Recently, I attended a fund raiser that was suppose to be a “Tea”. The guests looked chic in their hats and heels and the room was beautiful with linens by Nuage and centerpieces by Xquisite. There were over a hundred silent auction items and even a fabulous fashion show and merchandise by Neiman Marcus. This all took place in a five star hotel
So what could go wrong?
There was virtually no food!! The invite said the menu was a “tea inspired” lunch but there was no inspiration in this menu! All we got were miniature crumpets (on a small plate not even a three tier plate holder) , a tiny salad and three thin pieces of the thinnest sandwiches I ever saw. The biggest surprise was we never even served tea! Can you imagine? I know you are saying that this event was held at a small or low end hotel, right? Wrong, it was a four-star St. Regis Hotel no less in Bal Harbour. Hard to believe?
I worked on the decor of this event with the Chairperson, so I called her the next day to see why she chose this menu. Knowing her it just didn’t make sense. I was shocked to find out that the hotel served the wrong menu!! In twenty years of doing events, I have never heard of a hotel of that caliber doing that.
How did this happen?
Apparently, the contract they signed had the right menu but the Banquet Event Order (BEO) did not. Instead of putting the contracted menu, they used their standard “tea menu”. This was a major screw up of the hotel but it was also a mistake on the charity for not reading the BEO properly before approving it. They assumed it was the same menu as their contract and you know what they say about people who assume.
How to prevent this from happening to you?
When dealing with hotels a B.E.O. is their bible for the event. It has the timeline, equipment, and any special requests listed on it. Trust me if it’s not on the B.E.O. your Client isn’t going to get it. So many times I have been told don’t worry it’s not on there but we will take care of it. Don’t believe them. They are just being lazy in their paperwork and the only person that will be in trouble is you with your Client. In addition to the B.E.O., I make sure everyone involved gets my timeline. My timeline includes everything that is scheduled to happen at the event. Giving everyone a copy insures a successful event!
The more you do to communicate the less mistakes and the better the event.
To learn more about timeline go to www.specialeventforms.com
Weddings are an exciting time. It is truly a special day that will be remembered by the bride and Groom their entire life. It should be the perfect day but perfection can be expensive. Here are some inexpensive tips to help keep the costs down.
1. Book your site off season. It may not be your ideal time but booking off season will save you money not only on the site but with all your vendors.
2. Instead of an evening wedding why not do brunch? If you find a site that does a regular Sunday try to capitalize on it. Brunches usually have mimosas or champagne included which will save you on your beverage costs. Brunches also have so much food that you won’t have to worry about what is being served.
3. Use the existing linen. Renting linen can really add up. Why not let your centerpiece be the focal decor? In most hotels, they have white linen which works perfectly for a wedding!
4. Centerpieces can be a big expense. I have talked about using glass cylinders in my other blogs but here is another idea. Ask the hotel is they have mirror display plates and votives. If they do place the mirror plate in the center of the table and put 3-4 votives on the edge. Then add flowers and some greenery. Very inexpensive and still a beautiful elegant look!
5. Instead of napkin holders use ribbon. Ribbon can vary in price so you can be the judge on how much you are willing to spend. Ribbon with its own wire is truly the nest. It will hold it’s shape keeping the look perfect. Ribbon can be used to tie the napkins, decorate the chair back and even be part of the centerpiece.
6. Photographers can be a big cost. Today everyone is taking photos with their cell phones. You can put throwaway cameras on the tables buy why not ask everyone to take photos on their phone and email it to you?
7. If there is one thing you should skimp on it’s entertainment. I don’t say that you have to spend a fortune but rather whatever you decide to search out the best. There are DJs and there are DJs. A great DJ can really make a party. A bad DJ will have your guests leaving early. You decide whether that’s good or bad.
8. Wedding cakes are one of the most expensive pastries if not the most. We all want a beautiful cake but do we really have to go into hock for a pastry? A trend that has been becoming very popular is gourmet cupcakes. They are decorative and delicious. You can have a variety of flavors and there is even a stand to make them look like a cake.
