Archive for March, 2012

The Top 5 Tips to Planning a Corporate Event

Posted by: Marvin Hanashiro

March 30th, 2012 >> Other

Planning your companies next Corporate Event? Whether you’ve been selected or you’ve volunteered,  there inevitably is pressure on you to execute an event that successfully represents your Companies mission and tends to all of your guests expectations , clients and coworkers alike.


1.Create an Event Checklist. Once you’ve determined what needs to be accomplished by the event, prioritize the elements that must be present  and what can be left out if you need to trim the fat. Location, food, bar, entertainment, & audio/visual needs are some of the most common needs. To compliment your checklist, create a realistic budget. It may sound silly but a little “Google” never hurt anyone. Websites like can also give you some really good advice about creating a budget. Don’t rule out partnering with an event planner. You will need to have a general understanding about what you can get for your investment.

2.Research on locations. If this event is not on Company property, find 4-5 Venues that can accommodate your proposed Guest Count. After aesthetics are identified, begin your checklist: is there ample parking or can you arrange for a valet, do they have any exclusive relationships (Caterers, Bar Companies, Rental Companies), exit time, & general rules and regulations. The answers to these questions must be balanced with your overall vision and budget. For example, you’re a technology complany and decide to create your event at a science museum. The venue fee is acceptable and then you start looking at some of the other elements of your event. They have an exclusive bar Service (consider this a part of the venue fee) because you are locked in to use them. Get a realistic quote to see if the bar will be within your overall budget and then secure  the venue. Additionally, if you’re not flexible on your date, plan at least 1 year out
3. Make a list & check it twice. Create a spreadsheet or Google Doc to keep track of your research. This will help you keep on top of information and the people your considering to partner with for your event. Side note: check reviews! Some websites might be biased so check more then one and don’t be shy about requesting references.. Most location book at least 12 months out and the competetion to secure a space is high.

4. Food & Beverage is huge. Come on, you know that many of us are lured to events with the promise of trying delightful food & drinks we may not normally enjoy. Check in to a few companies and get the same information to each so that you are comparing apples to apples. For example, keep the guest count consistant and err on the high expectation so worst case, as you get closer to your day, the numbers go to your favor. The Abbey doesn’t require a final guest count until 10 days out. Your guest count directly correlates to : per person on food, bar, rentals , staffing, & service charge. If your Venue allows outside bar, find out how many beverages you will need and remember to include soft drinks, cups, ice, bartenders, ect. This way you can determine if this is the best direction or if you should use a bar service. A really popular bar related tip is to create a specialty cocktail that either represents your company or your event’s mission.

5. Entertainment can make or break your night. I recently partnered with an organization planning a 10th Anniversay that was to blow their guests out of the water with entertainment. After some brainstorming, it was decided to create a cocktail hour with a piano man style pianist, a DJ to execute dinner music and assist with MC’ing and av, & the night was ended with a high energy Blues band to thank the guests for their attendence & patronage.

6. I lied, there’s one last tip. After the research is done, your selections have been made, your fantastic night has come to fruition, you must rate your success. Analyze what worked and what you may improve on. Create a system in your checklist that grades all of the elements to the night. This way you can begin to generate a list of partners you can rely on for future events. This will make next year even more successful.


Check back to gain some additional tips on planning your organizations next event or feel free to call. We can work together through the process to ensure you’re your company’s or organization’s “Hero” for the night. I can work with you from budget & checklist creation to securing all aspects necessary for your event. Happy Planning!



Creating an Outdoor Ambiance for Your Indoor Reception

Posted by: Marvin Hanashiro

March 27th, 2012 >> Trends, Wedding Tips

Many couples come to me with visions for a beautiful outdoor seated reception, but find roadblocks along the way. Sometimes their venue of choice doesn’t have an outdoor space suitable for a reception or because of time of year, they aren’t able to have an outdoor reception at all. Here are some suggestions to help create that outdoor feel to your indoor venue:


• Lighting is key. If your venue allows it, drape Italian wedding lights (also known as ping pong lights) throughout the reception space. This is reminiscent of many receptions you may have seen in an outdoor space, like a wedding or your favorite restaurant.

• Candles, candles, candles! With or without the Italian wedding lights, a candlelit dinner helps create the romantic feel you envision on your day. Create centerpieces of different sized and tiered candles with touches of floral or other décor.

• Create a veritable garden inside your venue with lots of floral or succulents and other touches of greenery. Manzanita trees placed strategically throughout the reception space add a lot of depth and can be dressed to your specific tastes and color scheme. Accent the floral and Manzanita trees with vintage items like galvanized planters, antique finials, or tapered birdcages.

