5 ways to upgrade your table

5 ways to upgrade your table

One of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding or any special event is choosing the centerpiece for the table. The flowers and colors you choose for the centerpiece are one of the most memorable aspects of the event and often gets a lot of attention. But instead of just focusing on the centerpiece, why not add some color and personality to the whole table? Your guests will likely spend the majority of your event seated at the table, so make it special. Here are five ways to “upgrade” your table.

(1) The Linens: Most venues offer a standard linen in a neutral color in an easy-care fabric. Ask if you can upgrade the linen to a color or print to complement your color scheme. Linen is a great way to transform the table – you can go with a bright color or pattern, or even a muted pattern with details that are only visible up close. If you’re worried about adding too much color or pattern by doing a linen, try a table runner instead. Napkins are also a great way to add a pop of color – it doesn’t have to match the linen, but it should complement it.

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how to attend a conference (written by a conference planner)

how to attend a conference (written by a conference planner)

As an event and meeting planner, I take it for granted that people know HOW to attend a conference. But when I recently attended an industry conference (the NACE Expo if you’re curious) and I was struck by the idea that not everyone gets to work around so many conferences and events, and might not know the do’s and don’ts. You might be thinking, how hard can it be to attend a conference? It’s not hard at all – in fact, if the conference planners did a good job then it should be easy and even fun – but there are some things you should think about ahead of time to make sure you make the most of your time. Think of this as the article that meeting planners wish they could tell conference newbies (or even veterans). Or if you’re reading this AS a meeting planner, take the time to make sure your pre-conference information covers these items if it doesn’t already.

Make a game plan: What are you hoping to get out of the conference? Are there particular sessions you want to attend? Speakers you want to hear? People you want to meet? Go through the schedule ahead of time and plan which sessions you will attend. Sounds like a simple idea, but lots of people attend conferences without opening the schedule until right before the morning general session starts. Take the time to plan ahead! If you need to preregister for certain sessions, make sure you do so. If there are certain sessions that are popular and might fill to capacity, make sure you leave time in your schedule to hustle over there (conferences are notorious for packing the schedule and not leaving enough time between sessions).

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1840s plaza in baltimore, maryland

1840s Ballroom in Baltimore

Sometimes I think about site visits in the same vein as college tours: the first impression is incredibly important and sometimes something minor that you remember ends up clouding your entire memory of the place. I still remember going on college tours with my parents (um… 12 years ago now… jeez!) and one that sticks out is a college I didn’t even end up sending in an application, mostly because of the campus tour. It was Brown University – on paper that school seemed like a perfect fit for me (or at least 16-17 year old me). I still remember that our campus tour guide was barefoot. BAREFOOT. And just generally more of a…. hippie than I ever will be. The barefoot thing (through downtown Providence!) coupled with the personality of the tour guide basically turned me off to Brown. I’m sure it was and still is a great school, but I knew then and there that I would never fit in.

But as the great Sophia Petrillo says, “But I digress.”

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friday favorites – best event & entertaining ideas of the week

I like to call this edition of Friday Favorites, “Unexpected uses for everyday objects at parties and events, plus a fun-looking drink.” Enjoy!

(5) Giant Paper Flowers

Paper Flowers at Garden Party

So I’m not the biggest fan of paper flowers. Some people really love them, some people don’t and I fall into the latter category. But I can’t help but love this garden party display. At first you might think, paper flowers at a garden party? Why not use real flowers? These work because they are enormous oversize blooms that are especially whimsical for a child’s birthday party, but would work for any outdoor affair. Via The Hunted Interior.

 

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the national aquarium in baltimore, maryland

National Aquarium in Baltimore

When I was a little girl, our family visited the Monterey Aquarium in California as part of a family vacation. I remember that the aquarium staff was setting up for a wedding that evening. I was fascinated – my little girl wedding daydreams had never featured an aquarium. What a unique idea! (Although I was a big fan of The Little Mermaid and wanted to get married on a boat just like Ariel, so an aquarium isn’t too far of a stretch…)

I had that in my mind as I toured the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, which hosts hundreds of private events per year. Naturally, hosting an event in a building full of live (and sometimes endangered) animals has some logistical challenges. The hours are limited – they won’t close the aquarium to day guests to accommodate events so it’s almost exclusively just available for evening events, and the start time is a strict two hours after the aquarium closes. And you have to use red disposables instead of glass and china (the red is so it’s easy to find if an errant cup makes it into the water), but that’s because the aquarium staff understandably can’t risk anything that would be dangerous to the animals. But it’s worth it to be able to host an event in such a majestic environment.

