Master Planning

Last Updated: 14 Apr 2016
Elizabeth Fabri

Get your suit or LBD ready because it’s party time! We round up the latest and greatest ideas for your corporate function, social event or wedding, plus expert tips for year-round inspiration.


Perth's food truck and station scene is booming. While three-course sit-down or buffet meals are favourites for all occasions, having a selection of food vendors will leave a lasting impression. A food truck will usually cater to around 75 people, while for indoor or smaller venues, food stations are the best bet. Think woodfired pizza, pretzels, shakshuka, mini burgers, popcorn, paella, dessert buffets, hot doughnuts and all things hummus.

Why not? Surprise guests towards the end of the event with a food truck to fuel that late-night grooving.

The Soul Provider (photography Kate Drennan).


Picture a table, abundantly laden with French cheese, cured meat, and fresh fruit. Grazing stations are a great way to tide guests over in those few hours between ceremony and reception, or for delegates feeling peckish at a corporate conference. No wait staff is necessary, just some pre-event preparation and presentation.

Festoon Lighting Perth (photography Amanda Alessi).


Looking for a different take on the crowd-favourite lolly buffet? Sweet tooths rejoice, Marshmalloz has a 2x1m toasting station available for hire. Prices start at $400 for a minimum of 100 guests and include absolutely everything, from the station, burners, and hand-crafted gourmet marshmallows, to delivery and set up. Delish! Marshmalloz 0478 120 547.


Not providing enough food, and neglecting dietary requirements are event faux pas that will sour any function. Here are some tips to prevent guests making an early exit to the nearest McDonalds.

Numbers | For a cocktail function, plan 10 to 15 finger foods per person, or four to six pieces per hour. For a dinner, have three to five hors d'oeuvres per person, a main meal with small portions of bread, and a dessert.
Dietary Requirements | Ensure a third of your canapes are vegetarian, for a balanced menu that isn't too meaty.
Equipment | For functions at home, you'll likely have to hire a bain marie, chafing dish or pie warmer to keep food hot, and a coolroom or additional fridges. A 'return dirty' service is also an option for crockery.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Stylist & Creator (photography Through The Woods We Ran).


"Having two white wines and two red wines offers guests a choice, especially if you have something robust and something mellow."– Oliver Pincott, event sales manager, Royal Perth Yacht Club.

"Finger food size is 'two-bites size' – serve with a napkin. Provide small dishes around the eating area, to dispose of pips, skewers, toothpicks and so on." – Riki Kaspi, owner, The Cooking Professor.

"Don't try to recreate the newest, most amazing recipe you've seen on Instagram for your guests – no good will come of it. Keep it simple – your guests want to see you, so don't plan a menu that has you spending the whole evening in the kitchen."
– Ellie Wilkinson, co-partner, A Moveable Feast.

"Consider adding more substantial dishes to a cocktail menu, such as sliders, fish and chips in petite cones, or individual serves of pasta or curries in a small bowl or takeaway box that can be eaten with a fork." – Nicole Murtagh, marketing consultant, Beaumonde Catering.

Say Cheese Towers (photography Nectarine Photography).


The tiered wedding cake has been around for centuries, but times are changing. More and more couples are bidding farewell to the traditional, instead opting for a new kid on the block: the mighty cheese tower. Doughnut stations, ice-cream sundae bars, cake pops, cupcakes, and artisan macaron stations are also popular substitutes.


Do you have a favourite cocktail? How about a local craft beer or specialty gin? Add some personality to your party with a small pop-up bar serving your signature sip. Style the station to fit your theming, and complete the drink with special glassware and garnishes that will have all guests gushing.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Stylist & Creator (photography Through The Woods We Ran).


A long table dinner for any occasion will guarantee the 'oohs and ahhs'. Pick a table at least one metre in width to allow space for cutlery and decorations.


