Tuesday, February 28, 2012

5 Tips on Registering for Wedding Gifts

Register early. This should be one of the first tasks you undertake after getting engaged. Often, loved ones will want to begin purchasing wedding gifts as soon as you say, "Yes." So, take the guesswork out of buying gifts by being sure that they know what you want. You don't need to have it completed immediately, but you should have a selection for guests to look through.

Do it as a couple. Visiting the stores together is essential -- the gifts are for you both. So, to determine what you need, take inventory of what you have, and figure out where you have gaps. Discuss what home style you want, and divide the final say to make it fair. For example, maybe you'll choose the electronics, and he decides on the kitchen items.

Register for what you want. Don't feel like you absolutely should register for flatware and china. Feel free to add whatever things will make your new house a home, whether they are appliances, electronics or even exercise equipment.

Also, think about how you live. Try not to add things you know you won't use. For instance, if you aren't formal party type of people, you probably don't need a crystal punch bowl. Additionally, be really sure before registering for anything that's monogrammed. Once you have your name on it, you likely won't be able to return it.

Determine the store's return policies. It's always smart to ask about a store's exchange/return policies. A great thing about many wedding registry retailers: They have awesome customer service to assist to-be-weds. So, knowing the store's return and exchange time frames will help you better prepare and manage your registry.

Need more tips? Check out 10 Tips on Registering for Wedding Gifts.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nontraditional Baby Shower Ideas

Gone are the days when baby showers meant little sandwiches and awkward small talk. These days, baby showers range from "backyard barbecues" to "wedding-scale blowouts." According to Tina La Morte, owner of Oh So Fabulous! Divine Wedding, "People are starting to get a lot more snazzy."

If you're planning a shower for a friend or relative, don't be afraid to take it up a notch in terms of breaking some traditions. Here are few trends to consider:

Gifts for the mama. Nowadays, people are giving mothers-to-be baskets of goodies, massages and even bottles of champagne. Yes, the baby still comes first, but grownup treats are always appreciated, particularly at a time when mom may be feeling pretty uncomfortable. To pamper both mom and baby, think about giving a shareable treat.

Daddies on board. Yes, you read that correctly. Some women are cool with daddy-to-be and his buddies joining the celebration. If you decide to have a co-ed baby shower, be sure the guys have something to bond over, like beer, food or video games.

Kids at the party. Children are also joining in. But, there are some downsides to this: Kids can steal some of the focus. But, if you choose to include them, you definitely want to make sure you have fun distractions for them and places to play.

Cocktails. While mommy-to-be can't have alchol, that doesn't necessarily mean the shower should be dry. Many showers now include fun adult drinks -- and you can bring along mocktails for the guest of honor.

Sprinkles. Baby showers aren't just about the first-born anymore. Second-, third-, etc. borns are getting more recognition, with thanks to the "sprinkle" (meaning sprinkling of gifts instead of a full-on shower). Although second-time mothers are generally well set up with the things they need, there's still a reason to celebrate. At a sprinkle, the new baby is celebrated with a get-together that includes small gifts like books, wipes or diapers.

Fun favors and themes. Showers are also taking on a whole different look. Forget about the average pink and blue; hot colors "include bold yellows and cool combos like blue/brown, paisley/pink and periwinkle/cream. Favors are receiving makeovers as well, with edible treats being a real favorite.

[Source; photo credit]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

5 Steps to Hosting a Stellar Biz Event

By Ali Brown

Hosting a business event is like your very own film premiere or book launch -- an opportunity for greater exposure and a powerful way to engage new clients, leverage your brand, increase profits and generate some fantastic PR. While it can be an exhausting process, it's usually highly rewarding when planned and executed well. Read on for vital tips and essential information to set you firmly on the path toward event hosting success.

A lucrative event needs a clear vision behind it, so you must first decide on its objectives and goals. Ask yourself the following questions:
What outcome and tangible results do I want to see from this event? (i.e., increased sales, introduce a new product, raise awareness of business).
What change do I want to affect in my guests?
What do I want people to say after the event?

