Some of Toronto’s top event planners reveal their design predictions for 2018

If you’re planning a major event in 2018—be it a wedding, a corporate gathering or some other kind of social get-together—there’s a good chance that you’ve already started thinking about design, catering and logistical considerations for your function. Being on-trend is surely top of mind.

We don’t blame you for wanting to plan and stage a fashionable party. Recently on the event design front, we’ve seen the rise in popularity of all things distressed—from fabrics to barn board—used to add texture and distinctive style to everything from wedding high tables to serving stations. At the same time, the re-emergence of formality remains on pause (if it ever fully comes into vogue again) as planners and their clients continue to embrace casual elegance and the hipster-friendly shabby chic look that’s come to dominate our industry’s aesthetic over the past few years.

While the coming year won’t see a complete departure from some of the popular event design directions of 2017, we are seeing new trends emerge. To pinpoint exactly what we should expect to see in 2018, we polled some of Toronto’s top event planners and designers—not to mention Kiss the Cook Catering’s own Fia Pagnello—to narrow down our list of top design trends.

Without further adieu, here’s a sneak peek of how your events will take shape in the year ahead:


Innovative textures are here to stay-Rebecca Chan, Rebecca Chan Weddings and Events

Wedding planner Rebecca Chan predicts a continued growth in popularity of fun textural elements to add a unique look and feel to events, especially those that reflect the host’s personal tastes. She’s already seeing everything from balloons to interesting place-settings used to define spaces and enliven tabletops. She thinks we’ll see this trend really take hold in 2018.


On that note, Chan predicts that mixed metallics and marble will remain quite popular as textural elements, along with the use of interesting accents such as fresh fruit and flowers to add flare to otherwise staid pieces. Case in point: in the photo below we can see how Chan used lemons and limes to accent this wedding’s welcome table seating chart.

Rebecca Chan

“Vinyl floral graphics are also being used in unique and exciting ways,” she adds, noting how a detailed graphic was able to add flare to a stark, minimalist space in the photo below.

Vinyl floral graphics

Chan points to our southern neighbours as the source of some of these design trends. “There are a number of amazing event designers from the U.S. who do really innovative work, and I know I draw inspiration from their events,” she says, adding that clients are also looking to social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, then incorporating those ideas into their own design visions.

Photography by: Wedding Editorials; A Brit & A Blonde; Lindsie Grey


Hosts are ready to experiment with design-Roxy Zapala, Event Designer, Art of Celebrations

Zapala predicts that clients will continue to be a bit more daring in their design requests. “People are stepping away from really traditional designs and trying to do something whimsical and different. We’re definitely seeing people trying to brand or theme events, but mainly social ones—weddings still tend to be more traditional,” she points out.

Floral events

Zapala has also seen a growing willingness to experiment with everything from floor plans to table arrangements, with some clients even asking for lounge seating or drink stations placed strategically among formal dining tables. And innovative designs are extending from tabletop to ceiling. “That could be the use of a u-shaped dinner table or a creative chandelier suspended from above,” she says.

Table arrangement

The trend to try new things doesn’t end there. Zapala notes that people are experimenting more than ever with signature drinks for their events—including weddings and company functions—incorporating everything from food garnishes in their drinks to a blend of exotic cuisines in their menus.

“Having access to all the different food shows and networks, and showing that food doesn’t have to be boring, can be really exciting and elevate the experience of an event, which is something that really influences us,” Zapala says.

“People are asking for ethnic foods, for example, but not necessarily traditional. They want a more fusion approach. I think that comes from here in Toronto, where we have all kinds of different cultures and restaurants at our fingertips.”

Photography by: Mango Studios; MPS


Interactivity and colour brighten events in 2018–Lynzie Kent, founder, Love by Lynzie

“The most important thing for an event to be a success is creating opportunities for interaction,” Kent notes. “Taking holiday work parties as an example, a lot are stuffy because people don’t often let loose with one another and are afraid to open up. I personally think a design is successful when people are interacting with one another and the design/decor sets the mood for an excellent party.”

