Quarantine RSVPs – An idea whose time has come { free printable }

Image ID: an event RSVP card sitting on a desktop surrounded by a ruler, pen, and coffee cup.

What is a “Quarantine RSVP”? As events open up, event planners and hosts are wondering, How do I hold one of these safety-compliant events, and still keep everyone as safe as possible? Even though gatherings are slowly returning, there are potential pitfalls:

  1. You could provide all the hygiene items, but some guests refuse to wear masks, or they remove them while still mingling
  2. You could create a physically-distanced setup, but without clear instructions or a program of activities, guests devolve into the typical “cocktail hour” behavior where they cluster within less than six feet.
  3. Everyone starts out with the best intentions of social distancing, but after a couple of glasses of wine, the inhibitions fall and people are hugging, touching, and coming in to close contact with people outside their home group.

There is no such thing as a risk-free event during COVID. As of March, most of the US is months away from full vaccination levels, and most states still have some kind of restriction on gathering and nonessential travel. But if you are in a location where your type of gathering is permitted, and you want to do it as safely as possible, here are some reminders, plus an additional tip you may not have thought of:

Most of us know by now to do the basics: avoid indoor or poorly-ventilated venues, keep 6′ or more distance, and wear masks at all times that it is possible to do so (besides when you are seated alone eating or drinking).

Here is one more idea: Identify the groups attending your event who have been previously quarantined together, and allow them to RSVP and be seated together.

A quarantine pod may be a single family; a couple; or a group of roommates. “Quarantined together” could also mean that they share the same household; or they have limited their contact to only themselves and a limited number of other households who all agree to observe the same level of infection-avoidance precautions. For example; two families with children who are friends, who allow their children to play together each week, is a good example of two houses, one quarantine. The goal of this practice is to prevent COVID spread at the event, while allowing groups that are already in contact to be together.

As a host, how can you identify these groups? Introducing the Quarantine RSVP. This is a form you create to gather the names of people who are in one pod. You can set the number of RSVPS according to what is allowed in your location. For example, in Multnomah County as of today, at “Eating and Drinking Establishments“/”Indoor Entertainment“/”Outdoor Entertainment” (the categories that most Oregon weddings and events currently fall into), you can currently seat no more than 6 people at a table. As sector risk guidance is constantly being updated, always check your local and state health authority for your area’s particular guidelines. 

Would you like your own Quarantine RSVP printable template? It’s your lucky day, because we’re sharing this free template with you! Simply fill out your name and email below and we’ll send it right along. We hope you find it helpful.

Download this free printable

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    Virtual and Hybrid Event Showcase at Skyrise

    a hybrid event attendee listens to a sommelier from a distant tableA virtual and hybrid event attendee listens to a wine sommelier explain wine pairings at a small hybrid event. Additional attendees view remotely and are connected to the event on a big screen. Photo: Tom Cook Photo

     

    Virtual and hybrid events have been on the upswing since the 2008 recession, but 2020 pushed them to the forefront. As EJP Events fielded many requests to move events online this year, we employed our existing knowledge and pulled in technical production teams, as well as software platforms like Whova, Eventsquid, and vFairs, in order to create compelling virtual and hybrid event offerings.

    a table set for a virtual wine dinnerThis table is set for a virtual at home wine experience, complete with charcuterie box, bottles of wine, notebook, and the computer with which to participate in the event.

     

    The challenge, however, was how to relay our vision to new clients. As much as we love to dial in every detail and think critically about the attendee experience (have you ever thought how many physical items an attendee will need to gather in order to be on camera at a virtual wine dinner? We have!), it’s hard to convey that to someone who has never done this before. And it’s not like we could go into our existing clients’ living rooms and take photos of them attending our events during a pandemic, let alone the privacy issues!

