How to Plan an Event in Two Weeks

Chances are if you’re on this page, you probably have an event in the very near future (no shame to our last minute party people!). There are two very different ways to go about planning an event in such a short amount of time. One is to hire an event planner and the other is to plan the event yourself. The benefit of hiring a planner, of course, is for their knowledge of the best venues and vendors to quickly achieve your vision. This blog post hits close to home as we were recently hired by a client to -quite literally- plan an event in two weeks. Read more to see how we did it, and though we don’t encourage last minute planning, here’s our advice to do it like a pro.

Story Time

At the beginning of the month, ATBM was hired to plan a corporate cocktail party that was in the very preliminary planning stages, with only a venue secured. Luckily for us, the venue was the Rainbow Room, which made for a very turnkey experience.

The first thing we told our clients is to be cool, calm, and collected. Planning an event in a short amount of time is very doable and can be executed marvelously. Especially since they had a planner on their side!

A white chic flower bouquet sitting on a bar covered with white candles at the Rainbow Room.

First Step: Guest Count, Venue & Catering

If you’re thinking about planning the event yourself, make sure you have the right amount of time to source a venue, gather resources, and everything in between. Be realistic about the amount of time you have and if you need to hire a planner, bring them on as early as possible.

The first step in the planning process is to determine the guest count. This will aid in narrowing down the search for a venue. Keep in mind that not everyone you invite will be able to attend.

The next step? You guessed it! Find, secure, and finalize a venue. After you’ve determined your guest count, search for a venue that will fit the occasion. Maybe you already have a local spot in mind. It can be incredibly helpful to find a venue that does catering and beverage in-house, which avoids jumping through hoops to bring in outside catering and rentals.

Pro Tip: Given the short notice, you may have more luck finding a venue that is available on a weeknight, since weekends are the most popular time for events. If possible, picking a weeknight may help expedite your venue search and give you more options for availability.

A chic and modern bar with crystal chandeliers hanging above it. Photographed at the Rainbow Room.

Step Two: Flow, Decor, Rentals & Stationery

Now, do you want the event to be seated or standing? This is something to consider when you’re putting the pieces together. Having the event seated or standing will determine the flow of the event, the capacity limit, and the furniture rentals. It will also dictate if stationery is needed, such as: menu cards, escort cards, and place cards.

Next, you’ll want to determine any design elements for the event. It helps to create a mood board with your desired aesthetic which can make sourcing rentals a more design driven process. Rental companies are booking out very quickly (given the increased demand for events), so aim to get your rental order confirmed ASAP. Maximize your design with the use of linens, upgraded tabletop rentals, and signage that supports the vibe. This would also be the time to secure a florist to provide arrangements and additional decor. Many florists will have candles available for rent, and sometimes other rentals, so be sure to ask upon booking!

The dance floor at the Rainbow Room. The ceiling is lit up with purple lights and a crystal chandeliers.

Next Up: Entertainment & Audio/Visual

Consider which entertainment option is appropriate for your event, and reach out as soon as you’ve determined what you want. For a dance party, a DJ or live band is your best bet. For an upscale, mellow cocktail event, a string ensemble will work well.

Pro Tip: Ensembles with fewer musicians will cost less than larger ensembles. If you are on a budget, consider hiring a duo or trio over a quartet.

Next, check with your venue if they provide enhanced lighting packages, which can completely change the look and feel of the event. Some spaces go from harsh floodlights to an ambient event environment, that is totally worth the additional cost.

The band On the Move, preforming on a stage. The members are singing and playing instruments at the Rainbow Room.

Final Touches: Branding, Activations & Personalization

Finally, incorporate personal touches that turn the event into your event.

A fun way to make your event unique is to add a branded component. Our client opted for a custom ice luge activation, which was very popular amongst espresso martini lovers.

Pro Tip: Other ways to easily brand an event include photo booth backdrops, custom cocktail napkins, branded signage, branded ice cubes….the options are endless!

An event planner can help streamline this process as we have extensive knowledge of the vendors that are local to your area, and can easily identify the best fit for the budget and aesthetic. A planner eliminates the search whereas if you plan it yourself, then you have to navigate the entire search and planning process solo. Additionally, having an event planner is crucial for the setup and breakdown of your event. A planner will coordinate with your vendors so that you can enjoy your event fully.

A large ice luge that spells Disco. Next to the ice luge is a chic and modern self stocked with coupe glasses and candle lights. Event at the Rainbow Room.

If you’re planning it yourself, here are some great resources to check out!

♡ Party Slate

♡ Wedding Wire

♡ The Knot

♡ BizBash

♡ Venue Report

The Empire State Building lit up at night in New York City. The skyline surrounds the Empire State Building.


Photography: Angelene Nina Photography

Venue: Rainbow Room

Rentals: Taylor Creative

Ice Luge: Okamoto Studio

Linen: Nuage Design

Floral: Blade Floral Design

Band: On the Move

AV: Bentley Meeker

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Bridgerton Inspired Wedding

Dearest readers, have you heard the news?

Wedding season is upon us, and thus, it is with great joy that this author unveils the secrets you seek to create a Bridgerton inspired wedding. Daphne and the Duke’s marriage was certainly the talk of the social season. Fear not, for I have the ear of their sought after planner who has revealed to me exactly how they impressed the Queen. Prepare to indulge in the details of their nuptials…..Yours truly, Lady Whistledown.

You Are Cordially Invited to a Bridgerton Ball

A grand castle on a green lawn.

The Venue

The Duke and Daphne approve of a grand ballroom reception.

Ballrooms, orchestra quartets, blue pastels, and candlelit dinners… that’s the name of the game to create a Bridgerton inspired wedding. The Regency period in which Bridgerton takes place offers a lot of inspiration that can be incorporated into a modern day wedding.

To really capture the essence of the Regency period, book a venue that has a grand ballroom or a luscious, overgrown garden. Gold gilded chandeliers, crown molding, opulent light fixtures and crystal accents are most suited for a group such as this.

Picture it! Cocktail hour in the garden followed by reception in the ballroom. A real dream come true. ✨

A gold ballroom covered in gold architecture and paintings.

The Decor & Accents 

Whether your reception is in a grand ballroom or romantic garden, these decor items will make your wedding look like a Bridgerton fantasy.

Consider satin table linens to elevate the look of the dining tables. Pair taper candles (live flame or battery operated) with colorful, dainty flowers. Peonies, English Garden Roses, Cabbage Rose and other full bodied florals will create an elegant and whimsical design, in true Bridgerton fashion.

If you’re having cocktail hour in a garden, add arches wrapped with Amethyst Falls Wisteria Vine (a gorgeous purple flower) to mimic the atheistic of Bridgerton.

Flower vines hanging in a garden.

For your stationery, use an elegant font like Great Vibes or the font used for the Bridgerton logo, which is Leaner Bold. The invitations could include a quote from Bridgerton (perhaps a nod to the infamous letters written by Lady Whistledown). Close the envelope with a wax seal for a timeless and bespoke look.

To achieve the Bridgerton background music (you know, the music that makes you stop and think “how do I know this song?!”) hire ceremony and cocktail hour musicians that can cover popular songs with a classic twist, like the show does. Achieve this sound by opting for an instrumental ensemble, without a vocalist.

Songs like “Wildest Dreams,” “Thank You, Next,” and “Bad Guy” will sound absolutely beautiful performed by a string quartet. This is the perfect way to BRIDGE music from the Regency period in a modern way.

A dimly lit room, with large gold chandeliers.

The Dress

Daphne and the ladies of Bridgerton wear empire waist dresses for all special occasions.

The empire waist wedding dress is elegant, feminine, and very regal. The dress style doesn’t cling to your body (which is great, especially for a wedding in the warmer months), and accentuates the upper half of your body, giving you more length.

There’s a reason this style of dress has stayed prevalent throughout the years – it’s absolutely stunning, charming, and ethereal.

A kindle with the book Bridgerton pulled up, sitting on top of a journal, glasses, and eucalyptus.

Make sure to stay tuned for season 2 coming out in March!

♡ ♡ ♡

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Champagne Tower

If you’re obsessed with that modern meets classic vibe, then having a champagne tower is the perfect accent for your wedding! Champagne towers are not only beautiful to look at, but they also present themselves as an amazing photo opportunity. Champagne towers can be easy and inexpensive to create with the tips below ✨

Champagne glasses stacked in a tower

Use coupe glasses to build your tower (regular champagne glasses are too narrow!). They can be found all over the internet. Ali Express has acrylic ones that are really cheap and cheerful (find the link below). Prior to your wedding day ask your wedding planner and/or venue if they can assemble the glasses for you.

On your wedding day pour champagne all over the tower to complete the look! When it’s time to toast and celebrate, have two glasses ready to go for you and your fiancé. Have someone fill the glasses around the tower and distribute them to guests. Backup glasses can also be filled in the kitchen and waitstaff can pass them to your guests for a lovely toast!

🥂 🥂 🥂

Nashville Bachelorette Party

Onto one of our favorite topics…BACHELORETTE PARTIES! Nashville has become an extremely popular bachelorette hot spot for brides to be. The city offers a wide range of fun and lively activities to guarantee that you and your besties will make memories that will last a lifetime. From where to stay, to what to do, and everything in between. This is your guide to planning your Nashville bachelorette party!

Destination: Nashville, Tennessee 📍

It’s time to throw a once in a lifetime Nash Bash. This is a time when you and all your closest friends get to celebrate you and this huge milestone in your life! With our tips, tricks, and ideas your Nashville bachelorette party will be amazing!

Over the past few years, Nashville, Tennessee has become a staple destination known as a fun, wild, music centric city, making it the perfect place to throw your bachelorette party.

Two women standing in front of a colorful mural that says "Nashville"

It is home to hundreds of bars, restaurants, and hotels! Activities span from bar hopping, booze boat, walking tour, music festivals, wine tasting, and much more.

If you’re a lover of music, good food, and parties, then taking a trip with your girlfriends to Nashville is the way to go. Here are some specific places to hit up while you’re there!

