What is “Event Design”?

What is “Event Design”?

Have you ever wondered what the difference between “event planning” and “event design” really is? While both aspects are very important to a quality event experience, there are very real differences.

Event Planning pertains to the organizational details of the actual event. This could even be considered an aspect of “project management”. This would include venue selection, logistics planning, scheduling, vendor contracting and coordination, transportation, security and so on. These are all of the elements to make the event feel like it is running seamlessly.

Event Design encompasses the look and feel of the event itself. Most people have a hard time “designing” an event themselves because they often feel like they know what they like, they collect pictures of pretty images, but they have no idea how to translate that into an event. We take a vision and make it a reality.

Most events are “branded” with design elements. We are able to look at images you like which represent room decor, tablescapes, print materials, home decorating and fashion and can access like elements that ultimately formulate your event vision. The event design incorporates fabric, furniture, lighting, props, tabletop and hard goods. Because we want the design to affect all senses, that includes smell and taste in addition to the visual elements. We carry the design through the food and beverage experience as well.

The event design is carried through from the beginning of the guest experience. Often the tone of the event is set by a branded look on the save the date and invitation. That might be with color combinations, style (traditional, modern, ornate, chic, etc.) logo/monogram or even a feeling that the print material evokes that is representative of what is to come.

We know that most people are visual and don’t really know what they like, what feels right, and what represents what they want until we can actually let them see it. We will typically use real samples of items we want to present and set up a full table with chairs, China, glassware, linens and centerpieces at a sample meeting for you to critique and approve. This way you can provide input on the design prior to the actual event.

If you don’t want full service event planning, we often offer design consulting on its own as a service to help create and develop an event vision and pull all of these visual aspects together.

Check out these before and after photos of an event we designed and planned which show an empty office lobby and the same space designed for a branded corporate event. What do you think of the transformation?

11 Stanwix Lobby- before

11 Stanwix Lobby- after

Designer Table for Braddock Feast

Designer Table for Braddock Feast

Click the photo above to view the gallery.

The first Braddock Feast was held in the town of Braddock, PA on Sunday, September 27th. It was a community event with area restaurants, caterers and businesses being showcased with samplings of food and beverage.

As part of the event, several Event Designers were asked to design display tables to represent Braddock businesses. Shari Zatman designed and installed this 4′ x 8′ tablescape which represented Freestore and Red Lantern Bike Shop These stores collect new and used items such as clothing, home goods, school supplies, bicycles and more and donate every item back to the community. Many people have and continue to benefit by the generous work of these stores.

Our table was colorful and whimsical and represented the bright and cheery feeling you get at FreeStore and Red Lantern Bike Shop. The focal piece of the table was the bicycle that sat right in the center. On the spokes of the bike were photos of several children who received free bikes from the store. The centerpiece also included actual red lanterns lit with twinkling LED candles. Fresh flowers and stuffed animals filled the bike basket and around the base of the bike were vases of flowers and picture frames with encouraging words such as “You Are Loved”, “Pay It Forward”, “Laugh” and more.

Rather than using actual place settings at the table, Shari drew settings in chalk on chalkboard table runner paper and placed “bow tie” napkins on the “plates”. The chair backs on the chairs were actually long sleeve tee shirts ties with the sleeves of the shirt and accented with a fresh sunflower.

All of these prop items were donated to the stores by Perfectly Planned by Shari after the event.

Jared’s Bar Mitzvah

Jared’s Bar Mitzvah

We were thrilled to work with Nord family for the second time to plan an amazing celebration for Jared’s Bar Mitzvah. We may have returned to the same venue, Heinz History Center (where his sister’s party was held just two years previously), but we certainly transformed the space for him!

Jared’s vision was a “Night Club with basketball accents. To make the space feel unique from his sisters, we arranged the ballroom completely differently. The black dance floor with personalized logo graphic was centered in the room horizontally with a VIP Lounge on each side to accommodate seating for Jared and his friends. 

