Archive for the ‘Event Planning’ Category

Outdoor Entertaining and Outdoor Party Ideas

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

With the summer almost a wrap with the this Labor Day holiday weekend, I thought I would share with you some outdoor party ideas you can do at home.  What is great about Los Angeles event planning is that we have summer-like weather most of the year making the outdoor entertaining season last a bit longer than other parts of the country.

First, some tips when considering outdoor entertaining, especially when hosting a party at home.

  • Look for any type of tripping hazard or potential ankle-turning backyard issue that needs fixing. Also, for events on your lawn, it is best to stop watering a few days in advance to create a hardened service.
  • If you plan on having a number of people over and it’s an evening affair, make sure that during the party, turn off as much of the house power as possible to avoid a power outage.

Here are a few outdoor party ideas you can easily do to make your party stand out and not break the bank:

  • Instead of round tables, seat your guests at either one long table or square tables. This idea will create better conversation pockets and give your party a different look.
  • Arrange your guest seating ahead of time and mix it up a bit. If it is an outgoing group, break up the couples and make sure to seat people next to one another who have something in common.  Place a conversation starter sentence on the back of their place card and tell everyone to use it to learn more about the person sitting next to them. Who knows, new friendships might blossom with your outdoor entertaining seating arrangement.
  • Use low centerpieces with different shaped containers. Square, round, triangle shaped or maybe a small flower piece in front of everyone’s seat.
  • Make lighting easy and your guests look great by placing candles all over, on the tables, in lanterns around the pool (if you have one) or hanging from trees.  Also, you can now purchase those great LED votive candles that look real and you don’t have to worry about wind or a potential fire hazard as we do with outdoor Los Angeles event planning.
  • If you have a pool, then use it as part of your decor by either floating a flower arrangement in it (be sure to use fishing line to tie it off at two ends to keep it centered) or shining a gobo light with something written like Happy Birthday.

For more budget friendly outdoor party ideas click here. To find out how we can help you with your Los Angeles event planning ideas, click here for a free consultation.  Enjoy the last days of summer with your outdoor entertaining and until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical for all!

A Santa Monica Wedding

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I recently coordinated a Santa Monica wedding, in fact it was mine! Here are some wedding planning tips I thought I would share with you to help you if you are planning a beach wedding in Los Angeles.

First, consider the time of year you are getting married. If you plan on having a Santa Monica wedding outdoors, then it is best to look to the later part of the summer or early fall, August, September or early October.  Typically, May and June and sometimes even July can be cold and cloudy in the morning and late afternoon. Or as we Angelenos like to call it June Gloom.

Therefore, if you plan on having a beach wedding in Los Angeles, make sure to have a back up plan where you can move it indoors if need be due to weather.  We selected Hotel Casa del Mar because it offered the best of both worlds, a Santa Monica wedding easily accessible for family and guests and it also allowed us to have our beach wedding in Los Angeles!

Other wedding planning tips to think about when deciding on a location for a beach wedding in Los Angeles are:

  1. Do you need special event or photography permits or are there any noise restrictions? Luckily we held our wedding inside the hotel so we didn’t have to worry about the noise and got a permit to shoot our wedding photos at the Santa Monica pier and carousel.
  2. Make sure your guests have options if they don’t want to be outside in the sun if you decide on a Santa Monica wedding.  Provide shade or better yet, give your guests the best of both worlds with one part of  your wedding held outdoors and the other part of the wedding indoors.  For us, it just so happens that an unexpected storm blew in on our wedding day so we had to quickly change our plans and have both the ceremony and reception indoors.  The staff at Hotel Casa del Mar quickly adjusted to this situation and no one had to worry about the strong wind or rain that day.
  3. Not everyone is a friend of the sand.  Some guests are uncomfortable or cannot walk on the sand in their shoes or just don’t want to take their shoes off.  What is great about Hotel Casa del Mar is that the ballroom is on the ground level with a great view of the ocean and if you want, you can walk out to the beach or stay inside and still enjoy the spectacular view.  Therefore, you can have your beach wedding in Los Angeles and not have to worry about getting sand in your shoes!

These are just a few wedding planning tips to consider when planning your beach wedding in Los Angeles. There is a lot more to cover when considering a Santa Monica wedding and will do so in the following weeks.  In the meantime, to find out how we can help you with your dream wedding, click here for more information.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Party Venues in Los Angeles

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

There are plenty of great party venues in Los Angeles and one of them is the rooftop of the Luxe Rodeo Drive.  I was recently at a cocktail party there and the views from all sides of the rooftop are great and the food most enjoyable.