🤠 🤠 🤠

Where to Stay in Nashville

A one-of-a-kind custom bachelorette pad, this Airbnb rental was specifically designed to be the perfect place for a girl’s weekend. Its colorful walls are Instagram-perfection, including a neon sign that says “Get Nashty.” The house boasts 4 bedrooms and three bathrooms, and each room has its own theme, including a Breakfast at Tiffany’s kitchen! But you can also enjoy your coffee in the morning on the private back patio.

There are 6 beds to sleep you and 11 of your closest girlfriends. The location is super convenient, only a mile away from everything that downtown Nashville has to offer. 

Looking for something a little more country? The Urban Cowboy is a boutique hotel located just outside of downtown Nashville. It features unique suites within an old victorian home. Each suite has its own claw foot tub and unique design, showcasing both old southern charm and western style. The property is adults only, meaning you won’t find anyone under 21 staying there. 

Where to Drink in Nashville

The White Limozeen, located on the roof of The Graduate, mixes a southern victorian style with art deco, and a whole lot of pink! It offers brunch in the mornings, food all day, and a bar for the night. This spot is perfect no matter when you go! Try the gorgeous custom cocktails, and in the warmer months, relax at the pool. 🍹

Other Things to Check Out

– Jack Daniel’s whiskey tour, complete with a tasting

– Grand Ole Opry, a classic spot to catch some live Country or Bluegrass

– Johnny Cash Museum for the history buffs

– Peg Leg Porker for some of the best BBQ in the city

Busy street covered in bright lights located in Nashville, Tennessee

Aside from the itinerary, you and your besties are going to need essential items like a speaker, matching outfits, games, decorations and much more. Create a checklist of everything you need! Here’s a template to make it easy for you ☺️

Click Below to Download ⬇⬇⬇

Now all you need is some cowboy boots and a guitar!

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Questions to Ask on a Site Visit

Planning a wedding? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered! Site visits are such an important part of the wedding planning process to help you determine which space is the best fit for you. We mean this quite literally; a place that can fit your guest count, accommodate the flow you had in mind, and has the inventory to bring it all together (queue questions about rentals). A site visit, wether in person or virtual is one of the first steps towards booking your dream venue. In this post, we outline the most important questions to ask during your venue tour.

♡  ♡  ♡

First of all . . Congrats on getting engaged! Now that you’re engaged, it’s time to start planning your wedding! You might be asking yourself . . “Where do I even start?” First and foremost, develop your guest count. You’ll want an accurate estimate to narrow down your venue search. Create a list of venues that pique your interest. Once you’ve refined your list of venues to the spaces you really love, schedule appointments with venue managers to conduct a site visit. You’ll want to visit these venues in person to determine which venue is the perfect match for you.

Wedding venue at a lake with flowers, white chairs, and grand columns.

Some questions you’re going to want to ask are…

♡ What is the standing and seating capacity?

Ask this question so you’re aware of how many people can fit in the space and how many people can be seated at a table. Knowing the capacity limits is key to planning the perfect wedding.

♡ What is the fee structure?

You’ll want to know if this venue is pricing themselves seasonally, with a buyout, or with a food and beverage minimum spend. Venue’s price themselves in a lot of different ways. Some venues may price themselves at a lower rate on weekdays than on weekends. Many venues tack on ancillary fees such as such as, admin fees, service charges, and if their food and beverage in-house, then sales tax would likely apply as well. It is always important to ask them for their pricing “all in.”

♡ Ask them to walk you through the flow

Ask to walk the space from the guest’s perspective. Walk through the entire venue from the moment they arrive all the way through to the time they leave. This includes walking through the prelude to the ceremony, the actual ceremony, the cocktail hour, and the reception where dinner and dancing might take place.

♡ What kinds of items are already included in-house? 

Inquire about a list of the venue’s in-house inventory. On this list some of the most essential items to look for are: ballroom chairs, tables, linens, china, crystal, and silverware. Also ask about any kind of additional decor items that the venue may have from previous events that you might be able to use. Take photos of these items to start building out what your design will look like. This will also help you figure out if you need to bring in rentals which could increase your budget.

♡ Are there any exclusive vendors that I would be required to work with if I decide to book this venue? 

Some venues require you to work with specific companies or vendors so it’s very important to ask this question! This might include an audio/visual provider, a rental provider, or even valet that’s exclusive to the venue. 

Wedding venue that is inside with wooden chairs, plants, hanging lights, and drapery.

Knowing this crucial information will help you decide which venue is the right one for you. Don’t rush this process! Visit as many venues as you want or need until you find the perfect one 🎉

Good Luck ♡

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Vintage 70’s Themed Wedding

You asked…We listened! Here are some retro and vintage 70’s themed wedding ideas that will make your wedding unique, fun, interactive, and groovy to dance the night away with your guests under a disco ball.

☮ ☮ ☮

How to Create Your Own Vintage 70’s Themed Wedding

Every few years it seems that old trends make their way back into the spotlight, highlighting themselves in various areas of the modern world such as fashion, interior design, and most importantly weddings. If you are a fan of everything and anything that is retro, groovy, and vintage inspired then planning a 70’s themed wedding is right up your alley. The 70’s was a time that focused on the seamless merge between nature, peace, and people. By using the 70’s as your wedding theme it allows for these important aspects to shine through. It will make your wedding even more meaningful because a wedding is a time when everyone you know, and love comes together in one place to celebrate.

Volkswagen van decorated in wedding decorations on the street

Groovy Wedding Decorations

There are a million roads you could down in terms of wedding decor, but some of my favorite ideas are incorporating the iconic symbols that represent the 70’s and what it stood for. Some of the biggest iconic symbols that represent the 70’s are Volkswagen vans, records, flower crowns, disco balls, music, the famous groovy flower pattern, and of course peace signs. What comes to your mind when you think of the 70’s?

Woman in sparkly dress leaning on a disco ball

Amazing ways you could mix the past with the present in your wedding decor could be utilized by converting a Volkswagen van into a bar or photo booth. As seen above in one of the photos, the Volkswagen van is the perfect decor and presents itself as an awesome photo opt! It is something so unique that will make your wedding stand out from the rest.

Other iconic symbols such as disco balls could be spread out all over your wedding and afterparty. You could pair small disco balls with flowers to create a classy and groovy centerpiece for your dining tables. Make sure to have a giant disco ball on the dance floor for obvious reasons. Bonus points if you’re hiring an audiovisual technician, ask them to shine a light onto the disco ball to get your guests up and dancing!

Peace signs and records could also be placed all around your wedding and afterparty. You could use old records as seating cards or create the perfect photo opt with a backdrop covered in records. Peace signs could be used to decorate seating cards, welcome signs, wedding programs, dinner menus, and paperie.

Having a retro themed photo booth or a Polaroid camera station is a great and interactive activity for your guests. What’s more 70’s and vintage than taking a Polaroid? If you want to take your wedding to the next level, look into photographers who are well versed with film photography so it will give your photographs that vintage look. There’s also just something nice about having film photos instead of digital photos…don’t you agree?

The 70’s focused on orange, yellow, cream, blue, and brown color schemes. These colors could be used throughout your wedding in the flower arrangements, table linens and napkins, welcome book, wedding programs, personal flowers, ceremony arch, and much more.

Hiring a rental company that specializes in vintage furniture is a great way to tie the whole wedding together. You could rent vintage rugs, chairs, couches, pillows, and even a Volkswagen van from these companies. It would enhance the environment to really give it that vintage touch and feel.

Most importantly make sure to create an amazing playlist that includes all the best singers and bands of the 70’s so that everyone can dance the night away on the disco floor. Artists or bands could (and should!) include The Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

Vintage Wedding Dress

Another way you could incorporate the 70’s into your wedding is by wearing a vintage wedding dress or a vintage inspired wedding dress. Wearing an actual vintage wedding dress or inspired wedding dress will create an instant timeless look and cohesive design. Vintage wedding dresses could be found all over the internet such as eBay or Etsy. Vintage inspired wedding dresses could be found at some of your favorite wedding gown companies like Bella Bridesmaids, BHLDN, and Maison Sully.

The bridesmaids could be styled in vintage dresses or accessorized with flower crowns or bouquets that emulate the 70’s color scheme. Selecting vintage jewelry like a vintage wedding ring or vintage statement jewelry is always something to think about if you really want to tie the whole thing together…

Vintage wedding dress laid out next to a flower crown, cake, wedding invitation, and candles.

Retro Food & Drink Ideas

The perfect 70’s themed wedding cake is simple yet emphasizes nature or flowers such as the cake below. The wedding menu as well as any food and drink signage could also represent the 70’s with playful food puns that highlight iconic 70’s celebrities such as The Beatles or Elton John.

Some of my personal favorites are “I want to hold your ham,” “Lucy in the sky with donuts,” “You say good pie, I say jello,” or “Don’t go bacon my heart. I couldn’t if I fried.” If this isn’t up your ally for the dinner menu, you could also use this just for the bar or dessert menu as there is much more room to be fun and playful.

Retro and vintage styled wedding cake decorated in brown and red flowers sitting on top of a rustic wood platter.

Once again, there are plenty of paths to go down when planning a 70’s themed wedding! Hopefully these ideas, tips, and tricks point you in the right direction and spark your imagination with other ideas. Whatever it may be, having a vintage 70’s themed wedding will for sure leave you and your guests with memories that will last a lifetime!

Bride and groom kissing in front of a vintage and retro cars like a Volkswagen van and Buggy car.

Stay groovy! ✌️

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Emergency Kits for Your Wedding or Event, What You REALLY Need

Emergency kits are a total necessity, no matter the season, size or style of your wedding or event. You could spend a year (or more!) planning down to the minutiae, and still end up troubleshooting on the big day. While we can’t predict unforeseen circumstances, we can anticipate and prepare for the more common hurdles that are typically encountered on the day of a celebration. Before you buy out everything on Amazon, consider these essential items, and use the venue, time of year, and flow of the day to inspire other items that you or your guests might need. In the following list, I’ll share the staple products that I find myself reaching for time and time again at weddings and events. Keep reading to discover what you REALLY need in your emergency kit!


When someone is feeling under the weather, it can prevent them from fully participating in your celebration while affecting the mood of those around them. More often than not, I’ve found that the client (bride, groom, or host of the party) or the people closest to them (bridal party, family members or friends) are the ones who tend to request medicine the most.

