F&B Have to Do With It? Tracy Stuckrath, founder of thrive! meetings & events, emphasized the importance of feeding everybody in an equitable way, considering allergies, religion, and physical diversity.  

The inclusive mindset is important for your business to stay relevant. During the session Fresh or Stale: Ensure Sourcing is Innovative and Inclusive, Dr. Aurora Benton (Astrapto LLC) and Zoe Moore (Moore Consulting Agency) encouraged attendees to get creative with unusual partnerships and sourcing, and to integrate diversity into processes, policies, and training. Communication is the key to sustainable relationships. 

Environmental sustainability depends not only on your choices but on the practices of your suppliers. “We are so slow to adapt,” said Roeser (What’s Trending in Floral Design?). “Interview your supplier with smart questions.” Make sure your suppliers know where their products come from. Your environmental impact is tied to the impact of all your partners and suppliers. 

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Feels Like Home 

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that space impacts our mood and should be comfortable and inviting. Homey luxury furniture is hugely popular in event spaces, with eye-catching lounge furniture and ambient lighting. As Green put it in Global Wedding Trends, people prefer “residential vibes,” where conversation is fostered through intimate and comfortable seating layouts.  

Part of a home environment is a personal touch. Clients don’t want what everyone else has nearly as much as they want customized, personal décor and activities. Let your clients express themselves through the design. This doesn’t have to be through extravagance, either; minimalism allows the residential furnishing to create a customized, individual feel. 

Technology For Every Aspect of Events 

Technology has found its place in every aspect of the event industry. In her session Making it Wow: Technology Trends, Deborah Elias of Elias Events shared a number of apps and rental features that can elevate any event. 

There are other apps for streamlining mundane business tasks and apps that help planners go paperless. The Pantone app allows users to take photos and create color schemes for designers. Use apps to streamline processes, making each step of event planning easier and freeing you up to be more creative. 

In an era of instant gratification, 3D visualization platforms create simulations of a venue. Choose from color palettes, furniture rentals, tenting, florals, lighting, and more.  

Live event technology is more innovative than ever: with portable WiFi, edible 2D and 3D printing for customizable latte or cocktail art, or QR scavenger hunts, guests can stay connected and engaged in exciting new ways. 

See the Trends. Set the Trends.  

The Special Event Conference & Tradeshow is the only annual event of its kind. A show of unrivaled influence and inspiration, it’s a spirited gathering of all the people, ideas, and trending innovations shaping the catering and events industry.  Join us March 27-30 in Orlando, FL to gain insight into all the latest trends. Click here for more info. 

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