Showing posts from 2010

Planning a Reunion in 2011?

Reunions are big business and a great way to stay connected with extended family, former classmates, and others. According to Reunions magazine, approximately 350,000 reunions occur each year. The largest share, about 200,000, are family reunions. Class reunions account for over 100,000 with military and other types of reunions, such as fraternity, sorority, or those devoted to a hobby or sport making up the balance. The average attendance per reunion is 50.

Having a reunion tends to be recession-proof, but the decisions involved may be scaled back to accommodate the budgets of the majority of attendees. According to the Washington Travel Industry Association, over 1 million adults and children living in Washington attend a family reunion each year, many of which are held in city parks. Parks are affordable and tend to offer a variety of activities, from museums, zoos and play grounds to baseball diamonds and tennis courts.

As you begin planning your reunion you will need to decide h…

Royal Engagement Boosts British Economy

When Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in October he created a marketing frenzy that is having a huge impact on the British economy. Designers and manufacturers of commerative items are rushing to get their merchandise into stores before the April 29 wedding. Travel agents, airlines, car rentals, hotels and restaurants are all gearing up for the influx of royal guests and celebrity watchers. Media sales are booming, everything from newspapers and magazines to DVDs. All want those exclusive interviews and photos that lead to increased revenue.

The bride-to-be has become a fashion icon to be emulated, like her late mother-in-law Princess Diana. Copies of the dresses and gowns she wears fly off the racks. Discounted copies are even bigger sellers.

Even Kate Middleton's parents are benefitting. Sales at the mail order business they own, Party Pieces (, have increased dramatically in recent months.

Now, if we had an American equivalent of a royal couple, t…

Are You Hosting an Employee Holiday Party?

Hosting a holiday party for your employees, and possibly their spouses and families, can be a nice way to say thank you for their commitment to the success of your business. Recently, the economy has caused many businesses to rethink the way they entertain, possibly cutting back on the type of party, who is invited, and where it is held.

A couple of years ago I began receiving calls from businesses wanting only limited help, such as finding an inexpensive location where they could provide their own food and play their own music. In years past, those businesses would have held their party at a restaurant or hotel. They would have engaged an event planner to make the arrangements, assist with decor, and to be on site during the party. Now, they prefer to pay the event planner for limited assistance and often choose not to have the planner on site during the party. They are having a caterer drop off food, ordering pizza or purchasing deli trays. Music is often provided on a laptop or an…

Department of Insurance Offers Advice for Newly Weds

If you think combining households is difficult when a couple marries, consider combining insurance plans. Will you use her car insurance company, his company, or choose a new one? Whose homeowners or renters policy will you keep and whose will go? Will you add him to your health insurance; will he add you to his, or will each of you keep your own insurance? How about dental insurance? Vision insurance? Life insurance? If either of you has children, the decisions become more complicated.

Fortunately, the Idaho Department of Insurance has the answers. The agency has published an article, "Combining Insurance," that will help you through the maze and enable you to make the best decisions for your particular situation. You can find the article at

Events Scottish Style

I recently returned from Scotland where I had the opportunity to learn about and experience events Scottish style. Want to get married in a castle, abbey or palace? The Scottish government through its Historic Scotland department, maintains most of the publicly owned historic buildings and they will be happy to accommodate your wishes at one of fourteen sites. Some of the castles, such as Campbell Castle in Dollar (pictured to the right), are ruins. Your event will need to be held outside, either on the hillside in front of the castle or in the center courtyard, which is large and grass-covered. Others, such as Edinburgh Castle, have been restored to their former glory and you can hold your event in one of several rooms open to the public. To find just the right venue, the Scottish government maintains a web site devoted exclusively to rentals at
You can also hold an event at the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral in St.…

Jilted Bride Turns Tragedy into Joy

When the fiance of a Chicago-area bride got cold feet and cancelled the wedding six days before it was to occur, the bride knew she would lose all the money that had been spent planning the perfect party. Rather than allow that to happen, she moved the party to a large retirement complex. Over 300 residents enjoyed the Halloween-themed food and centerpieces and the DJ played the night away. The bride knew no one at the home before the party. Now, she has 300 new friends. Though she lost the money she had paid to the original wedding facility, her generousity blessed many grateful people.

