Tag Archives: Event Planning

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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Exploration

I’ve finally decided that Exploration will be my theme this year! I know we’re already 12 days into 2016, but better late than never, right?

Two years ago I started declaring a theme of the year for myself. Last year was The Upgrade, and the year before that was Getting Shit Done. I find giving myself a motivational theme gets me pumped for the year ahead, and helps me narrow down what I’d like to achieve in the next 12 months. I like picking a theme that can be associated with both my personal and professional life, and I think focusing my efforts on exploration will help me move forward this year with both.

Travel

Now who doesn’t want to travel to new places? Last year I went to British Columbia for the first time, and let me tell you, B.C. is a very beautiful province. The mountains, the ocean, and the trees…it’s all breathing taking. I went to Victoria for Social Media Camp, and was lucky enough to have two of my friends meet me there and extend the trip to Vancouver. Side note: the businessmen in the downtown Vancouver area are very dapper. You should go and see them. Like now.

This year I want to travel to a few new places around the globe, and guess what? I already have two trips booked, both starting this month! Tomorrow I’m off to Phoenix, Arizona for Bash Conference. Bash is a 3-day conference where folks in the entertainment industry can come together, form relationships with people in similar fields, and learn from other industry experts. I shall be attending as an event-planning guru, of course. Check back next week for a recap of the conference. Two weeks after I get back, off I go again…to Cancun! I’ve always wanted to go on an all-inclusive trip to Mexico, and I’m excited I finally get to go. For a whole week my friends and I will be sipping on margaritas, splashing around on the beach, and dancing the night away.

Self-exploration

Exploring different parts of the world is awesome, but I think it’s also important to make time self-exploration, whatever that means to you. I’d like to explore different activities that make me feel calm, centered, and well rested. Whether that can be achieved through a specific type of yoga (I do Jillian Michael’s yoga shred and trust me, that’s not relaxing), mediation, or painting, who knows. I’m hoping within a few months I can find something that works. This is going to be an extremely busy year for me and I don’t want to burn myself out before I’ve done at least the majority of what I’d like to accomplish.

Event Planner Extraordinaire

Remember a minute or two ago when I referred to myself as an event-planning guru? Well that’s true. I’ve been a corporate event planner for a few years now, and I’ve planned enough successful events to classify myself as an expert. When you’re in your 20s, the word “expert” is hard to say when you’re talking about you in relation to your profession. I mean, who am I to call myself an expert when I’m only 27, right? If you take anything away from this blog post today, take away this: you are an expert to someone. There’s someone out there who doesn’t do what you do or know what you know, and who could benefit from your knowledge and experience. So you’ve only been a blogger for a year. Yes, there are tons of other bloggers out there who’ve been up and running for seven years, but they don’t have your voice. They don’t have your mind. They don’t have your history. They are not you and even though you might blog about the same topic, they ain’t got yo style, gurl. Or boy. Anyway, even though I’m an expert in my field, there’s always more I can learn, and there’s always something different I can try. A new year means a new slew of events, and I’m looking forward to elevating each and every one.

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This is the thing that’s going to keep me on my toes this year. I still won’t give you all the deets, but this isn’t a short-term project. At least I hope it won’t be. I’m expecting this to have a very long shelf life but in order for that to happen, I need to make sure I have my shit together this year. Yes I will make mistakes, but I will also learn from those mistakes. I will then continue to make a few more mistakes, but I will continue to learn from those mistakes as well. But then I’ll continue…haha just kidding. You get the picture by now. Even though I know it’s normal not to get everything right the first time around, I’d like to work as hard as I can to minimize the amount setbacks I could have.

Explore. That’s the plan for the year.

What are your plans? Anything we can explore together?

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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

IMG_9297IMG_9328 IMG_9482Charmaine

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Happy New Year

ImageWelcome to 2014 folks. Time sure does seem to be flying by. How I went from 0-25 so quickly is beyond me. Because the days are passing by with the blink of an eye (I didn’t rhyme on purpose…swear), it reminds me that there’s only so much time allotted to do all of the things you want to do in life. Like a lot of you out there, I spend more time sitting around thinking about all of the things I want to accomplish in the days, months, and years to come, and less time actually doing these things. I’m not saying I haven’t accomplished anything worth while this year; in fact, I feel like I’ve done quite a few things that I’m very proud of. All I’m saying is that there’s always room to do more. I’m 25 and I’ve decided that every year until I’m 50, I’m going to give each year a theme/title. On that note, I’d like to declare 2014 the year of: Getting Shit Done. Simple. Self explanatory. Getting Shit Done. This year’s going to be less about daydreaming and more about doing. It’s going to be about taking chances, working hard, and exploring things that scare me, or things I never thought possible. 2013 was a good year, but 2014 is going to be the year where everything changes. It’ll be the year I look back on when I’m 50 years old and say “2014 was the year I took control, the year I truly explored who I am what I’m capable of, the year of Getting Shit Done. I have a lot of plans for this year. But before I get into that, I figured it would be appropriate to share some of 2013’s highlights.

