Inside My 30th Birthday Party

carmen hamilton's 30th birthday

Canapés, fine wine and good times by the sea.

My friends started asking me what I was planning to do for my 30th birthday celebrations eight months out which, at the time, I thought was absolutely absurd. I put it off and put it off (party because I was in denial that the end of my twenties was nearing closer and closer), until it was about two months out and I realised that if I didn’t act on it, there would be no celebrations.

After some deliberation, I decided I wanted to throw a beautiful party – somewhere by the water under the open sky, with European summer styling vibes and free-flowing fine wine. This video was the reference point for everything.

It all sounded so great in my head, but it turns out, planning a proper event for my final guest list of 60 is a lot more work than first thought, so I enlisted the help of Sydney-based event guru Kylie Farrington to help me bring it all together (zero regrets!). We worked together on the venue (Wylie’s Baths in Sydney’s Coogee), styling, the menu, music, and choosing a few beautiful Penfolds fine wine options to compliment the evening.

Keep scrolling to see what we came up with.

carmen hamilton 30th birthday

The Theme

When the words ‘summer’ and ‘party’ are thrown into one sentence, it’s natural to think ‘all white everything’ – but I wanted to do something different. I went on an Instagram rampage and created a ‘saved’ folder of inspiration images. The end result was a Spanish, summery vibe reminiscent of Jacquemus’ “La Bomba” collection. Here’s what it looked like visually:

carmen hamilton 30th birthdayThe styling

With the theme in mind, I knew exactly who I wanted to work with on the styling. I called on my beautiful and talented friend Christelle of Fleurette to bring the theme to life. The budget was tight, so we used furniture that was already available to us at the venue and dressed it up with beautiful coloured flowers, vases and fruit (which, as it turned out, was not only a cost effective option, but oh so on theme).

Wylie’s Baths already had a beautiful white timber patrol chair on the deck, so we swapped out the usual umbrella for a chic white linen one with tassels from Sunday Supply Co. The bathrooms on site were nothing flashy, so I gave them a little love in the form of Tom Ford amenities.

The food & wine

It’s no secret that I love wine (ICYMI, these are my favourites for summer), so I knew I wanted a selection of incredible Penfolds options free-flowing on the night. In the end, we went with the 2017 Bin 311 Chardonnay, 2017 Reserve Bin A Chardonnay, 2016 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz and the 2016 Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz – all of which suited the night perfectly. Santa Vittoria sparkling water was also readily available – so necessary on a warm night. Food was a roaming mix of mint and pecorino bruschetta, cured snapper with finger lime, and ginger-prawn topped betal leaves. Later into the night, wait staff (dressed in Jac and Jac linen to suit the vibe) brought out tuna poke bowls to satisfy any snack cravings. So. Good.

carmen hamilton 30th birthday

The invite

I had assumed a good old PDF attached to an email would suffice, but my web designer Rasin Zakaria had a way better idea. We pulled together this RSVP website with a cute video edited by my talented colleague Lainy Black to get everyone in the mood. It really set the tone, and I had a lot of great feedback from guests.

The music

The addition of ‘your song request’ to the RSVP form was one of my favourite things about the night. There was definitely something for everyone – here’s the playlist to prove it. It made for some extremely hilarious dancing videos later in the night which shall remain in the vault of my phone until the end of time.

carmen hamilton 30th birthday

The memories

My talented friend Daphne Nguyen captured these images on film before the sun went down, but I also wanted to give my friends the option to capture their own memories, so I had a table with four Fujifilm Instax SQ6 Polaroid-style cameras and heaps of film. The pictures I got from these cameras are so amazing, candid and fun, and I’ll cherish them forever.

Overall, planning a party for 60 guests is absolutely not easy, but it was by far one of the best nights I’ve ever had. My main takeaway pieces of advice would be to:

  • Hire an event planner if you’re organising something big. It saved me so much stress, and in hindsight, a lot of cash.
  • The little details like styling, the invite, and the song requests really make the night.
  • Great wine is absolutely essential – especially if you’re joining the 30 club like myself. Penfolds was just perfect.
  • Enjoy it! If this night was any indication, my thirties are looking damn fine (and not scary at all)!

carmen hamilton 30th birthday

carmen hamilton 30th birthday

carmen hamilton 30th birthday

Watch the video:

Photographer: Daphne Nguyen