Tips and Tricks: Accessibility

Medicalcongress93 courtesy Clara Natoli, http://claranatoli.blogspot.com/ clarita1000@gmail.comIs accessibility on your site selection checklist?  It’s not always something that you as the couple may be thinking about.  Often, high on the site “gotta haves” are things like a gorgeous view, good chairs, and a good selection of caterers.

However, with so many people of varied ages and needs in most families, some thought should be given to the accessibility of your wedding event sites.  And that’s not just limited to the ceremony and reception — think also of your rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, goodbye brunch, or any other events to which you might have guests attending with accessibility needs.

The most common issues are older folks — think Grandma and Grandpa, your Auntie coming from abroad; anyone who might have trouble with a flight of stairs, a steep stone path, or uneven walkways.  Think about any of your family or guests who have recently had surgery or medical treatment which might make walking or longer distances between sites a potential challenge.

Putting a little bit of forethought into the accessibility of your chosen site can help a great deal in making sure all of your guests, including those with physical challenges, feel welcome and comfortable at your wedding.

A version of this article appeared on the blog in June 2008.

Tips and Tricks: Why a receiving line is (still) a good idea

Wedding-planning-receiving-line

Photo: Jessica Spengler

Receiving lines. Do they bring to mind stuffy, overly-formal, laced up affairs from 1987?  Actually, a receiving line is a very good idea for several reasons.  Here’s why: It’s imperative that you personally greet each and every guest that comes to your wedding. They have taken off work, scheduled babysitters, and traveled from far and near to witness your big day. Don’t leave your guests hanging and put yourself in a tizzy, wondering if you got to this group or that group.

In addition, leaving the guest-greeting to a casual time, such as the interval between dinner and dancing, means that you will inevitably have to cut your meal short in order to go table-to-table. Let’s think about that. Most of you have spent so much time planning the menu! Most of you say, “The reception – food, drink, dancing – is the most important part.” Shouldn’t you enjoy your first meal as a married couple as well, instead of hurrying from group to group?

There are lots of different places you can fit a receiving line in your wedding timeline. Immediately after the ceremony; as guests move from cocktail hour into the dining room; or even a reverse receiving line where the couple greets each pew in the church as they leave. We’ve even seen a “Bartending receiving line” where the couple tended bar for the first hour and poured all of their guests a pint of their favorite craft beer!

via ejpevents on Instagram

Check with your planner to see which scenario is best for you. But by all means, make sure you greet each of your guests personally!

A version of this article appeared on the EJP Events – Portland Wedding Coordinator blog in 2010.

How to have a car-free wedding

cargo bike wedding car-free wedding
(c) Bryan Rupp
light rail wedding trimet MAX
(c) Evrim Icoz

Couples want to be environmentally conscious and use sustainable methods and services for their weddings. A get-together of so many people can create a great deal of carbon load and waste, and consequently, most of our clients want to reduce and offset this burden. We see a lot of couples choosing sustainably farmed foods, vegan and vegetarian menus, and using flowers and decor that are locally sourced and not creating undue waste, so why not take the next logical step and reduce fossil fuel dependency?

Conferences, conventions, and meetings have been stressing the importance of public transit and reducing the number or cars at an event for many years, but it’s taken a while to catch on for social events. Thankfully in Portland, with transit and bike culture always at the forefront, we’re seeing more and more weddings go car-free.

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What is GX? – Guest Experience

You can’t swing a cat (god forbid! we don’t actually swing cats!) in Portland without knocking over a UX (User Experience) engineer or designer. There are entire conferences dedicated to thinking about the online user experience. People are super concerned about UX, and discussions of UX are everywhere.

Bride and Groom at the dinner buffet reception
photo by FritzPhoto

But what about the offline experience, when you are in the face-to-face? I call this GX, or the Guest Experience, and I think about it all the time as it relates to events.

