Tag Archives: Event Decor

BASH Conference Recap

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Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out in Phoenix, Arizona while attending the BASH conference. BASH brings together event planners, bloggers, and entrepreneurs from all around the globe. I met some amazing women from Israel, Haiti, Bahamas, different parts of Canada (surprisingly there were only three of us), and of course all over the U.S.

I’ve been an event planner for a few years now, but no matter what stage you are in your
career, there is always room for professional development and inspiration. Kathy Romero, CEO and head of Global Planning for Preston Bailey, was invited to the conference as a keynote speaker. Kathy has had a very long and successful career in the event planning industry, and we were lucky she was able to come out and share her experience and expertise. She helps create mind-blowing events for celebrities and millionaires, but what impressed me the most was the fact that she was there for the entire three days of the conference. Keynote speakers often attend these sorts of events and stay only for the portion that includes their speech. That’s perfectly understandable as we all understand how demanding this industry can be and we simply appreciate them making the effort to come out at all. But Kathy was there from start to finish, and she attended a lot of the same sessions I did. She contributed to some of those sessions during the Q&A portion, but mostly she was there just taking it all in like the rest of us.

image4I first heard about BASH last summer, but what helped me make the final decision to go was finding out that Heather Crabtree was going to be leading one of the sessions. Heather is a business strategist who helps entrepreneurs grow their business. I started following her on Instagram a few months ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It was from her website that I found out she would be at BASH, and that settled it for me. She co-hosted a session with Tori Tait, called “How to Grow an Engaged Community that Moves the Bar for Your Biz”. Tori is a marketing and entertaining expert, and I’m happy this conference introduced me to her work. One piece of advice that stuck with me from this session is that your goals should be in line with your “why”. Every move you make in your business or career should be done to take you one step closer to your end goal. These can include goals you have for social media, for furthering your education, monetary goals, etc.

Another session I went to that I learned a lot from, was “Food Styling & Photography Tipsjoanna to Take You to the Top,” lead by Joanna Meyer. Now I’m in no way a professional photographer. Well not yet anyway. Maybe one day. However, I think it’s important to photograph every aspect of your event. These photos are your resume, your portfolio, your brand; everything! I usually hire photographers for the events I do, but sometimes I want to snap a few photos myself. If there’s one thing people like about events, its food! Now I don’t make the food of course (how much would it suck if I had to plan the event, design the event, AND make all the damn food?), but I usually have a hand in what food is selected, who prepares it, and how it’s served and displayed. Here are three food photography tips I learned from Joanna:

  1. Use toothpicks to help prop up your food
  2. Spray dry looking food with oil to give it a nice sheen
  3. Tweezers can be used to rearrange small singular items look noodles, nuts, etc…

Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting you serve your guests food that have unnecessary toothpicks in it, or that has been sprayed with tons of oil. Sometimes what I do, mostly for dessert tables, is lay everything out a couple of hours before the event, take pictures of it, and then I have everything put back when its time. Word of advice, make sure you show said pictures to your catering staff so they know exactly where to put the items.

image1So for the most part, every conference has a headlining guest speaker. A person everyone is excited to meet and learn from. Someone attendees likely look up to. For BASH, that speaker was globally-celebrated event designer and author, Preston Bailey! He has created immaculate events for a number of different celebrities, from Sean Parker, to the Trump family! He’s widely known for his insane floral designs and his out-of-this-world décor elements. And by out-of-this-world, I’m talking about a Brooklyn, New York-style event he did for a young woman’s going away party. He replicated the Brooklyn Bridge…like a large scale Brooklyn Bridge…one that guests had to drive through as they approached the venue. I mean, how insane is that? His creativity and his dedicated to creating “wow” factors to all of his events is simply outstanding. His latest book, “Preston Bailey: Designing with Flowers,” is something I need in my life! My birthday’s March 10th, so you know…if you want to get me a gift, I would welcome this book with open arms.