Economy Continues to Affect Wedding Planning

This past weekend I coordinated two weddings. The first was paid for by the two sets of parents with a small amount contributed by the couple. The second was paid for entirely by the couple. According to a survey conducted by, 92 percent of couples today help pay for some or all of their wedding expenses. As the economy continues to lag, couples are rethinking their choices and watching every penny. Nationally, wedding expenditures dropped approximately 10 percent between 2008 and 2009 and that trend may continue.

As couples consider what is important to them and what they can live without or compromise on, some are  turning to used items. A gently used gown may be a consideration or used centerpiece items. Men are increasingly choosing to wear suits they own rather than renting a tux. Couples are looking for the best deals in locations. Fewer are hiring bands or even DJs, choosing instead to create their own music on an iPod or laptop. You can even buy a u…

"After Parties" Increase in Popularity

After parties have been around for years. Some are planned events occuring after a major event; others are spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment get-togethers. After parties often occur after proms and similar events, when parents host a late night get together for their child and his or her friends.

As the economy continues to make people more budget conscious, we are seeing more pre-planned parties occuring after larger weddings. Depending on circumstances, the bride and groom may feel the necessity to invite a large number of work associates, students, class mates, members of an organization or club, or their church congregation to their wedding. From an etiquette perspective, they are expected to entertain those guests, though it doesn't need to be elaborate or last several hours. Therefore, couples are choosing to have a simple reception after the ceremony (often cake and punch) followed by a much smaller after party for close family and friends. Doing so stretches limited budgets…

Banff Weddings

I just returned from spending several days in beautiful Banff, Alberta, Canada. The mountains were awe inspiring and we even had a dusting of snow one night, adding to the beauty. Banff has grown into a bustling resort town since my last visit about 16 years ago. Hundreds of tourists filled the streets from early morning until late at night.

On a Friday we visited the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, situated on a knoll overlooking the Bow River valley. The staff was setting up for two weddings, a wedding reception, and a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Only one wedding was planned for Saturday; the other events were all occurring on Friday. Guests were arriving for all the events, keeping the front desk and the porters busy figuring out who was with which group. To add to the mayhem, Banff was blanketed in smoke from over 300 fires burning in British Columbia. Events planned for the terraces overlooking the river had to be moved inside, necessitating the closure of dining room…

So You Want to be an Event Planner

I receive frequent e-mails and phone calls from people asking for information on how to become an event planner. As I talk with them, most have no idea of the work involved or how to get started. Thanks to Hollywood, people have a twisted view of the business, thinking it is all glamour and partying and they will make bushels of money. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Realities -The turn-over rate in the industry nationally is about two years, largely because people have unrealistic expectations going into the business. Event planning is hard work. You have to be very detail oriented, able to solve problems and make decisions in a moment, able to work with all types of personalities, and be able to work on your feet for 8 or 10 hours or more at a time. You aren't there to party. Rather, you will be in the background making sure everything is going smoothly. You may be doing the grunt work - emptying trash, sweeping, mopping, setting up and tearing down tables and chairs…

Don't Go Into Debt to Pay for Your Special Event

It costs money to plan and execute a special event, whether it is a family reunion, your parent's 50th anniversary party, a wedding or another special event. It is easy to put the costs on a credit card but not so easy to pay for the event for months or even years after it has occurred. With a bit of preplanning, you can prevent that from happening.

