The Perfect Signature Cocktail According to Your Netflix Binge

There are some wedding planning tasks that are equal parts fun and difficult. Settling on the perfect signature cocktail to concoct for your wedding is often one of them. While I like to believe I'm an amateur mixologist, the options for a well-crafted wedding signature cocktail are endless and can feel daunting.

Whether you binge on seasons of British royal dramas or tween socialite flicks, we have the one stop shop guide to finding your perfect wedding signature cocktail, based on your current Netflix binge! From fruity and fun to brilliantly bitter, your guests are sure to love these quintessentially cinematic sips.Gilmore Girls: Irish coffee
Bring a taste of Luke's Diner to your reception by offering a fun twist on Lorelai's favorite beverage.
  • 2 2/3 oz (4 parts) Hot coffee
  • 1 1/3 oz (2 parts) Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp. Brown sugar
  • 1 oz (1½ parts) Fresh cream

Unbreakable  Kimmy Schmidt: Moscow Mule
This zesty favorite is a must-have for lovers of TV's favorite ginger. Plus, serving these up in quaint hammered copper mugs is the perfect on-trend decor detail your guests will love!
  • 4 oz Ginger beer
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/6 oz Lime juice

Black Mirror: Gin and Tonic
If you're a frequenter of this British Sci-Fi anthology, then a gin and tonic appropriately garnished with black juniper berries is a perfect choice.
  • 1 1/2 Oz Gin
  • 3-4 Oz Tonic water
  • 1 lime wheel
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 1 lemon verbena leaf
  • A few juniper berries
Served over ice in a rocks or highball glass

Master of None: Negroni

Aziz Ansari is often spotted on screen sipping Negronis in this comedic masterpiece and fans of the show will remember his girlfriend complaining about Ansari's character leaving spilled Campari on the kitchen counter.
  • 1 oz (1 part) Gin
  • 1 oz (1 part) Campari
  • 1 oz (1 part) Sweet red Vermouth
Garnished with an orange peel

The Crown: The Twinkle Elderflower Cocktail
Preferably served in a vintage coupe, this cocktail is the perfect royal-inspired l'apéritif. With Meghan Markle's royal wedding on the horizon, one has to wonder whether royal wedding guests may find themselves sipping a similar cocktail.
  • 1 oz vodka
  • .5 oz elderflower cordial, such as St. Germain
  • Topped with Champagne
  • Lemon peel twist, for garnish

Mad Men: Old Fashioned

Nothing says Don Draper more than an Old Fashioned.
  • 1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 Sugar cube
  • Few dashes plain water
Garnish with an orange peel

Stranger Things: Maple Bourbon Smash
If you love Eleven, then waffles obviously have to make an appearance at your wedding! Serve up a late night snack of chicken and waffle sliders accompanied by a crowd-pleasing maple bourbon smash!
  • 1/4 oz Lemon juice, fresh
  • 1/2 oz Maple syrup, pure
  • 1/2 oz Orange juice, fresh
  • 1 1/2 oz Seltzer
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 orange wheel

House of Cards: Southern Peach Mint Julep
Perfect for TV's darkest whiskey-loving southern politician. Or opt for a whiskey bar offering your favorite single malt scotch, if you want to pack a punch with Underwood's favorite.
  • 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 peach, sliced
  • 2 oz sweet tea vodka 
  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 6 oz club soda

Narcos: Prickly Pear Margarita

If you spend your Friday evenings chronicling the rise of the Colombian drug trade then consider a festive twist on a south of the border cocktail classic.
  • 2 oz Silver Tequila
  • 5 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Prickly pear syrup
  • Coarse pink salt for rim
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Gossip Girl: Grapefruit and Rosemary Mimosa

Perfect for a daytime wedding or in lieu of a champagne toast, consider serving up a reimagined take on this Van Der Woodsen brunch staple!
  • 2 Tbsp. Rosemary Infused Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 Glass of Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • Top with Champagne
  • Spring of rosemary to garnish

Queer Eye: Whisky Ginger

Inspired by Queer Eye's resident food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski, who makes 'Whatever Whisky Punch' in episode six, a whisky ginger is the perfect signature cocktail!
  • 2-3 Oz whiskey
  • Top with Ginger ale
  • Garnish with Lime wedge

How To Get Away With Murder: Sangree

This cocktail, often referred to as the grandfather of Sangria, is perfect for people hooked on one of TV's bloodiest primetime dramas.
  • 4 cherries, muddled
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • 1½ oz. merlot
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 lemon slice for garnish
Served over ice in a rocks glass

Grey's Anatomy: Spicy Paloma
An ode to TV's favorite tequila swigging surgeon, the Paloma is a fun option for a tequila cocktail that isn't a margarita.
  • 1 oz. Tequila
  • 3 oz. Fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. Jalapeño simple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Splash of grapefruit soda water (Pamplemousse La Croix works great!)
  • 1 jalapeño slice for garnish
  • Sugar and sea salt mixture for rim

Friends: White Russian
What better way to pay homage to your favorite Central Perk regulars than with an espresso laced signature cocktail?
  • 2/3 oz (2 parts) Coffee liqueur
  • 1 2/3 oz (5 parts) Vodka
  • 1 oz (3 parts) Fresh cream
Served over ice in a rocks glass

The best part about selecting your wedding signature cocktail is that you get to test out each contender with your fiancee while binging your current Netflix obsession! Cheers!

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Developing Content, Choosing Presenters

How planners can boost their role

The role of meeting planner in many organizations has grown in scope in recent years. The one area where many planners still aren’t fully utilized, however, is meeting content.

“At the core of every business meeting is this question: How do we get the best sessions and presenters for this audience,” says John Nawn, founder of The Perfect Meeting Inc. and consultant to senior management in organizations looking to optimize learning at their events. “It’s a multi-step process, and too many planners are brought into the process somewhere in the middle or even later.”

Nawn, a former director of education for PCMA, says planners are still held at least partly responsible for quality of programming, “So, planners need to be proactive and take more of a participatory role in what’s being presented within the formal and informal educational sessions. In short, they should act like a meeting designer,” he says.

Building a Blueprint

In fact, Nawn has a blueprint to help planners play a role in effective meeting design.

1. Job Analysis: The blueprint starts with asking management whether there’s been a job analysis conducted of the meeting’s audience. “A job analysis is created from interviews of the target employees, their managers and perhaps their customers,” Nawn says. “It’s a 360-degree data-gathering process to determine the audience’s job tasks and core skills.” Useful templates can be found online for most job types, from sales, operations and IT to accounting and meeting planning. As a result, planners can easily access a relevant template and recommend its use if management doesn’t yet have a job analysis completed for the target audience.

2. Competency Model: A competency model is a collection of knowledge, skills, abilities or attitudes that determine successful performance for a particular job. A job analysis allows management to create a list of skills, which then guides meeting designers in building an educational curriculum that matches the model’s elements.

3. Call for Presentations: What’s more, the competency model also sharpens the subsequent call for presentations so that meeting designers and potential presenters don’t waste time. “Most calls are too broadly defined, so meeting designers don’t get exactly what they want,” Nawn says. A clearly defined idea of your goals and objectives not only helps potential presenters pitch more relevant session ideas: It also helps planners and management assess whether each submitted idea is sufficiently important to become part of the meeting agenda. It helps assess whether professional speakers who respond will customize their presentation sufficiently for the specific audience.

Nurturing Untested Experts

Nawn suggests casting a wider net for knowledgeable people who aren’t necessarily polished presenters. “Unless it’s an emerging subject or issue, peers generally provide more specific and useful information than professional speakers do,” he says. “But they might have to be coached or otherwise guided in order to create and deliver an effective session.”

To prepare inexperienced presenters, Nawn asks them the following questions: What is your overarching message? What are your strengths and weaknesses in being able to deliver that message? How do you think we can tell this story in the best way for the audience?

“Meeting owners in upper management tend to use the shorter TED Talks as a benchmark—but those are so highly curated and they spend a lot of time getting those just right,” Nawn says. “Many attempts at simply creating shorter presentations don’t work because presenters don’t have the competency to hit the mark in 15 minutes.”

Instead, a planner could hire a professional moderator to work one day of an event, when the less-experienced presenters on the program are scheduled. The moderator can lead each presenter in a one-on-one conversation in order to draw out the relevant information and lessons in a way that’s most engaging for the audience. “The presenters will focus more on conversing with the moderator, and won’t be preoccupied with shouldering the entire performance themselves,” Nawn says.

Alternatively, to refine a presentation (and its presenter) in the weeks ahead of the meeting, that presenter could conduct a webinar and lead a follow-up chat forum to understand attendee needs and expectations for the topic. And after the session happens at the in-person event, the presenter can be made available for audience interaction at a dedicated area in the prefunction space, a breakout room or a show booth.

What’s more, an opt-in conference call for attendees one week after the event can deepen and refine attendee learning, while another such call 60 days out can keep the conversation moving forward by seeing how attendees are applying their new knowledge. “Learning should not stop after the in-person event, and these outlets make learning continuous,” Nawn says. “They also inform the meeting owners on how to approach version 2.0 of that topic at the next event.”

Meeting Evaluations

To measure the true business benefit of all this content creation and speaker preparation, meeting owners must make a point of evaluating event sessions properly. In next month’s column, we’ll cover the various ways planners can query attendees on their retention of event content, their opinion on its importance to their work and specifically how they’re using what they learned for tangible business benefit.

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The 7 Worst Wedding Planning Tips Every Bride Should Avoid

When you're engaged and jumping on the wedding planning train, advice will suddenly start to surround you. Every article you read online will be about wedding dos and don'ts and every friend and family member will try to feed you tips and tricks that they think you absolutely need to hear before it's your turn to walk down the aisle. So when all of this advice is coming into your life, sometimes unwarranted, it's important to recognize what advice is actually helpful and what advice should be, well, kicked to the curb. Want to know to spot terrible advice? Well, here are seven wedding planning tips you should 100% avoid.

1. Skimp on the Food
Past brides will try to tell you that nobody eats the food so don't go above and beyond with premium food packages that offer a selection of appetizers and main courses. But the truth is, the food is one of the main things guests remember about your wedding. So, if it's within your budget, try to make sure there are several food options, as well as something that even the pickiest eaters will want to devour.

2. Improv Your Vows
Nope! Don't do this. Spend quality time writing your vows and even memorizing them if you can. You'll be so chocked up by nerves and emotion on the day of your wedding that you may not be able to speak from the heart off the cuff.

3. Wait for Your Wedding Dress to Go on Sale
Think the longer you wait to buy your wedding dress the cheaper it will be? Don't wait for flash sales or a coupon to arrive in the mail. The longer you wait to buy the dress, the more expensive alterations may be if you need it in a rush. Plus you'll have the added stress of waiting until the last-minute.

4. Skip the Open Bar and Do BYOB
Depending on your crowd, expecting guests to bring their own booze can be a problem waiting to happen. If you're not able to afford an open bar, consider doing an open bar for an hour or two and then switching to a cash bar to save a bit of money.

5. Don't Compare Your Wedding
The best thing you can do is compare what you want your wedding to be and look like to other weddings. You'll get ideas of things you may never would have thought of on your own and you may change your mind about things after seeing other people do it first.

6. Randomize the Seating Assignments
It may sound like a good idea at first and it will save you a ton of time and hassle trying to figure out where everyone should sit, but on the wedding day, it might be quite awkward if your Aunt Sue is sitting next to your sorority sisters from college.

7. DIY as Much as You Can
You may think you'll save a ton of cash DIY'ing your whole wedding, but you'll start to notice that you're spending a lot more time on arts and crafts. You also may end up spending more than you think on the bits and pieces, totally counteracting paying someone to help do your decorations for you. Remember: Time is money.

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Tips For Developing A Successful Integrated Marketing Plan

Successful businesses have an integrated marketing strategy. Just think of the reasons why you buy a specific product or service. Most likely some sort of marketing was involved, like a Facebook ad or a commerical on television. No matter if you connect planners with meeting facilities or sell ketchup, an integrated marketing plan is a must, which is why we wanted to take a second and discuss proven strategies for developing one.

An integrated marketing plan consists of blending online and offline marketing strategies implemented in the most cost-effective manner and providing the greatest return on investment (ROI). These strategies could include social media ads, email campaigns, print brochures, direct mail, and more. Blending these online and offline strategies is important because you really want to reach as many people as possible. Although digital marketing strategies may be used to attract younger audiences, those over 40 may prefer traditional offline methods.

Of course, when developing an integrated marketing plan, cost is going to be a factor. Not only will you want to choose the best marketing strategies to reach your intendend audience, but also strategies that are cost-effective. A good ROI is about 20 times what you invested in the marketing strategies.

So what are some things you should be doing in order to develop a successful integrated marketing plan? Our own Chuck Salem spoke about this exact topic in a video we released earlier this year. Here are some of his main points that can help tell your brand’s story and educate the public on a new product or service:
  • Harvest Data through Email Lists, Vendor Relationships, Past Customers, Corporate Lists and More
  • Make Yourself Findable Through SEO, Lead Generation Strategies, and Social Media Marketing
  • Create an Effective Website that Tells Your Company’s Story and Provides Users with Critical Information in an Easy to Access Manner
  • Highlight the Features, Benefits, and Advantages of Your Products and Services
  • Produce Engaging Video Content Relevant to Your Targeted Audience
  • Utilize Paid Advertising through Google AdWords, Facebook Promotion, and Local/Regional Media
  • Share Content Regularly about Your Company Like Recent Hires, Awards, and Testimonials
  • Be Social on All Platforms that Make Sense Including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Various Blogs
  • Offer First-Time Discounts and Perks to Convince People to Take a Shot on You
  • Implement Pre-Sales and Loyalty Programs to Attract New Customers and Retain Old Ones

Although these are not the only ways to create an integrated marketing plan, we encourage you try these strategies out to grow your business. 

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10 Ways To Zap Honeymoon Stress

Regardless of what cloud you're on after the wedding, the unpredictable nature of traveling and uninterrupted "together time" on your honeymoon can take its toll. What can go wrong drinking margaritas on the beach for a week, you ask? Silly, avoidable stuff, mostly. Here are 10 tips to keep moods in check.

1. Plan Ahead
The best way to avoid stress during your trip is to take some preliminary planning steps before you leave: sketch out the trip together (so each of your interests are addressed), agree to a budget before you leave, and read our honeymoon countdown to cover all the bases.

2. Ease In
Try to avoid leaving for the honeymoon immediately after the reception. Instead, check into the honeymoon suite of a local hotel for your wedding night, catch some ZZZs, and get a fresh start the next morning.

It's also smart to declare at least the first few days of your trip off-limits for sightseeing. Why? These first few days are crucial to setting the tone of your trip. Catching up on your sleep first (without guilt for a change!) can help you fully appreciate and max out the rest of your days. If you're not a relaxer by nature, force yourself to slow down by starting your vacation on the beach or in the countryside, and then tackling a big city.

3. Be Healthy
You've just run your body ragged for months on end. It's no wonder that sleepless nights, a diet of junk food and stress, an emotional wedding, too much drinking, and jet lag combine to make your body crash -- you finally have time! Physically and mentally, you'll likely be very fragile; don't be surprised if you feel unusually tired or if tempers flare during the first few days of your trip. Speed your recovery -- and save the rest of your trip -- by balancing your time at the bar and in bed. (Knot Note: Bring along a bottle of water on excursions so you don't get dehydrated and cranky.)

4. Respect Each Other's Interests

You want to shop; he wants to learn how to surf. No problem: Divvy up the day. You watch him swallow seawater all morning, he window shops with you in the afternoon. Don't battle, balance!

5. Respect Each Other's Limits

It's the end of the day and he's tired, you're wired. An important rule of happy travel is: Don't push. Allow each other to relax and recoup in your own way. If he tuckers out, call it a day or do your own thing. (Yes, splitting up for a few hours is allowed -- even encouraged! -- on your honeymoon.) Scout out a place for dinner, read by the pool, or jog along the beach. Your reunion will be all the sweeter.

6. Don't Overplan Your Days

This can be tough, especially if you've flown halfway around the world to soak up a cultural hot spot. Avoid the temptation to do and see everything -- and the regret you might feel if you don't -- by choosing a honeymoon destination where there's just enough to do in the time you have allotted. Once there, don't assign every day a long to-do list. You've just spent months overtaxing your system with work and wedding planning -- this is your chance to chill. Having to do something or be somewhere every minute will fray your nuptial nerves in no time.

7. Take Breaks
Build downtime into your days, especially if it's hot outside. Take lots of breaks for a pint of beer or cafe au lait and people watching. It's a great opportunity to adjust your plans, read up on the next thing you're doing, write in your journal, meet the locals, and simply absorb a destination's ambience.