Maybe it’s the pressure of the day, dehydration, or something they ate the night before. In any case, it’s extremely helpful to anticipate your own needs and the needs of the people around you. You know your crowd best, so if aunt Becky is notorious for complaining about her headaches, pack a lot of Advil!

Pills on pink background

If it’s not the host or someone in their immediate circle, a guest may fall ill. The last thing you want is for someone to feel unwell and unable to enjoy your event. Get ahead of it, and pack these items in your emergency kit to treat common symptoms that may arise.

Pack pain reliever like Advil, Tylenol, Aleve or Alka-Seltzer for all of those headaches, sore feet, cramps, and random aches and pains. Folks will go through these quickly, so be sure to stock up. Also include Pepto Bismol, Tums or Imodium for upset stomachs. Finally, pack Benadryl, in case of an allergic reaction or seasonal allergies.

Pro-Tip: If you’re hosting an event at a location that requires guests to travel together for a lengthy amount of time, or if your celebration is taking place on a boat, include non-drowsy Dramamine or other medication to offer motion sickness relief.

Cosmetic Supplies

Cosmetic supplies are most frequently used during formal photos to put a stray hair in place or blot an oily patch. Keep items like bobby pins in various colors, hairspray and hair gel, hair ties, blotting sheets, tweezers, and a comb close by.

When it comes to makeup, to each their own!

Bride's hair with flowers in it

First Aid

This includes your standard first aid kit items: bandages in various sizes, Neosporin, sterilizing wipes, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, burn cream, gauze pads and latex-free gloves. Make it easy for yourself; purchase a pre-filled pack like this one to include in your emergency kit.

First aid kit

Garment Gear

Garment Gear covers a lot of random bits and bobs to include in your emergency kit, but trust me when I say that it’s necessary.

We all know that weddings and events traditionally entail dressing in a fancier attire, which means that many people will show up to a party in an outfit they’re wearing for the first time. Or, in an outfit that they’ve only worn on a handful of occasions. Since it’s not the normal everyday apparel people are familiar with, things can go awry fairly easily.

Bride and groom

I’ve sewn the entire inner seam of a groomsman’s pants during a wedding (while he was wearing them, I might add). I’ve safety pinned the backs of more bridesmaids’ dresses than I can count. I’ve also removed plenty of stains from deodorant, drinks and makeup from guests’ outfits. Which is why I’ve found all of these garment care items to be absolutely essential.

While getting ready, you’ll want an iron and an ironing board, as well as a hand-held steamer. In your emergency kit, you’ll want: safety pins, a sewing kit, deodorant remover pads, lint rollers, Tide To Go Pens, Hollywood Fashion Tape (get the double-sided kind, it works magic at keeping dresses in place), and finally, static guard.

Menstrual Products

Tampons (the ones with applicators tend to be most popular), panty liners, and pads. Don’t feel the need to stock up on a ton of these. There’s usually plenty leftover at the end of events.

Pads and tampons


This is the part of the blog post where I list significantly more items than any other category, but I promise you’ll thank me later!

Here we go: Scissors, Q-Tips, lotion, mints, eye drops, deodorant, disposable razors, disposable tooth brushes, mini toothpaste, Listerine strips, baby powder, tape, envelopes, sharpies, pens and a pad of paper.

The last thing I want to do is make you feel like Mary Poppins, but I have tried and tested many emergency kits at many weddings and events, and have found all of these items to be extremely useful, frequently requested and fully tapped into. Use this post to stock your kit with only the essentials, rather than barreling through Amazon without knowing which products will actually get used!

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Holiday Card Mailing List Template

Ah, holiday card season – AKA – just about the only time of year when my mailbox consists of more than just bills, magazines and spam. I love the timeless tradition of sending holiday cards, and in 2020, I figured the more holiday cheer I could send, the better. So, I multiplied my mailing list about fifteen times over, and created a template to build my first official holiday card list from scratch.

The Struggle

After graduating college, I decided to start sending holiday cards to old roommates and friends that I couldn’t see in person as often as I would’ve liked to. I’ve always loved handwritten notes, so I picked up some blank holiday cards from Papyrus and wrote out each note myself.

There were only about twenty households on my list, but it still took at least three or four hours to write, stuff/stamp/seal and mail those cards.

I took pictures of each envelope before mailing them, so that I could find my makeshift list of recipients and addresses the following year. I’m not too proud of this methodology, but hey, we all have our own systems that we try to make work, right?

How to Create the Best Holiday Card Mailing List

The Template

This year, I decided to do things a bit differently.

After working with so many clients to generate mailing lists for wedding and event invitations, I drafted a template in Google Sheets that I knew would be accepted by most stationers, with little to no adjustments needed.

This template is super easy to use. It creates one central location to keep your mailing list organized, but it serves other functions as well.

All the Best Moments Free Address List Template

The manual entry may seem daunting, but once you grab a cup of coffee and starting building your list, it becomes super turnkey. Here’s why:

– “Title” column can be used for professional titles, degrees or salutations like Mrs. or Mr.

– Separate cells for the first and last name allows you to easily locate people on your list and make updates.

– The “List” column is your own personal safety net to make sure you haven’t forgotten anyone! Assign a category to each entry, like Family, Friends, Work, Neighbors, etc. This way, you can always use Google Sheet’s “sort by” function to identify anyone that’s missing from one of your groups!

– The “Email” column simplifies your life for next year. All you’ll need to do is copy & paste the column into an email, or an address app like Postable, to keep your list fully up to date.

– “Status” gives you a location to write whether an entry is complete, or missing information (like a new address for a friend that’s about to move).

Free Address List Template

The Stationer

Once you’ve found a stationer to work with, ask for their mailing list template, and do a quick compare & contrast. I always remove the “List,” “Email,” and “Status” columns, which are used for my own organizational purposes, not to be printed on the envelope.

Before signing off on the final product, ask to see a digital proof of the addresses, so that you can run through the formatting with a fine tooth comb, and ensure all of the information is correct.

The Post Office

Once you’ve received your holiday cards (YIPEE!) take one card and envelope to the post office to have it weighed before purchasing stamps, to make sure you buy the correct postage value.

Then you can assemble those holiday cards, and head back to the post office with all of your holiday cheer in tow.

For domestic mailing in the United States, request that your cards are mailed as “flats” using the First Class Mail Flat rate, not as “letters.” Also request that the cards are hand canceled, instead machine handling, which can damage the envelopes.

Download the free template below!

All the Best Moments Christmas Mailing List Template Free

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Vintage Stamps, A Love Letter

Vintage stamps have their own story to tell. They always make me stop and look before opening a piece of mail.

Why Vintage?

Vintage stamps have an aged and antique appearance, which can add a sense of character and whimsy to an envelope. These historically unique and artistically unexpected touches can elevate an invitation suite, and make it feel more valuable.

Clients that opt for vintage stamps are seeking a distinct look for their save the dates or invitations. If the current selection of postage from USPS doesn’t harmonize with your style, or reflect the message that you want to convey to your guests, opt for vintage stamps to expand your postage options, and significantly increase your chances of finding a stamp that best suits your event and aesthetic.

I also tend to prefer vintage stamps to custom, as custom stamps always include a barcode that USPS scans during the mailing process.

Pile of vintage stamps in assorted colors.

Pomp & Circumstance

While there’s a variety of options, the caveat is that vintage stamps are limited in availability. The higher the guest count, the more difficult it is to find the same collection of stamps in the quantity needed to mail out invitations.

Several different vintage stamp designs will likely be required from an availability standpoint, as well as to meet postage requirements. I love the look of alternating stamps on each envelope. It contributes to the appeal of this particular look, as the invitations come across as dynamic and editorial.

Blossom Curated vintage stamp collection using variations of pink roses and cherry blossom tree stamps from Little Postage House
Blossom Curated Collection by Little Postage House

Pricing & Logistics

The price of postage is greatly dictated by how heavy the parcel is. Elements like paper type, number of enclosures and use of wax seals all contribute to the cost of mailing a letter or invitation.

When planning events for clients or myself, I always make a trip to the post office to have the invitation weighed, before planning out any stamp purchases. Then, I’ll search for curated stamp collections, or I’ll plot out stamp designs via an Event Deck and curate a collection myself!

Some vintage stamps have higher value than others, depending on how many stamps were produced. Which means, the age and rarity of the postage will also dictate the quantity of stamps required.

As the cost of postage has increased steadily over time, you’ll need a higher volume of vintage stamps to meet the cost of postage today.

Since vintage stamps are of lesser value, mix and match postage like two 5-cent stamps, one 13-cent stamp, and one 32-cent stamp to amount to the cost of postage for a letter, which is currently 55-cents. Again, check with your local post office to ensure you prepare for the correct postage value!

Pro-Tip: If you’re on a budget, but love the look of vintage stamps, consider these options.

– Buy stamps at face value.

– Mix vintage and modern stamps.

– Use vintage stamps on the exterior envelope, and modern stamps on the reply card envelope.

Vintage stamps next to blank piece of paper and gold pen, pink flower and gold paper clip.

Sourcing Stamp Collections

Find some of the best collections of vintage stamps, from both online and in-person retailers, on the list below. Always double check to ensure the postage is unused / uncanceled before purchase.

Little Postage House

– Local stamp and coin shops

Champion Stamp

– Etsy (Try Verde Studio, Postage Stamp Studio, Vintage Postage Shop, or Love the Postage)

– Stamp museums

US Mint Sheets

– Antique stores

Underwood Letterpress

– eBay

Magnolia Postage

– World Stamp Show (It’s held every ten years in NYC. Mark your calendar for the next one, 2026!)

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.

Most Loved Websites (for Event Planning Tools)

Next on the Most Loved Websites Series are three tools that all streamline the event planning process. These sites are so high-level, they’re frequented among clients and planners alike.


BizBash is an all-time favorite in the events community. Meeting and event professionals turn to the site to read up on current trends, strategy, production, and programming. But party hosts will find this site just as useful for event planning tools as well established names in the industry.

