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Webinar: Hotel Negotiations

What planner doesn't want more negotiation tips up their sleeve?  This Thursday you can join a free webinar with executive leaders from Marriott and MGM sharing tips for negotiating cost savings and discussing how RFPs are scored.  Thursday, March 1 @ 1:30pm EST.

Webinar Link and Call in #:


Mad Hatter Baby Shower, Loved This!

Sometimes you attend an event and just can't believe all the creativity, effort and energy that went into creating a special day for a friend or client.  I recently attended a baby shower for a dear friend and absolutely couldn't wait to share photos of this creative event hosted by Jessica Gowdy. 

Hope you enjoy images from this Mad Hatter theme baby shower.  




          "Alice" cookies of course, delicious for any occasion

          Card stock tags and playing cards purchased on Etsy








 Glowing Mother to be Erin & Hostess with the Mostess Jessica Gowdy.



Fresh Catering Ideas

Looking for something to spice up your next event?  With the food truck trends and our economy as it is, we've seen catering move towards playful and "do it your self" stations rather than the traditional, formal event food presentations. Below are images of "fun" catering ideas from Biz Bash and a list we came up with to get your creative juices flowing.  Bon Apetit.

 Cork Catering (chicago) came up with a custom s’mores station, yumm....

 Mary Giuliani Catering & Events (New York) created a devil-your-own-egg bar

 Elegant Affairs Caterers created “salad-tinis” made by “chef-tenders"

Thomas Preti Caterers came up with individual fondue cups

 Tip of the Tongue (NY) served refreshing drinks from garden carts - adorable


  Custom iced teas, as delicious as they are pretty

 Great Performances (NY) stocked bars with infusions like pineapple vodka.


Other ideas to consider:

Similar to the ice cream stations we've all enjoyed, below are some other foods guests can have fun making:

* A smoothie station for an outdoor party, have guests scoop all their favorite ingredients then hand over to a beach attire attendant for the blending.

* Shaved Ice stations in your corporate or event colors

* Individual hummus cups, making the usually stationary appetizer something mobile

* A Taco buffet with gourmet toppings (or common toppings presented in a beautiful serving dishes)

* A slider bar of course - how many ways can one make a slider - a LOT

* Make your own pizza and hand over to a chef managing the brick oven

* Decorate your own cookies or cupcakes, great for children's parties

* Rice krispies on a kabob with various dipping chocolate options (similar to fondue stations)

* Iced Tea stations - yes even iced tea can be presented in many different combinations

Anytime you can take a favorite food and allow guests to customize it themselves, they're sure to have fun creating with others.  What are your favorite "fun" foods for parties?


more event pics:


Class Reunions: Entertainment Ideas

As my class reunion approaches, I enjoyed receiving this guest post from Gig Masters.  To all those planning the reunions, this might make your life easier (and check out their reunion resource link below). Enjoy!

Class reunions are one of those events that seem like they were invented to make people feel awkward. Sure, it’s great to reconnect with those you lost touch with over the years but it is can also be quite uncomfortable attempting to make small talk with people that you haven’t seen in 5, 10 or 20 years. So, how do you cut the tension and make everyone feel more at ease?  You hire the right entertainment!

Booking the perfect entertainment for a class reunion can really help make guests feel more comfortable as they ease into the party. Variety entertainers such as Impersonators, Magicians and Fortune Tellers can act as a great ice breaker or conversation starter for people that can’t quite find the right way to bond with once-friends turned strangers. Variety performers are perfect for stifling tension and getting guests to interact with each other.

We all know that any successful party has to have good music! Selecting the right live band or DJ for a reunion is extremely important because they will set the tone of the night and the energy in the room. You want your fellow classmates to hit the dance floor, not stand on the sidelines like back in 6th grade. The perfect DJ or live band will make sure that the dance floor is packed and there are no wallflowers.

GigMasters clients planning reunions most frequently request DJ’s and Cover Bands to rock these school get-togethers. If you are planning a decade specific event, you may consider booking a Tribute Band to play music reminiscent of a popular group from that era. Your classmates will enjoy the blast from the past and fond school day memories will come floating back to them. And for a little extra “wow” factor, talk to your musical entertainment about learning and performing the school song, it would add a nice nostalgic touch to the evening.

