What's the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?
I was happy with the result and proved to myself that I could deliver a polished, well-planned event.
I did a small, intimate wedding in North Georgia. In the end, I was happy with the result and proved to myself that I could deliver a polished, well-planned event. In the beginning, you have to keep it small and scale up as you learn and grow as a business person. Do not bite off more than you can chew, but also stay confident in your abilities to know when to take bigger opportunities.
It was my school dance in 4th grade.
It was my school dance in 4th grade. I was so excited that my teachers at Hamilton Alternative School in Columbus, OH gave us children free, creative reign on a school dance. From what I can recall, we planned out the theme, the group choreographed dance, and what kind of food and drink would be served (surprise, surprise: it was punch, pizza, and popcorn; the 3 main food groups for kids). I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to go to the dance because it fell on the same day that my Dad had to drive me out of town for some immunizations that were pre-scheduled. I made sure to get feedback on Monday and everyone said it was the “best dance ever!”
I had the support of a mentor who was extremely encouraging and trusting in my abilities.
Although I cannot recall my first event, I can recall the very first wedding I took on my own (under another planners company). I had the support of a mentor who was extremely encouraging and trusting in my abilities. She let me take the ranks from point A to point Z which helped with my confidence but also let me try out my own instincts from pre-planning to on-site production.
I always suggest for younger professionals looking to get into wedding planning to shadow and work for a planner before going solo. This allows you to build your knowledge base with the support of a true professional while assuring the client doesn’t lose out on anything in the process!
It was at Dave-n-Busters in Arlington, Texas and when we were done, the private party room looked like it was straight out of Marie Antoinette's bedroom.
My very first event was a 4th birthday party for a very lucky little girl. It was at Dave-n-Busters in Arlington, Texas and when we were done, the private party room looked like it was straight out of Marie Antoinette’s bedroom. It was such a hit that the store manager brought in the regional manager and they were taking photos of the event as they were in shock of the transformation.
We had tacked floral fabric to the walls because the wallpaper wasn’t working with our concept, and brought in our own furniture and chairs. It is probably still my favorite party to date.
I remember my first large event as part of a job was for a local Chamber of Commerce event in my town.
Other than helping with my mom’s wedding in high school, I remember my first large event as part of a job was for a local Chamber of Commerce event in my town. It was an incredible experience that gave me insight into the world of hosting fundraisers and a plated seated meal. It was Olympic themed and so much fun to experience!
It was - in one word - a mess.
When I was in college, I worked as a golf cart beverage attendant (this, by the way, is probably the best job in the world besides being a wedding planner). The clubhouse hosted a wedding on-site and didn’t have a coordinator, so I jumped right into the role.
It was – in one word – a mess. The couple was sweet and very young with a newborn child. To my dismay, both sets of parents insisted on coming to every planning meeting. We never got much done because all the parents were always arguing with each other. The poor couple just sat there looking uncomfortable; I didn’t exactly get the feeling that the marriage was their decision.
Come wedding day, the mom of the bride insisted on displaying the cake by a bright window (in Texas, in August) – and to make matters worse, provided me with a hefty Precious Moments ceramic topper that must have weighed at least five pounds. Within minutes of placing it on the cake, half of the top tier was sliding away in an avalanche. I nearly panicked but at least had enough sense to rush the cake into the walk-in cooler. I then ran to the nearest grocery store to buy pastry sugar flowers, which I stuck all over the damage to cover it. If the family ever actually never noticed the damage, they never said anything about it.
The party itself was quite awkward, with more arguing family members and a strange mix of dance songs including the Macarena, but the couple seemed happy enough! It would be intriguing to do it all over again knowing what I know now about client management.
Within the first few months of opening Cru Catering, I was approached by a local, well-known chef and friend...to cater his wedding for 350 people.
Before starting my catering company, I was a Chef at a local restaurant in Charleston, S.C. for a year and a half and established great relationships with other chefs in Charleston. I left that position and moved back to California to be closer to my family. I was at a crossroads – stay in California or move back to Charleston where I had a very solid client base? I decided to move back to Charleston. I wanted to work for myself and didn’t have much financing so Catering would be the most cost-effective way to get closer to being an owner-operator of my own restaurant.
Within the first few months of opening Cru Catering, I was approached by a local, well-known chef and friend, Robert Carter, to cater his wedding for 350 people. Of course I agreed. I knew if we pulled this off at a high level we would be building a great client base that we could grow with for years. The event was very stressful but also VERY successful. We learned a lot and carried it on now for twenty years.
One of the first events I ever planned was a 1000 invitee sales event.
One of the first events I ever planned was a 1000 invitee sales event. It was so chaotic and I strived in it. I absolutely loved it, it brought out a side of me that up until that point I didn’t realize I had. It went well and I learned a lot of lessons. One being that when you invite 1000 people, that doesn’t mean you will have 1000 people show up. That is what RSVPs are for, and even then only about 20% of those will actually be there. It was an important lesson that I am happy I had learned early on in my career.
My first solo event after splitting off from my former business partner was a major award show after-party in Beverly Hills.
My first solo event after splitting off from my former business partner was a major award show after-party in Beverly Hills. As I knew the client from my previous company, I was able to anticipate her needs, expectations, and vision. However, having to do everything myself presented some challenges in how I managed my time. Suffice to say after a few sleepless nights, the event was a huge success. In fact, the Beverly Hilton used an overhead image of that event for their next year’s Emmy advertisement. Suffice to say someone liked my style back then.