For oyster-lovers, these molluscs are food heroin. Having an oyster shucker for a couple of hours adds theatre as well as a wonderful taste sensation to any event. The cost per dozen is often a quarter of what you would pay in a restaurant, and the good guys only serve the best available. We have seen many non-oyster eaters converted by the quality and showmanship of a mighty oyster shucker.

Who to call
Andy Grljusich of Oyster Shucker to the Stars 0403 318 159
Josh Catalano of Catalano's Seafood (08) 9378 0900
Neil Forbes of Black Pearl Oyster Shucking 0410 469 713
Carl of Thee Shucker 0411 396 279
For details, go to

Event Artillery, and The Original Wedding Company (photography Stefan Gosatti).


Many venues will offer furniture as part of hiring a space, but if your budget permits, take our advice and don't settle. Bespoke furniture styling can completely transform a space and create the aesthetic you have envisioned. Many hire companies have event stylists on deck who can sort out the delivery of furniture and set up, so you won't even have to lift a finger!

Why not? Consider a breakout room with comfortable lounge seating for elderly guests or parents with children. For marquees and tents, don't forget about flooring.


"Shop local if you can – if you're planning an event down south, choose a down-south supplier. Not only will you save on delivery and travel charges, you'll be supporting people who live in the area that you love." – Charmaine Treasure, owner, Ferguson Valley Events.

"For a cocktail party, we recommend providing seating options for at least one third of your guests, and then supplementing this furniture with high bars and stools."
– Kate Dennis, owner and head stylist, The Zest Group.

"Genuine elegant glamour never goes out of style. Natural linens, especially in shades of grey and natural, are stylish choices, especially when partnered with copper cutlery and grey or marble plateware." – Deborah Pitter, director, Hire Society.

Zest Group WA.


A modern take on the trusty marquee is the giant tipi. Perfect for summer entertaining, the natural timber structures are cooler than marquees, and look right at home in bush settings or by the beach. The Zest Group, based in Dunsborough, is the exclusive hire provider for these beauties, which can be joined together to create a large space for up to 800 guests. The Zest Group (08) 9750 5800.

Rooftop Movies (photography Court McAllister).


Perth city is any event planner's ultimate playground.

Food adventure on foot | Bar hopping is nothing new, but we have to admit it's much more exciting with Perth's bar-scene revival. Forget party buses, you'll find pockets of bars everywhere. Call up venues in advance to organise a bar tab and nibbles for guests, and stick to the itinerary, to help out latecomers.

Unused spaces | Empty warehouses and unused buildings are peppered across the CBD. They can provide a blank canvas, and a raw, industrial feel that will make your event truly unique.

Rooftop refreshments | It doesn't get better than drinks overlooking the city lights on a balmy evening. There are plenty of bars to choose from – but book in early so you don't miss out.

Feral Brewing Company (photography Jessica Shaver).


An oldie but a goodie: a day tour in the Swan Valley is still a favourite for corporate Christmas parties and social functions. Hire a bus and take your friends on a culinary journey, stopping off at your choice of wineries, breweries, and artisan stores. On a half-day tour, we recommend three to four stops. For a list of venues, go to


Choosing a venue to host your special occasion is an exciting process, but don't go in blind. Write down a list of questions before you call a venue, to iron out all the essentials.

The Checklist

  • First thing's first – you need to have a date in mind. Be flexible; venues can be fully booked years in advance.
  • Have an estimated number of guests, and ask about the capacity of the space.
  • Is there enough parking, and can you fit vendors in the site?
  • Do exclusive caterers have to be used,
  • and is there an additional cost for bringing
  • in third-party vendors?
  • Does the venue have its own wait staff?
  • Is there somewhere to store equipment
  • out of sight?
  • Are there restrictions on decorations?
  • Are there any events scheduled for the same day? What time will you be able to access the venue to set up?
  • Will you need to bring a generator?
  • What are the entry and exit points?
  • Is security needed?
  • What are the add-on costs?

Ultimo Catering & Events.


"The best time to book a function is at an expo, when there are good discounts."
– Carly Thorburn, banquet sales manager, Pagoda Resort & Spa.