It’s so easy to forget about GX as we are planning our events and I wanted to put the terminology out there and make it as well-known, cared-about, and prominent as UX. After all, if you have a great online experience, but then get to an event in-person and have a bad experience, the best online design in the world can’t help.

Here are four elements that cause event creators (CEOs, wedding couples, trade show organizers, etc.) to overlook GX. I’ll use a scenario of  “the client says they don’t want chairs at a wedding ceremony” as a common example of forgotten GX.

1. Personality type. For example, a “Free Spirit” personality may think it’s fun to do a standing ceremony without chairs in a forest clearing.

2. Budget – A client may think it would save money not to rent chairs for the ceremony.

3. Haven’t reviewed the logistics. A client may think chairs are not needed, since the ceremony timing seems short.

4. Making assumptions based on a narrow experience (“I’ve never needed to sit down at a wedding, so I don’t think we need chairs”).

But you as the event planner know that there are a lot of issues with foregoing chairs at a wedding ceremony (or any event requiring an audience to be at long focused, formal attention). Here are five complementary ways we as planners and coordinators, or employees tasked with helping with an event, can step in and bring the focus back on GX:

1. Appeal to the event creator’s personality type. Again, sticking with our example scenario, if they are a “Free Spirit” type, for example (see this link for some examples of negotiating with personality types), then appeal to their sense of creativity by showing all the things people can enjoy in the wedding venue when they aren’t fatigued from standing during the ceremony. Offer creative solutions, such as hay bales or picnic blankets, that allow them to express their creative streak while still solving GX issues.

2. Show budget data and analysis. Going back to our scenario example, I would show that certain items as a percentage of budget have a disproportionate effect on GX and guest happiness. So while yes, you can cut the budget by not having chairs at the wedding; if the chairs are $2.75 each and there are 100 of them; and the total cost of the wedding is $25K (this is actually on the lower end for designed weddings in the Portland area), the small percentage of budget (1.1%) being spent on chairs will have a relatively large positive effect on GX; while getting rid of them will have a large negative effect on GX while not having a very big effect on reducing the budget.

3. Review the logistics with them. While a wedding ceremony as written can seem short, only 10-15 minutes, remember that guests usually arrive 30 or even 45 minutes before a ceremony, especially if there are out-of-towners visiting who aren’t familiar with the area. Then it takes a few minutes to get everyone in place for the wedding and send people down the aisle. There are usually a few minutes at the end for the recessional and perhaps a receiving line as well. All in all, that “short fifteen minute ceremony” usually winds up being about 30 minutes long and 30 minutes of pre-ceremony waiting. Does the client really want their guests to be standing for a whole hour?

4. Educate, educate, educate. As the event organizer or planner, it’s your responsibility to educate the event owner so they can have good GX. Again, going to our example one last time, you could educate them about possible movement, accessibility, or ability issues that guests could face. Older guests may require a place to be seated. If it’s a corporate event, you could remind about the Americans with Disabilities Act and making sure you provide accessibility and accommodations for different abilities. Once you start providing seating for older guests, it becomes awkward for those who don’t have a seat. Overall, it may be best to provide seating for everyone, and hopefully you can convince the event owner.

This is just one breakdown of the GX process as seen through the eyes of an event planner. I hope it illuminates a little about GX, guest experience, and how we plan events.

{ Portland Wedding Venues } Planner’s Roundup – 5 sites that allow outside catering

For so many couples, the food is THE most important part of the wedding celebration. I often hear from them: “The food HAS to be good”…”We like the Portland food scene and want to integrate it into our wedding”…”We want to give our guests a taste of Portland and the Pacific Northwest”. Often, they already have a caterer in mind when they start their venue search, and are challenged when they keep running into venues that have strict exclusive lists.

That got me to thinking. What Portland wedding and event venues allow unrestricted outside catering? Here are just a few as of December 2017. Policies do change, so check with the venue first before making any plans or appointments. Know any others? Please share in the comments below!

