VALOR – Beyond the Call

VALOR – Beyond the Call

On November 1, 2018, the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation (LAFDF) hosted a luncheon to honor those LAFD members whose feats of bravery were remarkable. Your Great Event was honored to have been selected to help produce the event.

The mission of the Los Angeles Fire Department is to preserve life and property, promote public safety, and foster economic growth through a commitment to prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery as an all risk life safety response provider. 

A total of 1,018 uniformed firefighters (including 270 serving as Firefighter/Paramedics), are always on duty at fire department facilities citywide, including 106 neighborhood fire stations strategically located across the Department's 471 square-mile jurisdiction. They respond to more than 1,000 911 calls daily.

All firefighters risk their lives and perform heroic feats in the face of danger. But how do you recognize those firefighters whose actions go beyond the call. You bring civic leaders, sponsors, firefighters and their families together for an emotion-filled afternoon. And you tell their stories.

Purposefully simple décor – black linens and white flowers – kept the focus on the 13 honorees. The California Ballroom at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites provided the downtown location that allowed a record number of sponsors, supporters, and firefighters to attend. NBC4 Southern California general assignment reporter and news anchor, Robert Kovacik, was impactful as the emcee as he read the powerful narratives of the award winners. Videos and photos provided a compelling backdrop as the description of their actions sounded throughout the room.

A firefighter who risked his life to pull three children from a burning, smoke-filled structure fire – one that had been set on purpose – received a Medal of Valor for his actions. The children and their mother attended the event and provided a particularly heartwarming moment. Additionally, one Medal of Merit and seven Medals of Valor were awarded to members of the LAFD who were off-duty while in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. They were there to enjoy the concert with their loved ones and friends when the gunfire began. The tales of their courage and compassion were overwhelming and prompted standing ovations from the audience.

The Foundation also gave awards for Lifetime Achievement, Corporate Responsibility, and Community Service. The Fire Chief’s Distinguished Service Award honored the LAFD Air Operations Service. A special award for a Legacy of Service was given to the woman who founded the LAFDF and who raised more than five million dollars for the department before she retired.

This solemn and ultimately uplifting luncheon didn’t need splashy entertainment or bright lights to make an emotional connection with the audience. Your Great Event will always produce an event to tell the client’s story in a way that will be unforgettable. 

Non-Profits’ Budgeting & Planning Maze

It’s that time of the year again: Time for the dreaded budgeting exercise for non-profit organizations. The mismatch between wishes and what is realistically feasible.  The ambitious plans and how to pay for them. 

Does this all sound overwhelming? You are not alone. More than 85% of executives (corporate and non-profits alike) view the annual budgeting exercise with trepidation.  Governments are no different. 

In the specific case of non-profits, the difficulty lies in having to project revenue streams that often seem so elusive. Revenues are, for the most part, derived from memberships, if applicable, donations and fundraisers—none of which can be taken for granted. In the process, non-profits are confronted with so many unknowns: Will all our membership renew? How can we do a better job in our outreach programs? What kind of fundraiser can we plan for to guarantee success?

Small to medium size non-profits lack in required financial means to fund a full slate of professional staff to help them out with the needed tasks that can guarantee success. Lack of resources often leads to curtailed efforts; which, in turn, results in less-than-satisfactory performance when it comes to raising needed funds.  

This is where the expertise of a professional planning firm comes into play.  The organization can be overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks to be able to plan for the future in an objective and proactive manner as in the proverbial “too close to the trees to see the forest.”  A professional planning agency can weed out the superfluous steps and guide the organization with a focus in the direction that is guaranteed to bear fruit.  

A professional planning firm can remove emotions out of the budgeting process and guide the organization in a direction that is both realistic and feasible.  Relying on internal staff alone may at times pose a conflict if the organization may be facing a staff reduction and/or fine-tuning of tasks to achieve its desired goals. The management can spare itself the agony of dealing with otherwise unpleasant tasks that at times is required in the process.

The budgeting exercise is not only about matching expenses with realistic revenue streams, it is also a unique opportunity to step back and look at the organization’s existing mission, stakeholders, modus operandi, and outreach efforts.  One of the most common sources of securing a portion (or all of) needed funds is a fundraising gala function possibly coupled with an auction of sort.  Some non-profits opt to plan and hold such events entirely with internal staff—which often times has to juggle many functions within the organization. This is where the proverbial “penny wise and pound foolish” expression holds true.  An event planning company with expertise in fundraising events can not only reduce—or entirely remove—the burden of organizing such a make-or-break event, it can practically guarantee financial success—not to mention an opportunity for positive exposure in traditional and social media.  

To start with, a professional planning firm can shed better light on the importance of fundraising events and how best to organize a successful one.  Non-profits too often view fundraising only as a means to making money to accomplish their agendas and pay their staff, so much so that they neglect to integrate fundraising into their long-term planning process. Non-profits that do incorporate fundraising and development into their organizational strategy are the ones that guarantee their long-term survival and longevity.  Here are a few important reasons to view fundraising with a broader perspective: 

1. Fundraising forces non-profits to plan

Sadly, many small and midsize non-profits rarely start the year with planning, which often leads to chaotic work plans and disjointed focus.  Planning for fundraisers should help non-profits to take a step back and think about how they are going to accomplish their mission with what resources, and in what time frames.   

2. Fundraising allows non-profits to see where they are vulnerable

In the process of planning and asking the question of how they are going to accomplish their mission (or a project) a planning firm can help a non-profit to realize that they may have gaps in their internal resourcesto meet their goals. Identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in organizational structure is a critical step in strengthening non-profit organizations.

3. Fundraising makes non-profits work as teams and align goals

Often, non-profit staff and volunteers are disjointed by project areas. Fundraising acts as a glue for different project areas, unifying the team and its different project goals into one holistic mission. A non-profit will be stronger if its different components are brought together under a solid mission base.

4. Fundraising makes non-profits sustainable

The most important contribution the planning process can make to a non-profit organization is ensuring its sustainability.  Without a sizable injection of funds, most non-profits remain vulnerable to economic fluctuations, how their mandate is viewed by their stakeholders, and general increases in operating expenses.  The reality is that nothing is permanent in the non-profit world and the sources of funds can disappear very quickly. A proper mix of revenue sources, such as donations, grants, gifts, and sponsorships is the best way to ensure sustainability of the organization’s cause.

