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paulc's avatar

What should I know about throwing a surprise masquerade party for my wife's 30th birthday?

Asked by paulc (2919points) January 6th, 2009

She’s dropped the hint about wanting to have one a million times (I think she watched Labyrinth a few too many times as a kid) so I’m going to do it and do it well. I’m going to try and get a nice fancy ballroom and all that stuff. There crucial thing is keeping it secret which I’m a bit unsure of – I’m guessing that I’ll have to do the entire organization myself so that nobody is aware. However, what is a good tactic for getting invitations out to people in such a way that they won’t spill the beans? There will be a fairly large number of people (~100) so the likelihood that one of them spoils it is relatively high. I’ve never organized anything like this so any pointers are appreciated.

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14 Answers

bythebay's avatar

What a nice husband you are to do this for your wife!

We entertain a lot, and even after having done it many times pulling a party of this magnitude together is no easy task. I would gently suggest that you call a good party planner in your area and let them handle all the details. You can still be in charge, still make all the big decisions; but they’ll take care of all the details and loose ends. If you are using a facility with a ballroom as you mentioned, they will most definitely have an event coordinator on staff.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Make sure they all know it is a surprise. Emphasize that again and again. Choose two or three people you really trust not to spoil it who love your wife and try to get them to help. Or get a party planner.

1. Location. You want somewhere gorgeous, but inexpensive usually. Think about really nice public spaces: the library, a museum, a park, whatever. You might even find somewhere new and gorgeous where you live. In this case, living in a small town will be helpful in that you can rent out places for cheaper, while a large town means you have more places to choose from. If there is somewhere super obscure, but awesome ask them about renting at night.

2. Catering. If you have ANY friends that know ANYTHING about this, get in touch with them and follow their advice.

3. Invitations. Send a save the date invitation—just something quick and cheap, even an email saying the day of the party and the time. That way you can wait until just before the birthday to let people know what KIND of party it is. Everyone has some formal something somewhere, most likely, so that shouldn’t be a huge issue and there is less chance the surprise is ruined. Because there’s a huge difference between “your party is next friday” and “omg! Hubby is planning a Masque!”

4. Costumes. In the invitation say it is a masquerade. You might want to include something like costume formal or whatever. Basically imply they should either come in formal/semi-formal attire or an equally formal costume. You don’t really want a Rubix cube to show up protesting that he’s in costume.

5. Masks. Have extras at the door. Buy a bunch of the super cheap plastic ones. Insist people wear them.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Bythebay is certainly right—if you can, an event planner is the best way to go about it.

I’m mostly talking from college event planning experience. Don’t be afraid to ask various locations about their rental rates. One year we were getting really desperate for a place to put our formal since our budget was tight and it ended up in a fabulous space at the art museum because it turned out they rented the space for practically nothing. We were hesitant to even ask because it was such a beautiful place, but viola!

EmpressPixie's avatar

Also! (Sorry!!) Take the day of the party off work if it is a Friday. If it is the weekend, no worries. Try to make sure you won’t be on call. Even with an event planner there is a good chance you’ll be running around like crazy doing party stuff AND trying to keep the wife in the dark.

dynamicduo's avatar

I wouldn’t do it alone. I would recruit some of your wife’s closest friends who can keep a secret, and they can help out with things like inviting others without tipping off your wife.

As long as you make it crystal clear that it’s a surprise party, and that (if pulled off right) it’ll probably be one of the brightest highlights of your lives, and that as such secrecy is 100% critical, I doubt you’d have the party spoiled.

EmpressPixie offers great advice, including talking to a party planner who can help. In fact, if you can offset anything that may accidentally spoil the surprise – I’m looking specifically at the answering machine here – the lower the chances are that the cat will be let out.

The more I think of it actually, the more I think hiring a party planner is really the best idea here. Not only will the chances of the surprise being ruined go down drastically, but you may even get some good deals on a location or catering etc due to the party planner’s contacts.

PupnTaco's avatar

Confirm she doesn’t have a weak bladder when startled.

paulc's avatar

Thanks for the great advice everyone.

@PupnTaco, I’ll be sure to bring along some Depends.

asmonet's avatar

I watched Labyrinth too many times as a kid too. If anyone threw that party for me, I’d die happy. I second everything everyone has said, seems covered to me. Even Dave’s answer.

andrew's avatar

Masquerade doesn’t creep you out? Eyes Wide Shut, anyone? I dunno… with my friends, I’d want to see their faces at all times, lest something naughty ensues.

bythebay's avatar

…duh andrew: the naughtiness might be the whole plan!

asmonet's avatar

Srsly, naughty anonymous times…okay, I’ll stop.

syz's avatar

As long as it looks like this , this , or this , you’ll be good.

asmonet's avatar

Masquerade!
Paper faces on parade…
Masquerade!
Hide your face, so the world will never find you!

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