When you decide to hold a special event, the first thing to do is make a realistic budget of what you can afford, then decide which things are most important. Maybe you want a great location, so, to afford it, you are willing to compromise on the type of food served. Or perhaps a DJ is okay rather than a band. If you will be sharing the costs with others, perhaps siblings or extended family members, you will need to decide how to divide the costs. Will everyone contribute equally or will certain costs, such as the food or the facility rental, be paid by certain people. If family members will be sharing the costs, you may want to open a…

Idaho Environmental Forum Plans Annual Boise River Conference

The Idaho Environmental Forum will host their 7th annual Boise River Conference on August 11th. The event begins with an afternoon conference on Boise River and Treasure Valley water issues at the Barber Park Education and Event Center. An evening float trip on the Boise River will follow. The evening will culminate with a barbeque at Ann Morrison Park. The conference is open to IEF members and friends. Registration is required.

Anyone interested in protecting our Idaho environment is welcome to join IEF. The group is an informal educational organization dedicated to understanding the environmental issues facing our state and seeking ways to work toward solving some of those issues.  Luncheon meetings are held monthly. There is no fee to join. For information, visit

Idaho Business Review to Publish Event Planning Insert

In August the Idaho Business Review will publish an insert to their paper on event planning. The insert will contain a variety of articles and a list of the top local caterers, meeting facilities, event planners, and rental companies. The purpose of the insert is to help corporate planners find the resources they need to plan their holiday parties, if they have not yet made those arrangements. IBR publishes the list of top merchants every year, but this is the first time they have devoted an entire section to event planning.

Last week I gave an interview to one writer for his article. Tomorrow I meet with another writer who is working on two articles. A client and I will also have the opportunity to participate in a photo shoot at a rental center to illustrate one of the articles. It is a privilege to share with the IBR staff so they in turn can share with our community and allow businesses to learn about the wide variety of resources available to create unique events for their client…

Idaho Marriage License Variations

In May I planned and coordinated a wedding for a couple from Washington. They got married in Nampa, so they obtained their marriage license in Canyon County. Now, because they live out of state, they are having difficulty obtaining a certified copy of the license so the bride can change her name. Because of their problem, I checked the requirements in Ada County and nearby counties where we most often hold weddings to learn about their requirements and hopefully alleviate future problems.

Marriage licenses can be obtained at any county courthouse in Idaho and can be used anywhere in the state within one year of the issue date. Blood tests are not required and the license can be used immediately. Applicants must be 18 or older to marry without parental approval.

In Ada County, a license costs $30 cash. Approximately three weeks after the wedding the couple will receive a certified copy in the mail. The bride can then take it to the nearest Social Security office to legally change her …

Permit Now Required for Tented Events in Boise

If you are planning an event to be held at the Boise Depot, Idaho Botanical Gardens, a city park, and certain other locations and you plan to use a canopy or tent, you will now have to purchase a permit. The requirement has been on the books for several years, but has been enforced only for public events. Now, however, the fire marshall is requiring anyone holding a private event who plans to place a canopy or tent in a publicly owned space to purchase a permit (one more way to add funds to the City's coffers?). A permit is not required to erect small canopies less than 400 square feet (20x20) and tents less than 100 square feet (10x10).

Permits are purchased from the City Clerk's office at 333 N. Sailfish, Boise 83704 and cost $90. The person I spoke with, who was new to her job, was unsure whether a permit is needed for each tent or canopy or whether one permit will cover multiple tents/canopies.

The process works like this:

1. A permit is applied for (you can apply in pers…

Another One Bites the Dust

Last week the Powerhouse Event Center announced their closure after ten years in business. A couple weeks before that a venue in McCall closed and another McCall venue announced foreclosure proceedings. The Powerhouse is the latest in a series of local businesses to fall victim to the economy. In addition to the economy, the owners cited increased competition from several sources as a primary reason for the closure, though all the sources mentioned, except one, were in business before the Powerhouse and continue to thrive.

