By Hilary Sheinbaum
Birthdays come once a year, but if you’re planning a party to celebrate a decade, it should (rightfully) be an epic celebration. Molly’s dear friend Mary Alice Haney, the founder and designer of luxury brand HANEY, recently commemorated her 50th birthday in Capri. After fawning over beautiful photos and living vicariously through Instagram stories — naturally — we had to know all the details of the 3-day occasion with 70 guests.
We spoke with Diana Sorensen, owner & creative director of Sugokuii Events, based in Rome, Capri, and New York. Sorensen has been an event planner for 20 years and is the mastermind behind Haney’s birthday soirees.
I really live, dream, and breathe for their event until it’s executed,” says Sorensen.
She only takes on no more than 6 events each year. “I will be their contact from beginning to end no matter how large the event. I am very hands-on and will go to extreme lengths to make sure my client achieves the perfect event.”
Read on to learn how this opulent birthday came to fruition.
Q: How did you and Mary Alice get in touch?
A: This was the first time I ever planned an event for Mary Alice! It turned out she and I had many connections in common, and I was introduced to her first by someone in Capri, and then later by several other former clients who also knew her. I’m always surprised by what a small world this is!
A: It’s the norm actually. All our clients live overseas! We design mood boards and send them to our clients, review everything via zoom calls and email, in many cases, we are also able to travel to the client’s location and present mood boards, live tablescapes, and more so that they can review everything in person before making decisions.
A: The inspiration for her weekend was La Dolce Vita and everything Capri. Mary Alice has been coming to Capri for many years with her family — she absolutely loves Capri. I loved hearing what she loves about it, her many memories made in Capri, and places she has treasured coming to for many years with friends and family. We chose locations and tablescapes that would be typical of Capri and mixed this into a chic and fun weekend of events. Mary Alice was the most wonderful and most trusting client one could ever ask for, and we were on the same page in everything from the beginning!
A: Everyone stayed at each their own hotel. That is the beauty of doing an event in Capri: everyone can be within a few minutes walking distance of each other but still stay separately in whatever hotel of their choosing. It’s easy.
A: The welcome dinner party took place at the very characteristic restaurant called Da Paolino, which was set in the typical Capri setting, beneath lots of lemon trees.
The main birthday dinner was supposed to take place in a beautiful outdoor location high up towards the top of a mountain which is actually difficult to reach, but due to a very threatening rain forecast, we had to act fast and change location 48 hours before. Instead, we did the main dinner party at another well known very cozy restaurant in the center of Capri called Da Giorgio, which we semi transformed for this evening.
A: Most of the items for both nights were custom designed for the event and were filled with tiny details. All of the tablescape items were made in Italy, many by local artisans whom we take pride in sourcing and having items custom-designed for the events. We mix and match items in true Capri style for both nights in a sophisticated and fun setting.
A: For the birthday, a 1-meter diameter birthday cake, a millefoglie cake, which is typical to have in Italy. It was layered with hundreds of wild baby strawberries and lots of sparklers.
A: There was a DJ at both events who played continuously, and they made everyone get up and dance during and before the dinner even ended.
A: We had very cute welcome bags for all the guests with typical Capri products which were delivered to all the guests’ hotels upon arrival to Capri.
With these inner workings, what’s stopping you from planning your Capri-inspired birthday next year?