Horning’s Hideout

Hornings-hideout-portland-wedding-venue

Horning’s Hideout is a great outdoor venue in North Plains, Oregon, only about 45 minutes from downtown Portland. The venue has covered pavilions, a relaxed vibe, and the ability to use any caterer you like.

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Nesting: A Spring Cleaning / Gown Preservation Open House

We are heading back to our old digs at The Creative Loft (formerly known as The Bridal Loft) for a special open house for past clients! Come drop off your wedding gown for cleaning, and enjoy light snacks, champagne, while browsing “Spring Cleaning” info that we’ll have on hand from all kinds of helpful home services such as housecleaners, handymen, personal chefs, home organizing, Realtors, and mortgage lending.

Get your gown cleaned and get items checked off your to-do list! No appointment necessary, just stop by Sunday, March 5, 2017 between noon and 4pm.

Gown-cleaning-preservation-portland-oregon

Sunday, March 5, 2017

12 noon – 4pm

2808 NE ML King Jr Blvd, Suite #3 Portland Oregon 97212

Questions? Please email admin@ejpevents.com or phone (503) 284-6756

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( Photo of the Day ) – The Nines Hotel, Textural Geometric Centerpiece

50-the-nines-hotel-wedding

Today’s photo that I’m loving comes from Evrim Icoz Photography – we recently did a wedding at The Nines Hotel where the client asked for modern, geometric centerpieces to go with the modern, glamorous look of the hotel and the reception. These were designed by Geranium Lake and I just love the mix of textural floral with the sharp lines of the container. Thank you to everyone who worked on this wedding with us!

“Photo of the Day” is our regular blog feature where we pick a quick favorite photo and share it with you. It might be a behind-the-scenes, it might be a wedding detail shot, whatever is catching my fancy that day. If you have worked with EJP Events and would like your photo of the day featured here, please email me.

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Budgeting for your wedding

A harsh reality of planning a wedding is creating a budget. It may not be the most romantic aspect of your nuptials, but it’s crucial, in order to reduce stress and not overspend. Here are some helpful ways to plan your budget:

  1. Talk to all the contributors. Maybe the couple is paying for the entire wedding themselves, maybe one family is footing the bill, or maybe it is being split between many parties. Whatever your situation is, make it clear from the beginning how much (and on what aspects of the wedding) each group is willing to spend.
  2. Decide what your big items are. For some, this is the venue, for others they want to allot a large percentage on food. Deciding on these big-ticket items early on will allow you to budget for the others.
  3. Remember what is important. It can be easy to get focused on getting the vendors their checks, and picking the right DJ that fits your budget. Remember at the end of the day, you’ll be celebrating with your partner and guests, and that will be the most important part.

How-to-set-your-wedding-budgetImage by Mark Sebastian on Flickr licensed by Creative Commons

Finally, the actual numbers. There are a number of budget spreadsheets available online, but my favorite way to get the rough numbers is to ask:

“Picture the meal and setting that you would have for your reception and try to match it to a restaurant you know. Now – what does this meal cost if you were to go out on any regular evening?”

Take that meal cost and multiply it by two to four times, and you have a range of per person cost for your reception. Mutliply THAT by your number of guests and you have a good estimate of a reception budget.

For example, if you like the atmosphere and food at Portland restaurant Ned Ludd, take your per person cost for dinner there (including apps and drinks), let’s say that’s $85 per person. Multiply that times 2 or 4 to get the range. Your per-person wedding budget range is $170 – 340 per person. If you expect 100 guests, you should budget $17-34K for the wedding reception.

Keep in mind that, the lower the meal cost goes, the less accurate this may be, since you may have venue costs or rental costs for a private venue that far outstrip the cost of a casual meal for 100. Also, while this is a great way to estimate per-person costs, it doesn’t address big-ticket budget items that aren’t used by guests such as the wedding clothes, honeymoon, or rings. Sometimes the only way to do it is line-by-line.

What method are you using to estimate your budget? Please leave us a comment with your thoughts!

– Malia Exo-Robinson and Emee Pumarega contributed to this blog post.

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