Reception Style: Center Staged

Seattle event pros produce three thoughtful celebrations against the industrial-chic backdrop of Within Sodo

-Photographs by Dennis Wise-


1) Rustic Wonder

Living in a region surrounded by evergreen forests and lush woodlands has any number of perks, not the least of which is the convenient and endless source of inspiration for many a wedding celebration. “I’ve loved the mountains for as long as I can remember,” says event designer Rachel Roth of Butter and Bloom, “and I wanted to create this outdoor-meets-urban setting to play off that woodland theme, but upscale and formal.”

To do so, Roth placed an emerald green palette against the venue’s rich wooden walls and added rustic accents like an overhanging driftwood installation, a fern-and-evergreen table runner, sleek gold chairs, and glowing striped candles. Savory peppercorn and goat cheese macarons greet guests as they find their seats in front of unfussy place settings of gold-rimmed plates and glassware. While the layout carries an all-season wow factor, Roth envisions it as a fall affair with cedar scents to conjure warm memories of camping, holiday festivities, and general times of togetherness.

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Forest Flowers
Using her own green thumb, Roth crafted bountiful bouquets and centerpieces from coveted Juliet garden roses, purple scabiosa, white lisianthus, Eden Romantica spray roses, blue tweedia blossoms, delicate Queen Anne’s lace, and soft snowberries. The blooms are framed by deer fern and cedar leaves, which she also gathered to drape on the crossbacks of the happy couple’s seats. “Greens are one of my favorite parts of floral design,” Roth reflects. “There are so many types and textures to choose from.”

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In the Details
Rosie Powell at Songbird Paperie prepped guests for the rustic-modern fete with charming invitations printed in a camp-inspired design. We especially love the envelope patterned to resemble tree bark and emblazoned with Powell’s own lovely calligraphy. For dessert, Roth kept the dense carrot cake simple, frosting it with a raised layer of whipped cream-cheese buttercream before painting on a pale blue highlight and circling the three tiers with a cascading floral feature.

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Twigs and Honey
Personalize jars of locally made raw honey by wrapping them with stamped fabric and a ribbon in your color palette (priced to order, San Juan Sea Salt). Bonus gift: Send guests home with a box of Douglas fir seeds so they can literally watch your love grow (priced to order, Tree in a Box).


Well Wishes
Spread personalized field notes around dining tables for guests to sign with their best married advice.

Event Design, Flowers, Cake, Candlestick, Table Numbers: Butter and Bloom
Planning Assistant: It’s All in the Details
Printed Matter, Notebooks: Songbird Paperie
Macarons: Lady Yum
Table Linens: La Tavola Linen
Chairs, Dinnerware, Flatware: ABC Special Event Rentals by Cort
Glassware, Tables: Vintage Ambiance
Favors: San Juan Sea Salt, Tree in a Box



2) Soft Edges

“I always encourage my clients to first consider the venue and environment before they get too attached to a specific look or style,” advises McKenzie Powell of McKenzie Powell Floral and Event Design. “The entire design comes together much easier if you’re not fighting the existing aesthetic.” Case in point: Powell set up in Within Sodo‘s brick-walled, industrial-style back room (think concrete floors, exposed ducts, and the like) and aimed to soften—but also complement—the hard materials with flowing silks and luxurious velvets.

Simple dinnerware sits on rattan chargers for approachability and warmth, and rose gold flatware pulls the place settings together with added sophistication. Clear candle pillars, table numbers, and minimalist flower vases anchor the mild/modern ambience. And speaking of setting the mood, Powell paired the flickering candlelight with overhead cafe lights wound with organic vines to enhance the romantic atmosphere and tone down the jet-black strands. The result is a stylish soiree prepped for an elegant supper and successive night of revelry.

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Color Story
Inspired by the rough, cool tones of the room, Powell chose a palette of dark evergreen underscored by light blues and soft lavenders for a fresh, youthful look. “When I work with pastels, I like to mix in a touch of something dramatic to keep it interesting,” she says. The deep greens emerge in the candles, velvet ribbons, printed materials, and clematis leaves, vibrant against the powdery table linens and periwinkle-hued blossoms placed throughout the scene.

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All In Favor
Send all your guests (not just the lucky attendee who snagged the bouquet) home with an actual piece of your wedding. Powell wrapped the same textured taper candles from the table setting in pale silk ribbon and worked with her calligrapher to create custom thank-you tags. Other decor-to-favor ideas include take-home mason jars, handkerchiefs in the style of your linens, and place-card holders that double as favor boxes.


Post Secret
Ambience starts with the envelope. Bedeck invites with vintage stamps as a practical throwback.

Event Design, Table Linens, Dinnerware, Place Settings, Flowers: McKenzie Powell Floral and Event Design
Printed Matter, Table Numbers: La Happy
Chairs: AA Party Rentals
Cake: New Renaissance Cakes



3) Be Jeweled

Allie DeLong of Sweetly Hosted Event and Floral Design imagined her royal-hue reception as the combined vision of a boho bride and her modern-minded groom. “I wanted it to feel like a lively, extravagant party,” she says. The free-spirited side comes out in unbridled centerpieces that use pops of magenta baronesse garden roses alongside purple waxflowers, alstroemeria, and wild agonis leaves for a bouquet bursting with color and texture. On the more buttoned-up end, tailored elements include antiqued gold accents and regal tufted chairs, framed by Italian ruscus wreaths.

DeLong worked with Tracy Amos of Classic Vintage Rentals out of Camas, Washington, who reupholstered the chairs in royal blue velvet specifically for this setup—not every event rental vendor will go to such lengths, but if you see a settee that’s outside of your color scheme, it doesn’t hurt to ask if modifications or coverings can be arranged. Meeting in the middle, a sequined table runner is tempered by a navy lace overlay, a subtle yet precise representation of this glam-meets-grand gathering.

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Set The Mood
Welcome guests to dinner with thoughtful place settings that tie into your overall reception theme. DeLong selected gold-rimmed plates and gilded flatware from Classic Vintage Rentals to play up the imperial feel. If renting dinnerware separately, estimate about six dollars per guests for a full setting like the one photographed above. You’ll often save by grouping plates, glasses, and utensils into your catering package (when available). Considering a shabby-chic celebration? Assemble an eclectic collection of mismatched settings from thrift stores, or outfit the table with dinnerware borrowed from friends and family.


Blue Suede Sweets
Mimic fashion’s favorite textures in unexpected ways—like covering your cake in a suede-style fondant.

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Talk about a trend: both DeLong and McKenzie Powell (see the previous “Soft Edges” design) brought stunning floral ice cubes to accent their staged receptions. To make the mesmerizing cubes at home, work in layers: fill an ice-cube tray partway with water and freeze. Next add the flowers and more water until about half full, and freeze that layer before topping off that tray a final time. If using the cubes for more than decor (say, to enhance in a floral-infused cocktail), be sure to choose edible flowers not treated with chemicals.

Event Design, Flowers, Favors: Sweetly Hosted Event and Floral Design
Printed Matter: Lovebird Creative
Table Linens: BBJ Linen
Dinnerware, Flatware, Tufted Chairs: Classic Vintage Rentals
Cakes: The Sweet Side
Catering: My Personal Chef
High-back Chair, Vases: Vintage Ambiance