How to Style + Plan an IG-Worthy Party
…on a budget.
I love hosting. No, I mean, I LOOOOVE hosting. My fiance, Chris, and I host a party in our apartment’s clubhouse almost every month, and we have cocktail hour and game night down to a science. It’s gotten to the point that our friends text us on Friday: “Wut r we doing and wut do i bring.”
But my heart truly lights up like an entire freaking star when I’m mixing hosting with blogging. Once day the itch got to me and I just couldn’t rest without talking about an idea of a floral beach picnic with fashion bloggers in angelic dresses. I reached out to my Sabrina, a wedding planner and shoot designer who I’d met during a photoshoot for a bridal magazine. She loved the concept, and we got to work.
Reach out to vendors and see if they want to join your party!
Sabrina and I posted about our event with inspo pictures in bridal industry groups and they were immediately excited. Even though I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger, I’ve often turned to others in the bridal industry to ask questions about styling and photography. Those guys have it down pat. Once we found two incredible photographers willing to collaborate, it was easy to line up other vendors who were looking for great photos and to have fun on a new, creative project.
Note about creative collaborations: please consider if the collaboration is worth their time, energy, and resources before you reach out to people. It’s probably not a good idea to ask vendors to collaborate if they are really being expected to do a job for free instead of a mutually beneficial project. Consider finding vendors in your budget instead.
My tips for finding affordable vendors:
Check out less traditional ethnic restaurants instead of the go-to caterers in your town. I’ve found some Armenian and Greek restaurants that cater beautiful and affordable party platters.
Pick up florals from a distributor instead of a florist. LA’s iconic flower district is easy and cheap, but you can also find wholesale flowers at Costco or other retailers.
Think outside the box for rentals! Instead of a lounging couch, I grabbed a hammock swing from Walmart which worked perfectly! The cushions came from Home Goods.
Scout out the location!
I drove to Malibu and checked out several beaches before I found the perfect, tucked away corner to hold our picnic. Since my event was really more of a photoshoot than a celebratory party, it was important to consider how private the space would be.
Struggling to find an event space? Check out these sources:
EventUp or Peerspace (rooftops and gardens are my favorite searches!)
Theatre courtyards. Did you know that often times the Chamber of Commerce rents these for a very low cost? Check out other businesses with courtyards too!
Try to plan the style and design on paper before the day of the event.
Try to pin as many ideas as possible. Once you know where you want the food and drink tables, lounge areas, and photo areas, sketch them roughly on a piece of paper. Print out your pinterest ideas and have them taped to the sketch to make it easier to set up. Don’t forget to enlist a few friends to help!
Plan a clear timeline for setup and make a list of items to bring.
The rule of thumb is to always give set up an extra hour, because something will always go wrong. Make sure you stagger when you want your vendors to arrive, or else you’ll be pulled in every direction at once.
Go with the changes! Have fun and be in the moment.
Things don’t always go right. One of the beach patrol tried to make us leave even though we had a permit, and a camera stopped working while we waited (with hunger) to start our picnic. But everyone just went with it, and we couldn’t stop laughing and having a great time. If you’re worried and stressed, people pick up on that and the fun immediately stops.
Plan games and activities to keep the good times rolling.
My event had two photographers so that the fashion bloggers could get lots of darling photos during downtime. You can also consider hosting a wine tasting, a succulent-potting workshop, a flower crown workshop, a cupcake decorating contest, or a short yoga class.
Be professional when working with vendors.
Always do exactly as you say you will! If you offer to give them photos, try to do it within two weeks. If you agreed to payment instead of a collaboration, ask for their invoice and send them a thank you email. Offer to write a good review on their Facebook page. One of the things I loved about all the people who helped with this photoshoot is that they were all WOMEN! Everyone came together with a great attitude, endless creativity, and patience to survive a very long, hot day.
Don’t forget to watch the style video to see behind the scenes!
Madison Grace @themadgrace
Ema Brena @ema_brenda
Jen Rachel @withjenrachel
Amy Marietta @amy_marietta
Linda Kang @kangthropologie
Kendall Fuhrman @kendall.fuhrman
Photographers | @laurenlnewman & @carriiecaptures
Make-Up | @tamibernardmakeup
Planning | @weddingsbysabrina
Florals | @sibylsophiafloraldesign
Calligraphy | @inktopiary
Catering | @urbanpalatela
Table | @americanwoodimporters
Director: David Mahmoudieh
Cinematographer: Brandon Ruiz
Producers:George Lako | Heather Ruiz |@alphawolvestv