Like I said, I learned a ton of great info and left the conference feeling inspired. But just as important, I met a lot of really awesome people. When you go to a conference, no matter what the topic is, networking and forming new relationships should be one of your main goals. There are always opportunities to learn from those around you, and it’s really nice to build friendships with people who understand what you do.  Plus, later down the line you might find yourself doing a collaboration with your business besties. The opportunities are endless.

Checkout the websites and social media links below of some of the amazing women I had the pleasure of meeting.

Tasia Bland – Her Lovely Events

Jonae Charisse Events

Savannah Ashley Corcoran – Etsy Shop

 Nike & Fisola – Events

Victoria – Royal Event Services  

I’d love to give you every tidbit I learned from every session, but ain’t nobody got time for that. Below is a list of all the sessions I attended, and who they were lead by. Check out their website, follow them on Instagram or Twitter, and I guarantee they’ll lead you to valuable information.

Food Styling & Photography TipsJoanna Meyer, Culinary Creative

Panel of Event Planner SuperstarsMichelle Burt, Event Planner & Blogger: William P. Miller, Home Entertainment & Lifestyle Expert: Amy Belle Isle, Operation Shower

What Brands are looking For – Jana Perry, Jelly Belly & Beth Shivak, Jo-Anne fabric and craft stores

How to Grow and Engaged Community that Moves the Bar for Your BizHeather Crabtree, Business Strategist, & Tori Tait, The Grommet

Grow Your Niche into a Worlwide Brand – Julie Goldman, Founder & CEO of The Original Runner Company

The Art of SwagWilliam P. Miller, Home Entertainment & Lifestyle Expert

An Inside Look at Pinterest – Amy Locurto, Living Locurto

Lights, Camera, Action! 5 Easy Tips you Can Use to Get on TelevisionTisha Holman, Event Planner & Designer

I have to say a HUGE thank you to Michelle Burt, the creator of BASH. Her drive and her passion for this industry is inspiring, and her contagious energy is what made this conference fun and unique. It’s her love of event planning that brings these great women (and some men too) together every year, and I look forward to seeing this conference grow!

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Celebrities: Chuck Hughes

You know what I find exciting? Getting the chance to work with celebrities. It was nice hosting Ray Bourque at two of my events, but as I mentioned before, I don’t really know much about sports and I didn’t know who he was before I started planning those events.

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Chef Chuck Hughes

Chef Chuck Hughes however, was a name I heard thrown around a few times before I started working on the 2nd Annual Spring Gala. Chuck was the third Canadian chef to win a cooking battle against Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. It was his tasty lobster dishes that lead him to victory, and earned him his own TV shows, Chuck’s Day Off, and Chuck’s Eat the Street.

Spring Gala is organized to help our culinary arts students gain experience with preparing and serving fine cuisine for black-tie events. Chuck was brought in to provide guidance and inspire our students, and to entertain our guests with a cooking demo. On stage he prepared a lobster poutine that I sadly didn’t get to taste, but that smelled and looked amazing. 

Chuck was great to work with; he was extremely friendly, entertaining, and very down to earth. I really hope I get the chance to work with him again.  But in the meantime, I may need to plan a trip to Montreal. He co-owns two very successful restaurants there, Garde Manger and Le Bremner, and I could really go for his lobster poutine right about now.

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Lobster Poutine

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Lobster

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Tarte Citron

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Charcutiere Platter

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Back-to-back Events

Ray at Podium

Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins

Carrying out two back-to-back events is always tough. It can be hard to ensure all of your logistics are planned out well for both events, when you don’t have the time in between to go over everything once again before the second event takes place.

The day after the Building Futures Gala was our Annual Sports & Education Dinner. Being in it’s 15th year I knew the colleagues I worked on this event with would have enough experience to help me out where they could, without needing too much instruction. Still, it was my first time carrying out this event and I wanted to make sure everything ran smoothly.

SportsEd2015_076My goal with all of my events is to avoid scrambling at the last minute to get everything done before guests start to arrive. Word of advice if you’re planning an event in a small town for the first time – guests tend to arrive at least 45 minutes early; I assume this is because they’re super anxious to head off to a fancy event as they don’t occur very often.

