Creating a truly memorable event is always a tough challenge. Whether it is a birthday party, holiday gathering, a wedding reception, or an intimate dinner at home with friends, the key to an unforgettable celebration is careful planning and details, details, details!
The first step in planning is determining the purpose of the event; no matter what size the event; and what you want to accomplish. Next, sit down and create a design plan for your event – from start to finish. Brainstorm ideas for the theme, décor, cuisine and unique elements so that you have an overall style for your event. I always recommend developing a detailed timeline that covers everything from choosing your date, number of guests, location and budget to when to light the candles, greeting guests, and serving dessert. Don’t forget to include “schedule a relaxing massage for the day after the party” somewhere in your timeline!
For any dinner party, choose one or two of the following elements to ensure an impressive spark that sets your soiree apart from those your guests have attended before. You just have to take an ordinary event and make it legendary!
Your first opportunity to convey the style – and lavishness – of your event is through the invitations. Invitations are one of the most important elements of any event - it is the first impression. In today’s busy world, your event will be competing against other parties or even someone’s time to relax at home so the invite has to be exciting and very inviting.
If you are planning a formal event, have beautiful, high quality paper professionally printed and have a calligrapher handwrite the addresses (both your guests’ and the return address). Otherwise, get creative with your invitations. Find an exciting way to send your guests the pertinent party information. You can print an invitation on a CD filled with music for a night of dinner and dancing, have the invitation delivered with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers, or send an elaborate 18th century inspired mask along with an invitation to a masquerade ball. Anything goes as long as it is done tastefully and includes the “who, what, when, where and why.” I am very fond as well of Paperless Post: a creative on-line invitation which is very green!
The location itself can turn an ordinary dinner into an elaborate affair. Be creative. Any large open space can undergo a spectacular transformation. An old barn or rustic cabin can add the perfect contrast to a table set with crisp white linens, shimmering place settings and lush floral arrangements. A three car garage is a perfect blank canvas. Drape fabric down the ceiling and walls and cover the floor with carpeting, and you have your own event space!
If you decide to host your party away from home, consider a luxury hotel. To make it over-the-top fabulous, provide each of your guests with a hotel room for the night or that town car that transports your guest. Everyone can get ready in their rooms and head down for cocktails and dinner in your reserved private space. After dinner, everyone can head out for a night on the town, all returning to an extraordinarily luxurious room to themselves; allowing each of them to take a mini vacation from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The most delicious part of planning is creating your menu. When you are hosting any type of celebration, especially a dinner party, the food you serve should be nothing short of perfection. If your “wow factor” for your celebration is the food, get creative! For example, serve a variety of mini-hamburgers topped with sautéed mushrooms, roaring 40’s blue cheese, or even Foi Gras. Serve three at a time on a large rectangular white plate with the buns set on the sides and I promise your guests will be impressed. Many times it is not what you serve but how it is prepared and presented that truly matters. It’s all in the quality.
A great way to add luxury to your dinner (that your guests and especially you will love) is to hire a caterer and service staff. Hire one waiter per guest and have them serve each course at the same time. You will enjoy getting to sit and eat with your guests instead of running back and forth to the kitchen.
It may be that the look of your event is what you would like guests to remember.
Set the table with fine china or a modern set of square place settings or even that fabulous casual but creative pool side setting. Table linens made of luxurious fabrics, whether taffeta, velvet, silk, or crisp linen, add a much needed touch to an already lavish party. Give your guests that white linen tablecloth restaurant feel, but in the comfort of your home with close friends.
In order to increase that dramatic effect that your china and table linens have already laid forth, make sure that your centerpiece stuns just as much as your other details. Accent your silk linens with wispy centerpieces, such as orchids in crystal vases that are repeated down the length of the table, or hydrangeas to add to a lush garden feeling. White table linens look striking when set with bold colored flowers, such as tulips, ginger, or Calla lilies. Keep in mind also, that your centerpiece does not necessarily have to center around a flower; you can also use something that incorporates your theme. Have long stemmed masks in a vase for your guests to take as their gift or sparklers that can be used later in the evening.
One way to add drama is by using an overall color and adding a few accent colors. Whether your color inspiration develops from a beautiful swatch of deep turquoise taffeta you recently found or that the guests of honors favorite color is red, have fun with it. Integrate various shades and textures of the color into all areas of the décor.
And how do you bring in color in a bold way? Unlike redecorating, with event design you can’t necessarily go into a space with a paint brush or new flooring. What you can do is “paint” the walls with fabric, place carpet over the existing floor.
Too often overlooked by novice hosts, is imperative when creating the look for any celebration. Lighting adds beauty and drama to a room. Make sure you have dimmers on all of your light switches so that your lighting is not either on or off. Candlelight is the best way to light any space. We have illuminated many of our events by lighting hundreds of candles.
Take a themed event to an entirely different level. Recreate a memorable event in that special person’s life – such as their 1960’s senior prom. Send the invitations in the shape of a 45 record announcing the prom birthday celebration and attire! Your guests will look great in bouffant hair dos, long white gloves, frilly gowns and pastel tuxes. Have the party at a high school gym, swinging back to the simple times of when the prom committee decorated the gym for such a magical night. Offer your guests corsages and boutonnières at the entrance. Hire a live band to play memorable songs from the 60’s that guests can dance to all night long.
Entertaining is an extension of your style. Just remember to make it fun. Your guests want to enjoy you as much as the event.
Formed in 1997, A Legendary Event has grown into a multi-million dollar full-service event enterprise, handling more than 2,500 events a year. Known for his Midas touch, Tony Conway, President and Owner is admired by top CEOs, celebrities and politicians because of his attention to detail and penchant for providing haute cuisine and divine design, always with the client in mind. A Legendary Event is located in Atlanta and can be reached at (404) 869-8858. For more information, please visit www.alegendaryevent.com.