The Best in West Coast Florida Weddings

The Best in West Coast Florida Weddings

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bayanihan The Beautiful


Photo by Timothy Capp

We at Catering By Robert, have had the pleasure of seeing a versatile, non-profit run facility evolve into one of the Tampa Bay Area's most spell-binding locations for weddings, banquets, and other large celebrations
Built in the 1990's, the Bayanihan Arts Center, is the centerpiece of  the Phillipine Cultural Foundation compound off Racetrack Road in the Westchase area. The surrounding grounds host the annual Philfest, a major source of operating money for the foundation and its preservation of Filipino music, food, and art, on the West Coast of Florida.

The Bayanihan building holds a treasure chest of stunning furnishings from the Phillipines. From intricately carved wood easels and cradenzas to charismatic chandeliers, there is much more to experience visually at the center than just an event. While the main ballroom, with a capacity of up to 600, had dimmer lights and demur scone lighting, it did require some additional features to "dress it up" for a party.

As the "lounge look" gained popularity over the past several years, local event designer, Arlene Tolentino, was inspired to help enhance the beauty of the building with her work. From sweeping ceiling drapes lavished with hanging crystals to a whole system of color changing uplights on wall features, Arlene introduced a whole new concept of  luxury to the Bayanihan Center.

While this initial decor was an upgraded option, the center has since adopted Arlene's artistry as a standard offering at the facility. For clients wanting a complete look for wedding and reception, this was a valuable inclusion.



Photo by Chi Photography


For those wishing indoor wedding celebrations, the BC staff "hides" pre-decorated guest tables behind tall curtains in the corners of the ballroom. The center of the room is lined with chairs for the ceremony facing an elevated platform. During social hour in the lobby and outdoor terrace, the room is transformed into a magical reception space in less than 15 minutes with the assistance of hall and catering staff.

We'd like to share two fashionable events we hosted at the Bayanihan this past season. The first was an annual end of year event for Arbitration Forums, headed by Emily Perez. Theme was Phantom of the Opera. The second was a vintage soiree wedding reception for Tonilee and Matt in March.

A spacious entry provides many options for guests to enjoy the comforts of indoors for social hour or explore
 the Terrrace area with a bit of the outdoors.

Tonilee enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of getting ready in the center's library area with herattendants.
When it came time for pre-ceremony pictures, she was cool, calm, and ready for the celebration to begin.

With hues of red and white uplighting the stage area was set for the couple's indoor celebration. Since the main ballroom was to be turned around for the reception after the ceremony ended, pre-set guest tables were hidden behind curtained corners at the back of the room.

Bradley Dempsey, their event designer from Catering By Robert, designed an exquisite, flowing ceremony area which included our in-house glass cylinders encasing submerged silk orchids and natural rocks with ivory floating candles. The aisle walkway was flanked with cylinders both elevated by Bayanihan columns and those sitting on the floor. Scattered rose petals framed the long aisle runner leading to the ceremony area at the front of the room.

One of the things we love about the Bayanihan Center is their acquisition of new "bling items." 2012 introduced two tall, modern votive towers with infinite possibilities for ceremony backgrounds

Tonilee and Matt choose Arlene's special centerpiece package that included dramatic tall pillar candle holders with an assortment of silk flowers at the base. Coupled with our burgundy votive holders, pocket folded napkins on top of gold charger plates, this table design paralleled the spectacular lighting throughout the room.

An ivory fondant cake from Sweet Tweets Cakery floated upon Arlene's huge glass pedastal surrounded by glowing red candle holders and rose petals.

The center offers many photo opps for for the bride and groom including the lobby's famed baby grand piano.

The mood is the thing. From purplish casts to bright pinks, the mood-swinging uplighting transfers an event from dinner time into an uplifting party atmosphere.

Want some magic for your party? The possibilities are here as The Phantom of the Opera comes alive for our Abitration Forums end of year party. The Phantom character along with all entertainment was provided by DeLite Entertainment.

