8 Tips for a great Graduation Party

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Are you planning a party for a high school graduate?   Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

1. Start with the graduate

Start by asking them how they want to celebrate?  Do they want a small, family party or a larger event for them and their friend?  Have them make a list of their top 5 "wants."  Take their personality, style, favorite colors and hobbies into account when making any decisions. 

2. Look at the important numbers - Date & Guest Count

Decide if you are holding your party after graduation or another weekend.   Look at what other local events will also be occurring that your graduate and their friends might also be attending.  Put together a guest list to get an estimate of how many people to plan for and the space size needed.   It is usually easiest to host the party as an open house so that guests can come and go at their convenience. 

3. Choose a Location

While it is more budget friendly to host the party in your home, there are numerous other options. 

Possible venues:

  • Party Rooms

  • Community Centers

  • Restaurant Private Dining Rooms

  • Church hall

  • City Building or Business Private Room

  • Clubhouse

  • Rec Center

  • Hotel Banquet Room

  • Bowling Alley

  • Theater or Art Gallery

  • Park

CONGRATS - graduation party

4. Choose a Theme 

While you don't have to choose a theme, it can be fun for the graduate.  There is an almost unlimited list of possibilities.  But here are some to get you started. 

Theme Ideas:

  • Fiesta/Taco Party

  • Luau/Aloha

  • Dr. Seuss

  • Adventure/Travel

  • Camping/Bonfire

  • Sailing into the Future/Nautical

  • The college they are going into

  • The world is your canvas/Art

  • To Infinity and Beyond

5. Set a Budget

The 2 largest expenses for the party will be the venue (if not in your home) and the food.  If you choose to host at home, a tent rental may be necessary. For many parties, it is easiest to use catered food from a restaurant such as a taco bar, BBQ, etc.    Other typical expenses would be invitations and decorations.   Some parents choose to spend larger amounts of money on entertainment for their parties.   

You don't have to go overboard with decorations better.  Instead, choose 2 or 3 accent points to decorate such as the front entrance, a gift table, dessert table, or a table honoring the graduate. 

Decide how you will handle extra tables and chairs if you are hosting the party at your home.  You may be able to borrow them from friends or neighbors. 

6. Set the Menu

If you host the party in your home or a location that allows outside food, you will need to decide how much food to prepare yourself.  It is more cost-efficient to cook the food, but much, much easier to have it catered.  

Food Ideas: 

  • Catering from a local restaurant such as a fajita bar

  • Homemade Finger foods

  • Pasta or Potato bar

  • Desserts Only

  • Party trays from Costco/Sams Club/Kroger

7. Order the Invites

Choose an invitation that matches the style and theme of your party.  You may need to send separate invites for the graduation ceremony and the party if they are held on different days or times.   Be sure to include a phone number or email address for RSVPs. 

For invitations, my 2 favorite places for printed invites are Costco and Minted.com.  For digital invites use Evite or Paperless Post. 

8. Plan ahead

Try to make a plan for setting up decor and food ahead of time so you can relax and spend time with your graduate.  Ask for help or hire staff so that you don't have to do everything by yourself. 

Blue and Blush Wedding

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This lovely all-inclusive wedding was held at an estate an hour south of Nashville. The bride was inspired by a steel blue color swatch for the color palette. The celebration was a destination wedding with guests from Nashville and around the country gathering in Lewisburg, TN.

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When a rainstorm cancelled the outdoor ceremony, we moved everything to the foyer. The bridal party walked down the grand staircase to the wedding ceremony.

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Guests moved outside to the tent and covered patio by the pool. After charcuterie for cocktail hour, food stations offered numerous food options.

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Photographer: Adam Wallace Photos
Venue: Jubilee Hills Estate
Catering: Dannie Holmes Catering
Planning & Florals: Events by Elaine
Rentals: Southern Events
Coffee Bar: Brandon’s Bro’rista
Cake: Alanna Tyler
Bartending: Gina Jones

6 Florals to Create a wild & natural bouquet

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Every bride has a different vision of what her wedding will look like.  Your flowers play a big part in creating that vision.  For some brides that vision includes natural florals that looked like they were picked in a field.  These stems will add a wildflower feel to your flower design.

wildflowers in bottles

Queen Anne’s Lace:

This flower can be found growing along fence lines and by fields around the area. Other similar looking flowers are Orlaya, Dara, or Yarrow.

Goldenrod (Solidago):

Blamed for everyone’s fall allergies, this “weed” is truly a beautiful filler flower. It adds eye-catching yellow color. Similar flowers are Astilbe and Estelle.

(Emily Rose Photography)

(Emily Rose Photography)

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Bee Balm:

This wildflower ranges from pink, purple, white, and red. It is a favorite of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Similar flowers would be asters or poms.


These tall spiky looking stems have bell shaped flowers ranging from purple to pink to peach. They add visual interest.

Sweet William:

These clusters of little flowers have graced flower beds for years. They are frequently found in purple, white, pink and bicolor.

Scabiosa (Pincushion):

These unique flowers have wavy stems and flowers ranging from blue-purple to almost black. They add a wild character to centerpieces.


Dainty flowers on tall stems, these florals add wild appeal. They are found in yellow, pink, blue, and purples.

wildflowers foxglove columbine

Natural Minimal Wedding

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When I met Whitney, I knew her wedding was going to be wonderful. She was the sweetest bride with a laid-back approach to planning. Together we brought her simply stunning concept to life. From greenery on the tables to rectangular plates with slate blue napkins, everything was clean and minimal, yet romantic. Did you see that amazing greenery wall? Working with the bride and her mom was truly a joy!

(Be prepared for photo overload. I couldn’t choose which ones I liked most and there were so many beautiful ones..)

The bride was breathtaking in her lace dress and with her wild, lush bouquet.

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We added draping to part of the Cordelle to create an intimate feeling space for the ceremony.

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After the ceremony, guests relaxed on the porch while we setup a beautiful reception with long wooden farm tables. Every guest had their name and a note at their place setting.

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In addition to cake, there were cookies, brownies, and other desserts.

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The bride’s mom made homemade jam as favors for the guests.

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Venue: Cordelle
Photographer: Madi Flourney
Catering: Actual Foods
Beauty: Amanda Gros
Dress Shop: The Dress Theory
Bridal Designer: Rue de Seine
Flowers: Elder Floral
Draping: Nashville Audio Visual
Rentals: Liberty Party Rental