8. Follow Your Nose

Try to loosen the reins of control on your honeymoon. True, you've just finished micro-managing your big day, but traveling is a different animal. The memorable parts of a trip are often found when you let serendipity be your leader: a little boutique off the tourist-beaten path, a bakery hidden around a corner, a sudden change of plans from a formal dinner to a jazz cruise. Stay loose and swing your mind's door open to suggestion.

9. Speak Up

Nip petty arguments and testy conversations in the bud right away. On your honeymoon, time is precious. Don't let a day -- even an hour -- be wasted bickering or not speaking because this is not just another day in hometown, America. This is a day in Paris, or Hawaii, or Thailand. You're paying a lot for this day! Be the bigger person and extend the olive branch first. If your new spouse insists on stewing, take a break and don't let it ruin your trip. He or she will come around.

Likewise, if your vision of the perfect trip starts to derail, don't be shy about tweaking its course. Again, time is of the essence; the trip will be over before you know it. If, for example, you meet another couple and friendly hubby keeps inviting them to do everything with the two of you, gently put the kabosh on your new full-time foursome. Don't let peer pressure or "trying to be nice" gobble up your honeymoon.

10. Be Patient
The honeymoon is a transition time for both of you: you're tired, you're relieved, you may be nervous (after all, you just tied a permanent knot), and suddenly, after a year of planning, you suddenly have all this free time on your hands. Believe it or not, post-wedding blues can come into play. Be patient with each other: The honeymoon is the fun part, but each person likely has other emotional issues stirring under the surface. Don't be surprised if this manifests itself in mysterious ways.

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5 VIP Perks Your Meeting Attendees Will Appreciate

Go above and beyond for your attendees by offering these special services at your next event.

Planners can arrange for guests to get massages from licensed therapists provided by Zeel, an on-demand massage company that operates in 70 cities.
Photo: Courtesy of Zeel

Digital communication dominates the day-to-day life of business people across nearly every industry, yet attendance at meetings, conferences, and trade shows remains strong. The value of face-to-face interaction is indisputable, but the fact, is the effort to come together—the travel, the cost, the work that piles up while away—can be taxing. So why not consider doing something extra to show your appreciation to your attendees? In recent years a variety of services have emerged that provide unique, and likely unexpected, perks for weary business travelers.

Here’s a look at five that may be a fit for your next event.

Luxury Car Rental
Provide a premium travel experience for your guests by offering them a rental car from Silvercar. The company only rents Audi A4s (silver of course) that are loaded with Wi Fi, Bluetooth, navigation, satellite radio, and leather seats. And the rental process is entirely app-based. Guests receive a special code to book the complimentary rental in the Silvercar app. When they arrive at the airport, they use the app to activate the reservation, unlock the car, and start driving. When they are finished, they simply return the car to a designated space at the Silvercar facility. The service is available at 17 airports, including popular meeting destinations such as Orlando, Chicago, New York, and Las Vegas.

In-Room Massage

Zeel is a massage-on-demand company that operates in 70 cities around the United States. Planners can make the arrangements in advance or offer gift cards so guests can book it themselves using Zeel’s website or mobile app. Massages can be booked seven days a week with as little as one hour’s notice. Zeel’s massage therapists are licensed, insured, and go through in-person screening by the company. Upon booking, customers receive a confirmation with the therapist’s full name, photo, bio, and massage license number. Zeel can also provide chair and table massages at meeting venues.

Luggage Service
Give your guests a completely hands-off luggage service with Bags. Planners can arrange for Bags agents to pick up their guests’ luggage from baggage claim at more than 250 airports nationwide for delivery to destinations within 100 miles of those airports. At the end of the conference or event, Bags offers remote airline check-in at your venue so guests can check in for their flights, receive boarding passes, and check their luggage without standing in line at the airport. Customers receive notifications about their luggage movement via text or email.

Personal Concierge
One Concierge offers a variety of services for your guests in 115 countries around the world. Planners can arrange for a concierge to be at the event to assist guests in person or as a virtual concierge available via phone, email, and Web-based communication. Guests can use the service to secure restaurant reservations, arrange travel services, book nightlife and entertainment experiences, run errands, and more. After the event, planners receive a detailed report including program usage, request types, cost of requests, and more.

The Babysitting Company provides individually-screened, C.P.R.-certified child caregivers in a dozen cities around the country, including Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Orlando. The service can be performed as in-room care for one or a few children, or in a ballroom or other space for a large group, and can include arts and crafts activities, character visits, and more. Off-site excursions, such as a trip to a local museum, also may be arranged. Planners can either plan the services themselves, or pass along information for attendees to coordinate them.

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7 Ways To Be More Mindful While Wedding Planning

Here’s how to take a different approach to that daunting to-do list.

Admit it: Even if you’re trying to not be that person who talks about their wedding all the time, it’s likely still the first thing friends and family ask you about. So how can you plan your wedding without feeling like it’s taking over your entire life? Practicing mindfulness—a concerted effort to be more aware of how your thoughts, actions and emotions affect you as they’re happening—is a smart way to focus on the right now, not just your wedding date, and even put anxiety at bay.

Plus, multiple studies show that mindfulness can also strengthen your relationship with your partner by helping you be more compassionate and better at resolving conflicts (which, no surprise, can crop up a lot during wedding planning). “The gateway to being more present is through your breath,” says Heather Peterson, chief yoga officer at CorePower Yoga, which has studios all across the country. “If you get better at breathing deeply when life gets tough and staying present rather than worrying about the future, regretting the past, or thinking about your to-do list, it’s going to make a real impact.” Ready to get started? Here are seven ways to be more mindful as you plan your wedding.

1. Set boundaries. 
We get it: Wedding planning can feel like a full-time job, but it doesn’t need to become all-consuming. Carve out a little time each day, or every other day, to handle wedding-related tasks. Although there may be some exceptions, try to limit your wedding-focused convos and decisions to this time slot. Keep track of to-dos with The Knot All-In-One Wedding Planner App; it features an interactive checklist and message inbox, so you can talk with your vendors without a constant flood of wedding emails in your personal account.

2. Practice yoga.
Doing an exercise like yoga that focuses on the mind-body connection is a great way to break a sweat and release tension, while also reaping the benefits of mindfulness. But it takes more than holding a strong Warrior II pose to achieve that last part—you have to make breathing a priority. “If you have conscious, focused breathing while doing hard things with the physical body, your mind will become more present,” Peterson says. It can be tricky (particularly for beginners) to focus on breathing, especially when flowing into a difficult pose. Setting your intention at the beginning of class, and bringing your focus back to that intention after every series or flow, can help you have a mindful practice, she says. Not to mention, training yourself to breathe through difficult moments will definitely come in handy outside the studio (more on that below).

3. Trust your intuition.
If you have trouble making decisions (or find yourself doubting the ones you’ve already made), Peterson suggests asking yourself yoga-esque questions like: “Does this feel right for me? Do I feel good about these decisions?” Instead of obsessively scouring Pinterest for more DIY ideas or second-guessing your wedding dress choice, practicing mindfulness in this way can calm your mind. “Getting better at staying present and breathing deeply when life gets tough can help when it comes to worrying about the future or regretting the past,” Peterson says. 

4. Write things down.
When frustrations pop up during wedding planning, they can make you forget the small victories and happy moments. To bring your attention back to the positive, Peterson suggests keeping a gratitude journal in your bag (or as a note on your phone)—a place to keep a list of things you’re grateful for, you’re delighted about or just excited for that day. “It only takes 30 seconds to do, but can completely change your perspective,” she says. 

5. Schedule date nights.
If you’re constantly multitasking, it can be tricky to concentrate solely on what’s in front of you at the moment—like that person you’re about to marry. To help the two of you stay in the present, book regular date nights where you both agree to go screen-free. Whether you set a recurring weekly date or make more impromptu plans, setting aside time with the intention of simply enjoying each other’s company will keep your bond strong and your stress levels in check.

6. Choose your battles.
Whether you’re dealing with an overbearing mother-in-law, a vendor who’s pushing their vision, or your maid of honor who just doesn’t get your bachelorette party idea, Peterson suggests taking a one-minute break to decide when it’s worth pulling your “I’m the bride” card and when to just let it go. “Doing something as simple as six counts of deep inhale/exhale breathing can help you get out of ‘flight or fight’ mode and make critical decisions with ease,” she says. Bigger-picture or persistent issues you feel strongly about are always worth tackling directly. But chances are, if your mother-in-law’s dress doesn’t match the rest of the wedding party, or the caterer serves an hors d’oeuvre that’s not your favorite, it won’t make a noticeable impact on your day. In those cases, you’re better off letting them get their way and moving on to more important decisions. 