Once you know your purpose, you can then set about envisioning the event. Planning for it is crucial and should be started at least four to six months in advance. 

STEP 1: Map out your overall content, look and feel
Your content, of course, is of the most importance, but you must also spend time thinking about the look and feel of your event. I see many entrepreneurs overlook this critical part that influences how your attendees will feel, which is important for sales and action.
        Reverse-engineer your entire event around the end result you want to create. Start by writing a plan of what you want to offer and teach, and develop a general theme. Work out a comfortable schedule, and remember to allow enough space between sessions so participants can network and exchange opinions. (Have you ever attended a multi-day event where they barely give you any breaks and then keep you in the room until midnight each day? The hosts do that on purpose to create a controlling environment. It's an old school, fear-based model. And it's insulting to your audience not to give them ample time to eat, go to the bathroom, network, and sleep!).
        And no matter what the event or who is in the audience, include a host of ice-breakers and team-bonding exercises to get everyone electrified and energized. You'll be amazed at how quickly a room full of strangers will be chatting away like old friends and swapping ideas.
        Plan to decorate your location with banners and signage, and don't hold back on handouts or other materials. Offer gift bags and other professional items, and set up an attractive stall or store for your merchandise.

STEP 2: Choose the right venue The venue is more than just a roof over your guests -- it must also offer superlative facilities, an enjoyable atmosphere, and be easily accessible. Use our venue checklist to help you select the perfect setting:
Venue size-- This is a delicate decision. You will want as many people to attend as possible, but if it is too large, and you don't get a full house, the atmosphere will flatline. Some events benefit from a more intimate setting, so it is important to ensure that the venue complements the occasion.
- Aesthetics-- Are you looking for a visualy stunning setting or a space that you can decorate yourself?
- Amenities-- Are they up to scratch and do they fulfill your needs? You need to check that the venue has:

  • Adequate parking facilities
  • Disabled access
  • Enough chairs and tables
  • Nearby restrooms
  • Enough power outlets for electronic equipment
  • No visual obstructions within the room
  • No noise obstructions from adjacent rooms and halls

- Location-- While most people have a car, it is preferable to find somewhere that is easily accessible by all forms of public transport. If your clientele is national, being near a major airport is key. Host your event at a hotel, or make sure there are good hotels nearby, and negotiate preferred room rates for your attendees.
- Catering facilities-- Ensure that your guests will be fed and watered, or there are enough options for them to feed themselves. The food and drink must be excellent with more than enough to go around, though you don't want to give people too much, as they might doze off during your sessions. Using external caterers is an option.
- Is it within budget?-- You have found a terrific venue in a wonderful location with first class facilities, but can you afford it? Don't stretch your budget to the breaking point to acquire the perfect place. Some venues may offer discounts, and it may also be worth bargaining about the price. Consider additional costs, too. For example, will the venue's insurance cover your event or will you have to take out your own?
        Above all, it's about common sense. So visit the venue several times if necessary, and ask yourself if it is somewhere you'd like to spend several hours. If it doesn't feel right, move on to the next location on your list.

STEP 3: Set a fair price for the event
Consider the value you'll be delivering at your event, then do a little market research:
-- Look at what the competition is charging and how much you think participants are willing to pay.
-- If this is your first event, you may want to charge less to attract a crowd, but don't go too low as this will send out the wrong sort of message.
-- If the people are only selecting your event because of price, you are in trouble, as a competitor can always lower theirs.
-- Quality never goes out of fashion and is always worth it. You have devoted your energies to creating an amazing event that offers incredible benefits, so charge accordingly. The key is conveying the value in your marketing copy so your prospects see it as well worth the money.

