Looking to expand your services into a category of events you don’t see every day? Debutante parties are special social events associated with generous budgets, an affluent clientele, and opportunities to exercise your youth-focused creativity. Breaking into debutante events may take some effort, but once you are a recognized expert in the field, these events can be highly lucrative and a lot of fun.
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Debutantes tend to be from old money families who stick to the vendors they know and trust. You can’t simply advertise to them and expect them to show up at your door. Go to social functions in your area and get to know the debutante world. Join social clubs in your area, if possible. Find out which venue the debutantes tend to book and try to get on the preferred vendor list.
My first debutante party was by referral, and it was an over-the-top experience. I transformed a client’s house into an Elizabethan castle. As I was not raised in the debutante world, I needed an introduction from someone to get my foot in the door.
Understand the Event Dynamics
For many years in the southern U.S., debutante parties were fairly cookie-cutter. Only recently have debutantes wanted “themed” events rather than traditional country-club experiences.
Many debutante parties are held for multiple girls during the season. You may handle up to 10 to 15 debutantes whom you are working with at one event.
It is very rare that you would plan a wedding for multiple brides in one day or at one wedding, so the planning can be quite different. Budgets tend to be higher than an average milestone birthday party. The events are similar to weddings, but the stress and emotion is not elevated to the same level.
Create Repeat Business
Because a debutante is presented to society only once, you will not have a repeat client unless your clients have multiple daughters, or until the clients hold future special events such as weddings or showers--if you have created a unique rapport. Just because you design one daughter’s party doesn’t mean you’ll be called on to design for siblings, as it might be a different family hiring for the group.
The key is to stay top of mind within the debutante community by attending social functions and making sure your first party runs as smoothly as possible. Your reputation and connections are what move you forward in their society.
If you’re up for a change of pace and a unique way to exercise your creativity, look into your local debutante scene. You may just discover an energizing and exciting new niche!
Kim Sayatovic is the founder and chief creative officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full-service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans.