Tropical Opulence?! Yes, please. This HOT 2020 colorful wedding and corporate party trend is luxe meets lavish, using bold accents, bright floral, and lush textures.
In the recent past, tropical-themed events read more casual. Not so anymore, as we head into the new year. We’re upping the ante on this colorful wedding and event trend.
“Going forward, as a 2020 wedding trend, we see tropical accents incorporated into the luxury arena,” says Bridget Frizzie, Creative Director at Kehoe Designs. “For example: bright tropical floral design paired with finer table pieces and velvet chairs. Another way we’re upleveling the tropical theme is with more terracotta and bright orange hues. We paired those colors with warm yellows, browns, and rose golds.”
An insider tip for a great wedding idea? Pair unexpected décor for a tropical luxe effect. “Tropical used to mean a lot of wood,” Frizzie says. “Now, you can mix that with black surfaces and brass trims.” Or, you can combine roses with tropical flowers like orchids and subtropical fronds for wow-worthy floral design.
“The bride who wants tropical opulence wants the feeling of being on the beach, but doesn’t want actually to be on the beach,” Frizzie says. “Instead, she’ll be in a beautiful ballroom. We’ll achieve that tropical opulence effect with a special color palette, floral design and greenery, lighting, and décor.”
Here are three “tropulent” weddings — and one corporate party — that the Kehoe Designs team went all out on. They created memorable, immersive events for everyone.
Colorful Wedding: Bright Hues in a Traditional Space
The classic Chicago Club, founded in 1869, is a private social club in Chicago’s Loop neighborhood. Therefore, its distinguished membership includes many of the city’s most prominent business people, politicians, and families.
“This bride has a very vibrant personality,” Frizzie says. “However, she also loves tradition. You’d normally see a completely ivory or champagne color palette here. We achieved a bright tropical, colorful wedding environment in a location that’s steeped with history. This wedding idea is all about using color to transfer more personality into any setting.”
The key to this tropically opulent look, Frizzie says, is that while controlled and edited, it’s still customized to the couple’s taste. “The furniture has classic lines,” she says. “However, the vibrantly colored pillows really pop. We proved that Millennials could enjoy a traditional country club. With tropical flowers and a colorful wedding, this couple was comfortable expressing their personalities.”
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A lively, tropical color palette: In this case, this stately and traditional venue received a punch of bright summer pinks and oranges. This palette matched the bride’s fun, playful personality. “The look truly created a lush, tropical opulence in a staid, traditional space,” says Renee Price, Senior Designer at Kehoe Designs. “We used tropical flowers and accent pillows to create a colorful wedding.”
Bright bursts of blooms: In line with the 2020 wedding trend, the stunning displays included both traditional and tropical flowers. In plentiful supply: roses and tea roses, peonies, dahlias, and mokara and vanda orchids. “We kept the greenery minimal and included accents of green hypericum berries and lemon leaves,” Price says. This carefully curated floral mix made for a very colorful wedding reception.
Luxe décor: “Likewise, we paired stunning linen-less mirror and communal wood tables with a structured upholstered bar and gold metal spiral cocktail tables,” Price says. “The result? An environment of even greater tropical opulence.”
Photo Credits: Design + Floral: Kehoe Designs, Renee Price | Planning: LK Events, LLC | Photos: Emilia Jane Photography | Venue: Chicago Club
The client’s take: “The reception was held in a very traditional, yet meaningful, setting with naturally rich and dark colors and our goal was to create an atmosphere that was a bit nontraditional, very lively and bright, and fun,” says Allison Young, Senior Events Consultant at Chicago-based LK Events. “The initial inspiration photo we used was very tropical, so we weaved the colors and textures to complement, and not distract from the formal venue we were in. We opted to use the bright colors to achieve these goals, while keeping a more formal composition in floral design as a nod to the building and venue. To help create a naturally fun and approachable setting, we used multiple lounges with bold pillows and accents around the room for informal seating.”
Floral Design: Adventure-Themed Wedding at the Field Museum
The Field Museum is a revered Chicago institution. It stands as one of America’s greatest museums of natural history. The Stanley Field Hall offers gleaming white marble, vaulted ceilings, and gracious columns. These architectural elements make for spectacular weddings and events. Also, this premier event space features African elephants prepared by taxidermist Carl Akeley. Overhead are extensive hanging gardens and flying Pterosaurs. The Field’s biggest attraction is Máximo, the Titanosaur.
“This wedding idea is an amazing example of bringing the outside in with tropical flowers and a lot of greenery,” Frizzie says. “We added frond-laden canopies over the tables, so guests felt they were outdoors. Add to that the hall’s humongous hydroponic gardens structure hanging above the dinosaurs for a true sense of adventure.”
The Kehoe Designs team achieved the effect and emotions of being in the tropics, but in a new “tropulent” way. “We threw out the rules of that classic idea of formality, and brought in a casual element for this wedding idea,” Frizzie says. “This event is perfect for a couple who loves tropical opulence. They crave adventure and being outside, but they also have a classic, dressed-up side.”