Last but certainly not least, hiring a photographer for the event is always a good idea. With an event photographer present you don’t have to worry about someone not being in the picture! And remember, professional photographers know how to make things look picture perfect, so you can worry a little less about any awful pictures being mobile uploaded to Facebook!

For more class reunion party planning tips and resources you can visit our Reunion Event Planning page.

What do you think makes a fun class reunion? Share your thoughts or funny reunion story in the comments below.



Where to find freelance event jobs

Thought this posting in the Linked In group "Who's Who in Events" was a discussion others may find really helpful.  The question was Where can a freelance event planner find jobs?

Top recommendation was, also mentioned:

"You might try or join IFEA (International Festivals and Events Association) to get access to the member database. About $350 annual dues."

Here's a link to the Linked In Group if you care to join:


Ecofriendly wedding dress: Do it in a green way

A Reader Submission from Ms. Harper, enjoy.

The most significant wedding choice for a bride to be, apart from the groom and the wedding ring, of course, is her wedding gown.  It’s meant to be worn just once and made from synthetic materials, your wedding gown can be a sheer waste of resources and non sustainable, contributing to air or water pollution. Not if you decide to opt for a green wedding dress, though. Now, contrary to popular belief, procuring a green, Eco friendly wedding gown will not burn a hole in your pocket or make you look unattractive. Neither is it an onerous, time consuming task to find one.

Many designers offer stunning, eye popping Eco friendly wedding gowns at affordable prices. Check out some cool green wedding gown ideas below:

1. Vintage wear

Turning your mother’s much treasured vintage wedding dress into a totally new ravishing one, is a great idea. This transformed heirloom wedding gown has priceless emotional value attached, and saves on money big time. Besides, you extend its life cycle. There are many shops that sell wedding gowns which have been worn just once. You can get these redesigned by a local designer and you are done.

2. Natural fibers

If wearing a hand me down wedding gown is against your standards, go in for dresses made from natural fibers.

a. Silk is one such material. Made from renewable resources (silkworms), silk is seldom treated with harmful chemicals and is totally bio degradable. Silk has a natural shine and smooth finish. It can make a very elegant and flowing wedding gown.

b. Wedding gowns made from organic cotton are skin friendly and great for summer weddings. Organic cotton uses less water compared to regular cotton and is free of chemicals and pesticides. Hence, it is a good Eco friendly option for a wedding dress.

c. Bamboo grass pulp is one more natural fiber which can be used to manufacture soft, silky fabric with anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. Bamboo being a quick growing grass is a renewable resource and makes up for a great green wedding gown.

d. Fabrics made of natural fibers are hand dyed and often embellished with beautiful applique work, to make elegant wedding gowns. Some designers also integrate vintage remnant fabrics along with bamboo, organic cotton, and peace silk to make ravishing wedding gowns.

You need not worry if local stores do not stock dresses made of natural fibers. Many designers have online stores that sell Eco friendly wedding dresses. Conscious Clothing is an online store selling exclusive hemp silk wedding attire. Better still, you can order Eco friendly fabric made of natural fiber, online at NearSea Naturals and get your designer to craft a beautiful wedding gown out of this. Once used wedding dresses in good condition can be purchased from eBay. Sentimental pieces like vintage jewelery and precious stones can be sewn into Eco couture wedding gowns on request, adding a rich and royal feel to it. You can even think ahead by getting a wedding dress that can be remade into a fun, flirty cocktail dress post wedding.

Eco chic wedding gowns can be stylish and affordable. Go for recyclable and bio degradable environment friendly wedding gowns and reduce your carbon footprint.


About the author: Samantha Harper is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and luxury. Beside this she is fond of books. 


Amazing Cakes: Erica Obrien

If you are looking to make a statement, provide a truly unique and delicious cake to your guests, Erica Obrien Cakes is your place.  Trained in New York's Institute for Culinary Education, Erica Obrien naturally creates fresh organic ingredients with incredible visual appeal.  

