Elegantly Yours

Creating and Planning Events. Beautifully.

Beat the Summer Heat July 11, 2013

Nothing beats Summertime!

Nothing beats Summertime!


The long days of summer are finally upon us! Summer is the perfect time for hosting outdoor events; however, beautiful weather means warmer temperatures. Whether the occasion is a graduation party, golf outing, wedding, or just a summer barbeque, there are a few things to remember when planning and hosting outdoor summer soirees.


Watch for bugs. Mosquitoes. Fruit Flies. Green Flies.  All of these insects can be considered our enemies when it comes to outdoor events. Fight back with citronella candles placed on the tables, on the food tables, or with tiki torches placed around the area. Don’t forget the bug lights and bug spray! Cute and stylish bug nets are a great way to serve food outside without insects contaminating the food.

Bug nets are a simple way to protect food from unwanted pests

Bug nets are a simple way to protect food from unwanted pests


Drinks all around. The heat easily dehydrates us. Make sure there are plenty of cold refreshments (beyond the alcoholic ones!) for all guests. We don’t want guests dropping like flies!


Watch the Sun. The sun is our friend, but only for so long. There must be shade; we’re not trying to send Grandma into another round of hot flashes! Try to find a location with shady trees, or a venue with a patio overhang. For instant shade, purchase pop up tents (Available at stores like Dicks Sporting Goods).  Also, a later start to the party, 3 or later, will save you from the sun’s strongest rays that occur from 10 AM to 4 PM.


Protect the Food. Warm weather provides ample opportunity for foodborne bacteria to thrive. Bacteria multiply quickly in the heat, and unfortunately for us this results in foodborne illness.  Prevent sickness by properly transporting, storing, and serving food correctly in the heat.

Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Foods like salads and desserts in serving dishes can be placed directly on ice.                                            

Hot food should be kept above 140° F. Wrap it up and keep the food in an air-tight, insulated container until it’s time to chow down.


Whether hot or cold, food should not sit out for more than 2 hours. In temperatures above 90° F food should not sit out for more than 1 hour.

Outdoor Fun!

Outdoor Fun!


And lastly, Enjoy the Summer Festivities!


Maximizing Your Floor Space May 21, 2013

sports table top-white garden chairs-wheat grass-gold-events-planner-newport-ri


One of the most important aspects to planning any event is to Arrange Accordingly. Knowing exactly how many chairs, tables, and extra tables you need in the room can be a guessing game for some events, but these tables and chairs dominate the event space. It is important to set them up in a way that is conducive to the entire party environment. Not to mention arranging them in a way that doesn’t make the tables seem like a maze for guests.  Read on to avoid trapping guests in a claustrophobic haze of stylishly decorated chairs and tables!


Know your party size. And stick to it. Don’t continually fluctuate on how many people you think are coming.  We all know that for some events like a repast it can be hard to get a definite number ahead of time, and of course it is always good to have one or two extra settings  just in case, but try to have a ballpark estimate if you can’t get a definitive number.   It makes planning out floor space and table settings a lot easier.


Don’t overbook. If the banquet hall or room you are renting out says it can fit 100 people maximum, don’t  try to be sneaky and think you’ll be able to squeeze in an extra 40 people. Between tables, chairs, and potentially a buffet and/or dance floor, you want people to be able to move about. Nobody wants to be trapped in a corner table where they can’t move from their seat because the tables are so close together.


Be familiar with the venue. Take a look around your venue space/banquet hall prior to the event and familiarize yourself with the room shape. This will make it easier to visual where you want everything to go when you are planning out your table setup.


These tables are nicely spaced throughout the room

These tables are nicely spaced throughout the room


Account for additions. Having a dance floor? That takes up space. So does a  DJ/band, buffet tables, a gift table, any display tables, any tents, and a bar. Make sure you account for these additional aspects and that you leave ample space for your guests to access them. Trust me, you don’t want to block anyone’s path to the bar.