To me, the beauty of the wedding is that two people found and love each other and have decided to become a family. All the other elements will be gone is a few hours. The marriage is a lifetime (we hope!).
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In this economy Clients are looking for ideas to save money without hurting the quality of their event. I always tell them that the one thing they should not cut back on is entertainment. You can get the most entertainment from keyboardist with a synthesizer. A synthesizer is like having a full blown orchestra. There are also Keyboardist who sing and play other instruments. It’s the most inexpensive way to go. Then, of course, there is also a Disc Jockey. There is nothing like a great DJ. They can really get the crowd going!
Where and when to have your event?
If you are on a limited budget, the best place (besides your home for small events) is a hotel. A room that is already beautiful allows you to save on decor. Hotels have the tables, chairs silverware etc already which will save you tons of money.
Use the hotel’s linens. Linens are a big expense and using the existing linens will save you hundreds of dollars. To add color to the table use two chair ties which will cost you $1-2.00 a piece or sprinkle confetti.
For centerpieces most hotels have votive candles that you can place around your centerpiece to add atmosphere. If you do not have a budget a really small budget for centerpieces ask the hotel is they have mirror plates. Place one in the center of the table, sprinkle petals (rose petals are the best) on the mirror with the votive candles. (Use five votives minimum for a table of ten).
Have your event off season. Where ever your event is there is always a time when hotels are less busy. That is the perfect time for you to negotiate a good deal. The best day to do a party is on Sunday. Find a hotel that serves a Sunday brunch. This is the best value for your dollar. Your guests get a variety to chose from and some brunches even include a glass of champagne or mimosas!
To save on photography why not have your guests be your photographer. It’s a great way to get pictures from all different perspectives. Your guests truly feel that they are part of the party and you get tons of photos! You can even have custom cameras made with you photo on them or saying. This way you will be guaranteed to get photos and never hear “I lost the film”!!
If you are having a wedding, I recommend Publix for your cake. They do beautiful work and the cakes are great!
If you have any great ideas please share!
The best aide in planning is www.specialeventforms.com!
Producing off premise events are always challenging and a great expense. Whenever I hear that someone would like to throw a party at their home in a tent I think – Do they know what they are in for?
I don’t think people realize that when you have a party in a tent it’s very expensive. Unlike having a party at a hotel, you now have to rent everything – the tent, the floor, the tables, chairs, silverware, china, cook tent, linens. You name it, you now need to rent it. Even your Decor may cost you more because tents are not very attractive and to line the inside will cost you as much as the tent itself! And don’t forget the air-conditioning or heating. You could skip it if you want but your guests will either sweat or freeze to death. You become a building contractor and decorator all rolled up in one!
Although there are extra costs in using a tent I love them!!! Why you ask? because they are a challenge and you get to create exactly what you want. You get to chose the size of the room, the level(One or two floors),where you enter and exit and event the amount of bathrooms you want. It’s all custom. Tents allow you to have an event space in places where there are none!
Here are the lessons I have learned when working with tents:
Permit: make sure you get a permit before you put up a tent. Check with your city for lead time. It’s usually several weeks.
Exit sign: make sure you are up to code on exits in your tent. The standard red exit signs which need to be posted above each exit.
Flooring: Place a tent on an existing flat surface. Preferably on cement. Do not put carpet over dirt or grass. If you do, your female guests will not be happy. Most of them where heels and they will will be walking funny or falling. Either scenario is not good. I have actually poured a concrete floor with PVC piping for the electrical cords. This was done for a permanent tent space and very expensive. Using wood flooring and putting carpet on top is a much better solution.
Generator: There is usually limited access to electricity so you have to rent a generator. They come in different sizes depending on the wattage you need. I always ask each vendor what they need first before placing an order. When you place your order you need to make sure it includes the cables and hook ups. And remember, never have just one generator. Always have one on reserve for back up just in case.
Ceiling height: A tent has an 8′ height at the entrance and progressively gets higher. This means that you have to place your stage several feet from the side or in the center of the tent.