One of the items served to us was this raspberry soup in a shot glass.  It was delicious along with the crab cakes, beef skewers and delicious chocolate truffles tray-passed to us throughout the evening.

What makes the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills one of the better party venues in Los Angeles is that it is an open space that gives you the luxury of designing your own event.  There are two small enclosed rooms on the rooftop as well if you choose to use them.

As an event planner, when scouting party venues in Los Angeles, I always like to know what my clients’ options are for parking.  The Luxe Hotel offers valet parking but there are also plenty of public parking structures within walking distance to the hotel as well.

Learn more about what to look for when planning events and scouting for a special event venue right here.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Rehearsal Dinner Ideas for a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

There are many facets to getting married and one of them is the wedding rehearsal dinner.  As a bride and groom, you want to have fun at this special occasion, spend time with family and close friends prior to getting married and naturally, make this dinner about the two of you.  Here are some rehearsal dinner ideas that you can incorporate into your wedding weekend.

First, like any party, you should try to theme the event and make sure to carry this theme throughout from the invitation to the party.  For us, we love to take jump shots from around the world.  We have us jumping from the beaches of Florida, to the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Half Dome in Yosemite.  Thus for us, it was natural to theme our wedding rehearsal dinner Jumpin’ for Joy.

Look to yourselves as a couple and think of the fun aspects about the two of you. Are you both skiers, computer or music geeks, sports fans, beach bums?  What as a couple are you two known to be by your friends and family and literally bring that to the party. Use these personality traits as part of your decor whether it is displayed in your dinner menu, the party favor or even the table centerpiece.

Also, consider the venue as a part of your theme.  One wedding rehearsal dinner I coordinated was at the beach and we had a BBQ.  The invitations, centerpieces and party favors all included some aspect of the sand and sea.  There are many websites that you can turn to such as your local city’s dinning guide, Great Places or Rehearsal Dinner Guide to research party venues.

When booking your venue, a few aspects to keep in mind are the time of year because of weather issues, number of guests you are hosting, location in proximity to the wedding and whether or not you will be in a private dinning room.  For other tips when scouting a venue for an event, turn to pages 19 to 22 in my book Budget Bash.

A few rehearsal dinner ideas to save money are to make your own invitation, centerpiece or dinner menu.  Also, if the dinner is outdoors, hang some inexpensive lighting or lanterns to add atmospheric lighting to the venue.  We used different photographs of us jumping and made our own invitations and menus and then played off the French theme of the restaurant and created our own French styled-centerpieces.

And don’t forget on your rehearsal dinner invites to let your guests know about parking availability, whether or not to bring a sweater and time and date.  It is amazing how often people make mistakes and confuse the day and time with the wedding versus the wedding rehearsal dinner.

Hope you picked up a few tips for your wedding festivities.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Some Wedding Planning Tips from a Los Angeles Wedding Planner

Monday, July 11th, 2011

As I mentioned in a previous post, this Los Angeles wedding planner recently coordinated her own wedding and what I thought I would do is share some wedding planning tips.  These helpful hints work for either a wedding or any other special event you may host.

  • If you take photos or have a professional photographer, prior to the event, create a shot list of important memories you want from that day.  Remember it’s a live event and you only get one take.
  • Create a timeline and be as exact as possible to ensure you have all aspects of your event in place prior to the start time.
  • Go with the flow, something always seems to happen, just don’t worry and have fun!

Being a Los Angeles wedding planner also put a bit of stress on my wedding since of course, I am very detailed oriented, and I wanted to make sure that everything was in place for my special day.  One of the wedding planning tips I tell my brides (which I tried to follow that day) was to be in the moment.  Focus on what is going on in the now and don’t worry about later or what could have been.

For more wedding planning tips, check out a complete checklist I created in my book, Budget Bash.  You will  find not only a to-do party checklist but also many other important tips and helpful hints to help you create the wedding of your dreams.  Or just simply call if you are looking for a Los Angeles wedding planner, and I would be more than happy to provide you with a free consultation.

Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

An Engagement Dinner at Il Tiramisu

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Recently, my brothers and their wives threw a surprise engagement dinner at Il Tiramisu restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California, and I thought I would share with you some engagement party ideas that they implemented at our dinner.  Plus I would love to tell you about our dinner party menu and how it fit within the theme for the party.

The first thing to think about when planning an engagement dinner is your budget and guest list.  This budget and guest list were easy for us since it was a surprise but some things to think about at a restaurant party such as Il Tiramisu are the cost of the dinner, tax, tip and guest count.  Depending upon the guest count is where the restaurant will seat you.  Do they have a private dining room or are you seated in the main restaurant or a portion of the restaurant?  In our case, we were seated on one side of the restaurant at one long table.