Fundraising is so much more than raising funds. If done right, fundraising can help a non-profit develop and evolve into a high functioning, networked, sustainable, impactful force for community good.  

In closing, don’t let the budgeting and planning process paralyze you. Brace it as a unique opportunity to evergreen your mandate; and view it as a means (even if forced) to strengthen your organization’s foundation and modus operandi. Invite a professional planning company to review your strategies, and operations with a critical view and help you separate wheat from chaff to ensure a sustainable mission.

Let professionals at Your Great Event lend you a hand in evaluation your strategies, finetuning your budgeting exercise and offer constructive suggestion in planning successful fundraisers.

YGE helps FF raise more than $500k

YGE helps FF raise more than $500k

At a star-studded event in the heart of Beverly Hills, Your Great Event rolled out an actual red carpet to welcome a celebrity crowd that had gathered to show their support for a very worthy cause. Face Forward has set as its mission to provide emotional support and pro bono reconstructive surgery for victims of domestic violence, war crimes and any other degrading criminal acts. To raise needed funds for this worthy cause, Face Forward recruited the services of event planning professionals at Your Great Event, that took care of all logistical needs of an event of this caliber including celebrity lineup and silent and live auctions of prized donations. 

The emcee for the event was no less than Jeremy Piven, the comedian and the Entourage star, who had the pleasant task of calling to stage such big names as The Grammy award winner Ne-Yo, who got everyone on their feet to boogie the night away. Caitlyn Jenner gave a moving account of what the trans members of our society have to endure in their everyday lives. 

For this one-of-a-kind event Your Great Event had secured Beverley Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, which proved to be a fitting venue given the caliber of the audience. “It was gratifying” said Hanson Ansary, CEO of Your Great Event, “to see our client FF CEO Deborah Alessi, being recognized for her heart-warming commitment to this cause. At Your Great Event, we draw a great deal of satisfaction from our non-profit clients’ success at their fundraising events. We remain committed” continued Ansary, “to help our clients with their outreach programs.”

Founded over 20 years ago, Your Great Event is the only event planning company solely dedicated to helping the non-profit sector.

Press:

The Hollywood Reporter

Fox News

Just Jared

Getty Images

YGE: Your Strategic Partner

We fully understand that events are crucial to non-profit organizations for raising badly-needed funds and awareness. In order to successfully accomplish both goals, Your Great Event (YGE)can be your ‘one-stop shop’ to plan and execute your critical fundraising gala, golf tournament, auction or whatever other medium you may wish to use. Planning a charity event involves a long list of components to consider and coordinate. And if your non-profit organization lacks a sizeable budget or the infrastructure to successfully execute a big fundraising event, the task can be even more daunting.  You don’t want to worry about who you need to hire or how to coordinate multiple vendors and producers. You just need a single go-to partner to do it all for you while keeping costs manageable and expectations high. 

That’s where Your Great Event shines. We have a mission: We are committed to giving back to the community and promoting community engagement.  So, wherever a non-profit organization needs help in planning a fundraising event, we always try to make it a resounding success for them—both from financial as well as execution points of view.

Mission Possible 

Some non-profit organizations need a “fundraising makeover;” some may not know where to begin to cultivate a donor pool; and some may need help with their strategic planning process. YGE specializes in helping non-profit organizations raise funds from individuals, corporations and foundations by helping them develop and implement an on-target development plan. 

By providing state-of-the-art development, strategic planning and event production services with proven results, over the years, we have helped many smaller organizations grow into larger ones, and well-established organizations into highly successful ones.  We recognize that no two organizations are alike. We work with each of our clients to customize and design a development plan that will meet their needs and maximize their funding opportunities. We conceptualize, implement and manage a custom-tailored plan for each client. Our clients are then able to keep their overhead costs down, learn the intricacies of development and fundraising while their organizations benefit from partnership with a professional event planning company with YGE’s stellar reputation.  At YGE, we treat each event with our signature standard of professionalism, attention to detail and innovative conceptualization to get your cause the attention it deserves. We work with the best teams in the industry—from the most suitable venues to dependable catering and décor partners—each specializing in the various components that come together to make your fundraising event a resounding success.

Core Competence

From the initial planning process to managing the fundraising event production itself, YGE can work with you to design, produce and execute every detail, so that you can focus your time on bringing attention to what really matters. Beyond planning your fundraisers, our core competence consists of:

·      Comprehensive strategic and development planning (long and short term)

·      Assessment of annual campaign(s)

·      Donor cultivation

·      Major gift solicitation

·      Marketing and promotion plans (including collateral material)

·      Board and donor liaison

·      Donor recognition programs

·      Social media campaigns

·      Board recruitment

·      Prospect research

·      Training staff and board in all aspects of development and gift solicitation

·      Planning fundraising events (galas, golf tournaments, board retreats, etc.)

·      Auctions (silent, pledge and online)

·      Event registration and tracking

·      Event logistics including theming.

Alliances for Success

We understand that events are crucial to non-profits for raising funds and awareness. From larger events like a gala, to mid-sized events like a silent auction, to smaller events like a VIP cocktail reception, YGE will help devise an event experience that is best suited to meeting your goals, maximizing your resources, and will be a celebration of your organization's history and mission.

Whenever there’s an opportunity, we’ll always lend a hand and try to “connect” our corporate and non-profit clients in joint events. This innovative pairing results in mutual benefits and bigger, better results for everyone.  From joint marketing to generating exposure, everyone benefits. With the right fit, corporate and non-profit partners can have a meaningful impact on each other and the people their organizations serve.

We will work with your key staff to create action plans based on your goals.  We will provide detailed timelines and regular status reports to ensure that your event can afford to be ambitious, but achievable.  Our team will handle all event logistics from the largest details to the smallest ones.

Putting It All Together

Finally, during the execution of the event, letour event professionals ensure that your organization is able to maximize profitability while producing a memorable event that upholds the mission of your organization by taking care of all aspects of the event from load-in to load-out to ensure a smooth, successful, and seamless event experience for all.  We will produce a run-of-show that is detailed down to the minute, making our staff “the team behind the curtain,” allowing your staff to concentrate on your donors, your honorees and other VIP guests.