The Style & Decor page is my own personal rabbit hole. It covers hot topics like Event Design, Floral, Tabletop, and Gifts & Swag. BizBash also publishes a few lists annually of the Top 100 Events, Venues & Destinations, Brands and People, Meetings and Conferences. It’s perfect for discovering talented event partners and finding inspiration.


Think of eventup like a search engine for event and meeting spaces (just note that not every venue is on there).

Browse venues in top cities, or filter the search by price range, venue type, and style. Users can also sort spaces according to seated or standing capacity and type of event. If you’re looking for something specific, take the filters one step further and sort by neighborhood, distance or amenities.

Eventup delivers information on space rentals without needing to visit the venue’s website directly. Check out this example that shows the site’s page for SPiN, a cool ping pong themed venue in NYC. Users can even request a quote from the venue without leaving the page.

Photos on this site showcase the kind of transformations that can be done to a space. Take a look at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, shown in the below image. The design and lighting installations are amazing!

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center


Floorplans are essential for any event. Often, venue managers will produce floorplans and share them with vendors for their input and specifications, to determine where each item will live within a space.

Events that have an increase in complexity, or large number of moving parts, may hire an event planner or designer. They take the lead on creating and managing the floorplan.

AllSeated allows for each of these parties – venues, planners, designers and other event partners – to edit floorplans collaboratively. It’s a high-level site to create floorplans that are accurate and to scale.

With 2D and 3D options, specific measurements from popular rental companies, ready-to-plot tables and chairs, and tons venues to choose from, it’s a turnkey resource to prepare for a seamless install and set-up.

The site also allows users to manage guest lists. The best part? Guest lists can be inputted directly onto floorplans. So, if a guest RSVP’s with a food allergy, the planner can indicate which table and chair the guest has been assigned to, for the caterer to note on the event day.

Check out an overview of an example floorplan, below.

AllSeated Floorplan

If you liked this post, view more of my go-to’s on the Most Loved Websites Series.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.

Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash

Twenty four was one of my most challenging years yet. A lot changed for me both personally and professionally, but it gave me the chance to make changes in my life that I’m so grateful for. My twenty fifth birthday bash was a celebration of those changes, and the strong group of women who supported and empowered me along the way. It was so special, and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

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When I sat down to think about my Goals for my twenty fifth birthday bash, I knew the vibe would be key.

I wanted guests to have a ton of fun, feel their best, well cared for and thought of, and to create an environment that exuded a playful, carefree energy.

Think: California Girls (@KatyPerry), Colorful, Bold, Happy, Thriving, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini.

Welcome Drinks

Guests were greeted with margaritas in mini Patron Silver bottles, topped with pink flamingo drink straws. A Self Serve Bar was prepped and ready to go with all of the essentials, plus some extras like individual water tumblers and drink recipe cards to mix the perfect cocktail.

Sparkle Baby, Sparkle

There’s something about the first hour of a party that dictates how the rest of an event will run. So when I started crafting the timeline for my twenty fifth birthday bash, I knew I needed an icebreaker.

Queue beauty bar to kick off the celebration, loosen people up, get some live decor in and most importantly, bring out that high-energy vibe. I’m a big fan of make up artistry, so I think this really resonated with my friends, and felt authentic to who I am as a person.

Beauty Bar Details

I filled acrylic organizers with festival glitter and primer, body and face highlight, and metallic liquid eyeshadows. To keep it COVID free, I also included disposable sponge make up applicators as well as eyeshadow applicators, and kept hand sanitizer within arms reach.

Flash tattoos flanked the make up section, which were divided into white-wash wooden trays and gold leaf vessels on each side. I stuck with tropical themed tattoos, while adding some bohemian touches like arrows, feathers, and other free spirited designs.

The metallic freckle tattoos were a personal favorite. Created by Mr. Kate Beauty Marks, they’re made to apply just over the bridge of your nose.

I added natural sea and synthetic sponges to an acrylic pitcher, and filled spray bottles with water, so that guests could apply the tattoos without needing to go inside.

The beauty bar came together atop a Golden Brisa linen from Nuage Designs, with two chairs in front for guests to sit and work their magic.

Custom acrylic signs from Coppice & Crafts read “Beauty Bar,” “Sparkle Baby, Sparkle” and “Glow Up” (because we’re all on that #glowup journey, am I right?).

I finished it off with a full length mirror, turned horizontally, rested against the house, and a handheld mirror for a closer look. I also added in a pack of make up wipes, so that guests could try different looks, and remove all of the glitter before jumping into the pool.

Accessories & Activations

I love a design that doubles as an activation. It gives the design meaning and intention, and invites guests to immerse themselves in the event.

Bonus: guests inherently become a part of the design as they use and engage with activations. It really makes the theme, vibe and goals come to life.

Queue accessories, like vibrant sun visors strung along twine with clothespins, and an assortment of eccentric sunglasses and headbands.

Sun Visors
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Visors – Sunnylife
Sunglasses and Headbands
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Cherries, Daisies, Shells & Unicorn Headbands – Sunnylife. Metal Heart Sunglasses – UrbanOutfitters. Retro Heart Sunglasses – Paper Source.

Towels, PVC Clutches & Hangover Kits

Resting on lounge chairs and tucked inside a metal basket were Tuscan Yellow Towels from The Beach People.

PVC clutches from Sunnylife in blue and pink were filled with sunscreen, chapstick with SPF, spiral hair coils and barrettes.

Guests took home hangover kits from Bachette with recovery essentials like face masks, under eye patches, Advil, rainbow scrunchies and other goodies. To view the bags and all of their contents, click the Download button below.

Lounge & Lawn Games

A vignette of lounge materials and lawn games created a seamless flow between the pool and deck. Guests used the area to sit, chat, sip and play.

A Polaroid camera stocked with colorful film options inspired photo opps and captured so many candid moments.

Dinner & Dessert

Pizza Luca has the most amazing, authentic wood fired pizza, that’s served out of a blue 1952 Chevy flatbed truck. I opted for a spring green salad, and four types of pizza; Margherita, Bianca, Filetti and Marinara, along with lemon Italian ice. It was a huge hit!

The evening ended with a variety of sweets. I’m a dessert person, so more was more with this one! Not pictured: rainbow chocolate chip cookie cake from Baked in Color & white, milk and dark chocolate covered Oreos and strawberries from Hudson Valley Chocolates.

White bakery to-go boxes were left out for guests to take sweets home, but I was still left with so many extras.

Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash Swan Cake
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Swan Cake (Lemon Cake with Layers of Lemon Curd, Strawberry Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries) – Nine Cakes
Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash Tropical Cookies in Sunshine, Flamingo and Monstera Leaf
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Sunshine, Flamingo and Monstera Leaf Cookies – Tiny Kitchen Treats
Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash Swan Cake, Tropical Cookies, Unicorn and Glitter Cake Pops
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Unicorn & Glitter Cake Pops – New York Cake Pops

Good Times, Good Vibes

I’m so grateful to have celebrated a quarter of a century with such a close group of friends.

Each of them has supported, motivated and inspired me to strive for the best version of myself. Thank you ladies for surrounding me with so much love, and for pushing me towards my goals.

To get a closer look into my twenty fifth birthday bash, and view the deck I created while planning, click here.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more from the Happy Hostess.

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Most Loved Websites (for Childrens Parties)

Little people deserve big parties! Check out this list of Most Loved Websites to find the perfect piñata, tassel garland, DIY balloon arch, and other unique goodies for children’s parties.

This post contains affiliate links.

Meri Meri

Meri Meri is my all-time favorite party supply store, for children’s parties and even for celebrations of my own.

Meri Meri Party and Gifts

The site is playful but refined, with so many unique party themes to choose from.

Check out their hanging decorations, and elevated tableware. Fun fact, I actually used their plates, napkins, cups and cutlery for my Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash! It was very Katy Perry meets California girls, so flamingo themed tableware was a must!

I love their pre-designed party sets like the one pictured below.

If you’re short on time, take a look at their Party in a Box collections.

They have all of the essential supplies for themed celebrations, like Mermaid in a Box (such a sweet collection!). Most boxes are prepared for up to eight people, so make sure that you select the right quantity of boxes, depending on the guest count.

Clafoutis Creations

Children’s parties made elegant. Clafoutis Creations is a wonderland of whimsy, from enchanting tableware to pretty party supplies, with tons of themes to choose from.

One of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties is Clafoutis Creations. Pictured: Pink and Silver Sparkle Birthday Candle Set

Find cupcake kits in an animal parade theme, iridescent confetti fit for a swan lake theme, hyper-stylized paper goods, everything you need for gifting, and enough accessories to please even the pickiest of kids.

Busy parents – turn to Clafoutis Creations when you’re looking to find more than the standard set of matching plates and cups. It offers unique touches that really pull a party together.

Three small square circus tents in whimsical linear patterns with blue, pink, green and gold color schemes. Glitter and rose petals flood the background.

Candy Warehouse

Because, what’s a party without candy?

If your eyes are set on a candy bar, sweets to include in favor bags, or if you plan to incorporate candy into a tablescape design, chances are you’ll need a lot of it. Candy Warehouse offers a wide range of bulk candies in varying quantities and flavors, with the option to select unwrapped or wrapped candy.

Candy Warehouse is one of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Pink and white candy display in vessels of varying heights.

They carry well known brands like Hershey’s and novelty ones like eFrutti (home of the gummy hot dog, hamburger and pizza). If you’re sticking to a specific color scheme, this site also offers a shop by color option, which even includes metallic, rainbow and pastel categories.

Different types of yellow candy

I find it SO MUCH EASIER to buy candy in bulk, online, and find the exact type and quantity that I’m looking for, versus making a trip to a store that offers fewer and more costly options. The value is unmatched!

Rainbow swirl lollipop sticks

Ellie and Piper

Chic party supplies with a boutique feel. Ellie and Piper partners with brands like Talking Tables, My Mind’s Eye, Harlow & Grey, Knot and Bow, and so many other stylish stores.

Ellie and Piper is one of my Most Loved sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Pastel drink umbrellas in blue, green, yellow, orange, red and pink

There’s a sassy, upbeat energy to the products on this site. They’ve made an appearance at many of the parties I’ve planned for the little ones in my clients’ lives. Find balloons, decorations and tableware on this site, pre-sorted by category. Or, browse inspiration on their Instagram for loads of theme and installation ideas.

