“Living My Life Like It’s Golden”: Reflections From Tara Melvin’s 50th Birthday Celebration in Nassau Bahamas + 5 Tips to Create Your Very Own Caribbean Birthday Tribute
My 50th birthday celebration (also featured on PARTYSLATE) is a moment in time that will indelibly be etched in my mind. As I reflect back to my remarkable 5-day birthday getaway, the memories elicit feelings of gratitude, joy, and, most of all, reverence. I am truly blessed to live a life that I prayed for, and, most of all, planned for.
Party planning being my superpower, it was only natural for me to commemorate my special day, the Tara Melvin way: with an exceptional destination celebration. This was more than a special occasion; this event was a capsulating moment, a tribute in the tropics, that truly honored my one and only beautiful life in a deeply, soul-satisfying way.
Around me, friends who love and support me.
Within me, all the happiness and fulfillment I needed.
Before me, my dreams in fruition.
I chose ” Living My Life Like It’s Golden” as the celebratory theme to encourage myself and others to live life to the fullest authentically, abundantly and wholeheartedly.
I invite you to read on as I reveal reflections from the planning of my very own 50th Birthday Celebration in the relaxing and rejuvenating paradise-like setting of Nassau Bahamas.
If you’re planning a 50th birthday celebration of your own, I hope these tips will ensure your day is a successful and joyous occasion that leaves your guests with a remarkable experience that will be remembered for years to come.
WHAT WERE MY INTENTIONS?
This sounds like an easy question, but it requires a bit of soul searching. Turning 50 is a milestone event and it’s important to treat it with the special consideration and respect it deserves. I sparked the thought process by asking myself the following questions:
- How do I want to feel?
- Is there a need that I want to satisfy?
- What will help me to be fulfilled on my special day?
The key to answering these questions was to think about what brings me joy! At a mature (but youthful) age of 50 this is a poignant thought process because life takes on a truer meaning based on our unique experiences and the achievements we’ve accomplished.
- Bonus Tip #1: Having an intentional thought process in planning your monumental birthday celebration yields to truly creating an epic experience for you and your guests.
Above all else, I yearned for an unencumbered, exotic excursion, where I could immerse myself in another culture, partake in palate-pleasing fine dining experiences, and reconnect with my closest friends and family.
The outcome: 5 golden days in the beautiful islands of the Bahamas.
The elements I infused into my multi-day celebration are akin to the high-level criteria I implement when planning phenomenal events for my esteemed clients, to include: location/venue, cuisine, entertainment & activities, and details.
As with any event I conceptualize, I wanted my 50th birthday celebration to encompass an integration of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The beautiful islands of the Bahamas (Nassau) ignited and satisfied all five!
- Luxury Accommodations: The Baha Mar Resort was an ideal retreat that hosted endless amenities and activities. From the time we awakened in the morning, followed by shopping, dining, and basking in the sun by multiple outdoor pools, to enjoying the vibrant nightlife and gazing at the serene blue ocean, we never tired of Baha Mar’s sumptuous experiences.
- Fine dining: Sapodilla Estate, I chose the island’s most exquisite fine dining restaurant, renowned for its signature European and Bahamian gourmet fusion cuisine prepared by award-winning executive chef, Edwin Johnson. My guests had the opportunity to explore their 7-seven-acre property of breathtaking landscaped gardens from the Palm Terrace and Marbella Beach, to the beautiful Kamalame Gardens where my momentous birthday celebration was hosted.
Local Eateries: To create a true Bahamian experience, I created an agenda which highlighted “where the locals eat” – to immerse in the authentic culture! Most notable was the Arawak Cay fish fry; the “real deal” Bahamian eats! The Arawak Cay fish fry is a seaside stretch filled with hand-painted wooden stands, dinged up food trucks, and rainbow-hued standalone restaurants, all with deep roots in Caribbean history. It boasted the true unique flavors of Bahamian culture with everything from guava duffs to conch salads, and fresh fish from steamed to cracked.
4-Course Experience: The evening of my 50th Birthday Celebration, Sapodilla Estate prepared an exquisite 4-course experience that best represented their flair for European and Bahamian gourmet fusion cuisine.
