How exciting! You have just received the date for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, more than two years away. Plenty of time to plan and put together an amazing event in honor of this milestone occasion. Jumping right in, you start researching hotels or other banquet facilities as well as local vendors, perhaps even quickly settling on and booking a venue, DJ, and photographer. You get super organized with a digital planner and good old fashioned notebook with subject tabs. And then the fun really begins. You start a Pinterest board to collect ideas for decor and how to create the overall look you envision. It all seems fairly easy. But then, before long, the details and things that need attention start piling up.
When planning mitzvahs, we often hear that it’s unexpectedly similar to planning a wedding. And in some ways, that’s true. Lots of similarities and some important differences. But undoubtedly, both require careful planning and lots of attention to detail. We thought it would be helpful to lay out some key elements and practical tips for making the mitzvah planning process as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
It’s never to early to start planning.
Depending on the time of year, your options may be limited if you don’t secure your venue and your more sought after vendors such as a DJ and photographer early. Generally speaking, wedding dates remain popular from spring through late fall, and in addition to weddings, many venues have limited availability in December due to holiday parties. Vendors are busier during these times as well, so if you have a date that falls during these months, it’s best to start planning and booking these larger elements twelve to eighteen months in advance.
Don’t underestimate the size of your guest list.
It grows! Exponentially. Tweens make and change friends faster than you can keep track of, especially as they enter middle school in the months leading up to their mitzvah. When looking at venues, choose a space that can accommodate a guest list about 10-15% larger than you think you will need, as that is how much it typically grows by the time you send out your invitations. If you end up with extra space in the end, it is much easier to deal with that scenario, than to not have enough space for the extra guests you really want to include.
And don’t underestimate the importance of the entertainment you choose.
Bottom line – this is a kids’ party, a joyous celebration of their passage into adulthood at the ripe age of thirteen. Thirteen! No matter what type of event you decide to host, whether it be a casual party at a kid-friendly venue or a black-tie affair in a hotel ballroom, the focus should be on your child and your child’s tween-aged friends, but also with something to offer your adult guests. If dancing is not your child’s thing, rent some arcade games or hire a strolling entertainer.
Worried about adults cringing over pop tunes mixed at 80 decibels by the DJ? Carefully go over the song list with your child and the DJ prior to the event, and ensure that there is a balance of musical genres, along with games, to keep everyone entertained. Ask a friend or family member to help monitor the decibel level. Don’t be afraid to ask the DJ to turn things down a bit if the adults are looking too uncomfortable. The entertainment is the pulse of your event, and should be planned for accordingly.
Details, details, details.
No matter what the size or scope of your event is, if the details fall under the radar, you will end up exhausted long before the big day, possibly going way over budget early on, and then struggling to get things back on track. When planning a mitzvah celebration, elements of a teen party and an adult gathering must be merged into one, cohesive whole. That requires both focus and creativity. And you’ll need to stay on top of your child’s months-long preparation and all of the Synagogue requirements. Not to mention the planning and logistics that go into added weekend events, such as Shabbat dinner the night before the big day, a Kiddush luncheon following the service, or Sunday brunch the day after (here’s where it especially starts to feel like planning for a wedding weekend!).
There are so many things that require attention, and the planning process can be overwhelming at times. In fact, many clients hire ATELIER EVENTS after having already selected the venue and some of their vendors, asking for assistance both with booking other vendors and managing all of the logistics leading up to the event. Or some stick with the planning and coordination themselves, and ask us to help hone in on design and decor. And finally, some ask that we simply manage everything on the day of, so that they can focus on family and friends, and the very nature of the occasion, itself.
Be the ultimate host.
Think about all of your guests, just as you would if hosting a gathering in your own home. Older family members and young children, as well as friends your own age and your son or daughter’s friends. Plan for a coffee station back in the area where you held your cocktail reception so that older adults can have a quiet place to gather but still feel part of the action. Seat very young children with their parents, and consider supplemental entertainment that works for them, as well as the older children and young adults (that strolling magician can work wonders with the little ones, as can a balloon artist, or even simple activity kits that can be placed on their chairs).
Most importantly, relax and enjoy!
These are just some highlights of the essentials needed to plan a terrific mitzvah celebration – one that wows and works. Mitzvahs are a niche that we absolutely LOVE. Tradition. Coming-of-age. Hard work and planning. Excitement and creativity. That moment of incredible pride for both the child who has taken on this huge endeavor and his or her parents. Shared joy amongst family, friends, and members of the community. It is an honor and a privilege for us to be part of that journey and to help each and every family we work with reach such an important milestone.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for information on how we can help. ATELIER EVENTS is available for as much or as little assistance as you need.