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.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.bizbash.com/5-vip-perks-your-meeting-attendees-will-appreciate/los-angeles/story/34493#.W0T-GNJKhRY

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.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.theknot.com/content/mindful-wedding-planning-tips

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.

Original Blog Credit: http://eventplanningblueprint.com/increase-attendace

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 SunriseSunset.com. 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 USPS.com. 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.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.theknot.com/content/expert-wedding-planning-tips-and-tricks

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.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.mpiweb.org/blog/article/6-event-planning-tips-for-businesses-on-a-budget

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.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.blueprintregistry.com/guides/wedding/wedding-planning/6-things-to-know-when-choosing-mismatched-bridesmaid-dresses

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.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.stylemepretty.com/2018/03/28/summer-wedding-hair-makeup-tips/

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: https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/social-media-strategies-conferences-ds00/
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.

Original Blog Credit:  https://stylemepretty.com/2018/03/23/wedding-guest-b-list/


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: https://www.mpiweb.org/blog/article/6-event-planning-mistakes-that-will-destroy-your-budget
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 events....so 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

Original Blog Credit: https://www.uniquevenues.com/blog/5-things-consider-when-selecting-your-holiday-party-venue

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: http://www.mywedding.com/wedding-ideas/advice/8-tips-for-planning-a-bridal-shower/
Original Author: Kaitlin Chad

2018 Event trends

Original Blog Credit: https://www.uniquevenues.com/blog/2018-event-trends

It's Summer. . . Time to Plan Your Holiday Party!

Considering that 75 percent of employees believe office holiday parties are “very good” for overall morale, it’s never too soon to start thinking about your company’s 2018 annual holiday party and how to make sure it’s the best one yet.

Company holiday parties provide the perfect opportunity for employees to come together and celebrate an organization’s success, but are also the perfect opportunity to rally your team around your company’s shared goals.

We’ve rounded up our top tips to make sure your next holiday party is a memorable occasion for all the right reasons such as employee recognition, reflecting on lessons learned, and sharing key company messages and initiatives.

1. Recognize Employees for their Accomplishments

A study conducted by the Incentive Research Institute found that millennials are motivated most by public recognition and feeling purposeful in their work. Rather than just a celebration with food and drinks, they are more interested in motivational and inspirational events that celebrated accomplishments and provided coaching in a fun atmosphere.

Adding an awards and recognition component to this year is a must. That means that you’ll need to start planning well in advance. Give your company leadership enough time to submit thoughtful nominations that recognize employees in a variety of categories relating to corporate culture, innovation, collaboration, as well as the top revenue producers within the company. 

At the beginning of Convene’s own holiday party, we celebrate employee achievements through “Colleague of the Year,” “Manager of the Year,” “Sales Manager of the Year,” and “Founder’s Award” winners. We’ve found that sets an inspirational tone and allows for the winners to fully celebrate the rest of the night with their teams!

2. Incorporate Team Building Activities

Including collaborative, team-building elements into this year’s celebration gives employees who don’t typically interact with each other an opportunity to work together in new ways. 

By engaging in interactive activities rather than passive activities, people tend to feel closer to one another. Try something festive and lighthearted such a cookie decorating contest or go bigger with holiday-themed games such as Santa Limbo, Christmas Mad Libs, or People Bingo.

3. “Surprise and Delight” Employees Throughout the Night

An employee raffle with unexpected and exciting big-ticket prizes can be a great way to “surprise and delight” staff for working hard all year.

While you have the time now, also consider providing custom gifts to employees to commemorate the night. “The gifts should be something that will be valued by the people attending, and the recipients should feel like it is a ‘thank you’ gift, rather than a promotional gift,” said Larry Cohen, CEO of Axis Promotions. “People will also cherish gifts with their names or initials. They are easy to produce and worth the effort,” he added.

For a more budget-friendly option, “custom cocktail recipes printed on rich cards can be a great leave-behind for guests to make the same drinks at home that were served at the party,” said Susan Kaden, Visuals Consultant at Atlas Print Solutions.

4. Generate Excitement for 2018

A segment of the night’s presentation should also be focused on introducing a theme or goal for the coming year. Corporate change management company Bain & Company found 63 percent of a company’s goals for change fail because of a lack of communication between managers and employees.

Introducing or reiterating company-wide goals or initiatives in a fun, low-stress environment such as the annual holiday party make them more likely to be absorbed.

To prevent the goals from sounding too boring or forgetful, Laura Londin from The Booth suggests a mission-driven photobooth, connected to the company’s theme. This can become an interactive element where employees write what the mission or theme means to them, and is an easy way that brings the theme to life. “People are more excited to engage with a photo booth when it draws out a theme that is connected to the event. Throw in signs or work in an overlay that matches the tone of the project,” Laura adds.