"Restroom accessibility is integral to selecting an outdoor location." – Courtney Thomson, events manager, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa.

"With a destination wedding, you have invited your guests to travel and it is appropriate to arrange a pre-wedding dinner or a post-wedding breakfast for them to feel part of the festivities. Also look for a variety of accommodation options."
– Darren Cossill, general manager, Novotel Ningaloo Resort.

Circle of Love (photography Coby Rachel).


West Australians love the beach, so it makes sense many will want to mark a milestone as significant as their wedding on our pristine coastline.

Things to consider | Check with local authorities first before confirming the location – permits are required for any outdoor event on public property, and there may be restrictions on times and furniture that can be brought onto the beach. Pick an area protected from direct winds, and check tide times. Consider disabled or elderly guests who may find it difficult navigating rocks or stairs. Remember alcohol is strictly prohibited.

Stonebarn (photography I Heart Weddings).


An evening outdoor function is magical in summer. Just make sure you think through all the factors, from weather conditions to combatting the creepy crawlies.

Things to consider | Burn citronella incense sticks or candles; use a microphone; consider misting systems for hot days, or heat lamps in cooler months; secure heavy structures – such as marquees – to the ground; avoid plastic cups and cutlery that may blow away; choose food that won't spoil quickly; ensure extension cords and lighting are safety installed and don't provide any hazards; and keep paths in mind when laying down wires.


No matter how many times a day you check, Mother Nature has a plan of her own and you're at her mercy. Think an April or October date is a safe bet for an outdoor function? Think again! Always have a Plan B…

Things to consider | Make sure there is an undercover option if it rains, and think about parking proximity to undercover zones, and shade for guests. Provide umbrellas, parasols or hats that your guests can use, hire heaters, or create a zone with rugs if it's cold. Consider a marquee so your handmade decorations don't blow away. Check out to find out estimated daylight availability.


"Do a site inspection around the time of day your event will take place, to get an idea of wind and light conditions. Use this to work out how big the audio system will need to be to get over the natural noise in the area – you may need additional items, such as a windsock for your microphones." – Natalie Allen, business manager, Megavision Sound/Lighting.

Charter 1.


For a true change of scenery, a day trip out to Rottnest or Carnac Island is just what the Fremantle Doctor ordered. Boat charters can cater for team-building days, Christmas parties, birthdays and weddings, with on-board catering and BYO alcohol. Choose to spend the whole day on the boat, or stop over at Rottnest for some action-packed activities. Don't forget, all visitors to Rotto have to pay an admission fee ($18 per adult).


Often considered the domain of major events, fireworks can be arranged for private parties and corporate events. The cost can start from as low as $3000 for a five- to ten-minute outdoor display, while for indoor fireworks you can expect to pay at least $1500. A 50m safety distance is usually a pre-requisite, but no DIY jobs for this one, folks – the use and possession of fireworks by the general public is banned in WA, and all outdoor firework displays require an event permit submitted to the Department of Mines and Petroleum four weeks in advance. For indoor fireworks, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services needs to be notified.

Who to call
Perth Pyrotechnics (08) 9247 4125
Showtime Fireworks 0429 202 577
WestCoast Fireworks 0437 281 112
Cardile Fireworks 0418 848 188


"Some councils limit the number of displays at a venue each year, and all outdoor fireworks require a display permit, which, depending on the size and site of the display will vary in cost. Also, if the display is to be on council land, there may be a site-rental fee. There are also noise restrictions. The display should be, preferably, within these times: Sunday to Thursday before 9pm, and Friday to Saturday before 10pm." – Michelle Boyland, display coordinator, WestCoast Fireworks.

Perth Audiovisual.


Time is the enemy when organising entertainment: the good acts book up fast, even more than 12 months in advance, so after securing a date and venue this should be the next call you make. Contracts are key to confirm the logistics, including the name of each band member, payment, attire, arrival, setup and departure times, requested songs, and break times. If the band is performing for at least three hours, you, as a host, are expected to provide a meal.


