With the holidays here, I thought it would be a great idea to give you some tips and tricks on party planning. You’re probably all familiar with my dear friend and party planner extraordinaire, Shuki Moran, from when he planned my wedding on Donnie Loves Jenny. He is my go-to party planner for any occasion and can create a little piece of heaven no matter what he’s planning. I did a Q&A with him to give you some insight on what he does and tips to spice up your holiday parties this season:
How did you get started in event planning?
I think around 20 years ago my husband Dale asked me to help as a waiter at the catering company he was managing. After a year or two, another catering company asked me to manage her company. I worked for them for about 10 years and then I decided to start my own company, Exceptional Events by Shuki Moran.
What was one of your favorite events that you’ve planned?
My favorite event was at the beginning of my career at Exceptional Events in 2006. Jenny McCarthy interviewed me for her Christmas Party in Hollywood. She told me she wanted to create an ice rink and make a big party that would be kid friendly. I never had or planned an event this size, but I took on the challenge. In two months, I had to put this party together. It was a holiday party for 500 guests full of celebrities. Very stressful for me but when Jenny arrived the night before the event and I saw how she loved everything, I was SO happy. I felt like the king of the world.
Other than Jenny McCarthy, what are some other clients you’ve worked with?
Some celebrities I have worked with are Will and Jada Smith, David and Victoria Beckham’s welcome party, Brooke Burns and Gavin O’Connor’s wedding, and of course, Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy’s wedding.
What is the most unique event you’ve ever planned?
I think my own wedding was the most unique event I’ve ever done. First, it was very emotional for me and very challenging since I felt that my guests have a lot of expectations from me, so I had to make it different. I did a French Moroccan theme with belly dancers, a fire show and we rode into the reception on 2 camels. I created a lounge in blue and gold and a floor cover with Persian rugs. I did not want the traditional sit down dinner so we did a cocktail party where the guests could mingle around with each other and not sit in one place.
Out of all the little details that go into planning an event, what is your favorite part of the process and why?
The design and decor are my favorite part of my job. When you transform a venue and create a fantasy evening for your client, it’s a feeling that I can’t describe. The first response from your client the night of the event, is always on the design and decor. After I see their reaction to the decor, it motivates me to continue with the event and finish it to 100% satisfaction of my clients.
Are you limited to a certain area and distance you’ll travel to do an event?
There is no limit to where I can work. I actually like to work places I’ve never worked before. It’s a great challenge to find all new vendors.
Have you ever had an event not turn out as planned? How do you handle the situation when something goes wrong?
For Jenny’s holiday party, I put an ice rink on hold, but by the time the client approved the rink, the ice rink company I booked told me that they rented it to someone else. I asked all my crew to stop what they were doing and search for a new ice rink. I told them that no one goes home until we find one and we did! Then an hour after we booked an ice rink from NY and they were supposed to ship it to Los Angeles, we found out the venue we were doing the party at actually had an ice rink company that could do our party. That was a big celebration with a nice bonus for my crew.
You plan all different kinds of events and parties. What is your favorite type event to plan and why?
Lately, I started planning more fundraisers and I find that it’s very rewarding. When I do a fundraiser, I work with a lot of volunteers and they are the most sweet and pleasant people to ever work with. Also, when I do a fundraiser where I can create a unique design that will make the event different from other fundraisers my clients have done in the past, it’s an awesome feeling to see when the guests arrive and you get to see their reactions.
Give us 2 tips to create the ultimate Thanksgiving table décor.
Make your table different from the past. Put lots of candles on it. With candles you can stay in budget and it will light up your table. If you have extra budget, rent nice linens and chairs. For Thanksgiving, I’ll go with earth colored linens like chocolate brown, cinnamon, copper, and natural. Make sure your flowers pop on the table. Use a mix of yellow, orange, dark red and some green to make your table stunning.
What is something that our holiday parties should not go without this year?
I think a holiday party is much more fun if you add entertainment to them. Some of the options are a singer to sing holiday songs, carolers always make it different and if you want a dance party, hire a good DJ to play dance music or background music. Add a drummer or any different musical instrument for the DJ to make it more exciting like violin, or any classical instrument to make it special and different. On the invitation, ask your guests to dress up in the theme that you created for your party. Do not have just a cocktail party without anything else. Your guests will get bored and your party will become just another holiday party they went to.
If you’re in the need of an event planner for the holidays, your big day or a birthday, Shuki is your man! After using Exceptional Events by Shuki Moran, I’ll never have anyone else plan my events and I know you’ll love him just as much as I do. I have included some pictures below from my wedding day, but make sure you check out the Event Galleries on his website for even more breathtaking event photos.