Historically, economic downturns refine the market, allowing stronger businesses to survive and weeding out the weaker ones. In the last several months we have seen florists, caterers, photographers and other event-related businesses close their doors. Some were financially over-extended; others failed to understand the importance of customer service in a down economy (and any economy for that matter). Others were still trying to find their niche in the market and j…

Tuxedo Issues

Problems with tuxedos seem to be one of the most frequent issues we encounter when planning a special event. We rent tuxedos for proms, weddings, quinceaneras, formal parties and other events. When a tux is rented, it usually needs alterations. When it is returned, it has to be cleaned. Both put wear and tear on the tux, shortening its lifespan and sometimes affecting how it looks. Because of the constant turn-around from one renter to another, things happen, sometimes creating a minor crisis.

At a wedding last week we had more problems than usual. When the groom's father, who performed the ceremony, dressed, he found that a side seam in the pants had been unstitched, presumably for alterations, and had not been restitched. He wore the pants with safety pins holding the seam together. Fortunately, enough pins were available to make an emergency repair and the jacket covered most of the problem area and kept his "unmentionables" from showing.

When the best man took his cl…

Planning a Vow Renewal Ceremony

In the last few years a number of couples married quickly, perhaps because of military deployment. Now, they want to have a vow renewal ceremony to celebrate with family and friends or they want to solemnize their vows in their church. Older couples may choose to renew their vows on or near their anniversary or at another special time when family can be together. Planning a vow renewal ceremony is not the same as planning a wedding and that can create confusion, particularly for younger couples planning a church ceremony. Though some aspects are similar - repeating vows and a reception to follow - most aspects are somewhat different.

Vow renewal ceremonies are usually more casual than weddings and often are attended by fewer guests than a typical wedding. The couple, not their parents, usually pays for the event. Depending on the situation and budget, the ceremony might occur in a church or it might occur at a family picnic, a park, or any setting of the couple's choosing. If gues…

New Trend: Grandparents Showers

Do you have friends who will become grandparents for the first time, who live near the happy parents and who will most likely care for the baby regularly? If so, you may want to have a grandparent's shower for them. This new trend offers an opportunity to share the joy of the new baby, not just with the parents, but with the extended family as well.

Parents usually receive or purchase everything they need for baby. But when baby goes to Grandma and Grandpa's house, they often have to make due with whatever they have on hand. Outfitting the grandparent's spare room can make baby's visits more enjoyable and Mom and Dad won't need to bring everything with them each time baby visits. Plus, the grandparents will be delighted to be the recipients of a shower.

If you would like to host a grandparent's shower, you might do it as a surprise and obtain gift ideas from the mother-to-be. Or, if you prefer to tell the honorees of your plan, they may have their own gift ide…

Including Sparklers in Your Event

As we gear up for summer events, people begin thinking of things they can add to make their event unique. One of those things is sparklers. Originally available only near the 4th of July, sparklers can now be purchased year round from numerous web sites. Children love them and brides and grooms are increasingly including them in their wedding reception, but sparklers can be dangerous. You are literally playing with fire.

If you decide to use sparklers at your event, first check with your venue to be certain they are allowed. Sparklers should be used outdoors only and not close to dry grass or any other substance that might burn. They can leave dark stains on concrete walkways and driveways, so, if possible, use them on grass, gravel or asphalt. If children will be playing with the sparklers, be sure they have adult supervision.

If you plan to use sparklers at a wedding, choose ones at least 14 inches long. If you use shorter ones, by the time the last sparkler is lit, the first ones…

Fund your Non-profit Event with a Silent Auction

Is your non-profit, school or church seeking funding for a special event or activity? Have you held a silent auction in the past but found it time consuming to pick up the donations and, after all your work, the auction response was limited? If so, you may want to try This on-line site allows you to create a cyber silent auction in connection with your special event or to raise funds before your event or for a special project. 

By using this site, merchants who donate goods can keep the goods and then deliver them directly to the winner, eliminating time and storage space for the organization holding the auction. Cyber auctions also make your fund raiser available to a much wider range of viewers. You can contact friends and business associates around the world and ask them to support your event by placing a bid on-line.