This is also a sweet site for gift ideas that fly under the radar. A curated collection of wooden toys, activity kits, art supplies, and unique bags live here!

A pastel rainbow with wooden dowels displays pink strawberry frosted donuts with gold sprinkles


Another one of my Most Loved Websites for Children’s Parties is Maisonette – it’s cuteness overload! They carry apparel, toys and furniture for little ones, but the Birthday Party Shop is where it’s at.

Maisonette is a favorite for knick knacks like unicorn brooches, stickers, favor supplies, candles, crowns and many more fun finds. They sell brands like Meri Meri, Handstand Kitchen, and bling2o. It’s a super turnkey site for games that entertain an active audience!

Maisonette is one of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Pink, green, silver and gold unicorn accessory set. Includes headband, necklaces, hair clips, and hair ties

If you’re in the market for the sweetest tutus, Maisonette also sells iloveplum, which is an absolute need-to-know for princesses, fairies, and ballerinas alike. They also carry other brands for costuming, like Lovelane for little mermaids and super heroes, and Great Pretenders for dinosaurs and pirates. It’s one of the first places that I turn to, especially when outfitting is involved!

Mauve tutu onesie for baby by i love plum

Oh Happy Day

This site is PURE JOY. Giant round balloon kits? Check. Cute message boards? Check. Out of the box tabletop supplies like superhero bolt party cups? Check. Neon cactus and rainbow lights? Check. Ok, I’ll stop now.

Oh Happy Day is one of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Colorful rainbow balloons

Oh Happy Day is actually divided into two different sites, a blog and an e-commerce shop. The blog is a great resource for kids craft ideas, printables and DIY projects, while the shop is a hub for modern party supplies. Sort by color and find all-things metallic or filter through decor to find goodies like party fans, horns, stirrers, banners and garlands.

Pro-Tip: Skip the assembly process and opt for pre-made favor kits. Each kit comes with all you need for one favor bag, featuring nostalgic toys, candy and games. Think: Slinky, Pop Rocks, Rubik’s Cube… the works!

Oh Happy Day Favor Kits
Favor kit materials, including mini ping pong paddles, Pop Rocks candy, stickers, and other goodies

If you liked this post, view more of my go-to’s on the Most Loved Websites Series.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.

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Building the Perfect Welcome Bag

A guide to an all time favorite topic, welcome bags! From whether or not you need one, to which guests receive them, how much to budget, what contents to purchase, how to assemble the final gifts and tips for staying organized on delivery day. It’s everything you need to know on building the perfect welcome bag. Let’s jump in!

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To Do or Not To Do

The first thing to note, is that it’s absolutely not necessary or expected to distribute welcome bags. Guests that choose to stay overnight are looking forward to joining in your celebration, and not anticipating any kind of gifting experience in return.

The primary reason that past clients have opted to distribute welcome bags, is due to the number of out of town guests that require overnight accommodations prior to the event day. If guests are staying more than one night, some clients will also opt for turndown gifts in guest rooms.

Welcome and turndown gifts usually coincide with hotel blocks and villa rentals. So, if we’re arranging overnight accommodations for anywhere from 15-20% of out of town guests, they are usually given welcome gifts. They are almost inevitable for destination events, when the majority of guests travel domestically or internationally for a celebration.

Building the Perfect Welcome Bag for Destination Weddings and Events. Pictured: Plane traveling through pink and blue ombre sky
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

How Much Does it Cost?

Depending on the number of guests receiving welcome bags, the cost of contents can accumulate quickly. Budget restraints are perhaps the most common reason why some clients decide to nix them altogether. Generally speaking, welcome gifts can average between $15 – $100+ per bag, for the vessel and the contents.

The variance in price is contingent on a number of factors:

– Cost to hire a company to curate contents, assemble and distribute bags (there are some AMAZING companies out there, but this service doesn’t come cheap!).

– Fees imposed by the hotel to hold and distribute bags (typically $1 per bag, but some properties will charge more).

– Range, type and quantity of contents.

– Paperie enclosures (think: welcome notes, itineraries, maps, suggested activities / restaurants to try during down time).


NecessitiesSnacks!Fun Stuff
Welcome note, water, mints
Fresh bakedApparel, or accessories like sunglasses
Warm Weather Essentials:
Sunscreen, insect repellent, chapstick
SeasonalGames / Activities:
Think: golf balls or a deck of cards
Travel Goodies:
Aspirin, antihistamines, mini toiletries
Locally madeMini bottle of bubbly

Think about little luxuries that guests can use in the event environment. Solemates are always well received by guests that wear heels to outdoor weddings or events. These heel protectors are designed to prevent heels from sinking into grass or cobblestone and inevitably getting ruined.


Keep it Authentic Don’t Go Overboard
Stay true to the locationNice to have vs. need to have
Locally crafted or inspired bag / box
(think: pretty & functional)
Quality > quantity
Contents that speak to the destination or represent the host
(add a touch of personalization here!)
Ask yourself, “Would I use this?”
Sweets and other edible contents are perfect items to include when building a welcome bag. Pictured: Robbin's egg blue ribbon with blue and pink macaroons
Photo by Jill Wellington on


Track the quantity of guests slated to receive welcome gifts within a separate column in your guest list spreadsheet.

The general rule of thumb is one bag per room. Although, some clients will purchase two of certain items, particularly water bottles or apparel / accessory items, such as baseball caps or luggage tags. Paper goods can definitely be limited to one per bag.

Pick a spacious room in your home to spread out all of the contents and take Inventory. Once everything is accounted for, remove any wrapping, stickers, or tags from the items. Form an assembly line, placing all of the bags in the beginning, then organize the contents in piles, followed by paper goods, and final touches like ribbon at the end. One by one, complete the bags by following the assembly line.

Pro-Tip: It can be tedious process to assemble bags all in one day. Spread out the workload over the course of a few days to make sure each bag is assembled correctly, without any stickers left unturned or contents left out.

If you’re planning a destination event, it’s not advisable to pre-assemble welcome bags and ship them to the destination (cost being the number one factor, plus items can shift in the delivery process). Work with the event manager to ensure they will accept and store deliveries of the items at the destination, shipped directly from the source. Ask the hotel to confirm receipt and label boxes on your behalf.

Plan to arrive to the destination at least a full day in advance to unbox, unwrap, and prepare the bags. Trust me – this process takes a lot more time than one might anticipate, and the more time to prep, the better. It’s ideal to reserve a conference room for assembly, as there’s typically not enough space in guest rooms for a project of this size!

The Beverly Hills Hotel
Photo by Erica Zhao on

Getting Gifts to Guests

This phase is best left to an event planner, especially for weddings. If you don’t have a planner, delegate this task to a trusted relative or reliable member of the bridal party. It’s not the kind of task you want to do the day before an event!

Request the reservation list from hotels with room blocks arrangements, and triple confirm the number of guest rooms coincide with the quantity of welcome gifts for each location. Work with the group sales manager to identify which rooms will receive gifts. Confirm if they charge a holding or distribution fee, and inquire if guests will need to mention the hotel block to receive their gift upon check in, or if gifts will be placed in guest rooms prior to their arrival.

If you know of certain guests that are staying at rental properties, reach out to confirm where they’re staying and when they’re checking in. Create an itinerary of your drop off route to save time, along with addresses and whom to contact upon arrival.

If a welcome party is hosted prior to the event, it can often be easiest to distribute the gifts as guests depart that initial celebration, especially if guests are spread across various lodging facilities.

Then, celebrate the completion of a massive undertaking – You’ve earned it after this process!

Champagne toast
Photo by cottonbro on

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

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All the Best Moments reserves the right to receive commissions for purchases made through the above links. For more information, view our Privacy Policy.

Event Planning 101

There’s a running list in my mind of gatherings I’d love to host. Pizza tastings, thematic holiday parties, Shark Week celebrations (my annual guilty pleasure brought to you by Discovery Channel)… the list goes on. Regardless of what kind of celebration it is, these common denominators play a pivotal role in the early stages of planning, as they shape an event from start to finish. Keep reading for a peek into Event Planning 101.

Timing is Everything

Seasonality plays a huge role in Event Planning 101. It dictates everything from venue and vendor availability, to travel conditions, design, pricing, and menu items.

For example, your favorite flower may only be available during certain months, or could it be quite costly to import if desired during it’s off season. The availability and pricing fluctuates depending on time of year.

Venues, bands and photographers book years in advance, but they tend to be busiest in the spring and fall months. So, depending on the venue or vendor’s availability, it’s possible to negotiate discounts for lower rates. This especially applies to weekday celebrations, which are often priced significantly lower than events on the weekend.

Let’s pretend that you’re planning a celebration on a Saturday in June, but find yourself on a tight lead time. Given the popularity in the date,
(which is among the busiest times in the event community) it’s unlikely that you’ll have your first pick of vendors. Last minute events are also more likely to face a premium for rush fees.

Or, if your eyes are set on hiring an amazing photographer that comes at a hefty price tag, there may be more room to negotiate for coverage in the off season. This is typically during the winter months, unless the photographer takes on a lot of destination work.

What does this mean for you? Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different event dates before signing any contracts. Gauge how viable it is to meet the Goals that you’ve set for the event, while bearing in mind budget parameters.

Location, Location, Location

The location of an event sets the entire tone a celebration, and how it will flow.

Seated and standing capacity will determine the maximum number of guests that one can invite. Some venues have restrictions on which vendors can work in a space. Other venues will limit clients to working with their list of exclusive vendors. Catering could be in-house, or require an off-premise caterer. Factors like access times, ancillary fees for maintenance or security, and items that need to be rented can hike up the cost of a space. The venue dictates a lot!

If you’re planning an event at a private residence, whether it’s a rental house, a friend’s property, or in your home, there are entirely different considerations at play.

Pro-Tip: It’s a common misconception that weddings and events at home are less expensive compared to venue fees. Though the cost of tenting, flooring, HVAC, restrooms, staff, cleaning and grounds maintenance, not to mention rental items like basic tables, chairs, linens, china, glassware and flatware, can be substantial if not more than the cost associated with an event venue.