Wedding booth

Kent says that the trend is now towards taking guests out of their comfort zones and giving them a unique experience. For several Love By Lynzie events, Kent’s included everything from ironic and humorous photo booth backdrops (see above) and vintage ambient lighting installations, to line dancing and mechanical bulls in her event plans. “Some of this is aesthetically driven, and some is action driven, but all of these elements lend themselves to memorable evenings, and that’s what will set your party apart.”


For the coming year she predicts that colour will make its triumphant return to weddings (see above and below), while she predicts that couples will be more adventurous when choosing their colour schemes—the design for which will be professionally curated. “Weddings are a thing you need a designer for these days. Couples want carefully-crafted events that reflect their love story and guests are expecting unique experiences, surrounded by eye-candy.”


Photography by: Love By Lynzie


The casual vibe is de rigeur–Ashley Pigott, Ashley Pigott Events 

Pigott predicts the continued popularity of the organic, laid-back vibe that’s come to define the majority of her events in recent years. “People want a more casual, relaxed feeling for their events, even when throwing a black-tie, 300-person wedding,” she says. “It’s going to be a long time before we get back to very formal elements like formal centrepieces.”

Sticking with the casual-event theme, Pigott says we should expect to see fewer plated dinners, more family-style dinner services and even fewer plated desserts at events. She says the trend is towards getting guests up and dancing and interacting after a big meal. Rather than sitting through a two-hour, multi-course meal, she says clients will continue to ask for more food stations and food trucks to allow their guests to mingle and nibble throughout an event.

And many people are also opting to stage their functions in less formal spaces–sometimes not even in a permanent building. “People want a lot of tent weddings,” she says as an example of the trend towards casual, outdoor gatherings. “I have more tent weddings booked next year than venue weddings.”

Backyard wedding

Last prediction from Pigott: she sees clients opening their pocket books more than in past years as they put a greater emphasis on experience and aesthetics over frugal cost management. “I’ve found that people are spending more on the look and feel of their events,” she explains. “On the corporate side, after the recession it was about optics and not over-spending, but we’re finally seeing that trend turn around.”

Photography by: Kiss the Cook Catering


The experience is everything—Fia Pagnello, founder, Kiss the Cook Catering

“The idea of staging interactive events is nothing new,” explains Pagnello, “but we can expect to see a lot more experiential features in 2018.” The main area we’ll see the infusion of highly engaging elements is on the catering side, she explains, and that will play out with the introduction of increasingly creative food stations.


“Whether it’s making fresh pulled noodles right before guests’ eyes, whipping together fusion-inspired soups in our popular ‘slurp’ stations, cooking up a Texas-worthy barbecue, offering a custom poutine station or preparing a deliciously creamy parmesan-laden pasta out of a giant cheese wheel, event hosts and their guests want to be blown away when they go to a function.”

BBQ Grill

Parmesan food station

Pagnello continues: “As the other designers have noted, the experiential aspect will extend out to things like photo booths or, yes, even mechanical bulls (I love the idea, Lynzie!), but it’s food that tends to define an event. We can expect to see even more creativity inspired by different cuisines and culinary styles from around the world in the months ahead.”

One last thing. Here at Kiss the Cook Catering, we’re seeing an additional trend take hold–the merging of catering and event design. In our case, we’re working with our event design partners to take full-service catering a step further to incorporate event design as a means to create awe-inspiring events.

“We’ve created our own design team to ensure that food and event design come together in a way that makes Kiss the Cook events truly unforgettable!”

That brings us to some very exciting news. In the New Year we’ll be launching a signature line of food stations that will incorporate branded event design and the excitement of experiential food preparation in one amazing package! Kiss the Cook is a Toronto food-scene pioneer in taking an integrated approach to catering, focusing as much on visual experience as the taste of our signature dishes.

The idea to bring the very best of catering and design to our clients came from the custom presentation pieces that we began designing and building in-house several years ago. Most notable are our reclaimed barn board chafing dishes that received an immediate positive response  from our clients, not to mention other catering companies who began calling us to rent the pieces! We’ve since worked to build our own custom collection of service stations to ensure that all of our events are one of a kind.

Chafing Dish

We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store as we continue to merge event design and catering to create a visual-culinary experience like no other in the city. Be on the lookout for more announcements in the New Year.

Planning an event in 2018? Contact us now

Photography by: Kiss the Cook Catering