Archive for November, 2012

Milestone Birthdays: A Roaring Past 30’s Party

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Don’t want to swim with the fishes? Then lend me your ear for a few ticks of the clock.  Jen Carver, from Banner Events here with a guest post that will help kick up your next adult birthday celebration a notch or two with a few bullet-proof principles of party design.

Make Milestone Birthdays Memorable:
Who says turning 40 has to be the pits? Milestone birthday celebrations will always be en vogue,  and celebrating a 40th birthday can be the bees knees for both the guest of honor and party goers with a little planning,  some swanky party props, costumes & décor and of course, delicious food & drinks.


First:  Choose a Theme!
Or better yet, let the theme choose you!  Choosing a theme doesn’t have to be difficult.  Grab a pencil and paper & quickly jot down a few things related to the guest of honor.  The list could include his/her job, hobbies, interests, talents, goals–really anything from which you can derive a theme.  Once you have your initial list, do some additional brainstorming, adding some ideas of how you might transform this simple idea into an overall theme. (Things to consider:  invitation, party decor, food & drink, favors, entertainment & music.)

Let me illustrate this principle.
A  fabulously creative client recently helped her husband bid farewell to his roaring 30s with a 1920s style gangster themed surprise party attended by his closest friends and family.  Who doesn’t get excited about the thought of zoot suits, wing tips, cloche hats, feather boas & fedoras?  This theme was decided upon after a few quick questions which revealed that the guest of honor was a huge fan of the popular game Mafia Wars.  Quickly, ideas for food (Italian pasta bar) and drink (self-serve Mockarita bar) were scratched on paper & a theme started to take shape.  With the basics in place, additional brainstorming was done to tie little details to the main theme.  More on that in Step 3.

Second:  Set the Stage
Of course, setting the stage for an unforgettable evening is a must and sending out the perfect invitations is a great way for guests to catch a glimpse of all of the fun to come .  Custom paperie is a popular & affordable party trend which not only allows for more personal expression than many store bought invitations and decor provide, but also affords one the ability to completely coordinate all of the little details that take an event from ordinary to extraordinary.

For this event, gorgeous Art Deco inspired invitations & party printables were created by the talented Dolly Robison of Paper Perfection.  Photo booth tickets were included as a small enclosure with the invitation and were a clever way of encouraging guests to dress the part.

Come as a flapper or come as you are.

Dress as a gangster or a silent screen star.

It’s going to be fun no matter the dress.

Just bring yourself.  I’ll do the rest.

Third:  Pair Well-Planned Details With Your Theme
You did your homework in step 1, now don’t forget to put it to good use.  Let your creativity take center stage as you insert fun theme coordinating details into your event.  Here are a few of the clever & festive details we incorporated.

  • The party area was decorated to resemble a 1920’s style ‘Clip Joint’ (gentleman’s club).

  • We added some intrigue as guests arrived, by decorating the entry way.  Our entry door featured a 1920’s style WANTED poster picturing the guest of honor, modeled after an Al Capone poster from that era.  A faux metal beaded curtain from Event Decor Direct hung at the door to immediately give that club vibe.

  • Once inside, the seating and dining areas were dressed up with red feather boas (  & fedora hats from Windy City Novelties.  They served as part of the decor, but also functioned as wardrobe accessories for guests to use in the photo booth and take-home as a party favor.

  • Water bottles were dressed with printed “Mafia Water” labels, some ribbon & a little bling.

  • While this theme lends itself to several fun variations & many may choose to play up the Prohibition angle with a Speak Easy & “Boot Leg” bar, my friends preferred a non-alcoholic approach. We offered a self-serve mocktail bar.  Sugar rimmed martini glasses from WebStaurantStore embellished with drink flags, filled silver trays.  Guests enjoyed being able to quench their thirst throughout the night, sipping yummy mocktails through festive striped straws from Hey Yo Yo.

  • We wanted to offer guests appetizers they ‘couldn’t refuse’ that still corresponded with the theme, but also made for a lovely presentation.  Caprese skewers, fruit kabobs & Italian stuffed mushrooms (not pictured)  foot the bill!

  • Big, gorgeous ostrich feather center piece kits from Wholesale Event Solutions were effortlessly assembled (thanks to their free online tutorial) and added that “wow” factor that kept guests reminiscing of an earlier era.


  • Chocolate bullets were creatively packaged as take home favors.  Every gangster needs a few spare ‘slugs’.

  • Guest of honor sweet treat favorites were incorporated into the dessert table. Including lemon cupcakes with white frosting and ornate fondant toppers designed by Brenda of Sugar High Inc., chocolate parfaits, Hot Tamales, Cinnamon bears, chocolate dipped Rice Krispy treats, & Oreo truffles.