     

    video camera recording a hybrid event
    Livestreaming and video-recording of events has become de rigeur due to the pandemic-created virtual and hybrid event requirements starting in 2020. Photo: Tom Cook

    So we put on our creative agency hats, and put together a content shoot (or styled shoot as it’s known in the weddings world). Emee and Katherine spent many hours in the fall brainstorming over Zoom, which best practices would make a virtual event shine; as well as what needs to be done to make your small hybrid event not only fun and memorable, but over-the-top in safety. We even experienced the now-common pandemic phenomenon of having everything scheduled and ready to go for our shoot event, only to have Multnomah County go into a four-week freeze and have to re-schedule the entire event and all its vendors.

    We’re happy to note that because of this team and their experience and professionalism, it reinforced our faith in the event process and things went off without a hitch. (Unless you count that Emee forgot her on-camera outfit and had to send someone back for that.) And we now have this wonderful content to share with you, that I hope tells the story of how EJP Events would envision a safe, engaging, delightful, and productive virtual or hybrid event where everything is dialed in, from the food and drink, to the individual sanitized microphones on each attendee. Check it out in the gallery below. Our main ideas are:

    • Tell people what to do. Pre-COVID, people didn’t need a lot of instruction at a networking event or a happy hour. During COVID, however, structure and format is needed. Open networking leads to too-close gathering. Offer each attendee their own seat, table, or area and provide a program of activities. 
    • Speaking of program, make sure to explain the program to everyone through multiple channels: Pre-event communications, on-site signage and directionals, live staff offering directions and guidance, and audible instructions through the use of announcements.
    • If people are attending remotely as well as in-person (a “hybrid event”), ensure that the home viewer is not left out of the action by creating an online, digital broadcast that is just as interesting as the in-person experience. Make sure audio is good, not just of the speaker but of the in-person attendees, to give home viewers the feeling of “being there”. Offer opportunities for the home viewer to be “seen” at the in-person event and interact with the in-person guests. It’s a two-way street!

    There are so many more details I could share, so I hope you’ll follow up with us if you have questions. For those of you who believe we’ll be back to normal and there’s no reason to keep perfecting virtual and hybrid events, here are a few headlines and quotes from news around the world:

    Virtual Events, Other “COVID Trends” Likely to Continue to Mid-2021, Meetings and Events Director Says

    Health expert predicts concerts, sporting events won’t return until ‘fall 2021 at the earliest“;

    “Once my family and I are vaccinated, I would change behaviors, except I can’t imagine being in a crowd or attending any crowded events until at least 80 percent of the population is vaccinated.”Julie Bettinger, associate professor, University of British Columbia

    David Nash, M.D., who serves as dean emeritus at Jefferson College of Population Health, anticipates that large in-person events could return with enhanced safety measures “deep into 2021 — the last quarter.”

    Location: Skyrise / Remote.ly
    Catering: Charcuterie Me
    Photography: Tom Cook Photo
    Planning: EJP Events
    Florist: Mix Mod
    Dessert: Missionary Chocolates
    Rentals: The Party Place
    Wine: Domaine Roy + fils
    Signage: The Fresh Hues
    Plates: Dtocs
    Stylist: What’s On Kate’s Plate

    Will and Erik’s Columbia River Gorge Wedding at Thunder Island, Cascade Locks

    Two grooms ceremony walk - Columbia River Gorge Wedding
    Will and Erik’s Columbia River Gorge Wedding at Thunder Island, Cascade Locks
    The “Lookback” Series of blog posts features weddings that happened more than a year ago. Some are repeats, some totally new to this blog! We hope you enjoy looking back with us on these wonderful weddings.

     

    Will and Erik’s Columbia River Gorge Wedding at Thunder Island, Cascade Locks was a wonderful celebration in the midst of the Columbia River Gorge Natural Area. The couple met in Portland, Oregon and chose to celebrate their love in breathtaking beauty surrounded by nature, the river and the foothills.

