Saturday, July 28, 2012

Go Green on Your Big Day!

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something...GREEN?? Or how about many things that are green? We're not talking about kelly green bridesmaid dresses or key lime table linens; instead we mean green as in environmentally friendly options used wherever possible in your wedding. When we think about planning a large event such as a wedding, we are often aware of how big of a production it is; linens, decor, food, etc. Something that may not always come to mind is the carbon footprint these kinds of large celebrations can leave behind. Luckily for us, (and the environment!) the wedding industry is one to follow trends and one of the bigger trends going on in many industries right now is the idea of going green.

There are many ways to incorporate eco-friendly ideas and products into your wedding celebration. These include, but are most definitely not limited to, the following:

Wedding Bands

Wedding bands are one of the few tangible items from your wedding day that you will keep and continue to see everyday. For such an important item, why not make a choice that the environment will love just as much as you? A great choice is to use antique or family heirlooms as rings. They can be resized or even melted down and molded into a new ring using the same materials to create a truly unique band.

If you are set on purchasing brand new rings,  be sure to consider he materials used. Ask your jeweler for information on the source of the diamonds and gold in the jewelry they carry. Generally, Canada diamonds are ethically mined and responsibly sourced pieces that you can be proud to wear.  Cred Jewelry is a company that  specializes in jewelry with gold  that is responsibly mined and  diamonds that are guaranteed to not have been involved in any violent armed conflict. Best of all, their pieces  are gorgeous!


There are plenty of ways to customize wedding invitations and now those include green options such as using eco-friendly and recycled papers, no-chlorine dye, and vegetable based inks! If possible, choose a local stationer as opposed to ordering online to support the local economy and reduce shipping since the stationer will probably print at a local or at least regional printer. Choose designs with less paper, such as a postcard Save The Date with just one 3"x6" card instead of a paper card inside a paper envelope with a paper lining sheet. Your invitations will probably still need to contain more papers with the invite, response card, etc. but you can maintain the green idea by not including any plastic  wrapping.

Ceremony and Reception Location

Traveling can be a big contributor to the overall carbon footprint of your wedding. To decrease travel, choose venues in a location where your guests will have minimal travel. If you can, hold the ceremony and the reception at the same venue to avoid having to drive from one to the another. If they are in separate locations, consider having some sort of shuttle service that guests can take to the venues and back to their hotels so that you don't have guests  driving in multiple separate cars.

Another way to maximize your venue is to choose a space with natural beauty and classicly beautiful interiors. Or both! A good outdoor space with plenty of greenery and florals will provide an elegant backdrop that does not need very much additional decor. Less decor equals less waste. The same goes for an indoor space. Although you won't find as many trees or flowers permanently installed at an indoor venue, you can choose a space with great crown moldings, pillars, or other touches that will result in less work for you and your planners and less waste to throw away at the end of the night


Catering is one of the easiest places to make green choices because there are so many choices to make! Talk to your caterer about organic or locally sourced options and incorporate those options into your menu as opposed to other choices that are not locally sourced. Produce that is currenly in season is always best. You can also avoid using large quantities of foods that are not sustainable such as veal or shellfish.

To avoid waste, a plated dinner is a better choice than a buffet since caterers always add in more food to a buffet than the number of eaters calls for to account for some dishes being more popular than others or guests going in for second and third helpings. These large pans of food result in large numbers of leftovers that often go to waste. If you are being very budget conscious, this might not be the best option for you but you can look into donating leftover food to a local shelter. This is a good task to delegate to a family member or friend who is not in the wedding party but has expressed interest in helping out. They can be in charge of finding an appropriate place to take the leftover food as well as transporting it there. That way you can enjoy the evening with your new spouse without having to worry about it.

In addition to the food, caterers often provide plates, cups, silverware, and napkins. Always choose reusable options for these when necessary. You can rent these items if your caterer does not provide them. If you do choose any diposable products, maybe forks for your cake or something small, choose biodegrable greenware and cutlery which is made from corn, not plastic, and can be composted.


Weddings tend to create a lot of waste in the form of bottles, especially if you are serving alcohol. Check with your reception venue to see if they offer recycling options. If not, you may want to look into setting up an aesthetically pleasing recycling center, if not for all recyclables then at least for glass bottles. You can wrap a pleated curtain around a large trash can with a "please recycle wooden sign hanging on a ribbon, use  a sleek looking bin, or try a fun DIY project like the one pictured. Always check with you venue to make sure any object you are bringing in is allowed since some venues have strict rules.


The overall lesson here is the less waste, the better. This is especially true of favors as they can end up getting tossed by guests or sometimes not even leaving the reception. The best way to avoid this is by choosing favors your guests can use rather than choosing tiny trinkets wrapped in plastic or boxes. Check out the above like for ideas on great favors choices.

Send Off

And, last but not least, as a great alternative to sparklers or bubbles as a send off as you are leaving the reception, how about these amazing lanterns?  They are completely biodegradable not to mention stunning against an evening wedding backdrop! Have one for each guest at a smaller wedding or one for every 3-5 guests at a larger wedding. These beauties are made with a thin bamboo frame and rice paper and make such a statement that they inspired this entire post! They can be purchased online from companies  such as Wish Lanterns.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Corporate Events: More Than Just a Cocktail Party!

