Friday, December 5, 2008

A look back at The Photo Playdate

Back in January '08, I attended the Oregon Association of Bridal Consultants' retreat for Consultants. It was a great, intimate get-together for about 20 of Portland's leading event and wedding coordinators, and I enjoyed hanging out with the likes of Cherie Ronning of Uncommon Invites, Molli Barss of Soiree, Colette Livermore of Simply Elegant Events, Alesia Zorn of Alesia Zorn Calligraphy, Andrea Hoyt of August Veils, and many more!

What was so great about the event is that we rented out a house in NE Portland and had two in-depth days of training, discussing, and cross-pollination of ideas. Rarely do we as consultants get to work together, and certainly outside the industry there's a perception that we are all "competitors". Nothing could have been further from our minds as we shared ideas and sat around the table or the floor, eating and drinking and also making paper flowers for the February ABC luncheon.

So what does this have to do with The Photo Playdate? Well, it hit me as I looked around the room and realized so many of us have children (quite a few of us with tots under 5), and a theme kept recurring in the conversation about "me time" -- as in, not enough of it. Also, not enough time to do all those lovely, crafty things that we are doing for our clients, like make greeting cards, and take photos of our families and ourselves.

I resolved that day to create an event for myself, for all of us at the retreat, and any other area event planners and professionals who felt like they were in the same boat: The Photo Playdate. It had several objectives: to create a day for much-needed me-time; to bring event planners together with photographers that they might not know; and to provide an opportunity for planners to have family portraits or headshots taken just in time for the holidays and the new year.

I was amazed at the response to the event and all the positive feedback I received when I went around with the idea. A brand-new hotel, The Nines, immediately jumped on board (Thanks Morgan!) and provided the facility. In no time at all we had photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, a Japanese foot spa, and even a childcare provider to provide a kids' play area.

The event was held on November 16 and was a great success. I've posted some of the gorgeous family photos and headshots at my other, bride-targeted blog and you can view that post here.

Big thank yous to everyone who participated, starting with the photographers:
Impression Arts
Evrim Icoz
Valls Photographic
Jasmine Photography

As well as the sponsors who provided the pampering and family-friendly fun!:
Event Cosmetics
Creative Childcare Solutions
Ashiyu Foot Spas

We will definitely be holding this event again in 2009. Please contact me if you'd like to be a part.

Why is airport fast food so bad?

I don't hate fast food, but it seems to sink to a new low within airports. I really have no idea why. Even chains which are have pretty good service (I think) outside the airport, like Starbucks, bear almost no resemblance service-wise to their non-airport counterpart. Ugh. I'm packing sandwiches and a refillable water bottle on my next trip.

Interesting poll over at

Check it here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

cultural sensitivity at events

I had a couple of recent experiences that reminded me how important it is to be sensitive to other people's cultures when working at an event.

One was a wedding with a very diverse attendance, with a professional officiant (that is, a hired officiant that was not from either the bride or groom's religious, personal, or cultural tradition). This officiant went on to give a speech about marriage and the bride and groom that mentioned (I kid you not) how marriage is like Chinese food -- (I paraphrase): 'It tastes wonderful, but you don't want to know what's going into it or see the kitchen where they prepare it'.

It's hard to describe the feeling I had, as someone of Asian heritage, standing in the back of that ceremony thinking, "Whaaaat?" as part of my ethnic background was used as a punchline for a joke. And I was just part of the staff. Imagine being a guest at the wedding, and the feeling of exclusion and isolation they must have had, when a wedding is supposed to be a day of good feelings and coming together.

So that just reminded me how important it is to use vetted professionals for every aspect of your wedding. I had actually recommended several officiants for this client but they had chosen someone else, I think on the basis of his website. A website can't tell you everything about a vendor; it's important to receive trusted recommendations from those who have firsthand experience, such as your event planner.

The other experience I had, was that I attended an educational luncheon given by the International Special Events Society called "Cultural Spotlight". Fittingly, it was held at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, and the speakers were an event planner from MJCC as well as a writer who identified himself as a "Spanish-speaking Asian Muslim".

Both panelists had a lot of wisdom to share about Jewish, Muslim, and Asian events, but the most important takeaway I got was that you can't assume you know a cultural group. Within Judaism, within Islam, as well as any ethnic or cultural tradition, there are so many flavors and variations. It's best to ask the main contacts and planners what their preference is, before assuming that you can or can't play "White Christmas" at a holiday party, or that certain colors or themes are a no-go.

If you're interested in a list of bullet points from the MJCC talk, please feel free to email me.

Image courtesy

Sunday, March 2, 2008

It's been a while since I last posted, since mostly our Portland wedding planning content is kept at TypePad, but I thought I would share some really neat sites I found that might be helpful to event/wedding coordinators and planners:
    • Bring the Bling: I stumbled upon this site while looking for some event theme ideas. These seem to be very talented web designers and they have a lot of event planners as clients. I'm not huge on Flash, but they seem to use it in the right way. (I hate those long boring Flash intros with no skip button and no point to them!)
    • Power Productions: Sometimes, as a wedding planner, or a boutique event planner (read: corporate parties under 500 guests) like me, you get asked to do fundraisers and silent/live auctions. As any professional knows, these are a whole different animal than even a lavish social or corporate special event. Judy Anderson at Power Productions is a fundraising guru, having been the original planner for the Classic Wines Auction in Portland, which raises in the millions of dollars per year. She has a couple of great workbooks, Fundraising Auctions Simplified, and Event Management Simplified, that can help you approach the overall process in a logical, step-by-step manner.
    • EMBOK: As an event planner, are you ever asked, "Oh, so you plan parties?" or "So what do you do anyway?" EMBOK, or the Event Management Body of Knowledge, is a great place to send those people. Originally conceptualized by Julia Rutherford Silvers, it is a fascinating breakdown of all of the things a professional must know in order to have mastery of event management: Great for lovers of graphs and lists, but useful in describing job functions and planner responsibilities. Maybe I'm a geek, but I love stuff like this:

Hmmm...this gives me an idea. Maybe I will keep typepad for clients and blogger for the industry. eeeeenteresting.