Blog

Details Matter

The devil is in the details. That’s what my co-worker used to say, every time we embarked on a major conference or fundraising event. I agree, 100 percent. Taking time to get to know the unknown leads to a much more pleasant experience, overall. Understanding the big picture is important to defining things like theme, venue, budget and guest count. It also helps in the prioritization of a client’s wants and needs – especially when money is tight. But once the “shell” of an event has been built, it’s time to fill it in with all of the social intricacies and environmental factors that are essential to a truly comprehensive event plan – one that will satisfy the wishes of all stakeholders.

Case in point: A friend and her now-husband decided to host a meat-free wedding reception. A few of their guests were shocked at this decision – worried they’d have to hit a drive-thru on the way home. But the couple’s biggest wish was for their wedding guests to really get to know them; to bring them to one of their favorite places, dance to their favorite music and dine on their favorite dishes. With the help of a talented event planner who wasn’t afraid to ask a lot of questions, they hired an amazing all-vegetarian caterer, and bulked up on both variety and portions to alleviate guests’ concerns about leaving hungry. They also placed appetizer platters and candy throughout the event space, and purchased extra wine and beer. In the end, guests left full, happy and thankful for a unique opportunity to get to know the happy couple.

Digging deep and identifying all of the little things that can make or break an event can be both tricky and time-consuming. But it’s an essential part of the planning process if you want to do it right… and we do. Happy clients lead to future clients and a job well done!

Check back for more tips, or email jessica@stellarjproductions.com to schedule a free consultation.

Karaoke Wedding

Weddings continue to evolve, with a growing number of entertainment options and novel, off-beat approaches to traditional event practices. I recently managed a wedding that demonstrated this very type of diversion; ladies and gentlemen, I successfully planned an awesome karaoke wedding reception!

I wasn’t a fan of the idea when it was initially brought up; in fact, I spoke strongly against it. But the more I considered the “wants” and “needs” of my bride and groom, and the more I understood their families, and the foundation for their relationship, I got it. In fact, I became a huge proponent. A wedding reception without karaoke would have missed their target, altogether!

If you’ve ever considered making karaoke part of your big day, or have friends or family who are in this boat, I say, “Go for it!” Here are some things to consider.

  • Find a good DJ; one that has legit karaoke experience and can bring all the proper equipment (a playlist binder, song request forms with pens/pencils, a screen that is easy to read from afar and some sexy lighting). Evaluate them out before you book, to ensure they can successfully manage a karaoke party.
  • Set a timeframe based on anticipated involvement; don’t schedule a 3-hour session if you can only count on a handful of people taking the stage. Plan according to perceived interest.
  • Plan to sing at least one song to kick everything off.
  • Set some ground rules, like “no foul language” (if kids are present) or nix an artist altogether (if it’s one you can’t stand).
  • Ask the DJ to do a few sing-along tunes that all audience members can relate to, to get people warmed up and to encourage them to start thinking about their own sing-along tune.
  • Plant a few group dance songs, like “Shout” or “Cupid Shuffle.” This is another way to make your guests part of the action.
  • Let your guests know – in advance – that there will be a karaoke component, so they have time to prepare. You can do this in person, via email and on your event website. But definitely do it. Because surprise karaoke can be extremely awkward.
  • Ask the DJ to start hyping up the karaoke session at least an hour in advance – again, so people have time to prepare.
  • Develop a contingency plan, should the karaoke session lose steam or turn ugly (people say and sing some crazy things when they are drunk). Remember, this memory will live forever with you AND with them. If it’s not what you envisioned and you are uncomfortable with what’s happening, be ready to switch gears and revert to something more controllable, like a pre-set playlist.
  • Finally, think about bringing in a videographer to capture all the fun memories (and to provide excellent blackmail footage, for many years to come…).

Good luck! Check back for more tips, or email jessica@stellarjproductions.com to schedule a free consultation.

A Smarter Site Visit

It’s easier than ever to shop for event venues online. But when you’ve narrowed your search and you’re ready to head out to a site visit, be prepared. Here’s a list of must-dos to help keep you on track, on theme and on budget.

Surf Calendar. Understanding when the sun rises and sets will help you you plan things like start time and stop time, and to capitalize on those beautiful So-Cal sunsets!

Weather App. Load one to your mobile device so you know what to expect, and how to stay comfortable. If it’s going to be cold, order space heaters. If it’s going to be hot, create cool zones in shady areas or by adding tents and fans. If your event is scheduled to take place in rainy season and your event is outdoors, factor in the cost of a large tent.

Calculator. The words “plus-plus” are used frequently by salespeople, and it’s important to understand how they’ll impact your total spend. Plus-Plus = the cost of food/drinks PLUS tax, PLUS gratuity. Be mindful of these fees and any F/B (food and beverage) requirements, and factor them into your budget to avoid surprises on event day.

Editable Floor Plans. Find them online or in your venue packet when you arrive, and physically write in where everything should be located (head table, guest tables, tables, DJ, gift table, etc.). This will give you an idea of what is and isn’t feasible, what furniture should be ordered, and how traffic will flow to and from busy areas like the buffet, bar and restrooms.

Your list of venue questions… Which, at the very least, should contain the following:

  • Will I have a dedicated event manager for the duration of the event?
  • Is the event space 100% private, or are parts of it public? How will venue guests differentiate between the two?
  • Can I control the lighting? If not, can I hire my own specialist or must I work through your preferred provider?
  • What A/V options do you offer, and how much do they cost? Can I bring in our own specialist?
  • What’s the parking situation? Do we have the option of pre-booking or paying?
  • What’s open late, on-site or nearby, for people who want to keep the party going?
  • Where can people overnight, and do any special rates apply for large groups?
  • Is there a place to store items, like décor or desserts, in advance?
  • How early can I get in for set-up? Do I have to tear-down that evening or can I come back the following day?
  • What’s the corkage fee if we choose to bring our own wine, or per-person fee if we bring our own desserts?

Good luck! Check back for more tips, or email jessica@stellarjproductions.com to schedule a free consultation.