  • Entertainment included several theme appropriate games (‘Pockets, Purses & Wallets’-Gangster style & ’10 Fingers’) a tribute video, 1920s era music and a photo booth which  provided a fun way for guests to remember the night!  It was stocked with funny props & costumes.

Fourth:  Be a guest at your own event!
You’ve put in the work, now don’t forget to enjoy yourself!  Relax.  Smile.  Laugh.  Your guests will follow your lead.  I love that my friend & her husband (the guest of honor) were found having fun with photo booth props (like the fedora hats from Windy City Novelties and feather boas from PartyFeathers) in the photo booth, laughing with guests & enjoying their own food & desserts.


Vendor Credits:

Jen Carver, Banner Events:  Complete Event Styling

Event Photography: David Wolf Photography

Paper Perfection:  Printable invitation & Party Graphic Design 

Wholesale Event Solutions: Ostrich Feather Centerpiece kits & Eiffel Tower Vases

WebStaurantStore:  Plastic martini glasses

Windy City Novelties:  Plastic fedora hats

Event Decor Direct:  Faux silver beaded curtains

Sugar High Inc., : custom fondant cupcake toppers

Hey Yo Yo:  Striped paper straws & designer cupcake liners

Naughty Stitches:  Custom Applique shirt

Resources: — tablecloths & runners


What Everyone Needs to Know About Planning a Retro Wedding

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Have you ever seen a vintage wedding that you just didn’t get? I have seen weddings that were intended to be “retro” or “vintage” but I just couldn’t tell for the life of me what era they were even going for. Simply wearing your mother’s wedding dress does not make your wedding vintage. If you aren’t careful, you will simply end up with a “dated” wedding, out-of-style, no character, and nothing that anyone will remember.

If you are planning a vintage wedding it is very important that you:

1. Learn everything that you can about your era and theme.

2. Keep your decor true to that era.

3. Plan activities for your even that fit in and were popular during that era.

4. Go all out with your theme without going overboard.



Know Your Era

The first thing you need to do is to define the era in time that your wedding theme comes from. Is your wedding theme from a more recent time like the 70s or 80s? Are you trying to emulate the roaring 20s or are you looking for a 1940s theme? If you do not have a clear vision as to what your wedding theme is, your guests won’t get it either. No matter what day and age that your wedding is going to be based on, we are living in the information age. Get on the internet and do some research. Google the era that you need to know more about and learn everything that you can. To make your wedding stand out from the rest, look for those lesser known details that no one else is doing. Yet, also incorporate themes that everyone will recognize. For example, let’s say you are basing your wedding on the 1940s. Everyone knows that WWII was going on, so you should incorporate something from that. But did you know that noir films were very popular back then with femme fatale characters. Films from your era of choice are a great resource for wedding ideas. Newspaper archives can also give you some insight.


Keep Your Decor True To the Era


This is where most people miss it. If your decor does not match your theme, then you have failed to pull off your theme. Again, let me say that you need to rent some movies from your era. How do you see in the formal settings of that time?

Also, use Pinterest to research your themes. Be careful here because most people who pin aren’t historians.

Here is a checklist to make sure your decor works:

1.  Your wedding dress must fit in with that time. I’m sorry but a modern wedding dress just doesn’t cut it.

2. Are your bridesmaids dresses appropriate to your theme?

3. Do your centerpieces fit in with that era?

4. What music was popular back then? I love the Black Eyed Peas, but they weren’t around in the 1950s.

5. Is your wedding cake in the style of that time?

6. Do your wedding invitations make your theme clear?

7. Food and drink? What was popular at that time?


Plan Your Activities Around That Era (What did people do for fun back then?)

Google “What did people do for fun in the ….. (your era of choice)”. Jot down anything that looks like it would be fun at a wedding reception. Swing dancing was popular in the 1920s. To my surprise, I also found out that the basic steps of east coast swing are relatively easy to learn. It only looks hard when professionals do it. You could have a dance instructor come in and teach people to swing dance. They will have fun no matter how well they do it.

These newly married couple picked swing dancing for their first dance! Which one do you like the best?

You Need To Go All Out Or Else Your Event Will Only Look Dated

Your theme needs to be crystal clear. If you only wear a vintage dress and put out one or two vintage centerpieces, your event will just look out-of-style. Most of your guests won’t get it. Go all out with your theme. Try to make everything fit your era down to the last detail. Keep in mind that the more recent your wedding era was the harder it is to pull off. It is harder to pull off a 1980s wedding than it is a 1920s wedding because people remember the 80s. Many people worry about going overboard with their theme, but more people under do it than over do it. Just make sure that still obey basic design principles and make sure everything flows together.

Did you have a vintage wedding that you were proud of?