5. Celebrate in a Non-Conventional Space

The local hotel ballroom or surf-n-turf restaurant are no longer be the only options for corporate holiday parties anymore, especially since you have six months to plan!

There’s an opportunity this year to get your employees excited about going to a destination. The environment you’re choosing to celebrate in will impact how your employees engage in the event – from the moment they receive their RSVP invite all the way to the next day, when they tell their friends and family about it. “Never underestimate the value of a good event layout,” says Lauren Goldberg of AFR Event Furnishings. 

Original Blog Credit: https://www.convene.com/catalyst/summer-time-plan-company-holiday-party/
Written by: Jenna Wollemann

5 Questions Most Wedding Guests Will Ask + How To Answer Them

5 Questions Most Wedding Guests Will Ask + How To Answer Them

By: Melissa Baran


If there's ever a time that you don't want to be bogged down with questions... it's while you're planning your wedding. But chances are, you're going to have a handful of guests checking in with you. Do your best to avoid every guest (and their mama) calling and texting you by providing this info clearly for them. Keep reading for some of the most common questions guests ask and how to handle them!

Can I bring my kids?

This can be such a tough one! Where do you draw the line? Do you feel OK having close family children in attendance (hello adorable flower girl and ring bearer!) but you'd rather not have all of your friends with their little one's in tow? 9 times of out 10 most guests with kiddos prefer to leave them at home so they can fully enjoy the evening. When it comes down to it, this is your Big Day and you can do what you want, but be prepared for some guests to spring this question on you.

While the obvious solution is to put 'no kids' on your wedding invitation, it might not be the vibe your hoping to send when your guests open up that envelope. Here are a couple other ways to say no kiddos allowed:

The way you address is your invitations is a subtle way to get this point across. Address the invite to the adults only, rather than "The Smith Family". This leaves room for questioning still, so take it a step further with the approach below.

Another option is to include a wedding website link with more details, where you can address that this event is for big kids only. Some positive ways to word it:

"We look forward to celebrating with you! Kick your shoes off and enjoy a relaxing kid-free evening with us."

"To give all our guests the opportunity to let their hair down and have a good time without having to worry about little eyes and ears, we politely request no children."

Ceremony Only: "Children are welcome to the ceremony, however to allow all of our guests to enjoy an evening of relaxation, we politely request adult attendance only."

Can I bring my new bae?

You already had to cut down your guest list and shave off Aunt Suzy and Cousin Jon... but now your college girlfriend wants to bring her new bae—who you've never met before? Yikes. While you want each invited guest to have a great time, plus ones can get out of hand if you've got a lot of single ladies and gents in attendance.

Just like the no kids announcement, a wedding website is a great place to house this info. If you'd rather not have complete strangers witness your I dos, make sure this is clear.

If you are OK with it, simply address with "& guest"!

What should I wear?

First, get familiar with traditional wedding attire wording for invites. Our friends at Shutterfly have a great rundown:

Black tie (tuxedos and formal gowns)
Formal, black tie optional (suit and tie and dresses)
Semi-formal (suit and tie and cocktail dresses)
Cocktail attire (suits and party dresses)
Beach or garden party attire (summer suits and summer dresses)
Casual (button down shirts or polos and summer sundresses or a skirt or pants with a nice blouse)

It's always a good idea to make this clear right on the invitation but you can also add this info on your wedding website, too.

For Destination Weddings

Do you have a room block?

If you've already secured a room block, make sure to provide this info for your guests. This can go right on the invitations, or your wedding website if you wish to provide more detailed info. Things to include:

Travel dates (when your room block time period begins and ends)
# of rooms available
Types of rooms available

What do you recommend to do in the area?

Your wedding website is also a great place to put this info! This is especially helpful if your guests will have ample time to themselves before and after wedding events such as a rehearsal or welcome dinner or a farewell brunch.

Extra Steps

Lastly, if you'd rather not be the go-to for guest questions, kindly ask a member of your bridal party if they can help by being the point of contact and if they are OK with you putting their email or phone on your wedding website.

If you do prefer to be the contact, you can also simply list your email only rather than your phone number, which will deter guests from calling or texting you randomly when you're in the middle of a dress fitting or a cake tasting. No one likes to be interrupted when they're eating cake!

