The Party Planning Guide
Parties are best when they can actually be enjoyed: Whether it’s a kids birthday, a landmark anniversary, or a wedding, there’s no reason it has to involve blood, sweat, and a fat rolodex. Here, a comprehensive list of trusted vendors for everything from vintage tableware rentals to organic-only catering to gourmet cotton candy carts. And if all else fails, a slew of skilled event planners.
Lara Porzakinfo@laraporzak.com | 310.779.4361
Lara Porzak is a real-deal fine art photographer who just happens to pick up a limited amount of events per year, just for the fun of it–though tons of big names have hired her to do snap their weddings. She shoots real film—almost unheard of these days—and develops her predominantly black-and-white prints by hand.
Max Wanger & Friends Photographyhello@maxandfriends.com | 310.500.7714
Max Wanger is well known for his soft, minimalist style (best showcased by his instantly recognizable overhead shots), a sensibility shared by all the creatives who work for his booming business. All the photographers under his umbrella share a beautiful, editorialized aesthetic, so it really doesn’t matter if you can't book Max himself.
Bonnie Tsang Photographyhi@bonnietsang.com
Bonnie Tsang is one of the most sought-after event photographers in town, thanks to an excellent reputation for honing in on the most joyous, memorable moments and capturing them in a way that's natural and stylized all at the same time.
Jason Murakawa is the guy you contact if you want your tables set with Havilland porcelain, antique sterling silver flatware, and circa 1860 crystal goblets. Small Masterpiece can also provide table settings for your party in New York City. Photo credit: Styled by Bellafare, shot by Heather Waraksa.
Amy Blessing Event Planningamyblessing@me.com | 213.400.1127
Amy is probably best described as a stylist rather than a planner, as her services go far beyond booking vendors (though her rolodex is packed with cool creatives). Her true talents lie in perfecting the thoughtful little details that make events awesome—be it party favors, place settings, floral crowns, or craft stations for kids. Amy co-owns Apartment Number Nine in Chicago with her sister, and they do event work there as well.
Bon Puf Cotton Candy
With her little cart in tow, Cloe Lane spins fresh cotton candy you can enjoy in peace knowing only organic cane sugar, plant-based colors, and all-natural flavors were used. Speaking of flavors: horchata, chai tea, and salted caramel are just a few of the standouts.
Stefanie Cove and Co.8816 Ashcroft Ave., West Hollywood | 323.509.4617
Stefanie Cove is the mastermind behind some of the most memorable goop events (our dinner with Net-a-Porter and last year’s celebration with Diane von Furstenberg), not to mention a goop staffer's wedding. As the owner and creative director of NYC/LA-based Stefanie Cove and Company, she really is the very best planner around, with a deep rolodex of amazing vendors.
Jacqueline Suskin’s Poem Store
Sure you can have a fantastic gathering without the services of Jacqueline Suskin and her old-timey typewriter, but why would you want to? She can set up her Poem Store virtually anywhere and will tap out beautiful, one-of-a-kind poems for guests right on the spot.
Brown Paper Design702 Harrison St., Suite A, Berkeley | 415.494.7956
Since its inception back in 2007, the focus at this event design company has been on florals. That said, founder Danielle Rowe and her talented team can lend their signature romantic aesthetic to each and every event aspect. Brown Paper Design also operates in San Francisco.
Eric Buterbaugh7001 Melrose Ave. | 310.247.7120
Eric Buterbaugh arranges the most beautiful bouquets from quality flowers that last. He's a pleasure to work with, and one of our go-to florists in Los Angeles.
What's special about Gypset is that most design elements (their outdoor structures and lighting compositions are mind-blowing) are produced in-house, so you're pretty much guaranteed a 100% unique experience. Their sweet spot is elaborate large-scale events.
Mindy Weiss232 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills | 310.205.6000
With a long list of corporate and private clients, Mindy Weiss and her team take care of absolutely every detail. What sets Mindy Weiss apart is her great eye for fun and unusual decorations that manage to always fit the theme just right in a contemporary way. Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, luncheons, and corporate parties are all part of her trick bag.
