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IT-GIRL planner Yifat Oren has gotten a lot of compliments in her 10 years as an event designer. But the best by far, she says, came on the heels of the four-day, 300-guest wedding she created for superstar client Kevin Costner in Aspen, Colo., last year. Commenting on the affair to a colleague of his — who by coincidence happened to be an acquaintance of Oren's — one wedding attendee called the event “the most understated overstated event I've been to.” “Overstated, because there were all these people, for so many days, in this amazing location,” Oren says. “But not at all over the top.”

Distinctly design-minded yet undeniably unfussy has become the signature style of Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Yifat Oren & Associates. And it's one that's won the planning firm a growing cadre of clients.

Oren says her clients, celebrity and otherwise, are drawn to the elegant, naturalistic, often whimsical look she brings to events — especially weddings, which account for 75 percent of her business. After querying clients on their favorite restaurants, foods and furniture stores, visiting their homes, and reviewing magazine layouts they admire, “I start by designing an environment that's going to house a wedding,” she explains. “Within that, my work has a raw edge to it. In a way, it's perfect in its imperfections — the Japanese term for that is wabi-sabi. So, it may involve roses in an arrangement that isn't so perfect, where some are falling on the table. Or chairs arranged so that some are a little askew.”

More and more these days, those scattered roses and skewed chairs are likely to find themselves featured on the pages of publications including InStyle Weddings and Modern Bride. It's in magazines such as these that Oren's celebrity events — including weddings for actors Natasha Gregson Wagner, Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann — have been making a splash in recent months. And while the designer notes that doing good work helps her garner press praise, she holds few illusions about what really piques media interest: “There's no magic. The truth is they want you if you have celebrity clients. So much of today's media is celebrity-driven. That gets the ball rolling.”

Once it's rolling, though, Oren insists it's the planner's responsibility to help it along. While she doesn't work with a publicist, “I always return calls promptly to magazine editors.” Doing so is simply part of a smart marketing plan — a business element she counts as key to her success. “Everybody has to market. You're silly if you think you don't. Everybody markets, even Neiman Marcus.”

Yifat Oren & Associates 13807 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423; 818/981-9950;


“About half of our events now are destination. With those destination events, we like to utilize local talent — I really believe in supporting the communities I work in. And we're lucky. One of the benefits of good press is that our reputation precedes us, so that when we call local people, they know who we are, and they're so nice, so willing to accommodate requests.”


“I feel incredibly proud that I've always been able to reach my goals. I'm also proud that I put back into the world. We pick a charity to support every year. I'm so grateful to have been raised in a country [the U.S.] where women are encouraged to own their own business. So last year, we supported women in third-world countries with business micro-loans. This year we supported Dress for Success [a charity that provides business clothing for low-income women interviewing for jobs].”


“ … a termite inspector, because I really need to have that done at my house right now as I'm remodeling. No, really, something in the culinary world, I think. I might retire as a vintner. We'll see … ”

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