- Bonus Tip #2: When planning your event menu, ensure that it aligns with your theme. The menu details should illustrate how the food is being served (e.g. casual stationery affair, buffet, or formal seated plated menu)
My celebration was black-tie event, therefore my guests were treated to a 4-course plated dinner in which they had the opportunity to pre-select from 3 main entrees prior to the party. Each element of the course was a superb, savory representation of the culture of the Bahamas.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES
Nothing is more underwhelming than to attend a party and observe guests leaning against a wall or having the awkward look of not knowing what to do or what’s next.
- Bonus Tip #3: An agenda of entertainment is essential to making your guests feel like the VIP’s that they are!
- Multi-day Activities – For the days leading into my 50th birthday celebration:
- ATV rides along the ocean
- A tour of the island to include tasting the best rum cakes
- Swimming with the pigs
- The exploration of Queen Anne’s staircase
- …and many more activities that relate back to igniting the integration of the 5-five senses.
- 50th Birthday Celebration Activities – For the “actual” birthday party, I kicked the festivities off and filled the entire evening with stunning surprises.
- Guests were greeted “butler-style” by gracious staff offering hand-crafted cocktails.
- Lively Junkanoo performers, accompanied by rhythmic island sounds, cheerfully led guests in a parade formation. This immediately heightened anticipation for the party as guests were led into the lush and enchanting Kamalame Gardens.
- The melodic sounds of The Essence Band, the Bahamas premiere and sought-after bands on the island, provided the perfect groove. Guests were sitting at the table eating and swaying and singing, dancing prior to the main course being served, and when dinner concluded, The Essence Band carried us through the night. Not one person sat down the entire evening!
- Bonus Tip #4: Your musical entertainment is essential to create the vibe of the night. If you are selecting a deejay or a live band, the energy of performance will either make or break your party! Take the time to research your musical entertainment to make sure they have the capability to read a crowd and carry the energy for the night.
Immeasurable love and exacting preparation went into planning every fine detail for my 50th birthday celebration. Oftentimes it is the fine details, intimate personalizations, and the unexpected special touches that leave long-lasting impressions upon your guests.
- Guest Gifts: Guests received highly-customized gifts, resting beautifully at each place setting, such as:
- Artistically designed mini cakes
- Velvet handmade menus with acrylic finishings
- Special poems to express my gratitude of love and appreciation for them.
- And for me, each of my guests offered a heartfelt roast that I delighted in and enjoyed.
- Bonus Tip #5: When planning a remarkable celebration, it is the fine details that ties everything together perfectly.
VENDORS: Choosing the ideal vendors (caterers, floral designers, entertainment, AV suppliers, etc.) is critical to the planning of any event. If a vendor is not up to par, it will reflect poorly in the minds of your attendees, dim the shine, and dampen the overall success of your event.
I was proud to work with a team comprising 100% of minority-owned businesses; 99% black-owned. My vision was magnificently manifested by the following trusted industry partners:
- Venue & Food – Sapodilla Restaurant
- Photography – Trene Forbes Photography
- Videography – Play Back Media Inc
- Invitation Production – Boxed Wedding Invitations
- Tara’s Makeup – Yeisha Forbes Beauty
- Balloons – Anielaxrose
- Band – Essence Band 242
- Entertainment (Junkanoo Dancers) – Sadira Levarity & D’Angelo Knowles of Wildfire Entertainment
- Floral Decor – Wildflowers Bahamas
- Rentals – Wildflowers Bahamas
- Birthday Cakes – Take A Bite Bahamas
MY GREATEST & TRUEST GIFTS:
For my 50th birthday celebration, my greatest gift came from within. It was the feeling of absolute bliss I experienced lavishing my guests with one-of-a-kind, world-class experiences and sharing this once in a lifetime momentous occasion with them.
Each day was filled with distinct, intentional, sensational wow moments that captivated our senses, but my truest gifts were the intangibles that captured our hearts: the exhilarating joy, the surrendering to tranquility, peace and serenity, and the strengthened bonds of friendship and love. That is the truest celebration and an inner paradise that should be experienced by all.