If you're reading this, you've either:
A: Been tasked with throwing a masquerade ball of some sort and you’re looking for ideas on how to do it.
B: Are trying to figure out what kind of party to throw and this magically popped up in your Google search.
C: Been randomly sent to this website by us, because we reaaallly think you should consider throwing a masquerade ball.
Either way, read on because by the end of this article you’ll be throwing The. Chic-est. Party. Ever. p.s. If you're planning an upcoming masquerade ball, let us know. We'd be happy to supply you with discount masks for your event.
My motto when picking a theme is Keep It Simple. Seriously. When you’re first tasked with picking a theme, it can be daunting. So you spend hours online google-ing and pinterest-ing and facebook-ing and by then you’ve got about a hundred themes in mind and you want to do all of them. I mean, why not throw a masquerade ball where it’s Tudor-themed yet contemporary with a focus on paying homage to ‘90s grunge and the irony of social media in the 21st century? And everyone can wear red! And there will be a thousand flying swans!
Hold your horses. Take a deep breath. Close that Pinterest page you have open in the other tab. Now read on.
Pick one theme. Just one. No, not two. Fusing two ideas can sometimes work, but if this is your first big event, don’t risk it. Besides, elegance is simplicity. And you want elegant, not crazy/confused/tacky. And who says it has to involve Venice? Just because it’s a masquerade ball doesn’t mean it can’t be different or contemporary.
Here are some ideas for elegant themes:
- A color theme. This is great because all of the dresses will create a huge visual impact and while people are restricted in what colors they can wear, they can have total freedom with their masks. A few ideas:
o black and white
o all white or all black
o jewels: (sapphires (blue), rubies (red), emeralds (green)
o flag colors (America would be red, white, and blue, for example—great for a 4th of July party)
- Old Hollywood Glamour. The ladies will love you for it— who doesn’t love slim-cut dresses, drop-waist skirts, and beautiful hair? And the gentlemen will get the opportunity to look very dapper.
- Mardi Gras. Perfect for a more relaxed, but still very elegant, event.
This will be largely determined by two things: your budget and the weather.
When is your event? Summer? Winter? If it’s too cold (or too hot) have it indoors. But if it’s during a temperate season, outdoors is a great option (just make sure you have a backup plan in case it rains—i.e. a marquee).
If you have a large budget, then this makes things slightly easier. Think of beautiful venues that you’ve been to or heard of around town, and go view them. If you are on a tight budget, then ask around about alternatives. Sometimes large B&Bs or Inns will let you rent out the entire house for a small fee, and many are quite beautiful and with lots of character. Or you could host it in your own home or garden, or someone else’s home.
Things to look for in a space:
Remember, you are going for elegant. So put away any tinsel, balloons, or streamers, because that will not be happening. Nope. Really. There’s three things you want to use to transform your space: fabric (and lots of it), flowers (fresh), and lighting (to set the mood).
If you’re hiring a venue, look around. What do the walls look like? Are they a relatively inoffensive color, or tastefully decorated with art? If the answer is yes, great! You've just saved yourself some time and money. If the walls are, however, unattractive then you want to drape them with fabric, floor to ceiling. We don’t recommend you do this yourself unless you’re particularly handy, but there are companies out there that do this relatively inexpensively. Ask the venue if they know of someone. They likely will if they’ve ever hosted a wedding.
Using fresh cut flowers is the easiest way to decorate a space. If your budget allows it, work with a florist to create custom arrangements to fit your theme. Go for elegant flowers in rich hues and simple compositions.
Lighting can really set the mood for an event. You want soft, yellow lights rather than harsh white lights. If it is safe, use candles (always in candle-holders, and place them where they can’t be knocked over). If that’s out of the question, lots of stores now stock battery-operated candles which can look very realistic, and create a nice glow. Golden fairy lights can also look beautiful hidden in topiaries and flower arrangements. For main lights, speak to your venue organizers and find out what kind of lights they have available.
Food at a masquerade ball can be tricky. Masks are not always the easiest things to eat in, so you want to make sure you serve small canapés. Go for quality over quantity, and select 3-4 savory options and 2-3 sweet options. Ensure that the food fits your theme (for example, if your theme is Mardi Gras, then you want typical New Orleans fare—in mini form). Always ensure that you have at least one vegan/vegetarian option and one item that is gluten-free.
What’s also a really good idea is to have a couple of live food stations as well as canapés. This could be little sweet and savory crepes, or a station that serves tiny bowls of upscale fries infused with truffle, parmesan, or caviar. Again, make sure it fits the theme, and remember: people get cranky when they get hungry, so feed everyone!
Want some specific ideas? Check out some of our masquerade party food ideas.
The main event at a masquerade mask is the unveiling at midnight, where all guests remove their masks and reveal their identities. But, since this doesn’t happen until midnight, you might want to keep your guests entertained in other ways.
A live band is always the best option for musical entertainment. If you are going with a formal theme, you may want a string quartet or a harpist. If you’re going with Mardi Gras, you’ll want something a bit jazzier. Think of your theme, and find someone who can play music to represent that theme. If a band is out of the question, then a reputable DJ who understands the mood you are trying to create is a good option.
Games can also be a way to entertain your guests. Set up a card table for a little game of poker (proceeds can go to charity), or maybe hold an auction. This can be a silent auction, or you could ask guests to volunteer to be auctioned off for a dance at midnight.
If this is a really big event, and you’re more than a month out from the event date, send a Save The Date. This serves two purposes: one, it tells your guests to pencil in your party on that day and two, it serves as a teaser for the party. If you hint at what’s to come, people will be giddy with excitement—and curiosity—once you’re ready to send the actual invite.
For something like this, we believe in paper invites. You want something that looks good but also feels good to the touch. A heavy, textured cardstock is perfect for this.
Now, if you really can’t do paper invites, then e-mail is ok. Just make the invite look as nice as you would’ve if it had been paper. No plain text in an e-mail; nothing about that is special.
Make sure to give as much information as possible in your invite. For example, date, time, venue (and a location map if the venue is obscure). You also want to include the theme, dress code, entertainment, and whether there will be refreshments. The more information you give people, the better.
Enjoy the party!
If you're planning an upcoming masquerade ball, let us know. We'd be happy to supply you with discount masks for your event.
And for more masquerade party planning resources, check out our complete list of masquerade party planning guides >
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