Destination Style for Pre-Wedding PartyWords by Sharon Naylor
Photos courtesy of John & Joseph Photography
When guests arrive for your destination wedding, wow them with a themed welcome party inspired by the locale, the local culture and your own custom-created wedding style elements (a plan which is way better than just telling guests to meet up at the hotel bar!)
Check out what celebrity Event Planner Mindy Weiss brought to life for New York City restaurateur couple Alli and Michael for their pre-wedding party attended by 150 very impressed guests. “To welcome their guests to Hawaii, Michael and Alli decided to throw a beach luau party,” says Weiss. But it wasn’t the typical luau found at every resort. The couple, with Weiss’s brilliant eye for design, gave each party element a unique twist by incorporating modern Hawaiian-island style. Here’s how the trio turned this beach luau into an unforgettable event:
To capture true Hawaiian-island style, “We brought in surfboard tables, beach blankets and oversized pillows, hanging rattan lanterns and a tiki bar,” says Weiss.
1. Surfboards captured the essence of Hawaiian lifestyle and also gave a nod to the couple’s love of the ocean. They originally met at a yachting event, where Alli’s team narrowly defeated Michael’s. For this party, Weiss embraced the couple’s love story with surfboards used as tabletops and also displayed them around the perimeter of the party, uplit for a colorful effect.
2. Departing from the usual luau set-up of all long tables, Weiss arranged for four different levels of seating: low surfboards as tables, traditional tablecloth-covered tables, cocktail tables and thick, comfy beach blankets with oversized, fluffy pillows. The design magic here is in the fabrics: notice the burlap-wrapped cocktail tabletops and the neutral sand-colored beach-stool cushions which blended in with the wood accents and let the variety of colorful, floral beach blankets and oversized pillows really "pop" as festive hues for the party. Weiss played with color and pattern in fabrics, which gave each seating area personality.
3. Lighting was one of the elements Alli and Michael wished to focus on most. Weiss illuminated the party scene with a generous number of large, rattan lanterns coordinating with the strung multi-colored lights not just in the trees, but arching between them. Tiki torches encircled the party zone and hundreds of glowing luminarias lined the path to the party.
The food was, unsurprisingly, a top priority for this foodie couple. “We felt a roast suckling pig might be aggressive for the actual wedding,” says Alli and Michael. “Actually, we do [roast pig] at our New York City restaurant, The Hurricane Club, and it’s become a family tradition. We wanted to do one properly in Hawaii, with our own style. Mindy had the perfect eye to execute the plan.” The couple brought in two of their best chefs from their restaurants in New York and “[the chefs] reimagined all the classics of a traditional Hawaiian luau, made with fun and sophistication for our crowd.”
“We brought in a [Hawaiian] luau band for guests to enjoy and dance the night away,” says Weiss of the couple’s devotion to island-style. She also gave the party added flair with Marty Dread, the local “reggae all-star.” The beauty and energy of this party attracted “a few errant beachcombers who joined in the fracas,” say Alli and Michael, who exemplified true island relaxed style in welcoming them. Alli, after all, lived in Hawaii for a year. “[Alli worked] for the local judge who married us,” says Michael. “It seemed the perfect spot and to have someone personally connected to us do the ceremony made it that much more profound. Plus, did we mention the suckling pig?”
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