7. Remember why you’re doing this.
Repeat after us: Your wedding day isn’t the end, it’s the beginning; it’s one day that symbolizes the official start to your life together. A simple mantra like that can give you perspective when plans go awry. (And remember—no matter how much time and energy you put into planning your wedding, your guests won’t be laser-focused on every tiny detail.) So just take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment.

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How To Increase Attendance At Your Events

Events are great opportunities for small businesses to promote brand advocacy and increase employee morale.

Whether your event planning duties focus on an intimate event attended by colleagues or a big blow out for the whole company, there are certain strategies you need to focus on to increase attendance at your next company event.

Planning events comes down to asking the right questions and making knowledgeable decisions. Making the right choices when selecting an audience based on the purpose of the event and the location of an event will have a significant impact on its success.

How to Increase Attendance at Your Events

The six event planning tips below will help you plan a successful company event.

  • Identify your Audience
The first entry on your event planning checklist needs to focus on the audience you are targeting for the event. By knowing the right type of crowd to invite to your event, you can concentrate on ways that increase attendance.

Knowing your audience helps your event be more engaging and memorable because you can ensure that the elements and activities associated with the event are appropriate. 
  • Identify the Purpose of your Event
Identifying the purpose of your event also helps you identify the correct audience to target for the event.

By clearly understanding what you are trying to accomplish reduces the risk of low attendance.

For example, if your event purpose is to increase brand awareness, create an event app that creates an emotional connection to your brand by increasing engagement, asking questions, shows your logo and provides an up-to-date event itinerary. 
  • Location! Location! Location!
If you want butts in seats at your company event, you take the event’s location into consideration.

Location is an important component in event planning because certain types of locations attract a certain kind of crowd. So it’s important to figure out if your target audience is likely to go to that location, if the place is easily accessible, and if there are options when it comes to transportation.
  • Get a Media Partner
Every party planner knows that large events work better with partnerships and sponsorship. If your event is a large-scale function that requires a large audience, ask yourself if your customer base is large enough to attract the required number of attendees.

In most cases, small businesses do not have enough numbers in a particular area for large scale events. So by partnering with associated businesses or getting sponsorship from appropriate brands can reduce costs while increasing your pool of attendees.

This is also a great way to target like minded individuals to engage with. It’s a great opportunity to attract new customers and increase your reach.
  • Pay Attention to the Numbers
Before you send out your invitations, take the numbers into consideration.

If it’s a free event, it’s a good idea to send 40 percent more invitations. If it’s a paid event, your signup will be lower, but the percentage that shows up will be higher.

Where you and your target audience are located can also influence how many people attend.

For example, in big cities you’ll experience more competition for the time and attention of the target audience. So be aware of these variables when you send the invitations out.
  • Engage in Social Media
Once you get the ball rolling, create a hashtag for your event and a social media page. 

It’s a great way to connect with your audience during and after the event.

Pay attention to their feedback (make changes, if necessary), start a dialog, and build community around the event.

Initiating and maintaining contact with your audience is a great way to build brand value and foster band advocacy. Further, nurturing this engagement can ensure that your next event will increase attendance and be successful.   

Even if your company is small without a large workforce, this won’t be a mammoth task to take on if all the steps are followed correctly. By having a few dedicated individuals working on the event, you are already on your way to working towards a successful company event.

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30 Essential Wedding Planning Tips

Cover all your wedding planning bases with these expert tips no to-be-wed should be without.

When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and there are things you need to know—advice so essential any bride who's lucky enough to hear it thinks, "I'm so glad someone told me that!" If you're wondering whether there's something you may have missed (or even if you've got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets below. 

1. Guests Come First
Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you'll invite before settling on a venue. This will ensure there's ample space for your crew. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That may seem like a lot, but it's really not if you count the space you'll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.

2. Investigate Wedding Blackout Dates

Know ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability. Here's a handy list of potentially problematic wedding dates coming up in the calendar.

3. Listen to Mother Nature
Heed the weather and other potential annoyances. Guests have been known to skip out early from hotter-than-hot summer tent weddings and improperly heated winter loft receptions. Bugs (gnats, deer flies and mosquitos) also swarm in certain areas during certain seasons. Consider renting pest control tanks to alleviate the problem or including bug repellent in guests' gift bags. And if you want a sunset ceremony, make sure you know when to say your vows by checking Oh—and always, always have a Plan B for unexpected weather snafus.

4. Check Your Credit
Take advantage of the high cost of weddings and sign up for a credit card with a rewards program. Whether it gives you airline miles or great shopping deals, consolidating all wedding-related purchases to this card will help you accumulate thousands of rewards points (which could be used for your honeymoon).

5. Pay It Forward

Let one vendor lead you to another. Your wedding photographer can tell you which florist's blooms really pop, and your reception manager should know which band consistently packs the dance floor.

6. Lighten Your List

The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it's costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.

7. Ask and You Might Receive

Request an extra hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most vendors would rather secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on (which might turn you off of them). Later on, though, they may be less inclined to meet you halfway.

8. Make a Meal Plan
Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, make sure you're not required to serve the same meal to your vendors that guests will receive. Otherwise, you could be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Choose a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead. You will have to let your wedding caterer know a couple of days before the wedding exactly how many vendors you need to feed (don't forget photography assistants and band roadies) and what you want them to serve.

9. Get Organizationally Focused
In a three-ring binder, compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes you make during meetings, and photos or tear sheets from magazines you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address dedicated to your wedding, and store important vendor numbers in your cell phone. For on-the-go planning that keeps everything in one place, download the The Knot All-In-One Wedding Planner app to keep all of your planning info digitally on-hand at all times.

10. Tend to Your Bar
Typically, you need one bartender per 50 guests to keep the line at a minimum. But if you're serving a signature cocktail that cannot be made ahead of time (or in large quantities), consider adding an extra server designated to this task.

11. Leave Some Room in Your Wallet
Your wedding budget should follow this formula: 48 to 50 percent of total budget to reception; 8 to 10 percent for flowers; 8 to 10 percent for attire; 8 to 10 percent for entertainment/music; 10 to 12 percent for photo/video; 2 to 3 percent for invites; 2 to 3 percent for gifts; and 8 percent for miscellaneous items like a wedding coordinator. It's essential to allocate an extra 5 to 10 percent of your money for surprise expenses like printing extra invites because of mistakes, additional tailoring needs, umbrellas for a rainy day and ribbons for the wedding programs.

12. Don't Be Afraid to Ask
Your wedding vendors should be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning process. When working with them, you should feel free to really explore what it is you want—maybe it's serving a late-night snack instead of a first course or doing a bridal portrait session rather than an engagement session. The bottom line is that you should feel like you can have an honest conversation with them about what it is you want. Their job will be to tell you what you can and can't make work given your wedding budget.

13. Wait for a Date

Sometimes, last-minute planning can work in your favor. The closer your date, the more bargaining power you have. Since most people book their wedding venues at least six months in advance, calling for open dates two months prior to your desired time can save you up to 25 percent. And, Friday and Sunday weddings should cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings.

14. Manage the Mail

Of course you want the perfect stamps for your wedding invitations. But not all stamps are widely available at every post office, especially in large quantities. Save yourself scouting time by ordering them online at And be sure to weigh your invitation and all the additional paper products before you send them out so you can attach the right amount of postage. Ask your stationer about the need for additional postage for oddly shaped envelopes.

15. Prepare for Rejection
Know that as a rule, about 10 to 20 percent of the people you invite won't attend. Naturally, this depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are on your list, and the timing of the event (some guests may have annual holiday plans).

16. Make a Uniform Kids Policy

You have four choices: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an "adults only" wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child care service to provide day care either at the reception space, in a hotel room or at a family member's home. To prevent hurt feelings, it's wise to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).

17. Prioritize Your People
Pare down your guest list with the "tiers of priority" trick. Place immediate family, the bridal party and best friends on top of the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends you can't imagine celebrating without. Under that, list your parents' friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. If you need to make some cuts, start from the bottom until you reach your ideal number.

18. Take It One Step at a Time
Put together a wedding planning schedule and do things one by one, in a logical order, so you don't take on too much too fast and end up with everything snowballing around you. Don't hire any vendors before you've confirmed your date; don't design your cake before you've envisioned your flowers; and don't book a band before you've settled on a space.

