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  • Writer's pictureJoyful Designs Studio

New York Botanical Gardens' Annual Orchid Dinner (2023)

Our firm had the privilege of creating a tablescape for the annual social and festive affair that is the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Dinner once more this past week.

This is our second year in attendance and we were personally invited back again last February by Fallon Sullivan, the Associate Director of Special Events and Projects at the NYBG and the event's Design Chair, Steele Marcoux, who is the editor of Veranda Magazine.

And while there were 20 of us last year-Floral and Interior Designers - creating fantastical tablescapes and settings at the Plaza Hotel, there were a total of 40 venerable floral event and interior design firms from across the U.S. this year.

The event was covered by Vogue Magazine, The Daily Front Row, Martha Stewart, and Women's Wear Daily, among other news outlets.

Our theme this year was Spring time in the African Diaspora. We chose a traditional African wax fabric and had a custom tablecloth made by our local workroom in Chicago.

Chicago Interior Designer Joy Williams in African wax fabric leopard print skirt standing by rare orchids.
Chicago Interior Designer Joy Williams

But first, let's talk about the Fashuuunnn! The Creative Director and Principal Designer of Joyful Designs®️Studio, Joy Williams, wore a black mock neck half sleeve turtle neck with a full skirted leopard print African wax fabric in black and marigold.

Other fashion standouts were Christopher Griffin, aka the Plantkween, who wore an instantly recognizable full skirted number from Christopher John Rogers. As well as the truly delightful Canaan Marshall, aka the Flower Whisperer, from Season 2 of HBOMax's hit show showcasing floral artistry - Full Bloom. We also caught up with our friend Fallon Sullivan of NYBG and Byron Cordero of Cordero Consulting.

This year's dinner was the largest in it's 20-year history with over 400 notable guests and the event raised over $800K to support the Garden's programs.

Ballroom with Orchid Centerpieces in The Plaza Hotel
The Plaza Hotel NYC Orchid Dinner

The Plaza's grand ballroom shined beautifully as always amongst the fantastical orchid arrangements.

We collaborated with Mahir Floral and Event Designs for our centerpiece which was a mixture of baby blue phalaenopsis orchids flown in from Holland and locally sourced dendrobium orchids dyed a deeper blue by Mahir Floral. Both were situated on a bed of purple and blue hydrangeas for volume.

African wax fabric tablecloth and setting from Joy Williams
African wax fabric tablecloth and setting from Joy Williams

We added blue and white delftware along with some green reeded candles to accent our African wax fabric tablecloth.

Orchid Centerpiece from Joyful Designs Studio and Mahir Floral
Orchid Centerpiece from Joyful Designs Studio and Mahir Floral

We wanted our orchids to have a delicate touch this year and bring a bit more focus on our custom tablecloth to usher in our Spring theme.


Joy placing items on table

Joy and her BFF love visiting New York for the Orchid Dinner and tend to make an event of the city itself. This year was no exception.

Joy and her BFF

Last year, they even had their photos taken with Martha Stewart (unfortunately she wasn't able to attend this year's event).

While last year's theme had a purple arc, this year's theme eagerly anticipated Spring.

Tablescape Orchid Dinner 2023

Joy and Orchid Centerpiece 2023

We loved our table's contrasting colors of vibrant greens and pastel blues.

Joy and full tablescape for Orchid Dinner

Overall the night was a huge fundraising success for the New York Botanical Garden. The Orchid Dinner is a fabulous way to kick off the season of giving for the Garden and it sets the New York social calendar in motion at the beginning of the year. The dinner also complements the show of the season -The Orchid Show. This year's Orchid Show is its 20th and was designed by acclaimed designer Lily Kwong. It runs through April 23, 2023.

Thank you to all of the wonderful collaborators and craftspeople who helped make our table so beautiful this year. And a special thank you to Cordero Consulting and MB Public Relations. We couldn't have had such successful showings without you. We would also like to thank our personal photographer Andrew Grant and our MUA Tiffany Garlick. We were lucky enough to work with them two years running.

Joy at NYBG podium for Orchid Dinner 2023

Thank you again Fallon, Steele, NYBG and Veranda for another wonderful year!


Joyfully Designed is a blog written and produced by Joyful Designs®️Studio. All rights reserved.

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