Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash

Twenty four was one of my most challenging years yet. A lot changed for me both personally and professionally, but it gave me the chance to make changes in my life that Iā€™m so grateful for. My twenty fifth birthday bash was a celebration of those changes, and the strong group of women who supported and empowered me along the way. It was so special, and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

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Vibe

When I sat down to think about my Goals for my twenty fifth birthday bash, I knew the vibe would be key.

I wanted guests to have a ton of fun, feel their best, well cared for and thought of, and to create an environment that exuded a playful, carefree energy.

Think: California Girls (@KatyPerry), Colorful, Bold, Happy, Thriving, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini.

Welcome Drinks

Guests were greeted with margaritas in mini Patron Silver bottles, topped with pink flamingo drink straws. A Self Serve Bar was prepped and ready to go with all of the essentials, plus some extras like individual water tumblers and drink recipe cards to mix the perfect cocktail.

Sparkle Baby, Sparkle

There’s something about the first hour of a party that dictates how the rest of an event will run. So when I started crafting the timeline for my twenty fifth birthday bash, I knew I needed an icebreaker.

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Queue beauty bar to kick off the celebration, loosen people up, get some live decor in and most importantly, bring out that high-energy vibe. I’m a big fan of make up artistry, so I think this really resonated with my friends, and felt authentic to who I am as a person.

Beauty Bar Details

I filled acrylic organizers with festival glitter and primer, body and face highlight, and metallic liquid eyeshadows. To keep it COVID free, I also included disposable sponge make up applicators as well as eyeshadow applicators, and kept hand sanitizer within arms reach.

Flash tattoos flanked the make up section, which were divided into white-wash wooden trays and gold leaf vessels on each side. I stuck with tropical themed tattoos, while adding some bohemian touches like arrows, feathers, and other free spirited designs.

The metallic freckle tattoos were a personal favorite. Created by Mr. Kate Beauty Marks, they’re made to apply just over the bridge of your nose.

I added natural sea and synthetic sponges to an acrylic pitcher, and filled spray bottles with water, so that guests could apply the tattoos without needing to go inside.

The beauty bar came together atop a Golden Brisa linen from Nuage Designs, with two chairs in front for guests to sit and work their magic.

Custom acrylic signs from Coppice & Crafts read “Beauty Bar,” “Sparkle Baby, Sparkle” and “Glow Up” (because we’re all on that #glowup journey, am I right?).

I finished it off with a full length mirror, turned horizontally, rested against the house, and a handheld mirror for a closer look. I also added in a pack of make up wipes, so that guests could try different looks, and remove all of the glitter before jumping into the pool.

Accessories & Activations

I love a design that doubles as an activation. It gives the design meaning and intention, and invites guests to immerse themselves in the event.

Bonus: guests inherently become a part of the design as they use and engage with activations. It really makes the theme, vibe and goals come to life.

Queue accessories, like vibrant sun visors strung along twine with clothespins, and an assortment of eccentric sunglasses and headbands.

Sun Visors
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Visors – Sunnylife
Sunglasses and Headbands
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Cherries, Daisies, Shells & Unicorn Headbands – Sunnylife. Metal Heart Sunglasses – UrbanOutfitters. Retro Heart Sunglasses – Paper Source.

Towels, PVC Clutches & Hangover Kits

Resting on lounge chairs and tucked inside a metal basket were Tuscan Yellow Towels from The Beach People.

PVC clutches from Sunnylife in blue and pink were filled with sunscreen, chapstick with SPF, spiral hair coils and barrettes.

Guests took home hangover kits from Bachette with recovery essentials like face masks, under eye patches, Advil, rainbow scrunchies and other goodies. To view the bags and all of their contents, click the Download button below.

Lounge & Lawn Games

A vignette of lounge materials and lawn games created a seamless flow between the pool and deck. Guests used the area to sit, chat, sip and play.

A Polaroid camera stocked with colorful film options inspired photo opps and captured so many candid moments.

Dinner & Dessert

Pizza Luca has the most amazing, authentic wood fired pizza, that’s served out of a blue 1952 Chevy flatbed truck. I opted for a spring green salad, and four types of pizza; Margherita, Bianca, Filetti and Marinara, along with lemon Italian ice. It was a huge hit!