Please send us your photos. We would love to feature your wedding here on our blog. Or are you an event planner who has experience with vintage weddings? If so, contact me at I would love for you to share your ideas with our readers.

7 Things To Think About When Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner

Monday, November 5th, 2012
rehearsal dinner

The average rehearsal dinners makes up about 5% of the total wedding budget.

Did you know that the average cost of a rehearsal dinner is $1,153?  Since, the average cost of a wedding is around $26,000, the average rehearsal dinner comprises about 4% to 5% of the wedding budget. I think this is a good rule of thumb when budgeting for your rehearsal dinner. However, it is not written in stone. It can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. But with that being said, this is a good place to make some cuts to your wedding budget since the rehearsal dinner shouldn’t overshadow the wedding anyway.

This week, I wanted to give you a simple guide for planning your rehearsal dinner. Here are seven aspects that you need to think about.


Who is going to host the rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally, it is usually the groom’s parents who host the dinner. I do not suggest breaking from this tradition if at all possible. However, sometimes there are circumstances that prevent this from being possible. Here are some alternative suggestions:

  • The bride and the groom themselves
  • Other family members or friends
  • A well respected member of the community (a church member for example)

In my opinion, a wedding that is extremely formal should have a casual rehearsal dinner. If you are going to go to the trouble of pulling out all the stops to make your wedding glamorous, then you don’t want the rehearsal dinner to overshadow the big day in the slightest.

Casual or Formal?

If your wedding is going to have a casual feel, then you really need to be careful not to overdo the big day. A formal rehearsal dinner before an informal wedding can work when you have a small and intimate gathering for your dinner. On the other hand, if you are inviting a large group of people, it would be easy to overdo it and outdo the wedding itself.

Have you sent out the invitations? 

Some people in the wedding industry argue that sending out invitations for the rehearsal dinner isn’t necessary. I agree with this in cases where the dinner is going to be very informal. But if your dinner is going to be formal, you need to send them out. Be sure to include the spouses of your guests when you send your invitations out.

Who do you invite to the rehearsal dinner?

This is something else that is not written in stone. With the economy struggling and wedding budgets trimming, many brides and grooms are choosing to keep the rehearsal dinner small. Many couples are choosing to only invite immediate family members (parents of the brides and grooms) while others are electing to keep it between themselves, the groomsmen, and the bridesmaids. However, it is a good practice to invite the officiant and his/her spouse. But inviting guests from out of town is not really necessary. Children can definitely be excluded from the dinner.

But, others prefer to make it a more grand affair. This is also perfectly acceptable. You can invite your entire guest list if you please. This is not normally done, but it is your wedding. If you are making the dinner a large affair, don’t forget about your photographer and your videographer.

Where are you going to have the rehearsal dinner?

You have plenty of options here. One option is to have a formal sit down dinner at a nice restaurant. If you have the budget for it and are going to invite out of town guests, this is a great choice. If you want a more informal choice, then have the dinner either at your home or at someone else’s house. This gives you the option of showing pictures and home movies from the earlier lives of the bride and groom. Or if you want something in the middle, have the rehearsal dinner at the place you went on your first date (not McDonalds though). This will create a good opportunity for reminiscing and storytelling.

Full meal or not?

You have plenty of options here. One option is to have a formal sit down dinner at a nice restaurant. If you have the budget for it and are going to invite out of town guests, this is a great choice. If you want a more informal choice, then have the dinner either at your home or at someone else’s house. This gives you the option of showing pictures and home movies from the earlier lives of the bride and groom. Or if you want something in the middle, have the rehearsal dinner at the place you went on your first date (not McDonalds though). This will create a good opportunity for reminiscing and storytelling.

If you are going to serve a full meal, then the menu should be different from your wedding menu. This is another great place to trim your budget if necessary. It is perfectly acceptable to do an appetizers only event as opposed to a full dinner menu. That is a great option if you want to invite out of town guests and keep your expenses trimmed at the same time.


Yellow ostrich feather centerpieceWhen it come to the decor of your rehearsal dinner, do not overshadow your wedding. Many brides choose to go with a completely different theme for their dinner in order to set it apart from the wedding. Others like for their rehearsal dinner to foreshadow their wedding. If you choose to foreshadow, you need to think smaller. Here are some tips for doing that

Let’s say that you are going to have over twenty ostrich feather centerpieces at your wedding. Don’t set up an ostrich feather centerpiece at every table. Instead, set up one or two somewhere like your hors d’oeuvre table. Don’t deck out the entire location with them.

Use flameless candles instead of regular candles. They are more versatile and you use them in different ways at your rehearsal dinners. Place them with smaller arrangements at your rehearsal dinner and larger ones at your wedding. You may want to use smaller centerpieces at the dinner with a similar style and color scheme as the larger ones at your wedding.