"All bands and entertainers need a green room to get ready. Make sure you book an extra room/tent/space for them." – Mardie Rosich, director, Mardie & Co Events.

"I love a good reveal – I've seen bi-fold walls raised vertically to reveal
the dinner buffet, or reveals into new event components. Guests love the element of surprise." – Jun Hoe, events manager, Pan Pacific Perth.

"If you decide to use an mp3 player and personal playlist, ensure the device is not accessible to guests. We have seen dance floors disperse, with guests fighting over the playlist, skipping songs and changing songs halfway through." – Courtney Thomson, events manager, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa.


When spending the big bucks, it pays to be safe and look into some insurance. Most insurance companies have special event policies that will be able to cover event cancellation due to weather, liability, equipment damage, and special item coverage.


Photos last a lifetime, so if you thought the humble photobooth was
fun, you're in for a treat. Vivid Media's graffiti walls and Instacams, shipped from the US, take party snaps to a new level. The digital graffiti wall is a giant photobooth where guests can create their own pieces of art with an electronic 'spraycan'. The Instacam photobooth can take photos using Instagram, and print from any smart phone in the room. Vivid Media 0403 252 417.


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? While you might not be hitting the tables at The Bellagio or Caesars Palace anytime soon, you can still create a night of casino fun at a venue of your choosing. There are many casino-hire companies in Perth that offer stylish tables, props and professional croupiers. It's a great way to break the ice and release you from the pressure of entertaining.

Hot Flush Casino


Get those toes tapping and hips swinging with an LED dance floor. If you're worried about guests not busting a move, this is guaranteed to get them waltzing, jiving, tangoing, or – dare we say – twerking.


Coloured confetti shooting off into the crowd is a spectacular sight. Electric and handheld confetti cannons are cost-effective hire options, easy to use, and the perfect finale.

Who to call
Hire King (08) 6180 3899
ProDesign (08) 9409 8964
Cardile Fireworks 0418 848 188
Matrix Productions (08) 9371 1551

Heart Strings Hire & Style (photography Sarah Tonkin).


Think back to games night with the clan – was it Jenga, Connect Four, or how about a good old-fashioned match of Noughts and Crosses that earned your reputation as games champion? Now is your chance to confirm your title with some fun life-sized games at your next party. Think giant chess and checkers, inflatable ten-pin bowling, wooden dominoes, Snakes & Ladders and Pick Up Sticks. No cheating!

Who to call
Velvet Betty 0434 076 885
Yardparty 0448 093 027
Banyan Creative (08) 9474 2343
Perth Garden Games 0432 913 268
Active Games & Entertainment 0411 140 249
Heart Strings Hire & Style 0438 915 398

Angel FLowers (photography Nectarine Photography).


Yes, flower arrangements are expensive, but boy, do these blooms have an impact on the aesthetics of your function.

Things to consider | Choose seasonal flowers that can last well out of water. Before the event, store flowers in a cool, dark place and keep them in water right up until they are needed. For weddings, request an extra buttonhole flower for the groom, as it can get damaged in post-ceremony embraces.


"Think about flowers for the car – a garland swagged across the back can be the same garland that decorated the entrance sign at the ceremony. Flowers adorning the aisle can be taken to the reception to be reinvented as flowers for the gift table." – Susan Di Paolo, owner, Angel Flowers.

The Wallflower Co.


Seen at Hollywood's A-list parties – even Kim and Kanye's wedding – flower walls provide a beautiful backdrop for photos. A cost-effective way to achieve this look is hiring out a pre-made wall of silk flowers. It will look like the real deal, at a fraction of the price.


First impressions are everything. Will your guests remember that last-minute Facebook event you put together on your lunch break, or the custom invitation you spent hours perfecting with gold foiling? Put in the hard yards here and the RSVPs will come flooding in!