STEP 4: Fill the room! 
Focus your marketing-- Direct your marketing message toward the event's unique selling points. It can be tempting to list every element and feature, and lose sight of the benefits. Attendees will want to know the event program, and mentioning a well-known key speaker will create a lot of attention. Remind people of the networking opportunities. Your marketing message should be bold, be memorable, and stand out.
Promote the event with multi-channel marketing-- Ideally you want to attract people to your event without spending a fortune on advertising, and one of the most effective ways of achieving this is to have every piece of online and offline promotional material pointing toward your event website.
Get commitment-- Establish a deadline for attendee registrations and offer discounts for people who register on or before the closing date. You can also offer a variety of gifts in exchange for early registrations, such as bonuses or gift certificates.
Create excitement-- Start telling people about your event as early as possible. Catch their attention and prepare some enticing materials and sneak previews to create excitement. Tailor your promotional efforts to reach people who are already interested in you and what you have to say. There is nothing worse than planning to host a magnificent event, only to have it ignored or have the wrong people turn up.
Develop a sense of urgency-- Send a reminder email to anyone who hasn't registered yet. "Only 10 spots left. Register today!" Remind them of just how they'll benefit from attending, the sort of information they will only receive by being at your event.
Encourage attendees to bring friends-- Everyone loves a bargain, so reward attendees who bring guests. For example, you could offer them a small discount.
        One of the crucial ways of getting the word out is to have others talk about it. Use regular emails and newsletters to generate buzz and encourage people to tell their friends and family -- it will save a lot on your marketing dollars.
         Take advantage of ALL the tools in your marketing toolkit. Don't just rely on email. Provide links to your event website on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. You can also send press releases and photographs to newspapers or trade publications and cross-promote on the websites of your sponsors. And don't forget about direct mail -- postcards are a great low-cost way to get the word out.

STEP 5: Assess your results
After the event, you should be able to measure the results to know whether you've achieved your goals as well as a good return on your investment. Events are all about forging long-term relationships with your clients, and by creating a memorable experience, you will motivate them to act.
        Many marketers don't make a ton of money on their first few events. Aim to at least break even, but keep working your numbers and improving each event until you turn your events into big paydays. Be the best you can be, and deliver what you promise -- you will create a spectacular occasion that everyone will remember for a long time to come.

Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that makes a positive impact. Get her FREE CD "Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women" at www.AliBrown.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Simple Ways to Prevent Wedding Insanity

Let's face it: Wedding planning is a lot of work. And with all the responsibilities and choices you have to make, you can see how some brides and grooms get consumed in the little details. So, how can you regain focus on what matters? By taking a step back from the planning process. Check out these tips that will help you restore your sanity:

Proclaim a wedding-free weekend. For a whole 48 hour time-period, act like you're the two people you were before getting engaged (and while you're at it, remind yourselves of why you actually wanted to get married to each other initially). Also, there can be no wedding planning and no fighting. Just hang out, have some fun, laugh and flirt.

Have a night out with friends. With all the togetherness that comes with being future bide and groom, you need to remind yourselves that you're individuals. So, head out for a night of fun with your respective same-sex crew (with no wedding talk). Take advantage of your future spouse not being around by doing things he or she doesn't like to do, like watching chick flicks, getting a manicure or hitting the arcade. Then the next day, entertain each other with stories of what happened.

Go on a fancy date. More than likely, you've been saving every extra nickel for 'The Budget.' If you've been doing well so far, treat yourselves by spending a little cash. Reserve a table at the fanciest restaurant in town, and go all out. Later, head out to a jazz club or lounge.

Go for a drive. Choose a weekend afternoon, and "head for the open road." A few ideas: Visit that spot a few towns over that you've been meaning to go to; play road games like, Who Can Spot the Most Out-of-State License Plates"; buy a souvenir at a highway truck stop.

For four more tips, check out Stress: 8 Easy Ways to Prevent Wedding Insanity.

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tips for hiring an event planner

It's important that you obtain the right person or company for your event whether it's your first time hiring outside help or if you just need someone from time to time. So, you need to be sure you spend time searching for the best event planners, and check out their work carefully.

Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Determine your event's objective.
  2. While many people think that hiring an outside planner starts with figuring out the budget, it's more important to start by determining why you're having the event in the first place. So, before reaching out to resources to help you plan, you need to be able to share the important objectives of the event: who, what, when, where, why and how. Also, remember that you'll have time to make any adjustments.
  3. Ask yourself: "Why am I hiring an event planner?" Once you've figured out your objectives, you'll begin to get a few clear ideas about the event's theme and the message that will be conveyed. But, most importantly, you have to determine what services and activities you need the event planner to handle for you. For instance, will they help you choose a venue? Do they need to find speakers and/or entertainment? Will you need them on site at the event?
  4. Estimate your budget. Now that you have your objectives, you can create a general sense of the cost for the different elements of your event. The costs associated will differ based on the kind of event you're hosting and what it entails.
  5. Look for a qualified event planner. While word-of-mouth is a good way to find an event planner to hire, it's probably not the most effective way. If you're looking for the best, you should research individuals who are experienced and have a strong reputation in the event planning community.
  6. Look for an event planner through professional affiliations. In general, whether it's a corporate meeting or social event, the rules of hiring an event planner are the same: You want someone who has the expertise in the type of event you're holding. So, consider chapters of professional membership groups like Meeting Professionals International, the Association of Wedding Professionals, etc. 

For 10 more tips, check out How to Hire An Event Planner.

If you need assistance in planning your next event, let Anointed Affairs help! Contact us today for more information. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Wedding Dress Shopping

Going shopping for the dress soon? Check out these helpful tips before you go:

1. Limit the entourage. Do not bring a big group with you when going gown shopping. Get one or two of your closest friends to go with you and help you start the search. That way, you can find the dress of your dreams and not feel pressured by other people's opinions.

2. Remember: Hidden costs add up. Keep in mind that your wedding gown budget isn't limited only to your dress. You also have to think about your veil or headpiece and alterations, which will add to the bottom line. So, make sure you factor in all extra costs before telling your consultant/salesperson your final gown-shopping budget.

3. Undergarments are optional. Most bridal shops provide a few different types of bras in the fitting room. But, if you have a particular bra you want to wear or plan to wear a certain body shaper, bring it. Just remember: You'll eventually need gown-specific undergarments for your first fitting (but not the initial appointment).

4. Bridal shops/salons take requests. While a bridal salon may carry your favorite designer, it may not have the exact dress you want to try on. But, if you contact them ahead of time and request a certain style, it's very likely that a salon staffer will be able to get a sample of that gown especially for you.

5. Don't get discouraged. Luckily, there are hundreds of bridal designers in the world with thousands of designs. This means that the odds of discovering your fabulous gown is pretty good. Yes, not finding 'the one' on your first trip can be a disappointment, but don't give up. You will find it.

Check out five more tips here. Happy gown shopping!

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tips for throwing a Mardi Gras Party

The Mardi Gras season is from January 6 (the feast of the Ephiphany) until Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Most people celebrate the season on Mardi Gras Day (which is February 21 this year) or the weekend before.

Do you want to have a fun and fabulous Mardi Gras party this year? Check out these tips and ideas to help you get started:

Invitation Ideas

  • Create a festive mask to send as your invitation.
  • Use the colors purple, green and gold, Mardi Gras colors. One idea: layer purple cardstock on top of green, and write the party details in a gold paint pen.
  • Planning a crawfish boil for the party? Include a bib with the invite. 


  • Use Mardi Gras Colors throughout.
  • Adorn yourself and guests with Mardi Gras beads. You can also pile them on tables, place then on curtain rods and sling them over light fixtures for a festive touch. 
  • Give your guests feathered masks to wear and/or encourage them to wear a Mardi Gras costume. 
  • Include a little Spanish moss, which is plentiful in New Orleans. You can get it from a craft store, and use it around the room on potted plants or as table centerpieces. 
  • Search the Internet or your local party supply store for more Mardi Gras decorations.

Traditional Mardi Gras food includes:
  • Gumbo
  • Shrimp and crab appetizers
  • Crawfish boil 
  • Jambalaya
  • Red beans and rice
  • Hurricanes
  • Mardi Gras King Cake 

For more tips and ideas, check out Throwing a Mardi Gras Party and Mardi Gras 2012 Party Ideas.

[Photo Credit]