How to Host an Aviation-Themed Event
The golden age of aviation had a timeless glamour that provides a perfect backdrop to a formal affair. For world travellers and aviation fanatics alike, an aviation-themed wedding, gala or other special occasion is a unique and photogenic evening that your guests won’t soon forget. Here’s a guide to throwing your own aviation-themed party.
Scout out an airplane hangar
An airplane hangar may not be the first venue that comes to mind, but it’s the perfect setting for a big party. With soaring ceilings and expansive square footage, the right venue can accommodate even the longest guest list. Seek out a hangar at a private jet airport with plenty of light. Ideally it will also have a variety of private jets parked on the tarmac for instant ambiance. Some venues will allow a small plane to be kept in the hangar for the duration of the event. A flight school in California, Aviation Attitude, makes their space available for special events, that is when they’re not arranging flight experiences. So if you’re looking for a venue to host your event, you could reach out to them.
Choose a time period
Are you drawn to the glamorous golden age of aviation (1918-1939)? Post-WWII patriotism? Pan Am mod? Or are you envisioning a modern jetsetter theme? The options are endless. Select a theme that suits your tastes and get started.
Allow your invitations to set the scene
Set the tone from the start with aviation-themed invitations. Invitations can be designed in the style of an old-school flight voucher, a passport, a boarding pass, a baggage tag or a combination of a few. If planning a wedding, the bride and groom can personalize a map that charts a flight between two destinations that are meaningful to them as a couple.
Transform the space
The soaring ceilings and wide open spaces of an airplane hangar provide the perfect backdrop for your vision to come to life. While some of the most striking decorations will be the planes parked on the tarmac, transforming the hangar is half the fun. Get your friends involved and try your hand at some of the decor yourselves, but we recommend you get the professionals from A Grand Affaire involved for the more intricate bits. Those going for a throwback to the golden age of aviation can stack steamer trunks to use as tables and set tables with vintage globes and suitcases picked up at the flea market. Floral arrangements in muted pastels or deep reds lend themselves well to a vintage-chic aesthetic. Those who like a DIY project can assemble their friends to make enough paper airplanes to string into a garland that can be hung inside the hangar.
Make an unforgettable entrance
This is an aviation-themed event, after all. Take the party to new heights and charter a flight for the guests of honor so they can land directly on the tarmac. The exit can be just as unforgettable, especially for a wedding. After the reception, the bride and groom can wave goodbye to their guests before hopping on board their private jet and flying off. Bonus points if they’re flying directly to their honeymoon.
Hire the right band
Nothing brings a theme to life like the right soundtrack. Hire a jazz band to play period-appropriate music for the cocktail hour and reception. Find a band that’s happy to play in costume with a vintage stand microphone. And even if Sinatra isn’t exactly period-accurate, no one will blame you if you ask them to play “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Come Fly with Me.”
Have your event staff get in the spirit
Speaking of photo opportunities, have your bartenders and wait staff outfitted in vintage flight attendant costumes. For a little bit of fun during cocktail hour, wait staff can pass hors d'oeuvres on an airplane-style rolling cart.
Create a selection of signature cocktails
Champagne is a necessity for any aviation-themed event, no matter the time period. But you can take it a step further and collaborate with a mixologist to create a selection of period-appropriate signature cocktails for the event. The Aviation is a classic drink made with gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur and a dash of syrup de gomme that is a must-have at any aviation-themed event.
Splash out on a grand finale
For an unforgettable grand finale, bring your guests outside for a surprise airshow. Hire one aerobatic pilot or an entire team to put on a high-flying display. Pilots can finish the show by drawing a heart in the sky for the perfect photo opportunity.