REAL STORIES: A Black and Blue Havdalah Bar Mitzvah at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia

February 19, 2011 , , Evantine Design
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With its large elegantly-appointed ballroom, adjoining event spaces and outdoor terraces, the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia is an ideal location for a private party.  Particularly a bar mitzvah celebration that can literally claim every nook-and-cranny the hotel offers for an intimate Havdalah ceremony, adult cocktail reception, kids cocktail party and dinner dance celebration.

[Photos courtesy of Susan Beard]

To create a sense of privacy as the 200 guests arrived, white drapery was installed to create a separate entrance and dramatic backdrop to the place card table.  A rectangular light-up table with a branded lucite table top was used to immediately proclaim “JACOB TYLER” from the moment guests arrived.  Tall, contemporary clear glass vases holding stunning Green Goddess Calla Lilies and tropical leaves were placed on the light-up royal blue table covered with simple white votive candles and classic white place cards.

In one section of the Grand Ballroom we created an intimate ceremony space for a special Havdalah mitzvah service.   Havdalah is truly a beautiful ritual that literally means separation of the holy from the mundane, of Shabbat from the rest of the week, of who we are before to who we are now, from technology to our lived life. These are exactly the concepts that bar and bat mitzvah students are grappling with as they approach adulthood.  Generally, Havdalah shouldn’t be performed until nightfall on a Saturday evening with “nightfall” averaging around 45 minutes to an hour after sundown.  Many families prefer a Havdalah mitzvah for a host of reasons having to do with observance, convenience and exclusivity.  Then, of course, there is the fact that some families want to get to the post-service Saturday night festivities without the intervening hiatus of Shabbat afternoon. We happen to love Havdalah bar or bat mitzvahs because they certainly feel more like the prelude to a party!

After the service, the adults were invited to the adult cocktail reception in the Ballroom Foyer while the kids were escorted to their own cocktail party next door in the Washington Room.  The crystal and gold elegance of the Ballroom Foyer was given a fresh perspective with our stylish white leather banquettes, velvet-upholstered benches and large ottoman “beds”.   Accessories included white and brushed nickel nesting tables, black chairs, and cobalt blue vases filled with white dendrobium orchids.  High and low cocktail tables dressed with rich cobalt blue taffeta linens were scattered throughout for additional guest seating.

The Four Seasons Hotel Catering staff are tremendously detail-oriented, down to the carefully sculpted wasabi leaves and shaved ginger roses on the sushi station.

When the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened it was hard to imagine it was the same room used earlier for the Havdalah.  The room was transformed into a stunning and oh-so-cool blue, white and black party lounge!  On one side of the Ballroom was the kids lounge area complete with high community tables, barstools and personalized lampshades; to classic round tables dressed up in crisp black and white linens, white glass vases and gorgeous white flowers.  White callas, roses, hydrangea, tulips, Casablanca lilies, ranunculus, hyacinth, orchids and amarylis were designed across the room in a symmetrical fashion for aethetic balance.  Each table had a plethora of candy to enjoy, including chocolate Jagielky’s for the adults and bright blue M&M’s for the kids.

The crisp event “branding” was provided by our art department and then printed on everything we could find with the help of Carolyn Brandhorst at The Papery.

All Around Entertainment provided DJ services, light up dance platforms and video screen programming which kept the kids entertained all night long!

The bar mitzvah boywas a HUGE sports fanatic! and when it came to his birthday cake, well, it just had to be a sports stadium dedicated to all his favorites.  Ann’s Cake Pan designed a three-dimensional cake showcasing Jake’s love of football, baseball, golf and basketball.  But the sweets didn’t end there!  As the guests slowly wandered out of the party to make their way home they were given a box of Krispy Kreme donuts to go!   The perfect sweet ending to a modern interpretation on a traditional celebration.


  1. Hi Judy, we buy our black vases and containers from various wholesale suppliers around the country. However, you can find black glass vases at stores like HomeGoods, AC Moore, Crate & Barrel, etc.

  2. Really beautiful!!! What a special event!
    I love the circles hanging from the ceiling. Did you make them? Out of what material? or did you purchase them? If so, where?
    The lamp shades look amazing. What type of paper did you print his name out on?

  3. Thank you so much for the feedback! Yes, we made the hanging circle panels… from tin, which was then painting a glossy white… but you may be able to find something similar at stores like IKEA, Crate and Barrel, etc. All the best, Evantine Design

  4. Hi Tiffany,

    Thanks so much for your question! The Krispy Kremes are an awesome, crowd-pleasing party favor for any kind of event. You can go online and find the list of KK stores near you, call them and ask them how to place a large order such as this one. With prior arrangements, they can make it happen or connect you with their distribution center. We used the Krispy Kreme store in Northeast Philadelphia for this order. Best of luck!

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