    Bridge of the Gods

    I loved so many details of their wedding and their planning journey. Their excellent taste in invitations and their choice of brewpub to hold our planning meetings in, just for starters! Look closely, their invitation from LetterpressPDX incorporated a blind-embossed topographic imprint of Thunder Island. 

    Interesting challenges from a wedding planner perspective were:
    1. The very large outdoor location. Thunder Island is a private island, about 3/4 of a mile long, attached to a public park. We made sure to provide plenty of staff and signage so it was very clear where to park, where the ceremony was, and where the reception was, as the two locations were about 3/5 of a mile apart. At the end of the event I looked at my Apple Watch and noticed that I had walked ten miles!

    2. The quirkiness of being located near rail lines. Because a railroad trestle crosses the entrance to the park, vehicle clearance is only twelve (12′) feet. This is pretty low, and I wanted to make sure transport and vendors were aware so they could plan which vehicles to use. I noted this at the walkthrough and made sure to put it in huge red letters at the top of the event plan I sent to each vendor and staff member.

    3. There was a definite division of warm-weather loving Californians and hardy Oregonians in attendance. We optimized for both groups by providing both indoor tables and outdoor tented seating, as well as open-air areas for celebration.

    All in all, the careful planning process that included detailing out the couple’s needs, family requests, vendor logistics, and public facility regulations came together into an unforgettable day.

    Finally, what you’ve been waiting for – photos and vendor list, right?

    The 2021 EJP Events Corporate, Event, and Weddings Gifting Guide

    corporate hybrid and virtual eventsTom Cook Photo – Katherine O’Brien of EJP Events demonstrates the physically-distanced method of passing out conference swag at a small hybrid event with 4 people in attendance at Skyrise. Signage and props by The Fresh Hues; Floral MixMod; Rentals The Party Place

    While the Christmas personal shopping rush is winding down, the winter/spring 2021 conference and gala season is just heating up. Hundreds of fundraisers, seminars, symposiums, annual conferences, and board meetings are held between January and June every year. Most of these in 2021 will still be virtual due to COVID-19 still rampant in our communities. A conference or business gift brings tactile experience into the virtual and hybrid event world, making it interactive, engaging, and more likely to be remembered.

    We love to give and get gifts – who doesn’t? This year is markedly different as many of us have been isolated from colleagues and friends; and we haven’t been attending meetings and events to keep us connected in our business relationships. Even though we’re heartened by news of a vaccine, it will be months before it’s widely available enough to change what’s happening with hybrid and virtual events.

    I produced this corporate event gifting guide to make it easier for you to find the local Portland businesses creating unique gifts for corporate and social events. I hope it helps you support small businesses (especially those that are BIPOC-owned), and helps you reach out to your friends, clients, and colleagues with a little something to spread cheer and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. Whether it’s conference swag, a personal touch for a nonprofit gala, or a wedding party favor, there are so many reasons to celebrate in 2021 with a token of appreciation and affection.

    Download the 2021 Gifting Guide here, or view it as a website.

    corporate event gifting guide

    Why It’s More Important Than Ever Before to Buy from Local and BIPOC-Owned Businesses.

    The upswell of the Black Lives Matter movement has created a conversation around supporting Black owned businesses. Some of my non-Black colleagues seem confused by this. “Isn’t this reverse racism? I’m not racist, I don’t see color!” is a common trope heard during times like this.

    A tall Black woman makeup artist applies lip color to a Black mother of the bride.
    Photo: Craig Strong

    While an event planning blog is not the best platform to address how those types of statements actually promote white supremacy*, one thing I am qualified to address is how to make your event better. One way to do this is to make your event or wedding a force for good. Here’s my opinion on how buying more often from BIPOC- (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and locally-owned businesses can do this, starting by contrasting with the following examples of common practices among large, global corporations:

    1. Starbucks forbidding employees to wear any clothing or jewelry supporting Black Lives Matter (later rescinded)
    2. Cambodian worker who makes Kate Spade and Michael Kors handbags was jailed for speaking up about coronavirus fears on Facebook.
    3. Racial profiling at Anthropologie stores (Sister co of wedding dress boutique BHLDN and owned by Urban Outfitters) In addition, Urban Outfitters has a long problematic history of stealing from independent artists, and for its own designs being shockingly offensive to pretty much anyone.
    4. Corporations profit from prison labor; meanwhile, Black and POC are convicted and incarcerated disproportionately to the population as a whole.