I planned a back yard wedding for about 100 people.
I planned a back yard wedding for about 100 people. The client moved into the house just months prior and most of the planning was also done working around construction/remodeling. The client had a specific vision and it was so fun to see it all come to fruition! We were able to make the event feel like an amazing experience while also incorporating their elements of home. The caterer used their grill for the meat, we had their pool lit with hundreds of floating candles, we hired a DJ that set up two booths knowing that we would need to move the party inside at a certain time, but wanting the guests to be able to dance under the stars for as long as possible. I worked with local police to ensure that the party was not moved inside a moment before the sound ordinances made it a need. It’s an event I will never forget as everything had to be brought in, everyone had to work together to make it happen, and Mother Nature had to be on our side!
The first event I ever planned was a party in a castle.
The first event I ever planned was a party in a castle. It sold out and went incredibly well from a guest perspective. From an operational and planning perspective (behind-the-scenes), it didn’t go so well – but no guest saw this aspect. What do you expect – it was my first ever event!
There were many moving parts to the event from performances, intermission, cocktail hour, and dinner.
CCE’s first event was for a South Asian young lady. It was her Arangetram; South Indian dance tradition Bharatanatyam to a dancer’s debut performance. There were many moving parts to the event from performances, intermission, cocktail hour, and dinner. The guest count was over 500! The event was colorful and well thought out. It truly was amazing! This event took place in 2006 and now this young lady works for CCE as the Lead Event Designer. It came full circle!
I did an event called Welcome To The Wild Side, a gala/party.
I did an event called Welcome To The Wild Side, a gala/party. That was a huge learning curve because it was the first event that I had done that was on the larger side, at an offsite venue, where I needed to think about liquor and food issues while also thinking about traffic, security, and restrooms.
It was a hugely successful event but only because I had a dedicated group of committee members that were able to think quickly on their feet. You have no room for egos when planning an event
When the parent coordinators arrived at my home to pick up the cake, they looked at each other and were speechless.
My first fondant order was for a local elementary school in Atlanta, GA. It was another baker that reached out to me sharing that she was ill and she inquired if I could execute the order. I agreed to take the order and she said to me it does not have to be perfect its for kids. I recall being so nervous. I made a yellow cake with vanilla buttercream in between each layer. I covered the cake in black fondant with a red tassel hanging out of the side of the cake. I hand made the name of the school lettering incorporating the words “5th-grade class” along with a handmade apple and a pencil out of fondant. When the parent coordinators arrived at my home to pick up the cake, they looked at each other and were speechless. My initial thought was that they did not like the cake until she responded, “oh my God this is way better than I had expected. Honey, you have talent!”. Her positive response allowed me to tap into my internal power and I started testing out new recipes after that.
Our very first event was a launch party to grow brand awareness of Confetti Kitchen.
Our very first event was a launch party to grow brand awareness of Confetti Kitchen. We invited friends and family to a festive food truck park in San Francisco and donated all proceeds to No Kid Hungry. I had been planning the event for several weeks and to see it all come together was magical. I was definitely bitten by the event bug after seeing all of my friends, and even strangers, connecting over what we were building at Confetti Kitchen. The offline energy and community building left a lasting impression. From that point on, I produced events on a monthly basis, and eventually pivoted the media company to Hidden Rhythm, a full-service experiential agency!
As a team, our first event was a 400-person gala for PBS SoCal in 2014.
As a team, our first event was a 400-person gala for PBS SoCal in 2014. At the time, Chef Hope and Joyce were working together at a local catering company while Melissa was the director of special events for PBS SoCal. Chef Hope was hired to cater this amazing event, which raised over $1 million for public television.
I know that experience really showed me how well I performed under pressure and pushing myself to the limit.
The first event I did now that I look at it went really well. I know then I was really disappointed with the attendance. I really beat myself up about that. However, thinking now I really accomplished a great deal for my first shindig. What I created was neat. I really got a hands-on experience with sponsorship and pulling in a significant amount of vendors by myself. I know that experience really showed me how well I performed under pressure and pushing myself to the limit. It was an exceptional learning experience.
My first event was at my apartment.
My first event was at my apartment. HA! It was a mess. I never knew how much work it would be just to have people over. I also didn’t know how expensive parties can get. I tried to cook for everyone while also cleaning up, doing some decorations and anything else. I couldn’t handle it all so I had no decorations, ordered pizza and purchased alcohol. I figured, they are my friends, they will love the effort. Everyone came, had fun, I fell asleep and woke up to a mess. Took me the entire weekend to clean up. Was so worth it though.
Does a tea party for my stuffed animals count? Just kidding… sort of.
I honestly can’t remember the first event I planned. I’ve been helping to plan parties for years. Does a tea party for my stuffed animals count? Just kidding… sort of. I guess the first time I was in any formal planning role was college. I was appointed a member of the college activities board and also the concert committee.
I know exactly whose wedding it was and I think it went well.
I know exactly whose wedding it was and I think it went well. I am still in touch with that bride!
The first 3 events were clients from my Temple having parties at our neighborhood country club.
The first 3 events were clients from my Temple having parties at our neighborhood country club. Very comfortable with the situations. They went great. That was 100’s of parties ago.