Event planning isn’t always easy. It’s the kind of job where perfection can be hard to attain. Where, even when you have done everything right, something (or everything) can go wrong. In fact, if you’re doing your job well, no one knows you’re there at all.  So why do we do it? We do it because we crave the challenge; we like solving problems and making things come together. We also do it because we believe in the mission of the organizations we serve, and it’s our small way of helping to advance their causes.

Your Great Event—the trusted name in planning events for non-profit organizations for over 20 years. 

Los Angeles News - Entertainment Report

Once again, the City of Angels gears up to live up to its name by playing host to the annual gala and fundraiser for Face Forward—the renowned charity that has made it mission to provide emotional support and reconstructive surgery for women, children and men who have been victims of domestic violence, human trafficking or any other cruel and human-induced atrocities.  In a city crowded with so many well-meaning charities, Face Forward has distinguished itself as an organization committed to bringing hope and optimism to an otherwise overlooked group of victims.     

Over 500 of LA’s celebrities, business and community leaders and committed citizens are expected to assemble at the Beverley Wilshire for this 9thannual gala and auction to support the organization’s notable cause.  Planned for Saturday, September 22nd, the night will be star-studded with the A List of Hollywood’s committed celebs.  Playing the emcee, Jeremy Piven will be presenting such luminaries as the Grammy award winner Ne-Yo.  Other Red-Carpet attendees will include such celebs as Jason Bateman, Linda Perry and Caitlyn Jenner who will be lending their moral support to such an admirable cause.

In an interview, Face Forward’s president, Deborah Alessi, expressed optimism that the unique nature of the charity’s cause will attract the generous donors whose commitment to human dignity will strengthen this organization’s founding principles.  In rolling out this milestone event, recognition will be bestowed on such dignitaries as Jay McGraw and Christopher Bollenbach who will be among the event’s honorees.  

Your Great Event is honored to be the event planning company trusted with organizing this well-deserving philanthropy.  To reserve your spot at Face Forward’s 2018 gala and fundraiser, go to  ladolcevita2018.org 

Put Some Fun in Your Fundraising

Fundraising events can be stressful for the organizing non-profit—and everyone involved.  The combination of taking care of the event’s logistics requirements as well as trying to keep a constant eye on your target results, can be worrisome.  Such events typically involve many moving parts.  There is also the natural preoccupation with the financial goals and how to achieve them.  As the event date approaches, the anxiety levels can indeed rise.  

Organizing a fundraising event need not be all stress. You can organize a successful fundraiser with less tension…and try to have some fun along the way.  Here are a few tips on how to inject some fun in your next fundraising event:

1.    Planning for a fundraiser need not be all work and no fun.  Think of ways to introduce into the process some simple fun activities for your staff and volunteers along the way.  This can be in the form of fun teambuilding activities; engaging games for everyone involved; or picnics, BBQs and other social gatherings.  These can foster closer working relationship and bond your teams together, resulting in enhanced productivity and improved results.  

2.    Introduce some enticements for your teams—staff and volunteers.  A little friendly competition goes a long way to keep your teams engaged and committed. Introduce fun [and inexpensive] awards for best performance in the categories you set up.  A little break from steady work at the end of the day—or week—can pay off in improved morale and a healthier sense of commitment. 

3.    Volunteers can be invaluable in your outreach efforts—whether that is for driving auction item solicitation or for selling tickets to your fundraising gala.  Put in place ways of identifying everyone’s strengths and motivations; and try to tap into that potentially-vast resource to advance your goals for the event. Committed and engaged volunteers can be a vast pool of multifaceted resources.  Keep them happy!   

4.    Fundraising galas need not be all formal and serious. While there is a place for formal events—with speakers and celebrities—a fundraising event can also incorporate some fun elements.  Making your guests have fun at your fundraiser can often translate into more giving—and longer-term commitment to the cause.  

5.    Many non-profits think of fundraising events as the typical gala dinner with entertainment and speakers.  Try nontraditional activities during [or as part of] your fundraising event.  How about a fundraising event in conjunction with a regatta at the local yacht club? Or fundraising in a speakeasy venue with all the fun that that entails—top hats, feather boas and all.  If you have a baseball celebrity, why not try to hold your fundraiser in a ballpark—where your sports celebrity can pitch a few balls to add excitement to your event?

6.    Instead of a tuxedo-attired group of guests crowded into a hotel ballroom, how about making the event more family centric—with appropriate [fun] activities for all members of the family?  Children and grandchildren bring joy to parents and grandparents making them more giving participants.  

7.    Don’t underestimate the value of various social media platforms as a means of energizing (or reenergizing) your stakeholders—be it through serious posts or fun facts about your cause.  Pictures of your previous fun-filled fundraiser can be powerful tools to draw interested donors to your cause.       

8.   Hire a good event planning company with a proverbial roller deck of fun ideas to spice up your fundraiser—with the clear goal of improving results while taking some load off your back.  Choosing the right event planning company can spell success in so many ways—from smooth-running logistics, to theming and high-energy fun components, and to proactive social media strategies to drive attendees to your fundraiser or donors to your cause.

Let professionals at Your Great Eventspice up your next Fundraiser with clever and fun ideas. We have been serving our non-profit clients for over 20 years.   

How to “Professionalize” Your Next Fundraising Gala: 7 Reasons Why Hiring an Event Planning Company Will Help You Minimize Stress and Maximize Results

A professional event planning company will not only handle major aspects of your fundraiser, but also minor details such as an appropriate theme, the right venue, food arrangement, tableware and floral and décor. Having a professional event planning company on your side allows you to channel your energy into one or two areas in the planning process leaving the rest to your event planning company that is there to ensure that every other aspect of organizing a successful and stress-free fundraising gala is taken care of from every angle.  Here are seven key benefits of having a professional event planning company on your side:

1. Keep Your Budget in Check

Many believe that hiring an event planning company to orchestrate your gala could only result in you acquiring more costs than if you had planned the event yourself, but this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. An experienced event planner generally knows what costs to expect and whether there are differences in value. With this knowledge, they can help keep track of the overall costs and suggest ways that you can stay within a set budget.  They have years of experience in the art of planning successful fundraising galas; and are familiar with the ins-and-outs of the industry so well that they’re experts at knowing which vendors will get you the best deals for your price range as well as how to carefully map out your budget and stick to it.

When planning your next fundraising gala, ask your event planner for their expert recommendations regarding how to carefully map out your budget and stick to it, as well as insight on which vendors, venues, and services will get you the most bang for your buck at your next gala. 

