“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” ― F. Scott Fitzsgerald, The Great Gatsby Born in 1928, a Great Gatsby-themed, surprise party was the perfect fit to celebrate this family
patriarch’s Legendary 90th birthday in conjunction with his son’s 50th birthday. Party guests travelled from all over the world to honor the birthday boys. On the evening of the party, guests pulled their cars into the valet parking stand in the intimate, motor courtyard of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in downtown Atlanta. The 1920’s experience began as soon as the costumed guests saw the vintage 1928 Mercedes Gazelle on display in the center of the courtyard, accentuated with a gold, black and white balloon installation and a plaque explaining its history while proclaiming “Gatsby Parking.”
The costumed party guests were escorted to cocktail hour in the Mandarin Oriental’s lush gardens where a “flapper” greeted them with a glass of bubbly from the signature champagne wall. Each champagne glass had a custom- calligraphed, beaded and feathered stem adornment personalized with the guest’s name and his/her table seating for dinner. Those who wanted to add pearls, bowlers, or a sassy feather headband stopped by the unique strolling table with another “flapper” who helped them accessorize for the fun, themed festivities. Golden, art deco style highboys and chairs gleamed in the early evening, and large white lantern balls floated in the charming pool. The outdoor bar, nestled by a blooming camelia, provided Old-Fashioneds, Scotch, Martinis and more. Big-band-era musical stylings wafted from the live combo playing in the outdoor gazebo. Ladies bedecked in fringe and feathers, and men sporting double-breasted sports coats, hats and spats, mingled and enjoyed hand-passed hors d’oeuvres. A cigar bar, stocked with hand-rolled specialty cigars, was a highlight, and enjoyed by both men and women, after dinner.
Indoors, the double doors opened to the Taipan Lounge which was transformed, and transported the guests back in time to the opulent, art deco era of the roaring 20’s. Luxe, gold velvet lounge furniture created intimate nooks for family members to reminisce and catch up. Gold, antique rotary telephones were used as decorations throughout, and dramatic, sophisticated vases of luxurious white feather plumes whispered of a time gone by. Gleaming gold specialty chairs made a dramatic décor statement, and up-lighting accentuated the band stand and the etagere full of dessert offerings. A stunning, art-deco- themed cake was on display accentuated by a dramatic balloon installation. Each gold table setting was styled with a custom-made, personalized art deco cookie (“Press for Champagne”), gold highlighted menu and program for the evening. The combo moved inside to play dinner music on the bandstand. The Mandarin’s stunning chandeliers sparkled, and a glass backdrop behind the glass-fronted bar twinkled with candles, feathers and signage from the era. The dramatic black and white tile floors, and existing décor, made the Mandarin the perfect venue choice for the theme. A specially-produced film of the guest of honor’s life was the centerpiece of a memory table which also included other family heirlooms for guests to view and enjoy.
Outside the Taipan Lounge, an oversized art-deco-designed step and repeat provided a background in keeping with the theme. It was big enough to accommodate professional photos of the extended family including a keepsake of 90-year-old Musa (the birthday boy) and his four siblings who were reunited, from all over the world, for the evening.
Additional balloon installations, gold, art deco candle holders, geometric, golden table-top accents, custom signage in the vernacular of the roaring 20’s, and luxurious black, gold and white linens culminated in a scene right out of the “Great Gatsby.” After heart-felt toasts, the magnificent birthday cake was rolled out to the center of the room on a cart and the live combo struck up “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Simultaneously, much to everyone’s
delight, three professional dancers appeared and did a fabulous, choreographed Charleston-era dance around the cake. This birthday was indeed “legendary” both in years, attendance from around the world, and the execution which successfully used memories of an era gone by to create wonderful, new memories for the attendees.