Plan the Perfect Party


For an event-planning business, Ginger Gant’s Ginger & Company was born with relatively little planning. Gant says after her daughter went to college and twenty-plus years planning various events and fundraisers, she was left wondering what to do next. A friend asked her to help plan a wedding, and faster than the happy couple could say “I do,” Ginger & Company was born.

“[The] company was born in, like, twelve hours,” jokes Gant. “It was kind of meant to be; all of the pieces of the puzzle just came together.”

I love your business cards. They’re very Martha Stewart—in a good way. (Gant’s cards have an elegant typeface and a simple blue flower with a ribbon-tied stem).

I stole it from a friend (laughs). She was married a few years ago and I liked the flower. I kept that in the back of my head, and the business card looks the same as those wedding invites.

You primarily plan special events and weddings. What businesses are your favorite to use?

I love Chez Vous and I love Lombardino’s.

I love Alan Boehmer, an interior designer and he does flowers for special events and weddings. He’s been in the business for thirty years—Estée Lauder and Jackie O. were his clients. I met him years ago when we were doing our first kitchen tour for the Junior League. I’ve really admired his work over the years.

How do you start planning an event with a client? What if a client doesn’t know what they want exactly?

I’d ask them questions: What’s their favorite room they’ve ever seen; if they’ve been to a wedding they love. We talk about things they see and they admire. And then introduce those things they admire in linens and floral. I really have to ask a lot of questions, but then it becomes pretty clear.

What are ways to keep the cost of an event down (wedding or otherwise)?

The number of guests. It’s another thing entirely to entertain three hundred people for the cost—unless you’re prepared to shoot the moon. I would rather have a beautiful wedding for family and friends with twenty people than a gargantuan wedding where you’re skimping on the basics so you can have a lot of guests.

You don’t need to get five-hundred-dollar bridesmaid dresses; you don’t need to be ridiculous about anything, as there’s no need.

[For décor] you can go to Michael’s and get vases for a dollar. Or go to Jo-Ann Fabrics. You can get stuff from the farmers’ market and you can go to vintage stores and get tablecloths depending on your look. Go to Trader Joe’s and get some fabulous flowers. Or maybe don’t spend a lot of money for the flowers but spend money on the linens. You can go online and spend money on vases, or buy flowers in bulk.

It’s equally as fun to go around [and find your own things], it just requires more labor on the part of the planner and the bride.

What’s worth it to spend more money on?

Food seems to be really important. People will go lightly on other expenses and heavier on the food. People just want to know they’re getting value for the money.

What are common party or event-planning mistakes?

When people get in party planning mode, they think, ‘Oh my god, I have to buy all new stuff.’ Open up your cabinets and look at what’s in there. Use things you have. Everything doesn’t have to match exactly; you can mix flatware and china.

Favorite expert tips/secrets to make an event special?

Color. I really admire the Zen aesthetic, I love it, but you’ve got to have color. It can be champagne up to chartreuse. Unless you’re in a really, really ornate place that has a lot of built-in décor, like a club or something.

I think for corporate events, something familiar is nice to people, but knock it up a bit! I think something at a firm … would be fun like a swag suite where people would be able to pick stuff out. But you have to have the right demographic for that. Every employee likes to feel appreciated by an employer.

What magazines and TV shows do you consult for event-planning ideas?

I buy everything: Martha, Town and Country, Real Simple, Wisconsin Bride; as well as British and European home décor magazines.

I watch “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?” or any event-planning show where it’s entertaining on a grand scale, like on C-SPAN where the social secretary will give you a tour of how a state dinner at the White House goes on.

Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.

Madison Magazine - May 2008
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