Seasoned society party planners make organising luncheons (or any event for that matter) look easy, but they’ll be the first to tell you that the planning process goes beyond sticking strictly to your timeline and confirming the essentials—date, time, venue, décor—early. Here’s the thing: it’s not only the guest list that makes or breaks an event, but the seating arrangement, the attention to details, and the swiftness and subtleness with which you handle a mishap. Read on for the top tips from five society event pros.
Send a ‘Save the Date’
Doing this early will reduce the risk of you discovering that your desired guests’ calendars and travel agendas have already been filled a week before your event. Short-notice invitations are only acceptable for close friends, who you are sure won’t be offended by the 11th hour heads-up or being the occasional “fill-in”.
— Olga Iserlis
Get the basics down fast
“Brainstorm for a suitable theme and ensure the venue’s available food and drinks menus fit the occasion you’re celebrating, or can be tailored to suit. Send out your invitation cards early and include a note requesting your guests to notify you of any dietary restrictions. This gives you time to work with the chef or caterer on necessary tweaks.”
—Linda Soo Tan
Consider all the possibilities
“If you’re throwing an outdoor bash, you must have a plan B for inclement weather; have a tent or an indoor space that guests can move to if it starts raining. If insects might pose a problem, prepare bottles of bug spray for guests to use when needed. If there aren’t enough parking spaces at your venue, look into getting a valet service.”
Add that sweet something
“It’s wonderful should you wish to cook for your guests, but it’s best to leave the sweets in the hands of the specialists. I always have at least two dessert options: one is chocolate-based and the other fruity or milky. An afternoon affair doesn’t require heaps of alcohol. Instead, ensure there’s an array of fresh juices, which you can serve in smaller glasses with garnish for a tropical feel.”
Mix and match—with caution
“I like to mix people around at my parties, because conversations are always more interesting when it’s between two strangers meeting for the first time. However, I’ll make sure to place like-minded individuals as well as couples next to each other at the table, so guests have common topics to talk about.”