Life of the Party

8 Ways to add excitement to your next special event

By Maria Allen and Scott Smith

Whether you’re planning an intimate wedding, elegant graduation party or festive corporate soiree, South Shore industry experts are ready to make your next event unforgettable. From unique decor and florals to professional photography and entertainment, we’ve gathered some helpful advice and creative ideas that are sure to engage and inspire your guests.


Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Are you a wallflower? Do you dream of swinging effortlessly across the dance floor on your wedding day? The best way to boost your confidence is to devote some time to taking lessons.  

For couples who want to learn a few new moves, or anyone who might feel a little nervous about dancing in front of a crowd, local dance instructors are here to help. Catherine (Casey) Baird and Forrest Burke-Moran are the directors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Plymouth, which offers different types of dance classes geared for beginners to advanced students. Like any new skill, learning to dance takes time to master. Casey Baird recommends students start taking lessons at least three to four months before their event so that they can feel comfortable and confident. Dancing is also something that will get your guests out of their seats so they can really enjoy your celebration. 

“Learning to dance is something that everyone can do (even those who think they have two left feet and no rhythm),” says Baird. “It can be a really fun, stress-free part of planning or preparing for an event.”

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Capture The Memories 

If you’re planning a night to remember, you’ll want to hire a professional photographer to document the fun. Sure, there will be plenty of selfie opportunities. But the best way to get high-quality images that really capture the magic is to hire an expert. Depending on the vibe of your event, you can choose from posed portraits, creative candids of the crowd, or try something new by having your guests step onto the platform of a 360 video photo booth. New England Photo Booth is a Kingston-based business that offers a wide range of fun photo booth services and packages. Guests of all ages can step onto a circular platform with up to six friends and the camera will spin around the platform, capturing a dynamic video of guests from every angle. Additional options include LED lights, color filters, speed adjustments, VIP décor, custom branding, and more. As entertaining as they are useful, these video photo booths will keep your guests engaged while capturing memories and content in a way that is easy to share. 

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Go Big with Balloons 

The imaginative balloon experts at Elevated Impressions pride themselves on their ability to create a “vibe” at celebrations by designing signature balloon decor. Based on Cape Cod, the team frequently decorates at festive events on the South Shore, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and in Boston. Their balloon installations can incorporate everything from cascading balloon bouquets and garlands to balloon columns and bursts. 

Where Elevated Impressions really shines is the company’s ability to come up with ways to transform a room and grab the attention of guests (think balloon walls and “clouds” suspended from the ceiling). They’ve even offered interactive event components, like poppable at-home New Year’s “balloon drops.” With a wide range of styles and colors available, the look can coordinate with any wedding decor or take corporate events up a notch while staying on brand. Thanks to the team’s creative ideas and efficient installation procedures, adding one-of-a-kind balloon decor to your event is stress-free and the effect is stunning. 

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Say it With Lights!

Larger-than-life marquee letters have become an increasingly popular decor element at weddings, graduation parties, baby showers and corporate events. 

“The letters really make a statement,” says Karl Roos, owner of Boston Love Letters, a Quincy-based rental decor company that brings sparkle to events across the South Shore and New England. A high school business teacher by day, Roos purchased the business about a year and a half ago and enjoys spending his nights and weekends creating dramatic marquee lighting displays for his clients. His letters are battery operated, which makes them extremely versatile, and each letter features eight different lighting settings, such as blinking, twinkling and fade. In addition to spelling out words and names, the company offers numbers, hearts, hashtags, question marks and exclamation points. “They make for great photo opportunities,” says Roos, who advises clients to check the size of their venue before placing an order. “Each letter measures 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide, which means spelling out longer words will take up a significant amount of space.” From milestone birthdays to romantic proposals, marquee letters are a fun way to capture people’s attention. 

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High Energy Live MusicHot Mess Boston

Ever since local musician Jason Silverman established the showband Hot Mess a dozen or so years ago, the group has garnered numerous awards and has become a favorite choice for South Shore wedding celebrations. The band also plays numerous corporate events each year, firing up audiences with their dynamic performance style and diverse musical repertoire.

“We have a set of 125 songs we can do,” says Silverman, who serves as the group’s frontman. “We’re a show band, so we can sprinkle in special requests. If you add lights and choreography, that equals a real show!” Silverman shares the mic with four of his eight stylin’ bandmates, who live on the South Shore, Metro Boston and Central Massachusetts. Ashley Tucker and Carli Hamilton contribute powerhouse vocals, as does keyboardist Graham English and guitarist Zack Gibs. Tim Paul Weiner drives the Hot Mess show train on bass, while Connor Jenks (on sax) and Marcus “Cus” Campbell (on trombone), bend the band’s soulful boundaries. Percussionist Jason Kenyon rules the rhythm. The band has played overseas, in Vegas, and down south, but the Boston market is their home. 

The experience of watching a live band like Hot Mess perform is electric. “There’s been some festivals that we’ve played and when you look out at the audience from on stage, you feel the energy,” says Silverman “We feed off each other. It’s intangible. It’s the reason musicians do what we do.”

So, how should a couple go about selecting a band for the most important event of their life? “See the band perform live, or get a referral from someone who saw them live,” says Silverman. After all, nothing beats the thrill of a live show. 

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The Perfect Playlist

Music is the heartbeat of any great event, but stressing over the playlist shouldn’t be your job. One man who really knows how to get the party started is Dave Solimine, owner of Good Times Unlimited Professional DJ,  Uplighting & Photo Booth Services. Based in Braintree, the company provides a multitude of services, from setting up wireless sound for your beachside ceremony and cocktail reception, to making announcements over the mic in a professional manner and curating a dance mix that all of your friends and family will enjoy.

“Whether you’re having an intimate gathering with friends or a large corporate event, we can accommodate your entertainment needs,” says Solimine, who says his business is all about customizing each event. “If a request for a track is made and it’s not already in our collection of several thousand songs, a simple download on our laptop can happen in a matter of seconds.” As an added perk, Solimine also offers his clients added services, such as dramatic uplighting and a photo booth. 

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Create a Moment With a Custom Backdrop

Whether you’re seeking to personalize your wedding reception or enhance your brand awareness at a corporate launch party, Boston Backdrops has the tools and creative expertise to turn your dreams into reality. Founded by Marshfield residents Kevin and Jessica Hennessey, the company specializes in designing and renting custom backdrops, elegant signage and one-of-a-kind event decor. 

“Our clients come to us because they want us to help tell their story,” says Jessica Hennessey, whose expertise as an award-winning wedding planner aligns perfectly with her husband’s creative carpentry skills. “We believe that every wedding should be a unique experience and a reflection of the couple.” Since launching Boston Backdrops in 2019, the couple has designed countless custom seating charts, each adorned with decorative lettering or custom-made signage and personalized with details that are meaningful to the bride and groom. They’ve also constructed gorgeous backdrops, elaborate floral displays and interactive dessert walls that keep guests entertained and beg to be photographed. 

The Boston Backdrops team also enjoys the challenge of telling the stories of their corporate clients. Some of their most memorable brand activations included construction of an ombre flower wall with a custom-made neon sign for a Truly Vodka launch party, and building a chic black and gold backdrop for the opening of Boston’s MGM Music Hall at Fenway. Taking on new creative challenges is one of the parts of the business they love the best. “Our clients appreciate our creative, outside-the-box thinking as well as our reliable team,” says Hennessey. “If you can dream it, we can probably make it happen.” 

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