Friday, December 20, 2013

Event Design Series - Part 6: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Our final installment in the Event Design Series on the Portland Event Planner blog. Continuing our discussion of event design (and please, make it a discussion by commenting)...

More about our Event Design Series here at Part 1, and where the questions came from

Part 6: Case Studies: Of all the designs and/or event decor you've come up with, what has been the most successful and why? ...And what was the biggest 'bust'?

I'm not going to post any client pictures as that would probably be a shock to the client that I thought their design was "a bust". I will tell you that my weakness is sometimes being TOO accommodating to the client's wishes.

In this example, I had a client who told me she cared absolutely nothing for decor and just wanted to make sure that the chairs in the room didn't squeak against the floor. She had attended an event in the same venue for a fundraiser, and was horrified at the constant squeaking and grating noise the venue's wooden chairs made against the bare concrete floor.

Obliging as always, I agreed to rent some very basic (and in my opinion, unattractive) hotel banquet chairs with little rubber tips on the chair legs. This way, my dear client would not have to endure that squeaking sound.

However, the rest of the event decor was compelling - she worked with a wonderful florist, we printed individual menus, and her guests received an adorable favor; one per place setting. Those details, coupled with the wonderful catering and simple, chic linens she had chosen meant that her choice of chair, which I had gone along with, was glaringly out of sync with the rest of the clean, classic decor. Looking back, I wish I had just suggested we purchase soft-felt furniture sliders and offered to attach them to all 800 chair legs. It would only have taken a few hours, the venue probably would have loved it, and the overall look would have been much more appealing. (Of course, this is all in my head - not a single guest, nor the bride, said anything about the ugly chairs!)

As far as a successful design? Again it seems that it came from taking a client's wish and running with it wholly. In this event, the only direction my client gave was that she wanted "a big red party". Working with Portland Art Museum, Vibrant Table, Royce's Prop Shop, and Geranium Lake, we did just that. It is still one of my favorite designs of all time.

Photos: Robert McNary for Melissa Jill Photography

What are your thoughts about successful design -- what constitutes a blowout or a bust? Any great event design stories to tell? Please share in the comments below.

You might also like to look back at the previous parts of this series:
Part 1- It's an Event Design Series on The Portland Event Planner Blog!
Part 2 - Event Design Trends
Part 3 - Sustainable Event Design
Part 4 - Event Budget and Design
Part 5 - Event Theme and Design

Like this post?

+1 it on Google.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Event Marketing Buzz: Tillamook Cheese Company scores big with the Tillaphone #ComfortCall, delivers grilled cheese to #FeastPDX attendees at 2am

Much of Portland is still recovering from Feast Portland (#FeastPDX), last weekend's festival of Oregon food and drink that has been called "the SXSW of food". As reports trickle in on which events generated the most buzz, one clear winner emerged in using FeastPDX as a marketing tool: Tillamook Cheese.

Photo via @joancirillo on

Photo via TripStyler on Instagram
Their PR department targeted chefs and VIP attendees, journalists and bloggers, and gifted the ultimate in swag: a charged-up phone marked "Tillaphone" that the recipient could use to call for a hot grilled cheese delivery, at any time during the festival up to 3am. Attendees using the service were told to use the hashtag #ComfortCall when mentioning the benefit over social medial channels.

And did they mention it! A quick search of the #ComfortCall hashtag shows dozens, if not hundreds of happy, satisfied tweets from influential chefs and bloggers; alluring Instagrams of gooey grilled-cheese sandwiches, and jealous tweets from people who went to bed early and missed out.

How Tillamook Cheese will measure the ROI from this clever marketing stunt, I do not know. All I know is that Sunday afternoon as I was doing my weekly shopping, I bypassed my usual brands of cheese and butter, and almost as if in a trance, put the Tillamook versions in my cart.

Feast Portland benefits two important charities: Share Our Strength and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. To read more about the event, please visit the Feast Portland website.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

{ The Daily Reblog } Portland Event Planners Love...Urban Picnics and Company Barbecues

The run-of-the-mill "company barbecue in the park" is falling out of favor.  Today, companies are getting creative with their picnic venues and entertainment.  They are most concerned with their employees getting out of the office and having a great experience, in addition to the barbecue or picnic.  We found an excellent article from our friends at Vibrant Table, that gives examples of just how easy it can be for companies to create these new, "urban" barbecues and picnics. Check it out here! With late summer temperatures in Portland this week hovering in the 90s, it's never too late to show your team some appreciation. Call your Portland event planner today if you're curious about putting together your own urban picnic.

Picnic venues with an urban view (clockwise from left):  Rooftop at the Treasury, E.H. Roberts Sculpture Mall at the Portland Art Museum, Director Park, and the DreamTent at the Jupiter Hotel

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Event Design Series - Day 5: Theme { Sponsored Post }

Continuing our discussion of event design (and please, make it a discussion by commenting)...

More about our Event Design Series here at Day 1, and where the questions came from

Day 5: Theme: Why does theme matter in special events?

Dozens of volunteers came together for this SE Portland gala and auction and raised over $75,000 for the school foundation. The theme was "Put A Bird On It".

I think theme matters because I want guests to be comfortable, and it's hard to be comfortable if you don't understand your environment. I don't want a guest to receive an invitation that sets one type of expectation, register on a website with yet another theme or design, and then arrive at the event where the room is one formality level, but the food service is a different style, and so on. An organized, cohesive theme makes people feel comfortable and immerses them more completely in the experience you're trying to give them.

