How to Throw an Epic Outdoor Party Like Gwyneth Paltrow
Is there anything Gwyneth Paltrow can’t do? The Academy Award winner and Goop founder excels at everything from acting, to speaking Spanish, to writing cookbooks, to running the hugely successful lifestyle site, to hosting the most magical outdoor parties. Of course, she can’t do it all herself though, and to help with the latter, she enlists the team at Oren Cove Productions, the party planning masterminds that celebs like Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, and Adam Levine flock to for their own weddings and private events. We chatted with Stef Cove, Managing partner at Oren Cove who has spearheaded the design for many of Paltrow’s events, including the most recent enchanting dinner celebrating Goop and Net-A-Porter in Paltrow’s own Hamptons backyard.
So what exactly does it take to throw a memorable shindig that the actress will approve? In a nutshell, “It’s always comfortable, there’s always good entertainment, and there’s always a lot of food and beverages available to you,” says Cove. And the minor, unexpected details are what make it really special, like the kind of entertainment you hire, having an amazing cocktail when guests arrive, letting guests know if they should wear a certain kind of shoe for the terrain (an offering sole mates for those who still choose to wear heels), and having an awesome favor. Let us elaborate further below.
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It’s important for all the elements to stay cohesive. “Goop’s aesthetic is very clean,” says Cove. “They lean towards neutrals (think beige, black and white), but with a little bit of edge.” Whether the palette includes soft hues, or is a little bit funkier and more colorful, it’s important to keep your decor palette and theme consistent throughout.
If you have the budget, rent furniture or benches or keep it more casual by bringing in big blankets and oversized pillows for guests to lounge on, says Stef, who recommends finding affordable options from places like West Elm and Etsy. And in many outdoor areas, including Paltrow’s beautiful backyard, there’s no lighting, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. For the Goop x Net-a-porter party, they wove hanging lanterns and firefly lights in the trees. Before you go buying tons of lights though, make sure you have an idea of what kind of electricity is available in the space, and bring in a generator if necessary.
ON PHOTO BOOTHS
The theme for the Goop x Net-A-Porter dinner was “Under the Stars” and had a celestial vibe, explains Cove. For the photo booth, they brought in a cool half moon that guests could actually sit on. As for camera options, you could hire a professional, get a cute polaroid option from Urban Outfitters, or simply let guests use their own smartphones, she says.
ON PARTY PROPS
And for another recent event celebrating Goop Beauty, Cove’s team constructed a gorgeous floral wall, and had oversized floral head crowns—think Frida Kahlo—readily made for guests to don.
For the Goop x Net-a-Porter dinner, there was a live band playing music, and “we had six transitional characters that were a mix of mimes, acrobats, and dancers, that very quietly and subtly moved the crowd to the dance floor when it was time to dance,” says Cove. Unique, out-of-the-box, details such as these make the event so much more memorable, and help the party flow seamlessly.
Whether it’s a D.I.Y. station where guests can make their own flower crowns or take their own selfies in a polaroid photo booth, there should always be a fun activity. For the “Under the Stars” dinner, Cove’s team hired a tarot card reader for a couple hours which was relatively inexpensive, and tons of fun for guests.
For a casual party, “We do different food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres,” says Cove. “At the Goop x Net-A-Porter event, we had one 'local' station that was filled with lobster rolls, fried chicken rolls, steamed clams, and a french fry assortment.”
ON THE MENU
"Since we get a good amount of vegetarians and vegans, there are always options for them,” says Cove, like a green station with different salads, and passed crudites with baby veggies and "edible soil." "As the night progresses, we like to get into late foods like mac n’ cheese, milk and cookies, and a nitrogen station where where you can make your own chocolate-infused ice cream on the spot."
ON THE FAVOR
Paltrow usually has some kind of awesome gift. “At last year’s Goop summer shindig, we found these beautiful handmade leather keychains and placed them at each place setting,” explains Stef, so it doubled as a place card and a take home gift.