    Yikes, right? While not every corporation may be guilty of these types of wrongdoings, it’s more common than not. By choosing a local and/or BIPOC-owned event business, you lessen the risk of sending your hard-earned event dollars to organizations that perpetuate racism, profit from prison labor, deplete the environment, and steal intellectual and artistic property.

    In addition, when you avoid mass-produced event and wedding items, you’re more likely to:

    • integrate artisanship and hand-crafted know-how into your event
    • avoid cookie-cutter designs and boring flavors
    • reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding overseas shipping.

    If you’re looking for even more reasons to Buy Black this year, check out this article from Green America: 6 Reasons to Buy from Black-Owned Businesses.

    It’s important to reduce negative impacts of consumption, both environmental and social. This extends to events. Most of us know that in this big, big world of 7 billion people, we won’t solve every problem in a few months. I myself am just beginning a long process of educating myself, divesting from old processes, and doing my small part. I present this idea of normalizing buying local, and buying BIPOC, as often as you can, and especially with large purchases such as wedding- and event-related costs, as one way to raise awareness, reduce your risk of harm, and make your event better.

    * I recommend Alishia McCullough’s 7 Circles of Whiteness article, which is much better at explaining this phenomenon.

    Microweddings, Petite Parties, and the Next Normal for Events (for now)

    On May 8, the “Reopening Oregon” Framework, and similar guidelines throughout the Western States Pact were released, outlining a phased timeline for when the public could return to holding events and mass gatherings.
    Based on this framework, event professionals and event clients all over the Pacific Northwest now understand that large gatherings are forbidden through the end of September 2020, and only microweddings and small parties within one’s own household will be permitted. This came as a surprise to many, since when the outbreak in the US became known at the end of February 2020, the prevailing belief was that the epidemic would subside within six months, allowing events to begin again at the end of the summer.
    A microwedding, or a small wedding with only a few guests.
    photo: Altura Studio

    This is not the case, and many weddings, festivals, events, and conferences have been postponed and are following protocols similar to the one I outlined in this blog post “What to do if your event is affected by COVID-19 regulations“.

    Because of this, you’d think that all events and weddings have come to an absolute stop. But is this true? Not if you consider the many folks who are re-tooling their 2020 celebrations to comply with a 10-25 (depending on the area) person guest count and physical distancing guidelines. Add careful hygiene and sanitation measures, and we are starting to see what the next normal of events will look like for the next 6-12 months; at least until more testing, contact tracing, and treatments/vaccines are expected.

    What are some things that will look different in this new world of microweddings and petite parties?

    1. Physical distancing will change the way we set up rooms. Much larger venues for weddings of 10-50 guests will need to be booked than previously thought. A venue once thought to be “too big” for 50 guests will now be the norm. Room setups will incorporate physical distancing guidelines.

     

    2. Food service will be different. Buffets and family style will not return until new cases are on the decline and a vaccine is available. Group meals will be plated, or be a creative twist on “boxed”: think beautiful packaging, linen napkins, and gorgeous flatware in a customized bag for each guest.

    3. As travel is reduced, local and regional celebrations, meetings, and events will move to the forefront. Unfortunately, car driving will increase until mass transit becomes safe again; we hope this isn’t a permanent trend since the climate effects are sure to be negative.

    Will bento become the newest catering trend due to COVID-19? Photo by Kouji Tsuru on Unsplash

    What things will stay the same? The elements that are not as affected by physical distancing or sanitation are getting as much attention as they would at pre-COVID-19 elopements or microweddings:

    1. Wedding clothing – whether it’s just the two of you, or a few combined households of 10-25, everyone still wants to look their best. Formalwear services like Generation Tux are offering increased sanitation practices and home try-on.

