Colin Cowie

The Challenge
We gave event planner Colin and his team their own fabulous challenge: to plan a surprise wedding shower for a young couple who have each battled cancer.  
Dan and Jillian

The Deserving Couple
Dan was a carefree 19-year-old college student when he discovered he had a deadly form of cancer: Hodgkin's disease. Every day for a year, Dan fought for his life, eventually winning the battle. Meanwhile, another vibrant person was struggling with her own cancer diagnosis. Twenty-four-year-old Jillian was just starting chemotherapy for a very rare type of cancer when their paths crossed. What started out as a friendship to help Jillian get through months of intense treatments blossomed into romance. And a few months ago, Dan proposed. Although Jillian has been cancer free for a year, her future is still uncertain.

"There's a lot of questions about her health," says Dan. "We understand that time is really important."

So Colin was off to Cleveland, Ohio to help Jillian's sister plan the surprise wedding shower.
Green apple and orchid centerpiece

Jillian loves New York so Colin brought a piece of the Big Apple to Cleveland. Inexpensive green apples become an anchor when paired with elegant green orchids for the main centerpieces.
Colin Cowie's table runners

Fabulous Fabrics
Another one of Colin's price-saving secrets: choose an exquisite fabric for the runner but cut it in half. It will go twice as far.

Colin also saves big bucks by using linens and shopping for fabric deals online.
Colin Cowie

Mixing vs. Matching
Colin says, "Most of the parties that I do today cost millions and millions and millions of dollars. But good taste isn't all about spending a fortune in money. It's more about mixing and less to do with matching."
Menu cards and Gramercy Gold wedding plates

Pesonal Touches
Since Jillian is a lover of art, Colin used little art easels as menu cards. Colin and his team also took pictures of Jillian and Dan celebrating life together and turned them into a wonderful presentation to further personalize the party.

At each setting, Colin used Gramercy Gold plates, a very simple wedding collection he created for JCPenney. A five-piece place setting costs less than $20.
Inexpensive table setting

A Lavish Table
This looks like a very lavish table but it really isn't. These glasses are about $7.50 a piece.
Colin Cowie's flower arrangements

Flower Arrangements
For the flowers, Colin has brilliant ideas on how to have the million dollar lush look without spending a whole fortune. Colin says, "I use one type of flower per arrangement but by packing a small vase abundantly it gives the luxurious look for less."
Colin Cowie

Wrapping Vases
Colin and his team covered the vases with the leftover fabric from the underlay.
Colin Cowie's final tabletop

Finishing Touches
Colin explains the final look. "At each place setting I have a wonderful delicious green citrine charger, which I've created together with the matching goblet and all the candles on the table. The white wine glass, this very elegant and contemporary gold flatware, and I believe in jewelry for the table so I even created these napkin rings to add a sparkle to the table."
Cocktail themes

What's a party without great cocktails? You don't always have to serve very expensive French champagne. One can always use wonderful interesting cocktails and Colin created cocktails that happen to match the table as well. Apple martinis just happen to be Jillian's favorite!
Wrapping gifts in color scheme

Wrapping Gifts
Colin Cowie has a creative plan for making Jillian and Dan's wedding shower ultra glamorous but affordable: wrap all of their gifts in the same color scheme as the party to tie everything together.
Colin Cowie and JCPenney

JCPenney's Surprise
In addition to the presents their guests brought, JCPenney wanted to be sure the bride and groom had everything on their list, so they sent over all kinds of gifts from the couple's registry.

"Everything on the table I designed," Colin says to Jillian and Dan. "And JCPenney was very touched by your story so the next time you have 30 people for dinner you'll have a beautiful table!"
Colin Cowie's expensive table top

Table Top Comparison
Known for his lavish parties, Colin Cowie says that you don't have to spend a ton of cash to celebrate like the rich and famous. You can get his million-dollar style on a budget.

Colin decorated this table sparing no expense, working a combination of items from Baccarat, Bernadot, and Buchilati. Each place setting here is about $1,800 per person. The vase alone is $100,000, bringing the total to $140,000 for the whole table.
Colin Cowie's JCPenney table top

JCPenney Table
This is $50 per place setting. That includes all the crystal, the flatware and the china. To make this fab without spending a fortune, Colin created "jewelry" for the table. "I was on Fifth Avenue yesterday and I found a street vendor who was selling these wonderful pins and broaches. They were $8 each. I took this with cardboard, I put ribbon around, it, stapled it on the other side, and voila, I have myself a beautiful napkin ring."

Colin also sprayed a $12 terra cotta vase, and instead of big expensive flowers, he used fruit in his centerpiece to make the arrangement look fuller without spending a fortune.

The whole table cost less than $400! And the audience got a 16-piece dinnerware set, a set if colored goblets and matching votive candles from Colin Cowie's home collection from JCPenney!

See where Dan and Jillian will be going on their honeymoon.
Learn more about the products used to decorate the tables.