19. No Ring, No Bring
If your guest list is bursting at the seams, assess the plus-one scenario. Do a faux seating chart in your mind, and imagine whom your single pal would sit with. If it's a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you're all set. If it's a table of couples (making her the odd one out) or if it's a table of singles where she won't know anyone, consider bending the rules. If asked why you're not allowing single friends to bring guests, size or budget constraints or your parents' never-ending guest list are always good reasons. 

20. Release Rooms

As soon as you've picked a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a special wedding block and a reduced rate. You can then release any unbooked rooms a month prior to your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no—you don't want to be responsible for rooms you can't fill.

21. Provide Accurate Driving Directions
Make sure guests know where they're going. As easy as online map programs are to use, sometimes the directions are wrong or there's a quicker, less traffic-prone route to take. Ask your ceremony and reception sites for printouts or digital copies of recommended driving directions and even test out the routes yourself. Then include the best directions on your wedding website or email them to your guests to print out if they'd like.

22. Keep a Paper Trail
Get any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying, "Hello, just confirming that you'll keep the venue open until 2 a.m. versus midnight." Don't just assume everything's all set—sometimes, by the time the actual day rolls around, your contact for a certain may no longer be working there to vouch for you.

23. Schedule the Setup
You must make sure there's ample time for setup. If you're renting a venue and bringing in outside help, ask what time people can come in to start setting. See if they can do it the day before, or at the very least the entire wedding day, before the event starts.

24. Learn About Marriage Licenses
You can check your state's license requirements online, but confirm with a call to the county clerk's office to see when they're open. Even if it's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they may issue marriage licenses only during slower times like, say, Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Give a copy of your marriage license to your mom or your maid of honor (just in case you lose yours during the final days before your wedding).

25. Go Over Ground Rules
Be prepared—ask the manager of the house of worship or site where you'll be married for the list of restrictions (if any). For instance, is flash photography or bare shoulders prohibited? Or, if you're exchanging vows outdoors, are you allowed to plant tent stakes in the lawn (which is often not allowed)?

26. Classify Your Cash

Wedding budgets are all about balance. Start your budget planning by making a checklist of the crucial details, like the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers and the photographer, and assign a number to each—one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. (But everything can't fall into the number one category!) For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you may have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.

27. Help Guests Pay Attention
Make sure your guests can both see and hear from their seats. If people are seated farther than 15 rows back from your ceremony altar or podium, consider renting a mic and a riser. This could range anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on the equipment used. You'll need to coordinate the delivery and setup with your ceremony space, so put your wedding planner or best man in charge of this task.

28. Write Down Your Digits
Keep an emergency contact sheet or phone with your vendor contacts on you on your wedding day—it may come in handy in case your limo driver gets lost or you decide you'd like your photographer to take some behind-the-scenes shots.

29. Call the Fashion Police

Don't go dress shopping on your own—all the gowns will start to look the same after a while and it will be harder to recall which style you really loved. But be careful about who you do bring. If your mom or sibling can't make the trip, ask a friend who is truly honest. This is the time when you really need to know which dress looks best.

30. Be Realistic With Your Time

When it comes down to the last month of your planning (and when you're particularly harried) look at your mile long to-do list and cut three things. Yes, cut three things. Not crucial things you just don't feel like doing, such as picking a processional song or confirming final details with all of your vendors. Eliminate only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting "Just Married" signs, or baking cookies for all of the welcome bags. Cross them off and make a pledge not to think about them again.

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6 Event Planning Tips for Businesses on a Budget

Want to bring in the cash, attract clients with ease and network like a ninja? It all sounds great, right? These are just a few of the benefits of hosting your own business event. The good news is that hosting a successful event that achieves your goals can be done, even on the bare minimum budget.

The question is, how?

We’ve put together seven essential event planning tips and important things to consider when organizing small business events. These tips will help you save money and time while ensuring your event is a hit with your guests. You’ll be hosting and running a top-notch business event in no time, all without breaking the bank!

1. Set Clear and Measurable Goals

First things first: Sit down and set clear, measurable goals that you can use to guide all future decisions. The biggest money and time wasters are due to a lack of clarity, so defining your goals will help you avoid any unnecessary costs that aren’t serving your main purpose.

Some examples of clear goals you might set:
  • Sell 200 Tickets
  • Invite/book 3 Speakers
  • Start promoting the event and selling tickets in 20 days
  • Host the event in 60 days
  • Spend less than $500

Moving forward, you can relate every decision you make back to the goals you set. Per the example above, you won’t procrastinate and drag out the planning process because you’ve set a goal of promoting and selling within 20 days—and, for example, you won’t get distracted and tempted by every speaker opportunity that arises because you’ve set a goal of having only three.

When you’re ready to take action on your goals and bring your event to life, EventBrite’s got a handy timeline and template for taking the next steps.

2. Hone In on Your Audience
It’s important to have a great understanding of your audience so you can plan an event that will generate a lot of buzz and interest. Your event will be a reflection of you and your business, so you want to make sure it brings value to those who attend.

Some questions you should ask yourself to understand your audience better:
  • What are my target audience’s interests? (What sponsors would they relate to?)
  • What time and location would suit their needs? (Do they work late? Are they local? Could inclement weather affect the event?)
  • What price is suitable for my audience? (Are they students or professionals?)

When you are 100 percent sure on who the audience is, you can effectively use your marketing spend through tools like social media targeting and creating your marketing collateral in the language and style that most attracts them. When it comes to things to consider when organizing an event, defining your audience is perhaps the most vital.

3. Budget at the Beginning
One of the most important things to consider when organizing an event is outlining your budget from the beginning. It’s also necessary to define what you want to achieve with the event—is it to network, get new clients, raise your profile?

Work out how much a new client is worth to you, and use that to help guide your budget. For example, if a new client is worth $1,000 to your business, how many clients will you need to acquire to cover the cost of your event?

Setting your budget at the beginning will help you identify what you can and can’t afford. You can answer questions such as: Will you print paper tickets? Or will you save money and send electronic tickets? Furthermore, 10 percent wriggle room gives you the leg space to handle unexpected circumstances and expenses.

4. Use Free Event Management Software

Using event management software is one of the most important things to consider when organizing an event on a limited budget. Fortunately, there is a ton of free event management software you can use to help make the planning and organization of your event a breeze. Most software will include features such as ticketing, custom branding, event schedules, data management and registration forms.

At Little Tokyo Two, our favorite options for free event management software are EventLeaf, RSVPify and Odoo. One of the most popular and comprehensive platforms for event management is EventBrite. It’s free to get started on EventBrite, but you will have to start paying once you make a sale. You’ll also find plenty of event management tips for beginners within the platforms.

5. Implement an Social Media Strategy
Social media is a powerful platform you can use to promote your event and create buzz. Did you know a social media presence can increase attendee engagement by 33 percent? Facebook is the most powerful platform for marketing events, and if you can spare some money in your budget for Facebook Ads and the time to target well, they will be well worth the investment.

Facebook’s in-depth targeting features will allow you to deliver your ads to the right people, maximizing your chances of converting viewers to ticket sales. Offering a limited-time discount is a great way to get more people to buy. Consider starting a Facebook Event to raise more awareness and to keep in contact with people who have purchased a ticket.

LinkedIn is another great platform to use to promote your business event. You can update your LinkedIn status, publish a post promoting the event, post in relevant groups, and even advertise on the platform. EventBrite have also written a great article on how to use LinkedIn to promote your business event.

During the event, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms to use for attendee engagement and promotion of your brand and event. Using your event hashtag will not only raise awareness of the event, but it will also result in a great collection of photos and videos from the event that you can use later.

Having a social media strategy in place allows you to keep your guests updated before the event as well as engage with them after the event to get feedback. Some other effective social media strategies you can use to help your event succeed include creating an event hashtag, sharing behind-the-scenes content and streaming live video from the event. The best thing about social media: It’s only the time it takes to manage and enhances your public business profile.

6. Find Event Sponsors 

Finding sponsors for your event is a great way to save money if you’re on a tight budget. First, consider your event topic and the audience and then brainstorm what sort of businesses might be interested in being a sponsor.

You don’t need to think of big, wealthy companies when considering sponsors. Get creative and approach some local businesses that might be interested. For example, approach a local caterer to sponsor the food, or find a local business to sponsor gift bags for the guests. Relevant companies will also be interested in having their name displayed on emails, tickets and signs at the event and will consider the sponsorship as brand awareness and exposure.

