How The Knot Plans a "Wizard of Oz"-Themed Black-Tie Wedding

These epic ideas will leave the Wicked Witch of the West green with envy.
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
by
Hannah Nowack
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Senior Editor, Weddings
  • Hannah writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a focus on real wedding coverage.
  • Hannah has a passion for DE&I and plays an integral role in ensuring The Knot content highlights all voices and all love stories.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Hannah was the Social Media Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Updated Oct 14, 2022

Deciding on your wedding vision is an important wedding planning task, but it can sometimes feel overwhelming without creative inspiration to spark out-of-the-box ideas. Thankfully, there's no better source for the hottest, most on-trend wedding inspiration than The Knot Gala.

For the first time since 2019, the iconic event was back and better than ever at Chelsea Industrial in New York City.

To celebrate the resilience of couples and wedding pros after two tough years, The Knot Gala leaned into themes inspired by the iconic fairytale of The Wizard of Oz as a way of honoring wedding pros' and couples' difficult experiences while ushering in hope for the future of weddings. The event was centered on the idea of celebrating perseverance and resilience through courage, knowledge and love, topics The Wizard of Oz knows a thing or two about.

You're sure to be wondering how to bring the amazing ideas from The Knot Gala to life for your own big day. Below we're taking an in-depth look at the beautiful elements that were on display at Chelsea Industrial so you can use the event as inspiration for your own The Wizard of Oz-themed wedding. Read on to get the very best ideas to incorporate into your own black-tie The Wizard of Oz-inspired wedding.

In this story:

The Wizard of Oz Wedding Theme Ideas

Since this event was the first time The Knot Gala had been hosted since 2019, there was a strong desire to bring to life the experiences that small-business owners and couples went through amid the pandemic. As a conduit to do just that wedding planner Danielle Couick, the founder and creative director of Magnolia Bluebird Design + Events, (the creative genius behind The Gala) honed in on the motifs from The Wizard of Oz as this year's theme.

Couick explains that she "really wanted to capture the essence of what this celebration means to our industry coming out of the pandemic into one of the most challenging years I've ever experienced in almost 20 years. It was important to do this in a way that spoke to each individual guest in a unique way but through a familiar concept. The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz were both catalysts for my obsession with creative imagination, design and color. 'Bluebird' in Magnolia Bluebird, my company name, is derived from the song 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and nods to following your dreams. As a third-generation female entrepreneur in my family, there are a lot of personal undertones throughout. It felt natural to pull from there to create an over-the-top experience filled with whimsy and intention. The journey through the space very much parallels the journey to get to Oz."

Remember, themes work best when you draw out certain details but thread them creatively and modernly through your event. Don't feel like you have to be overly prescriptive or traditional. The reason The Wizard of Oz was so successful as a theme was because of the abstract, modern way in which it was applied for The Knot Gala 2022. There was no Scarecrow-inspired hay or Cowardly Lion-inspired fur in sight, and Toto and a gingham-clad Dorothy, unfortunately, didn't make the guest list, but none of that hindered the event's soaring success. Instead, the book and film's concepts were extracted and then threaded into the black-tie event in a modern way that both nodded to the tale while also sharing some of the hottest wedding trends of the here and now.

To create distinct rooms amid Chelsea Industrial's cavernous space, Swag Decor draped the venue in a variety of luxurious fabrics from red satin and green velvet to metallic sequined silver. Each curated spot in the space celebrated one of the seven micro-themes that more broadly made up The Knot Gala's The Wizard of Oz theme.

The Golden Road

The journey couples and wedding pros are on was portrayed by a recreation of the yellow brick road that leads to The Emerald City. As attendees emerged from the all-black check-in station, a flower-lined yellow brick road.

But, this was no ordinary yellow brick road. The yellow brick road got a glow up and a golden pathway ushered guests into the celebration. While on the gold brick road, guests enjoyed welcome cocktails from Grape Intentions and Pinch Food Design. The space also served as a step-and-repeat photo-op scattered with larger-than-life poppies just like the ones blanketing the flower fields in the film.

The Good

When you think of Glinda of Oz, the good witch, what comes to mind? If you answered cotton candy, twinkle lights and oodles of soft Millennial pink then we're on the same wavelength. A celebration of good took the form of a pretty-in-pink Glinda-inspired space.