2. A Fresh Perspective

When you’re planning a fundraiser, doing everything yourself is a very, very big job. And it gets stressful. As soon as you hire a professional event planning company, you can breathe. You can step back, regroup, focus on the things you know the most about, and get a lot of work done. Because someone else is handling the details of the event itself, you can be more productive on the things you do best. Plus, when the fundraiser happens, the event planning company’s team will be monitoring the event itself, taking care of every small detail and making sure the logistics are handled so that you can focus on making your guests and donors feel welcome and appreciated.

3. Expert Negotiations

Event planning companies know how to negotiate with vendors with ease so that your fundraising gala needs can be met without having to cut any corners. The professional event planning companies have helped a plethora of groups arrange successful fundraising galas over the years, and therefore have already established connections with trustworthy vendors who often provide reduced rates for their exemplary services.  Hiring an event planning company often means having a skilled negotiator to rely on, particularly when it comes to contracts with suppliers and vendors. An event planning company knows how to make sure your wishes are met; and is not afraid of putting pressure on the vendor or supplier when needed.

4. Your Time is Valuable

If you run a charity or nonprofit business, chances are, you already have plenty of responsibilities on your plate. Event planning is a time consuming, often-tedious process, and if you’re already devoting your days to take care of the day-to-day ongoings of your business, hiring an event planning company can save you a great deal of time.  They spend their time researching, planning and negotiating to help you get the spectacular event that you hope for.

An event planning company takes a lot of meetings for you. Why? Because there are details that you don’t have to be bothered with. They know the ins and outs of organizing fundraising events. Through the initial strategy meetings right at the beginning of the planning process, the event planning company should know exactly what your needs are. That means they attend meetings with the hotel and the catering company, the videographer and the furniture guy and the A/V people so that you can get more work done. As an executive director of a large non-profit once admitted, “I literally can’t count the hours having an event planner has saved me.”

5. The Devil’s in the Details

Event planning companies relish in perfecting even the smallest and most intricate details that go into planning the perfect fundraising gala. Orchestrating a fundraiser is no small feat; it’s common for nonprofits to get so caught up in big-picture event planning elements that crucial gala details may unintentionally fall to the wayside.  Utilizing an event planning company’s services for your gala will help you to rest easy knowing that there is an experienced team of experts there to help you manage every single detail so that you can enjoy the big night without a shadow of a doubt.  Event planners are very detail-oriented, which is great for making sure that nothing is left out. These professionals know what different events and occasions demand and are familiar with the finer details.

One of the biggest perks of hiring an event planning company is knowing that they have great organizational skills. From production timelines for the event to booking a venue on time, an event planner’s management is quite useful.  For busy professionals, the flexibility that an event planning company provides makes it easy to give as much or as little input as you desire. Event planners allow you to be as involved or uninvolved as you like!

6. Optimize and Organize

A professional event planning company knows how to take your wishes and demands to heart while making necessary tweaks and adjustments. An experienced event planner will listen carefully, provide input and be realistic when it is appropriate.

Planning an event doesn’t have to be stressful, especially when there are experts who enjoy helping with important details. By hiring an event planning company, you can not only save time and money, but you also greatly reduce your stress level. A good event planning company listens closely to what you have to say and incorporates your wishes and demands, mixing their professional advice or opinions when essential or asked for.

7. Conquer Emergencies with Ease

Having a professional take care of the large and small details and put everything together greatly reduces stress. They’re there to help troubleshoot difficulties and to make sure that the event goes off without a hitch.  Unfortunately, from time to time, things can go wrong [“Murphy’s Law”].  Having a professional event planning company on your side helps you deal with unplanned and unexpected emergencies in a calm and rational manner.  As a wise professional once commented, “Emergencies are inevitable in planning events. The manner with which you deal with an emergency can mean make or break.” 

In business for over 20 years, Your Great Eventis a professional event planning company dedicated to helping non-profits and charities organize the most successful fundraisers. 

We’re Planning the Purrfect Evening for Heaven on Earth’s 2018 “CATberet” Gala

Once again, Your Great Event is hired to help the Heaven on Earth Society for Animals in North Hollywood, CA, plan a paws-itively stellar event for their 2018 annual gala, and we couldn’t be more excited for this year’s theme: the “CATberet!” 

  Photo provided courtesy of Heaven on Earth Animal Society

Photo provided courtesy of Heaven on Earth Animal Society

Helping the World, One Feline at a Time

This widely-adored organization has devoted itself to “transforming the lives of homeless cats through rescue, sanctuary, and new beginnings,” and its dedicated team of staff and volunteers has far exceeded expectations whilst carrying out their mission. 

Since their founding in February of 2000, Heaven on Earth has developed a thriving cat adoption program, partnered up with a low-cost spay/neuter clinic to help stray cats in the San Fernando Valley area receive the assistance they need, provided valuable outreach services to the community, and created the Perry MacFarlane Sanctuary, a cage-free, no-kill cat care facility that was made possible through a gift from award-winning animation and comedy guru Seth MacFarlane in memory of his late mother, an “avid lifelong rescuer.”

Heaven on Earth’s annual gala plays a vital role in successfully funding their mission and services, with nearly 20% of the organization’s annual budget being acquired through generous donations made by friends and supporters who attend the gala.

  Photo provided courtesy of Heaven on Earth Animal Society

Photo provided courtesy of Heaven on Earth Animal Society

A Meow-nificent Venue

The CATberet gala will be held on Saturday, August 25, 2018, at The Jeremy West Hollywood hotel, a trendy, upscale venue on the Sunset Strip that features sleek, modern décor, dazzling social spaces perfect for cocktails and conversation, and stunning panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills and City of Los Angeles. 

This amazing venue is one of the most vibrant in the SoCal area, and the hotel opened just last year, so we’re thrilled that this year’s gala is going to be held in an event space as fresh, tech-forward, and breathtaking as The Jeremy!  

Showstopping Entertainment

Guests of the CATberet are in for a fun-filled night; the event will feature a program of captivating performances by renowned entertainers like acclaimed classical violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn, voice actress and singer Rachael MacFarlane, comedian Dana Goldberg, and more!