You can also enhance your business’ social conscience by partnering with sponsors who donate a percentage of their profits to charity. For example, you could use The Good Beer Co., a social enterprise beer company, to supply beverages for the night. The Good Beer Co. donate 50 percent of profits to their charity partners.

Hosting an event on a shoestring budget will be a challenge, but it’s certainly possible, and the benefits you’ll receive will make it worth the trouble. If you use the event planning tips above you’ll be well on your way to planning a low-cost event with big rewards.

At Little Tokyo Two, we have event spaces in each of our locations, with the perfect space suited to your needs, body count and the environment you’d like.

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6 Things To Know When Choosing Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses

Mismatched bridesmaid dresses are quickly becoming the new normal in weddings.

As modern brides chip away at traditional wedding rules, bridesmaids are finding themselves with a little more wiggle room when it comes to choosing a gown for the big day. Brides are instead providing guidelines for bridesmaids dresses around wedding themes, color families, and even a single unifying dress element. Instead of cookie cutter dresses, bridesmaid may even find a dress they can wear more than once. Imagine the possibilities!

When a bride opts for mismatched bridesmaid dresses, a whole new window of opportunity presents itself. Bridesmaids have a extra freedom for comfort, expression, and even cost (bridesmaids on a budget, we see you) while still honoring the couple and complementing the wedding’s aesthetic.

We’ve put together a list of tips sure to help guide and inspire brides interested in the idea of mismatched bridesmaid dresses. And if you’re looking for a tool to help you organize it all, we’ll show you how Blueprint Registry can help with that, too.

Set Your Wedding Scheme
Before your bridesmaids can begin shopping, your color scheme and wedding theme should be nailed down. It isn’t always so simple to make returns or exchanges on outfits (especially if they’ve been altered) if you later change your mind about aesthetics. You want to do your best to avoid any additional costs to your bridal party, because being a wedding guest and part of a bridal party isn’t cheap either.

Make sure your wedding date is firm, since the season may impact your thoughts on dress style, length, fabric, and color. Once you know the season your wedding will take place in, you’ll be able to narrow down options and relay them back to your bridesmaids.

Prioritize + Communicate

From the very beginning, it’s important to decide what is most important to you when it comes to what your bridesmaids wear. Is it your priority that your bridesmaids match the theme or wedding colors exactly? Or are you more concerned with their comfort?

Set aside a few (but not too many!) non-negotiables about the dresses, if you have any. If you’re firm on a length, color, fabric, or anything else, make it clear to your bridesmaids before they start shopping. If you have a specific vision for the day, make sure your bridesmaids understand and are respectful of it when they go off to shop. The last thing you want is for a bridesmaid to fall in love with a gown they think would work, only to have you shoot it down due to lack of communication.

Agree on Formality
You have the date, venue, and color scheme all worked out. But have you thought about formality and guest attire requirements?

The outfits of your bridal party should be consistent with the overall formality of the wedding, and every bridesmaid should shop according to it. The bridal party’s finished looks may not be cohesive if one of your girls is in a bedazzled fitted gown, while another is in a casual jersey maxi dress.

This Little MOH of Mine, I’m Gonna Let Her Shine
Having your maid of honor stand out from your other bridesmaids can get a little tricky when every bridesmaid has their own, unique look. Find an outfit element that will differentiate your MOH, such as:
  • Unique Pattern: If everyone else is dressed in solids, have your MOH in a tasteful pattern.
  • Dress Embellishments: Keep the dresses in similar colors and color families, but make sure your MOH’s dress has a little more sparkle than the rest.
  • Length: Maybe she’s the only one in a full-length gown, or the only bridesmaid with a shorter gown.
  • Shoes + Accessories: Give her a special pair of shoes, have her shoes closely match yours, give her special accessories, or even a unique hairdo.

Offer a Little Direction + Tie It All Together
Do you want your bridesmaids to have the same dress in complementing colors (ombré, for example), or different dress styles in the same color? Whether it’s the dress material, length, pattern, or color, consider having at least one unifying element to tie all the options together. For example, you’re firm on a sweetheart neckline and grey hues, but everything else is up to the individual bridesmaid.

Don’t consider it a done deal at the dresses, however. There’s still hair, makeup, shoes, and accessories to sort out. Will your bridesmaids have similar hairstyles and makeup looks? Perhaps you want varied dresses, but prefer matching shoes. The decision is up to you!

Use Blueprint to Help You Plan + Organize
If you are looking for a tool to help guide dress direction for your bridesmaids, Blueprint Registry is here to help! Create a wedding or celebration registry and add dresses (and shoes and accessories!) you love from any store. Bridesmaids will be able to browse your picks and choose the dress they want from the list. The best part? Bridesmaids can mark their chosen dress as purchased so there’s no repetition. Use Blueprint Registry to organize and plan your mismatched bridal party!
What if you have a bridesmaid that doesn’t find anything on your list that she loves? Have her shop around, consult you, and add it to the registry. Just remind her to mark it as purchased so no one else buys it.

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5 Simple Tips For Effective Event Budgeting

In a perfect world, event planners would have an unlimited budget to work with to create the perfect event experience. Sadly, it is not a perfect world and event planners need to stick to their budget so they don't run out of money and anger their client. Event budgeting is a skill that every successful event planner will learn, and there are some tried-and-true strategies every event planner should know to perfect the art of event budgeting. Here are several strategies for effective event budgeting:
What Should You Do to Stay On-Budget?
  • Ask Your Client as Many Questions as Possible: The earlier you do this the better so you can assess and manage your client's expectations. Chances are the client is going to have perfection in mind, which is fine, but it is up to you, the event planner, to educate the client about what is realistic with regard to budget. As an event planner, you should ask the client plenty of questions and work together to determine what is feasible to align the realities of the event as close as possible to what the client wants.
  • Create a List of Expected Costs and Update the Budget Regularly: Hopefully, you will have experience working on a similar event so you have an idea how to budget expenses. The event venue, catering services, clean up staff, and technology are just some of the costs you can expect to add to your budget. As you get quotes and place orders, be sure to update the budget to reflect costs and think about whether or not you're on track or need to make some changes.
  • Get a Few Quotes from Various Vendors: If you have a vendor you regularly work with, it's okay to hire them -- especially if you have good rapport and they do good work. However, by getting quotes from more than one vendor, you can save money.
  • Think Outside the Box: At Unique Venues, we specialize in providing event planners with a number of non-traditional event venue options. Oftentimes, these venues will be priced much more favorably than traditional venues. These event venues include movie theaters, museums, college and university conference centers, and more.
  • Give Yourself a Little Bit of Cushion: Every event planner will tell you that no event runs perfectly. Give yourself a little bit of cushion (10% is a good number) to account for any curveballs thrown your way that could cause you to go off budget.

Summer-Proof Wedding Hair and Makeup Tips From a Pro

Summer is right around the corner, so we can look forward to long sunny days, days by the pool, and of course, gorgeous outdoor weddings. But, with the warmer weather comes some beauty woes that even the professionals have to consider when making up their brides on the big day.

That's why we spoke with Megan Garmers, Little Black Book member and  founder of mg hair & makeup, about how she handles brides in the summer season. So whether you are a summer bride or a guest at a summer wedding, she's got the ultimate advice on how to keep your hair and makeup summer-proof.

1. What are a few things you do special for summer brides to keep their hair & makeup intact?
Depending on the type of skin/hair a bride has, there are different products and combinations that we use to help with longevity of the bridal beauty look. For oily skin, you don't want to have too many thick layers of product on the face. For hair, you want to make sure the hairspray is a strong hold to last even through the humidity.

2. What hairstyles do you recommend to summer brides?
Generally, the hairstyle should be however the bride feels most comfortable. On a long day at work, if she would normally put her hair up, then we suggest to do a style that would be away from her face and neck. If she feels most comfortable with her hair down, we would suggest half-up or all down depending. 

The only other thing to consider (and it sounds gross but it is an important factor...) is whether or not the bride sweats on her neck and back. If so, it is best to have the hair up and away from those areas because no matter how industrial-strength the product is, when the hair is being drenched in sweat, the curl and hair will go limp and the curl and body will be gone.

3. How do you keep makeup from melting/dripping off?

The most important thing to consider for makeup longevity is the skin type. Different types of makeup work better with different types of skin. Keeping the cream or liquid complexion products to thinner layers and using pressed powder as well as powder blush are generally better choices to avoid makeup meltdowns.

