For Michelle Cousins, founder and principal designer of Michelle Leo Events, throwing the perfect fall party isn’t just a stylish good time—it’s an art form. She took us behind-the-scenes on some of her magical seasonal celebrations, and here she shares her pointers on staging your own memorable autumn soirée.

Michelle Cousins, Michelle Leo Events
Michelle Cousins, founder and principal designer of Michelle Leo Events

On Florals

Floral arrangement, Fall flowers,
Photo by Heather Nan

“Forage for elements to prevent your arrangements from looking overly curated,” Cousins says. Scour gardens and fields for foliage, grasses, pods and blooms. And remember autumn’s bounty. “Seasonal produce like pears, apples, artichokes and figs are beautiful additions to fall displays.”

On Materials

“Wood is a natural for autumn tabletop objects, from chargers to candleholders,” says Cousins. She also likes to use mixed metals, to elevate her displays. “Most flatware is metallic and creates a nice neutral for a palette.” 

On Furnishings

Photo by Amy Lashelle

Take indoor furnishings outside for a memory-making outdoor party. “Try a farm table for dining, chairs and pillows for comfort and end tables for trays of food and drink from which guests can serve themselves.”

On Favors

Michelle Leo Events, Party favors
Photo by Alixann Loosle

To extend the experience beyond the party, send guests home with a special favor. Cousins prefers edible takeaways to meaningless trinkets. “Something small and special that isn’t leftover from the meal,” she says. “Personalized place cards also make fun favors.” 

On Color

“Bolder colors often make an event feel more formal, so I usually choose less intense tones and seasonal shades for an early autumn palette,” says Cousins, who uses floral arrangements, linens, tableware and even food to create her events’ color stories. 

On Menu Cards

“Menu cards make a meal feel more special and are great conversation starters for guests who don’t know each other,” Cousins says.