A Celebrity Event Planner On Instagram, the Strangest Request She’s Ever Gotten, and Her Favorite Wedding Book of All Time

Yifat Oren Headshot
Photo: Courtesy of Yifat Oren

Yifat Oren is one of Hollywood’s most in demand event planners. And yet, her weddings aren’t the ones you’ll typically see splashed on the cover of People magazine. Instead, she’s the woman tasked with the hardest feat of all: Throwing a spectacular party that won’t get covered in the tabloids. (Just ask Cameron Diaz, Natalie Portman, and Anne Hathaway.)

Maybe it’s Oren’s own discrete manner that has made her so alluring to celeb clients, but we’re guessing her popularity has more to do with her impeccable taste and famous attention to detail. “She is reliable and respected,” Drew Barrymore, another one of her clients, told the New York Times. “She’s tough, and you know she’s got your back.”

We recently emailed with the well-connected planner to talk about her process, the places where she most finds inspiration, and the most outrageous requests she’s gotten at work. Below, Yifat Oren opens up on wedding planning, social media, wabi sabi, and more.

The New York Times dubbed you “the event planner to the stars who isn’t Instagram obsessed.” Do you find that trolling Instagram can stifle your creative juices?
You know, it can, but you really just have to follow the right accounts and go down the right rabbit holes.  On my personal account I don’t necessarily follow a lot of wedding Instagrams, instead I focus on things that interest me outside of just work like National Geographic, NASA, Unesco, vintage jewelers, fashion designers, poets, and landscape architects. Instagram doesn’t have to stifle your creative juices, if you keep yourself open to a variety of themes and areas of interest. I also limit my intake, as I I find that reading is a better way for me to unwind and keep my creative juices flowing.

That being said, how often do couples come to you with Instagram-inspiration?
More and more all the time. It’s hard to keep up with the many forms of “tearsheets” clients send now: Pinterests, Instagrams, shared iPhone photo albums. We try to consolidate all of a client’s inspirations internally in one place, so when we are working on the design presentation we can look at their references and then bring in our own fresh ideas, while keeping theirs in mind.  

Do you advise them to look for inspiration beyond social media? If so, where do you suggest they pull from?
Believe it or not, I still love some good old fashioned magazines. I prefer they look at architectural and interior design magazines, rather than wedding magazines, as it gives me a sense of what colors and textures they seem to like or what fabrics they might prefer. Some of the magazines I personally like for inspiration images are Vogue Living Australia and World of Interiors. Although now, you can also follow many of your favorites on Pinterest for instant access to images. Most of our clients do some pulling on their own, but they don’t get overly obsessive.  

Where do you typically meet with couples? What kinds of things can you draw from what they’re wearing, how their home is decorated, etc.
I believe that is actually one of my strengths, to be able to look at someone and pinpoint their style. I can tell by the formality of their dress, or perhaps they wear more vintage. Do they wear more Marni, The Row, or Isabel Marant? Is their handbag structured or not? How do they decorate their house? Scandinavian antiques or a more eclectic mix? I once bonded with a potential client over some Hermés wallpaper we both loved. It was love at first sight. I ask a lot of questions and try to paint a picture. I show visuals and get a gauge for the client’s response.

Are there any favorite wedding books you find yourself turning to time and time again?
Emily Post’s Complete Book of Wedding Etiquette. However, only as a reference because almost no one goes by the book anymore.  

Any favorite blogs, websites, or Instagram accounts?  
Some of the ones I keep going back to: My friend Jenni Kayne’s blog Rip + Tan, which always has great resources for a stylish and healthy lifestyle. Eyeswoon is always filled with goodies. Remodelista, I love for general design but also has great travel finds, so I always check it when making my lists for a new city. Design Milk. The Cool Hunter. World of Interiors. I follow a lot of design and architecture sites, but honestly, I go down a lot of late night rabbit holes, and I never quite know where I am going to end up.  

How do you ensure no two events look the same?
Because we start from a blank slate each and every time! It is much harder quite frankly, because we must reinvent the wheel again and again, but I don’t like to be bored, and I always want to do work that is interesting and inspiring, so creating the same look over and over again would really do nothing for me.  

What’s one of the most bizarre requests you’ve ever received?
Where do I begin? There was that time Jenni Kayne asked for an elephant at her wedding, check! Video screens everywhere at the dance party showing live feed and still shots of everyone dancing. Strange, but ok. The list could go on and on . . . 

Do you think people should be able to tell an event was done by you? Or is it better if they can’t tell?
Great question. Ultimately not. I think we do great work if we are more like a chameleon, as what we should be doing is immersing ourselves with our clients. Every once in awhile, a client doesn’t have a distinct aesthetic, so I just rely on my team to design and create to our heart’s content and that is fine, too. But I often tell the team, if we are really good at what we do, no one should know we were there.   

I think even for a decorator, I should not be able to look at a house and know exactly who did it. I think a really well done house is beautifully curated and layered, and yes, absolutely the same goes for a wedding. We do not choose everything at once and slap it all together, we put so much thought into it based on our clients.  

In regards to a stamp, a client of ours many years ago kind of gave a name to what we do and it just stuck—careful carelessness. I never loved anything too stuffy, even if it was produced at the highest level. Later on I learned there is a whole Japanese philosophy dedicated to this and I have read several books about it: Wabi-Sabi, the perfection of imperfection. I love everything about it.