Tag: event planning

Event Planning: How to Make Your Next Event Unforgettable

Original photo - RJ's WeddingThere are a few basic elements you have to have when it comes to planning a wedding or corporate event: the main event (i.e. ceremony, keynote speaker) immediately followed by some type of reception (whether that entails a buffet, plated meal, or cocktails & hors d’oeuvres).  While these basic elements do, in fact, make up the event you can transform these essential details to create an event to remember.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised just how easy it is to transform your event into something unforgettable.  The secret is to ensure that the execution of the event is flawless.  In this week’s post you’ll discover how to successfully orchestrate a flawless event using well-designed diagrams.  Ready to start planing the most unforgettable event?


Event Planning Made Simple: Design, Delegate, & Dazzle

Event planning can be simplified when you design to budget, design to delegate, and design to dazzle. From planning milestone birthday celebrations to corporate events, SmartDraw can meet your event planning needs.  I’ve created diagrams that were not only used to design, they played an integral role in the coordination of a very important event in my life, my wedding day. More . . .


https://www.google.com/search?q=clipboard&biw=1920&bih=956&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAmoVChMIiLr_3-bxxgIVgZqICh1W0QZ4#q=teamwork&tbs=rimg:CX-UEHr4tzwHIjjD-TIH_1ln5x-VL3IKVRsukVUTybQneVuvRCUcNn-bzuG0kxVQAqju6JfN0ljnhrvhZ1mn2P0-CyioSCcP5Mgf-WfnHEVrE4OGJ0NwGKhIJ5UvcgpVGy6QR8iPLGF3dUhkqEglVRPJtCd5W6xED6BUlUo-ReSoSCdEJRw2f5vO4EfYdxBcOvK6CKhIJbSTFVACqO7oR_1FNYb4BLNDkqEgkl83SWOeGu-BG3JvBDzlc3yioSCVnWafY_1T4LKES1_11X27WpSI,sur:fc&tbm=isch&imgrc=_Train Your Project or Event Planning Team Like a Pro

If you want your event to run smoothly, you’ll need an efficient and well-trained team.  Whether that team is composed of vendors, volunteers, or family & friends, it’s your job to give them the right tools and training they need to succeed.  To train your team, use the ‘Tell-Show-Do-Review’ training technique.  Everyone has their own learning style (auditory, visual, and tactile), this method trains for each of them. More . . .

Glasses of champagne

How to Throw a Company Party on a Budget

Back in December 2008, companies across the board were scaling back on holiday events.   Due to economic constraints companies chose to cancel them all together, deeming the celebrations needless or inappropriate in the wake of layoffs.  Now that the holiday party is back it doesn’t mean your company needs to break the bank.  More . . .

Have you booked this year’s venue?  If not, it’s never too early to get started!

Train Your Project or Event Planning Team Like a Pro

Purchased ImageIf you want your event to run smoothly, you’ll need an efficient and well-trained team.  Whether that team is composed of vendors, volunteers, or family & friends, it’s your job to give them the right tools and training they need to succeed.  To train your team, use the ‘Tell-Show-Do-Review’ training technique.  Everyone has their own learning style (auditory, visual, and tactile), this method trains for each of them.

  1. TELL them what them what they’ll be trained on and why (auditory)
  2. SHOW or demonstrate what you’re going to train (visual)
  3. DO the task themselves (tactile)
  4. REVIEW what they just learned

3_learning pyramid

To demonstrate how the ‘Tell-Show-Do-Review’ technique can be applied to event planning we’ll use my wedding rehearsal.  If we were to view this as a classroom environment, the officiant and venue’s wedding coordinator function as the instructors and the wedding party is the team to be trained.

TELL them what and why

What is a wedding rehearsal?  It is an event to walk through the process of a wedding ceremony.  Why do we have a wedding rehearsal? It gives members of the the wedding party the opportunity to practice their role in the ceremony and to meet one another.

SHOW them how to do it

The officiant and venue’s wedding coordinator explain and demonstrate the components of the wedding ceremony.  The handout (below) is designed to reinforce the demonstration as well as show the location where everyone will be during the ceremony.  Since the rehearsal is also an opportunity for everyone to meet and build rapport, I included a brief description of everyone’s relationship with myself and the groom.

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DO it

We all take our places and practice a walk-through of the entire wedding ceremony.  Well, we don’t practice everything (i.e. getting married).  If we did, there’d be no reason for a wedding.

REVIEW what you just told them

At the end of the rehearsal, the officiant and venue’s wedding coordinator should encourage questions as they provide a high-level review.   In addition, our day-of coordinator explains the series of activities leading up to the ceremony that require the wedding party’s participation.  Although it would not be part of the rehearsal, this information is important and is also included in the handouts.  Using the ‘Tell-Show-Do-Review’ technique and your SmartDraw diagrams will ensure that your event takes place just as you envision.