4. What are some things you tell brides to do after you leave to keep them looking perfect and sweat-free?
Having brides plan their day so they are not standing in the sun between 11 am-2 pm is the best way to stay sweat-free because those are the peak sun times and will be the hottest. If you feel like you are starting to sweat, it is best to have a paper towel (the cheap brown ones are great) and press the towel on the skin to absorb the sweat/water. It is important not to rub but instead press directly down and up from the skin so the makeup will stay intact

It is most important to address sweat as it comes up instead of waiting. The longer it stays there, the more opportunity the sweat and oil can mix to start breaking down the makeup from below (at the skin's surface) as well as from above (sweat dripping down in rivers).

5. What are a few things guests can do at home to keep their own makeup and hair looking great at a summer wedding?
The most important thing is to know your skin and hair type so you can purchase products that are best for you. Putting your hair up is generally going to be the longest lasting because it will be pinned in place. For makeup, if you are a guest, you don't have the pressure of being in all the photos so you can really focus on one area of your face (eyes or lips) so you can use lightweight products on the other area. Primers can help but be careful not to go overboard or make it too thick. Setting sprays can also be helpful. The good thing is that makeup products today are a million times better than 20 years ago and there are so many options to choose from.

6. Do you have any specific products you gravitate towards in the summer?

Balmain Session Spray is a great strong hold hairspray and holds up even in humid climates. Living Proof Thickening Mousse is also a great choice to help add volume to fine or thin hair. For makeup, Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer is a great choice because it is alcohol-based and waterproof. For lips, Make Up For Ever Aqua Lips are great to use and fill in the entire lip area as a waterproof base to help your lip color last longer.

7. What are some go-to summer makeup and hair looks you recommend? 

The best summer looks are ones that last and don't look too heavy. You can do a smoky eye with a bronze or plum color to add some depth without making it all black or dark. You can also do a darker lip color in a gloss so it is more sheer and seems more summer-y.

Braids are still really popular and can add interest to a simple bun or updo. They also are fairly heat and humidity-resistant so you don't have worry about if it will look the same by the end of the night.

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4 Proven Social Media Strategies for Conferences

Social media isn’t just a good place to promote your conference — it’s an essential part of the conference marketer’s playbook.

Consider this: nearly 25% of traffic to event registration pages comes from social networks, and people who register after hearing about your event on social media are 3X more likely to share it with others.

To increase the amount of people who learn about your conference and increase attendance, however, you need more than a presence on social media — you need a strategy.

Need help getting started? Use these advanced strategies to help you engage attendees and reach new conference-goers.

1. Encourage others to help spread the word about your conference.

You can spend countless hours trying to promote your conference on social networks — or you can enlist followers and partners to help. Here’s how.

Make it easy to share and connect: Include social sharing buttons on every page of your conference website. And include the handles of your speakers so it’s easier for attendees to tweet @ or about them.

Lean on your partners: If you have speakers and conference partners, ask them to invite their followers. Provide some branded images that they can use, too. The less effort it takes, the more likely they are to share your content with their audience.

2. Go all in on a great conference hashtag.

Using a hashtag consistently can help you boost the online conversation around your conference — and ultimately, your registration sales. Follow these tips to get the most out of your conference hashtag.

Don’t wait until event day to announce a hashtag: Choose one from the very first day that you announce the conference, and include it in all of your messaging. This will help build up excitement and help grow the community of those attending.

Make it visible at your event: Include it in your handouts, app, and screens throughout your venue. Better yet? Give people incentive to use your hashtag and share your event on social. This could mean setting up a photo booth branded with your hashtag, or creating a photo competition where the best photo using your hashtag wins a prize.

3. Have a conference day social plan in place.

You’ll have a lot going on during the conference, so it’s important to prep as much social content as you can in advance.

Automate your social posting: Create a library of assets and pre-written posts to post throughout your event. Then use a social media automation tool like Hootsuite to share them when it’s most relevant. So when a speaker mentions a recent study, attendees will be delighted to find a link to it on social media already.

Engage attendees through social: Have a dedicated person or team to populate your social media with live insights. For example, they can do Facebook live Q&As with vendors or post Twitter polls about something a speaker said.

Be responsive: It’s also wise to have a plan to deal with customer service issues that may arise. For instance, who will address attendee questions or complaints? What happens if your hashtag gets spammed?

4. Invest in targeted social ads.

Social media can be a cost-effective strategy for promoting your conference — even if you allocate budget for paid advertising. That’s because social media advertising allows you to reach beyond your followers and promote your conference to people based on their job title or industry.

Identify your audience: As you learn more about your core attendees, identify the people on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter who share similar profiles or behaviors and pay to target them (called “lookalike targeting”). This is one effective way to reach like-minded people most likely to attend your conference and expand the number of people in your targeted segment.

Rekindle interest with event-goers: Social media retargeting is a way to target people who visited your registration page but didn’t complete their purchase. These ads remind these interested event-goers about your event and encourage them to complete their purchase.

Original blog credit:
Original blog author: Ronnie Higgins

Tips for Handling Your Wedding Guest 'B List'

Creating your guest list is arguably the most stressful part of wedding planning. You have your family and friends from all your life stages. Then you add your fiancé's friends and family, your parents' friends, and your future in-laws' friends. Now you have to think about how many people your venue – and budget – will fit!

Because all venues and budgets have their limits, an overflow, or "B list" is a great way to include more of the people you love. Here's how to navigate your second guest list with as few faux-pas as possible:

Make Your Guest Lists Early

Start making – and separating – your lists ASAP! When you ask your fiancé, parents, and future in-laws for their lists, give them a number and a deadline. You don't want them listing 100 guests if, in reality, they only get 30 names.

The sooner you and your fiancé separate the lists, the sooner you'll be able to send invitations, receive RSVPs, and include as many people as possible.

Be Consistent
While it is your wedding, you don't want friends within groups comparing invitations and feeling like they didn't make the cut. The best way to navigate dual timelines is to decide one set of criteria for close friends and family and apply it across the board.

Whether it's high school, college, work, church, etc., decide what qualifies for A list and B list and stick to it for every group.


Send Invitations Early

Most couples send wedding invitations 4-6 weeks ahead of their wedding date and request the RSVP card three weeks before the ceremony. By mailing your wedding invitations 8-10 weeks out and requesting an earlier RSVP, you'll have more time to receive your A-list responses and mail your B-list invitations to take their place. Your roommate from freshman year might never know she didn't receive the first round of invitations!

Bonus: Include a digital reply option (email address or wedding website) for even quicker RSVPs!

Prioritize Your B List 

Set thresholds for your overflow list. Who are the top 10 people you want to invite if some guests from your A-list can't make it? By prioritizing your list with names of people who barely missed the cut at the top and people who would be nice to see at the bottom, you'll be ready if A-list guests RSVP "no."

The sooner you mail their invitation with a separate RSVP card, the less obvious it will be that they didn't make the original guest list.

Print Separate RSVP Cards
The RSVP card is often a dead giveaway for the B-list. Nobody wants to receive an invitation with an RSVP due date that's already passed.

Print a few RSVP cards with separate (later) due dates for your B list. The response card timeline should line up with the invitation timeline, so pick a date that's at least a week after your guests will receive their invitations.

Keep Your Lists Secret

Who you invite to your wedding is completely up to you (and your fiancé). Never tell your friends or family who's on your B list. You'd never want to hurt a friend's feelings who might end up getting an invitation after all.

By the time you've mailed all your invitations, you'll feel like you've performed a small miracle! Keep in mind that, when it comes to guest lists, the earlier you decide (and mail), the easier (and less obvious) it will be to your B list.

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6 Event Planning Mistakes that Will Destroy Your Budget

Many companies are especially budget conscious nowadays. Yet, many organizations continue to make event planning mistakes that explode their budgets.

Here are six common event planning mistakes that can negatively impact your budgets…and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Picking Event Dates Arbitrarily

It’s hard to coordinate calendars and dates, especially when planning executive retreats and events for senior executives who are notoriously busy. For this reason, many executive assistants and internal event planners contact all of the participants and lock in their dates before ever reaching out to hotels, venues, facilitators and independent meeting planners.

This presents a number of challenges:
  • Some destinations work with a dynamic pricing model. Depending on demand, pricing can vary from week to week. So, never assume that high-, low- and swing-season pricing applies in every destination.
  • Local holidays, when demand for flights and hotel rooms is high, can send air and hotel rates through the roof.
  • Holidays in countries that send many tourists to a destination can cause airfares and hotel rates to soar. For example, demand for Dubai and Oman increases dramatically during U.K., Russian and German holidays.
  • Special events such as major trade shows, Formula 1 races, golf tournaments and even spring break can lead to tight availability of rooms and high hotel rates and airfares.

