The Life of the Party

“Hospitality is the key that unlocks all the secrets of entertaining well,” writes party planner extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck in his debut book, Born to Party, Forced to Work (Phaidon, 2019). And he should know: Van Wyck & Van Wyck, the event-planning company he formed 20 years ago with his mother, has thrown celebrations for clients such as Beyoncé, Madonna, multiple presidents, Mercedes Benz, and Chanel.

In his book, van Wyck illustrates how he brings his philosophy of hospitality to life. He provides an insider’s look at how he pulled off some of the most unforgettable and imaginative parties of the past two decades, from Sean Combs’ 40th birthday party at The Plaza to a Homeric ball on Mykonos, plus weddings, fundraising galas, holidaytime happenings, extravagant corporate events, and more. It’s all accompanied by 350 photos of the grand soirées he’s planned, conveying the visual excitement of the events. The book also includes van Wyck’s musings on topics such as dress codes and invitations.

A scene from the wedding of Alessandra Brawn and Jon Neidich,
in Pisa, Italy, in 2014.

Known for a style of entertaining that combines tasteful sophistication with the gracious warmth of his southern upbringing, van Wyck takes a humble approach to his role, writing “What is it that we do? Actually, nothing revolutionary. We are taking part in a tradition as old as man, using the same tools to create the same feelings of welcome, of being appreciated, of being taken care of, and of being loved.”

Bronson van Wyck with his mother, Mary Lynn van Wyck, and his sister, Mimi van Wyck, at the wedding of Alana Frankfort and Dovid Spector in 2017.

But entertaining on such a grand scale is indeed an art, and van Wyck has accumulated two decades’ worth of wisdom to impart. Born to Party, Forced to Work is a perfect guide to throwing memorable fêtes that are as enjoyable to give as they are to attend. After all, as van Wyck says, “We give parties because we want to express appreciation for people we care about. And also because we want to have fun.”

At the wedding of Mimi van Wyck and Ray Hamilton Morrison,
in Charleston, South Carolina in 2007.