The San Francisco Party Planning Guide
Pulling together the right event mix—whether it’s a wedding, a birthday, or a party for no real reason at all—is all about a certain special sauce. Great food and drinks, spot-on music, maybe a few extra shenanigans and flowers for fun, plus a great photographer to capture it all. Below, our San Francisco Rolodex of great vendors.
Ken Fulk Events[email protected] | 415.285.1164
When you need to call in the big guns, you call Ken. The guy behind Sean Parker’s over-the-top Big Sur wedding also does interior design (he's put together some of San Francisco's most beautiful restaurants, and his Pottery Barn collaboration just launched), but he's best known for his events. Lavish, creative, and undeniably fun, he sort of has a Midas touch for unforgettable parties.
Although her corporate events are really beautifully executed (no surprise, with clients like Salesforce, Airbnb, and Pier 24), Alison is best known for her gorgeous weddings in Northern California (and really, all over the world). She's expert at creating an experience that feels uniquely personal and not recycled.
Atelier Joya| 415.854.9462
Atelier Joya does justice to both massive corporate events and one-off arrangements, but weddings are really what they're known for (lush bridal bouquets, flower-topped cakes, and centerpieces that cascade onto the floor). They also have a great rental service for the kind of beautiful things you could buy for an event but might not have use for in the long run. Their warehouse is full of wooden crates, wire baskets, antique lanterns, and even a chuppah.
Robert Fountain definitely has a flair for the dramatic, in the best possible way. Call him when an event requires something extra special, whether it be ambitious projected lighting, a lavish Indian tent, live performers, sky-high centerpieces, or, in at least one case, a live elephant.
Natalie Bowen Designs415.948.6035
Floral design is in Natalie Bowen's genes (her mother was a florist, and her grandmother ran the flower shop at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco back in the 1940s). Her own style has a great sense of balance—the arrangements are lush without ever seeming over-the-top. And while flowers are her specialty, she also offers full-scale event design, from lighting to signage to linen and furniture rentals.
Stanlee Gatti| 415.558.8884
Stanlee Gatti is a fixture of the San Francisco event scene—his all-star client list includes Elton John and George Lucas, and he even planned the wedding for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Stanlee works best at large scale—some of our favorite moments include pantone chairs at an SFMoMA gala and towering pillars of calla lilies at a SAG Awards gala.
Amy Kaneko Events| 415.728.8677
Amy is an alumnus of Yifat Oren, one of our all-time favorite event-planning outfits, so you know she's got the chops to pull off amazing parties. She is also a trained architect, which explains her excellent sense of space and knack for focusing on the right subtle design techniques to make the most of your venue.
The name kind of says it all: These guys are all about straightforward chairs, tables, and linens, all of which they can provide in large quantities. They're also really reliable and well-priced, meaning you won't get your bill only to realize you spent half your budget on napkins.
Shelter Co. Rentals415.967.3630
Shelter Co.'s business concept is completely unique: They've built an entire event-planning company around a gorgeous collection of luxury tents that they put to use in a variety of ways. You can rent just one for a small backyard party, or you can ask them to build out luxury accommodations in the wilderness. For those really remote events, they can also bring in catering, lighting, and general design.
Brown Paper Design702 Harrison St., 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 Los Angeles.
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.
Laurie Arons Special Events1850 Union St., Cow Hollow | 415.292.5032
Laurie’s been in the business since 1994, and while she’s handled everything from dressed-up barbecues to intimate dinners, weddings have always been (and continue to be) her bread and butter. If you’re doing a destination wedding—even if it's just in Napa—book her for weekend and destination planning, which takes the pressure off your guests to entertain themselves by providing activities throughout their stay. In addition to being organized, thoughtful, and easy to work with, she’s got relationships with all of the best vendors in SF.
Zephyr Tents1563 Solano Ave, Berkeley | 510.559.8694
Zephyr likes to think of its tented canopies as sails—billowing, crisp, and made to last. This is appropriate given the tent type: The “Sperry” was initially crafted by New England sailmaker Steve Sperry. These canopies are as beautiful inside as they are outside, with many of the panels hand-sewn and the support poles carved out of wood. Most importantly, the entire structure is waterproof. Tents come in a variety of sizes to cater to events of all sizes, and the crew is top-notch. Conveniently, Zephyr also provides beautiful furniture, much of it made from reclaimed wood, hardwood flooring, and incredible lighting (we love the paper lanterns strung from the tent roof, which is as beautiful as it sounds).
We have often found that the realities of hosting an outdoor sleepover have a way of stalling plans. Camp’d Out is a full-service luxury tent company that accommodates off-the-grid locations with ease. Pick a patch of desert or an unoccupied hillside (with permission, of course) and this female-founded company will handle the rest. Tents are spacious and decked out with comfortable blow-up mattresses, organic sheets, rugs underfoot, and handy storm lamps. Camp’d Out will also tailor the campsite to your event with heaters, a camp butler to help with the drinks, a fire pit to ward off the chill (and toast a few s’mores), and an outdoor lounge area to maximize the under-the-stars experience. Go big and book Moonrise Standard to cook a feast. You won’t regret it.