The evening ended with a variety of sweets. I’m a dessert person, so more was more with this one! Not pictured: rainbow chocolate chip cookie cake from Baked in Color & white, milk and dark chocolate covered Oreos and strawberries from Hudson Valley Chocolates.

White bakery to-go boxes were left out for guests to take sweets home, but I was still left with so many extras.

Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash Swan Cake
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Swan Cake (Lemon Cake with Layers of Lemon Curd, Strawberry Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries) – Nine Cakes
Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash Tropical Cookies in Sunshine, Flamingo and Monstera Leaf
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Sunshine, Flamingo and Monstera Leaf Cookies – Tiny Kitchen Treats
Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash Swan Cake, Tropical Cookies, Unicorn and Glitter Cake Pops
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Unicorn & Glitter Cake Pops – New York Cake Pops

Good Times, Good Vibes

I’m so grateful to have celebrated a quarter of a century with such a close group of friends.

Each of them has supported, motivated and inspired me to strive for the best version of myself. Thank you ladies for surrounding me with so much love, and for pushing me towards my goals.

To get a closer look into my twenty fifth birthday bash, and view the deck I created while planning, click here.


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All About Dossiers

Representing the theme, color scheme, and scale of an event, these hyper-curated documents provide guests with an amazing reference guide to plan the perfect outfit for a special occasion.

Dossiers are lookbooks, used for attire purposes, that inspire guests to dress in accordance with an event theme.

They’re typically presented on an event website, or as an enclosure card of an invitation suite. They can also be sent several weeks out from an event, when attire is more top of mind for guests.

When to Use it

When a theme is hyper-specific, dossiers are the way to go.

Perhaps the desired dress code is difficult to interpret from the attire specified on the invitation alone. It’s not as simple as ‘Formal,’ or ‘Cocktail Attire.’

Think: Resort Chic, Wild Wild West, or Shine Bright, which was the theme of a past Knot Gala that requested guests dress in all white with metallic accents… View the Knot Gala 2019 Pinterest board that was shared with guests here.

Dossiers are extremely useful for events that span across a weekend, especially wedding weekends. If a wedding client is hosting a welcome party on the Thursday prior to the wedding, a rehearsal dinner on Friday, wedding on Saturday, and post-wedding brunch on Sunday, and each event has a specific theme, dossiers can serve as the perfect tool to communicate what guests should wear. It’s a huge asset during their packing process!

Where to Start

Pick a few words that exemplify the scope and scale of the event, aesthetic, and vibe.

Is it chic, effortless and vibrant, or is it more black tie, sophisticated and refined? Consider including colors, locations, or phrases – it’s completely up to your interpretation of the event.

Use those words as checks and balances when deciding if an image is the right fit to include in the dossier. As always, reference Event Goals to make sure these words support exactly what the event looks to achieve.

Source and file inspiration images from magazines, online articles, designers, characters from movies, the event venue… inspiration is everywhere!

When it comes to dossiers, less is definitely more. Limit the final selection to the top photos or phrases that best represent the look for each event.

How to Execute

Dossiers can be illustrations on printed material, such as a trifold card stock that’s enclosed in the invitation. They can also be digital, included on a website for the event or a stand-alone site, or presented via Pinterest.

Pro-Tip: Consider hiring a watercolorist to hand paint the dossier, or a graphic designer to digitally create each look. Working with a professional gives you the flexibility to completely customize the dossier, and produce something that’s visually stunning!

Some illustrators will handle the design only, and share the graphics with the client for them to print. Others will supply the printed or digital materials. Pricing is usually billed on an hourly basis, and varies depending on the number of revisions.

Once the dossier is complete, watch your vision come to life on the event day. If you’re Type-A like me, you’ll love how cohesive guests look as they move throughout the event environment. It looks impeccable in photos!

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Event Decks

Decks provide visual reference for event concepting, design, layout, form and function. They’re an extremely useful tool to curate how an event will look and feel.

What is an Event Deck?

After I’ve surfed through Pinterest, mulled over different designs, and have a skeletal plan for an event, I launch Powerpoint and begin working on a deck.

The deck serves two purposes; representing inspiration and actualized ideas. It flushes out concepts, serves as a hub of information and is ultimately a decision-making platform.

