• Event planner Stacey Weiner suggests using lighting to create the desired ambiance for an event
  • The set-up for Weiner's wedding
  • Serve sangria in mason jars for a great Labor Day party beverage

Planning the Perfect Party

After a summer filled with picnics and barbecues, there’s only one official weekend left to put your warm weather party planning skills on display. We asked Stacey Weiner of award-winning special events management company Plan-It Parties, which works with several celebrity and high-profile clients throughout the East Coast, to share her tips for a memorable Labor Day bash, along with her thoughts on current trends, the planning process and the craziest thing she’s ever seen at a party.

What’s your advice for throwing an unforgettable end-of-summer celebration?

I’m from Maryland, so I always like a good clambake! You can take it to the next level with a corn on the cob station, with toppings such as Old Bay seasoning, lime cilantro butter and more. Use a canoe filled with ice to create a raw bar…it can also be used as a real bar if you fill it with beer and other cold drinks. I also recommend sangria served in mason jars. Have some fun with seasonal fruits and make simple-yet-impressive watermelon ice cubes (just put seedless watermelon pieces in a food processer and puree, then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze). When the party wraps up, send guests home with mini apple pies as a favor that will help ease them into fall.

What are the key elements of a great event?

Great entertainment and good food are essential to notable social and corporate events. Additionally, for social events, the warmth of family and friends and adding personal touches—for example, serving the host’s favorite dessert—make an event particularly special.

What’s your favorite part of the event planning process?

Bringing the client's vision to life, as well as getting to know the client…most of the time, they become friends.

What’s your dream client like?

A client who is open to creative suggestions and brand-new ideas. We love thinking outside the box, and it’s great when clients are able to embrace that. Some of the (seemingly) craziest concepts, like an indoor ice-skating after-party for a wedding, lead to the most memorable events.

What’s the best event you’ve ever attended as a guest?

My wedding! It was hard to turn off the event planner in me, but it was great to experience it as a guest and see it from the other side.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve seen as a guest or planner?

We once planned every single aspect of a big event...or so we thought. When we arrived, we discovered that the client had arranged for a real tattoo artist to give on-site tattoos to guests who wanted them. That was definitely a first!

What are some of the big trends right now?

Paperless invites are becoming more popular, although contrary to what you’d think, the response rate can be much slower. Clients are also looking for Made in the USA items and environmentally friendly goods such as compostable cups or paper products (invites, programs, etc.) that contain seeds and can be planted. In terms of food, serving breakfast foods at the last hour of a party that runs late into the night is becoming popular.

If you were to plan a Girls' Night Out at a salon, what would the décor/music/food/etc. be like?

You’d have to take into account the décor and feel of the individual salon and play that up with the party. Create a food (should be bite-sized) and cocktail menu based around the salon’s theme, services or product lines. For example, you could play off the chic and elegant Oribe products in the salon and go with a gold and black theme. Use edible gold glitter to rim glasses serving prosecco and place them on a glossy black bar. And don’t forget entertainment, whether it’s a DJ or live band or bartenders that double as dancers.
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