Ask the Event Planner:

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Expert Answers Her Most Frequently Asked Questions

Event expert Shari Zatman of Perfectly Planned by Shari answers her most frequently asked questions to help you prepare for your next mitzvah celebration or special simcha.

Question: How far out from the date should people start planning?

Shari: Many families select and know their date up to two years in advance. I do have families who come to me at that time – or even earlier – to work with me. For those who haven’t settled on a date, I can help by curating a list of criteria that will help target the best dates for the simcha. For some, the optimal date(s) may be associated with the availability of their desired event venue.

For those with a selected date, it’s important to promptly start planning to secure a venue and other key services. This is when I can support clients by helping them address these time-sensitive planning items.

Question: Can I still work with an event planner if I don’t want my celebration to be “over the top”?

Shari: Absolutely! We plan celebrations of all sizes and scales, from hamish to lavish. I work with each family to create events that feel appropriate for them. I never want anyone to feel intimidated to contact me because your vision may not be as grand as other events you’ve seen online or heard about. We will work together to define your event vision and goals and collaborate to achieve them.

Question: What should I expect to spend on my event?

Shari: I help my clients develop expectations for the cost based on a person’s desired vision. Spending thresholds and targeted budgets can and, likely, will be different for each family. As a professional event planner, I have the experience and expertise to help clients wisely direct spending and allocate costs where necessary—and save on items when and where possible.

Question: Does my party need to have a theme?

Shari: I love working with a theme. My creativity flows, and we can develop some really fun ideas. However, it’s fine if you don’t want your party to have one. Kids’ interests can change throughout the timeline of the party-planning process, and some families agree that pinpointing a specific theme too early may be risky if a child decides closer to the date of the celebration that the theme no longer applies. With this in mind, we can work with favorite colors, pop culture, or personal interests that will have longevity and are less likely to change by the time we make it to the date of the event.

Question: How do we make our celebration feel personalized?

Shari: Event planners should take time to get to know their clients and their interests. I ask a specific list of questions that helps us chart our course for planning and designing creative ideas. That could look like custom logos and branded looks that are unique and personal for each party. I don’t want someone to look at photos of another family’s event and feel that it looks just like their own.

Question: How do I make sure I enjoy the event as a parent/grandparent/guardian?

Shari: Prepping for an event can be stressful. My goal as an event planner is to help alleviate that stress so families can enjoy their milestones. I do that with my clients by planning a timeline to make sure items are taken care of when they need to be. I advocate for them when necessary to get them answers to their questions and concerns. With an event planner’s involvement, there’s a continuity that keeps the planning flowing from beginning to execution on the day of the event. That means, on event day, clients can focus on their family members and guests—and my team and I take care of all the other details.

Shari Zatman is a professional Event Planner, Designer and Consultant with close to 25 years of event industry experience. Perfectly Planned by Shari focuses on luxury events such as parties, mitzvahs, weddings, corporate and non-profit events. She also provides event training, coaching and consulting for event and hospitality professionals. She created a handbook and coaching program to work with them to identify problem areas, create solutions and share best practices and well as coach event personnel new to the industry. More details about Shari and her services are available at

For more information or to work with Shari and her team, contact 412-901-0082 or


Stephen | Wedding Testimonial
Shari was extremely professional and a valuable resource throughout our wedding planning process. When we first started planning, we were living outside of Pittsburgh and Shari helped us navigate all ...
Ben R. | Wedding Testimonial
Shari and her team did a fantastic job planning our wedding with us and allowed us to fully enjoy the weekend without any stress at all. After postponing our wedding ...
Amy B. | Bat Mitzvah Testimonial
I can’t say enough wonderful things about my experience working with Shari while planning my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. I contacted Shari to work with her as a consultant, because I ...
Annie H. | Wedding Testimonial
Shari was organized and made sure all of the boxes were checked. She managed multiple inputs from different people in order to ensure the best outcome for the wedding, and ...
Maura M. | Wedding Testimonial
Shari is a complete professional and created a dream wedding for our daughter overseeing and organizing every aspect of the day to the minute. She communicates effectively on every level ...