Draw a floor plan. Whether you are going to be the one physically moving the tables or not, it always helps to draw a floor plan and know ahead of time how you want the room to be set up. Draw in the tables, entrances, exits, and any additional elements like where the bar or DJ will be.


And lastly, some table arrangement reminders:

·         Never have a table directly in front of the entrance

·         Don’t place tables in front of exits or too close to any doors

·         Avoid placing tables directly under air vents. Nobody wants Grandma shivering the whole time!

·         Make sure tables are not too close to the buffet/bar/dessert station. Guests need to be able to mill about and linger (when deciding to go back for seconds!)


Party Planning on a Tight Budget April 16, 2013


Everyone loves a birthday party!

When you want to plan a memorable party but your bank account seems to keep dwindling, don’t cancel you party plans just yet. There are a bunch of ways to conserve your cash while still being able to pull off a pumpin’ party!


Plan ahead. The cost of food, venues, and entertainment will be cheaper if you book them farther in advance. Know if the party is going to be themed; buy all the items needed in bulk.


Be cost-efficient. Do you really need to invite the cousins that no one has heard from in three years? I’m all about the more the merrier but excess heads means higher prices. Besides cutting back on the number of guests, some other ways to cut back on costs include:

  • Send out electronic invitations. Save money, save trees, everyone wins.
  • Make and bring your own food. Depending on what type of event you’re having and for how many people, it may be pretty simple to do a potluck buffet of homemade appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
Potluck Dinner. Yum!

Potluck Dinner. Yum!

  • If you need drivers to bring guests to and from the location, don’t hire a fancy limo or car service. Neighbors and friends make the best drivers!
  • No DJ? No problem! Create an awesome playlist ahead of time and everyone can jam out to those tunes all night, no need to pay someone to do it for you!
  • Look for less-expensive locations. Although a venue space is important, the atmosphere of the party will be determined by the people that are there. Places like Elks Clubs, Firehouses, and Parish Centers offer great prices for renting out the space for a night.


Stay focused. Ditch the extravagance. Although all the extra decorations and overly priced food seem like a necessity, they are not. Nobody needs all the bells and whistles to have a good time. Sure, if it’s your wedding then attention to every minute detail is important, but if you’re throwing together a birthday party, shower, or a just-because party, less is more. Some things that would not be considered a necessity include:

  • A photo booth or photo backdrop. A picture is a picture, whether it has a fabricated background or not.
  • Ice sculptures. It makes total sense to pay hundred for melting ice.
Looks cool, but it will be water in a few hours time!

Looks cool, but it will be water in a few hours time!

Know your guests. Spending money on filet mignon tips for a gaggle of girls at a Sweet Sixteen will be a waste of money. Stick with simpler (and thus usually cheaper) foods for younger crowds. On that note, parties with older crowds will probably want food service aspects like coffee, tea, and after-dinner drinks. Budget your food expenses according to the dietary desires of your guests.


Think about what you are willing to spend more money on, whether that be the food, an exquisite cake, or a DJ or band and make “budget cuts” among other areas of the party. Ultimately, try to find a happy medium in balancing, cost, quality, and style, but if this proves difficult and you have to make decisions, choose what will best suit your vision and plan for the party.


Springtime: A Time for Religious Celebrations April 11, 2013

Springtime flowers


Spring is definitely in full bloom. After a few absolutely gorgeous days, with the warm spring breeze rippling the trees, I can’t help but be reminded of the meaning of spring.


Springtime, besides the bunnies, flowers, and unexpected rain showers, coincides with renewal. Spring is a celebration of life, a return to joy after a dull, dormant winter. In correlation with the rebirth of life that occurs during the springtime, many religious ceremonies also occur in these months. Chances are that you are attending a Christening, First Holy Communion, or Confirmation within the next few weeks. Celebrations of these religious milestones reflect the journey into deeper faith and the sense of tranquility this brings along with the transition.

Yummy cross cupcakes

Yummy cross cupcakes


Planning and decorating for a Baptism or Communion can be a bit challenging because the atmosphere may be more subdued than a regular party. However, this serene aura serves as a great platform from where you can reflect the peace and innocence in these ceremonies through the party ambiance.