    2. Photography and videography have become even more important, as many guests may not be able to travel. Sharing the day through photos and video, and also livestreaming, is more important than ever before.

    3. Flowers – nature does not stop for a pandemic, and flower farmers are still hard at work. Buying local is a must; people are not flying in bouquets from other countries.

    4. Cake and a celebratory toast: Involving dozens of vendors in customizing a celebration isn’t currently feasible, so we see microweddings returning to archetypes like these.

    5. Elopement and small-event packages that include planning and services offered in an easy-to-book bundle will be more important as ever, as busy families won’t have time to sort out all the details of what’s allowed, where they can go, and what activities are permitted and how to do them. Expert planners who stay up-to-date on changing regulations and availabilities will be highly sought after.

    This is Part 1 in a 2-part post about the Next Normal of Events. Stay tuned for our post about new developments in meeting, convention, and trade show setups; and trends to watch for in food service and even coffee bars.

    Note: This article contains information about holding microweddings or small parties during COVID-19, the novel coronavirus pandemic during spring of 2020. Guidance is changing quickly, and you should check with local and state health authorities, local governments’ Executive Orders, and your own contracted wedding professionals, before making any important decisions about your wedding. We’ll try to keep this post updated with items marked “UPDATE:” when possible.

    Events Industry Council – Resources for the events industry related to COVID-19

    UPDATED 3/23: We’ve added more resources for small business and the latest info on Executive Orders from Governor Kate Brown and guidance from the CDC. Information changes on an hourly and daily basis, so please pay attention to source information from official government websites.

    Governor Brown has issued a “Stay At Home” executive order effective 3/23/2020 immediately until terminated (no known end date at this time).

    The CDC and Whitehouse.gov recommends that all event activities with 10 or more people be cancelled for the next 15 days.

    Get Your Mass Gatherings and or Large Community Events Ready (Guidance from the CDC)

    A resource guide for small business, from Portland Business Journal

    Join the Portland Event Industry COVID-19 discussion group on Facebook

    —–

    As a Certified Meeting Professional designated by the Events Industry Council, I’d like to provide you with access to these resources about the ongoing issues related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Please follow all WHO and CDC-advised measures for hand washing and sanitation, and stay home if you’re not feeling well. EJP Events staff will be following these guidelines as well. Please keep checking the above links, as information is updated on a regular basis. We hope you find this information helpful and wish you a safe and healthy event.

    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.

    Anatomy of a Business Event – Through the Eyes of A Guest

    photo: MaxPixel

    I’m an event planner, but often I’m also an event guest. I wanted to share a recent experience I had with you, as a sort of case study, and would love to get your feedback.

    I received an invitation to come to a sales event for a brand of event software. This event promised lunch and networking. It seemed like a great idea: Check out a possibly helpful software tool, have lunch, and meet other event and meeting planners. To top it off, the event was being held in a popular downtown venue. Sounds great! I signed up online for both myself and my event manager, and put the event in my calendar.

    Continue reading “Anatomy of a Business Event – Through the Eyes of A Guest”

    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.

    Continue reading “How to have a car-free wedding”

    What is GX? – Guest Experience

    What is GX, or “Guest Experience”, as it relates to events– and in contrast to UX, or User 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, the way a user might move through and interact with an online environment, and discussions of UX are everywhere.

    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.

     

    Bride and Groom at the dinner buffet reception
    photo by FritzPhoto

    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.

    Beating the heat (and other weather woes) on your wedding day

    It’s been a wild weather ride these past couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon. We’ve had a chilly and rainy early June, and now as we approach July, we’re hitting 100-degree temperatures. This reminds me of the summer we did a wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes for almost 200 people that took us through the full complement of sun, overcast, and finally rain late in the evening. Thankfully, the couple had made weather plans: renting scores of white golf umbrellas from Barclay Event Rentals, providing tent heaters, using the site’s two existing covered areas wisely, and checking the weather forecast regularly with the option of adding more tents if necessary.