Be sure to visit our website

You can’t beat quality anywhere on the web for the wholesale prices that we offer. Be sure to check out our table linens, centerpieces, flameless candles, wedding columns and arches, as well as our other products.

Ethics in Event Planning: 5 Things That Are Just Morally Wrong!

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

One thing that I love about being in the event planning industry is that I get to meet some very wonderful people. There is nothing like sharing ideas with others, learning from each other, helping each other, and seeing the wow factor on the faces of those we plan for. We have met many wonderful brides and event planners alike. However, every now and then we just meet people who in my opinion don’t have enough integrity to be a part of this wonderful industry. You know, the kind of people who seem not to have any moral boundaries whatsoever. Here are 5 lines that I believe should not be crossed.

1. If you work for someone and decide go out on your own, don’t target their customers!

This is just wrong, but from what I hear it is becoming commonplace in this industry. This is stealing in my book. You can call it competing, but it is theft. It is taking advantage of a resource that you would not have had except that someone misplaced their trust in you. If you have done this, then you are a thief. Many times you will find that your former employer will mentor you and even help you to go out on your own if you do it in the right way.

Instead, spread out from your former employer. Go to the next town or city. Again, if you have a good relationship with your former employer, they will bend over backwards to help you succeed. Else, you just make an enemy in the industry out of the people who could have helped you the most.

2. Do not take anything from your former employer, misuse company information or resources, or delete company files.

This is a big one! It is illegal (a felony in some cases)! Don’t do it! Don’t take a customer list. Do not contact any of their current customers. Be careful not to take any of their designs, projects, or ideas even if you collaborated on them. Remember, they were paying you for those ideas at the time. Therefore, they belong to that company. Make sure that you don’t delete anything like files, emails, or browsing history from their computers. If you do, you could end up getting sued or even worse, prosecuted for it. Keep in mind that deleting files does not really get rid of them. A computer forensics expert can recover those deleted files in no time flat. If you have used company time and resources or have taken anything from them, they will still be able to prove it in court. At first your former employer may not find you worth the cost of taking legal action. However, if you start making enough progress to make them feel threatened they will take some form of legal action. In many cases they will find it more cost effective to prosecute you rather than suing you! And if you were ever engaged in illegal activities on their computer, you never know when they may recover it. Imagine thinking that you got away with something only to have the police show up at your door with wither a court summons or even an arrest warrant a year or two later. It is easier to just do things the right way than it is to go to jail for taking something that isn’t yours or for activities intended to defraud your former employer. These can show up in recovered emails, browser history, recorded keystrokes, computer codes showing downloaded information, or just about anywhere. You may be surprised at what violates criminal law.




3. Don’t make your company look like someone else’s.

What does it say about your moral fiber if you are trying to fool prospective customers into thinking you are someone else? This happens a lot with Internet-based companies in the wedding industry. A lot of parasites like to create hyphenated versions of the domain names of real companies. Again, this is stealing from someone else. Plus, people will see through it in the long run. More than that, you could get sued for copyright and trademark infringement. Be yourself. Be original. Don’t be a leech. This industry takes knowhow and creativity. If you can’t even come up with your own identity, chances are you will never make it in this business anyway.

4. Do not lie about your experience in the industry.

I know of someone who started an event planning business about a year ago. Since then she has posted online that she has “over 20 years of experience in the event planning industry”. I know this to be false. She did work as a customer service rep for an event planning company for three years. But, according to her former employer, she had no experience whatsoever when they hired her a few years ago. Before working for them, she ran a small dog breeding company and worked a short time as a school cafeteria worker. I would say that claiming 20 years of experience in the industry is stretching things a little. If you make false claims, whether they be about your products or your experience in the industry you are asking for legal trouble. All it takes is a report to the Federal Trade Commission and you are looking a possible fine and a large one at that. It isn’t worth the risk.

5. Don’t steal ideas from other event planning companies!

One thing I see all the time in social media is stolen content and stolen photographs. Pinterest and Facebook are places where people love to post photos and content like it was their own when the truth is that they ripped it from someone else’s website. We often have pictures of our product photos stolen from our websites and posted on our competitors’ websites! It happens all the time! What does it say about the quality of your product when you have to steal product photos from other companies? This is really unnecessary. The truth is that most companies love for their content to be shared by others. They just get upset when you don’t give them credit for their work. Wedding photographers in particular are cracking down on this. If you don’t want to risk a lawsuit (or at least an angry letter) don’t do it. Many people do this by pure accident by copying and pasting from Pinterest.

Have you ever had your ideas stolen by others in the industry? Share your experiences by commenting below, but don’t name names! 🙂