Auctionfrogs is the brain child of a Treasure Valley woman, so when you use it, you support both a local business and a woman-owned business. For i…

The Role of Grooms and Dads in Wedding Planning

I was interviewed by a reporter for the New York Times for an article that appeared on April 4 about the role of the groom and his family in wedding planning. Perhaps it is more common out West, but most of my grooms are involved in the wedding planning process and have been for over ten years. In many cases the couple are professionals in their late twenties or their thirties when they marry. They make all the decisions together, and often they pay for the wedding themselves with little or no help from either of their families.

The reporter was surprised when I mentioned the increasing involvement of fathers of the bride in the planning. Again, that has been occurring for the last eight or ten years. The fathers seem to be particularly interested in choosing  the location/locations and the catering. Sometimes they attend a few of our meetings with merchants. In other cases, they attend them all.

The increasing involvement of grooms and dads reflects the trend for both families and t…

Bouquet Toss Causes Plane Crash

The bride wanted to do something unique at her wedding reception so she decided to have the bouquet toss occur from an airplane. The couple rented a small Autogiro to fly over the reception at a particular time with a friend in the passenger seat to toss the bouquet to a group of single women waiting below. (An Autogiro is a Spanish-designed rotary-wing aircraft that uses a propeller for forward motion and a rotating, unmotorized rotor on top for lift. The plane looks much like a cross between a small two-passenger aircraft and a helicopter.)

As the passenger tossed the bouquet, wind pressure caused it to fly backwards into the tail rotor, causing the plane's engine to catch fire and explode and the plane to crash. As the horrified wedding guests watched, the plane crashed into woods near a youth hostel where 50 children were staying. Both the pilot and the passenger survived, but the bouquet tossing passenger suffered facial and head injuries and two broken legs.

Moral of the sto…

Couple Weds on the Moon

She wanted a wedding that would be out of this world, but the couple was on a tight budget and the moon is over 238,000 miles away. So, the couple chose the best alternative and got married in the moonscape exhibit at Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City. The couple and the minister stood in the barren Taurus-Littrow Valley, where the Apollo 17 astronauts landed in December 1972. The wedding party stood on Mars, another exhibit a few feet away. This was the Planetarium's first moon wedding, but it probably won't be the last.

Which State has the Best Wedding Weather?

Farmers Almanac has been around for many, many years. As the name suggests, the book was originally written to assist farmers with planting and harvesting. Want to know when the moon will be full? Consult the Almanac. Want to know the best days to cut and bale hay? Consult the Almanac. Today, however, the Almanac has diversified to include all types of weather forecasting and everything weather-related.

A few months ago the Almanac ran a contest to determine the states having the best and worst weather for outdoor weddings. The results were all in fun and based on entries from the public, not on any scientific data. And the winners are ---- South Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and North Dakota, assuming you don't mind the humidity in some of those locations. Texas was the big loser. Readers' stories included tales of freezing rain in April, flash floods, and miserably hot temperatures. No one from Idaho entered the contest. If they had, readers might have heard about rain, …

Party Crasher is Actually a Thief

She came without an invitation; she left with cards containing cash, checks and gift cards. A Spokane, WA woman has been sentenced to 45 days in jail for felony grand theft for stealing gift cards and personal checks at a wedding in Lewiston, Idaho last summer. The theft was discovered when the couple opened gifts with family and friends, some of whom realized that their card and its contents was missing. Fortunately, one family member is a police officer and remembered seeing the woman, a former high school classmate, at the reception. He knew she was not an acquaintance of the bride or groom and she acted nervous when he talked with her and she left soon after.

Family and friends gave police information about the stolen gift cards and stores were alerted to watch for them. Soon, Macys, Home Depot, Costco and other businesses reported a woman of the same description using the cards. In some instances, she produced a driver's license for identification. Gift cards purchased by cre…

Virtual Meetings - Here to Stay?

