By Julie Gerstenblatt
When planning a Bar Mitzvah celebration, it can be difficult to select a theme that is both of-the-moment and timeless.
However, that’s exactly what Shari Phillips did when planning her son David’s party. Instead of focusing exclusively on David’s favorite sport of skiing, Shari went with a color theme—lime— and planned the entire evening around that color.
Pictured left: David Phillips relaxing before his celebration at iPlay America. Photographer: Be Creative Photography
“Kids tend to change their minds all the time, as they are growing and changing and developing,” Shari explained. She didn’t want the family to look back on the Bar Mitzvah party in the years to come and regret making choices that felt too specific and no longer relevant to their lives. “David is the kindest, most generous person we know and we wanted to celebrate him as a person,” Shari said.
To do that, she selected a venue that worked equally well for both the adults and the teen partygoers, striking a balance between sophistication and fun. She also considered the location of the venue, not wanting her guests to have to travel too far from home. For Shari, iPlay America, an indoor theme park with over 200 games, rides, and attractions, was the perfect destination.
“By sending children into an amusement park for the first hour and a half of the party, I knew they would have an extraordinary time,” Shari said. “And that gave adults an extended cocktail hour too,” she added, “although parents enjoyed walking through the park as well!” In fact, Shari herself spent much of the cocktail hour in the park, watching the kids and having fun socializing and celebrating outside of a traditional venue. David loved seeing the “look of shock and awe come over everyone’s faces as they realized they were attending a black-tie Bar Mitzvah at an amusement park. Plus, he had a fantastic time with friends on the go-carts and playing laser tag. Back in the formal party space, magician Robert Clark entertained adults, and guests were treated to a massive sushi station and “every hors d’oeuvre under the sun.”
Planning an event of this magnitude could not have been done without help from a well-organized team of professionals. Shari thanks Phyllis Skolnick from Extraordinary Productions for much of the overall success of the night. Right from the start, Phyllis designed the acrylic invitation that became the inspiration for the three-tiered, green-and-black “ski” cake. Everything in between played off of the invitation as well.
In the banquet room, the lime-o-licious theme really came to life: The overall mood “was edgy and cool, and yet simple and clean,” Shari says. The walls were backlit lime green, and all other accents were kept in the scheme of black and grey and white, to keep the room balanced. The table centerpieces were built of open steel cubes that were architectural in feel, the hard edges softened by hanging votives and delicate mirrors to catch and reflect the light. White hydrangeas provided balance to the mostly masculine space. “The punch of lime green really resonated in the space,” Shari said. They used it sparingly, on the walls, in the cake, as lighting for the kids’ plexi-glass dining tables, and in accent pillows in the lounge area. An LED wall with David’s name and green swirls provided an extra dimension. “It felt interesting,” she said.
Shari, a self-proclaimed “micromanager,” really understood the stress involved in planning a Mitzvah celebration. “We are blessed to have an incredibly close knit group of family and friends,” Shari said. Therefore, no matter what was planned, Shari was certain that her guests would have a spectacular time together. That being said, Shari felt what many mothers planning a Mitzvah celebration feel, the constant push-and pull between focusing on your child and considering everyone else’s enjoyment, of the anxiety of sticking to a budget and splurging here and there, of having so many big and small decisions to make. In the end, the advice Shari would give others is that, while every decision feels overwhelming in the moment, all the decisions you ultimately make are the right ones. “You are putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Go with your gut and you’ll never be wrong,” she said.
The following vendors helped to make David’s celebration special. If you give any of these vendors a call, let them know you read about their services on MitzvahMarket.com:
Venue: iPlay America, Jennifer Cornier, 732-577-8200
Decor & Planning, Invitation design: Phyllis Skolnick, Extraordinary Productions, 732-740-7676
Cake: Nicole, Pink Cake Box, 973-998-4445
Music Entertainment: Total Entertainment, MC Mike Pulizzano
Photography: Be Creative Photography, Eric Lagstein, 201-540-9779
Videography & Montage: Michael Adelson, Luria Visuals, 215-934-7247
Sweatshirts: Show Me The Favors, 856-912-4006
Magician: Robert Clark
This story is from our 2016 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.