What it’s really like to be an event manager at a high-end, luxury party.

Normally you’ll find me sat at a desk at Mirage Parties HQ curating content for the website and generally managing marketing activity while smiling at the antics of our two office canines, Bryson and Frank the puppy.

This has been the status quo up until last weekend when I innocently volunteered to help out on-site at a private party. Mirage Party Planners had been organising – with military precision and creative flair – a joint 50th birthday party for two lovely London clients. The party, I was about to discover, would hold many antics of the non-canine variety.

Smiling hostess pours Champagne at a private party in London.

Creating an Unforgettable Party Experience

Witnessing all the party details from start to finish was a real eye opener. I’d been surrounded by the planning stages for some time and the back of house detail wasn’t totally foreign to me, having spent my university days working part-time in hospitality. It was the party itself in all its glory that stunned and surprised.

With the party taking place in the grounds of the client’s home, Mirage had constructed Giant Hat tipis with Champagne bar, tables and seating for the early evening. Hidden behind beautiful draping inside the main tipi was a second structure that wouldn’t be revealed until later in the evening after the hosts’ speech. This second structure was dramatic. Behind the draped curtains I saw a luxurious bohemian nightclub with dance floor, circular mirrored bar, more seating and tables grouped in multiple chill out zones and a beautiful encased central chandelier.

Before the party filled with guests I could see where the importance of proper planning, logistics management and the execution of a precisely timed schedule was so essential. The Mirage on-site event manager flawlessly saw in all the entertainers, catering and bar staff, confirming the evening’s brief to everyone and making sure we all had a substantial meal to fuel us for the night ahead.

Photo gallery from the London 50th birthday party

Flawless Technical Event Production

Sound and lighting was checked and the smooth transition between acts and entertainers carefully managed, as well as the flow of catering and the delegation of bar staff to the multiple bars. The event photographer was briefed and then took the most beautiful family photos that’ll prove to be lasting mementos of the occasions. As guests arrived Champagne and canapes circulated effortlessly. All was calm and glamorous out front.

To the back of house, the mammoth amount of flight cases for the kit in the production tent showed me all the items required to produce the best quality sound and lighting. Also in the production tent were the essential supplies like first aid kit, which was put to use an hour into the party when a bartender had need of a band aid. I was glad to be able to help out on the little details like this. Essentially it meant the hosts could enjoy their own party and their guests. We were the time keepers. We’d cue the entertainers and catering. Checked that mics were ready pre-speeches, gather feedback and keep the flow of the party organised.

What I’ve learnt from my 12 hours in the life of a party planner:

1. I enjoyed the physical workout.
Like a week’s worth of gym sessions. You have to be fit and keen to do this job!

2. I’d never want to host a party again without a party planner.
For the host to have time to mingle with all their guests and not have to worry about spilt drinks or the logistics of the band not being able to find the location of the venue, a party planner and event management is priceless. The running around that you won’t have to do when you have event managers onsite is worth its weight in gold.

3. It’s all the little things…
The event managers were on hand pre-party to light the candles, put on the fairy lights, and make a final sweep and clean of the carpets. It’s those last minute little jobs that are better handled by someone else if you want to enjoy getting ready and a calm pre-party vibe. We were also on hand to offer flip flops to any ladies on the dance floor who’d had enough of their high heels. We checked on the bathrooms and kept the greenroom and kitchens tidy. Empty bottles and rubbish was cleared away throughout the night leaving the hosts free to enjoy the party.

4. …and the months (sometimes years) of planning and days of work in the lead up.
Seeing it all come together at the end I knew about all the work involved to reach this point. The technical planning and then 3 to 4 days of physical activity onsite by whole teams of workers to ensure a well constructed and flawless event.

5. I’d always, always have a top notch photographer at any party from now on.
Like your wedding day, after all the many months of planning, the evening itself can feel at times like it’s passing too quickly. A good photographer will capture those moments. A great one will make everyone look Instagram perfect. (Tip! Your party planner will have a little black book with details for the great ones).

6. Leave guests on a high.
Your guests will shout for more when the DJ plays the last track of the night. Do leave guests on a high. Your DJ or party band will have carefully crafted their set to ensure you’ve had all the magic moments that unforgettable party experiences are made of. Trust them to leave your guests on a high with a final track that’s been selected to have guest floating home on cloud 9.

7. And a few things that surprised me…
You can have your very own confetti cannon at a private party. And you can have your DJ mix your favourite, meaningful track to coincide with the moment the cannon explodes over the dance floor. This is great fun to mark the stroke of midnight. Also mixing the DJ up with other musicians works well. For example, an acoustic guitarist for when guests first arrive and a bongo player to mingle with crowds on the dance floor. Hostesses are also a brilliant idea to bring colour and entertainment. And pre selecting a cocktail menu with your party planner is a great idea if you want professional cocktail mixologists at your party.

Do you have a special occasion in the horizon?

Plan your special occasion with Mirage Parties and create a treasured party experience to share with family and friends. Call 01883 740400 or email info@mirageparties.co.uk

All of the images shown on our website are from parties and events that have been planned and produced by Mirage Parties. ©2018 Mirage Parties.

See more Mirage Parties blog posts for marquee party ideas, inspiration and event industry news.