The client chose a black and white damask palatte for alternating guest tables. They included floor length satiny cloths and black floor length cloths topped with a contrasting black on white design runner. Centerpieces were either 45" tall classic silver candlelabras or varying szes of our glass cylinders lavished with red rose petals.
Event Designer Bradley Dempsey. Runners and damask cloths from Kate Ryan Linens.

Black chair covers (sans sashes) offered a dramatic silhouette effect around each table. This blending enchanced the enchanting feel of the evening's theme. A pop of color was found in red napkins, red votive candle holders, and red silk petals.

Clear glass reflects a rosey assortment of petals and blooms when sunken LED lights are involved. The cylinders are part of our regular inventory of guest table centerpieces available at no extra charge.

Catering By Robert's French theming went beyond decor to include a Parisian Whipped Potato Station under the watchful eye of our eiffel tower centerpiece.

Many kudos to the Bayanihan Arts Center, Arlene Tolentino, Arlene Floral Designer, and our own Bradley Dempsey for 
collectively creating these two events.

Photo Credits:

Chi Photography - Tonilee & Matt
Timothy Capp - Arbitration Forums

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Head Tables That Make a Statement

As we celebrate the spirit the summer, I decided to feature some of our most memorable head and sweetheart tables spanning the last eight years. From colorful to cute and cozy, these settings captured the essence of the guest(s) of honor.

Our Quincenera birthday girl was an avid horse rider. So to pull together her 300-person celebration, we fashioned her head table into the letter "S" for her name and created a wagon-wheel effect with the remaining guest tables decked out in chocolate brown, muted gold, and hints of ruby red. Designer: Kent Billiter

Our design and coordinating staff loves adding the simpliest personalization to head tables. After all these tables ARE supposed to say something about those being celebrated.

Sometimes head tables are planned way in advance, but most often they are finalized AFTER the rest of the room has been completed. Yes, this is stressful, but it is very important to make certain it has continuity with everything else such as lighting, other guest tables, and larger room decor.

Sleek Asian styling influenced this buttercup yellow and royal blue feasting table for 12 bridal party members. Kent added a touch of lime green in orchid heads atop individual Chinese takeout boxes.  Spotlighting can make a big difference in the final look of an important focal table. Last minute additions such as crystals can add sparkle to a well lit table.

Some of our favorite sweetheart tables have simply reflected other personal touches implemented by the bride and groom. Almost all of our head and sweetheart fabrics and accents are in-house fabrics at no extra charge unless there's a specific rental fabric they want coordinated throughout all the entire event.

Ceremony bouquets and candlelight are standard "dress up" items along the fronts of these tables. But it's always fun and "flirty" to add custom features that match theming and color schemes.

So here's our tribute to showing independence from the ordinary for Catering By Robert / Event Concepts . FL head tables.

During our years in doing work at the India Conference Center, we gained a lot of insight into ethnic diversity. The elaborate Hindu weddings that we designed were not just day, but a series of special religious events spanning almost four days. In many cases, we had to transform the same 25,000 sq. ft. space into THREE distinctively different events within a time span of 17 hours. This amazing head table structure was installed by Raining Roses in Orlando. Our creative staff utilized custom-made table cloths and overlays for this traditional head table.

Above started out as a Christian ceremony for an Indian couple. Kent transformed it into a sweetheart table for the main reception as social hour was being held in a separate area. Flowers, whether silk or fresh are very important elements in the Indian culture and most brides and grooms are surrounded by these elements every step of their marriage process for good luck.

One of our most unique head tables was an Ethopian-Hatian setting for six: the bride, groom and their parents. Kent used a textured white cloth created a base for sunset colors of purple, pink, and green. A bamboo runner down the center featured tropical orchids and butterflies. We created a sunset in the background with a yellow directional lamp.