When adult guests arrived via the red carpet entry at the party, they had to check in with at the entrance by the “club bouncer” to be verified on the guest list for their table assignments. Adults were assigned to tables that were named according to renowned night clubs in the U.S.

The adults sat at elongated tables that were a mix of a high and low heights arranged in a “U” shape around a large square bar. The bar was a main focal point covered in sequin linens, adorned with arrangements on each corner and a large grouping of custom lampshades hanging overhead.

Identical lampshades were also grouped over the center of the dance floor and over the two VIP lounges. Jared’s color palate of royal, silver, black and touches of orange were carried throughout the decor. All of the table centerpieces included illuminated cylinders with basketballs and LED glow cubes were placed all over the room which rotated colors throughout the night. The ambiance was very sophisticated.

Adults and kids alike rocked out on the dance floor led by Mc Criss Cross and his crew. They enjoyed airbrushed sweatshirts and an inflatable photo booth that took pictures which could be printed as well as uploaded and shared to social media.

Jared’s party was completely customized for him based on his requests such as a walking taco dinner station for the kids, donut cart and Bella Christies incredible desserts. They were all big hits. One of the best personalizations was the film that was created and shown as a tribute to what a wonderful young man Jared is. 

Many thanks to the wonderful vendors we worked with on this event:

Heinz History CenterCommon Plea CateringBea Nylias PhotographyAll Pro USAFestivitiesBenack, Glyde ProductionsEntertainment UnlimitedBella Christies and Lil Z’sMosaicAllison McgearyAll Occasions Party Rental

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Bridal Brunch Sneak Preview

Bridal Brunch Sneak Preview

The Perfectly Planned Bridal Brunch produced by Perfectly Planned by Shari would not have been a success without the participation of our fabulous vendors and the beautiful brides and guests. The event was filled with exquisite food by The Omni William Penn Hotel, sweet treats by Bella Christie Sweet Boutique, lovely sounds of violin and piano by Steven Vance Strolling Violins, models in gowns by Bella Bridesmaid and Glitter and Grit, vendor displays by Chapel Hills Jewelry, Glassworks and Cheeks, Arbonne, Nota Bene, It’s Your Day and Studio Booth. The floral decor by Allison Mcgeary Florist, linens by Mosaic and rentals by All Occsasions Party Rental created stunning tables. During brunch the guests enjoyed an informative and inspiring presentation by award winning Wedding and Event Planner Shari Zatman, about personalizing and customing your wedding. Here is a sneak preview of this unique bridal experience. Stay tuned for more photos by Goldstein Photography and video from All Pro USA from the Perfectly Planned Bridal Brunch!

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Perfectly Planned by Shari Bridal Brunch

Bridal Brunch

Join us for a luxury bridal experience October 6th, 2013  at 10:30 a.m. at the beautiful Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh. This event features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and sit down brunch by the Omni William Penn Hotel, wedding cake and desserts from BellaChristie Sweet Boutique, lavish floral inspirations from Allison Mcgeary Florist, and much more! Come see our exclusive selection of the best partners in the Pittsburgh wedding industry. Brides will get custom planning ideas from award winning event planner, Shari Zatman and fabulous gift bags. Tickets are $35 a person. Register here to ensure your spot!

Toby’s Bat Mitzvah

Toby’s Bat Mitzvah

On April 13, 2013, Toby, together with friends and family celebrated this milestone with a fun filled bash at J. Verno Studios on Pittsburgh’s Southside.  The night was filled with great food, dancing and even beautiful candy and dessert displays. The mood was as bright and lively as Toby’s color palate of fuchsia, purple, lime green and blue.

While entering J. Verno Studios, adult guests were welcomed into a lounge and bar area while the kids played trivia games in the ballroom, provided by Wenning Entertainment, winning prizes and kicking off the party.  Guests were also treated to a photo booth filled with a variety of costumes and hats to take pictures for the guest of honor. The photos from the photo booth were simulcast on large screens throughout the venue all night long. Kids (and even some adults) visited the airbrush tattoo artist throughout the evening to receive temporary airbrush tattoos.

