Friday, March 1, 2013

Featuring - Event Questions, Ideas, Planning Advice, DIY Projects...

Fourth installment of this discussion is something fun before we tackle something a little more serious.

DIY Wedding aisle decor, centerpieces, accent pieces. This can be done so simply, easily, with just a little bit of planning and work beforehand.

1. Pick a flower that is in season, that you can purchase at a nursery. Choose a similar color pallet. For instance, in Oregon you can get dahlias in late summer/early fall.
2. Choose a vessel that is similar, all one color, all glass, etc, but that you can get in different shapes and sizes. For instance, mason jars - so easy, so simple, really on trend. Or, all white glass.
3. For a filler, ask your florist who is doing your bouquets and boutonnieres to get greenery that will compliment your flowers. They can get it for much less expensive and can choose something that is visually appealing. Trust them.
4. Votive candles in all white are very inexpensive and candle light makes everyone look better.
5. Fill in where you need color, decor, and lighting.

These pictures are all from the wedding we did in September. The gorgeous and lovely wedding of Frances Kershaw and Nate Jones. Thanks to Aaron Courter Photography for these amazing photos.

Mix of dahlias, greenery, in mason jars.

We used the same centerpieces for the aisle runners.

Same centerpieces to fill the tables and candles to add some light.

Same centerpieces, but because the flowers are not the same color and the
containers not the same size they all look organic and different.

These were the incredibly gorgeous bouquets designed by Anna Mara Flowers.

What are your go-to DIY's for events?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Featuring - Event Questions, Ideas, Planning Advice, DIY Projects...

Third installment of this discussion. I must admit, this is something that I have been thinking about for some time now. What is the purpose of your event and how do you want that to be conveyed to your guests?

Purpose is key...are you fundraising, are you celebrating a wedding, did you invite some friends over for a dinner party? What is the focus and how are you presenting that to your guests, because regardless of how large the event and celebration you are planning there is always a message to convey.

What is your Purpose and how does that look to your Guests...

  • With our economy still struggling and in a slump, cost definitely has to be a focus. I have always said any event, big or small, has to be planned with a budget in mind. There are always cost cutting ways and their should always be a focus, one or two highlighting elements can make an event while still saving you money. For instance, spend a little more on your food and less on your decor. A great, simple centerpiece of candles can save you a ton, but people are going to remember your food. Are you raising money for a great cause, spend a little more on your sound and entertainment, because if people can't hear you what's the point and if they don't have a good time, they won't come back next year. If you are planning a wedding, celebrate your love, make it personal, less is more, less people is more.
  • What about message? What about goal? Shouldn't that always be a focus? Every event should have a goal, even a dinner party with close friends. What's the point? Having a great meal, great conversation with amazing friends. What can ruin that...for me, kids screaming, animals in my face, dinner not on time, lack of food, lack of beverage, and the television on. Is this SuperBowl or a great dinner with friends? Think of that the next time you plan, even something so simple.
  • One point of every event that will kill the experience for me is whether it is on schedule, on time. If you are late, what message does that send to your guests? Tardiness is no excuse, just like bad manners, which we will get to. An event has to be planned and planned accordingly. If you know you have a long week, long day, don't plan a dinner party for a week day evening. If you are exhausted, run down, have spent too many nights late at the office, ask for help when planning a big fundraiser. And, if you are freaking out at others, reaching the bridezilla moment, hirer a Wedding Planner! Your guests will thank you for being on time, if you are not, they will remember just that, that you wasted their time.
  • If you are inviting anyone to anything you must be polite. Right?!?! You are inviting them for one reason or another. Yes, arterial motives are one thing, but if you want to keep this guest happy, to keep the focus on your goal, then you HAVE TO BE POLITE. Whether you want to believe it or not, manners still matter. Customer service goes a long way and can make or break your event. "Yes, you did not RSVP your additional guest, but of course YES, they can sit at your table." "We would be happy to have your best friend's, uncles, dentist come and visit and tour." "Of course your mother's aunt who is hear can come to dinner." Is this going to make or break your event, no, when planning an event you are planning on something unexpected. Roll with it...make it and BE POLITE. 
    • If you are doing a fundraising event or sit-down dinner here are my key points to save you in unexpected circumstances:
    • PS I do not think I have ever shared these...
      • Know your event. Not like you sorta know it, but know it so extremely well that when guests approach and say their name you know it. You know their first names and you know where they should be sitting. How incredible do you feel when someone knows your name? SPECIAL!
      • Know where you have space. Plan it. Plan where you can sit unexpected guests, where and who you can move, and where you have no room. Plan it. Put it into your event scheme. It will save you!
      • Have an incredible check-in/check-out team and setup. Everything should be ready the night before. All nametags, all seating, all notes setup by alphabetical, table name,  and table number. This may seem extreme but people come up and sometimes don't know where they belong. More is key here. The faster you can find a guest, the happier they will be.
  • Remember, focus, goal, purpose is key to any celebration. Just plan it out accordingly.
Next installment will be on Auctions and Large Event Fundraising. I am pretty sure I cannot stress the prep for an event like this, it will save your sanity.