I've been hired to manage the local portion of a national training meeting. The meeting will be broadcast simultaneously to over 70 cities where business managers and invited guests of a national company will gather at local movie theaters. Renting the theaters and hiring local event planners to oversee the meetings will cost plenty, but not nearly as much as flying several hundred attendees to a central location and paying for their food and lodging. This method is also much faster and more efficient than sending one or two trainers around the country to hold meetings at individual or regional sites. The virtual meetings allow a new product and its marketing campaign to be rolled out to the entire company at once.

Through the use of technology, my daughter-in-law, who lives in Scotland, is able to telecommunte to her employer in Wisconsin. Granted, with the time difference, there are challenges. To include her in staff meetings via Skype, the meetings must be held in the morning…

Caribbean Wedding or Honeymoon?

I've recently returned from a week in the Caribbean. What a beautiful place! The water is turquoise; the beaches are fine, white sand. The palm trees are lovely. The temperature was mild and the water warm in early February. Most of the people were friendly and welcoming.

If you are considering a destination wedding, you may want to think about having it at one of the many island resorts or hotels. Many offer all-inclusive packages that include the ceremony and a photographer plus a small reception for you and your guests.

The Caribbean would also be a nice honeymoon destination, particularly if you like to snorkle or scuba dive. We particularly enjoyed Grand Cayman with its mix of tropical and European influences. It is a coral island, so the diving is excellent. Plus, there is the romance of the history of pirates on nearly every street corner.

Shopping for your Wedding Gown

The area's largest wedding show, attended by over 800 brides, occurred two weeks ago. Many of the brides became engaged during the holidays and one of the first things they will do is begin shopping for that special wedding gown. Choosing just the right gown can be fun or it can be stressful, depending on how it is approached. The following tips will help make the most of the experience without causing the bride to feel overwhelmed.

Begin by looking through magazines and at web sites to get ideas of styles and to decide what features you do and don’t like. Don’t zero in on a particular style, however, until you try on a few gowns and know what looks best with your figure. You might be surprised.

Limit the number of people who go shopping with you, at least initially. Too many people create distractions, take extra time, and each has her own opinion, making decisions difficult. Though in-put from others is important, the bride should make the final decision on the gown to purchase;…

Knock Out Body Boot Camps

Do you have a big event coming up and want to look sensational? If so, Knock Out Body Boot Camp may be the answer. The intense program combines fat burning exercise, nutrition counseling, meal planning help, and more to get you in shape quickly. Brides and their bridesmaids and moms can participate in a more intense Bridal Knock Out Body Boot Camp to help all of you look gorgeous in those revealing gowns. Those who follow the diet and exercise plan can expect to lose one dress size per month as you burn body fat and resculpt your figure.

To find out how you can look your best, call Brett at 208-863-8072 or send an e-mail to Sessions are open to both men and women and are held at various locations in the Boise area to best fit your schedule.

Memory Makers Mentioned in New Book

I learned today that a story about the wildlife that occasionally makes an appearance at our Idaho weddings, and one wedding in particular that occurred a few years ago on a nasty 110 degree day at Ste. Chapelle, are included in a new book. OMG! Wedding Stories will hit bookstores in late spring and is taking pre-orders for it now.

The book contains funny and unusual wedding stories, many about wedding plans gone awry. If you enjoy a light read and you like everything weddings, you will enjoy this book.

30th Annual Wedding Party Show January 9 and 10

If you are engaged or about to become engaged, you won't want to miss the 30th annual Wedding Party Show next weekend, January 9 and 10, at Boise Centre on the Grove. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $5 at the door. Over 100 merchants will be on hand to help with all your wedding planning needs.

Gift certificates valued at $1,000 will be given away after each fashion show. Shows are at noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Ten gift certificates, each valued at $100, can be redeemed with participating merchants, helping significantly reduce the costs of your wedding.

The show started thirty years ago when two local business women, one the owner of a bridal salon and the other the co-owner of a rental center, decided that Boise needed a wedding show. They pitched the idea to other business owners and the show was born. Initially it was held in the ballroom of a local hotel with about 30 merchants participating. At tha…