Austin, Texas-based event designer Cassie LaMere specializes in story-making. She doesn’t just plan events, but considers—and delivers—the details that make experiences unforgettable.
For a glamping experience during the Round Top Antiques Fair, LaMere established the aesthetic of the camp through art installations, curated furnishings, and thoughtful details that showcased local makers, as well as captured the overall spirit of both the antiques fair and “Camp Round Top”—the thrill of the hunt and a sense of discovery. Each day had a signature theme, played out in everything from customized gifts and table settings to the evening’s dress code and menu. Read more about LaMere’s design of the Camp Round Top event.
LaMere breaks down the elements for creating a distinctive and indelible event.
Push the envelope. Invitations are the first glimpse into the experience that awaits. Pique guests’ curiosity without revealing every last detail—always leave them wanting more. I love to go beyond paper and incorporate unconventional materials and tactile elements such as metal, fabric, acrylic, and recycled wood. Place cards and menu cards matter too. For the Villa Oasis dinner, we created tasseled fan decks that looked like tiles and could be spread to reveal each course, but something as relatively simple as hand-calligraphing names on leaves also makes a statement. One of my “secret” sources? The “dollar spot” at Target! There are always finds to be had that, with a little ingenuity, can be repurposed into custom details.
Crack the (dress) code. We all inevitably fret about what to wear and struggle to decipher vague references such as “creative casual.” If you’re hoping friends will dress in caftans or tunics for your Moroccan dinner, let them know. I’ve even emailed mood boards ahead of time to spark ideas and encourage guests’ enthusiasm and participation. And remember, theme doesn’t have to mean costume party. A type of fabric, particular color, or category of attire can be a theme.
Get into the spirit(s). Once guests arrive, they tend to beeline for the bar, and a witty beverage menu makes a festive first impression. A signature drink, whether spiked or zero-proof, also infuses a hostess’s personality into the event—we’ve had clients name them after beloved pets, a favorite destination, and even a popular song. For the Field Dinner at Camp Round Top, we served a margarita made with lavender simple syrup that spoke to the story we were telling that evening.
Think beyond the traditional centerpiece. Diana Vreeland always said the eye has to travel. I want guests to move throughout the table design and continuously find different surprises and details tucked in to serve as a topic of conversation and bring a sense of discovery. For the Camp Round Top Tapas and Tacos welcome dinner, floral designer Antonio Bond incorporated relics and antique trinkets into the tablescape, a nod to the treasures guests would be hunting for during the antiques show. I also like to incorporate edible elements into centerpieces, as we did with fruit at the Villa Oasis evening. Trust me, people always have fun when there’s an open invitation to play with their food!
Whet their appetites. We eat with our eyes first, so presentation is everything. Whether you’re the one doing the cooking or leaving it to others, incorporate at least one wow moment, even if it’s as simple as serving a heaping platter of fried chicken from KFC on your grandmother’s Old Paris porcelain platter. For the Villa Oasis dinner, we commissioned copper tangines from a Moroccan artisan to serve spiced lamb shoulder with harissa and vegetables. As the servers whipped off the lids in choreographed synchronicity, it was akin to a performance and the guests erupted in applause!
Send them home with more than memories. It needn’t be extravagant, but a memento of the evening extends your gracious hospitality well after the party’s over. Each night at Camp Round Top, we left a small gift in guests’ tents with an itinerary for the following day— for example, leather journals to record their notes from the field and silk eye masks welcoming them to relax into their wildest dreams. Don’t sleep on an opportunity to make one final impression. We’ve bid guests good night with bouquets of flowers to brighten their own homes or fresh-baked pastries to savor over breakfast while sharing favorite moments from the night before.
“Cassie LaMere is the kind of event designer who starts out with the seed of an idea and then makes the entire garden bloom like magic.”—Camp Round Top event hostess
By Karen Carroll | Photography by Dagnushka