Starting with her relaxed, complementary tasting and moving into a design process, every stage is custom to each client.  During the design process, Erica gathers inspiration and direction from her clients to create a truly unique cake for each event.

Starting at $7/slice, the pricing is in the ballpark of what a restaurant would charge for a dessert. 






A sample sketch from design process

For those who are so inclined, Erica offers classes out of their Hamden, CT location. More images, a beautiful blog and an overview of cake flavors can be seen at:


Looking for a New Years Eve Party?

Not that I'll be ringing in the New Year on Times Square tonight....but if you're one of the millions that are hitting the town, here's a site listing all the parties open to the public.  It's quite a robust list of clubs and restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto etc.  Love the Internet.

New Year's




Happy New Year. Welcome 2012

As we welcome 2012 Bonjour Events wishes you a Happy New Year and great business experiences in 2012.   We look to adding new features to this site in the second quarter and appreciate your continued feedback, ideas and contributions to the content we publish.




Entertainment Contracts: Need to Know Info

Another guest post from GigMasters.  Great info to know before signing on the dotted line. The more we confirm before the event day, the smoother the performance goes (as well as the lower your blood pressure).

GigMasters ALWAYS recommends the use of entertainment contracts – both for performers and clients.  While (fingers crossed) your event should go as planned – anything can happen and you want to be covered.  You don’t want any unpleasant surprises leading up to, or on, the day of your event.

Below are a few of the questions about your event that you should ask your entertainer BEFORE you sign a contract.  The answers to these questions will likely form the basis of your entertainment contract:

How much time will they need to set up?
While you’ve established the date and time of the performance, you may not have discussed what time the performers need to arrive to set up. Once that time is determined, you’ll need to clear it with the venue and make certain that they’ll have access to the venue’s event coordinator during that time, in case they have any questions or problems. Most likely, you will be busy during this set-up time; so it’s important that someone at the venue is available to them.

Which of their group members will be present at your event?
When you first picked this band you were probably impressed by the specific group of performers that you saw perform either live or on video. However, it’s important that you verify which of the band, dj or ensemble members will actually be present at YOUR event. The vocalist that nailed Nat King Cole’s voice may not be available for your particular event day. Better to find out now than later.

Will the performers consume alcohol at your event?
This is really a question for you. You need to determine your comfort level with this issue. Remember, they are working for you…do you want them drinking on the job?

What will they wear at your event?
You should find out what their standard attire is for your type of event and make sure that it fits in with what you envision. If your event is black tie, they should know this in advance. On the other hand, if you’re having a more casual event, you probably don’t want your entertainers in tuxedos.

What is the performer’s cancellation policy?
This is a two-way question: they could cancel or you could cancel. It’s important to understand what happens in both scenarios. In the case of a performer cancellation, you should select a certain number of days prior to your event that you can live with. For example, you might decide that they can cancel the contract up until 14 days before the event. While this is not something you even want to think about, it’s obviously important you allow ample time to find a suitable replacement. Naturally, you’ll want to be sure that if they cancel, that they’ll return your deposit to you. And, if you book your performer on GigMasters, you’re covered under our deposit guarantee and we’ll personally help you find a replacement.

There are a couple different scenarios if YOU cancel:
1.    If they’re requiring that you pay a non-refundable deposit, then the performer will need to select a date by which you can cancel and not be further obligated to pay the balance.
2.    If you’re paying a refundable deposit, then the performer will select a date by which you can cancel and receive a refund for your deposit.

What form of payment will they accept for the balance?
You don’t want to be surprised on the night of your event when the performer asks for a certified check. So, be absolutely sure that you ask this question! Cash, money order, certified check, personal check, and credit card are all possible options.

Do they have personal injury and property damage liability insurance?
Before you ask this question of the performer, you should discuss with the venue what they require or recommend. Ask the performer to provide their proof of insurance BEFORE signing the contract.

What are their space and electrical requirements?
Understanding how much space the performer needs as well as their power requirements is really important because it affects what the performer brings to set up. This will also determine where they set up, which needs to fit in with the overall layout of the space. Ideally, you’ll have a meeting with the performer and the event coordinator at the venue prior to your event – you can certainly discuss these details during this meeting.