Some engagement party ideas to consider are the seating arrangements and whether or not to bring in your own wine.  Our hosts used heart shaped cookies as place cards which added to the table decor as well as small dishes of candy that were placed down the center of the table.  Bringing in the wines was a great idea since it saved money and also provided a variety of choices.  Since the guests were mostly wine collectors it also provided a great conversation starter since no one knew one another prior to the engagement dinner.

Other engagement party ideas to think about are the invitations and the party theme.  Since we are honeymooning in Italy, the theme of the evening was Italy.  Not only the restaurant choice but also the Italian wines selected for the table and the invitations for the event were all centered around Italy.

Our dinner party menu at Il Tiramisu was a four-course engagement dinner.  We started with a pasta, Crespelle di Zucca, a crepe filled pasta with butternut squash and ricotta cheese in a light cream sauce then the house salad.  Our third-course was a choice of Salmon Cipriani, Veal Scallopini Marsala or Chicken Picata.  And of course, Tiramisu for dessert.  The food was great as well as the service and every course was well-paced giving us plenty of time to converse and enjoy our meal.

When thinking about your dinner party menu, remember to select a variety of dishes to please every palette as well as to make sure dietary restrictions and allergies can be accommodated.  What I liked about Il Tiramisu is that when they started to take our dinner orders they asked each guest about diet or allergies and were to able to accommodate each guest’s dietary needs.

I can’t believe my wedding is less than three weeks away! We had such fun at our engagement dinner at Il Tiramisu and I hope you picked up some engagement party ideas from this article.  To learn more about planning parties, whether big or small and to pick up a dinner party menu or two check out Budget Bash.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Corporate Event Ideas for Maintaining Corporate Event Planning Budget

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Recently, I produced an event for a long time client and thought I would share some corporate event ideas that I used during the process of planning this event.  I find planning corporate events just as challenging as planning any other type of event and here are a few tips to think about when considering corporate event planning.

Like any other event, determine a budget when planning corporate events and follow it through.   It seems across the board corporate event planning budgets have decreased, and in the case of this event, I suggested to the client that we even cut the budget more than in previous years as a start and then if need be, add to the budget later.  Our strategy worked since it seems that vendors as well as event planning providers understand that there are less events happening and are more willing to work within the budget you provide and still help create an outstanding event.

One of the corporate event ideas I discussed with my client and which also helped keep our budget costs down was to bring in our own wine.  We weren’t crazy about the list of wines offered at this venue and thought why not buy the wine and pay the corkage fee.  Thus, we would be serving wines to our liking while saving money (we saved over $500 plus sales tax).

Other corporate event ideas we used to keep our budget costs low were to shorten the length of our cocktail hour from an hour to 45 minutes and also to hold the event earlier in the evening on a Sunday night.  By shortening the cocktail hour time, we didn’t serve as many appetizers which were charged on a piece-by-piece per person cost, and we also cut down on the amount of cocktails served during the shortened time period.  Holding the event on Sunday can save you money when planning corporate events because at most sites, especially restaurants, Sunday is a slower night especially early Sunday eve and you might be able to negotiate a better rate.

When planning corporate events, think about the timing of the event itself and how to use the time period of the dinner portion effectively.  This is another one of the corporate event ideas we put to good use.  Since we held the event at a steak house and all dinners were cooked to order, we had quite a delay between our first course and the main course.  Thus, we used this extra time by honoring those people in the company who were receiving promotions.  Keep in mind with corporate event planning, you still want the event to move thus be sure to set time limits with your speakers.

Summertime company picnics and events are near, and I hope you can implement some of these corporate event ideas during your corporate event planning process.  Planning corporate events still require careful consideration especially with budgets, and there are many creative ways to help you keep those budgets in check.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Easy Finger Food for the Green Party

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Yes, just a few days away and the luck of the Irish will be with you.  Just in case you are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party, I thought I would give you some easy finger food ideas to serve at your event.  And of course, since it is St. Patrick’s Day, you can easily theme your party as the green party everyone has to attend.

Let’s first look at how to make the green party work for you and the environment.  Three easy words in keeping with this theme are reduce, recycle and reuse.  Here are some easy steps you can take to fulfill this theme:

  • Create a compost heap in your backyard with the food scraps from the party and flowers once they wilt
  • Use bio-degradable silverware and plates
  • Set-up a recyclable trash can for all your bar bottles and cans
  • Use Evite for your guest list
  • If possible, have your guests carpool to the party

For tabletop decor, use succulent plants or natural greens such as rosemary.  You can create a rosemary wreath with wire and rosemary and then place a pillar candle and hurricane glass in the center to give the table an added glow.

