Beyond Tabletop: Imagine If

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ms. Bonnie Swanson, the founder of Designs by Imagine If (center), and her vast array of staged events.

When planning an event, you want someone whose excitement is infectious and work ethic holds up to the highest standards. When you're in Midland, Texas, that means you want Bonnie Swanson. Ms. Bonnie, as she's called, didn't even have event planning on her radar as the mother of six children. However, with a strong maternal sense of investing in the lives of others, Bonnie took on a friend's wedding, followed by a church event, and on and on until fifteen years of festive fetes snowballed into a successful event planning and staging company. You know you're bringing your wildest dreams to life with a company called Imagine If... and Ms. Bonnie doesn't disappoint. For over six years, Imagine If has transformed country clubs, community centers, backyards, and hotel ballrooms into dreamy backdrops that transport guests to the Renaissance Age, winter wonderlands, Noah's Ark (yep!), and crystal gardens. Imagine If creates events that have to be seen to believed, and we have a few photos to share with you today. Plus, Ms. Bonnie herself is sharing her tips and inspiration. 
Ms. Bonnie can really do it all! Love the crystal entry way (center).

Tell us about Imagine If...
Our amazing team is dedicated to creating uniquely designed weddings and events that capture our client's vision, reflect who they are, and exceed anything they've dreamed of. Our motto is to bring life into your dreams and make the ordinary extraordinary.

What's your favorite thing about your job?
Peeking inside the lives of clients and sharing special moments with them. Once a design is complete, the feeling I get when a client sees their dream brought to life is priceless.

What kinds of events do you do?
We are honored to be a part of weddings and receptions, anniversaries and holiday parties, as well as more unusual events like the annual Renaissance Madrigal Dinner and Broadway shows. We work in all kinds of venues, from community centers and churches to backyards, ballrooms, and auditoriums through Midland, Austin, and DFW.

What is something that makes you stand apart from other planning firms?
I love that Imagine If doesn't do packages. We get so many inquires regarding packaged events, but we prefer to do custom designs that are unique to our client's tastes. We want to get a personal idea of who you are, what you vision is, and how you want guests to feel when they walk into your event. Once we understand that, we design around shared ideas to create lasting memories and relationships with our clients. You can't really "package" that.

What are a few memorable events?
There are so many! Each client is special to us, but we have had a few stand out. For example, rolling out the red carpet for a 60th anniversary dinner for an amazing couple; creating a sparkling crystal wedding and reception with a crystal clad ceiling for a sweet bride; transforming a petroleum museum into a jazz club to celebrate 75 years of history..the list could go on and on!

What are a few Do's and Don'ts for clients?
Do arrive at your planning meeting with some idea of the budget you're considering. 
Do be realistic in your thinking - creating an over-the-top event may be more costly than a stylish intimate event, but depending on the elements used, we can often come closer than imagined.
Do share who you are so that reflection can come through in your event.
Don't try to micromanage your event. You hired a planner so you could enjoy the event without worrying too much about details. (But that's why you should choose your planner carefully!)
Don't save decor as the last item to check off your planning list. Allowing planning time for the event ensures you can get the items you want. 

Now for a few personal questions with Ms. Bonnie.

What inspires you?
Listening to the dreams of others, history, art, architecture...basically the world around me.

What's on your playlist?
It's a pretty eclectic mix of praise and worship, piano and acoustic guitar, country, and soundtracks from my favorite movies.

What's your favorite thing about living in Midland?
People are friendly and courteous. Guys still hold the door open for you! I love watching gorgeous sunsets for miles and miles in the distance - there is no claustrophobia here!

Where are your favorite places to eat around town?
I'm always in the mood for Italian, so I love Venezia's. There is a relaxing patio for dining as well as intimate seating inside, plus great food and service.

What's your favorite thing to do on a day off?
What's that? Haha. I enjoy lunch out just for fun or mani/pedi's without work conversations. Maybe a bit of shopping that's not for an event. 

What are a few annual events around town you love?
I help with the Renaissance Dinner held by the LHS music department. We transform my favorite country club into a 13th century castle comple with a king's court and magical dinner theater. The costumes are authentic period pieces hand sewn with lacing, bloomers, petticoats, and hats. It's truly a walk back through time. It's amazing to work with the staff of the Green Tree Country Club, directors of the LHS choir, and amazing students and parents. It's unforgettable!

Favorite moments around the table?
Often it's the chaos of getting there. I love cooking the food and setting out classic white dinnerware as a foundation to bring in color with napkins and fun serving pieces. My centerpieces are often memorabilia from the past and present mixed in with floral and other textural elements. It's always a special time to sit and share with family and friends. Around the holidays I set a proper table, just like Mom taught me. Time around the table includes what is most important - sharing time together. 

What do you like about P.O.S.H.?

P.O.S.H. has become one of my favorite places to turn to when planning events. I love the staff and their cheerful help. I love the chiavari chairs; they transform any event from ordinary to extraordinary. I love finding fun, exclusive liens and the classic white china to set the foundation for a beautiful table.
Left, a Imagine If wedding. Right, Simply Ivory China Collection, Natural and Fruitwood Grand Chiavari Chairs.
Thanks for sharing with us, Bonnie! 


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