Tent Types – There are several types of tents. First, there is the pole tent or as some of you will refer to it as the circus tent. This tent has a large pole in the middle and several throughout its structure. It is not the best for producing an event with a stage because of the poles blocking the view. Next is the clear span tent. This tent is not see thru but rather one that has a clear area inside it. In other words, there are no poles but a metal structure leaving the inside clear of any structures (poles). To add to the look of a tent you can now have actual doors, see thru sides and tops, windows and colorful stripes. Choose the one that best fits your event.
Bathrooms: If your tent is located in a field all by itself, don’t forget to order bathrooms! There are some fabulous portable sanitation units. There are the single stall that will do the trick but are not very chic. Then there are beautiful ones that have both men and ladies rooms in one trailer. Some of these high-end trailers come with marble counter tops and even a stereo system.
Water: If you are in a remote location make sure you have access to water whether you will need to have a water truck or bottles. You are going to need it!
I love working in tents and if you have the budget you will too!
They say it’s always the little things that people notice. It’s also the little things that can make it fun! The big things are great too!!!
A wild entertainer can make or break your party. I love Marvelous Mark! He is not only good looking but really knows how to get people excited. Having a great Emcee can really get your going!
A hot band is always the best. If a Client has a tight budget I say spend it on entertainment! Your guests won’t remember the decor but they will remember a great band.
I have worked with hundreds of well known talent such as Tony Bennett, Jackie Mason,Joan Rivers, Donna Summers, Chita Rivera and many, many more. One of my favorite Entertainers is Barry Gibb. He has performed several times at the Love & Hope Ball that supports the Diabetes Research Institute of which I work with annually. My favorite performance was when he sang with Olivia Newton John. Two Icons at one time it was awesome!
If you don’t have the budget for a name performers Look-A-Likes are the next best thing. Not all are good but the ones that are can be a great alternative. One of my favorite is “Hot Rod“. Hot Rod is a Rod Stewart Look-A-Like who not only naturally looks like him but has the same voice. His show is fabulous!
I co-produced the Special Event Magazine Gala with a fabulous designer Bruce Sutka. We designed a roaring 20’s theme where we created a high tech jail. The tables were really long seating 50 guests. The centerpieces were ice sculptures that had jail sentences and items carved into them. Some of the items included playing cards, cigarettes and even nail files. In keeping with the jail theme we used handcuffs as napkin holders donated by Windy City Novelties. The Attendees really loved them! They were handcuffing each other and stayed that way for the rest of the night.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and created great events!
I have found that in this economy creating decor on a tight budget has now become the norm. The days of having a large decor budget are few are far between. Here are a few inexpensive ways to decorate for the holiday parties without looking like you were on a small budget.
Instead of using an overlay, why not use the event site’s linens and rent chair ties to drape over the linen instead of a costly overlay. Usually the hotel will have white linens so you an rent one green and one red chair tie to add a touch of holiday color. Or for a Hannukah celebration rent two blue chair tiers. It gives that holiday color you want at a cost of just $2.00.
One of my favorite cost effective centerpieces is using glass cylinders. They come in all different heights. You can use them in groupings or just a single one either way you will get a great effect. Just add water and a floating candle and you’re done! To create a holiday look you three cyliners in different height and add food coloring in red, green or blue. You can even use colored candles. They come in gold, silver, white, red for the holiday colors. There is even a floating Snowman!
This is a very inexpensive holiday look.
The least inexpensive is to just add ribbon (use wire ribbon) and water. It’s festive and you can use the left over ribbon as napkin holders!
A great way to brand your centerpieces is to make an RTF (clear sticker) and place it on the glass cylinders. For corpporate events you can use your Client’s logo and for social events you can print a Happy Holiday message.
Another great centerpiece is renting a neon one. They come is different shapes and light up a room.
You can also take leaves and wrap them around the cylinder to create an inexpensive floral effect. Just add water and a candle and you have a fabulous look!
I love my glass cylinders because they look good and save my Clients money!
I hope these ideas have helped you with your event. If you have any economical decor ideas please share them!
Anytime you produce an event for the first time, you will make mistakes. I look at mistakes as a good thing because you learn from them and they keep you humble. As an Event Producer, I try to prevent my Clients from making mistakes but sometimes they think they know better and have to learn the hard way.
