Thursday, February 28, 2013

Be A Great Wedding Guest

Kathleen Trenske is a Huffington Post contributor and co-founder of Robert & Kathleen Photography, a New York-based wedding photography company.

Since she has attended and worked at over 200 weddings and is married herself, Kathleen knows a thing or two about how guests can enhance a couple's big day and how they can take away from it. So, she's made a list of the "Dos and Don'ts" that have been accumulated from her observations over the years.

Check out her tips (and be the kind of wedding guest the happy couple will love sharing their day with) by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tips for Successful Corporate Event Planning

By Kathryn Dawson

Have you been selected to plan your company's next conference? Have you just volunteered to organize the next party? It is understandable if you are a bundle of nerves. Relax! Corporate event planning need not be the tortuous ordeal you think it is. Here are some tips for making the next event smooth and successful.

Initial Considerations for Corporate Event Planning
Corporate event planning begins with a consideration of the look and feel you wish the event to have. Think about what kind of event you are holding, what the reason for the event or celebration is and what you wish to accomplish. Is it just conference management  or do you have to deal with arranging the business accommodation as well? Keep in mind that a relaxed state of mind can help you make better decisions and plan more effectively.

Planning Your Event
The actual process of corporate event planning becomes easier once you have defined the basic parameters.

Make a checklist -- Create a checklist to provide a step-by-step guide to organizing and executing a special event.

Make a budget -- If you are organizing a corporate event, you may have already been given the budget for it. Ensure that the budget is specific, and include revenue opportunities (sponsorship, ticket sales, donations, etc.) as well as expenses (printing, permits, insurance, speakers, food, supplies, security, etc.).

Maintain a record -- This is important not only for the expenses, but for each activity you have undertaken. This will help you keep track of all the various elements you need to consider and the progress you are making with them.

Conference facilities -- The location and site of the event are critical to its success. Selecting a site is more than just finding out available rooms. The factors that you may need to consider are room capacity, purpose of event, need for ramps, podium and stage, special equipment and furniture.

Have plenty of food and drinks -- A critical factor for corporate event planning is the catering. The kind of food you will serve and careful decisions of whether it will be lunch, snack foods, dinner, buffet or a sit down, make a huge difference in conference management. If you intend to serve alcohol, you will have to ensure that there are designed drivers to transport those who may be drinking during the event.

Plan publicity and marketing -- Great publicity and marketing are critical in successful corporate event planning. There are many different methods you can use. You can consider supplementing paid advertising with inexpensive fliers, handouts, email messages and word of mouth.

Speaker or entertainer -- Booking a speaker or entertainer can be tricky and add to the cost. However, this can also make your event extremely successful. Weigh the pros and cons of having a speaker or entertainer.

Arrange for parking -- All major events require ample parking space that is easily accessible from the event site. Ensure that the parking is convenient and that people do not have to walk too far to the venue site. If you have delivery trucks, caterers or special equipment being brought to the event, you will need to make sure everyone knows the best location for unloading.

Evaluate the event -- An often ignored but important element of corporate event planning is evaluation. Create an evaluation form to hand out at the end of the event. Make it anonymous and short. You may even ask for direct verbal feedback.

Finally, once your event is over, take time to reflect back on it. Consider the entire corporate event planning process and the feedback you received. Were the guests who were provided with business accommodation comfortable? Did your conference management ensure a truly successful business event? Retrospection can help you continuously improve your planning and organizing skills.

Kathryn Dawson writes articles about Keele Conference and Events, providing complete conference management and corporate event planning, as well as a selection of en-suite business accommodation designed to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

{Source; Photo Credit}

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Honor Lost Loved Ones at Your Wedding

When it comes to planning a tribute for a loved one at your wedding, first consider these three things:

How fresh is the wound? You want to recognize that person without placing a sad mood over your celebration. If your loved one passed a few months prior to the wedding, you'll need to handle a tribute differently than if you've had time to grieve properly. You have to find your personal comfort level. And although you think you're strong enough to hold it together, you also want to think about how the tribute will make your guests feel.

