Whether it’s a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Cocktail Reception, Gala Dinner or Wedding in New York, there are certain elements that ensure that your event will stand out from the rest. Herbert Rose has over 40 years of experience as Director of Catering at New York’s finest venues, and is now Director Emeritus at GUASTAVINO’S and 583 Park Avenue. Over the next few weeks the patriarch of The Rose Family will share his commentary on the factors that make an event stand out from the crowd. This week: Décor

To many event hosts, décor and decoration take precedence over all of the other elements of event planning. Many will commit more of their financial resources to decorating the party than all other facets combined. This is particularly true of weddings, Bar or Bat Mitzvahs and other large social gatherings. Of course, this is a mistake unless:

1. Money means nothing to you

2. The venue or site you’ve selected is so homely or so barren that you have no choice.

Assuming you are working with a reasonable budget and a top New York event venue, here are some guidelines to follow on the topic of event décor:

Décor can be a way of personalizing a space and differentiating it from other events your guests may have attended in the same venue. It can also be a way to demonstrate your wealth and to what lengths you are willing to go to impress your friends and relatives. That’s all for the good, but over-the-top décor will not necessarily enhance the quality of your party beyond the first impression. While you should not ignore decorating, use it as a tool to highlight the architecture and décor of the space you have selected. There is no need to try to reinvent a classic venue like Guastavino’s or 583 Park Avenue. Enhance the space with your personality and style, but also allow for the venue to breathe and speak for itself.

There is a popular New York floral decorator whose hallmark is plastering the ladies’ and men’s washrooms with heaps of flowers, for an extra fee, of course. Some people are awed by it, but many find it vulgar and foolish, regarding it as excess for the sake of excess. The point is, those extra thousands of dollars spent don’t make your party any better than one without greenhouse toilets.

If you have your heart set on a particular venue, but their décor will require a major overhaul, my suggestion is to move on. There are simply more effective ways to go about hosting your event.

There are exceptions to this rule. Years ago, I did a wedding for a mother who hated the look of my past employer’s ballroom, but loved the location and attached hotel. She had very definite tastes, and though the ballroom was beautiful, it just did not fit her ideal for the perfect wedding venue. As the wife of one of New York’s great industrialists of the second half of the last century, money was no object. She hired Mel Atlas, the greatest floral decorator of that age, to redecorate our ballroom to her liking. He covered the room in Wild Smilax in such an elegant fashion that the theme later became one of the hallmarks of the hotel’s ballroom.

When it comes to venue décor, pick a site you like. Personalize it, beautify it, but know when to stop. Décor is but one element of your party’s success. Décor is the tail while service, food and music are the dog. Remember which elements are most important and the rest will fall into place.

Herbert Rose is Director Emeritus at GUASTAVINO’S and 583 Park Avenue. He has over 40 years of experience as Director of Catering at New York’s finest venues. Future commentaries will include temperature, music, and timeline.

Have a question for Herbert? CONTACT US today and he will be happy to address it in a future post.