Will they provide the sound and lighting systems?
The answer to this question varies from performer to performer – and could be affected by the venue’s existing sound and lighting systems. So, find out what, if any, sound and lighting systems are available at the venue, and make sure that the performer’s systems are compatible.  This is another important item to discuss at the meeting with the venue.

Are they available for overtime?
Months before your event, the idea of paying your performer for overtime might sound totally crazy when you carefully pore over every budget item. But, on the night of your event when the party is in full effect, you might say, “to hell with the budget” and ask them to play for another hour or two. So, we advise that you find out beforehand how much overtime they’d be willing to provide and at what rate.

Once you’ve discussed all of these questions with the performer, you’ll be better prepared to sign the contract that they send. You should make certain that the answers they provided during your conversation are consistent with what you see in the contract.

If it isn’t already apparent to you, we STRONGLY recommend that you have a contract with your performer. We provide a contract template for performers to use, that covers all of the details outlined above and more. So, if your performer, for some reason doesn’t have a contract or doesn’t have one that includes all of these details, you can remind them about the GigMasters contract template. 


Entertainment Ideas: for Corporate Holiday Parties

An insightful guest post from GigMasters:

Corporate holiday parties can be a lot of fun, or they can be terribly awkward. So, how do you make sure you plan a great party that makes everyone happy? You book fabulous entertainment.

Booking corporate holiday party entertainment can be easy; all it takes is envisioning how the entertainment will fit into the overall event. Since we know a thing or two about entertainment, we’d like to give you an early holiday present by offering you some tips on booking corporate holiday party entertainment:

Sounds of the Season:

Every party needs music and corporate events are no exception. That’s why year after year live bands, DJ’s, acoustic guitarists, and soloists remain on the top ten list for GigMasters most booked corporate holiday entertainment. When booking musical entertainment you should keep your audience in mind, as well as what function you want the band or soloist to perform at the event – will they be background music? Or do you want them to be the main event?  Once you answer those questions, and take into consideration theme and venue, you should be able to narrow down the best musical options for your party.

Cocktails and Conversation:

Sometimes corporate holiday parties can get off to a slow start, or worse, they feel like a meeting with food. If you think this could be a problem at your holiday party, then you should look to hire a variety entertainer. Magicians, impersonators and jugglers can help break the ice and get conversations started between guests. Variety entertainers are great for corporate functions because they steal the show, taking pressure off guests to come up with bland conversation. Instead of uncomfortable small talk, guests will naturally be talking about the amazing entertainment!

Dinner and a Show:

When you want to host more of a dinner style affair you may want to consider hiring a hypnotist or comedian to put on a show while guests dine. Comedians and hypnotists are tied for our second most booked corporate holiday party entertainers of 2011. While these acts are sure to put on a great show, remember you also have the option of hiring our most booked corporate party entertainment – a live band act.

Celebrating the Christmas Spirit:

If you are hosting a corporate Christmas bash, then you should absolutely invite Santa Claus to join in the fun. Having this jolly old soul on the guest list will allow guests to get their own pictures taken with Santa while he spreads holiday cheer. We all know you can never be too old for Santa!

Creating Keepsakes:

Guests love taking home a present from a party, and that holds true for corporate events as well. You may want to consider hiring a caricaturist or renting a photo booth so guests can leave with some fond memories in hand. It could also be fun to ask the caricaturist if drawings could include a festive holiday background. Perhaps the photo booth rental company could include your company logo on the photo strips.

GigMasters is the largest online entertainment booking site, wonderful for finding local talent.  Check out their site for more ideas and resources to help you plan a successful corporate holiday event, and the Holiday Party Planning pages or email for local entertainment options.


Make a Wish....Wish Lanterns

Want to fill the sky with beautiful lights after saying "I DO"? 

The beautiful biodegradable Wish Lantern balloons can make quite an impression on any wedding or event.  These large (42x26 inch) balloons received more noteriety when Nich Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo's guests released them during their romantic private island wedding.  Visit: Wish Lantern.