How much attention to you want to draw to this tribute? Dealing with death is a very personal matter. Consider whether the tribute will be for your eyes only or if you want a public message to acknowledge your loved one (or a combination of both). If you plan to have any kind of public tribute, it's recommended that you tell others who were close to the deceased beforehand so they aren't caught off guard.

What's most appropriate for that person? Think about the personality of the loved one you want to honor. Did she love being the center of attention, or did she avoid the spotlight? What were her favorite activities, interests and hobbies? What connected you and helped you bond? By looking at your relationship, you'll be able to decide what's most appropriate.

Here are a few ways to honor your loved one:

1. Wear something that reminds you of that person. This is one of the most private ways to honor your lost loved one -- no one will know unless you tell them. It's also a great way to keep that person close to your heart without drawing attention to their absence. For instance, you can wear their earrings, incorporate a favorite photo, a handkerchief or another small momento into your bouquet.

2. Light a candle. A single candle on a table in the entrance or near your cake display can make a strong statement. Using a flameless candle will reflect that this person's memory will live on forever.

3. Dedicate a part of the ceremony to that person. For one of your readings, you could choose your loved one's favorite poem or story. Or you can play their favorite song as you walk down the aisle.

4. Have a moment of silence. Particularly for religious people, having a moment of silence within your house of worship is a powerful way to acknowledge a lost loved one. Usually, the moment of silence occurs right after your walk down the aisle.

For more ideas, check out our source, 10 Powerful Ways to Honor Lost Loved Ones.

{Photo Credit}

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Party Planning Potholes - 6 Event Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Marley Majcher

Mistakes are a part of life. I hate making them; we all do, but they happen. With over 16 years in business, I have seen my share of mistakes, some that I have made, and some my party planning colleagues have. The best of us make them, but they should be infrequent. The key is to learn from them as you go. But those that can be avoided should be! The common event planning mistakes I bring up below will hopefully allow you to not step into these proverbial potholes.

The Tips!

1. Cursory site/venue check. I can't tell you how much time I spend checking a venue for a client. I don't care if it's for a birthday blowout or a small corporate meeting. Inspecting the main room where the function will be taking place is only one aspect of a venue check. I also make sure to note what outlets are available for audio/visual, the valet parking area, the kitchen and the restrooms (why not? If they are not taken care of, guests will notice, and it will cast a shadow over the event). It is also imperative to note if there is a place where smokers can congregate. Whether or not you smoke doesn't matter. What matters is the comfort of your clients and their guests. I have heard too many horror stories where the site selected looked great, but failure to check for necessities in addition to the "pretty things" added up to a nightmare for the planner involved.

2. Communication, communication, communication. Having all the event information in your head is fine if you are not working with anyone else, but seriously, how often do you put on an event by yourself? Even if you don't have employees, you will have vendors that you will be working with, and you must communicate with them frequently. In addition to vendors, you also have a client that needs to know all the pertinent details about how the event will proceed. I know that we all want to look like Super Woman and Super Man, but at some point, this will absolutely backfire. It is an absolute must to bring everyone that is part of the event up to speed on everything that they need to know in order to make their tasks seamless. Treat each person as a stock broker, each having their own portfolio that they are in charge of. If they are not given the appropriate financial information, your personal portfolio can lose all its value. Why take a chance?

3. Double checking, triple checking and then some. Don't leave anything to chance. Why drive yourself crazy? I have checklists for eight weeks out, four weeks out, two weeks get the picture. The week of any party I produce, I check in with the venue and do another walk through. I call all my vendors and powwow with them. I go through the menus, and I talk to my client almost every day to make sure there aren't any last minute changes. And of course, changes occur, so why gamble on your reputation? Double check the details. We all know the odds in Vegas are not in our favor, so do as much as you can to limit any missteps.

