How to Throw the Perfect Major Bash

Whether it’s your first fund-raiser or the big 5-0, this is more than a party—it’s a milestone. The right location and some epic details will make it one of a kind

Number of guests: 50-plus
Save the date: 4 – 6 months in advance
Invitations: 6-8 weeks in advance

Five Great Places to Reserve When Price is No Object

Gate at Paramount Studios in Hollywood
The gate at Paramount Studios in Hollywood

Photograph by Louie Psihoyos/Corbis

1. Greystone Park and Mansion
Once the home of a 1920s oil heir, the beautifully restored Tudor revival mansion, which is in the National Register of Historic Places, has iron gates and formal En-glish gardens. You can entertain about 700 guests indoors or on the shady terrace. Book up to a year in advance; prices range from $8,500 to $42,000.

2. Sheats-Goldstein Residence
Designed in the early 1960s by John Lautner, this breathtaking house of glass and concrete, with its junglelike garden and some of Los Angeles’s best panoramic views, offers a sexy backdrop for up to 200 guests. Club James, named after the house’s eccentric owner—fashion icon James Goldstein—recently opened next door. But there’s a catch: To gain access to the house, you must rent out the club, too. Reserve both no less than two weeks ahead; the price for this level of reveling is $35,000 per night.

3. Marion Davies Guest House
The dollhouse on the Pacific shore that’s part of the Annenberg Community Beach House can accommodate a party of 140 indoors, but more can spill out into the garden and onto the restored veranda. Reserve a year in advance; the cost to rent the space is roughly $3,000 to $5,000.

4. Paramount Back Lot
Make life just like the movies by setting your gala in a period streetscape. Depending on the size of the event, you should book 1 to 18 months in advance; fees start at $10,000.

 5. The Ace Hotel Theater Lobby
The lobby, a mix of Spanish Gothic revival and postmodern touches, is now available to the public. If you book the venue for 600 guests, the Ace will handle the hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, security, and technical staff. At least two weeks’ notice is required; the space costs from $7,000 (party of 50) to $84,000 (600).

Or You Could Rent a Bachelor Pad


You don’t need Juan Pablo to throw a rose ceremony. Turn an evening at The Bachelor’s mansion into reality through EVENTup. The Web site is sort of a luxury Craigslist for renting thousands of venues, including a house once occupied by Marilyn Monroe and the castle where Katy Perry shot a video.

Keys Please! Why You Should Consider Valet Service

Illustration by Kirsten Ulve

“In L.A. it’s all about the parking. In New York it’s all about the coat check. Either way, the arrival and the exit need to be flawless. When people arrive easily, they’re in a good mood. When they leave easily, they will talk about how great the event was.” -Janine Micucci president, Production Elements

PLUS: More Show Stoppers

Take an event from “That was fun” to “Fan-Effing-tastic!” with these splurges

Pyro Spectaculars

Fireworks Display

Light up the sky with help from Pyro Spectaculars, which hauls a barge from Long Beach Harbor and sends explosives flying above the Malibu coast, which is where your guests will be watching. You’ll need to book at least 30 days in advance; $60,000 buys 20 minutes. The confetti cannon and smoke columns are extra.

3-D Projection Mapping
Transform walls into colorful canvases and windows into animated alternate realities. Philippe Bergeron’s company, Paintscaping, can simulate incredible imaginary worlds. Book six to eight weeks ahead; fees range from $17,000 to $55,000.

Red Carpet Rollout
Make like a celebrity and rent a ten-foot-long red carpet and backdrop from Red Carpet Runway. Dressed-to-impress guests will be jones-ing for a photo-op that costs you, the host, $179 to $579.

Fresh Oyster Bar
An alternative to boring blini comes from the Oyster Gourmet. The professional shuckers supply a barrel of oysters and a bar on ice. Two hundred forty oysters go for $700.

Nitrogen Ice Cream Bar
Flash-frozen treats are the specialty at SuperCool Creamery. In addition to “dry” ice cream, the company also makes liquid nitrogen cocktails. For $650, you can feed 65 people.

Photo Booth with Props
Now this is how you do a selfie: Cliques Photo Booth lets guests snap themselves in feather boas and other regalia. Pictures come out in less than ten seconds, and you can upload instantly to social media. Rentals range from $800 to $1,050.

Illustration by Kirsten Ulve
Photograph by Louie Psihoyos