With Halloween and the holiday season lingering around the corner, this means we’ve officially hit party season. From costume parties, family reunions, and the office bash to the highly anticipated Noche Buena and even an end-of-the-year destination wedding, there’s no saying no to these festive occasions.
But what if you had to organize one yourself? Get practical advice on how to throw the party to remember from three professional event planners.
Head of Rita Neri Event Planners (RNEP) and author of the books The Essential Wedding Workbook for the Filipina and Your Handy Wedding Guidebook, Rita is event planning personified––having organized the parties and weddings of high society and showbiz royalty. She put together the wedding of banking tycoon George Ty’s son Alfred to billionaire Lucio Tan’s daughter Cherry in 1998, and was responsible for the memorable nuptials of celebrities Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales in 2001, Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos in 2009, and Paul Soriano and Toni Gonzaga in 2015.
Get started now! Setting aside a year to put your dream wedding together? Give yourself a little more time, advised Rita in an interview with the Inquirer. “If you plan too late, you might not get the suppliers you want. They might already be booked.”
Have a generous budget—seriously. “You get what you pay for. If you want to feed monkeys you give them peanuts. If you’re going to get married and you’ll end up cost cutting in the wrong places it will really show. You will always go beyond the budget—always—because along the way you will see things.”
Thanks to a lucky break—Preston’s Bailey’s interior designer friend Vincent Wolf tapped him to arrange flowers for his clients on a weekly basis. Because of this, Preston went from unemployed to Event Stylist to the Stars. In his over 30 years of putting parties, weddings, and other special occasions together, Preston has racked up an impressive who’s who of celebrity patrons like designer Donna Karan, actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Queen of Talk herself, Oprah Winfrey.
Be original. “Forget what is trending and follow your heart and your own vision,” he said in an interview with weddedwonderland.com. “Be a trendsetter!”
Create warmth and connections. “Take time and say hello to every person who comes to your event. You don’t have to have a receiving line, but it is important to welcome and thank guests personally. When entertaining at home, greet guests at the door. Spend at least five minutes with each of them and make introductions immediately! Do not leave them until you feel there has been a connection made with a stranger.”
Pay attention to details. “Be mindful of your guests at your event. Keep the music to a normal volume so they can speak to one another and make sure they can see one another across the table. Your centerpieces should not be blocking them.”
Founder and creative director of his eponymous 30-year-old events planning company, Lawrence Scott Gottesman throws such fabulous parties he actually put a trademark on them. Crooner Michael Bolton, radio shock jock Howard Stern, designer Vera Wang, and president of the United States Donald Trump are among his high-profile clientele.
Plan before you plan. “Ask the people who are very important to you if they can make it before you even contemplate a date,” he said in an October 2014 interview with Gotham Magazine. “You don’t want your party to be all ‘filler’ people.”
Know when the party’s over. “Don’t hold guests captive—it’s not about the overtime,” he told newswhistle.com. “Tell your story and have people leave saying it was great and wanting more. It used to be about overtime—now people want hors d’oeuvres, dessert, and a great party in-between where they sit for one course.”