    Bridal-veil-lakes-portland-outdoor-wedding

    Image: EJP Events

    Continue reading “Beating the heat (and other weather woes) on your wedding day”

    Delta Innovation Class to TED – Is Social Seating Coming to an Airline Near You?

    airplane interior
    Is social seating coming to an airline near you? Photo: Suhyeon Chun

    Event planners have to fly a lot for their jobs: off-site meetings, destination weddings, continuing education, site selection… the list goes on and on.

    Delta and LinkedIn recently partnered to make flying a bit more social, according to this post on FastCoCreate:

    The serendipitous meeting on a flight is the stuff of urban legend.
    We’ve all met someone who has a story about a marriage, business deal,
    career move, or even just an inspiring conversation that began with a
    random seat assignment.

    Just in time for TED 2014, Delta Airlines has teamed with LinkedIn to make the whole lucky flight
    partner legend a bit more official with a new initiative called Innovation Class.

    Created by agency Wieden+Kennedy New York, the campaign is offering
    customers who are LinkedIn members the opportunity to meet and fly with
    select industry leaders on a designated Delta flight. The first winner
    was CEO of Patten Studio James Patten who won a seat next to Pebble
    Technology CEO Eric Migicovsky on a flight from Salt Lake City to
    Vancouver for TED, and now stars in a brand video of their airborne
    encounter.

    This got me to thinking about Ticketmaster’s built-in social seating function; is social seating coming to your flights in the near future? What do you think of airline social seating — would it be creepy or cool to connect your LinkedIn account when you purchase a plane ticket, and select your seat based on the possibility of striking up a “serendipitous” conversation? What do you think about social seating in general, especially seating software apps like SocialTables that let planners use social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn to seat guests?

    Top signs you do NOT need a wedding planner

    I know, crazy, right? Why would The Portland Wedding Coordinator blog about not needing a wedding planner? The plain truth is, not every wedding really needs one. Here are some signs that yours might be one of them:

    1. You are very laid-back about the look and feel of the wedding and don't need for things to turn out or look a certain way.

    2. Your event has very little etiquette, protocol, or time constraint

    3. Culturally, the expectations of family and guests of your ability to host a party experience are low.

    4. Your guest list is small (less than 40) people, and you don't have friends and family coming from out of town

    5. The how-this-will-all-come-together is pretty cut and dried. Logistics are really easy, and your vendor team has all worked together before in that venue. Additionally, you are not creating a script or schedule that deviates greatly from what's been done before.

    { Wedding Trend Watch } Interactive Art Walls

    Say what you will about corporate event planning, but I am always amazed at how often corporate events stay one step ahead of wedding trends. Often, something I see at a corporate event I know will translate perfectly for a social one; and before long I see that trend start appearing at weddings.

    The art wall is one of these trends. The party host puts up a large backdrop containing drawn frames, individual watercolor sheets, or even Lego(TM) baseplates and allows each guest to customize an area of the wall. Each guest installs their art piece in the display which then becomes a grand version of a guest book as well as part of the cocktail hour entertainment and a conversation piece.

    Events-art-wallsHere, website design company Virb invited guests to draw what they loved, and to tag their photo on instagram in order to enter a contest. This same multi-frame backdrop could easily be used for individual wedding guest drawings or guest book entries.

    Lego-interactive-art-wall

    At the Lego Kids' Fest in Portland, individual 5" x 5" base plates/"tiles" were provided with a wide selection of Lego shapes and colors. After each guest completed a tile, they were invited to add their tile to the larger display.

    Are you incorporating any interactive components into your guests' experience? Or did you come up with a novel idea for cocktail hour entertainment? Please share in the comments!

    Photos: EJP Events