We chat to Velvet Circus founder Danielle Hodgson-Lindley about how she brings dreams to life with her styling company on the White Island.
Whether you want to arrive at your wedding in a hot air balloon or host a pool party swimming in sequins, Ibiza’s leading luxury-event styling company Velvet Circus is at your disposal to make your dreams a reality. Founder and creative director Danielle Hodgson-Lindley has over 15 years’ experience on the island and plenty of local knowledge. We ask Danielle about her most memorable events, her top tips for creating atmosphere at home and how to brighten up the darkest months of the year.
When Danielle began working on the Ibizan wedding scene, she noticed that much of the focus was on the bigger picture – grand bouquets of bridal flowers, the music and the view. She realised that the finer details, in which events could really become bespoke, were being overlooked.
“I saw an opportunity for someone to really take up the niche of the tablescape on the island,” she says. “There was no one doing tableware, mixed glassware or different linens – so I set up Velvet Circus.”
Anyone who works in the events industry will know that, these days, weddings in particular are wrapped in lifelong dreams and expectations. Translating these into practical and applicable ideas takes mastery. Some clients arrive knowing only what they don’t want, while others bring Pinterest boards or Instagram feeds as inspiration. Danielle’s first task is to use her creative talent to draw out the hints of a theme and evolve a plan and a look that resonates with the couple. This process often involves in-depth conversations, sharing love stories and cherished memories.
“We are quite emotionally tied to the work,” she admits. “It’s not just a job: we do everything in our power to try and make people’s dreams work. We never say no.”
Being prepared to do anything for a client has led to herding up alpacas to accompany brides down the aisle, conjuring up acrobats and facilitating arrivals in hot air balloons. They even once filled an empty swimming pool to the brim with disco balls. But while these “wow theatrics” make for good anecdotes, it’s in the minutiae where the real magic lies. This is where you begin to feel the personality of the hosts behind the event. And meticulous planning and execution are what set sets Velvet Circus apart.
“I feel these are so important, especially when it comes to tablescaping,” she says. “Everything has to be in the precise place. Every knife and fork has to be straight, all the distances between them correct. The notecards on people’s place settings must be exactly right. When events are more informal, I try to make the tables interactive. When they’re more formal or there’s a bigger budget we go all out on the favours.”
To keep a sense of the island location in a party, Danielle will try to source elements from the island it. Tables might be adorned with herbs from Ibiza’s farms or decorated with local stones.
“I like to use things from the island,” she explains. “We have a beautiful Crystal Mountain that’s just full of colourful crystals, and I’ve done tablescapes that incorporate them. We’ve also used potted herbs and other things that can be reused. It really helps save on wastage.”
The wedding season in Ibiza traditionally peaked in the months of June and September, with the hottest months of July and August being more popular for pool parties and villa soirées.
In recent years, however, the season has become longer – October is becoming increasingly popular with couples, and it’s now normal for weekends to be booked as early as April. Christmas parties are also on the rise.
Working in Ibiza presents unique challenges, especially when it comes to sourcing – and Brexit has added a layer of complication that has made using items from the UK almost impossible. Landing things on the island in time for the right event is Danielle’s biggest challenge and orders for the year are carefully placed in January and February. Planning ahead and keeping a wide range of interesting stock is the only way to combat slow or erratic delivery times.
It’s not just a job: we do everything in our power to try and make people’s dreams work. We never say no.
- Danielle Hodgson-Lindley, Founder
Danielle is based in a little finca in the pretty countryside of north Ibiza. Together with the events companies she works with, she adds a special touch to events everywhere from a secret beach suited to a romantic dinner for two, the perfect villa for a party or a clifftop for a ceremony with a view. “I’m lucky to be brought on board by teams and planners who really have the island’s most beautiful places up their sleeve.”
Danielle also knows the island’s best local spots and is kind enough to let us in on a few of her favourites. She loves the cliffs of Es Pou des Lleo for walking, especially now she and her husband have a new baby. Her favourite eateries include Cana Pepeta for a sit-down lunch or dinner, and Can Guimo for healthy vegan snacks. Wine in her house is local and organic, or she enjoys a glass out at Casa Lhasa in San Lorenzo. As you might imagine, Danielle is a great host and loves scouring the island for delicious things to prepare at home. Vegetables from the shacks selling local produce on the San Juan road are a daily staple, and fish stalls selling fresh catch of the day.
Every evening, whether it’s just family or she’s entertaining, Danielle creates an ambience in the house with candlelight and decorative greenery or dried flowers. With Christmas behind us, the first months of the year can be the most bare, and she finds simple things on a table at home can elevate the mood.
“I like a homemade centre,” she says. “Mixed greenery is so beautiful, so get into the garden and forage rather than ordering something expensive. All the green shades at this time of year, with the odd red berry, are lovely and atmospheric. It makes a room feel more homely, personal and seasonal. My cupboard is full of plates and napkins, just get creative – light a few candles. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion, it just lightens the mood and makes it feel special. We always eat by candlelight. We also have dried flowers; you can make a table setting last by drying out blooms like hydrangeas.”
Here are Danielle’s top tips for tablescapes:
- Decide on your colour palette. Style your table with the whole room in mind.
- Be playful with the linens. Once you decide on your colour scheme, the linens will fall into place. I love French linen for an organic feel. I also love a pattern-on-pattern feel – pick plates, linens and napkins that all have patterns in shades that tone well or go for two tone! Red with pink is my favourite.
- Statement linen runners look terrific for a long table. Les Ottomans have fantastic linens in silks and velvets and they do some great pattern-on-pattern styles.
- Use layers. Plate layering is key; this helps the table transition when serving courses. Use different colours and patterns to add depth.
- Toy with texture. Use contrasting textures by choosing a surface and juxtaposing it with its opposite. For instance, put raw, unpolished wood surfaces and frayed linen alongside smooth candles and ceramics.
- Use height to add drama. Mix florals or candles at different heights – branches work really well for this, especially blossoms.
- Think flowers. These always lift a table and you don’t have to spend a fortune. A minimal look works well with the right flowers. Take a look in your garden, simple mixed greens are a classic look.
- Let there be light. Create your ambience by filling your table with light. I love a mix of candles. Try taper, pillar and tealights in beautiful holders. There are so many great taper candles out there – I love the slim ones. Spiral ones also add a twist!
- Keep to odd numbers. Always work in odd numbers when positioning candles, tealights, vases and so on: compositions sit better like this.