I was lucky enough recently to attend one of my closest friends wedding. She is an extremely creative and talented young woman, who happens to be involved in the events industry herself, so her friends and family always knew her special day would be phenomenal.
Even so, we were blown away by all the unique, unconventional twists threaded throughout the day, and it got me thinking about how corporate event planners could really take note from a good wedding, and break away from the norm.
So here are our top 5 event management wedding tips you can use for any event.
1. Give them an invitation they can’t refuse!
Invitations by definition are supposed to be ‘inviting’. If you want someone to come along to your event, or buy tickets, then you need to grab their attention, right from the beginning.
It always amazes me to see how wacky couples get with the RSVP’s for their big day; photo shoots, glass bottle invites and story books, they really think outside the box!
Your event invitation will most likely be digital (though, if you have the budget, a printed invite is always lovely to receive as a guest), so make sure that you have an idea of what you want this to look like, and tie it in with your theme. My friend used the colours of her wedding, with a vintage glamour look, which was a little nod to the theme of the day.
Sit down with your designer at the early planning stages, and explain your theme to them. Don’t be embarrassed to draw ideas yourself, I have done it a lot with designers, and despite the fact that I am a terrible drawer, it gives them an idea as to my vision.
If you don’t have a designer, and your own skills are limited, then keep it simple, and get extra creative with the copy! There are some great tools out there to help such as Paperless Post (I love their photo invite templates) and Greenvelope.
I am not suggesting that you need to design personalised invitations for each of your 200 guests, but spending some thought on the invite can be the difference between a deleted email, and an RSVP.
2. Truly capture the moment
I’ve been to my fair share of corporate events, and am highly skilled in the awkward group photos in front of the sponsor board. What I love about wedding photography is the quirky ways they capture all the little moments of the day.
Your event photographer should be a creative and skilled individual, tap into this by sharing your theme with them early on, and work through ideas on possible photo set ups, and what you want captured.
Last year, our friends at DANI used props for their annual award show, and it made such a difference to their photographs as it brought out the guests fun side!
You don’t need to spend a lot of money either, although there are lots of great party props companies out there, you can just buy your own. My friend bought hers, and had them sitting in a basket for the guests to have fun with.
Leaving fun “prop stations” around your venue is a great incentive for your guests to take and share photos on social media.
If you need more business shots, then why not have key figures standing in the middle of the action at the event. Any photographer worth their lens will have editing skills, and can do all sorts of tricks, e.g. blur the background, keeping key people in focus, to add some drama to the photo.
If you need some help, then look at Pinterest boards for group photography to help with ideas for backdrops and settings. I wouldn’t look too much at different poses, as you will probably make your guests feel uncomfortable and the picture will look awkward.
3. Spice up the seating plan
It is very common at corporate events to not know the person you are sitting beside, so an interesting seating arrangement could help loosen your guests up, and act as a conversation starter.
Make it fun with themed tables. For my friends wedding, the tables represented 12 places they had travelled together. For your event, you could theme the tables on locations where you do business, put a fun twist on your sponsors branding, highlight your team members personalities or favourite things for fun, or even just go with themes for the season. There really are no rules here, so have some fun with it!
For smaller events, you could use a picture of your guests (Twitter or LinkedIn profile picture etc.) and write their name and table number on it, instead of searching for their name on a list, they could look up their picture.
I also like chalkboards as they’re quirky, and you can make changes anytime, plus it’s much more interesting than a printed A3 sheet.
4. Get creative with your menu
In 2014, event caterer Jackson Gilmour and the Science Museum published ‘The Science Events Survey’ which revealed that 84% of respondents stated they had a desire to eat something new and exciting. Coming up with creative menu’s can be difficult, so a simple way to achieve this, is to add a modern twist on classic dishes.
During the evening celebrations of my friends wedding, guests were treated to bacon sandwiches on thick cut bread, with a tangy tomato chutney, and fish and chips in newspaper pokes. This was needed after all the dancing, and was a really fun way to present the food to us. She also had special wedding cocktails for her guests to enjoy. Why not take some classic drinks (Alcoholic or non-Alcoholic) and rename them for a bit of fun?
Work with your caterers to help with your menu as well. They don’t have to be straight out of a Heston Blumenthal book, but they can still be fun and give your guests something different. Speak with them about your meat options (as they will be the most expensive) and then look at what alternative sauces and accompaniments you could have with them. I wrote a Food For Thought blog that might help spark the imagination.
5. Surprise your guests!
From a surprise Disney duet from her musical cousins, a DIY photo booth, the many vintage trinkets hidden around the venue, and all the little personal touches, my friend ensured that her guests were constantly wowed on her big day, and no-one will forget it in a hurry.
I have been to some amazing corporate events in the past with singing waiters, comedians, dance acts and photo booths, and they really take the audience by surprise. Yes, your event will have a more serious agenda, but your guests are human, so why so serious? Your attendees are more likely to engage in real experiences, so make them laugh out loud, touch their hearts, and leave a memorable mark that your guests will be talking about for years to come!
Those are just some ideas to consider when planning your next event to set it apart from everything else. Remember that, although you may be working on behalf of another organisation, don’t be shy in putting your own mark on the event, and make little personal touches throughout (just like a bride and groom does for their wedding day) so your events will be remembered!
What weird and wonderful event ideas have you taken from weddings? Share them below.