An Action-Packed Lineup

The gala will begin at 6:00 PM; attendees will be free to participate in a silent auction while mingling in the midst of a fabulous cocktail hour reception. At 7:30 PM, the CATberet begins! Guests will be treated to an elite fine dining experience while enjoying the gala’s program and special guest performances. This year’s 2018 CATberet gala is going to be the best one yet, and we’re looking forward to treating Heaven on Earth’s dedicated supporters to a delightfully purrfect night!  

Purchase your ticket for the CATberet here, and visit this linkfor more information on how to become a featured sponsor at the event! 

Charity|Community|Connection — We Teamed Up with Ronald McDonald House Pasadena to Plan the Fundraising Event of a Lifetime

Picture this: On a sunny April morning in Central Park, Pasadena, Californian residents from all walks of life came together with the purpose of achieving a common goal—attaining invaluable resources for critically-ill children by raising funds for the Pasadena Ronald McDonald Housethrough their annual Walk for Kids charity event.

Events That Make a Difference

The donations Ronald McDonald House receives are put toward providing sick children and their family members with a “home away from home” so that they can have access to medical, emotional, and financial support when they need it the most, and we here at Your Great Event couldn’t be more proud of the major role we played in planning and orchestrating this heartwarming and momentous occasion.

A Community That Cares

At Walk for Kids, hundreds of eager participants traveled 3.7 kilometers through Pasadena’s Central Park while enthusiastic supporters cheered them on from the sidelines. An assortment of vendors provided the event’s participants with snacks, smoothies, customized Ronald McDonald House t-shirts, and other specialty gifts and goodies.

Excitement at Every Corner

The fun didn’t stop when the walk itself came to a close! After crossing the finish line, the celebration continued while the walk’s participants and their supporters enjoyed music, food, games, prizes, an inflatable slide, and much more. We were thrilled with the event’s great turnout, which even featured a celebrity guest appearance by the Los Angeles Laker Girls and Heidi Hamilton, radio host KLOS 95.5 as emcee.

Making Lifelong Memories    

Walk for Kids went off without a hitch, and we’re so thankful that Ronald McDonald House Pasadena decided to partner up with us to embark on this rewarding fundraising journey. Giving back is one of the greatest joys of life, and we’ll never forget the fascinating people we met and the long-lasting memories we made throughout this incredible experience. 

5 Keys to A Great Event Design

Planning for a “perfect” event?  Make sure your event design includes these five critical elements.

A great party, a great event, a great wedding – all include the following elements in their design:

  • Lighting

  • Color

  • Texture

  • Movement

  • Scale

First among these is lighting. No other element can transform a boring space into a wildly spectacular one. LED up-lights for the walls can brighten the room and, when paired with your theme, begin to take your guests to the place you’ve envisioned. Gobos – your logo or graphic elements from your invitation – can make your dance floor or your backdrop exciting. Bathe the entire room in color – blue for a soothing effect or red for a Cirque feel. Use your imagination so your guests walk into your space and say Wow!

Hand-in-hand with lighting is Color. Don’t be afraid of it - use it to evoke the mood you want. Bold colors for a Latin themed event are perfect. Pastels for a wedding say romantic. Black and white says Old Hollywood. What would a Valentine event be without red?

You can bring texture into your design in a number of ways. The most obvious is your table scape. Your table linen and napkins, whether they be polyester, jute, brocade, or sequined, will give your guests a feel for your theme. A beautiful wooden table topped with succulents bring an entirely different texture to your event. Your centerpieces should complement your theme and your table.

Nobody wants to sit still for 3 or 4 hours. Plan your party with movement in mind. Your guests enjoy a cocktail hour or silent auction in the first space they enter. Plan something fun to move them into the dining room – a conga line, a flash mob, percussionists – all inviting guests to follow them to the next space. Schedule an interactive audience element during the program – a salsa or Charleston lesson. Have guests use the flashlight app on their phones (most everyone has one) to wave during a particular song. And finally, move your guests to the dance floor.

Lastly, choose your event venue carefully. Does the space have low or high ceilings? Is it too big for your guest count? Will you need tall elements to fill a large space? Will you have to section off a portion of the space to make it less cavernous? Although it seems counterintuitive, for rooms with low ceilings, tall plants and arrangements of boughs or other organic elements will draw your eyes to the plants and not the ceiling.

Take these five key elements into account next time you plan that special event and sit back and witness a much more impactful result or let the professionals at Your Great Event take all that burden away from you to guarantee you an unequivocally-successful event. 

Branding Your Fundraising Event with Graphics That Make an Impact!

The goal of your fundraising event is to attract attendees and sponsors to help raise money for your cause
and organization. You want your fundraising event to not only attract a lot of donors, (yes!), but, equally as important, showcase your organizations’ mission within the community, and raise awareness as to its good works.

Great graphics can bring attention to both your event and your mission!

Artistic and meaningful design can enhance the stature of your event, enticing the very attendees and sponsors you wish to attract! It promises your guests fun and excitement and a sense of what the mission is, all dressed up in a beautifully designed presentation.

The event design should sparkle, intrigue, and make an impression! 

Choosing a theme and carrying it out graphically throughout your key artwork and collateral pieces lends
cohesion to your marketing. It begins to brand your event in your potential donors’ minds. 

Always hire a professional designer. The event company you have wisely chosen to produce your event will have recommendations. Listen to them.

Good event design begins with your theme. The designer will take your ideas and design the concept artwork.
The primary goal: to make it a signature special event that shouldn’t be missed!


1. Development of theme and key art. Generally, two concepts are presented. Working with a professional designer can help to develop and produce a polished vision for the event. The designer should be practiced in professional design, budgets and deadlines, and empathetic to the larger cause of the organization.

Once the final art is approved, it is now branded into the following collateral pieces used at each stage of the marketing campaign.

2. Event logo and header: These initial graphic elements are used in all your early solicitation efforts. This will start to create a visual connection to the event for potential guests and donors.

3. Save the Date/Digital Eblast: This piece, whether a printed postcard or in a digital format, announces the event well in advance of the event date to start building interest, and get the date marked on people’s calendars.


4. Invitation package. This signature piece presents the event details in an attractive and well-designed presentation.  And also, importantly, delivers the sponsorship opportunities and donor levels, as well as the RSVP. The invitation can also include an insert with the “sponsors to date”, to spur others to donate as well. This is generally the most impressive and important piece of your event marketing.

