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Nature Lovers: San Diego Zoo Safari Park Wedding Inspiration

(Photos by Cate Batchelor Photography)

Tasked with pulling off an installation inspired by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park at our Engaged event this month, Laura Harrelson, co-founder and event director at Back Patio Event Design, somewhat flipped the concept—er, baskets—on its head to bring her wild vision to fruition.

Here, she shares the must-have elements to replicate the look, the most challenging facets of doing it herself, plus what parts she wishes she could bottle up and take home.

What were some of the details you had to incorporate to bring the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to life?
Lush greenery, bright lights and pops of color through terrazzo prints and florals!

The initial inspiration for this vignette came from a geometric, terrazzo inspired coupe glass that we ultimately used on the table. From there we wanted to incorporate a terrazzo print in three focal colors, in partnership with Sweet Paper: marigold, navy and living coral.

We didn’t want to take away from the lushness of the venue’s native plants at ground level because the Kijamii Overlook [at the Safari Park] speaks for itself. Illuminating the uncovered portion of the venue is highly recommended so we brought in the bistro lights, marquee lights, and also lanterns to mimic the Overlook’s permanent lantern fixtures. Sage Sisters accentuated that by hanging greenery from neutral colored baskets, bringing height to the natural lushness of the venue. Finally, pops of warm-colored florals and neutral ferns bring a wild feel to the tabletop.

What was the most challenging part of styling this?
We initially wanted to to create a sweetheart structure with lanterns and the hanging greenery. However, the space where we would place this sweetheart vignette at the venue is so expansive, that after working with Raphael’s Party Rentals, we were able to do an over the top, elevated bistro light installation and build off of that. It allowed us to fill a larger space to match the openness of the Kijamii Overlook.

What’s your favorite vignette from this installation?
If we had to take home one piece of it, it would be the tabletop design. The contrast of color in the wild florals, the cooling navy linens, warm copper flatware, asymmetrical lines of the glassware, menu, and escort card mixed with the modern script was certainly our favorite part! All of it combined truly spoke to our design theme from the beginning: modern and mature, wild love!

Coordination: Back Patio Event Design
Florals: Sage Sisters
Marquee: My Marquee SD
Paper: Sweet Paper
Rentals: Raphael’s Party Rentals
Venue: Carmel Mountain Ranch Estate

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