The ballroom was divided into two areas, one area for the kids and the other side of the room for adult seating.

The kids’ tables were lined with pink and purple luminaria and provided open seating at long tables.  The kids had their own appetizer station of multi flavored popcorn and soft pretzel bites which later turned over to their own dinner station. The adult side of the room were seated at round tables and adults dined at a variety of dinner stations featuring a slider bar, Asian Station and more all provided by JPC Catering.  While the guests were all seated at their tables, they enjoyed a lovely slideshow of pictures of Toby through the years of growing up with her family and friends.

After dinner the fun really began with Soundtastic Enterprises getting everyone at the party up and dancing.  There was even a dance off between the boys and girls!  After dinner, guests were treated to a cookie table of homemade cookies donated by friends and relatives of Toby. This had special meaning to Toby as her mitzvah project was a bake sale held earlier in the year with all proceeds going to children’s cancer research.

As if that weren’t enough for any sweet tooth, mini milkshake shooters were passed and a candy buffet filled with goodies such as Reese’s cups, gummy worms, m & m’s  and so much more was available with personalized take out containers to fill and enjoy at the party and to take home.

This sweet night was a treat for both adults and kids. Mazel Tov Toby!


Event Trend: Phone Charging Stations

These days it’s uncommon to see someone without a smartphone attached to their hands.  The smartphone has enabled us to stay consistently connected to our business, family, and friends.  It’s not surprising that most people have a phone with them at an event. Whether it’s a wedding or a corporate event, the smartphone plays a vital role in your activity.  The smartphone has become a guest’s camera, video recorder, GPS, or notepad, therefore it’s a challenge to keep the battery life of your smartphone going strong throughout the day.  Setting up a phone charging station is both clever and practical in this day and age.  It’s common to see people bringing phone chargers to libraries and restaurants, so why not at an event?

We advise not making it an eyesore or focal point, but rather an element of convenience for guests. We imagine a small table decorated with flowers, picture frames, or a set of short instructions. At the table would be a power strip where guests could plug in their own chargers or use ones provided to them by the bride and groom.  Power strips can be visually displeasing. A way to fix this problem and keep the outlets out of sight is as simple as using a decorated memory or storage box.  By making small holes in the side of the box the charging chords would be in plain sight and easy for guests to access.  This way the power strip is hidden and you’ve got a small platform for candles or vases to rest.

We also recommend a sign in system where an attendant would be able to keep track of phones, making sure that they were safe and accounted for the duration of the charging process. This way guest would be able to leave their phones with an attendant so that they may go back to enjoying the event.


Let us know what you think! Would you utilize a phone charging station at a wedding or corporate event?

Allie and Cameron’s Wedding

Allie and Cameron’s Wedding

Congratulations to Allie and Cam! Their wedding was held on May 11, 2013 at the stunning Westin Convention Center Hotel. The color palate was afresh mix of off white, pale peach and turquoise accents. The bridesmaid dresses and ambient uplighting at the reception provided the “pop” of bright turquoise.

The ceremony, held in the Westin’s Grand Ballroom conveyed complete romance. The aisle was lined with rose petals and candles and the guest sat atop a crisp white dance floor that was later used for the reception.  Allie’s father walked her down to the aisle to Cameron who was waiting for her under a canopy of she white fabric to an instrumental rendition of Christina Perry’s “A Thousand Years”. The altar was sat against an illuminated white fabric drape which later reflected a lighting gobo of the couple’s initials. Both lighting and backdrop were provided by Grey Phoenix Designs.

After the ceremony, guests were welcomed into the cocktail reception outside of the ballroom.  During the cocktail hour guests contributed to Allie and Cameron’s guestbook by taking fun photo booth pictures and pasting their pictures into a photo book  and righting personal messages for the Bride and Groom.