5. Program Book: This is the journal that commemorates the event!  Within its pages there is valuable information about your organization, your event sponsors, advertisers, and vendors. This item goes home with the attendees. This can be a selling point for contributors and advertisers to the program. A PowerPoint sponsor loop during the event, and additional advertising both before and after the event also carries the brand to the audience.

A fundraising event can and should be branded from the original concept design, throughout the marketing and solicitation stage, and on to the event itself. Exciting and interesting graphics work in tandem with your organizations fundraising effort to create excitement for potential attendees and donors.

After all, your signature fundraising event plays an important role in raising money for your organization, and in
developing relationships with new and returning donors that carry into the future.

Impactful professional graphic design can brand your event.  This in turn enhances the success of your organizations fundraising, ensuring that your event is both successful and memorable! 

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 By Elizabeth MacFarland -  Graphic Design

By Elizabeth MacFarland - Graphic Design

Fundraising Events are not for everyone

The perennial conversation around non-profit organizations’ board tables is “how can we raise [more] money?”  It feels like that question has singularly become the “raison d’être” for many non-profit organizations.  However, in some cases, the non-profit organization’s belief that a fundraising event is an effective way to raise money may be misguided at times.  This may sound counterintuitive.  Let me hasten to clarify: Some non-profits fail to do their homework and factor in the direct (venue rental, food, décor, entertainment, etc.) and indirect (staff, board and volunteer time) costs before they embark on holding a fundraiser.  Without due consideration of all the factors involved, it would be folly to take on a time-consuming and intense fundraising event.  Engaging a professional event planning company with solid expertise in working with non-profits can lighten the load and ensure success.

Some non-profits shy away from engaging an event planning company on financial grounds: “We can do it ourselves and save the cost”.  This couldn’t be further from the fact.  Numerous studies have shown that to be successful in holding a fundraising event, using a professional event planning company with proper credentials is paramount.  An event planning company can become your catalyst for success in your fundraising effort.  It brings to the table a discipline that is often lacking when an organization tries to carry out such an undertaking on its own.

Here are areas that an event planning company can guide you when embarking on a fundraising event:

1.     Identify your stakeholders:  In an age when so many non-profit organizations are competing for limited funds, knowing the universe of your donors and other stakeholders is a critical first step.  Your event planning company should help you identify the pool of possible donors depending on your cause and devise outreach strategies to “recruit” as many as possible.  The donor outreach program should also entail educating the prospective donors about the organization, the cause and its relevance to them—directly or indirectly. 

2.     Engage your donors:  Once you have identified and educated your donors, you still have a hurdle to overcome: To get the donors engaged—and keep them engaged.  Engaged donors make for life-long donors.  Much like everyone else, donors want to make a difference.  Your event planning company will help you devise strategies to create fulfillment for your donors.  The company should be able to come up with creative ways to make the need for donation a source of personal fulfillment for the donor.  In an age of social media frenzy, it’s relatively easy to reach out to a wide range of committed donors/stakeholders and create a lasting—and rewarding—following. 

3.     “Donors are forever:”  There is always the risk that an organization may view their donors only in the context of the event at hand.  Your event planning company should help you formulate a long-term strategy for keeping your donors engaged—and how a one-time donor can be converted into a life-long donor.  In fact, if your resources allow, you may want to consider to have a dedicated function for “donor relations”—much like many universities have an alumni department. 

4.     Fundraising with a purpose:  Fundraising events are not only about fundraising: This statement may sound oxymoron. However, a sustainable fundraising effort must be based on solid foundations. The organization’s mission, its goals and its cause are critical to the success of your fundraising—not just once, but on a recurring basis. Your stakeholders will need to remain engaged.  You need to devise a plan on keeping them engaged.  To do so, you need to have a multi-year action plan to “evergreen” your cause.  Your event planning company can help you with your “cause marketing.”  In the end, fundraising is about more than fine dining at a ritzy venue with top-rated entertainment.  It’s about engaging a collection of interested individuals and converting them into a group of committed ambassadors for your cause.  Only thus can you have a sustainable roadmap to long-term success.       

The Roadmap to Successful Fundraising Events

Non-profit organizations often live off fundraising events.  However, fundraising events can only be successful if important steps are followed.  Here’s an 8-step roadmap:

1. Visioning:

The organization must first decide what the purpose of the intended event is: Just fundraising or something broader (such as outreach or cause marketing)? The purpose affects the nature of the event.

2. Financial Goals:

The amount of funds an organization hopes to raise determine the kind and nature of event.  Realistic goal setting is paramount in the success of an event.  Your professional event planning company should assist you in this important step.

3. Organization:

No event—corporate or non-profit—can ever succeed without proper structure.  The event planning company can only be held accountable if the organization has put in place proper lines of authority for every aspect of the event.  Ambiguity breeds chaos.

4. Target Audience:

Define your ideal audience.  Targeting the right audience is the only sure way to success. 

5. Event Logistics:

Don’t leave your event logistics to volunteers.  Too much rides on your success.  Trust it to professionals—whom you can held accountable.  But remain vigilant. 

6. Event Marketing:

Events’ success depends to a large degree on how a fundraiser is marketed to the target audience.  There is considerable competition for any event—and for any cause.  You are vying for a limited resource—funding.  You need to convince your target audience that your organization and event are worthy of their time and money. Ask for a detailed and professionally-done marketing plan from your event planning company. 

7. Role of Volunteers:

Non-profits are often blessed with having many dedicated volunteers—regardless of the cause.  Volunteers can be invaluable resources if they are provided with adequate guidance and leadership.  To avoid confusion and properly use this valuable resource, put your event planning company in charge of how and where to use the volunteer staff.   running smoothly.

8. Post-Mortem:

It’s critical that a post-event meeting is held with all the stakeholders to evaluate successes—and shortcomings, if any.  Your event planning partner should provide you with a detailed final report outlining how everything unfolder and funds raised (against the goal) and lessons learned.  Your future successes depend on learning from the past.  

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Traditional Golf Classic

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Traditional Golf Classic

We recently produced a golf classic for our friends at Five Acres. Rather than a typical golf classic execution including a day of golf, auction and awards dinner, we introduced a touch of plaid!  Here are five ways we spiced things up for Five Acres.

Event Theme

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Encourage guest engagement by adding a theme. This year, we created the “30th Anniversary and Five Acres Mad for Plaid Par-Tee!” Everyone arrived in their best plaid and embraced their inner Scot!