Solution: Contact event planners, facilitators and hotels early. Ask them to give you an idea of the best value dates. Then, present only those dates to participants.

2. Last Minute Event Planning

Leave your planning until the last minute and you have absolutely no wiggle room. If you’ve selected high-demand dates (see mistake No. 1), you’re stuck and your budget will reflect that. Even though this is painfully obvious, it’s a common mistake.

Solution: This one is easy. In the words of that old commercial, “Why wait for spring? Do it now.” Yet this mistake is so common it would be interesting to have some comments about the factors that contribute to it.

3. Not Taking Advantage of Event Seasonality

Some destinations are just as nice during low and swing season as they are in high season. The Caribbean is one example. The savings for booking outside of high season are significant.

Solution: Even if you just book a few weeks before or after high season, you can get all of the benefits at a fraction of the cost.

4. Selecting Event Venues Before Determining the Agenda

It happens time and time again: Companies book rooms in the downtown core of a major city and then decide they want to include an adventure that is many miles away. Whether it’s dogsledding hundreds of miles north of Toronto or a desert or wilderness adventure, transportation costs can blow up a budget. Sitting on a bus for hours on end is also a frustrating experience for participants.

Solution: Postpone venue selection until you have a clear idea of the shape of your agenda. It is far better to wait until you have conferred with your event planner or facilitator and determined the activities that are of interest. Then, stay near where you intend to play.

5. Failing to include taxes and gratuities in your budget

Taxes and gratuities can add up to 31 percent to a budget in some destinations—that’s a hefty hit! Even in the same country, tax treatment can vary from state to state, province to province and city to city.

Solution: It’s really important to use event planners who are familiar with a destination. If you are an event planner who is not familiar with a specific destination, always ask about taxes and tax treatment.

6. Late Booking Hotel and Airfare 

We live in times of uncertainty and that means that currency can fluctuate dramatically between the time you book your event and when it actually takes place.

Solution: It’s best to pay hotel, airfares and all other big ticket items up front so that you can guarantee the foreign exchange settlement rate.

What are some event planning mistakes that can explode meeting and event budgets that you’ve noticed?

Original Blog Credit:
Original Blog Author: Anne Thornley-Brown

How to Throw a Killer Company Party

Want to make people excited to come to your corporate party?
Surprise them.


There are so many great reasons for you to throw a killer business party. For starters:

 1. Human connection is a powerful tool
Especially when in business development, even through increased technology. Socializing with your potential clients or business partners (in person!) develops a strong bond.

2. Hosting an event generates a buzz
Whether it's via social media or within your industry. it'll start to spread. It gives your brand yet another reason to be talked about before, during, and after the event.

3. It's an impactful platform to release company news or products. 
By giving "insider" status to your network or clients, you'll likely cause them to be more emotionally invested in your news.
No doubt throwing a well-timed event is a good idea. But let's look at the flip side....

 ...many people hate "networking" events because they can be extremely awkward.

 Almost no one wants to attend an event with people they don't know - and they can't fathom how to walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation. Half the time, we go to events because we know we need to network, but really, we're looking for a way to excuse ourselves early, get into our jammies, and order a pizza. This is because most corporate events do not go the extra mile to set guests up for success. Sure, they are usually hosted at a nice venue and there's wine, but very little is done to break the ice or inspire a conversation.

In order to get your guests excited enough to haul themselves over to your venue after a long day at the office, you need to show what's in it for them. Here are two helpful tips: 

1. Set them up to have a great time

2. MAKE them successful at networking.
When they bond with other party-goers and generate a great memory - they will always remember you in an extremely positive light. They'll also talk about it to their friends and essentially become your marketers.

Ben Hindman is the CEO and co-founder of Splash, an event marketing platform that allows users to manage and market their event, analyze its success, and optimize for the next one. They have helped brands such as Thrillist, Spotify, and Sundance pull off major they know a thing or two about being the hostus with the mostus.

Talking to Ben, I learned that "surpriseology" is a thing in event planning. When used properly, it can elevate your brand in a highly authentic way by generating loyal fans.

Here are Ben's top 5 tips on how companies can inject a little surprise & delight into their events (and make people actually WANT to go to their party):

1. Change up the lighting.
Events are like a story, so use everything you can do influence the evolution of that story. When the party is really getting going, celebrate the moment by dimming the lights and listen to your guests "ooh" and "ahh." Surprise pipe and drape around the dance floor is an awesome way to shift the surroundings. I've also had success with moving trees.

2. Remember: Moving instruments are better than stationary instruments.
If your venue space allows it, try surprising guests with an impromptu musical performance. One time I unleashed a marching band into an event. Another time I had an Irish step step dance team battle a breakdance team at a St. Paddy's Day party. And for a rooftop mixer, I surprised guests with a capoeira dance team. At one of their office parties this summer, MKG brought out the New Jersey Nets senior hip hop dance team.

High-energy, surprise performances are always the most Instagrammed parts of the night. Do it if you can.

3. Create opportunities for guests to co-create the event.
This tip comes from my surprise guru: Tania Luna, co-founder and surprisologist at Surprise Industries. (If you haven't watched her TED talk, drop everything right now and watch it.) Tania recommends having a ton of opportunities for guests to have an impact on the event. "Have them draw on the wall, or take turns DJ'ing," she recommends. I couldn't agree more. Participatory events generate stronger memories.

4. Give people something to do together.
They may not say it, but your guests always want an excuse to bond with each other. It may be as simple as letting them pet a puppy together. Or, as Tania recommends: Invite guests to have their photo taken on a trampoline. (Genius.) My favorite example of this is Wok & Wine, a collaborative eating event. The wine is the same (so everyone can pour it for each other), and the food is eat-with-your-hands shrimp. It's a great bonding experience.

5. Give digital high-fives before, during, and after every event.

Choose a few lucky RSVPs and high-five them on Twitter before the event with a funny GIF. (GIPHY's "dance" section is a goldmine.) Digital high-fives amp up the anticipatory excitement and is the perfect way to surprise guests before they even step inside in the door. Here's a great example.

As you're thinking about planning your own event, here is Ben's food for thought: "While there are a million and one ways to surprise and delight people at an event, you have to ask yourself: What are they going to go home and talk about?"

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your Holiday Party Venue

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8 Tips for Planning a Bridal Shower

Hosting a bridal shower is such an honor to do for the bride to be. Though it can be very stressful to coordinate between what the bride wants and what the bridal party may suggest, there are simple steps you can take to make it the best shower ever!

1. Use the wedding colors.
If you’re struggling to come up with a theme, take advantage of the bride’s chosen wedding colors. For example, if her colors are blush and white, incorporate the colors into the flowers, decor and dessert area for a soft, romantic theme.

2. Make it a potluck.
Showers can get very pricey and unfortunately, one person usually ends up taking on the sole responsibility of hosting. Instead of burdening yourself with more work and expenses, have each guest (or each bridesmaid) bring a dish. Avoid repeats by delegating everyone to a different component of the meal. This way, you can concentrate on providing cocktails and creating beautiful décor!

3. Have fun games prepared. 
Not all the guests know one another, so playing a fun game that revolves around the bride (the one thing you all have in common) is a great way for everyone to interact. It also makes for a fun way to break up the shower and make the bride feel special. Keep it classy, though! Quiz games about the bride and groom or “he said she said” are always a good laugh!

4. Light bites and cocktails go a long way.
Looking for food ideas? Have a bruschetta bar with different fixings on crostini. Meat and cheese plates are always popular (and for good reason!). Throw down some bartending skills and create an appropriately themed signature cocktail to pass out to each guest when they arrive.

5. Shower your guests with cute favors (that they can actually use!).
Bath salts, nail polish, jars of honey or jam… anything small and genuinely useful will make for a nice party favor.

6. Splurge on florals.
If you go big on anything in your décor, I highly recommend having beautiful floral arrangements. It will make such an impact on the set-up and you can always send them home as a meaningful party favor for the bride and MOB.

7. Pass out dessert when presents are being opened. The unwrapping of gifts can usually take over the shower, so it’s the opportune time to hand out your delectable desserts.

7. Have a cocktail bar!
As mentioned, a signature cocktail is always a fun touch. You can also do a mimosa bar or cocktail bar. Provide the alcohol and little fixings for everyone to make a fun drink to enjoy!

Original Blog Credit:
Original Author: Kaitlin Chad

2018 Event trends

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