There are numerous potential venues at the Aquarium available for rent. The most exciting ones (aka the ones that have the most access to the aquarium residents) are the Blue Wonders exhibit and the Pier 4 building, which is home to the dolphin exhibit – who doesn’t love dolphins!

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give strolling receptions a go

give strolling receptions a go for your wedding or special event

Not every venue is conducive to a sit-down dinner. Or you may want to invite just a few too many guests that can fit comfortably. If either is the case, you may want to consider a strolling reception for your next large event.

A strolling reception is usually done in lieu of a sit-down dinner or buffet. It’s also called a cocktail buffet or simply a heavy hors d’oeuvres reception. The menu usually consists of a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres combined with several food stations or displays.

The benefits of a strolling reception are variety, creativity and space. Instead of choosing a single menu, caterers can work with a variety of ideas and cuisines. It’s not uncommon to offer multiple styles of food through different stations, for example, an Italian station, an Asian station and a Mexican station. In terms of space, since you don’t have to provide a spot at a table for every single guest, this set up takes up less space. This also works well in venues that have plenty of space, just not a large room where everyone can sit together. It’s a popular choice in historic venues without a large ballroom.

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healthier menu options for conferences

healthier menu options for conferences and meetings

I’m excited to share a guest post by Megan Quinn, a certified health coach. As an event and meeting planner, I personally have struggled with how to offer healthier menus for guests, especially for conferences when you are trying to keep guests attentive and engaged for hours if not a full day! I’m excited to try some of Megan’s suggestions.

Full disclosure: I am not a conference planner and I don’t pretend to play one on TV.  My name is Megan Quinn and I’m a certified health coach.  I work with busy, motivated women to help them uncover the food and lifestyle choices that fuel their lives and support their full potential…one simple, savvy step at a time.

The common denominator here though is I attend conferences, my health coaching clients attend conferences, WE ALL attend conferences!  It comes with the territory of being a professional these days, regardless of your industry.  And as a guest, myself, of countless conference throughout the years, I do know one thing for sure: Everyone’s gotta eat!

So with today’s post, let’s discuss some tried-and-true tips to offer healthier food options that won’t break the bank or leave your guests dozing off during the keynote speaker:

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friday favorites – best event & entertaining ideas of the week

In this week’s edition of Friday Favorites, I continue my s’mores obsession, share a way to make haybale seating even easier (it’s possible!), have a cute DIY and more. Enjoy!

(5) DIY Drink Umbrellas

DIY Drink umbrellas [best ideas of the week]

How much do you love those cute little tropical drinks with the umbrella in it? Does it remind you of sitting under a palm tree, watching the ocean or pool? Well there’s nothing wrong with popping one of those bad boy in any drink and pretending that you’re beachside, but to make it even easier, Parties for Pennies has shared a really easy DIY version of the drink umbrellas. I can’t wait to try them!

 

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candles 101: what you need to know about incorporating candles into your events & parties

candles 101: how to use candles in your wedding & event decor

I love candles. I love using them as part of event décor – there is just something about a flickering candle flame that adds a lovely touch to evening events. But using candles in your decorating isn’t always as easy as it looks – there are some things you need to think through before you show up at a venue with a bunch of things that could potentially cause a fire.  Especially if you want to incorporate candles in a more unique way  – votives are usually pretty easy to work with, but floating candles, pillars and tapers are not – there are a few things you should remember.

Here is a cheat sheet for adding candles into your event décor:

Know your venue’s rules: Before you purchase a single candle, make sure the venue allows them. Venues usually fall into three categories: all candles are fine, candles are fine but no open flame, and no candles or flames at all. Most of the venues I have worked with fall into that middle category, which means that you can have lit candles but the flame needs to be enclosed within glass. Votives are most common, but you can also use candles in hurricane lamps and other containers, as well as most floating candles.

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