I have produced several first time trade shows. Creating a trade show has to be balanced between Vendors and Attendees. What do I mean by that? If you have too many Attendees and not enough Vendors, your Attendees will think it is a bad show. If you have too many Vendors and not enough Attendees, your Vendors will be unhappy and most likely not participate next year. It’s all about balance. How do you create that balance? It’s all about marketing.
There are several marketing objectives.
First, getting the Vendors:
Vendors will want to be in your show for several reason such as exposure, branding, connections or sales. You need to make sure your plan covers all of these. This means you need to do target marketing. Understand who your Vendors Clients and go after them.
Add an educational component to the show. If your show’s topic had any type of education that is attached to it try to team up with the group or association that is connected to it. For instance, if you are producing a wine show partner with a Sommelier Association to teach how to taste wines. This will give you a wider attendance and a reason for the customer to be at the show.
Create an invitation in a JPEG form so that you can send it out electronically. This is a very economical way to promote your event. And don’t forget to have a link on it so that people can register to the event.
As part of your Sponsorship package make sure you include tickets to the show. The amount of tickets should be based on the size sponsorship, but remember, the more tickets you give the better the Attendance. If a potential Sponsor has great connections and doesn’t want to pay- why not trade them a booth for their company? Just make sure they send out your E-vite to their list a minimum of three times? One of the best ways to get the word out on your show is to solicit other shows related to yours and trade booth space. It a win-win for both Producers!
Fifth, Educate your Vendors:
Everyone wants to do business at these shows. You can bring them potential Clients but it shouldn’t all be your responsibility. I suggest you educate your Vendors. Send them a list of potential Clients and have them personally invite them to your show. They can set up appointments with them and hopefully make a sale. This makes all your Vendors salespeople for your show without costing you a dime! They get Clients and you get Attendees!
The Internet is a powerful tool. Your show should have it’s own website, Facebook page and Twitter. These should be updated constantly (min once a week) with new Sponsorships and Vendor announcements. Creating a buzz about your event is the best type of publicity.
Finally, Public Relations:
PR is so important to your show. You need to send out a press release before and after the show with photos. The more press you get the better. Always clip the articles and post them on your Facebook page and website. If you are lucky enough to get TV, post the clips on your website and send out an email and Twitter with the link to all your Vendors and Attendees. This will help you help you sell your next show to Sponsors and enlarge your attendance for next year.
Events should grow each year in all aspects that I have mentioned. Remember, the more you do the more you will get back!
If you have any ideas you would like to share please do!!!
Over the last several years budgets have been slashed. Creating a “wow” in a room has become harder and harder. That is why I love lighting! I am especially crazy about gobos. For those of you who don’t know what gobos are they are patterns of lights. They can be swirls, odd shapes and even custom patterns. Using them on corporate events is a great way to brand it. Gobos can be made in a corporation’s logo that can be projected from 4′ – 40′ wide. You can project it onto walls, buildings, floors wherever you want. Gobos are used a lot in weddings to project the bride & groom’s name onto the dance floor. They are inexpensive ($100-$200 for a steel gobo) and can be any color just by adding a piece of colored film.
Another amazing lighting effect is the Star Maze. This impactful effect comes out of a small box but once turned on it creates a huge sky of moving stars and clouds! It truly creates the effect of bringing the outdoors inside.
Intelligent lighting is similar to gobos in a way because they both project patterns, however, intelligent lights are colorful and they even move! If you have ever been to a dance club you have seen these lights. They create a truly exciting atmosphere. The best thing about them is that they work best when projected onto a white surface, so hotel linens (usually white) are perfect!
I love lighting and you will too!
This blog is for professionals as well as amateurs. It will contain articles on event planning such as how to brand your events, decorate them on a tight budget and even how to manage them. It will also highlight a new product on the market, so if you have one, please send me a photo and information to If you have a problem with your event , I would love to hear about it. I will try to resolve it and ask my followers to also join in with their advice.
Events are challenging, creative and my true passion!
Let’s plan them together!