A great way to reflect this tranquility is to decorate using subtle and clean colors. A white on white color scheme will look fresh and is always in style. Tying in other pastel colors, like sky blue, a light pear green, lavender, will accentuate the table setting and emphasize the spring palate. White settings with a hint of silver or gold is a little more glam but still sophisticated for an affair of this nature.

The  sky blue tablecloths are a innovative alternative to traditional white

The sky blue tablecloths are a innovative alternative to traditional white


A refreshing combination of white and light green

A refreshing combination of white and light green


In terms of decorative food, sticking with subtle colors is the way to go. Religious-themed desserts are a cute idea; definitely a crowd-pleaser as well.

Beautifully decorated cookies

Beautifully decorated cookies


I have always loved the clean, crisp look of Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation parties. These celebrations have become a springtime commonplace and represent the beautiful blessings we all have in our lives. Embrace the serenity of the spring before the hustle and bustle of summer time arrives (and with it the height of wedding season)!


Event Speaker Diversity April 2, 2013


Diversity. We hear about it all the time, in news, in schools, in business, in nations. Believe it or not, diversity becomes important when we talk about events too.


One of the recent posts on Event Manager Blog delved into this issue. Event Manager Blog is an excellent blog covering all things event. Its discussion topics include hospitality, inspiration, planning, social media, and technology. Its editor, Julius Solaris, created the Event Manager Blog in April 2007. Solaris is a social media and events enthusiast.


His post, “How to Ensure Speakers Diversity at your Conference,” was a great piece on the misrepresentation of diversity among conference speakers.


I recently attended the OpEd Seminar, a seminar focusing on the dismal female representation within op-ed pieces in major newspapers, and Solaris’s piece on diversity really stuck with me. Solaris has attended dozens of conferences and notes that there is a serious under-representation of female speakers at these conferences. He notes that although the technology industry (the kinds of conferences he usually attends) is dominated by men, the intuitive reasoning to then only have male speakers wards off change within the industry.


To combat this seemingly commonplace issue, Aanand Prasad created a diversity calculator to calculate the fair representation of a given gender that should be present during an event. The calculator determines these figures according to the audience diversity. Pushing boundaries by bringing in female speakers to a male-dominated event will lead to change within this industry as well as many other industries.


Whether you work with events that deal with corporate speakers or not, it is always great to bring in speakers that have a different point of view. It really doesn’t matter if someone is male or female; if they are the people chosen to present at a conference, then what they have to say is probably noteworthy. All corporate and business conferences should switch up the type of speakers they have from year to year. In the end, who doesn’t love a little extra something to spice up your event!



5 Creative Easter Centerpieces March 29, 2013

Filed under: The Plans,Themes,Uncategorized — dziminski @ 5:38 pm

Looking for an alternative to the typical bouquet of flowers to adorn your dinner table this Easter? While flowers are always gorgeous, it is nice to switch up the centerpiece every now and then. Check out these creative ways to enhance your Easter centerpieces.


1. Eggtastic Vase

 A simple way to spice up your vase for Easter

A simple way to spice up your vase for Easter

This centerpiece is easy to make and looks great with any type of flowers and in any type of vase. Simply put eggs at the bottom of the vase and then insert your flowers around them. At my house we have a collection of handmade Polish wooden eggs. They are bright, colorful, and create a wonderful  contrast with the flowers. Use wooden eggs, plastic eggs, ceramic eggs, and I guess you could use real eggs too, but they might start to smell!


2. Sweet-tooth Vase



This centerpiece also incorporates flowers, but with a sweet twist. Pour a bag of jelly beans into a glass vase (preferably a square or circular vase) and you’ve got a cute way to show your Easter spirit!

Everyone loves Peeps

Everyone loves Peeps

Take it up a notch a outline the rim of the vase with Peeps. Snacking is allowed while creating this centerpiece!