An LED bar anchored this corner of the event and guests spun a wheel that decided the fate of their cocktail garnish. Carly Katz-Hackman, chief sales officer for Pinch Food Design, explains how the unique garnish wheel activation came to be, sharing that "I lived all my cotton candy dreams for this one. When the planning team started talking about tornados, my immediate thought was to have cotton candy plucked off of faux twisters and plopped into cocktails. From there, the idea evolved to become what everyone saw as our Pink Spin the Bottle bar."

Courage

We celebrated The Cowardly Lion's quest for courage with a greenery-filled topiary-inspired space reminiscent of the forest he wanted to lead. Moss monkeys even hung from the ceiling as a nod to the tale's famous Winged Monkeys. Moody patterned wallpaper added to the ambiance as guests picked up hors d'oeuvres from trays nestled in the trees.

Find all the vendors you need

Discover top-rated pros for any budget, background and style.

Couick explains that the custom details in the Courage space were some of her favorites from the entire event. "If I had to choose one detail that meant the most to me, it was the custom Magpie bird wallpaper from Bombshell Graphics and the coordinating custom linens from Nüage Designs in the Courage forest. My father had a wallpaper hanging business for over twenty years, I grew up loving textiles, patterns and paper. I'm old enough to have seen grass cloth come and go and come back once again! I chose the Magpie due to its intelligence and mischievous nature, but it was also an homage to my father."

Love

The Tin Man has no heart, a fact which we paid homage to through a metallic silver space. The creative team didn't limit themselves to tin, however. They got creative and used a multitude of materials like tinsel garlands to add visual depth and intrigue to the space. The star of the show was a larger-than-life silver stiltwalker that beckoned attendees to the poke station which was tucked behind the curtains of tinsel.

Knowledge

The Scarecrow lacks a brain and is on an ongoing quest for knowledge, as celebrated through an area resembling a cornfield.

Knowledge drew our eyes up, mirroring the endless search for higher education and learning. An illuminated hanging installation of white fabric symbolized the quest for knowledge that blankets everyday life. This space wasn't just compelling to look at, it was also interactive as an artist painted words onto entertainers as part of the installation.

Guests were also encouraged to write words on the walls of the space as a way of sharing and celebrating knowledge and the power of the written word.

The Wicked

While 2022 is the year of the Wedding Boom and celebrations are back in full swing, it's worth noting the trying times that everyone had to wade through in order to make it to where we are now. The Wicked Witch might wish otherwise, but weddings and events are back and here to stay. But to nod to darker times, a corner of the space was filled with dark, moody decor. In this space, guests sipped on sangria served from apothecary-like drink dispensers and nibbled on steak served on matte black dishware garnished with a menacing green aioli.

The Light

A beautiful antidote to wickedness, light is both a theme in The Wizard of Oz as well as the reality of the world of weddings right now. The return of weddings is cause for celebration and light-inspired details were threaded throughout all the elements of the night. Additionally, the feeling of lightness was further personified through the very attendees we brought together for the event—everywhere you turned the joy of simply gathering and celebrating was utterly palpable.

The Invitations

Before inspiring the bar at The Gala, the quote "all in good time" on the invitations first introduced attendees to the theme of The Wizard of Oz. The quote is menacingly given by the Wicked Witch to Dorothy who she calls "my pretty" in the movie. However, in the invitation design, this phrase stood as a reminder of the hope and growth that's taken place in the world of weddings over the last two years. The pandemic meant celebrations were put on hold, but in good time, they've returned bigger and better than ever.

In the design from LePenn Designs, laser-cut envelopes paid homage to the gates of The Emerald City while the words seen in the intricately cut pattern hinted at the whimsical ideas to come. An hourglass belly band held together all the elements and green foil printing added a bit of shine to the suite.

Le'Trice Penn, owner and lead designer of LePenn Designs, shares that she was especially inspired by "all of the various textures, materials, shapes and printing styles coming together as an unforgettable paper experience for everyone. From the laser-cut pocket to the hourglass symbol seen throughout to the shiny foil stamping, beautifully printed acrylic, and velvet material, it was a true work of art. This dynamic invitation piece served not only as a signal for what was to come at The Gala but also as a moment of reflection on all that we have been through the last couple of years.

Penn goes on to share that the folder which held the invitation was one of her favorite parts of the entire suite. "From the moment it landed in the mailbox, you were captured by the mysterious green smoke and black background design. Then you went through the experience of opening the flaps held together by a magnet which formed a very unique shape once opened all the way. The interior of the folder was covered in an unexpected lush black velvet material that was blind stamped with a poppy floral design."