A theme helps us organize the environment and the experiences surrounding the event.

Do you have to have a theme? If by theme, you mean  "Circus", "Casino Night", or "Denim and Diamonds", I think the answer is no. Certainly these highly defined party themes can work, depending on your event, but I don't think they are necessary. One trend I enjoy is the use of one-word themes that, while allowing the planner to style the event, are open for interpretation -- for example, "Revolution" , "Ignite" or "Transcend". It also depends on your group. One successful theme we did recently was for a SE Portland school auction. Portlandia is still a party theme touchstone, and this group decided on "Put a Bird On It" for their theme. You can imagine that this had endless applications.

Have you used a theme to pull an event together recently? How did it go? Please feel free to share in the comments. Don't forget to tweet, +1, or share on Facebook if you found this interesting and helpful.

Today's Portland Event Planner blog post is sponsored by the LA Shop, offering many trade show and expo items at discounted prices.
Portland Trade Show Conference Expo Materials

Get 10% Off sitewide when you shop at Valid until December 2013.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Get published in Oregon Bride magazine!

*** Just wanted to pass on some great info in the industry regarding submissions to Oregon Bride magazine, as received in this email from their editorial staff.  This is a wonderful publication and I'm sure many of you have weddings that meet the criteria. Good Luck! ***

September 1, 2013 for our Spring/Summer 2014 issue.

We are looking for Oregon weddings that occurred between March 15, 2013  and September 1, 2013.

Every issue showcases fabulous, creative, and quintessentially Northwest weddings that celebrate the beauty of Oregon and those who call it home.

We're interested in couples who a have a great story about their engagement, courtship, wedding, reception and/or honeymoon; have a distinct style, everything from DIY to glamorous gala affairs; and we're always looking for and inspired by diversity.

Your submission must be exclusive to Oregon Bride.

Email a link to a small photo gallery of the wedding. (No more than 50 photos, please!) We'll also need the following information:

First & last names of the bride and groom with their contact information
Date of the wedding
Ceremony and reception location
Vendor list (does not need to be complete)
Short description of the wedding, the couple, or any details you want to share

For more information on how to submit, see Oregon Bride's website or email ... at alisa.welch (at) tigeroak (dot) com.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Event Design Series: Day 4 - Budget

Continuing our discussion of event design (and please, make it a discussion by commenting)...

More about our Event Design Series here at Day 1, and where the questions came from

Day 4: Budget: What tips do you have for a client that has a very small budget but wants a big impact?

Inexpensive table centerpiece of glitter paper, shadowbox frame, and candles
Materials available at most craft stores for around $15USD. Design concept by EJP Events.

I will try not to write a novel here, although it's very tempting. Budget is always a concern, even for so-called "big budget" events - no one wants waste or to go over. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Manage your and your guests' expectations. Remember that your target budget needs to reflect real life. For example, whatever your target event budget is, take about half of that for food and drinks and set your style/formality level from there. So a $30/per person event has a roughly $15/per person meal (including drinks and service!), so keep it casual!

2. Focus your efforts. If there's no budget for an item like decor or party favors, remove it from the program rather than trying to do it halfway. If you design what you do have carefully, attendees often won't notice what you didn't include.

2. Cut your guest list. The number one element that affects the budget is the scale. Each additional guest means an additional chair, spot a table, place setting, invitation, print suite, meal or food, drinks, and rental items. Also - carefully manage your invitations and RSVPs so you don't purchase for guests who don't show up. You will get fewer guests than you expect more often than not.

3. If you are doing any event functions in-house or DIY in order to save money, start early. There's nothing more morale-killing at an organization than giving a job like registration/nametags, decor, or setup to your employees (or, in the case of a wedding/social event, to your relatives and friends) and leaving things until the last minute. Your hoped-for "big impact" will wither and die as people sense the stress of your DIY staff or volunteers.

4. Choose a venue wisely. For example, if there's no budget for decor, avoid sites with little built-in appeal that cry out for flowers or lighting. And if a speaker is an important component of the event, look for a venue with a great sound system included in the rental (and test it!).

5. Support "lean" events with customer service. If you are having to cut back on food or decor, chances are these are less noticeable if your guests are treated well and with personal service from the time they register to the time the exit the event.

Have a tip on event budgets you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Trying out Postable - online mailing list organizer

Social media is so great. If you follow me on any of the services I use, you know that I'm a lover. I also love the ease of use that goes with connecting over email, FaceTime, and texting...all the wonderful technologies we have.

However. HOWEVER. I miss the fun of getting letters, of finding a gorgeous envelope peeking out from amid the magazines and business mail. I know - we have to conserve resources. And postal mail should be saved for special occasions. Still, I've resolved in 2013 to be more personal in my communications, because I realize that is what speaks to me as a user of social media, as a consumer, and as a person. Part of that will be to send more letters.

Strangely enough, it's hard to keep track of everyone's address. I remember having a black leather address book, with tiny alphabet tabs down the side, edged in gold. Those days are gone. Excel isn't really cutting it for me, not with the multiple groups and interests I have as an event planner. So I'm trying out Postable, and I would love for you to connect with me there. Who knows - perhaps you'll get something fun in the mail from me soon.

Oh, a bonus - Postable is also great for your bride and groom clients to collect addresses in order to send wedding invitations. I imagine it could also be opened on a tablet like iPad and used at an event to facilitate signups or registrations. Enjoy!