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No such thing as too many greens: “Tropical greens were on full display,” Price says. “They truly supported the entire design of the wedding idea.” For instance, varieties included monstera and banana leaves, areca palms, Cocculus foliage, umbrella fern, and variegated ginger leaves. This selection made for a stunning floral design.
Tune in to tropical opulence accents: “Outside of the grand and sultry palm-focused centerpieces, tropical flowers and greenery adorned key focal areas,” Price says. “For example: on the façade of a wooden bar and woven into the base of the specialty head table. We also used it as actual place settings for each guest.”
Upscale décor for tropical opulence: Under the green canopy, the tablescapes read luxurious. They accomplished this with creamy linens, gold chargers, and intimate candle groupings in gilded and crystal holders. “We juxtaposed wood-top tables with gold metal chairs,” Frizzie says. “Even the hanging green velvet drape added to that sense of tropical opulence.”
Furthermore, Frizzie loves referencing movies in her event design. “Here, you’re under the jungle canopy with dinosaurs,” she says. “We’re reminded of Jurassic Park and its sense of adventure and danger. We bring the movie set inside with lots of tropical flowers and greenery.”
Photo Credits: Design + Décor: Kehoe Designs, Renee Price | Planning: LOLA Event Productions | Photos: Erin Hoyt Photography | Venue: Special Events at the Field Museum, Field Museum | Lighting: Frost Chicago | Catering: Field to Table Catering and Events Chicago | Linen: BBJ Linen, Kehoe Collection | Paper Goods: Steracle Press
The client’s take: When the couple, Lauren and Jose, first came to Michelle Kurinec, Senior Event Coordinator at Chicago-based LOLA Event Productions, the first thing they mentioned: “We want our guests to feel as though they’re roaming in a time where dinosaurs are among us!”
That provided Kurinec, Price, and the Kehoe Designs team the perfect opportunity to bring in tropical opulence. “The couple loved our fresh, fun ferns, foliage and protea combined with Stanley Field Hall’s existing Titanosaur and the flying pterosaurs allowed us to create an elegant, prehistoric jungle,” Kurinec says. “Guests loved the “tropulent” concept and embraced it thoroughly. We even repurposed our monstera leaf chargers as the perfect dance floor accessory!”
Tropical Opulence to the Max
With a vibrant palette of fuchsia, magenta and hot orange, this colorful wedding incorporates both traditional and 2020 wedding trend elements — taking tropical opulence to a whole new level. “You’re looking at very saturated color and total opulence,” Frizzie says.
Frizzie points to this colorful wedding’s hues as the main driver of the tropulent feel. In this case, a bevy of golds. “The rose gold lighting effect drives into this almost glistening and shimmering effect,” Frizzie says. That gold palette echoed in the modern gold chandeliers and two-tone draperies. “Subsequently, the combination of the lighting going through the draperies creates a warm, intimate effect,” she says.
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Vibrant floral design: Orchids starred in this colorful wedding. The Kehoe Designs team showcased several varieties including cattleya, dendrobium, and mokara. Consequently, this creates unique movement and texture for the elegant mandap, archway, and centerpieces. “We used minimal greenery — mostly touches of plumosa,” Price says.
In addition, Frizzie says the color story included Millennial Pink. This color coincides with the 2020 wedding trend toward warmer hues. “We use coppery rose golds, browns and oranges,” she says. “This palette creates nature-inspired environments for colorful weddings and events.”
Don’t forget the neutrals: The Kehoe Designs team intentionally chose linens in a neutral sand palette. Floral design and lighting allow the electric colors to speak. “As a fun twist, we adorned the head tables in burnt orange velvet linen,” Price says. “This luxe effect and specific color accent surrounded the dance floor.”
Luxe lighting: “We focused on jewel tones and highly saturated colors for this wedding idea,” says Meredith Francsis, Senior Producer at BlackOak Technical Productions. “Vibrancy was key. That’s why we added the movement of rippling water lighting effects. Guests felt like they were by a tropical paradise pool in the warm sun.”
During the ceremony, Frizzie says, guests were bathed in a reflective bronze glow. The light emanated from the candles and overhead chandeliers. “The blush lighting on the draperies added softness,” she says. “The clear Lucite chairs also absorbed that soft blush. It just added to the feel of tropical opulence.”
Photo Credits: Design + Floral: Kehoe Designs, Renee Price | Lighting + Sound: BlackOak Technical Productions | Planning: Joseph Leigh Designs | Venue: The Geraghty | Photos: Colin Lyons Wedding Photography
Corporate Summer Oasis at the Four Seasons
Rising from the city’s famed Magnificent Mile, the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is a coveted event destination. This time, the Kehoe Designs team turned a ballroom into a tropical paradise for a corporate party. “We created a beautiful summer oasis for guests of Guarantee Trusts’ Annual Celebration,” says Mal Marcus, Event Producer at Kehoe Designs.
