Black Tie & Boots Blows Up in the Press: A Behind the Scenes Peek

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Swartz

Wheeewww, what a weekend for TWG! Now that we’re back in the office after some much needed rest, it’s time we take a look back on our whirlwind weekend and the magic behind producing not one, but two, Texas-sized events!

Between handling an electronic ticketing system (shout out to Donehue Direct!), managing more than 30 entertainers and working with a “designer to die for” (Darryl & Co), TWG had their hands full.

Amazing pieces of décor from Darryl & Co.

Although each special event we produce is unique, we begin the planning process for every event (from an intimate salon dinner for 10 to an Inaugural Ball for 15,000) the same way – by establishing the event date, the event venue and the event budget. Below are just some of the planning elements that were involved for this year’s Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball:

  • Choose date and venue
  • Create budget
  • RFP process to hire vendors (décor, lighting, sound etc.)
  • Build registration websites (four separate websites actually!)
  • Develop marketing and sponsorship materials
  • Fundraise
  • Develop layouts and décor renderings
  • Design menus and attend tasting (yummmm!)
  • Develop transportation and security plans
  • Troubleshoot entertainment needs
  • Manage print materials and mailings (save-the-dates, invitations, program journals, tickets, credentials, and signage)
  • Develop load-in and load-out schedules
  • Develop production timelines
  • Manage VIP needs
  • Produce the shows!

Our beautiful setting for Friday’s Sponsor Dinner.

Many people would be surprised by the quirky things that go into planning an event of this magnitude. Below are some fun facts about this year’s Texas State Society Inaugural Ball:

  • Five 18-wheelers packed with event décor, including more than 15 studded leather sofas, 12 ft-tall cowboy boots, piñatas, chandeliers, reclaimed wooden tables, 2 Ferris wheels and two full-size covered wagon props left Darryl and Co.’s warehouse in Houston, Texas on January 14.
  • The trucks traveled 1,432 miles across the country, to bring a taste of Texas to DC.
  • The production, décor, security and registration teams communicate via wireless headsets and two-way radios while on-site during the event. More than 100 radios were ordered for the event.
  • On the day of the Ball, more than 300 event volunteers and staff will work the event, and that doesn’t even include the Gaylord staff.
  • Between coat checks, registration, VIP areas and the Red Carpet, we utilized over 1,200 feet of rope and stanchion.

Charlie Pride and Larry Gatlin performing at the Sponsor Dinner.


  • 100 gallons of Fire-Roasted Salsa was served at Black Tie & Boots this year, along with 100 gallons of Spicy Artichoke & Crab Dip.
  • More than 33,700 drinks were served on Saturday with approximately 63,000 total hors d’ouevres.

So what is the most stressful part of the process, and the most fun part, you ask?

The devil is in the details. As event planners, we manage virtually EVERY aspect of the event, from making sure the napkins are folded correctly, to answering the RSVP hotline, to creating a memorable guest experience.

The Lovely Kilgore Rangerettes

All of us agree, the nervous excitement we feel just minutes before the event and witnessing the thousands of moving parts come together as we execute our plans, is an adrenaline rush.

Check us out on the TODAY show and in The Washington Post!

Deborah interviewing with Erica Hill from the TODAY show.

Want to see behind the scenes photos of TWG at work during BT&B? Check us out on Instagram!

Special thanks to: Ward & Ames, Darryl & Co., Donehue Direct, Dosey Doe, Gaylord National Resort &Convention Center, National Harbor Police, Atmosphere Lighting, Maryland Sound International, Control Video, Charles Zhang and our wonderful volunteers…

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: The Texas State Society of Washington, DC! It has been a privilege to work with all of you!

BIG SHOUT OUT TO: Doug Centilli and Ed Perez!

Special Thanks to TSS!