Paige Appel and Kelly Harris are the endlessly creative duo behind the Culver City, California-based Bash, Please, a full-service event production and design house. Beyond being the people to see about stunning locations and gorgeous floral arrangements, they are also ambassadors of fun — an element that’s evident in the one-of-a-kind weddings, birthday parties, and bridal showers they style.
Their collaboration began over coffee when Paige, a social and corporate event planner, and Kelly, a designer of floral and succulent arrangements, met and decided it would be way more fun to unite their powers. Together they eschew the expected (no garter toss or chain-hotel ballroom weddings here), seek inspiration from artists, and truly enjoy what they do.
We asked Paige and Kelly to share five sure-fire tricks for throwing an out-of-the-ordinary, truly memorable party.
1. Set an intention.
Find a specific narrative or something that makes people feel like there is a direction behind the party. We’ve taken famous couples from history, like Johnny Cash and June Carter. For a John and Yoko party, the inspiration and ideas stemmed from their songs and story as a couple, like the hammers and nails we used for decoration. Once you’ve figured out the big idea, keep that in mind throughout the planning process because it will help you feel less scatterbrained as a host.
2. Give guests a little direction.
The invitation gets people excited and offers a nod to your intention. Plus, guests always ask what they should wear, so providing a dress code makes them feel more comfortable. You can say on the invitation that everyone should wear some form of black and white, dress like they want to impress, or that they should bring sunglasses, flip flops, and a Hawaiian shirt.
We used to host movie club, where everyone would bring potluck and watch a movie together. You can take the theme further: watch “Annie” and have everyone dress as if they’re from the Great Depression. It can be as elaborate or minimal as you make it, but give people a little direction as to what you’re doing.
3. Get creative when sourcing decorations.
We’re not the kind to go to one place to find something. If you’re planning a party, it’s always better to go to the right sources — a contemporary home decor store, flea market, or antiques shop — that fits within your cohesive theme. For a granny-chic party, we went to people’s homes and scoured for Amish textiles and Quaker throw blankets, and we also had a lady crochet a bunch of boutonnieres for guests to wear.
4. Don’t force favors.
Favors should be part of the party’s story or a cohesive element of the theme. Don’t force it, unless it adds to the intention. It could be something that people consume, use, or have fun with at the party. If you’re having an ’80s party, maybe you’d give the women an ’80s kit with legwarmers, blue eye shadow, and sparkle lip gloss, and the guys could get a koozie and some weird sunglasses. That way everyone can jump right in with some element of the ’80s and be part of it.
Give a memento that can be a useful, nice reminder after the fact, like wine keys for a wine party, or seed packets of heirloom tomatoes and carrots for a gardening party.
5. Walk the party yourself.
Envision the party as a guest. How are guests parking, and what will they see upon arrival? When they walk in the door, are they greeted with a specialty cocktail that gives nod to the narrative? Is there an interactive conversation starter or music playing from a certain decade or era?
Make sure you’re covering every sense. Events are sensory and there’s an element of the subconscious that you experience in all those tiny little details, so thinking about that while planning is key to pulling off a successful event.
Photo of Kelly and Paige by Max Wanger
John and Yoko Party by Bonnie Tsang
Movie Night by Brandon Kidd
Granny Chic Wedding by Featherlove Photography
Sunglasses for a Desert Wedding by Max Wanger
Garden Party Seed Packets by CharleyStar Photography