4. It's all in the fine print. When looking over contracts, no matter whom they are from and no matter if I worked with them 20 times in the past, I ALWAYS go over the entire contract, line by line. Yes, it is time consuming, yes, most contracts are standard, BUT there could be a line or three that puts you at a significant disadvantage. I even break out my magnifying glass to read some of the fine print. If you don't understand something, ask questions. If you don't agree with something, try having it removed from the contract, or walk away. Don't put yourself in line for legal troubles that will cost you more than the one hour it takes to thoroughly review a contract. There have been many times where I have successfully lobbied to take out clauses that were just plain awful and could have potentially hurt me in the end.

5. Vetting the entertainment. When hiring speakers, clowns, singers and DJs, I don't care who it is, I always try to get a referral from a trusted source. But, I do not just stop there. I meet everyone (if feasible) before I put them in front of my client. I want to get an idea of who they are and what their true abilities are. If I can't grab a meeting with them because of logistical issues, I make sure to see them on video, whether it is on a YouTube video or their personal promotional video. As I wrote above, I don't want to leave anything to chance. Imagine the horror if "Rex the Tyrannosaurus Rex" showed up at your children's party when "Bozo the Happy Clown" was expected! Since the entertainment is so important as is a key note speaker, it is imperative that you have a high comfort level that promises made are promises kept.

6. Sticking to your event timeline. You are the producer of an event. You are the leader of troops. You keep morale up and things run smoothly. You are also the warden of the clock. You have, no doubt, set time marks that you want to hit to keep the party going. If you are producing a wedding, for example, you will have a timeline for wedding photos, first dance, band breaks, dessert, etc. A timeline is needed for every party/event you do. Just hoping that the party will start at 1pm and end at 5pm as the invites say is wishful thinking. This can be especially true when alcohol is involved. Imagine if your late afternoon engagement party, featuring cocktails and hors d'oeuvres dragged on and guests started getting hungry for dinner? You need to be there with one eye on the clock and the other on the client to make sure food is rolling, entertainment is happening, drinks are being poured, key note speeches are delivered when they're supposed to and wait staff are not taking their 15 minute breaks at the wrong time.

Marley Majcher is the CEO of The Party Goddess!, a nationally acclaimed full service event planning and catering company and is a regular on-air contributor to national TV shows, discussing all things lifestyle and entertaining. With her continuing desire to be on the leading edge of gastronomy and design for her company and clients, Majcher has blanched, flambeed and fricasseed her way through the Smithsonian Institution's culinary series and cooking schools in both Paris and Normandy. She is constantly seeking out cool and creative individuals with style and personality to work with and attends premier design exhibitions whenever she can. Majcher currently spends any free time she might have, usually between 10:45 pm and 11:15 pm on Tuesdays planning her own annual blowout party every November.

Take a look at the company's website at to see what The Party Goddess! does for clients and get some great ideas for your next party or event. 

If you are thinking of becoming a party or event planner or just want to learn more about it, go to Here you will learn what it takes to be a rockin' party planner and how to start a new and profitable business. 

Please contact Marley at

{Source; Photo Credit}

Thursday, February 14, 2013

4 Ways to Get Guests Involved in Your Bridal Shower

All brides love seeing their bridal shower theme come together, from the cake to the menu to the decor and gifts. However, what she might really like are sentimental treats from guests she can cherish for years to come:

1) Recipes: Many brides have received family-recipes from their relatives and friends at their bridal showers. In the past, bridesmaids have placed blank recipe cards or colored 3"x 5" index cards in the invitation for guests to fill out with their signature recipe. And considering that we live in a digital age of e-mail and online communication, this is still a special momento. You can also point guests to resources such as and similar sites that will let them print out 3x5", 4x6" or full-page recipes with the click of a mouse. You can also try a new twist on asking for recipes: Ask for a great story about the recipe. For example, maybe the bride's grandmother can share her red velvet cake recipe along with a note saying it was the first dessert she made for her husband; those personal touches make each recipe even more of a treasure.

2) Wishes: Shower guests can write their wishes for the bride and groom on colorful index cards. And for an added sweet sentiment, the cards can be read aloud in place of a shower game. Additionally, you can tie the cards together with a ribbon or hang them from a wishing tree for the couple to cherish for many years.