The Venue

The Knot Gala may have taken place at Chelsea Industrial in New York City, but guests were immediately transported to the land of Oz upon arrival.

Chelsea Industrial is known for its modern floor-to-ceiling wall of windows that bring in ample natural light during the day. But to build suspense and create an epic first impression, Bombshell Graphics wrapped the entire exterior of the space in vinyl so passersby on the street didn't know what Emerald City magic lay on the other side.

Ken Hines, the owner of Bombshell Graphics, recalls how impactful it was for guests to be greeted by The Knot logo right when they walked up to the venue. "We always love to be part of an iconic entryway design. For The Gala, we loved that we got to contribute to a major focal point and cover the venue's expansive windows surrounding the building. It was great to be the first thing people saw."

As a way of leaving the world behind, the check-in process at The Gala involved stepping through an all-black, lightless room where they were presented with a thought-provoking abstract video experience. The immersive sensory-depravation activity was the perfect palate cleanser before guests were whisked away into the whimsical wonderland world of Oz for the night.

Greg Moncada of Bad Pedestrian created the space's video experience and shares that "executing a Live VJ set was an incredible opportunity to unleash my creative energy. Everyone is familiar with what a DJ does, so it was an honor to showcase the power and the feeling a live visual performance (VJ) can add to a dance party."

Once inside the space, guests enjoyed discovering the various thematic sections of the party in between dancing, mingling and enjoying tasty food and drink offerings.

The Decor

Let's take a look at our favorite The Wizard of Oz wedding ideas to inspire your wedding decor. Mixed materials were the key to Couick's designs coming to life. From painted botanicals to velvet soft seating and luxe sequined linens, there were different materials and mediums everywhere you looked. Lighting was also integral to the overall experience. LED lights illuminated many of the bars while colored uplights and mixed chandeliers enhanced the vibes of each room. Romantic crystal chandeliers added a sultry feel to the red photo lounge while orange uplights softened the knowledge cornfield and pink uplights brought whimsy to Glinda's rosy space.

Marc Wilson, the creative director of The Style Marc, recalls the flowers his team created helped bring each space to life. "As each room developed, they all took on their own amazing personality. I especially loved the dark 'Wicked' room, it was so sexy." Another area Wilson was particularly fond of was the poppy field entryway. "The moss-covered poppy field with custom oversize handmade flowers was just amazing. We finished off the look by spraying silver glitter on the blooms."

The Catering

Wondering how to bring the Wizard of Oz into your wedding menu? We tapped Pinch Food Design, known for their creative food and fun presentation methods, to cater. Vegan sliders, vegan corn dogs, Cobb salad bites, cookies, eclairs and candy bites were on offer for attendees. Eyeless Reuben bites, stuffed falafel, porcini mushroom profiteroles and fennel-glazed duck were also roaming about on funky vessels and platters for attendees to enjoy.

When it came to imbibing, Grape Intentions and Pinch Food Design collaborated to provide full bars. The main bar for the evening resembled an hourglass as a nod to "all in good time." And the drinks themselves were the best of all time.

The Entertainment

There were no signing Munchkins at The Knot Gala, but guests were aptly entertained nonetheless. Instead of having just one DJ spinning tunes, four DJs came together and, working in pairs, alternated on the turntables throughout the night.

Entertainment isn't just music, and as such, roaming entertainers added to the theatrics of the evening. From aerialists to stiltwalkers, all provided by Jordan Kahn Music Company, there was a sight to behold no matter where you looked. Jordan Kahn, the owner of his eponymous brand, shares how creating truly immersive moments is a major source of inspiration for him and his team. "One of my favorite parts of what we do is designing and producing custom-curated music and immersive performance moments," says Kahn. "Seeing the theme come to life through these kinds of moments is exciting for me."

An all-red immersive photo experience, hosted by Illuminate by Theo Milo, was another part of the evening's entertainment as a nod to Dorothy's red shoes. Attendees reunited with friends they'd not seen for some time and memorialized the moment by snapping a few pics in the ruby slipper-inspired space.

Photographer Theo Milo recalls how fun it was to see everyone "sharing their photos from Illuminate during the event since our team retouches and edits on-site in real-time allowing guests to download, airdrop, text or print within minutes. I love creating immersive photographic opportunities at events. We help the guests to shine, open up, be themselves and allow the host to make a statement—a memorable experience for everyone."