Unfortunately, a lot of scrambling ended up happening at the Sports & Education Dinner. I thought I had enough volunteers in place to help with setup until I was able to arrive back in town from the first event, but only one person had shown up. The calla lilies I ordered were a lot smaller than expected so I had to run out and buy additional flowers because I don’t like to put centerpieces on tables that don’t look picture perfect. Also, a lot of silent auction donations came in at the last minute while I was away at the first event, which was great, but I didn’t know some of the items were there until it was almost time for doors to open.

Hiccups always occur at the last minute but if you’re well prepared, they won’t seem like such a big deal when they happen. Here are a few quick tips to help you get ready for back-to-back events:

Tips

  1. Lists – I’m all about the lists. Make a list of supplies that are needed for each event, a list
    of tasks that can only be completed the day of, and a list of all the small details you’re likely to forget or leave until the last minute because you think you can.
  2. Solidify and brief your team(s) – You might think you’re able to do it all, but more often than not, that’s not the case. Create a team(s) to help you with both events and make sure you let them know in advance what their duties and your expectations are. You might not have time to brief them at the time of the event, and it’s noticeable to your guests when you have an event crew who’s not sure what to do.
  3. Décor – setup all of your décor and narrow down as many small details as possible for event number 2, before you switch all of your focus to event number 1. You don’t want to have to setup your second event from scratch on the day of if you can avoid it.

Of course there’s a lot more involved in planning back-to-back events, but what am? Some sort of expert? You may now turn your attention to the pretty pictures below.

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AppetizersBlue TableSportsEd2015_093

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1st Annual Building Futures Gala

Last month I hosted my first major event for the college I work for. It was our 1st Annual Building Futures Gala to raise money for expansion plans for one of our campuses, and featured guest speaker and NHL superstar, Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins. Sports isn’t one of my main areas of interest or expertise, but I was still excited to be hosting a former player who many local hockey fans look up to and admire.

The evening was filled with amazing food, laughter, and great company. I’ve hosted two events since which I’ll talk about in later posts, and will include a few things I’ve learned, and a few tips and tricks on what makes an event a success.

But for now, I leave you with some photos taken by Sarah Milne Photography.

*All stationery for this event was created by Digital Ink Creative. 

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Table Decor

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Stationery designed by Digital Ink Creative

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Boston Bruins Themed Table

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Room Setup

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Bird’s Eye View

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Wine for VIP Reception

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Creme Brulee by Joly’s Fine Cuisine

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Stanley Cup Winner, Ray Bourque

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Freelance: Events by Emma

One of the things I like about being a freelance communicator is the opportunity I get to do a lot of different things I’m interested in. Event planning has been a hobby of mine for quite sometime, and I get excited when I get the chance to to plan one or to simply provide support.

My beautiful and talented friend Elizabeth Catacutan recently started a job as communications guru for Events by Emma, and kindly asked me if I’d be interested in working for a few days on a couple of different events taking place earlier last week. I jumped at the opportunity, and boy am I glad I did.

Emma has a reputation here in Winnipeg as being a thorough event planner who provides amazingly beautiful decor. Over the years I’ve seen pictures of some of the weddings, galas, and banquets she’s coordinated, and I’m blown away every time. Although I knew my role throughout these events was primarily going to consist of heavy lifting, I knew there was a lot more I could learn about event planning by simply observing the work being created.

The event we spent the most time setting up for was a gala on behalf of Tourism Winnipeg held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. The event was a sit-down dinner for around 500+ people, complete with a two-toned purple colour scheme. Many hours were spent unloading supplies, filling 100 vases with water to just the right level, and running back and forth between the holding room and the event room.

I lost a lot of sweat and gained a lot of muscle in those few days, and it was all worth it to see everything come together. My favourite part of event planning is the chance I get to decorate, and the joy of seeing how elegant and creative the decor looks when it’s all set up.

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