Creative Catering

Don’t get stuck with the same old F&B! Include themed meals and interactive food stations!  Our reception and dinner menu included a nod to Scottish fare and the family-style bread pudding was simply mouth-watering!

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Signature Drinks

Everyone loves a signature drink.  Spicy cocktails are on trend and add a little heat to your cocktail receptions.   

Décor & Live Entertainment

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To round off our Mad for Plaid Par-Tee, we transformed the club house into a Scottish tavern that included an authentic Scottish/Irish Band, Scottish Dancers and rustic tavern decor. 

Looking to spice up your next golf tourney?  Let Your Great Event help theme your next guest experience!  Your Great Event is a leading event planning and production company serving the needs of non-profit organizations throughout California. 

 

Managing Volunteers at Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations rely very heavily on the dedication of volunteers.  Volunteers are the backbone of many nonprofits.  To benefit from this potentially-vast resource, nonprofits must have a “volunteer management system” in place.  Much like employees, volunteers expect their work to be truly engaging and rewarding.  There are strategies that can elevate the volunteers’ experience and help with volunteer retention while allowing the nonprofit organization attain its larger goals.   

1.     Organization’s Goals

By nature [and applicable statutes], nonprofits are purpose driven; and are thus expected to have more focused goals.  An organization’s overall raison d’être is what draws volunteers to one nonprofit as opposed to another.  Volunteers must relate to and embrace the organization’s primary purpose to feel a sense of lasting commitment.  Harvesting the volunteer force also requires a set of distinct goals of its own.  Volunteer management must be carried out in a disciplined and focused manner to create a harmonious interconnection between volunteers and the organization.  The more organizational involvement for the volunteers, the better the retention rate.       

2.     Volunteer Recruitment Plans

Nonprofits rely heavily on the availability of volunteers for many of their essential tasks.  Few nonprofits can afford to do away with volunteers or replace them with paid staff.  How does a nonprofit go about finding and recruiting suitable and qualified volunteers?  One possible pool is the donor list.  With proper coaching and inspiration, many non-volunteers could be prospective candidates as volunteers.  In general, by seeing all your organization’s supporters as potential volunteers, you’ll be able to develop deeper relationships with passionate individuals who really consider themselves a part of your nonprofit as a whole.  By ignoring donors or members as potential volunteers, a nonprofit could be inadvertently shutting out a heavily-impactful group.

3.     The Role of Technology

Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives.  Managing the volunteer program (recruitment, onboarding, retention and recognition) is no exception.  There are simple and complex purpose-driven applications for any and all aspects of volunteer management as are more generic CRM software that can be adapted to help an organization in this important task.  The right volunteer management software can help the organization to store volunteer data and empower it to amplify its understanding of volunteer management.  In its core, even a simple volunteer management application should have the following important attributes:

  • Time-keeping capabilities. Staying on top of volunteer hours can be a major burden without the help of a proper tool. With the right application, a nonprofit should be able to more accurately capture and track volunteer activity (and view/retain it in one centralized location).

  • Detailed volunteer profiles. To help the volunteers succeed in their roles, it’s important that the organization understands their personalities and needs. The right software can enable the nonprofit to maintain all volunteer data, including communication preferences, contact information, volunteer history, and relevant skills or interests—and retrieve same when needed.

  • Volunteer communications. Automate and send individual or batch emails directly through the right software.

4.     Volunteer Recognition Program

While volunteers give of their time and expertise because they believe in the cause, it does not mean that the organization should take their involvement for granted.  To retain and earn the loyalty of the volunteer workforce, an organization must develop a systematic practice of showing proper gratitude to volunteers for their services.  While thanking volunteers every time they serve is a good gesture, the organization’s gratitude must be shown in as many ways as possible to result in lasting loyalty and retention.  Like everyone else, volunteers want to know that they’re valued.

To go beyond verbal or written thank-you notes, an organization must invest in an engaging appreciation program including:

  • Social Media. Social media makes it easy to connect with volunteers. Consider posting regular volunteer announcements on your organization’s Facebook or Twitter page. Or, dedicate a full page on your nonprofit website to highlighting your volunteers as a whole.

  • Broadcast. What have your volunteers done for your organization? Broadcast it! Share how specific volunteer involvement has impacted the world around them, in small or large ways.

  • Volunteer appreciation events. The internet is a great place to extend gratitude to your volunteers, but there is also value to in-person events. Recognize your volunteers at purpose-planned and exciting appreciation events.

  • Developing an effective volunteer management can be a challenging task. However, it is imperative for nonprofits to have an appropriate program to be able to manage and benefit from engaged and enthusiastic volunteers—a potentially vast, valuable—and free—resource.

Your Great Event is a national event planning company dedicated solely to the needs of nonprofit organizations.  Let us help you put in place an effective volunteer management program. 

Make Your Groundbreaking Ceremony Extraordinary

We’ve all seen photos of groundbreaking ceremonies—smiling faces cutting a ribbon with a big scissor. How about making your groundbreaking ceremony into a cutting-edge ceremony? Something people would like to see. Something they will remember.

Invite your guests—supporters, customers, employees—to a buffet lunch—on the ground you are breaking! You can put up a tent with clear side walls so your guests can see the actual first shovel hit the dirt without worrying about wind and dust.

Design a program to thank supporters and sponsors and encourage your guests to mingle. Keep it short and simple; but be sure to include information about the purpose of your expansion—or the new building—or a second location.

When you are ready, you can still cut the ribbon with big scissors if you want. Give the invitees assigned to hold the ribbon hard hats to make the photo opportunity special.

Your Great Event can help with any groundbreaking—or any other—event you may be contemplating.

Amazing Holiday Race

So, you have to roll out a holiday party for 15 board members and their guests. You’ve secured the venue, the menu is chosen, the room is decorated for the season, and you’ve hired a popular jazz quartet. Here is your challenge:  Your client wants her guests to have fun, to play a game that encourages them to interact with each other, and she has an idea! She wants you to create a game and call it the “Amazing Holiday Race.” What do you do?

We divided guests into 6 teams of 5. We set up the room with 6 stations with easy, inexpensive tasks for the team to complete. Client staff supervised each station. We wrote rules for each contest and made sure the players understood them.

Everyone played the games, all of them laughed—hard, and all of them were filled with holiday spirit – even the losing teams.

Here are the games we chose to play.