Therefore, as guests entered through the foyer, they immediately were immersed. “The drapes were uplit in vibrant, programmable LED uplighting,” says Jonathan Zani, producer at BlackOak Technical Productions. “We could dial the exact color in an ombré effect.” The goal? To create an ambiance of tropical opulence, as if guests were walking into the sunset. “The color became more saturated as you walked toward the party,” he says.
Zani wanted to create an underwater environment. “To achieve that, we water-patterned gobos on the ceiling over the cabana,” he says, “keeping the room in varying blue hues. The uplighting on the floral design groupings made them feel like they were surrounded by seagrass. This darker entry made the entrance more impactful.”
Furthermore, Frizzie points to the movie Avatar with its fantastical jungle world as an inspiration point for this party. “That’s tropical opulence at its finest,” she says. “In an event like this, we evoke the feeling of being in a formal garden or on a beach in a cabana.”
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Tropical flowers and greenery: The ballroom itself was transformed with lush plantscapes and ceiling installation. The Kehoe Designs team filled this stunning feature with beautiful greenery and tropical floral accents. “We suspended this piece over the dance floor covered in a custom-designed vinyl floral,” Marcus says.
Also, the centerpieces were elevated. “They featured beautiful tropical flowers such as orange mokara orchids, purple cymbidium orchids, white hydrangeas, and roses,” Marcus says. Glowing candlelight accented the floral.
“We enhanced the ceiling décor and tropical flowers with a wash of vibrant color,” Zani says. “This mimicked the dance floor. So dancing became a completely immersive movement.”
Luxe lighting: Vibrant lighting enveloped the room in hues of purple, magenta, and aqua blue. This played beautifully off the graphic dance floor.
Zani and the BlackOak Tech team used intelligent lighting on the dance floor to enhance the graphic. This main focal point made it look like moving water. “The LED lighting pulled the color out, so it was intensely vibrant,” Zani says.
In addition, the backdrop lighting moved in waves and in shades of blue. This created an incredible backdrop for the lively band. “We included seamless uplighting to program this effect,” Zani says. “It ensured that the entire backdrop was illuminated.”
Experiential tech with interactive projection mapping: To create more intrigue and wonderment at the event, Marcus and the BlackOak team added a tech-forward installation. This cutting edge element featured performers who danced in front of projection-mapped surfaces. “When they moved, so did the design,” Marcus says. “Designs seamlessly transitioned from tranquil waves to floralscapes and other complementary designs.”
Consequently, the content of the projection followed the dancers in varying sea themes. “These included coral, colorful fish scales, breaking waves, bubbles, and water as the entertainers’ excited guests,” Zani says. “In addition, we also played a tropical house soundtrack in the venue foyer. The beats transported people to a tropical island beach club.”
Stunning décor: In this case, everywhere guests looked, there were layers to look at, and beyond. “People often have shorter attention spans these days,” Frizzie says. “This layered effect makes guests pause and immerse themselves.”
For example, Marcus says, guests had assigned dining seats. However, they also enjoyed the option to relax in plush lounges with wicker furniture under a wooden canopy with billowing fabric and hanging lanterns.
Zani loves that each of the cabanas’ draperies was enhanced through palm leaf patterns. “Guests felt they were lounging under the shade of a palm tree,” he says.
Photo Credits: Design + Décor: Kehoe Designs, Tom Kehoe, Mal Marcus | Technical Production: BlackOak Technical Productions, Jonny Zani Plantscapes: Floral Exhibits | Photos: TagPrints Digital | Venue: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
The client’s take: “What do you do if you’re throwing a Summer Celebration of Success party you want all 320 guests to remember for many years?” says Rick Holson, CEO of Guarantee Trust Life Insurance. “Call Tom Kehoe. That’s what we did, and our Summer in The Hampton’s-themed party was magical! From the creative elements to the obsessive attention to detail, Tom delivered a ‘WOW’ for the entire evening. The dramatic entry, cool dance floor, and endless fresh flowers made for a room simply sublime. Thanks, Tom, Mal, and Jon!”
Something ‘Tropulent’ For Everyone
When the Kehoe Designs team designs weddings and events that smolder with tropical opulence, they ensure that every guest leaves wowed. “We produce events, so they have something for everyone,” Frizzie says. “One person might love the tropical flowers, and another might love the wood columns or special chandeliers.”
Also, the Kehoe Designs team stays true to creating an immersive experience: “Each element within the theme, including the color story, the floral design, the lighting, and the décor brings it all together for the guests,” Frizzie says.
Ultimately, Frizzie says, the 2020 Tropical Opulence trend is about designing high-end events where guests feel comfortable. “People often tell us they don’t ever want to leave these events,” Frizzie says. “That’s how I know we’re doing something right.”