magazine | Weddings | Tips + Advice

How to Plan a Festival Inspired Summer Party in 10 Steps

One of the best parts of summer are the festive parties and all of the rosé sipping, patio lounging and outdoor living that comes with it. Throwing a summer party seems simple enough: fire up the barbecue, get some drinks on ice and bump the jams. That formula will work for casual get-togethers but if you're planning a party for 50, 100 or even 500, the stakes are higher and inevitably, more complicated. We recently caught up with Above All Catering to get their step-by-step guide for planning a festival inspired summer party at scale. From setting up special photo opps to offering something more (read: ferris wheel) to keeping everyone cool, they're breaking down how to plan a thoughtful, festive party this summer.

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Embrace a Theme

Everyone likes a fun themed-party and the summer season usually provides more ability to be creative. Whether you choose to go simple or go big, a theme is a great starting point to drive your decisions. For Above All Catering’s anniversary we chose a Coachella theme because we knew we could build off a lot of the prominent staples people associate with music festivals: creative artwork, bohemian vibes, yummy food and, of course, a ferris wheel!
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Create a Sensory Experience

When most people think about planning a party they usually tend to focus on what their guests are seeing. While this is important, it is also a good idea to touch on the other senses to optimize your guests' experience. To do this, we started with food: we wanted to allow guests to experience the taste of fresh oysters and sweet s’mores. Then for scent, we incorporated different infused oils throughout the space for hints of lemongrass and eucalyptus. Lastly, for sound, we rotated DJs every 30 minutes to provide a wide variety of music and keep guests guessing.
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Keep Refreshments Cool

As most places tend to be warm during the summer months, it is important to make sure your guests stay cool. A great way to do that is by providing refreshing drink and food options. For drinks we decided to take a note from Coachella by providing signature spirits such as vodka infused gummy bears as well as a ‘make your own’ cold brew coffee station. For food we incorporated chilled ceviche and ice cream popsicles.
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Create Unique Photo Opportunities

One of the best ways to ensure your event stands out is to make sure you have different ways for your guests to interact and take photos. Not only is this great for getting promotion on social media, but it is also a great way to provide value to your guests. A fun photo booth is a great way for guests to remember their time. A ferris wheel or ride is perfect for guests to take a picture in front of it or ride with a friend. Next time you’re planning an event, think of additional features to implement that your guests would want to capture.
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Diversify Your Menu

It is important to provide food options for all of your guests. While items at Coachella tend to be on the unhealthy side, we knew that our guests might have dietary restrictions that wouldn’t allow them to eat just fried food and/or dessert. A Street Corn Flatbread is a great vegetarian option, and providing healthier protein options, such as seafood, is a good way to ensure your guests have options. 
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Light Up the Night

On warm summer days it can be advantageous to host an event in the evening to keep your guests cool. Evening events also allows you to play with the lighting of your space and create ambience. Incorporating uplighting is a great way to bring in fun different colors that bounce off the walls and differentiate areas of space. Also, providing bistro lights is always a cute addition to any outdoor space to create a false ceiling.
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Tie in Everything With Florals and Plants

Even when you have a theme picked out it can be hard to bring an entire space together when you have different types of components at an event. An easy way to tie everything together is by making sure your plants and florals embrace the theme and are displayed throughout the space. We used cacti, pampas grass, baby’s breath and palm trees throughout the space to embellish our highboy tables, walls and more!
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Utilize Both Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

During the summer it can be great to plan an event at a place that has both indoor and outdoor spaces. At our anniversary event, we geared towards a Candyland space outside and a bohemian space inside, while encompassing the overall Coachella theme. By segmenting these areas, you can adhere to slightly different vibes and you can also provide enough room for your guests to choose to bask in the sun or come in for cool air conditioning. 
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Stay Organized With a Timeline

Big or small, events have a lot of moving parts. It can be hard to stay on top of everything and everyone who is involved. A great way to make sure you don’t miss a beat and aren’t forgetting to do anything is to create a timeline for your list of vendors and a timeline for yourself. Planning an event for over 500 people might require a 3-day timeline, while planning an event for 50 might require a day-off. No matter the case, ease your stress by writing everything out.
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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Planning an event can be stressful! It’s easy to worry about what might go wrong or what might not come to fruition. It’s important to keep a positive attitude and fun spirit. No matter what happens you are prepared and your guests are going to have an amazing time so you should too! Celebrate all you’ve accomplished and do it with a smile.

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Credits

Design & Coordination, Catering: Above All Catering | Venue: Fete the Venue | Rentals & Production: Blueprint Studios | Photography: Sarah Mack Photo | Bar: Sunseri’s Bar | Furniture Rentals: Signature Party Rentals | DJ & Lighting: Invisible Touch Events | Balloon Install: The Balloon Box | Plant Rentals: Creative Plant Rentals | Specialty Rentals: Allure Staging | Florals: Los Angeles Floral Couture | Indoor Signage: Olive Mint Shop | Braid Bar: Vanity Belle Beauty Bar | Coffee Airstream: Hello Penny Bar | Ice Cream: The Ice Cream Peddler | Photo Bus: Porty the Foto Booth Bus | Outdoor Signage: Nopalito Graphics | Marquee: My Marquee SD | Henna: Henna Dil Se | Valet: American Limo Service

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