The Vendors

Magnolia Bluebird Design + Events and The Knot worked together to curate an A-list team of pros to take creative, cutting-edge ideas from paper to real life. Couick emphasizes the important role that teamwork and trust played in the collaborative process for The Gala. "I truly trusted the professional creative partners with the vision. While I had an idea of what everything would look like, each partner fully blew me away with their interpretation and execution."

And nothing any of the vendors created was passé or trite—custom graphics and specially constructed installations wowed at every turn. Name Glo even created custom neon signs, with one resembling The Knot's iconic logo, for the event. Co-founder Sas Simon shares that "it is always exciting to add a touch of 'glo' to a space and see how it transforms a room. A lot of our job is creative problem solving, so we tried to figure out a way to configure and mount all the neons so they could be hung and displayed in numerous ways. We love the collaboration process and getting a taste of the cutting-edge ideas that are taking place in event design."

Wedding planner Danielle Couick at The Knot Gala 2022
Photo: Kent Drake Photography
,
Pictured from left to right: Danielle Couick of Magnolia Bluebird Design + Events, Susana Diharce, Sr. Director of Experiential Marketing at The Knot Worldwide

The Knot has a pulse on who's hot in the world of weddings, as evidenced by the team of pros we brought together for The Gala. But moreover, we're committed to investing in the next generation of up-and-coming experts in the space. To that end, WeddingPro's Fellowship for Change members were honored during The Knot Gala. This pro-focused endeavor strives to support small businesses run by historically underrepresented pros. To celebrate the 2021 and 2022class of Fellowship for Change members, three outstanding businesses received awards honoring their work.

The Knot Worldwide CEO Tim Chi with Fellowship for Change Award Winners at The Knot Gala
Photo: Kent Drake Photo
,
Pictured from left to right: Tim Chi, CEO of The Knot Worldwide, Stephanie Brown of House of Maganda, Rachel Held of Confetti & Co., Jennifer Price of Event Shoppe Chicago

Stephanie Brown of House of Maganda, a South Carolina-based custom wedding dress design company, was presented with the Courage Award. Wedding planner Jennifer Price of Event Shoppe Chicago received the Wisdom Award. And for the Heart Award, we recognized Rachel Held of Confetti & Co., a Louisiana-based event planning company.

The Attire

There are so many options when it comes to The Wizard of Oz-themed wedding attire. Sparkly red slippers, deep emerald jewel tones and even eclectic silver 'fits that nod to the beloved Tin Man. And iterations of all of those concepts, and more, were on fashionable display at The Knot Gala 2022. Some attendees tapped into Glinda-worthy tulle numbers and Emerald City-ready green wedding guest-worthy ensembles while others even donned festive wedding dresses.

guests in black-tie dresses at The Knot Gala
Photo: Kent Drake Photography
,
Pictured from left to right: Esé Azénabor-Grembowski, Yasmeen Tadia, Kristen Johnson, Rachel Martino

Vendors:

Host: The Knot | Planning and Design: Magnolia Bluebird Design + Events | Venue: Chelsea Industrial | Production: Design Foundry | Photography: Kent Drake Photography | Floral Design: The Style Marc | Entertainment & After-Party: Jordan Kahn Music Company | Catering: Pinch Food Design | Portrait Lounge: Illuminate by Theo Milo | Invitation Design + Signage: LePenn Designs | Drape + Carpet: Swag Decor | Printing + Vinyl: Bombshell Graphics | Videography: Rivion Wedding Films | VJ + Digital Graphics: Bad Pedestrian | Bar Services: Grape Intentions | In-House AV + Lighting: Luminae Productions | Linens: Nüage Designs | Beauty: Willow House | Beauty: LeJeune Artistry | Beauty: Maybelline New York | | Hotel Block: Refinery Hotel | Furniture Rentals: High Style Rentals | Floral Supplier: FMI Farms | Event Rentals: Party Rental LTD | Lighting Design: Studio RRD | Hashtag Signage: Dogwood Blossom | Neons: NameGlo | Scent Experience: ScentEx | Security: GSS Security | Pre-Party Planning: Rheefined Company | Pre-Party Venue: The McKittrick Hotel

Up Next
  • the knot gala entrance
    This Is How The Knot Throws a Black-Tie Wedding