In the mean time, here is a team, minus Curtis Ray, that can take your event to the next level with incredible purpose, on budget, organized, and message met. And, we certainly know how to have a great time!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Featuring - Event Questions, Ideas, Planning Advice, DIY Projects...

Second installment of this discussion. What are you working on right now? What questions do you have? Let's chat about it...

Selecting a Venue...
When I am planning an event I always think about the venue that could house the event. What do I need? Large open space, multi-space venue, how many people can it hold, catering kitchen, easy access, parking or valet, will the space bring people on its own, do I have to explain the space, etc.? In other words, does it make sense for the event?

When it comes to the venue, price is not always the most important factor...

  • How many guests are you expecting? When it comes to a venue you never want your guests packed in like sardines, especially if there is money to be raised. People have to freely and comfortably move about. There has to be access to the entry and exit, restrooms, and bar! Choose a venue that on paper can hold just a shy larger group that you are expecting. You never want a space too large, but more so you never want a space too small. Ask the location you are considering capacity and then, if possible, visit the location when they are having an event. Truly learn the flow.
  • What's the purpose of the event? Dinner, dancing, auction, lecture, etc. Are you having an event where people need to focus on one point, like a stage? Well then a room with limited visibility will not work. A room with columns will not work. Is the space narrow with limited walking space in some areas, well then on auction will not work. People need to freely and easily move around, and quickly at times. Is the room massive and has tile floors? Well then a dinner and dancing will not work, all the clickty-clack of people's shoes will echo and drowned out everything. A great venue is one thing, a perfect venue for your purpose is another.
  • Easily Accessible  This may be one of the most guiding factors of any event I have ever done. How easy is it for people to find the event location and park. Often times mislooked, but totally a must for me. Can people find the space, can they easily park, and do they enjoy the experience? Because let's face it, if people have a hard time just getting to the event they are not going to start out having a good time. Make sure the venue meets your guest's needs. Are they a group of white haired guests - well then they need to easily find the space, maybe already know about it and parking should be a snap, i.e. parking lot or lots of valet. Are they a group of young hipsters going to a concert - well then they also need to easily find the venue and street parking should be available and possibly a parking garage.
  • Does the venue, as well as the event, bring people? If this is a money making event, will the venue encourage guests to purchase tickets? Often times this can be an essential ally when planning an event. Do people want to see the space? When I lived in southern California spaces were of the optimum. Where we you holding your event and were the philanthropists in the area encouraged by the space? Is it a hotel ballroom, typical, generic? Or was it a unique space, like someone's home? The ticket is something unique, perhaps unknown, enticing. 
It is an important factor to think about venue. Not every space will work for every event. And, how does the venue entice your audience. Space is just as important as any other element to your event.

With that, here are some of my favorites in the Portland Area:

Montgomery Park

The Nines Hotel


Youngberg Hill


What are your go-to venue rules? What have you learned? 
What is your favorite venue in our area and why?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Featuring - Event Questions, Ideas, Planning Advice, DIY Projects...

Are you planning an event soon? Are you a volunteer looking for a great, budget conscious venue? What about a major planner looking to shave off your catering budget? A bride looking to diy your own decor? Or a couple having a dinner party for 10?

I am going to feature some great ideas on how to plan an event to budget, answer some questions that have stumped me in the past, and profile some amazing crafty ideas that I hope will help everyone!

There are some event planning rules that are universal. Some things to live by. Some diy decor that even the crafty novice can tackle. Here's a start to our feature:

How to negotiate a contract...
No matter the contract there are some definite rules to live by.

  • Always, and I mean always, be polite. Remember that a contract should be beneficial to you and the other party. It's not just a piece of paper, but a relationship.
  • Everyone should feel as though they got a "great deal." Especially when planning an event. Even more so if you are a non-profit or working for a great organization. Price is one thing, word of mouth by a great recommendation a step-above.
  • Before discussing the contract make a list of things you must have and things that are not necessarily required. Have a focus.

So what are you questions? What are you stumped on? Do you have some great recommendations?