• Drape white fabric from the ceiling or walls to mimic the feel of a tented reception.

• Use metal or wood benches instead of plush lounge furniture for guests to relax on away from the reception space. Design a lounge area with the benches centered around a chocolate fountain or scalloped bird feeder filled with other delicious treats.



Wedding Favors

Posted by: Marvin Hanashiro

March 21st, 2012 >> Wedding Tips

In keeping with tradition, I am often asked by brides and grooms what to buy as wedding favors for their guests. It can be difficult to find something unique and personalized without adding another large expense to the already mounting wedding budget. Here are some ideas guaranteed to please your guests without breaking the bank:

center piece gift

• Give away the centerpieces: Tie a small ribbon (or other special marker) to one chair at each table to denote the lucky recipient. The centerpieces have already been paid for and now some lucky guests have a great floral display for their home!
• Expand upon a common thread in your relationship: One of my couples shared a passion for ice cream, so gifted an ice cream scoop for each guest. Another couple gave scarves, handmade from their village in Tanzania, to all their female guests.
• If it’s in your budget, rent a photo booth or hire an artist to make caricatures for your guests. This always excites guests and adds another level of entertainment to the reception. You can even buy small frames to house those memorable keepsakes.
• Instead of going with the traditional wedding cake, opt for a candy station and have your guests create their own bag of treats to take home.
• Make a donation to your favorite charityon behalf of your guests, in lieu of a traditional wedding favor.

Top 5 #Wedding Budget Savers

Posted by: Robert Battoe

March 14th, 2012 >> Wedding Tips

Engaged? Creating a Budget? Check this out! I work with brides and grooms every day who are concerned about budgeting. So, you’ve got a number in mind and you’re trying to allocate funds around to all of the different areas of your reception. Here are a few quick tips to redirect funds should you want to amp up in other areas or eliminate them all together.


1. Food Costs – One way to bring down the food costs without sacrificing on quality is to switch to a Cocktail Style Reception. Don’t expect major savings, but with this style reception, you can certainly eliminate some staffing and costs on creating your tablescapes. My rule of thumb for staffing is 1 per 25 for a Cocktail Reception. For 100 Guests, this could eliminate 2-3 Staff for  Sit Down Reception.


2. An average wedding of 100 guests would easily generate 2-3k in floral with centerpieces, bouquets, boutiniers, & floral for your arch. Here’s the kicker, you each have 8 in your wedding party. This raises the overall cost. To maintain the floral for your Wedding Party without sacrificing  your Tables you can do a couple of things.

Floral Arrangement

First, don’t hesitate to provide a fixed budget to your florist with your needs  and colors and request a proposal based strictly on that. You may want to request your ideal vision as well for comparison. Source your own vessels for your centerpieces. Check out flea markets, garage sales , & yes, even certain Swedish Retailers may have options for you that you will reuse afterwards. I even have Brides send out mass emails to their guests requesting certain styles of vessels and friends and family jump at the chance to be a part of the day. This will save you on renting or purchasing new products especially if you don’t intend to use them again. Also, less can be more. Mix up your arrangements table to table. This will create drama in the room and allow you to skimp a bit table to table without it being noticed. Use more inexpensive décor to amp up the table like candles or jewel glass.


3. Music – I’ve already mentioned in previous Blogs that I wouldn’t cut back here. The most cost effective way to execute music for your day is to use an official Wedding DJ. Expect $1500-2000 max and ensure they have ability to MC your day. To save a bit of money & stress , have them handle your Ceremony as well. With a standard Reception at 5 Hours, this may require you to add additional hours but will save you the expense of bringing in another music act for your Ceremony or Cocktail Hour and if there is a particular style of Music you want to hear, your DJ will have it.


4. The Helping Hands of Friends & Family – I have a rule of thumb that I offer to my couples when they are considering their friend the Photographer or DJ that’s their sisters boyfriend. Don’t do it!!! Unless, you have “that” kind of relationship with them that it wont create issues. I just started working with a Bride and their photographer was dating a sibling and of course, they broke up. Also, many DJ’s are fantastic DJ’s for Clubs, not weddings. If they can make the transition- fantastic. Make sure they are team-players and understand that just because they’re a friend, there are rules and they are part of an active team working singularly to create a perfect day. That being said, if you have that kind of “relationship” with your Vendor, book them. This is a great way to help put your signiture on your day. Note that many Venues have preferred lists of Vendors so if your personal vendors don’t have an established buisness, they will need to purchase insurance and name the Venue as an additional insurer. If it is not a buisness or they don’t intend it to become one, this may be a headache you don’t want to deal with.