Original Blog: https://www.stylemepretty.com/2018/04/05/5-questions-most-wedding-guests-will-ask-how-to-answer-them/








How to Include Kids In Your Wedding


Whether you have your own kids or want to include your favorite niece or nephew in the big day, we are often subject to making them the flower girl and ring bearer. But for those that may have more than one child to include, want something a bit different, or simply need other ideas, here are some great other ways to include your favorite kids on your wedding day.

Include them in the Planning Process
If you have a kid of your own, the wedding can be a weird day for them. Instead of worrying about any mixed emotions they may be having, include them from day one. This can mean giving them little jobs to do throughout or trusting them with a project, such as DIY favors or stuffing envelopes (of course, this depends on their age!). They will feel proud for helping and it can even be a big help for you!

Ask them to Lead the Procession

If you have too many kids included in your wedding, ask a few of them to be the leaders of the procession. Before the flower girl walks down the aisle, have them come down first, holding cute signs that say "she's almost here!" or cheeky ones that read "too late to run now!" It's a cute, simple addition to the ceremony that will have the kids feeling super special.

Plan Special Pictures

You're going to be taking a ton of pictures on the big day, so why not add a few more specifically for the special little ones in your life? Ask your photographer to take a few of just you and the kids, bring a few props, and make it seem like a mini photo shoot (that will only take 5 minutes!). Not only will the kids feel important, but you'll have those photos to remember forever. You can even gift each kid with a framed photo from the shoot once you get the images back.

Have them Join the Cake Cutting
The cake cutting is a fun part of the reception that even the kids love to pay attention to. Ask the little ones in your life to join you for this special moment and explain that only the best guests get to do the cutting. Offer them the first slices, too, because what kid (and adult, for that matter) doesn't love cake?!

Create a Dance Together
If you really want to do something extra special, consider going a step further and choreographing a dance with them. This is something you can do together throughout the entire planning process and when you bust out your moves at the reception, we promise it will be a hit with all your guests—and a memory to last a lifetime.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.stylemepretty.com/2018/04/06/include-kids-in-your-wedding/
Written By: Jessica Tzikas

New Ideas For Your Mother's Day Party

What could be a better way to celebrate Mom this year than by throwing her a Mother’s Day party? The party can include your family, other families or a more specific group, like mothers and daughters. It can be held on Mother’s Day or the Saturday before, depending on your family’s traditional plans. No matter when you throw your Mother’s Day party or who you invite, make it memorable for Mom by planning out every detail in advance with these ideas

Evening Mother’s Day Parties

With Mother’s Day always on Sunday, utilizing the previous Saturday night for an evening event makes sense. This party plan allows the option of adults-only, leaving Sunday available for children to spend with Mom. It’s also easier to surprise her when she’s not expecting the festivities to start a day early. These six evening party ideas for Mother’s Day should get you started:

Famous Mom Costume Party: One appropriate theme is famous moms and their children. This can include historical figures, television characters, literary characters and political icons. Considering Mom’s favorite movies, books, television shows, theater productions and time periods provides more costume party ideas for the crowd.

Hobby-Based Bash: Basing the party theme on a hobby or activity Mom loves, like dancing or cooking, presents a natural direction for a Mother’s Day party. For the mother with culinary interests, hire a chef and throw a cooking party. For the dancing queen, have everyone meet at a local dance studio or bring in a dance teacher for group lessons.

Posh Mother’s Day Party: Break out the tuxes! Go all-out formal for Mom with a string quartet or band, heavy hors d’oeuvres and champagne. Don’t forget the layer cake decorated with flowers and silky fondant. The key is to make sure that mom knows all evening that she’s the guest of honor.

Whoop It up with Wine: A party that includes wine and food pairings creates a relaxing and elegant atmosphere for your Mother’s Day party. You can hire a local chef to oversee the pairing or design the courses yourself. TheWorldWideWine.com and WineIntro.com both offer suggestions and tutorials for pairing wine with specific foods.

Mother’s Day Tea
While this is probably the most common type of Mother’s Day party, many moms truly enjoy dressing up and having a tea party. It can be planned for the actual holiday or the prior Saturday afternoon. You can throw a unique tea party by adding a different twist here and there with the following tips.Location: Botanical gardens and parks are often lovely in May, offering natural beauty as décor. Charleston, S.C. offers several plantation sites where you can have your tea party out under the oaks surrounded by magnolias. The Japanese House and Garden of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, Pa. offers a lovely tranquil setting with traditional Japanese tea service. If you’re planning an outdoor event, remember to stay abreast of weather conditions and have an alternate indoor plan in the case of inclement weather.