3. Egg Candle Centerpiece

These eggs offer a unique twist on the typical candle. You can purchase egg shaped candles from places like Amazon and Potterybarn for about $8 for a set of 6. Place your eggs on a decorative plate or serving dish and adorn with real or fake flowers or nesting straw.


4. Bunnylicious

Elegant Ceramic Rabbit

Elegant Ceramic Rabbit

For a more sophisticated dinner, sleek home decor can work well as a centerpiece. This white ceramic rabbit accentuates the crystal glassware and white linens nicely. The Wisteria flowers add a cheery “Spring” element to tie the table together. Look for inexpensive yet stylish Easter-related home decor at places like HomeGoods, Pier 1 Imports, Michael’s, Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Crate and Barrel.


5. Nest Centerpiece

What a great color scheme

What a great color scheme

This centerpiece will add a natural feel to the table. To create the bedding that the eggs will lie in you can buy the fake twigs and small branches from your local craft store. Another innovative option is to buy a Spring wreath and then simply place the eggs in the middle of wreath. You can then re-use the wreath to adorn one of your doors! The egg situation here is the same as it was for the first centerpiece: wooden, plastic, or ceramic eggs will all look great.


Use your creativity and resourcefulness when it comes to incorporating an Easter theme into your table setting and centerpiece. Have a lovely day celebrating with your family and friends!


The Role of Electronic Devices and Cameras at an Event: A Necessity or Overkill? March 28, 2013



Heather Schultz, a writer for the New York Times, published a blog post a few days ago titled “Vying for a Shot of the Wedding.” Her article discussed the growing trend in photo sharing and the overall presence of social media in events.


New Hampshire couple Laura Bishop and Walter Carroll placed cards on the tables at their wedding with instructions for guests on how to download and upload pictures to an application called WedPics. The couple was able to check WedPics right after the wedding and download all the photos their guests took right to their phones. Other couples choose to create a hashtag for their guests to reference while uploading wedding pictures on Instagram.


While the ease of accessibility with which to take and upload photos represents the growing world of technology, controversy arises when the technological bombardment outshines the intimate moments of a wedding or an event. Heather Waraksa, a photographer in Brooklyn, commented on people’s need to document the entire event saying, “If they have a device in front of their face it doesn’t have the same impact or timelessness.” Ms. Waraksa, when she was married last year, asked guests to turn off their electronic devices during the ceremony, toast, and cutting of the cake.


The interaction of electronic devices and real-time moments of an event creates a two-way dynamic within the event. On one hand we have the guests who are trying to document every minute of the wedding or event by frantically taking photos or brandishing their tablets in the air to get the best snapshot. Whether these photos are for their own personal use or will be handed off to the bride or groom depends on each person.

What a beautiful shot!

What a beautiful shot!


On the other hand we have the people who maybe take a photo or two but bask in the celebratory spirit of the day and embrace each moment as it materializes instead of trying to capture the entire event from behind a lens. While society today values collaborative effort and sharing special moments, this too can reach an extreme. The host of the event has most likely hired a photographer anyway, and the photographer’s skills and camera equipment will surpass the quality of iPhone photos.


I think Heather Shultz’s article brought up a great point about living in the moment and enjoying life in the present. We are often so caught up in our modern technologies; weddings and special events offer us the time to relax, surround ourselves with loved ones, and embrace life. So while each guest may feel obligated to document the event, the truth is that the artistic aspect of the day is already being covered. The point of being a guest is to come together to celebrate another person’s  life milestone.

Photographers can skillfully take funny and candid photos like this!

Photographers can skillfully take funny and candid photos like this!


If you’re afraid of guests getting too caught up in their devices, feel free to restrict the use of electronic devices. After all, a lot of money is going into this event, and you don’t want guests to glaze over these moments from behind their screens. The heartfelt, genuine moments that arise from candid actions of guests enjoying the day will create the best photographs, and the best memories.



Redefining myself. Trying to hold on to the best of the old and embracing the challenges of the new me.


life is always sweeter and yummier through a lens. bunnyandporkbelly [at] gmail [dot] com

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