E-invites | Sites like Paperless Post, Punchbowl and eVite have stunning designs that can be sent out instantly. While in most cases e-invites are less effective, they are cheaper, instant, and can be accessed everywhere.
Hardcopy | Invitations by post offer a personalised touch and aesthetic flair unachievable online, and allow you to think outside the box (synthetic turf and a tee, packaged and sent out for a corporate golf day, for example).

Festoon Lighting Perth (photography Piotrek Ziolkowski).


Scroll through anyone's 'secret' wedding board on Pinterest, and you're bound to find pins of fairy lights and garlands of festoon lighting. Lighting is one of the most crucial factors, and will make or break an event. Here's our pick of the latest trends.

Gobos | Metal or glass stencils that go over a spotlight. Great for displaying text, patterns, or logos for corporate branding.
Festoon/fairy lighting | A popular choice for outdoor weddings, to set a romantic scene. Make sure you have enough power, and engage a qualified electrician to install lights safely.
Projection mapping | Specialised software is used to project images or animations on 3D objects.


"Festoon, fairy and pendant lighting all need points to be tied to – exposed beams are fantastic, or other structures such as balcony balustrades and alfresco roofing work great, too. For lighting calculations, we factor in the wattage of the globes, how many globes on each strand, and how many circuits of power we have available." Lisa Mackenzie, events and design manager, Festoon Lighting Perth.

Festoon Lighting Perth (photography Piotrek Ziolkowski).


If you've sat through a 10-minute torment of Dad jokes, or a never-ending catalogue of clichés stolen from Google, you'll understand the art of speech-writing is not for everyone. The best speeches are two minutes in length, sincere, with some humour (if it comes naturally), and tasteful, without any inside jokes. For corporate events, keep speeches to a minimum, with keynote speakers who have a powerful story to tell.

Ultimo Catering & Events.


There is nothing worse than feeling underdressed – wearing flats while your neighbour is flaunting their red-sole stillettos. As the host of any event, it's courtesy for you to state the dress code from the get-go.

White tie | Ladies wear a floor-length formal gown with understated accessories; men wear a tail coat and trousers, cummerbund or vest, white bow and white gloves.
Black tie | Ladies wear a floor-length gown or knee-length dress, and for men, a bow tie with a dark tuxedo or dinner suit is expected.
Cocktail | A knee-length dress (think a classic LBD with heels) for ladies. Men can wear suit pants and a jacket with a dress shirt, with or without a tie.
Smart-casual | A casual dress with modest heels, or jeans and a dressy top for ladies; for men, pants and a button-up shirt with long or short sleeves.


Depending on the nature, scale and location of your function, arranging transport for guests will earn serious brownie points.

Uber | Visit to plan and purchase rides home, and decide how much you'll pay. You'll get a custom code you can send out to guests.
Communal buses | In regional locations where its tough to get a taxi, hire a bus to transport your guests from A to B. Hire companies can pick up and drop off your guests from a few central locations.

Tiffany Keal Creative Studio (photography Nectarine Photography).


Gone are the days when a designer clutch or coveted watch were the number one accessory for a night out. These days, the majority of us are glued to our smart phones, and couldn't possibly attend an event without these prized possessions. It's enough to get any event planner's blood boiling, but in today's digital age there's really no choice but to embrace our generation's tech-heavy habits. Here are our tips to engage your guests, all while they style their Valencia-filtered flatlays.

Create a Hashtag | Pick something unique and easy to remember. At the end of the night, you'll enjoy a feed of all the guest snaps in one location.
Social screens | Broadcast a live feed of hashtag posts on a large projector screen. There will be lots of laughs when your guests see themselves up in the big lights.
Live streaming | The introduction of apps like Periscope and Meerkat make live streaming easy for corporate events and weddings for a virtual audience online.


"Print your event hashtag on the invitation so that the social media conversation starts as soon as people receive their invitation, to build anticipation for the event. Live Instagram printers are a great way to encourage guests to snap event pics and use the official event hashtag." – Caitlin Irving and Zara Bryson, co-directors, Peach & Pineapple Co.

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