Another natural tabletop decor idea for the green party is to use fresh artichokes as votive candle holders.  Just take the artichoke, hollow out the center and then place a glass votive holder in the center with a tealight.  Easy and fast to make with minimal cleanup!  Finally, purchase some green colored and decorative fabric, which you can reuse during the December holiday time, to add a bit of dimension and more color to your buffet.

Now for the easy finger food menu.  So many of these food items you can purchase already prepared thus making your party set-up time minimal.

Green Vegetable Crudités with Spinach Dip

Green Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese Canapés

Mini Corned Beef Sandwiches

Green Goddess Chicken Salad
served in Lettuce Cups

Split Pea Soup
served in Shot Glasses

Mint Brownies

Butter Cookies Dipped in Green Sugar Crystals

Green Apple Bites Covered with Caramel

Here is a hint to make one of these easy finger food desserts, the butter cookies with green sugar crystals.  Just purchase the already made butter cookie dough and follow the cooking instructions.  While the cookies are baking, place regular sugar in a glass bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together blue and yellow food coloring to create green and then add it to the sugar.  Stir the sugar until all of it is green and be sure to stir it well so that it dries and is not clumping together.  Once the cookies are finished, take them out of the oven and while they are still warm, dip the top side of the cookie into the green sugar to coat the top and then cool the cookie on a baker’s rack.  Plate and serve with your other desserts.

I hope you picked up an idea or two with these easy finger food ideas for the green party you may be hosting for St. Patrick’s Day.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Table Centerpiece Idea

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I was recently at a dinner party and wanted to share with you this simple table centerpiece idea.  It takes just a couple of minutes and you can pick up the components at any local market or craft store.

Just obtain floating candles (these are heartshaped to celebrate my engagement), a bud vase and flowers (the ones pictured above are roses).  A variation of this table centerpiece idea is to use a cymbidium orchid, submerge it in water and float the candle on top as pictured on page 61 of Budget Bash.

Finally, look to what you already have in your house for a table centerpiece idea.  Use a table runner and dispurse loose flowers with greenery or you can cluster fruit with votive candles and herbs such as rosemary or basil.  A third option is to fill your wooden bowls with walnuts or another type of whole textured nut.

Have a table centerpiece idea you want to share? Please feel free to contact me on Twitter @awynningevent.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Wedding Flower Centerpieces Using White Wedding Flowers

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

As spring approaches, the wedding season and all the hoopla surrounding it begins.  With the receptions, ceremonies, wedding and bridesmaid dresses to name a few, not to mention the flowers the costs all add up rather quickly.  Thus, what I thought I would do is help brides on a budget by showing how to make  inexpensive yet elegant wedding flower centerpieces using white wedding flowers.  Then you can always add some color to the table along with these flower arrangements by accenting your tables with colored votive candles, rose petals or colored napkins.

Wedding flower centerpieces can start anywhere from a simple bowl of fresh flowers to an elaborate silver centerpiece with candles and small satellite flower arrangements surrounding it. Table centerpieces can cost anywhere beginning at $20 and grow to hundreds of dollars.  But how about the bride who is on a budget and wants pretty white wedding flowers?  Here are the simple steps to take to create DIY wedding flowers.

To make your wedding flower centerpieces, first start with a small glass container, square or round, one tea leaf and one to two dozen flowers such as roses.  It is probably best to use a glass container that has a five to six inch opening.  The one pictured below is a five-inch square container.

The next step is to cut the stems of the flowers so that they fit the container you selected for your flower arrangements.  Most professional florists use a sharp knife to cut the stems at an angle.  What can I say, I am not a professional florist and I used a pair of sharp scissors to cut the stems.  Measure the flowers in the jar to see if you shortened them to the desired length.  Then, to hide the stems in the glass container, take your tea leaf and wrap it on the inside of the glass container as seen in the picture below.

Once you have the desired length of the flower stem, tie the stems together.  Either string, a rubber band or wire twister will work just fine.  If you want to accent the white wedding flowers on the side of the vase,  add some ribbon or greenery as seen in the picture above.  Fill the vase up with water, add a packet of chrysal to keep the flowers fresh and place the bouquet in the water.  To finish off your DIY wedding flowers, you may need to work with the bouquet a little to ensure there are no holes or empty spaces in the arrangement.

If your wedding is at night, accent your wedding flower centerpieces with votive candles or throw a contrasting color of rose petals around the flower arrangements or both!  DIY wedding flowers can be just as elegant as a professional’s but you don’t need to tell anyone!  I hope you have fun creating white wedding flowers for your wedding or a dinner party.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!