Marketing Your Event (The Low Cost Version)

 A guest post from Aidan Henry of Brink Events (website).  Thank you Aidan.

Cost-Effective Ways to Market Your Event

Event planning and management are very important aspects of the event industry. These organizational functions are essential for any event to run smoothly and without problems. But what’s a smooth event if the venue is only half full? Event marketing is often a task placed upon the event manager/planner in addition to the original duties. Filling the venue with the right crowd is important for aesthetics, profitability, and loyalty. The following are tried and tested marketing tactics that are both straightforward and cost-effective:


  • Create Facebook event and send invites to select contacts.
  • Create an event poster and make it your profile picture. Next, tag event helpers and workers in the picture, creating added visibility among their friend lists.
  • Get close friends and contacts to send out event invites or post the event link.


  • Announce your event launch and encourage re-tweeting.
  • Run a contest offering free tickets/incentives for followers who market your event.
  • Provide one-day discounts or last minute deals according to predicted attendance levels.
  • Tweet event and ticket sale updates throughout the marketing campaign.

Mass Messaging

  • Send out e-mail message to your list (if you haven’t started one yet, you definitely need to).
  • Send out a text message blast (text message/SMS marketing is essential in this day and age).
  • Post event to Craigslist, Kijiji.
  • Message a smaller number of influential and connected contacts personally.


  • Create 1-minute promo for the event and post on your website and Facebook. NOTE: There are many freelance videographers who can produce a high-quality video at a low cost.
  • Post video to video sharing sites, including YouTube and Vimeo. Be sure to include your SEO-targeted keywords and phrases in the titles and descriptions.

Offline Marketing

  • Provide tickets to trusted sellers and participating businesses; incentivize based on sales (ex. $5 per ticket sold).
  • Distribute posters to specific business and select locations. 

This guest article was written by Aidan Henry at Brink Events, an event planning company in Victoria, BC, Canada.  Visit: 


Basic RFP

What is needed in a Basic RFP?  We were recently asked to provide someone help drafting a first time event RFP for her new charity event.  Your goal is to get information by sending out a "Request for Proposal" to prospective venues.   Below are the must haves if your normal day to day operations are not event planning but you want to get the ball rolling on your venue search. 

For your one sheet to email or fax to venue managers:

Your Contact info

Potential Date:

Estimated Head Count:

Seating capacity needs (round tables vs. classroom set up etc. will have a

big impact on how much space you need)

Will there be a stage?

AV Needs (list basic AV needs so they have an idea of the type of room that

lends itself to your event)

Set up time/Tear down: (list how early you will need the venue - a day in

advance? an hour in advance?)

Method of Payment: (cash/credit/30 days out/prepayment?)


Free Tiny Prints Thanksgiving Cards, today only

If you want to show up with a Thanksgiving card next week check out the clever designs at Tiny Prints.  Today only, November 16, you can receive a card for free from Tiny Prints. Click on an image below to redeem (and there are many more to select from on the site).  Gobble Gobble.





Creating Sustainable Event

Creating Sustainable Events, Submitted by The Logistik Group of London                               

As consumers we believe we’re doing a good job at being environmentally friendly. We’re even up on our soapboxes on a daily basis to declaim brands who aren’t being sustainable. But do we actually know what’s going on?      


It’s easy to turn up at an event, having made no effort to travel with a companion or on public transport, look at the glitz and glamour and start berating the organisers for not being sustainable. It’s a bit like going to a friend’s wedding; we always know a better way it should have been done. Or so we think for unbeknown to the event delegate behind the scenes is a hive of activity.

For the event organisers this is a useful insight. Delegates at previous events having submitted feedback have actually taken part in shaping the sustainability of the next one. The organisers now know how far they need to extend their sustainability efforts. In this way then, doing a sustainable event, for example a conference for 2000, can be likened to herding sheep.

It’s not easy though, a lot of companies in the event management  industry are still learning. Whilst it can be daunting, even small changes can make a big difference.  Making small steps to improving sustainability in your events could save you money, do your bit for the environment and create a warm inclusive atmosphere.

