Professional Development CoursesWedding & Event Design | Washington, DC


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Producing an aesthetically pleasing event that truly impresses seen-it-all attendees can be a daunting task. Adding to the pressure, today’s event designers are expected to incorporate food and beverage, technology, and branding and find innovative ways to play with color, create unique focal points, use lighting to make a space feel more intimate, and select florals that don’t max out the budget. Do you have the creative edge? Or, at a minimum, can you intelligently “talk the talk” with creative vendors in order to convey your vision?

Course Structure

Hybrid courses blend the best elements of online and in person learning. Prior to class each week, you'll view the lesson video modules online in our private learning management system. Then you'll meet in person each week where your instructor will lead the group in applying the concepts learned online, through interactive discussions, group exercises, case studies, guest speakers, field trips and other interactive elements.


This 8-week hybrid course blends online lectures and weekly in-person meetings. Class will meet Tuesdays from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

Case Studies of Major Events

When you meet in person your instructor will lead the group in discussing key concepts learned online through case studies of hhigh-profile events.

Guest Speakers

As part of the in-person experience, you'll meet several promient guest speakers from the industry who will share their insights, explain how they produced major events, answer questions, and provide job tips.

Behind the Scenes Field Trips

During the course your instructor will lead the group on behind-the-scenes field trips to major venues, caterers, production companies, designers, live events, and others. You'll meet leaders on site who'll explain what their companies do, how they do it, and share best practices.


Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the key principles of modern event design, and how to create a design concept that achieves the clients goals, meets their budget, and can be executed in the venue with the time allotted.
  2. Learn how to implement a wide range of elements into your design concept, including flowers, furniture, lighting, branded accents, entertainment, technology and others.
  3. Identify opportunities for creating custom fabrication pieces that can be unique focal points for guests, which helps to set yourself apart from others.
  4. Learn how to evaluate a venue's challenges and assets to be incorporated into a design concept, and how to insure you can execute your vision within the time and space available.


  1. Big Picture Concepts
    1. Defining event design
    2. Taking a holistic design approach
    3. Functional vs. aesthetic design
    4. Key pillars of design success
  2. Creativity & Inspiration
    1. Sources of inspiration
    2. Overcoming 'designer's block'
    3. Finding your personal voice
    4. Identifying the right clients for your style
  3. Designer's Toolbox
    1. Hard, soft and live goods
    2. Lighting
    3. Graphics, patterns and textures
    4. Experience, entertainment and gifting
    5. Colors
    6. Resource directory
  4. Designing with Color
    1. Complementary colors & the color wheel
    2. Primary, secondary & tertiary colors
    3. Pairings and palettes
    4. Perception of color
    5. Communicating about color
    6. Using the Pantone Matching System (PMS)
  5. Flowers, Trees & Foliage
    1. Types of common flowers utilized, pros and cons
    2. Seasonality and other logistics
    3. Vases, urns and container options
    4. Working with plants & trees for aesthetic and functional use
  6. Centerpieces, Tabletop & Candles
    1. Linen options
    2. Chair options
    3. The tabletop real estate battle: decor vs. food service
    4. Working with mirrors & other reflective surfaces
    5. Candles: natural & artificial
    6. Fire code issues with open flame
  7. Furniture & Fabrics
    1. Designing a seating enclave
    2. Feng Shui tips for furniture placement
    3. Working with light up pieces
  8. Focal Points
    1. Entrances
    2. Stages
    3. Check-in & escort card table
    4. Product displays
    5. Bars and buffets
    6. Ceremony locations
  9. Walls, Backdrops & Flooring
    1. Function uses: hiding areas, dividing a room, shrinking a space
    2. Aesthetic uses: highlighting key areas
    3. Pipe and drape
    4. Sculpted walls
    5. Stage backdrops
    6. Custom or branded flooring and carpeting
  10. Branding Overview & Corporate Events
    1. Gobos & projections
    2. Wait staff, coasters, napkins and other catering accents
    3. Coffee table books, pillows, framed photos & other furniture accents
    4. Social event branding
  11. Lighting
    1. The importance of lighting your decor
    2. Functional vs. aesthetic lighting
    3. Evaluating and utilizing natural light
    4. Renting chandeliers, lamps and other fixtures
    5. Tips for working with office lighting
    6. Up-lighting, washes, pin spotting and other techniques
    7. Working with LEDs
  12. Rigging, Installation, & Venue Logistics
    1. Rigging basics
    2. Out of the box rigging solutions
    3. Avoiding any venue-related surprises on event day
    4. Hiding wires, jacks, and other evidence of the design 'underbelly'
    5. Evaluating load-in & set up time requirements
    6. Evaluating load-in space restrictions
    7. Factoring in local fire code regulations
  13. Technology & Special Effects
    1. Projection mapping
    2. Integrating photo booths
    3. Integrating entertainment
    4. Balloon drops, confetti canons, and other dramatic elements
  14. Floor-planning & Room Layout
    1. Importance of a scaled floor-plan
    2. Items often not accounted for
    3. Demo on creating a 3D rendering
  15. Choosing an event space
    1. What challenges does the venue present
    2. What assets should be highlighted
    3. Functional considerations
    4. Rigging points, outlets, loading dock & freight elevator
    5. Verifying the venue's measurements
    6. Tents
    7. From design to production
  16. Working With Your Vendors
    1. Where to source your supplies
    2. How to choose and test out a new vendor
    3. How to insure your vendors meet your standards
    4. Negotiating, payment schedule, and insurance
  17. Client Connections
    1. Questions to ask
    2. Getting them to define success
    3. Understanding what "modern" or "classical" means to them
    4. Listening visually
    5. Getting a proper attendee profile
  18. Design and Communication Process
  19. Budgeting and Pricing
    1. Selling your vision
    2. How many concepts to present
    3. Inspiration boards & Pinterest
    4. Pricing our your designs

