HGTV Design Star Challenge: The Insta-Wedding

So I’m an HGTV Design Star addict (surprise, surprise). If you haven’t watched the show and love design, be prepared for your fiance or significant other to hate you on Monday nights. This past week’s episode featured a design challenge of….you guessed it…designing and setting up a wedding reception in two days.

These designers set off to create a layout of this empty loft, divide and conquer with partners for certain tasks, and aim to have the room ready by the time the judges walk through.

I’m pretty sure that nothing on the show happens in the time frame that editing manipulates, but two days is two days. Even if the bride and groom weren’t walking down the aisle at the precise moment that the place settings were going down. (And most event planners would notice that there were zero catering/bar staff around at this time, which of course would be impractical 30 minutes prior to a reception start time).

I DIGRESS. At any rate, feel free to check out the episode here at Normally this time frame would give me a stroke, but I thrive in chaos (I did choose this profession, after all), and thought I’d play “armchair quarterback” to their design choices, to see what you all think of them in comparison. Let me know what YOU think.

Overall, I was underwhelmed by every vignette, every space in the room BUT the groom’s lounge and bar area. The guest table linens were, as the judges pointed out so aptly, lacking.

If I were told my client wanted a Victorian-themed, elegant, ballroom-esque wedding reception, what do you do? You bring in the crystal!! I would have incorporated a stripe, brocade or lace to the linen SOMEWHERE and everywhere. Perhaps one like this Gold Damask floor-length cloth from BBJ Linen. Use this with those bright pops of pink, red and orange that the client requested, but with much more crystal involved, like these crystal–not silver–candelabras with small, paved bunches of bright floral for a contemporary punch. Add white or ivory lace (yes, lace) napkins with their choices of place settings and bam! Instant Victorian elegance without the grandma feel.

For the ceiling treatment? I would have done either a) a CLUSTER of clear chandeliers in lieu of the one giant chandelier or b) several red chandeliers spaced throughout the room, with an over-sized one over the dance floor and the sweetheart table.

The ceiling treatment (no offense, Kelly! Love you) looked a tad circus-y to me, so I definitely would not have chosen that route. There’s power in numbers, so I would have opted for those panels of bright fabric to be used elsewhere–perhaps as pipe and drape in sections to cozy up vignets in the room, like the sample photo here.

Lastly, of all the details I would have liked in the room, I wanted to know, “Where are the street lamps?”. Street lamps are uber Victorian, and could have been delivered by a rental or prop company easily and placed in the entrance area (and throughout the room) with a drop-down fabric sign, customized with the bride/groom’s logo or letter of their last name. Special order that can’t be done in that time frame? No! Last name letters could have been craftily done by hand on short notice. Too theme-y? Not if the French provincial ghost chairs are there to balance it out with poshness.

Overall, I’d say that designing and setting a wedding reception in two days is more than a tall order, and kudos to all the designers on HGTV Design Star for taking it on (special kudos to Mark, Kelly, Meg and Kevin for really shining in this challenge). A big “thank you” to HGTV for highlighting what event designers everywhere already believe: that this is an exciting, fast-paced, intense and high-impact facet of design with lasting impact clients and guests. Bravo!

Anyone who spams me with a reply to this blog will be have bad luck for seven years, particularly in the romantic world, will gain 50 pounds and not be able to hold a job. Yeah. DO NOT REPLY TO THIS POSTING WITH SPAM.