As the weather cools, outdoor chuppahs and barbecues transition into more indoor-focused parties. Let the choices you make reflect the beauty of the season and the personalities of the chosson and kallah or bar/bat mitzvah whose big day you are celebrating.
Party planner Deena Greenstein, LBK Events, said today’s simchot are becoming more personalized, with attention to detail in every aspect of the party. “When you create an event, you’re creating an experience. To do that, you employ the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and sound.”
Greenstein suggested touches such as greeting guests with a warm cup of apple cider with a cinnamon stick to warm up their hands. Outdoor fire pits can let guests hold onto a little summer as they enjoy the outdoors while keeping the chill in the air at bay. The decor can reflect the outdoors with rustic foliage in a palette of orange and mustard colors. Table settings for dinner can include woodsy elements and florals.
The choice of venue can also mirror the season. “I love Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood. It’s set in a forest with one wall of the social hall and one wall of the sanctuary all glass so you can look out at the foliage.”
Greenstein said people are searching for out-of-the-box venues to make a wedding unique, like warehouses and farms, and destinations such as a Caribbean island. That’s where the experience of a party planner is a necessity, not a luxury, as the logistics get more complicated. “What goes along with a non-traditional venue is that they don’t always have kitchens,” said Greenstein. “You have to create a kosher mobile commissary.”
Orthodox weddings, usually involving a large number of family and friends, balance the couple’s desire for a unique event with a need to make guests comfortable. The format is usually the traditional reception/tisch, bedekken, service, meal and dancing. Greenstein has noticed an evolving change in music. More weddings now have live musicians for the reception and ceremony and then switch to a DJ who plays more Israeli pop. “DJs can offer a broader range of music,” she said. Personalization is showing up on accessories like napkin rings and bentchers with the couple’s monogram.
Parties for a bar/bat mitzvah are becoming more focused on their interests. Greenstein said she just did a football tournament party at New York’s Asphalt Green where the kids played and got jerseys and prizes. She created a music festival in a client’s backyard, complete with food trucks and amusement park rides. Greenstein said her daughter recently went to a bat mitzvah party at a water park.
Party favors, or swag, once an after-thought or a small thank you, are becoming part of the trend to personalize. “If the bar/bat mitzvah is into water sports, give out a towel. I’m working on a party now where we’re giving out binoculars. Favors are another way for kids to show their personal interests.”
Greenstein said bar/bat mitzvah parties are moving away from formal, wedding-like affairs, into more clubby event venues like Teaneck’s Rain, in which she is a partner. Event spaces can provide one-stop-shopping with a kosher caterer on site, a DJ and decor as part of the package. The format is often more casual, with small tables of four to six people so people aren’t boxed into all sitting or standing at the same time. When a party takes place at a synagogue social hall on Shabbat afternoon following a service, people are bringing in non-electric games like ping pong and Pop-A-Shot, a basketball game that is Shabbat-friendly when not plugged in for scoring.
“It all goes back to creating a multi-sensory experience, not just an event, designed for the person you’re celebrating,” said Greenstein.
By Bracha Schwartz