Circle back to the Event Goals and the budget to determine what location is best. An event planner can vet potential options and share a cost comparison to help flush out the nuances of each space.

Know Your Audience

People make the party. They’re the biggest part of Event Planning 101, because they influence every decision you make while planning a celebration.

In opting to host an event on a Monday, for example, it’s possible to receive discounted pricing from venues and vendors. Although, this may inadvertently cut the guest list in half due to the competing priorities with work and family schedules. But, if the goal is to trim down the guest list via less RSVPs, this could be a good way to do it!

You know your audience. Bear in mind travel distances and guest comfort as you consider how to celebrate. Your audience also knows you. Keep it authentic; the way you host should feel like an extension of who you are!

Create a Narrative

In the events industry, the flow of a celebration is sometimes referred to as ‘Storytelling,’ or an event’s ‘Narrative.’

When we start the planning process, we ask, why gather? And what story do we want to tell? If it’s a wedding, we’ll want each aspect of the wedding to represent the couple, and feel authentic to who they are.

As planners, the options we put forth to our clients aim to tell their story, and serve a narrative that’s revealed as their event unfolds.

Decide How to Celebrate

This is the fun part!

What really inspires you? Inspiration is everywhere, and chances are you’ve already seen something that’s caught your eye and sent your imagination soaring.

Reference the above points to guide you towards the best ways to bring your guests together in celebration of your next event. Then take a look at Seven Ways to Prepare for An Amazing Event.

If you’re in the market for inspiration, visit my Pinterest for everything from theme ideas, to concepts for installations and activations.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.

Most Loved Websites (for Weddings)

Whether you’re searching for a theme, color scheme, venue, event partner, creative way to display escort cards, F&B presentation style, or a dose of inspiration, these resources have got you covered. Keep reading to discover some of my Most Loved Websites for Weddings.

Harper’s Bazaar

Head over to Harper’s Bazaar, click the dropdown bar on the top left and there you’ll find Brides. The site is inclusive of planning advice, current news in the wedding space, luxury wedding inspiration, and lots of hidden gems.

Recent articles feature celebrity weddings, sustainability, the launch of new bridal collections, announcements of venue openings, and wedding registry ideas, just to demonstrate the wide span Bazaar Bride covers.

Each year, Bazaar Bride publishes their own Little Black Book of the Top Wedding Planners in the World, the Top Florists in the World, Top Wedding and Event Designers, Cinematographers, and Photographers, in the world. Making it onto their list is considered a major accolade in the industry. It offers couples a guide to the best of the best!

Harper's Bazaar is one of my Most Loved Sites for Weddings. Pictured: Bride and Groom kissing at a church alter

Over the Moon

The content on this site feels fresh, modern, and so inspiring.

It was co-founded by Alexandra Macon, the past editor of Weddings for Vogue, who now shares her wealth of knowledge on planning tips and access to celebrity weddings on her own platform, Over the Moon.

Here you can find beautiful photos, stories and the why behind the inspiration. For how-to’s, top destinations, guides, and insight from some of the most esteemed names in the industry, visit the Planning page on Over the Moon.


Brides has been around for decades, but still remains on the pulse of today’s wedding space.

Everything etiquette, to advice, and inspiration for the engagement, bridal shower, bachelorette, through to the end of the wedding and honeymoon coverage.

Brides shares articles on planning, celebrity wedding news, trends and features Real Weddings to get the inspiration flowing.

Brides is one of my Most Loved Sites for Weddings. Pictured: Bride and Groom smiling under an outdoor chuppah

Style Me Pretty

This site is a personal favorite for inspiration.

The Real Weddings tab allows viewers to search for inspiration by category. Filter searches by wedding location, season, style, color scheme, and type of venue the nuptials took place in. Bonus: it’s insanely aesthetically pleasing.

Style Me Pretty’s Little Black Book is also super useful for couples searching for event partners. Here you can find hair & make-up stylists, officiants, stationers, planners and everything in between.

Martha Stewart Weddings

This site is another goodie to take inspiration from Real Weddings.

It also includes a tab for ancillary events leading up to the wedding. Check out some of the Engagement Parties and Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties.

Inspiration aside, Martha Stewart Weddings has tons of articles on useful tips, advice and resources to reference during the planning process.

100 Layer Cake

100 Layer Cake is a favorite to share with clients and engaged friends. This wedding and family blog is combined with tips and insight to simplify the planning process.

Search event partners by region to find the best fit for what you’re looking for.

Slated to launch soon, their new Matchbook app will enable couples to secure vendors all on one platform. Until then, check out their site for tons of ideas, and to see gorgeous wedding photos submitted by planners and couples.

100 Layer Cake is one of my Most Loved Sites for Weddings. Pictured: Bride and groom smiling at their outdoor wedding reception

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What Happens to Flowers After an Event?

What happens to flowers after an event? It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get. But, it’s often posed at the end of an event, when the floral or design team is ready to start breaking down. There’s quite a range of possibilities for how the flowers are handled, that are best to know ahead of time. Keep reading to learn how to extend the lifetime of your floral arrangements post-event.

Consider Scope and Scale

What happens to flowers after an event? It’s all about scope and scale.

The size of the arrangement, type of flowers in the composition, and the format it takes (handheld, centerpiece, installation, etc.) are just a few of the factors under consideration.

Personal arrangements, like bouquets, boutonnières, and corsages almost always go home with their owners.

Centerpieces, installations, and intricate floral arrangements are a bit tricker. Some floral designers will transport flowers back to their studios to upcycle arrangements for a different occasion. Florists may also partner with organizations that accept donations of flowers post-event. Or, the flowers could sadly be discarded as trash.

All of the above possibilities can vary based on the type of floral arrangement.

For example, flowers that were intertwined onto the frame of a chuppah, or strung from the ceiling, are not left in the best condition for reuse when an event concludes. They sit without water for at least a few hours, likely much more depending on when the floral team returns to the venue for strike, becoming wilted and less structurally amenable for reuse.

Alternatively, flowers in bud vases or small centerpieces are great candidates to live another life, either in the client’s home, at another event, or as a donation.

Chat with Your Florist

It’s important to have a conversation with your floral designer about their typical practices for strike post-event. Some may be less inclined to assist with your preferences for the flowers, depending on their standard approach.

Broach the topic well in advance and work with the florist on the best plan of action for your arrangements. It’s rarely possible to accommodate end-of-night requests without prior discussions.

Donate to a Place of Worship, Hospital, Shelter or a Philanthropic Organization

This is typically a bit easier said than done. Usually, floral donations are only allowed under certain conditions; relative to the size, type and quantity of arrangements being donated.

Many hospitals won’t accept floral donations at all, or have restrictions on the type of flowers they accept. Connect with these institutions a few months prior to the event to inquire about their policies and best practices for floral donations.

Before COVID-19, companies like Repeat Roses would send a team to collect flowers during strike, and rearrange them for donation to a Rolodex of charities and hospitals. I hope they’re back up and running soon as our industry pushes through this challenging time.

Send Family and Friends Off with Bouquets

As a flower lover, there’s nothing better than leaving an event with a bundle of gorgeous flowers to enjoy in my home for the next week. If you can, invite family and close friends that stay until the bitter end to choose their favorite stems, and make small arrangements to take as parting gifts.

Repurpose arrangements to create turnkey centerpieces at your post-event brunch.

Clients can usually request that a few arrangements are set aside for pick up or delivery the following day.

Other clients will take home smaller, less cumbersome arrangements straight from the event. In these instances, florists will typically require that clients remove the flowers from the vase they were originally displayed in, as the vase could be a rental item, or intended for use at an event the next day.

Either way, the flowers can make for great centerpieces when hosting family or out of town guests for a post-event brunch. Just make sure to have the vessels and time to arrange them!

Click here to learn how to transform stems into floral arrangements at home.

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Inventory Lists

Inventory lists aren’t the sexiest topic in event planning, but these documents are essential, and a massive safety net to ensure all of your ducks are in a row.

So You’ve Placed an Order, Now What?

Once Event Goals are defined, the Event Deck is underway and your first order is placed, it’s time to start an inventory list.

Open an Excel spreadsheet (my first choice) or a Word document, and create headers for each section of the event. Think in terms of flow, such as the Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Dinner, and Dancing.

Then, create subcategories for vignettes. If the photo booth is living in the dancing component of the event, and you’ve ordered props, include that as a subsection under Dancing. Or, if you’re planning a dessert display, and ordered specialty tiered cake stands or donut holders, include that as a subsection of Dinner.

Don’t simply keep like items together. If you’ve ordered three different types of cocktail napkins and plan to use them in tandem with certain parts of the event, list them separately under the subsection of the event they are intended for use.

Let’s use a brief example of an inventory list for a Jewish wedding ceremony with an outdoor venue. The below list includes items the couple may be responsible for providing.

Guest Arrival– Yarmulkes
– Basket for Yarmulkes (Ushers to Distribute)
– Parasols
– Basket for Parasols (Self-Standing)
– Fans
– Serving Tray for Fans (Staff to Distribute)
– Benchers (Ushers to Distribute)
– Candles
Under the Chuppah– Tallit
– Ketubah
– A-Frame for Ketubah
– Wine Glass
– Kosher Wine
– Breaking Glass
– Small Table
– Matches for Candles

From the above example, it’s easy to see how quickly items can accumulate on an inventory list. It’s not just about listing the item itself, it’s also about listing what vessel the item will live in, if it needs to sit atop something like a table or be distributed by someone like an usher or staff member. The process of creating an inventory list is a vital part of sorting out these details, to ensure everything you need is being accounted for.

Tailor the Inventory List

Adjust the format of the inventory list to fit the complexity of your event, so that it accounts for all moving parts.

Depending on the scope and scale of the event, the inventory list could be much more extensive.

Let’s say rental orders were involved; the tables ordered from one source, the linens derived from another, and all serviceware was ordered from a different provider. We would then insert an additional column to add the source of each item.

Or, let’s say the above list was not being provided by the couple alone. Perhaps the Rabbi was supplying the Ketubah, the couple was responsible for the guest arrival items, and their parents were providing some items for under the chuppah, but the venue agreed to supply the table and frame for the Ketubah. This would also garner the need for an additional column to list the source.