If you work in an office or corporate setting, chances are you have attended some kind of team building day or office party. These kinds of events can be a great time to interact with coworkers in a more casual setting. They can also have a reputation for being not-so-fun. That doesn't have to be the way of it! With these out-of-the box or even traditional but spruced up ideas, corporate events can be something to look forward to.

White Water Rafting Day
Whitewater Rafting
If you live in Charlotte, NC or the surrounding areas, you are lucky to be fairly close to the US National Whitewater Center, home to whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking, flat water kayaking and more! This is no standard business luncheon. Employees will be thrilled (and motivated!) by the opportunity to get out of the office and into the water. There are plenty of activities that vary in difficulty so if you have any employees who are not physically able to participate or maybe just are not interested in more extreme activities, they can enjoy walking trails, viewing areas to watch the rafting up close, or just taking in the beauty of nature. The center also has event space and a bar and grill restaurant so you can enjoy refreshments after a fun day in the sun. 

Company Sports League and Banquet

Why have just a few events over the year when you can gain stronger bonds with coworkers for a whole sporting season? This is a FUN way to get the whole office involved whether you choose softball, bowling, or another sport that most people can play. Not only will employees be interacting with each other, the exercise is always a great way to blow off steam, especially from work-related stress, plus healthier usually equates to happier and that can never hurt in the work place! Throw a big bash at the end of the season just like the sports teams you remember from high school to reflect on all the fun and hard work your team has put into the game. You can even give out awards like MVP, Most Improved, Miss and Mister Congeniality, Best Cheerleader, etc. to boost morale.

Casino Night

If your office prefers to have an event in the evening rather than during the day, you can still spice things up to give your employees more than the tradition cocktails and canape trays. Try a fun theme like Casino Night, complete with games, decor, and themed food and beverages. Instead of throwing real money in the mix, employees can play with chips for prizes such as gift certificates to local restaurants or attractions, spa packages, or even a free PTO day! 

Picnic Day

It may not be a brand new idea but everyone loves a good picnic! This is especially true for employees whose job keeps them indoors for the majority of the day. Choose a park or outdoor area with either covered pavilions for events or plenty of trees to provide shade, especially during the summer months. Lakes or ponds are always a plus too! Having the lunch catered is sometimes a better option than a potluck for quality control, plus you want the employees to feel like this is a treat, not a chore. Stick to foods that are simple and fun as opposed to a fancier gourmet menu for this kind of event. Pulled pork, hamburgers and hotdogs, and barbecued chicken are all good choices. If you want to go all out, hire an icecream or italian ice truck to serve out some cold treats for dessert!
After lunch, employees can enjoy a game of basketball, volleyball, frisbee, or other activities, depending on what the park has to offer. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The DOs and DON'Ts of Event Planning

When you plan such a variety of events as we do at EvanGrace, you learn many tips and tricks of the trade! Weddings each have their own personality of course but corporate events can differ even more depending on many factors. These include the time of day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktail party), the type of event (sit down meal, gala, ball, casino night, etc.), and the client (charity, political delegates, small businesses,...) as well as other factors such as themes, food and beverage, decor, and entertainment.  Although these events can be quite different, the planning process always  has some similarities. Guest at any event will always need food and drink, some form of decor is always needed, and entertainment such as a DJ or band  will often be used. Through the experience of planning many different types of events, we have gained knowledge that can be useful in any event planning situation. Take a look at our idea of DOs and DON'Ts for planning any event.

DO meet with clients directly.
It is a good idea to have a face-to-face meeting with your client if possible. This way you can meet them and get a feel for not only their wants and needs for the event, but also their personality. You want to have a good idea of the kinds of things they will like or dislike before you begin the planning process.

DO be present for the entirety of the event.
This includes set-up and take down as well as being at the event itself. If you are unable to be there, make sure one of your other planners or associates can be. You never know when something will go wrong and a tiny issue can become a big one if the planner is not there to sort things out.

DON'T use the same vendor for every client.
Even if you work very well with a particular vendor, it is important to consider your client's needs. Not all styles and personalities mesh well together. For example, a photographer whose aesthetic is very traditional might not be the best choice for a young bride having a nontraditional barnyard wedding, just like a caterer known for innovative and out-of-the-box culinary creations might not be the best choice for a dinner event for which the client wants standard beef or chicken plated meals. Having relationships with a handful of each kind of vendor- florists, DJs, photographers, etc.- will ensure that each client can be matched with the best vendor for them and the event they have in mind.

DON'T count on everyone else to break down and clean up.
Even though it is the job of each vender to pick up after themselves after the event, as a planner, it is your job to make sure the venue is back to perfect condition at the end of the night. This usually means staying at the venue until all the vendors leave to do a final check and make sure everything is back to the way it looked when you arrived.
DO make sure the attendees of the event will be entertained. 
There is nothing worse than a group of people at an event that have nothing to do. From the moment guests enter the event space, they should have something to occupy themselves, whether that is drinks and hors d'oeuvres, cocktail tables to gather and chat, music to listen to, or an activity such as a casino game; it is vital for those attending the event to feel comfortable. Often times larger events have many guests who may not know each other and it is much easier to break the ice in a big crowd if there is a specific activity at hand.

Above all, the biggest DO is to make sure guest are enjoying themselves. If you keep this in mind throughout planning and directing, you should find yourself cleaning up a successful event at the end of the night.