This feasting table at the South Florida Museum combined sunset colors with gold chargers, chocolate brown napkins, mohogany wood folding chairs, and black lanterns. Flowers were at a minimum: hot pink, light pink, and orange Gerber daisy heads along the center. Tactfully combining elements is something our designers do with perfect balance. Design by Kent Billiter. Flowers by Carmen.

Canopies over head tables offer the opportunity for hanging elements such as mirrored beads, crystals, and even butterflies. These can frame the importance of the guests of honor. This was a a six-person engagement party table for the couple and their parents. In Hindu celebrations, these are called Mandaps. Design by Kent Billiter.

Nothing says "special" for a sweetheart table than a collection of containers with vibrant fresh flowers. This couple had various sizes of bridal party bouquet and utilized them in vases along the front and back of their table. A large vase holding loose orchids and lilies corresponded with the melon satin floor length cloth.

The combination of sparkle with texture, with succulent satin was the absolute requirment for this spring 2005 client. This colorful combination of celedon sparke sheer, melot bichon, and terra cotta lamour met a striking contrast with the white attire of the bride AND groom . . .not to mention the white calla lilies with a touch of merlot roses from Carmen's Flowers. Design by Kent Billiter.

Can't decide on a color? Try what this wedding couple did in having light-changing head and sub-head tables. These acrylic table configurations were furnished by Ice Magic in Orlando, along with a Catering By Robert custom designed  bridal party elevation in the center of the reception room. Instead of boring same level seating,
the couple opted for bar height chaivari chairs for their two-person table. As the evening progressed their entire bridal party enclave changed from hot pink to yellow. Custom mirror tile chargers were stenciled with two monogrammed emblems. Carmen provided small stark white arrangements to absorb the color changes. Custom design by Kent Billiter.

When our Tampa Bay Watch client asked us to design a head-table friendly area to allow guests to come up and chat, we incorporated a two-person conversational bench in front. Its placement still allowed the flowing fabrics to be seen from across the dance floor. It was flanked by two parasols and hanging Chinese lanterns. Designed by Susan Stalnaker and Ashley Davis Allred.

Our Sarasota bride and groom with 36 bridal party members, wanted a way for their sweetheart table to stand out among six surrounding sub-head tables. We met the challenge by elevating a six foot table and providing bar stool height chiavari chairs for the couple. The ivory bichon base cloth was lined with fushia and apple green stain runners and small colorful votive holders and vases of corresponding flowers. Design by Susan Stalnaker. Flowers by Carmen.

Our lucky birthday girl was surprised by her family's willingness to include her favorite color of bright pink into a cozy feasting table. For contrast, designer Kent Billiter kept the base cloth white with a shaggy texture. He added a trendy orange wood chargers with fushia napkins with a gold sheen. Along the center were copper toned vases and candle holders surrounded by raspberry Gerber daisies and tropical flora. The guest of honor loved the hot pink chiavari chairs with white pads. Designed by Kent Billiter.


Sometimes in-home celebrations require you utilize the existing furnishings as part of the event decor. This Bali-inspired four person head table was nestled under a large wrought iron chandelier. Kent added in gold chiavari chairs and pops of red to accentuate the various shades of green surrounding the table area. A Kent Billiter design.

The entire color scheme of this home wedding was based on the groom's parents first floor which was completely cleared of all regular furniture. Ashley Allred Davis, their designer, decided to keep the garden printed upolstered dining room chairs for the round sweetheart table.a wide platinum satin fabric was layed with a Nile blue lamour runner and tied by two white hydrangea stems on either side.

A few years back we had our more than our share of chocolate brown colors for weddings. We picked up this set of shabby chic lamps at a local antique store to jazz up this couple's chocolate and lime green sweetheart table motif. Designed by Bradley Dempsey.

The white and black damask design has been popular among our clients for the past 18 months and continues to be a favorite because of its contrasting features. Bradley Desmpsey made this long 10-person head table the center of attention by running damask runners on top and front. Red rose petals and lots of candlelight make this an enduring classic look.