Turn it into a Checklist

Put the final inventory list to use when you start to receive or group together supplies. Don’t rely on order confirmations and shipment notifications alone to account for inventory. Make sure it arrives in-hands before officially checking it off the list.

On the event day, the inventory list can be a great place of reference when gathering all the items for a vignette, or when walking through to ensure all items are accounted for.

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Surprise and Delight

When you think of Disney World, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the delight of being totally immersed in an experience as characters in costume and fairytale cottages surround you. Or, perhaps it’s discovering moments of surprise, like a greeting from Prince Charming while dining in Cinderella’s Castle. To a child, what these moments have in common, is found joy in unexpected places.

In a Nutshell

In the event space, our job as planners, designers, entertainment providers, caterers, sound and lighting engineers, is to immerse guests in experiences that stand out from the rest; what we call, surprise and delight.

Surprise and delight engages guests and keeps them on their toes with high impact moments sprinkled throughout an event. Surprise and delight is also a nod to the experiential, that tells a story and supports a theme.

The Gifting Lens

Originating as a marketing tactic, this approach traditionally lends towards gifting, such as unexpected coupons, upgrades, or rewards. In events, that might be interpreted as welcome or turndown gifts in hotel rooms, or parties that conclude with a guest gift or ‘favor.’

Gifting often evokes feelings of being well cared for and thought of, especially if the contents of the gift are purposeful.

For example, a past client provided turndown gifts in guest rooms during a destination wedding in Italy. The nightly gift included a note that hinted towards an activity that guests would take part in the next day, paired with items for guests to use during the activity. One gift included driving gloves and hats for guests to employ during a classic car rally to a nearby lunch spot.

Click here to read more about Building the Perfect Welcome Bag.

The Activation Lens

While gifting is one way to go about surprise and delight, event professionals typically use the phrase when talking about how to incorporate it into the event itself. Once the general flow has been outlined, we brainstorm activations that take traditional concepts found in an event environment to the next level.

Take a photo booth, for example. One might think of a classic, rectangular machine that two to three people can fit inside to take several rounds of pictures that print onto a photo strip. Or, one might think of an open-booth, with a standard backdrop and camera kiosk positioned six feet away. But, a combined effort between an event designer, entertainment provider and a live photographer, can generate an activation that doubles as a design installation and photo opportunity.

The Vogue Booth from the 2016 Met Gala is a perfect example. Guest stepped inside a tunnel lined with neon light tubes and danced to a song while a videographer filmed, and sent the clip to editors who later gave guests their final GIFs to share on social.

Surprise and Delight at it’s Best

…Should support the narrative of the celebration. Aim for three of these moments during an event, with the goal that guests experience surprise and delight at the beginning, middle, and end.

As you brainstorm, measure and vet ideas against the storytelling perspective; how does this concept represent the narrative? The above videos represent a narrative of glam, high-tech, and pulse-of-the-industry (at the time). The concept was creative and innovative, perhaps two narratives the Met gala host committee sought to tell throughout the event.

…Feels authentic and meaningful. The more sincere the moments of surprise and delight are in representing the host or couple, and the reason for the gathering, the more likely that guests will feel connected and present in the event environment.

Lantern release
Photo by Abby Kihano on

It’s not simply about the wow-factor, it’s about authenticity, which is the heart of an event.

…Is at its peak when it’s interactive. Surprise and delight moments that guests can engage with are often more memorable than those that guests passively watch or listen to.

That’s not to say a destination wedding in Mexico shouldn’t employ a surprise Mariachi band or a trio of fire dancers, which are always well received by guests. But, would those guests be more excited about a tequila tasting or eco-friendly lantern release? Maybe!

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Seven Ways to Prepare for an Amazing Event

When you think of a successful event, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the canapés during cocktail hour (one of my favorite parts), the great entertainment that kept you on the dance floor until the bitter end, or the design that transported you to a different time and place. If it caught your attention, just know that the devil was most certainly in the details, and thoughtful planning during the lead time was key. Follow these seven ways to prepare for an amazing event, and create experiences that resonate with your guests, long after your party concludes.

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Create a Deck

Event Decks, usually created on PowerPoint, serve as a visual representation of an event from start to finish.

They include inspiration images that help flush out concepts before plans are put into action. Decks later house pictures of purchases and inventory grouped together to create vignettes, and act as a centralized place of reference on the overall design scheme.

For a deep dive on how to build an event deck and the advantageous of creating one, click here.

Imagine the Event Flow

Picture the event as if it were actually happening (talking through it out loud or with a friend can be helpful too). I usually sit down at a computer with the event deck on presentation mode, and pitch each slide from start to finish.

As I take myself through the flow, I consider the amount of time and labor required for set up, and for transitions during the event itself. I pose questions like, “who’s doing that,” “how is that happening,” or “when would this make the most sense,” and jot down notes on logistics.

Walking through the flow provides an opportunity to anticipate guest needs, and prepare for possible scenarios that guests may encounter. This reduces the chances of troubleshooting during the event itself.

Own Your Timeline

This is arguably the most important document in the planning process, and essential to the success of an event. It typically kicks off when load in or set up for an event begins, and ends when the last vendor departs and strike concludes.

Timelines don’t only keep your event partners, venue and planning team running on schedule during an event, they also act as a steady stream of consciousness when deciding on the best time for deliveries, when a space should be show-ready for your photographer to take room shots, or when a toast should begin.

Owning your timeline means that you’ll make thoughtful and intentional decisions as to how the event unfolds, in a way that creates a more enjoyable experience for you and your guests.

It also means that on the event day, you may not even need to reference the timeline because you know it all by heart (though, if you’re like me, you’ll probably check it anyway).

Maintain an Inventory List

It can be overwhelming to track and account for purchases once the ball is rolling and dozens of orders have been placed.

I’ve made the mistake of relying on email confirmations and shipment notifications alone to check the box that an item has been taken care of, and remove it from my to-do list without a second thought. It’s then frustrating when an item doesn’t appear in the box I expected it to, and I need to problem solve quickly to get that item in time for an event.

Queue the solution; an Inventory List that acts as a safety net, to ensure nothing slips through the cracks when it comes time to build an event environment.

Stage Event Materials

Stage event supplies all in one place, and organize them by section.

Think in terms of the event environment, and which items comprise each vignette. Keep supplies like food and beverage related items together (cocktail napkins, tableware, drink dispensers, straws, signature drink signage).

It’s helpful to reference your Event Deck to confirm where each item is intended to live. This allows for a turnkey set up process on the event day itself, and eliminates confusion or extra time trying to sort out where something is.

If space allows, take this one step further, and organize materials sequentially to coincide with the event flow. Start with items that might comprise a welcome moment and represent guest arrival, and move towards the next category that’s specific to your event, ending with guest gifts. This is a great way to triple check that all items are accounted for, and reveal any last minute purchases that need to be made.

Get Ahead of It

Use post-it notes to identify the purpose of each container, vessel, or tray. Unbox new shipments, remove labels, and assemble as much as you can in advance. Check off tasks sooner rather than later, and the days leading up to the event will be a breeze.

Group together your outfit in one section of the closet a few weeks out from the event. Remove the tags from any new clothes, and wash or dry clean, and iron or steam garments as necessary.

Gather shoes, jewelry and other accessories in a dedicated location for easy access on the event day. Make sure to try it all on, to identify any adjustments that need to be made.

Set Calendar Notifications

For Vendors: As soon as you sign a contract, plug the payment due dates into your calendar. Receive alerts when final payments are due to event partners, or when a cutoff date falls to make a decision (such as when the guest list is due to the calligrapher, or when menu selections are due to the caterer). This safeguards against incurring rush fees, or late payment fees imposed by vendors for missing contract deadlines.

For quick reference on the event day, add calendar entries of delivery windows for rentals, food and beverage, ice or any other deliveries that you anticipate. I always include the main contact and driver’s cell phone numbers in the notes section, incase a delivery is running late.

For Yourself: Build in reminders for personal tasks that can otherwise fall to the wayside when setting up an event. Carve out time for coffee breaks, lunch, an outfit change and refresh before the event starts to make sure these things actually happen!

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Setting Goals for an Event

It’s easy to go from hatching an idea straight into party planning mode. But take pause before jumping in! Setting goals for an event will provide a form of checks and balances, and a framework for measuring success. It’s also the first step to take before building a budget.

Why Goals?

Goals are the bread and butter of the event planning process. All too often, people skip the step of defining goals for an event, which can lead to a poor outline of priorities, and negatively influence decision making.

When the vibe of a party feels off, it can often be attributed to a lack of goals that leave guests feeling like something was missing. To set an event up for success, it’s important to determine goals first, and allocate the budget accordingly.

First and Foremost

Grab a cup of coffee and make a list of the top words or phrases that embody the type of event you’re planning. Think: aesthetic, color scheme, attire, formality, the guest experience, high touch points, and impact moments or elements that excite you.

Float through Pinterest, and get inspired. Don’t limit yourself, but do look for patterns that might generate new words on your list. This is well before starting an Event Deck, to ensure you’re hitting the right notes as it’s composed.

Consider how you want guests to feel at the event. Authenticity is key here.

In the wedding space, it’s said that an event should be a representation and extension of the couple.

If the couple favors tequila, for example, we might suggest a tequila tasting station, or passed tequila shots with mini tacos on the dance floor. It fills the room with memories, storytelling and nostalgia, because it represents something specific to the couple.

It’s possible a tequila station is harmonious with your event, but if not, consider what other elements are symbolic and special to you. Put a creative twist on how those elements can translate to your event environment.

It’s the Little Things

Besides authenticity, it’s important that guests feel thought of, and well cared for during an event. Small luxuries, like flats by the dance floor, amenity trays in the restrooms, or fans and parasols at an outdoor wedding ceremony on a hot day, make guests feel important, and they are!

Your guests are all there to gather with you, as the host, and share in the celebration of something momentous in your life. Brainstorm small additions that will make guests feel more comfortable in the environment you create.