The guests returned to the ballroom which was transformed for the reception after the cocktail hour.  The Bridal party, complete with groomsmen wearing matching superhero socks, helped to get the party started by dancing their way back into the ballroom with introductions and tunes provided by DJ Sosa.  The tables were adorned with an array of high and low centerpieces by Allison McGeary Floral.  After dinner guests enjoyed not just one, but two delicious  dessert tables filled with mini cupcakes, desertinis, personalized sugar cookies, chocolate dipped strawberries  and other sweets by Bella Christie Sweet Boutique.

Allie and Cameron were not only a gorgeous couple, but they were filled with joy and happiness and were surrounded by the love of family and friends which was felt by all throughout the entire night.



Ways to Use Ombre in your Wedding

The idea behind ombre is the graduated variation in saturation of one color.  The trend has since made it’s way into other aspects of life including events.  There are different ways you can incorporate the ombre trend into your wedding.  Whether you envision a fade in color when picking out bridesmaid dresses or your flower bouquets, there are several ways you can use ombre.


Wedding Cakes

The wedding cake will always be a signature part of a wedding.  However, couples are becoming more creative in their choice of cakes.  Rather than choosing the traditional white wedding cake, which will always remain elegant and beautiful, people are going down an alternative path with ombre themed cakes.  You could make the gradient very light creating a subtle effect or go from extremely dark colors to white making a bold statement.  Either choice is going to make for a creative yet elegant wedding cake display


Bridesmaid Dresses

Whether your bridesmaid dresses are all of the same or vary in style, ombre can be used depending on what colors were chosen for your event.  These pink dresses vary from light pink to a very saturated hot pink.  The wider range of color variation the more dramatic the ombre effect will be.


Flower Arrangements

Ombre flower arrangements can be used in bridesmaid bouquets, centerpieces, or placed in spots around your venue.  Where you place the flowers is a decision all your own, however it is best visually that the flowers are placed closely together.


Ombre can be easily accustomed to any wedding depending on how little or how much ombre is desired.  Whether you want centerpieces that go from the darkest shade of red to pure white flowers or perhaps you only go a few shades lighter, the effect will still be visibly beautiful and interesting.  Share with us how you would incorporate ombre in your bid day!


What to do with the gown after you say, “I do.”

What to do with the gown after you say, “I do.”

Some brides spend weeks even months searching for the perfect wedding dress for their big day, but what should you do with the gown once the toasts and dancing is over? A bride can always keep it in safe storage in hopes that one day her daughter may wear it, but here at Perfectly Planned we have some creative and cute ways you can keep the memory of your wedding night and your dress alive.


Frame your gown

Finding a frame is easy. Just choose a design that works best with the room you want to display the dress in. Fitting the entire length of the dress can be visually awing if you can find a frame large enough, although folding the dress in half making the bottom of the dress a backdrop works beautifully as well.  If the dress seems to be to big in width try a shadow box!



Trash the Dress

Trashing your wedding dress has become somewhat of a trend the last couple of years.  Brides have done it all from water, to mud, even paint. We think the most elegant, romantic way to take the dress for one more spin is through some water.  After the blissful, fairytale wedding is over is when marriage really begins and trashing the dress symbolizes that. This couple shows off their personalities and love for one another in the waterfountains located in downtown Pittsburgh.


Photograph Daughter In Your Dress

This is such a great idea for mothers and daughters. Dressing up your little girl in your wedding dress is a wonderful reminder of your wedding day and the reasons why you said, “I do.”  Also, once it comes time for your daughter to walk down the aisle she’ll love looking back on these photos.  Display them near the guest book or wrap them up and surprise her with the photos on her big day.  If you want to save your dress for the future, we recommend having it professionally preserved. There are professionals who will clean and preserve your gown to protect it for safe keeping for the future. If you are careful to do this and save your dress for many years, you will be able to pull it out years later to try on or even better yet, let your own daughter where your dress


These are just a few ideas we here at Perfectly Planned thought would be a great ways to continue to enjoy your wedding dress after your wedding day has come to an end.  Share with us some of the ways you’ve used your wedding dress after you’ve said your I dos!