For Southerners, there are few things more intrinsic than inviting guests into our homes. I’d even say we’ve made it an art form. Our goal is always the same: to make sure our guests never feel like strangers, even if we are meeting them for the first time. On top of that, we strive to create a warm and inviting atmosphere that is both fun and with a few unexpected details (read: we want our guests to go home talking about it). Every party is unique, but these key moments of Modern Southern Hospitality are what I consider when planning an event at my clients’ home that no one will forget.
Much like a first impression, how your guests feel when they first enter is an important element to set the tone for the entire experience. We usually assign someone to greet guests at the front door. They’ve got a bright personality to deliver warm smiles and friendly greetings, creating a beautiful moment that makes people feel comfortable before they’re even inside the party.
One of the biggest ways to get people talking about your event is with a way to immortalize it. In other words, create a feature moment – a place at the event where people want to take photos. One of my favorite focal points is the fireplace, but we’ve created gorgeous vignettes along grand staircases, poolside, in foyers and more. It’s a spot your guests will gravitate toward naturally, and – when done right – be posting pictures of forever.
Depending on what kind of party you’re hosting, decide on a Dinner Service Style. This determines if you need formal seating and serving ware for a gorgeous plated dinner, or if the party will be more casual and cocktail style and you simply need fun accessories to accentuate heavy appetizers. The former calls for stylish options in china rental and personal touches at each place setting. The latter is your excuse to peruse custom party napkins and keep each choice a little more casual.
I can’t say it enough: Entertainment is the secret to a great party. But it doesn’t have to always look the same. I like to take the guest of honor’s favorite hobby or interest and use it as inspiration. At this 40th birthday party, our client loved gambling, so we brought in casino tables and hosted a Vegas-themed event for guests to enjoy. Often, entertainment is music, dancing or creating custom crafts, but there’s no formula for what kind of fun you provide – only that it gives your guests something memorable to do!
As a planner, many of my clients hire me to plan consecutive events to celebrate their milestones. My favorite part about working with them again is that I’m able to transform their home every time, creating a memorable scene for guests who are invited each time. Using this staircase as our Feature Moment, we dressed it in big, sparkling gold balloons for one birthday party, and glammed it up with show stopping floral and romantic candlelight for another. Both drew out oohs and ahhs from the guests, and created a gorgeous spot to take very different photos.
Working with a planner also provides the freeing ability to let you be the hostess and enjoy your friends and family instead of worrying about party details. You leave those to us, and revel in the event alongside your guests.
Any good Southern party is unique, and I know I’ve mentioned knowing how to make our guests feel good is a part of us, but these elements have helped my clients take personalized entertaining up a notch. Whether casual, outdoor garden parties or chic and formal dinner gatherings, cocktails or hand-crafted entertainment, we’ve helped them create memorable events that their friends and family rave about – and want to come to, again and again!