Determine What’s Most Important

Even the most extravagant events have budget limitations. It’s true, whether it’s examined from a stationery, photography, videography, entertainment, design, lighting, food and beverage, labor or venue standpoint. When travel is involved, such as airfare or ground transportation, lodging, or travel fees imposed by event partners coming in from out of town, expenses can accumulate quickly.

Every event should have a clear budget. Building that budget starts with goals, and deciding which categories are most important to achieve the desired look and feel.

A past client determined she favored photography to videography. Both were important, but she ultimately preferred an extensive photography package. We balanced the added expense in her budget by reducing the videography estimate. The goal was an output of top-tier photos, which was more important than the output of a video made with drone coverage or second shooters.

creative camera designer metal
Photo by Markus Spiske on

Put Pen to Paper

Sketch out the words and phrases that are the essence of the event. Perhaps it’s whimsical, inviting, and chic, with warm blush accents and bunches of foliage, and a very farm-to-table menu that features fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Note how the event will communicate the vibe and feelings you’d like to share with your guests.

Perhaps waitstaff will greet guests upon arrival with a welcome drink as they are escorted to an intimate cocktail hour with passed seasonal hors d’oeuvres. If food and beverage is the priority, a goal might be to find a venue that specializes in cuisine, and has an aesthetic that speaks for itself.

This example is feeling very similar to Blue Hill at Stone Barns; an amazing restaurant and event venue that is king of farm-to-table.

This marks the beginning of defining event goals. Delve into the details, and get granular with specifying exactly what the overarching goals are, with notes on how to achieve them. Let’s keep rolling with this whimsical wedding example, shall we?

Remember, goals should tie back to how you want guests to feel, what’s authentic to the host, and what the priorities are.

Create an Intimate AtmosphereGo Completely Farm-to-TableHost an Awesome Dance Party
Hire a floral designer to install large, lush arrangements, or a ceiling treatment if the venue has lofty ceilings.Choose a venue that specializes in locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.Invest in a high energy dance band.
Flood the room with candlelight of varying heights.Work with the chef to curate a menu straight from a local garden, fish market, winery, or other traceable producer of fresh meats, eggs, and veggies.Limit lounge furniture to encourage guests to stay on the dance floor, rather than take a seat.
Hire a lighting designer to install uplighting, a stage wash or pin spots to give the venue a warm glow.Offer locally sourced candles, cookies, or jams to guests as gifts upon departure. Host formalities during dinner to enjoy a separate dance portion of the evening, with zero interruptions!

Checks and Balances

The fun part is complete! Now onto a tricker topic; building and maintaining an event budget. Before jumping to the next step, look for categories that you may have found were of less importance when defining goals.

If a five tier cake can be swapped with a three tier cake, that’s a great start. Perhaps stationery is of less interest and deemed a place to save, so one could instead invest in a photo booth. If an after party was initially on the table, but it’s something that can be achieved within an awesome dance party during the wedding itself, that’s an even better discovery.

Reference the list of goals throughout the planning process, and bring them to fruition! Look for ways to balance goals with the budget by staying true to priorities.

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All About Dossiers

Representing the theme, color scheme, and scale of an event, these hyper-curated documents provide guests with an amazing reference guide to plan the perfect outfit for a special occasion.

What’s A Dossier?

Dossiers are lookbooks, used for attire purposes, that inspire guests to dress in accordance with an event theme.

They’re typically presented on an event website, or as an enclosure card of an invitation suite. They can also be sent several weeks out from an event, when attire is more top of mind for guests.

When Should I Use it?

When a theme is hyper-specific, dossiers are the way to go.

Perhaps the desired dress code is difficult to interpret from the attire specified on the invitation alone. It’s not as simple as ‘Formal,’ or ‘Cocktail Attire.’

Think: Resort Chic, Wild Wild West, or Shine Bright, which was the theme of a past Knot Gala that requested guests dress in all white with metallic accents… View the Knot Gala 2019 Pinterest board that was shared with guests here.

Dossiers are extremely useful for events that span across a weekend, especially wedding weekends. If a wedding client is hosting a welcome party on the Thursday prior to the wedding, a rehearsal dinner on Friday, wedding on Saturday, and post-wedding brunch on Sunday, and each event has a specific theme, dossiers can serve as the perfect tool to communicate what guests should wear. It’s a huge asset during their packing process!

Where Do I Start?

Pick a few words that exemplify the scope and scale of the event, aesthetic, and vibe.

Is it chic, effortless and vibrant, or is it more black tie, sophisticated and refined? Consider including colors, locations, or phrases – it’s completely up to your interpretation of the event.

Use those words as checks and balances when deciding if an image is the right fit to include in the dossier. As always, reference Event Goals to make sure these words support exactly what the event looks to achieve.

Source and file inspiration images from magazines, online articles, designers, characters from movies, the event venue… inspiration is everywhere!

When it comes to dossiers, less is definitely more. Limit the final selection to the top photos or phrases that best represent the look for each event.

How Does It Come Together?

Dossiers can be illustrations on printed material, such as a trifold card stock that’s enclosed in the invitation. They can also be digital, included on a website for the event or a stand-alone site, or presented via Pinterest.

Pro-Tip: Consider hiring a watercolorist to hand paint the dossier, or a graphic designer to digitally create each look. Working with a professional gives you the flexibility to completely customize the dossier, and produce something that’s visually stunning!

Some illustrators will handle the design only, and share the graphics with the client for them to print. Others will supply the printed or digital materials. Pricing is usually billed on an hourly basis, and varies depending on the number of revisions.

Once the dossier is complete, watch your vision come to life on the event day. If you’re Type-A like me, you’ll love how cohesive guests look as they move throughout the event environment. It looks impeccable in photos!

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Event Decks

Decks provide visual reference for event concepting, design, layout, form and function. They’re an extremely useful tool to curate how an event will look and feel.

What is an Event Deck?

After I’ve surfed through Pinterest, mulled over different designs, and have a skeletal plan for an event, I launch Powerpoint and begin working on a deck.

The deck serves two purposes; representing inspiration and actualized ideas. It flushes out concepts, serves as a hub of information and is ultimately a decision-making platform.

When I build a deck, I like to think in terms of event flow, with a beginning, middle and end. I start by choosing a cover photo that best represents the vibe I’m after.

My Event Deck features tropical concepts, represented by this pool with palm leaves
Photo by Scott Webb on

Finding Inspiration

In the early stages of a deck, the next 10-20 slides are filled with inspiration images ranging from stationery ideas, to welcome moments, decor, activities, food and beverage, and guest gifts.

There could be as many as 3-5 different themes shown in these initial images. Think of this step as a jumping off point to guide you towards a final theme direction that best accomplishes the goals you’re after.

Read more about the importance of defining goals for your event here and the role they play during the planning process.

My Event Deck includes concepts like a beauty bar activation, represented by this image of powdered eyeshadows in pink, blue, orange, and purple
Photo by 𝐕𝐞𝐧𝐮𝐬 𝐇𝐃 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐞- 𝐮𝐩 & 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐮𝐦𝐞 on

Looking at Logistics

As the deck is populated with inspiration, consider the following for each concept shown:

How does this support the overarching goals of the event?

Is this feasible in accordance with the event budget?

What labor will this realistically require for set up, during the event itself and strike?

All of these questions will prompt you to play out scenarios for each design.

Finalizing the Theme

Look for patterns in the inspiration photos that make you most excited, and identify exactly which parts of those images you are drawn to and why. Research the marketplace for the concepts shown, it may become clear that certain themes are out of budget, or lacking in availability.

At this stage, you will have fully flushed out the design, compared pricing to the event budget and confirmed availability. Check the box for due diligence!

Once the theme is selected, deep dive into design. Remove any inspiration images that no longer fit the scope and scale of the event.

It’s totally fine to mix and match inspiration images that showcase different themes. The point is that the deck makes sense to you. It doesn’t need to represent one continuous design plan just yet.

My Event Deck includes flamingo stakes, pictured here, and pink accents with palm leaves
Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on

Pro-Tip: Lean into the design by creating vignettes for each phase of the event. Consider the presentation of everything; treat all vessels, activities, food & beverage, and decor as a decision. Be thorough here, anything within the event environment should be on-brand and represent the theme.

Planning for Purchases

While sourcing materials for the event, add product links and pricing to the notes section of the Powerpoint slide that houses the items you’re considering.

Look for multiple suppliers of those products – don’t just purchase the first one you see. Starting far enough in advance of the event will position you to purchase items when they’re on sale.

When your first purchase has been made, separate the event deck into two sections: Inspiration and Purchased. Reference and compare the two sections against future purchases to stay on theme. This is also when an Inventory List will come into play.

Two nude pool umbrellas
Photo by Dids on

It’s All Coming Together

At this stage, the deck is no longer a shell of a design, but instead a cohesive lookbook of actualized purchases.

Populate your deck in real-time, as purchases are made and orders are confirmed, to account for each piece of the puzzle.

Don’t forget to include stationery, like the save the date!

Pink exterior envelope with my name on it in white script. This was the save the date invitation for my twenty fifth birthday bash
Envelope liner with palm leaves
Save the date invitation with pink flamingos and gold and pink writing

Final Edits

Once all purchases are reflected in the deck, play the presentation on full screen a few times, and organize slides in a cohesive way; mirroring the beginning, middle and end of the event.

It’s super helpful if the items on each slide make up the vignette being produced on the event day. Then, it can be easily translated to a visual checklist of items to account for once you or any staff hired starts to set up.

Final edits solidify the vision and goals for the event, and demonstrate how to properly execute those moments in a turnkey way.

Round beach towels in palm leaves and pink flamingos. Yellow palm leaf pillows
Tropical sun visors in playful patterns like rainbow, mermaid, orange, iridescent and pink and green palm leaves.
"Baby Got Bounce" inflatable beach ball, "Island Vibes" inflatable flyer and inflatable volleyball net for pool

The Completed Deck

Toss the confetti, the deck is complete!

Download the presentation to your phone for quick reference on the event day. This step-by-step guide is such a helpful resource to identify where every item will live, so be sure to share with anyone assisting with set up on the event day.

To view an example of a final event deck, click the Download button below. This deck shows the plans for my twenty fifth birthday celebration that took place over the summer of 2020 (I had a blast with this one). To read more about that party and how it came to fruition, click here.

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