You may have caught a glimpse of Jung Lee's breathtaking work in our slideshow featuring her most memorable tablescapes. Since launching her event-production company Fête in 2002, Jung has starred on her own television show Wedded to Perfection and authored Fête: The Wedding Experience, which focuses on a modern approach to tackling events and includes stunning imagery from her portfolio of weddings.
We caught back up with the event planning guru to learn a few tricks of the trade. Keep reading to find out Jung's top five party must haves, affordable yet stunning centerpiece ideas, and more!
CS: What are your top five must haves for creating an unforgettable atmosphere?
JL: Unforgettable atmospheres are created by every element and detail in a space. Here are my top five "must haves" in a room.
- Strong floor plan — I always start with a site plan for the entire event and a floor plan for each room. A great floor plan considers how guests will use the space and the size of the space in relation to the number of guests. It is also crucial to think about the spacing between each item so it feels intimate but not crowded.
- A Focal Point — Great rooms are anchored by an element that is a focal point of the room. It can be an incredible bar, wall graphic, chandelier, or any other item, but it should stand out and make a statement.
- Lighting is such a key factor in creating atmosphere. You feel lighting but you don't see it as much as other design elements. I like to light details in a room while keeping the overall room level low. I find most event lighting is too bright.
- Music — Music drives the mood and provokes emotion.
- Food and Drink — People think about these as "catering," but everything you see is design. How waiters are dressed, drink and food presentation, the bar are essential elements.
CS: Do you have any tips for achieving a chic tablescape on a tight budget?
JL: A simple way is to mix lots of glass items (glasses, vases, candlesticks, etc. . . . ) with lots of candlelight — in particular, votives and tapered candles. When house lights are off, the flames reflecting off the glass feel sophisticated and chic without spending much. For florals, instead of a large expensive arrangement, put any single bloom in a bud vase or even a drinking glass. My favorites are lilies, roses, and peonies when in season.
CS: I noticed that many of your tablescapes use rectangular instead of circular tables. What are the advantages to using a rectangular shape? Any tips you can share that are specific to working with this shape?
JL: Dinner conversations are enhanced when guests are closer to each other. Rectangular tables of 42 inches wide or less draw people closer together and allow five to six people to share in the same conversation. At events, round tables tend to start at 60 inches diameter, which means that people are stuck speaking to the person to their left or right.
I also feel that designing on a longer rectangular table allows you to create a "tablescape," for which I can create interesting design up and down the table. I find it more interesting than relying on a centerpiece to fill the center of a round table.
CS: How does the venue play a role in the design of your tablescapes?
JL: Taking a step back, the desired design style should be a consideration in selecting an appropriate venue. This way the venue and design are aligned to achieve a common vision. In cases where they don't, it's my job to bring them together. However certain venue attributes can affect tabletop design. For one, very high ceilings tend to call for some height on the table. If not, the decor can feel lost.
Photos courtesy of: Jeremy Saladyga of Gruber Photographery, Brian Dorsey, Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studios, and Charlotte Jenks Lewis