Throwing a Stunning Event

By: Sara Urquhart of Alt Summit Top Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Alt is made up of events within events within events. I am often asked about how to throw memorable events. This series will talk about specific events at Alt, letting you know how and why behind-the-scene decisions were made that move us toward great functions.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

The challenge for the Garden Party held at Alt Summer was to create excitement and an energy that could be felt both by guests and by those viewing photos of the event live on social media and after the event in our Flickr gallery. To do this, we needed to excite but not overwhelm the senses.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Kasi Miller of Kasi Miller Designs and I work on many of the Alt parties together. Kasi and I brainstormed ideas and then we worked to execute the details of this event.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Pops of Color

An important sense for The Garden Party was sight. We wanted to create an environment that worked in person and translated well to photographs.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

To accomplish this, I started with color, specifically three bright, vibrant, fun summer colors: Orange, Blue, and Yellow. These colors, used throughout the party, created a unified space and appeared in the décor, the activities and even the food. The colored balloons on the tables created a ceiling for the space, giving the eye a path for traveling up to admire the architecture of the Grand America but then right back down into the party.

Photos by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Abundance of Details

When guests are headed to a party there are some things they expect (like food, drink, activities, etc.) We provide all the expected items and then we work to layer on a variety of extra details that we hope make the guests smile.

Photos by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Staying with three colors we added flowers designed by Soil and Stem to the tables. We shared candy, in coordinating colors provided by Maison Confiserie et Boutique. And we provided summer activities like yellow bikes and croquet sets. We also made sure the two patches of grass were unobstructed so people could kick off their shoes to feel summer between their toes.

Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

To heighten the sense of a welcoming space, we hung colored streamers from all the trees around the edges of the courtyard. These streamers created a sense of entering a special event, leaving the hustle and bustle of your every day life behind. The ribbons also defined the space and encouraged guests to congregate within the line of trees rather than on the outside edges of the space.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Activities that Get Guests Mingling

At these events mingling is important for both introverts and extroverts to have fun. For The Garden Party, the way we did this was to include activities that reminded guests of childhood summers and would encourage laughter.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

We provided bicycles with baskets sent by our friends at Hayneedle full of flowers so that guests could ride and relive childhood memories.

Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

On one of the areas of grass, we invited guests to play croquet also provided by Hayneedle. Croquet encouraged guests to mingle and took the pressure off of having to find something to say.

Photos by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Places for Capturing Memories

Once guests are comfortable, we wanted to provide spaces for recording the moment: photographs that online friends could look back on and remember real life connections and for new friends to build future online relationships upon.

We had two areas for photos. TinyPrints designed and captured group shots throughout the party. Attendees chose from clever summer props that helped them style a personal picture. The second photo area featured mopeds that allowed guests to relax and have fun recording their memories, because what screams summer more than the freedom of mopeds?

Photos by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

When you are planning your own event make sure to think through what will help your event feel unified, we used color to do that at the The Garden Party. Remember to layer your event with unexpected surprises like we did with the flowers, the bikes and the candy. Finally, providing clever spaces where people can capture their night so the feeling can be revisited may be important at your event. It is these kinds of details that make any party or event feel special.