Guest List: While having a Mother’s Day tea may be a tradition in your family, switching up the guest list each year allows you to keep it fresh. If you come from a large family, inviting only mothers and daughters or granddaughters is an option. For smaller families, you might want to invite friends to throw a larger party. There’s no rule excluding men from tea parties and it might be fun one year to do a mother-and-son tea party with everyone dressing to the nines in honor of Mom.

Theme: Having a tea party theme adds life and zest to your social gathering. You could do a color theme, like an all white or all pink event, with the guests dressing to match. A literary theme, especially if Mom is a reader, offers up awesome ideas. One example is a Jane Austen theme incorporating the Victorian style with guests dressing like characters.

Planning around one of mom’s favorite books or authors really personalizes the party. Other theme ideas include: favorite movie, music genres and traditional cultures.

Games: You could just drink tea and eat those little finger sandwiches but you’ll liven up the mood by playing games. Matching famous mothers and daughters requires a little research, but not much set up. Pair up guests with the women’s names and see who can match them up correctly first.

How well do you know your mom? Compile a set of 8-10 questions like “Where did your mom spend her honeymoon?” and “What’s her favorite color?” Have mom’s guest complete the questions and then compare her answers to those.

Afternoon Mother’s Day Parties
At times, Mother’s Day parties need to involve the whole family, including little children. The following party ideas are ideally suited for all family members to help Mom and Grandma celebrate their special day.

Hawaiian Luau: If Mom doesn’t mind a more casual Mother’s Day party, this style seems to entertain young and old alike. Have a family member learn to do the hula or purchase an instructional DVD. WannaHula.com has DVDs for every level of hula dancing.Keep children busy with fake flowers and fishing line for making leis. Plenty of hula hoops will help kids and adults get in on the fun. Décor is simple with tiki torches, green streamers and anything related to the beach. Traditional cocktails like mai tais and pina coladas may be offered with or without alcohol. Chicken or seafood kabobs served with fresh grilled pineapple pleases almost every pallet.

Kid-Planned Party: If mom has children under 18 and a good sense of humor, this party theme will keep everyone laughing. Have the kids begin a few weeks early planning a Mother’s Day party without any suggestions from adults. Guidance from a designated adult, like Dad, will probably be needed to help them understand the boundaries of what they can accomplish and assist with transportation. Helping them set up a checklist prevents any detail from being overlooked.

The kids should decide on the theme, invite the guests and plan for food, decorations and games. They should also do all of the preparation, presentation and clean up for the actual party on Mother’s Day. This type of event yields the most fun when Mom doesn’t know ahead of time that the kids are doing all of the work.

Mother’s Day parties that focus on Mom and what she most enjoys will always be successful. When planning such an event remember to consider not only the food and décor, but also activities and games for entertainment. Mother’s Day parties create happy memories and bring families closer together, allowing everyone to benefit from Mom’s holiday celebration.

Check out the Original and Full Article
Original Blog Credit: https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/healthy-home/new-ideas-your-mothers-day-party/

5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing

Image credit: Unique Venues

Email marketing is a strategy used by many companies, among a variety of industries, to retain customer engagement, generate revenue, and gain prospective clients. It is efficient and cost effective with 59% of business to business marketers saying email is their most effective medium for generating revenue. According to a 2015 survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa, 72% of customers prefer business communication to be conducted via email as the main form of contact. It’s safe to say that email is one of the most valuable assets to a company’s marketing strategy, but what makes it so effective? Here are five tips that may help improve your email marketing campaign.

1. Create an email schedule and be consistent with it. Whether you choose to send an email weekly, monthly, or quarterly, find a schedule that works for you and stick with it. It is equally important to note that sending too many emails has a negative effect on creating and maintaining business.

2. Content is key! Quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb when it comes to creating an email marketing campaign. Simplify your information and include a link to your website, social media channels, and/or blog. This boosts traffic to your website, potentially increasing your revenue.

3. Know your results. Marketing analytics can help you analyze important data about the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. This practice is vital to growing your business and helps optimize your return on investment (ROI). Adjust your email marketing accordingly based on the results of the data.

4. Be sure you’re sending your email to a relevant audience.  Your email marketing CRM allows for a set number of email recipients.  Targeted data and sending to the right clients for a campaign can help you manage your distribution numbers as well as avoid unsubscribes.

5. Have a call to action.  Whether it is simply for potential client awareness, such as “Learn More” or to convert a potential client with “Purchase”, a call to action keeps the receiver in your marketing funnel.

By creating a consistent email marketing schedule, delivering streamlined content, analyzing data, targeting a relevant audience, and having a call to action, you can create an effective marketing strategy that will yield successful results.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.uniquevenues.com/blog/5-tips-effective-email-marketing
Written By: Alyson