How to Craft the Ultimate Soiree: 5 Tips From a Celebrity Wedding Planner

Pro wedding planner Tara Guérard lists the necessary ingredients for a top-shelf celebration.

I recently grabbed coffee and chatted with one of the funniest and warmest people I've ever met — and it just so happens she's one of the world's most renowned wedding gurus, too. Tara Guérard, owner of Tara Guérard Soiree, is a pioneer in the wedding-planning business, developing her signature, charming Southern party style from scratch before wedding and event planning was even considered a profession.

Tara Guerard

Tara Guerard

Since the launch of Soiree in Charleston, S.C. in 1997, her exquisite taste and keen eye for detail have propelled her brand into one of the most sought after in the country, with affluent brides and grooms (think Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds) trusting her with their special celebrations. What makes her particular style of event design so successful? Besides the fact that each of her fetes is blow-your-mind beautiful, Tara and her crew have a knack for transforming their clients' unique tastes and personalities into full-service experiences that are not only custom and curated but ultra-elegant and totally fun.

And lucky for us, she was willing to share a few of her simple secrets to pulling off the ultimate soiree.

Design Your Wedding Around What You Love

While Tara is a firm believer in the usefulness of Pinterest for creating mood boards and finding aesthetic inspiration, she says visiting clients' homes gives her a real feel for their tastes, likes and dislikes. "I can go into anyone's house and see their style, see what they love and what they wear, and it tells me a whole story. Then, I can design an entire wedding based on that," she says.

The takeaway? If you're struggling to nail down a wedding style, take a look at the places and things you love most, identify your favorite elements, then find a way to translate those elements into a wedding style that's uniquely you.

Create an Engaging Atmosphere

The best parties are fun, warm and encourage guests to interact with one another. To facilitate this, Tara suggests choosing rectangular tables instead of round ones and filling them with low-lying centerpieces so family and friends can converse easily across the dinner table. After dinner, a cozy lounge space away from the dance floor offers an intimate reprieve from a party in full swing. "It's all about making your guests feel comfortable and like they never want to leave," says Tara.

Pay Attention to Detail

From the bar to the decor to the dance floor, every detail of a Soiree wedding is custom-built and designed by Tara and her team, allowing couples to create a personalized atmosphere. But you don't have to be a skilled carpenter or florist to pull off the wedding of your dreams. According to Tara, the success of an event lies in how much attention is paid to even the smallest of details. Incorporating quality items such as vintage serveware, linen napkins and antique furniture pieces in place of standard rental decor are all easy ways to achieve a curated, romantic design without breaking the bank (or your back).

Hire a Day-Of Coordinator

If hiring a full-service wedding planner isn't in your budget, Tara encourages couples to at least bring in a coordinator to manage events the day of your wedding. "On the day of your wedding, you want to enjoy yourself," she says, "you can plan the entire thing yourself, buy a planning book and go the DIY route, but you need a day-of person. The last thing you want to do is worry on your wedding day."

Remember Three Staples for a Great Party

At the end of the day, a perfect party is comprised of three simple elements: great service, good music and no line at the bar. "My goal when designing weddings is for every single guest to say, 'That was the best wedding I've ever been to,' because they were totally taken care of."

See more of Tara's stunning celebrations on her blog, and stay tuned for her upcoming YouTube series where she'll be sharing more of her top wedding tips and DIY projects.

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