Designer Kent and Event Coordinator Bradley, used the artistic backdrop of the South Florida Museum courtyard to create a compatible feasting table. Tidbits of burgundy in napkins and thin wheat sticks matched the red tile roof sections. Mounds of glassware down the center lined up for "orders" from Hernando DeSoto towering above them nearby.

Christy Stalnaker Monaco and Bradley Dempsey collaborated on a black swirl bridal party feasting table headed by a special seating area for just the bride and groom. Christy kept the feasting table simple with platinum undercloths with the organza black swirl topper, silver chargers, black chair covers, and pops of red in rose pomedors. The centerpiece was a tall silver candlelabra with hanging crystals. 

Brad made certain all eyes were on the bride and groom in their own personal cabana decorated with more vivid wedding colors of lime green with orange, yellow, and more red. Our Chinese screens complimented the black trim and undercloth.

Deep chocolate brown is a natural element found in most outdoor settings. Kent utlized our mahogany Chuppah with latched wood sticks to capture a natural look for a Tiffany blue sweetheart table. Blue tipped hydrangea stems lined the bottoms of the side baskets.

Christy's May client was in love with elegant tropical elements. She did not want any traditional shells or sand as a part of her reception decor. Christy designed this sweetheart table with our large criss-crossed bambook sticks and hand-blown glass fish and embellished with various colors of orchid heads and colorful crystals. 

Many fall wedding clients feel the urge to bring in shades of brown, orange, red, and yellow to their table decor. My client allow me to offer an non-traditional alternative with a leaf-embossed runner down the center of her feasting head table. Instead of orange we used double-sided melon/raspberry napkins. Coppers and browns were highlighted with colored glassware and mosaic candle holders. Carmen fashioned an Autum-inspired arrangement using tropical orchids and Birds of Paradise.  Design by Ashley Allred Davis and Susan Stalnaker.
One of our first events at the St. Pete Beach Community Center was a destination wedding during the festive month of December. Knowing the bride wanted a simple head table that didn't detract from the intercoastal view behind it, I pinned on a few pieces of baby blue sequnced fabric to frame the twight glow of the bay.

Another December wedding celebration at Davis Islands Garden Club was also a baby blue decor. Bradley used one of our lighted white tabletop Christmas trees on a patio table just behind the sweetheart table. He added blue hydrangea in the branches and simply framed the picture window with narrow sheer drapes.

Another fall wedding at the Tampa Garden Center challenged Christy to create a feasting table with five different color elements including eggplant purple, bright red, gold, chocolate brown, and copper. She achieved this with strategic uses of gold chargers and platters as basese for clear containers holding bridal party bouquets. Design by Christy Stalnaker Monaco.

Although this wedding was held the same week as Valentine's Day, our wedding client used only red in her flowers and fresh rose petals. Ashley knew the bride adored polka dots and we bought a piece of black and white fabric on sale at JoAnn's just for her sweetheart table. We use it over and over again for many events. Another one of our commitments to customizing our events.

Another Chuppah creation for fall colors by Bradley. This time he pintucked a large round champagne Shantung cloth drawing the eyes of the guests up to the orange satin swag along the edge of 6 ft. table. A draping of gold and orange satin hung casually above the couple's special nook.

Kent's zebra, lime, and hot pink wedding at the Sorosis Building in Lakeland, surprised everyone with its tastefulness. It all started with the groom's insistence that the reception mimic his and the groomen's zebra ties. Here's the couple's canopied sweetheart table complete with zebra monogram in the center.

There's still many clients who favor tradition in elegant long head tables. Bradley suggested the rental of  Wedgewood blue and gold floor length cloths along with gold napking rings and gold runners. Our gold five-branch candlelabras completed the regal feel of this classic table setting.


Kent Billiter

Carmen Gonzalez

Bradley Dempsey

Christy Stalnaker Monaco

Ashley Allred Davis

Susan J. Stalnaker