Suzanne Goin is one of LA's more famous chefs, and the catering department at Lucques, the first of several restaurants she's open in SoCal, specializes in the kind of classic California cuisine (lots of good veggie options) that is guaranteed to please. They'll also provide wine from their considerable collection.
Annie Campbell Cateringanniecampbellcatering@gmail.com
There are many reasons why we love Annie Campbell, not the least of which is her understanding that good passed apps have to be bite-sized. Her food is consistently delicious and presented in a reliably creative, beautiful way—so pretty, in fact, you don't need much else in the way of decorations.
Serves You Right Catering310.837.3633
Since 1998, Michele Gan has been catering for crowds of up to 1,000—all with organic, locally sourced food. They offer a host of other services like service staffing, floral arrangements, and other design and décor arrangements for events, though catering is their primary art.
When you think chocolate-dipped bananas, you probably think kids. But consider this: Hannah's bananas, which she serves out of a tricked-out vintage trailer or a cute push-cart, are gourmet—dipped and sprinkled with customizable toppings on the spot for each guest. That's something everyone can get behind.
Whoa Nelly Catering
The team at Whoa Nelly (the two co-founders/chefs cut their teeth at AOC before striking out on their own) believes that what makes an event menu special–whether it's buffet-style, small bites, or family style–are the ingredients. Here, produce is sourced exclusively from local farmers and proteins are all sustainable, all the time.
California Donuts3540 W. 3rd St., Koreatown | 213.385.3318
When it comes to non-cake celebratory desserts, donuts have long since eclipsed the cupcake. As evidenced by an ever-present line, the ones at California Donuts are some of fluffiest and freshest in town. The shop is open 24/7, but you have to call ahead to order their signature donut letters.
Top Tier Treats11511 W. Pico Blvd., West LA | 310.478.1971
Formerly known as Jamaica Cakes, this unassuming little bakery on Pico cranks out some of the most jaw-droppingly elaborate, Food Network-worthy cakes we've ever seen. While not quite as festive as the multi-tiered creations, the cookies, pies, and cupcakes are just as delicious.
Hungry Bear Catering Co.323.906.7775
No matter the size of the gathering, Hungry Bear masters really delicious food in perfectly timed courses. Best of all, there's nothing unpredictable or overly fussy about the menu options, so guests aren't left deciphering what's on their plates.
The Mariachi Divas818.554.5080
This all-female Mariachi band is the real deal, and they've got two Grammys and legions of fans to prove it. Book well in advance.
Helmed by Jesse Kivel and Michael David (of Kisses and Classixx fame, respectively), this creative collective is lightyears away from cheesy wedding DJs. Simply put, these guys have stellar taste in music. For example: A mix can run the gamut from Missy Elliott to The Supremes to Iggy Pop, with some under-the-radar stuff thrown in for good measure. We're told their vinyl collection is second to none.
This is a real-deal jazz band who can get people on the dance floor and then keep them there. Two of the founding members are the guys behind Dart DJ, so expect to hear some pop mashups with the classic stuff—like takes on Neil Young, Daft Punk, and David Bowie.
Rocky Neck Bluegrass Band617.771.6359
While bluegrass is their claim to fame, this trio's repertoire is pretty far-reaching. They'll perform in any number of styles—from jazz to classical to country—to suit any occasion.
Brothers Daniel and David Landau have a sweet, folksy sound (their instruments of choice are cello, guitar, and voice) that brings an intimate ambiance to picnics, birthday parties, weddings, and any other occasion. They’re known for their coffeehouse-style covers of everything from 80s classics to rock, pop, and jazz standards. They also expand to a trio or quartet as needed.