5. Switch-outs! – Many more Brides & Grooms are less and less traditional. Think about the switch-out. You want a Photobooth or Valet Service but you’re a few hundred from your budget on it. Cut your Favors. Guests don’t need them and often forget them or dispose of them. A favor or a place to park or a photo of them is something they will definitely use and appreciate.


If your looking for more budget-saving ideas, check back here on my Blog or call me directly for a consultation. If your budget’s not a concern, you’re free to call me too – :) I can create your perfect day, exact to your expectations.



Dad to Daughter: Your Wedding or My Retirement #wedding #budget

Posted by: Jo Anne

March 3rd, 2012 >> Wedding Tips, Weddings

If you thought being a bride in this economy is stressful, try being the father of the bride.
Traditionally the bride’s family is tasked with footing the wedding bill, but the troubled economy means many families are unable to afford both their children’s nuptials and their impending retirement. For proud parents, the topic can be a difficult one to discuss, but experts say honesty is the best policy.


“I’ve seen a few cases where a bride would make all these big wedding plans and then six months later, her parents would say, ‘We know we promised you $50,000, but we can only come up with $5,000,’” says Bill Hammer, certified financial planner and vice president of wealth management at Vanderbilt Partners in Melville, N.Y. “Once deposits have been made, it’s often more expensive to cancel the wedding than to go through with it, so then you have people going into debt because they didn’t discuss things ahead of time.”


For parents, Hammer says the rule of thumb should be that if you can’t write the check when you make the offer, don’t make the offer. Any money given to the happy couple should already be in cash, a savings bond or a CD. “You may have $50,000 in your stock portfolio, but if you wake up tomorrow and it’s down by 40% then it’s a huge problem.”


According to, wedding spending on average has dropped 3.4% in the past year to $25,631 from $26,542. But even if spending is down, it’s easy for parents to end up chipping in more than they’d planned. Hammer advises parents to offer a specific dollar amount rather than items on a “wish list”.


“You might be in for a rude awakening if you tell your daughter that you will pay for the dress, the reception and the limo. Any one of those things could be more than you had been planning on spending. Instead, tell your daughter what dollar amount you can comfortably contribute,” says Hammer. Parents of the bride may be able to relax a little as traditions change. According to, in 2010, the bride and groom paid for an average of 58% of all wedding costs, while the bride’s parents paid for an average of 21%. The groom’s parents shelled out an average of 14% of costs.


Los Angeles-based wedding planner Wayne Gurnick, owner of Moments by Wayne, says the down economy has more families splitting the financial responsibility of a wedding.


“Before 2008, 70% of my clients were the bride’s parents. Now, 70% of my clients are the bride and groom. There has been a huge shift, and a lot of brides are complaining about it,” says Gurnick. “These days, the couple may be getting a monetary gift from mom and dad, but they aren’t counting on it.” Gurnick says in the last several years he has worked with couples to slash wedding budgets by as much as half, planning wedding picnics in public parks instead of expensive reception halls, and serving Chipotle instead of $200- per-head fillet mignon dinners.


“One thing is consistent—whether it’s the bride and groom doing the planning or the parents of the bride, everyone wants to make their dollars go further. Everyone is realizing that the 99¢ Only Store sells great napkins.”


Your Wedding vs. My Retirement

For parents who already know they can’t afford to give as much to their daughter’s wedding as planned, have the conversation before any planning gets started, says Tim Harrington, CEO of consumer financial resource FiPath.


“With the financial crisis we are in and the deterioration of most people’s savings and retirement accounts, those are real conversations we are having and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of pushback. Families are working together to find something more affordable.”

Parents shouldn’t feel like they are letting their children down if they choose to hang onto their savings for retirement rather than putting it toward a wedding.
“Your children will understand. Sit down with them and go over things; let them know how much you have saved for retirement. If a big wedding isn’t in your budget, tell them exactly that. No one needs to go into debt for a party that’s only one day,” says Harrington.  Using cash is one of the best ways to keep wedding spending in check and possibly negotiate a deal in the process, according to Harrington.

“Don’t put any wedding expenses on a credit card. If you have to make a deposit with a credit card, that’s fine, but pay with cash. Very often if you’re paying with cash you can better negotiate with vendors. Everyone from the DJ to the florist will be willing to work with you if you’re using green.”


Contact us today and we’ll show you how to really save big when it counts the most.



Credit: Kathryn Tuggle (