  1. Client knowledge – come up with 15 questions about your organization. Each group gets one answer sheet. Don’t make the questions too easy.
  2. Penny stacking – each member of the group must stack 25 pennies using only one hand.
  3. Mascot Game – you’ve probably played this before yourself. Download the 36 well-known company mascot quizzes from the web. Each group gets one answer sheet and they are not allowed to use their cell phones to look up answers.
  4. Red Cup, Blue Cup: put at least 20 red cups in a stack with a blue cup at the bottom. Each team member, using alternate hands, restacks the cups until the blue one is back on the bottom.
  5. Map of the World:  put a 50-piece puzzle together. We used a map of the world.
  6. Decorate your Ornament: each team member decorates a plain wooden ornament with paint pens.

The game materials cost $200! The winning team each received a $25 gift card. You can spend more if you like, but the fun is in the doing not necessarily in the winning.

Do you have an idea for an unusual Holiday Party? Let Your Great Event help you put it together.

Not the Same Old Venue

Not the Same Old Venue

An event in a non-traditional venue can produce surprising, unusual, and innovative experiences for guests. Your Great Event can produce your event in some unique venues. How about the Dodger Stadium? 

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Angelenos are rightfully proud of Dodger Stadium. From its central location to its magnificent views, from its beautifully-manicured grounds to its perfectly-maintained stadium seats, from the skill of its vendors to the taste of a Dodger Dog, the Los Angeles Dodgers do everything right. And that means protecting the natural grass that covers most of the playing field. In order to have an event in the outfield, a sub-floor will need to be laid over the grass and carpet laid on top of the floor. Roped stanchions must surround the entire cocktail reception and dining area to keep guests off the grass—and the infield.

Dodger Vision can display your logo. The scoreboard will welcome your guests with a continuous scroll of their names.

You can separate the dinner area with free-standing candle walls covered with flowing fabric. Put baseballs on the shelves of the walls. Later in the evening guests can be invited to take one of the baseballs and have your honorees sign them as a memento of the evening.  In the dining area, you can set tables with silver chargers. Beautiful and delicate orchids of varying heights can be your centerpieces. Instead of table numbers, guests can be assigned to tables named after a famous Dodger Baseball Star.

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A garden-fresh salad can be pre-set. Waiters can carry out each meal on individually-covered plates. As the covers are removed, guests can be treated to—what else—Dodger Dogs accompanied by gourmet broiled tomato and roasted asparagus. The meal can be a perfect blending of traditional and fun!

And what would a Dodger event be without Roger Owens, aka “The Peanut Man,” who can toss, just as he does at Dodger games, bags of peanuts to guests.

One extra bonus for guests will be quickly evident:  Guests can be invited to use the restrooms in the Dodger Dugout Club. To get there, they walk along the third base line past the Dodger Dugout. Throughout the entire evening, you will look over at the dugout and see someone sitting on the Dodger bench while someone else takes their photo.

What is your fantasy location?  Let Your Great Event help you organize your next event at a venue with an authentic wow factor. 

 

Site Visits are About More Than the Site

Sure, you’ve done your research and you’ve chosen three different venues to show your client. You know that you can fit the 350 estimated guests and a dance floor in the ballroom. (For purposes of this writing, we’ll assume that you are showing hotels to your client. The steps described below apply to all kinds of venues, so keep reading even if you want your event on a rooftop.)

Have you done your homework? Have you asked the right questions so to know if the venue fits within your client’s budget? The last thing you want is your client falling in love with a space he/she can’t afford.

  1. Have you determined what dates are available at the hotel for your event?
  2. What is the F&B (food and beverage) minimum for the night you’ve chosen for the event?
  3. Do you have the menus for the event and will you meet or exceed the F&B minimum?
  4. Are there charges for the bars and bar tenders you need? Based on consumption? Based on sales? Can you have a cash bar at the event?
  5. What is the administrative service fee percentage that will be charged on everything the hotel/venue provides?
  6. What AV provider does the hotel/venue use? Is their use mandatory or can you bring in your own vendors?
  7. What kind of parking is available and what rates are charged?
  8. Does the hotel offer discounted room rates if guests want to stay overnight?
  9. Is the location in an area that will fit your event demographic? If it isn’t, is the venue so spectacular that your client might be interested anyway? (Remember, a little push, a little shove, a little stretch for something different, when presented carefully, can mean that the client sees your creative contribution in a meaningful light that takes your relationship to a deeper place of trust.)
  10. During the site visit, be sure to point out any special features that the hotel/venue has to offer – features that made you want to show the location to your client. This could be special chandeliers, or spectacular views, or a spacious lobby, or a waterfall in the foyer. Let your client know that you’ve done your research so that they know that you can create an event that they will love – and that works within the budget they envision.

Your Great Event always works within a budget approved by the client. Let us show you how we can make an event sing on any size budget.

To Hotel or Not to Hotel?

To Hotel or Not to Hotel?

Not all events need to take place at a hotel.  Given the nature of the celebration or the audience, certain events require some creative thinking when choosing a venue. You might consider a street, a rooftop, a courtyard, an event venue, or even a parking lot to create the proverbial Wow factor you want.

Glendale Community College is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year. To showcase the college and make the celebration of this special anniversary an event to remember, we decided to host our 400 guests to a seated dinner, on the campus outside under the stars. The reception was held in a space separate from the dining area and included a large silent auction.

Reaching for the Stars was the theme for the gala. The theme was carried out throughout the evening from the colors used to decorate the space, through the names of the menu items and the star shaped hors d’oeuvres. The expanding universe of stars was displayed on the blue carpet that led guests from the reception into the dining area and on one of the buildings surrounding dinner tables.

And the entertainment was provided by student stars—including a dance flash mob that signaled the end of the reception and enticed guests to follow the dancers to the dining area.

This event was both a financial success and a memorable event. But it did require the development of an extensive budget and timelines for the both the entire event, the days before and, of course, event day. Close inspection of rental orders, catering orders, staffing orders, volunteer responsibilities, and campus capabilities all come in to play. A kitchen was created for the caterer and coffee, water, and ice needed to be brought in. Bar service was provided by a catering company that specializes in providing alcohol. No hotel means no hotel staff.

Your Great Event can provide the expertise you need your own wow factor—even the out-of-the-box events you fantasize about.

 

Photo: Ken Allard/El Vaquero

Full Media Coverage by the Los Angeles Times, click here.