Twig & Twine Flowers716 N. Virgil Ave., Hollywood | 323.660.4100
Equal parts floral boutique and adorable gift shop, Twig & Twine is best enjoyed in person rather than over the phone. Owner Heather Williams' calling card is incorporating unexpected elements into her arrangements, be they succulents or rare, alien-looking blooms.
The Original Los Angeles Flower Market754 Wall St., Downtown | 213.627.3696
For crafty types, Downtown's wholesale flower market (it takes up close to two city blocks) is a DIY goldmine. Yes, there are fresh flowers and succulents—both locally and globally grown—as far as the eye can see, but you can also come here to snag supplies like vases, gardening tools, and ribbon for a song. Pros get first dibs daily; during designated times, the general public can pay a $2 admission fee to shop.
Bloom & Plumeinfo@bloomandplume.com | 323.515.2928
Bloom & Plume arrangements are pretty much unlike anything else out there: Maurice Harris has a telltale flair for the artistic, which results in bouquets and centerpieces that are more botanical sculpture than traditional arrangement. (Take a peek at his Instagram feed to see what we mean—he also did the flowers for our first Cookbook Club.)
The Velvet Garden Flowers622 S. Anderson St., Downtown | 323.852.1766
Kimm Birkicht is a beloved LA-based floral designer with deep industry roots, which translates to an innate understanding that every arrangement—whether it's for a wedding, family gathering, or work event—needs to speak to the client's individual aesthetic.
Tiny Pine Press Letterpress Stationery| 818.625.3723
Tiny Pine Press isn't actually all that tiny: They've been in the business of classic, handmade letterpress goods for over a decade. While it's often our go-to for custom menus, invites, and place cards, their repertoire also includes calling cards, personalized stationery, and branding materials.
Magbooth502.930.0043 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Magbooth is kind of like the people's photo booth: Take your pick of props and custom logos, and never worry about going over some preset picture limit. The best part: every rental comes with an attendant, which significantly minimizes mid-party technical difficulties.
Elan Event Rentals805.760.0544
Elan's cadre of beach-wood benches, rattan chairs, and rustic tables is best suited for outdoor events—they've been curated to blend into natural surroundings rather than overpower them.
Found Vintage Rentals714.888.5811
When generic folding tables and chairs simply won't do, Jeni Maus's impressive archive of everything from distressed-wood seating, to tufted couches, to vintage trunks is clutch. Each piece is hand-sourced by Maus herself and can be rented à la carte or as a pre-styled vignette—rugs, pillows, vases, and all.
Casa de Perrin Vintage Rentals
Casa de Perrin is the brainchild of Josh and Diana Perrin, who've lovingly compiled a miles-long catalog of pretty exceptional vintage china, cutlery, and glassware. Their table settings are unabashedly romantic, though there are plenty of more subdued options thrown in for casual celebrations.
Sugar Paper225 26th St., Brentwood | 310.451.7870
Known for modern and beautiful letterpress stationery, Sugar Paper also does do great holiday cards, wedding invitations, and monogramming. The tiny shop (in the Brentwood Country Mart) also offers cards and paper goods from Rifle Paper Co., Kate Spade, and more.
Empty Vase9033 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood | 310.278.1988
From everyday flowers and plants to bouquets for weddings and other special occasions, The Empty Vase has been reliably churning out stunning bouquets of exceptional quality for years. It's worth a walk into the store, but they do also deliver.
Jonathan Wright & Company7404 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood | 323.931.1710
Jonathan Wright offers beautiful 19th century-esque engraved style stationery and custom letterpress for those who value the power of a written note. They're great with everything from a basic thank you card to ornate wedding invitations.
Fire and Creme1703 Lincoln Blvd., Venice | 310.302.9293
For kiddie birthdays, Venice Beach-based Fire and Creme’s party boxes are nothing short of life changing. Choose from tableware, decoration, and goodie bag boxes (or just pick up all three and save yourself a headache), all of which fit a certain theme—Cowboy Wanted, Gone Surfing, and Party Like a Gypsy are standouts. For extra brownie points with the littles, check out the dress-up section.