3) Marriage Advice: Give your guests fill-in cards, and have them share their wisest advice for a happy marriage or fulfilling relationship. This can also be read out loud and presented to the bride; if you have several guests, you can choose a few that stand out and read those.

4) Wishing Well Items: The "wishing well" has been a part of bridal shower tradition for quite some time; in the past, guests would bring household items such as toothpicks and kitchen sponges as a way to fill the bride's home with things she could possibly need. Some shower hosts rent portable wishing wells, others borrow a friend's, or you can use a little red wagon or a recycling container that can become part of the couple's household supplies. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Romance on a Budget -- Love Is Patient, Kind and Cheap

By Nicole Dean

Valentine's Day is around the corner, and men from Alaska to Florida are breaking into a cold sweat. They've bought into the fallacy that romance equals money. Men everywhere have been frightened off by television and movies and believe that romance is something outside their budget. They are wrong.

When I think of most romantic and breathtaking stories that my friends and I discuss over coffee, we don't talk about flying off to Europe or drinking the most expensive champagne. The little things like holding hands, reading stories together and lots of laughter are what we hold dear.

I've put together a list of ways to show love -- without running up your credit card bill. And, ladies, this list is for you, too. Initiate the following ideas with your Sweetie, and show him how much you care. The ideas below are for men or women and fit every budget.

  • Love notes -- Leave love notes for your sweetheart to find.
  • Pampering -- Brush her hair. Scratch his back.
  • Wildlife -- Feed the ducks, squirrels, birds, turtles or fish near you. 
  • Games -- Turn off the TV. Sit and play cards or board games together.
  • Cooking -- Find recipes to make with your sweetheart. 
  • Candles -- Candles should be used every day -- for meals, bath time, snuggling.
  • Read together -- Choose a book and take turns reading it to each other.
  • Photos -- When is the last time you had a photo taken together? What are you waiting for?
  • Work Date -- Surprise your love with a lunch date.
  • Stroll -- Leave the TV, phone and computer behind and go on a walk together.
  • Spell it out -- With sidewalk chalk, write your names in a heart on the sidewalk where your sweetheart is sure to see it.
  • Entertainment -- Go see a high school or college play or concert. It is affordable and fun!
  • Slow dance -- Turn on the radio and dance to the songs you fell in love listening to.
  • Star gaze -- Drive out to the country and look at the stars.
  • Volunteer -- Choose a charity or cause that means something to both of you and work together to make the world a better place.
  • Love story -- Write how you met, fell in love, how you felt, what your thoughts were. You will treasure looking through these books over the years.
  • Love grows -- Plant a garden together. Herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruit -- anything you both like.
  • Cheer -- Go to a high school sporting event.
  • Warm hearts -- Snuggle by a campfire or build a fire in the fireplace.
  • Watch the clouds -- Lay together and watch the clouds go by. Talk about the different shapes you see. 
  • Connect -- Hug, hold hands, put your arm around your sweetheart.
  • Big money -- Write your sweetheart a check for one million kisses. Or make a coupon book of treats for him or her. 
  • Window shop -- Go downtown and window shop.
  • Early days -- Look at photo albums of yourselves when you were kids through your dating years
  • Puzzles -- Do a jigsaw or crossword puzzle together.
  • Wish List -- Both make a wish list of things that make you happy and put them in order. Hugs, dates, gifts, time together, intimacy, etc. Then look at the lists. They may surprise you.
  • People watch -- Sit on a bench and watch people go by. Try to guess their stories.
  • Play -- Go to the park and swing.
  • Kiss -- Before you part for the day, kiss for 10 seconds. It is much better than a quick peck on the cheek.
  • Picnic -- Get take-out food or make a picnic lunch. Take your time and enjoy your meal together outdoors.
  • Throw rocks -- Go to a pond, creek or lake, and throw rocks. Try to skip them or aim for different targets.

So, although an occasional expensive dinner is appreciated, it is truly the day-to-day affection that builds romance and love. Yes, Love is patient, kind -- and cheap!

Nicole Dean welcomes you to, a website dedicated to helping married couples stay friends and to help them remember why they married each other in the first place. 

{Photo Credit}