Don’t waste the energy of any sustainability naysayers; embrace them instead. We often hide away sustainability efforts behind the scenes – reused sets, stages and materials, changes in how refreshments are served, post event emails rather than hand-outs etc.

We’ve just become so used to hiding the sustainability elements as something to be ashamed off. Why not point out what you have done? Remember though that there’s no bigger turn off than being lectured about something. A few hints and the right logos in the right places and the naysayers will be singing your praises. Turn them on to what you’re doing and engage them as brand ambassadors.

Activate the ‘stake’ in your stakeholders and you’ll have not only a great interactive event but also increased positive feedback. When someone knows that they’re important and have a role to play then you’ll get a better response from them. Delegates know how to act sustainably; they just need a reminder and a nudge in the right direction.

Sharon Ward

Corporate Responsibility Manager, The Logistik Group. Check them out here:

Little extra: Last week Logistik made Event Magazine's Brand Awards 2011 with the Bauer Live event.   Congratulations Logistik Team.





Table decor ideas

If you are in need of a little inspiration for setting an impressive table, Biz Bash recently published images from the annual Dining by Design benefit which showcases 28 dining room vignettes in the name of charity.  I especially enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland theme table. Enjoy the Full Story here.







Registration Software...What do you use?

Question for you event planners, hostesses, charity organizers:

What event registration software do you prefer to use? And why?  What do you think event registration should cost the organizer?  Please leave your comments.

Registration 123

Reg Online



Paperless post



Would love your thoughts on your favorite registration solutions.



If you haven't already joined our Facebook community please consider liking us here and keep the conversation going:   Bonjour Facebook.


Guest Post: Ten ways to reduce event costs

10 Ways To Reduce Your Event Planning Costs

Hosting an event may be fun, but it’s also costly. Fortunately, there are effective ways to reduce event costs without impacting your image. All it takes is a bit of planning, as well as access to the right resources.

1. Use virtual floor plans 

Instead of creating a general list of decorations, use virtual floor plan software that allows you to recreate the setting of the venue. With these tools, you can determine what decorations are conducive to the setting. 

2. Choose a venue with complete packages

Instead of looking at the bottom number, make a chart that displays what each venue offers in their packages. Venues that include tableware, decorations and staff can be more cost-effective than renting tents, tables and chairs. 

3. Be flexible with the date and time

If you’ve found the venue of your choice but it’s still too expensive, don’t think you need to settle for someplace else. Most venues have lower rates for mid-week or afternoon hours. And by choosing a Sunday, for example, you can serve light meals and no alcohol.

4. Shop for decorations online

With a bigger selection of products, online coupon codes, free shipping and options to buy in bulk, shopping online is a great way to save money, while still getting the same product.

5. Sign up for mailing lists and specials

Whether you step inside a party store or shop online for party supplies from PartyMart, there are options to sign up for mailing lists that send out store coupons and coupon codes. You can stay in the loop, while taking advantage of substantial discounts.

6. Shop out of season

Shopping out of season will require you to know what types of events are around the corner, but are a surefire way to save money. For example, you can expect black and orange gear to be on clearance after Halloween, and these products can be reused for other events. 

7. Prepare food yourself

Although catering is the most obvious solution for food, it’s also the most costly. Even venues that have their own catering service will often allow hosts to bring in appetizers or desserts for guests. 

8. Omit a full course meal

If you choose to host an event in the afternoon, you won’t need to provide a complete meal. Finger sandwiches and appetizers are appropriate and won’t leave your guests feeling hungry. 

9. Barter

In today’s economy, people are more willing to help out the next person for something in exchange. For example, if you have a friend that DJs, trade him a night of free music for a free night of babysitting or help marketing his business.

10. Omit the bar

Instead of paying for the bar and bartenders, have a table set up with a selection of wines and champagnes for guests to choose from. Mixed cocktails will also save money. You can also return unopened alcohol if necessary.

The key to not going over your event planning budget is to prepare ahead of time. Follow these tips and you too can plan a superb event, for less!

Thank you Party Mart team for this submission.  Website: PartyMart

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