1. Red Dress Gala & Fashion Show. I’ve been planning small events for years now, and I’ve always wanted to do something on the larger scale. The Red Dress Gala I organized in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation was the first major event I’ve put together, and I can’t wait for this event to happen again next month (February 26th). Wow. Next  month. You see what I mean about time flying by?

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2. Twenty-Five. Last year I celebrated my 25th birthday. Some people don’t see 25 as a milestone birthday, but I do. I feel like it’s the age where you look back on all you’ve accomplished so far, evaluate where you currently stand in life, and spend a lot of time thinking about your future. That’s what I did anyway. Anyway, last year 20 of my closest friends showed up to help me celebrate birthday, which made me extremely thankful for all of the special people I have in my life. You know who you are, and I love you!

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3. The Vegas. You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to go to Vegas, or how many times I came close, or how many times friends have gone when I couldn’t. This trip almost didn’t happen, but there was no way I was going to miss out on it AGAIN! Luckily one of my best friends is as spontaneous as I am, and decided a few days before our plane took off, that a trip to Vegas is exactly what we both needed. And boy, we were right!

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4. Graduation. From elementary, to middle school, to high school, to university, to college. Man, how much education does one person need? Don’t answer that. After spending the majority of my life in a class room, I finally graduated from college. Not only was it a huge accomplishment achieved after spending thousands of hours behind a desk, but because since my grandpa, I’m the first one in my family to get a college education. I still have a few classes left at The University of Winnipeg to take to get my Bachelor of Arts, but it’s nice to know I have a diploma in my back pocket.

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Me & my good friend Jamie – the first friend I made in CreComm

5. Moving. Up until mid-October I’ve always lived with another person, or other people. During the fall my roommate and I decided to live separately. At first I wasn’t excited about the idea because financially, I wasn’t ready for it. But living on my own has been amazing. I can keep things as clean or as messy as I want, I have more room in the fridge for all of the things I want to cook/bake, and the most fun part of it all? I can decorate everything Charmaine style. I always describe myself as a creative person, and I’m enjoying the chance I have to really make my apartment my own. It still needs work, but it already feels like home.

Living room

6. Book Club. I always talk about how much I love the people I met through the Creative Communications program at Red River College, and I probably always will. So many people have come in and out of my life, and don’t expect that to end. I mean, that happens to everyone right. What I do expect is that the friendships that have strengthened over this past year will still be going strong well into the next decade, if not longer. Although we’re all so close, it’s inevitable that people start to get busy building their careers, creating new projects, and starting families, which is why we came up with the idea of starting a book club. We get together once a month to discuss the books we’ve read….oh who am I kidding. We haven’t read a book in months. It’s really just a way of setting aside time for us to get together and catch up. But who knows, maybe one of our New Year’s resolutions will be to start reading books again. Either way, I love these girls and I’m lucky to have them all in my life.

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Like I said, 2013 was a good year. But in the spirit of Getting Shit Done, 2014 is going to spectacular! Here’s a quick list of some of my goals and resolutions for the new year:

  1. Have a successful 2nd annual Red Dress Gala
  2. Work on building a strong portfolio
  3. Have more focus on exercising and eating healthy
  4. Take a trip overseas
  5. Plaster my apartment with creative decor
  6. Laugh more, smile more, dance more, and Instagram it all!

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Red Dress Gala & Fashion Show

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been a very busy girl these last few months. Earlier this year I held my first annual Red Dress Gala & Fashion Show, in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Red Dress Galas happen all over North America and I’ve been wanting to organize one for quite some time. Lucky for me, during my time in the Creative Communications program at Red River College, all students were given the opportunity to create and execute a major project that would take around a year to complete.

I’ve loved event planning ever since I was a kid – a kid who always spent weeks planning her birthday parties. The reason I chose to host my own Red Dress Gala was not only because of my love of event planning, but also for my love of philanthropy and fashion. How often is it that you get to combine three things you love into one project?

The gala took a lot of resources and a ton of planning in order for it to be a success last year, and I can’t wait see how next year’s event turns out. As I sit here planning away, i’ll be sure to keep you folks posted on what to expect when you come to the 2nd annual Red Dress Gala & Fashion Show, Wednesday February 26th, 2014, at Stereo Nightclub! Tickets available in January.

For now, I leave you with some great photos of last year’s event, taken by talented photographers, Matt Tenbruggencate and Kristin Pauls!

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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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