Free Course Preview

Course Details

  • Start Date:February 21
  • Duration:8 Weeks
  • Location:To Be Announced
  • Tuition:$895 until February 1 | $995 Thereafter | Installment plans available.
  • CMP Clock Hours:20.00

About the Instructor

Laura Ritchie

Principal Designer

Grit & Grace Inc

Laura Ritchie is the principal designer of Grit & Grace, an event design and planning firm based in Washington... find out more

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the course work?
Participants will gather for a 2.5 hour lecture each week where they will cover materials outlined in the syllabus. Lessons may be supplemented with additional resources, site-visits, guest lectures from event industry experts, case studies, etc. Short quizzes and assignments may be given to help reinforce learning outcomes though only the final exam will be graded.

Will I earn a credential?

Students who complete this course and pass a final exam will earn a Digital Credential in Wedding & Event Design.  Learn more about our Digital Credentials.

Tell me about your learning guarantee?

The Event Leadership Institute stands behind all of its content. If you feel you didn't learn what you expected to in this course, just let us know within 30 days of the final lesson and we'll give you a full refund.


"This was one of the best online learning courses I have taken. The material was fresh and spot on. She was very engaged, and I almost felt like she was sitting in my office talking to me. She responded to students' questions thoroughly and timely. Awesome job!"  Denise Kelly | All RelEvents | Germantown, MD

"Thank you Lindsay! You are amazing! I can immediately implement what I have learned in this course on projects I am working on as a freelancer, while starting my own business." Jaritza Correa | NOW | Aruba

"Amazing course! Lindsay was a perfect instructor. Her lectures were spot on and lively. She answered all questions! She touched on so many things, and this course had so much info, it could have been a full year course!." Allison Terzyk | Allison Terzyk Events | Philadelphia, PA

"A credential from the Event Leadership Institute carries a lot of weight with us. Given the quality and depth of their content, we know they train people for the rigorous demands of our industry, and come to work ready to hit the ground running."  Adam Sloyer | Managing Director, Sequence Events

"When evaluating new candidates for full time or freelance staff, one of the first things we take into consideration is the person's legitimate, industry-specific education.  A credential from E.L.I. tells us they are on the right track." Rob Hulsmeyer | Partner, Empire Force Events.




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