When I build a deck, I like to think in terms of event flow, with a beginning, middle and end. I start by choosing a cover photo that best represents the vibe I’m after.

My Event Deck features tropical concepts, represented by this pool with palm leaves
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

Finding Inspiration

In the early stages of a deck, the next 10-20 slides are filled with inspiration images ranging from stationery ideas, to welcome moments, decor, activities, food and beverage, and guest gifts.

There could be as many as 3-5 different themes shown in these initial images. Think of this step as a jumping off point to guide you towards a final theme direction that best accomplishes the goals you’re after.

Read more about the importance of defining goals for your event here and the role they play during the planning process.

My Event Deck includes concepts like a beauty bar activation, represented by this image of powdered eyeshadows in pink, blue, orange, and purple
Photo by š•šžš§š®š¬ š‡šƒ šŒššš¤šž- š®š© & ššžš«šŸš®š¦šž on Pexels.com

Looking at Logistics

As the deck is populated with inspiration, consider the following for each concept shown:

  • How does this support the overarching goals of the event?
  • Is this feasible in accordance with the event budget?
  • What labor will this realistically require for set up, during the event itself and strike?

All of these questions will prompt you to play out scenarios for each design.

Finalizing the Theme

Look for patterns in the inspiration photos that make you most excited, and identify exactly which parts of those images you are drawn to and why. Research the marketplace for the concepts shown, it may become clear that certain themes are out of budget, or lacking in availability.

At this stage, you will have fully flushed out the design, compared pricing to the event budget and confirmed availability. Check the box for due diligence!

Once the theme is selected, deep dive into design. Remove any inspiration images that no longer fit the scope and scale of the event.

It’s totally fine to mix and match inspiration images that showcase different themes. The point is that the deck makes sense to you. It doesn’t need to represent one continuous design plan just yet.

My Event Deck includes flamingo stakes, pictured here, and pink accents with palm leaves
Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on Pexels.com

Pro-Tip: Lean into the design by creating vignettes for each phase of the event. Consider the presentation of everything; treat all vessels, activities, food & beverage, and decor as a decision. Be thorough here, anything within the event environment should be on-brand and represent the theme.

Planning for Purchases

While sourcing materials for the event, add product links and pricing to the notes section of the Powerpoint slide that houses the items you’re considering.

Look for multiple suppliers of those products – don’t just purchase the first one you see. Starting far enough in advance of the event will position you to purchase items when they’re on sale.

When your first purchase has been made, separate the event deck into two sections: Inspiration and Purchased. Reference and compare the two sections against future purchases to stay on theme. This is also when an Inventory List will come into play.

Two nude pool umbrellas
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

It’s All Coming Together

At this stage, the deck is no longer a shell of a design, but instead a cohesive lookbook of actualized purchases.

Populate your deck in real-time, as purchases are made and orders are confirmed, to account for each piece of the puzzle.

Don’t forget to include stationery, like the save the date!

Pink exterior envelope with my name on it in white script. This was the save the date invitation for my twenty fifth birthday bash
Envelope liner with palm leaves
Save the date invitation with pink flamingos and gold and pink writing

Final Edits

Once all purchases are reflected in the deck, play the presentation on full screen a few times, and organize slides in a cohesive way; mirroring the beginning, middle and end of the event.

It’s super helpful if the items on each slide make up the vignette being produced on the event day. Then, it can be easily translated to a visual checklist of items to account for once you or any staff hired starts to set up.

Final edits solidify the vision and goals for the event, and demonstrate how to properly execute those moments in a turnkey way.

Round beach towels in palm leaves and pink flamingos. Yellow palm leaf pillows
Tropical sun visors in playful patterns like rainbow, mermaid, orange, iridescent and pink and green palm leaves.
"Baby Got Bounce" inflatable beach ball, "Island Vibes" inflatable flyer and inflatable volleyball net for pool

The Completed Deck

Toss the confetti, the deck is complete!

Download the presentation to your phone for quick reference on the event day. This step-by-step guide is such a helpful resource to identify where every item will live, so be sure to share with anyone assisting with set up on the event day.

To view an example of a final event deck, click the Download button below. This deck shows the plans for my twenty fifth birthday celebration that took place over the summer of 2020 (I had a blast with this one). To read more about that party and how it came to fruition, click here.

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