Event producer David Stark is known for creating awe-inspiring decor for high-profile, star-studded charity galas as well as for making intimate gatherings even more convivial. “We are pushing events into the realm of installation art, where the meaning of the evening is implicit in every detail,” he says.
“Surprise and ingenuity are what inject magic into an event,” says Stark. “Clever, thoughtful, surprising personal touches are what guests appreciate and remember.”
A stylist at heart, Sofia Crokos pulls inspiration from the worlds of food, fashion, design, art, and music to produce events that reflect each client’s tastes and personality. No matter the size of your party, Crokos says, you must set the tone from the start. “Create the perfect ambience so that guests will have a memorable experience,” she says.
Planner Tip: “Food for me plays a huge role,” says Crokos. “I love to create a beautiful table, but the wow factor is what will be on your plate, which will then tie everything together.”
In line with his Southern roots, Augusta, GA-based Wesley Cadle specializes in events and interiors that are timeless and traditional but nonetheless have an edge. Building from a “single note of inspiration,” he adds color, pattern, and texture for clients such as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and the U.S. Open.
Planner Tip: Pay attention to details: music to set the mood, food and drinks that delight and entice. “If you have those elements and a great guest list, you can’t go wrong,” says Cadle.
Amy Atlas is the go-to gal for dessert buffets. Her stylized tables have inspired more than one trend that’s been subsequently replicated by many a party planner and blogger. The secret to her inspired tables? “I always pick a theme and a color palette and then work within it,” she says.
Planner Tip: “Keep it as simple as possible,” says Atlas. “The more work you give yourself, the less time you will have with guests.”
Interior designer Kelly Ottinger’s popular blog, Kelly Market, features her daily musings on decorating. Her easy yet elegant style mixes high-end products with low-budget finds and often incorporates a traditional or splashy print. When entertaining, Ottinger does as much work as possible in advance and keeps her menus simple so that she can relax the moment the doorbell rings.
Planner Tip: “I love a layered tabletop with a mix of casual and fine china,” says Ottinger. “I also keep things upbeat by creating a playlist before each party.”
Easy recipes, expert styling, and helpful tips and tricks are what make Lulu Powers a coveted resource among the Hollywood elite and New York’s social set. Calling herself an “entertainologist,” she helps clients conquer their hosting fears. Powers uses color, personality, and plenty of imagination to help novices and seasoned hosts alike throw the perfect party.
Planner Tip: “The host sets the tone for everything,” says Powers. “Happy hosts make happy guests.”