As part of the review process, handouts are issued based on an individual’s role and degree of detail required (refer to org chart below).  Similar to the earlier post “Event Planning Made Simple: Design, Delegate, Dazzle,” I designed the diagrams to delegate.  The diagram above explains everyone’s roles.  The diagrams below provide the sequence of events leading up to and immediately following the ceremony.  These diagrams function as a review of the information provided by the day-of coordinator.  These are informational items that aren’t necessary for rehearsal.

3_hierarchy of info

Review Handout #1: Ceremony Schedule Diagram

Audience: Wedding Party, Officiant (Note: Only the ceremony timeline portion of the diagram is shared with the venue’s Wedding Coordinator. That diagram is not shown).

Application of Information Learned: A section titled “What I Should Know Before the Wedding,” encouraged the members of the wedding party to answer questions regarding their participation in the ceremony.

SmartDraw Tips: Once you’ve mind mapped all of the information, simply organize everything by clicking and dragging them into logical groups.   As a side note, each of the photo groups (on the far right hand side) actually has a detailed list associated to it.  Since the wedding party members know which group they belong to, I chose to collapse or hide that information which is to be used in another diagram.  Learn how to create Mind Maps. With any of the templates you can add text, color, and style to bring attention to certain elements of a diagram.  Explore what you can do in the SmartDraw User Guide: Fundamentals for New Users.  Use the Flowchart  Template to clearly articulate the steps or process of the ceremony and photo shoot.  Explore SmartDraw’s easy to use Flowchart Template.

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Review Handout #2: Photo Line Up Diagram

Audience: Photographers, Maids of Honor (The two Maids of Honor were asked to assist the photographers in organizing the photo groups).

SmartDraw Tips: This diagram is actually the subset of the information that was mind mapped in the diagram above.  Unlike the previous diagram, the photo groups are no longer collapsed or hidden but rather expanded.  Here’s more information on how to expand or hide subtopics.  When you’re aware that you will re-purpose a diagram, I recommend that you first include all the information.  Then you have the option to determine what is displayed or hidden before you print.  Here’s some additional information about the printing features.

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Review Handout #3: Comprehensive Diagram

Audience: Day-of Coordinator

SmartDraw Tips: When designing diagrams for the purpose of providing instructions to others, it’s important to chunk the information to make it easier for your viewer to understand.  In this case, the day-of coordinator would need to see the big picture as well as details such as the names of individuals participating in the formal photos.  To label the diagram simply navigate to the Home Ribbon and select the appropriate shape from the Shape drop-down menu.  Then modify the color as well as transparency by using the Fill and Line controls found within the Home Ribbon.  Click to further your understanding of Adding Shapes and Lines.  There’s no need to eyeball the placement of objects in SmartDraw.  Simply use the Design Ribbon to align, make same, and space evenly.  The SmartDraw User Guide: Fundamentals for New Users goes into further details of how to use the Design Ribbon. 

3_final photo line up_doc2

Event Planning Made Simple: Design, Delegate, and Dazzle

Original Photo - RJ's WeddingEvent planning can be simplified when you design to budget, design to delegate, and design to dazzle. From planning milestone birthday celebrations to corporate events, SmartDraw can meet your event planning needs.  I’ve created diagrams that were not only used to design, they played an integral role in the coordination of a very important event in my life, my wedding day.

Previously, we took a look at a basic floor plan that was used when my husband and I were planning a bathroom renovation.  Now, that you have an understanding of some of the basic features used in creating floor plans, I thought we’d explore a more advanced floor plan design.  This week, I’ll share with you some of the floor plans from my wedding to demonstrate how you’ll be able to use ONE diagram to:

  • DESIGN and present ideas to your decision makers as well as vendors
  • BALANCE your budget against products and services
  • IDENTIFY the access and flow of the layout for your guests
  • DETERMINE logistic (access, staging, audio/visual, limitations)
  • COMMUNICATE your expectations effectively and efficient to vendors
  • INCREASE your ability to work collaboratively with your vendors


Whenever we met with a vendor, there was always at least 1 or 2 diagrams in hand.  From a project chart of appointments and payments to design ideas that functioned as a starting point for discussion.  When we walked through the Design Brainstorm Diagram (below) with our florist, we discussed a number of factors from table sizes and number of guests to colors of flowers and linens.  Of course, each of the design ideas came with a price.   Fortunately, with a printed version of our design ideas we were able to easily note the details of the changes directly in the floor plan during the appointment.

Decision making was tough at times.  But updating our diagrams was easy.  When we got home from the florist’s design studio, I opened up SmartDraw to make the changes that we discussed on the drive home. With the new diagram on the screen we could both see and agree upon the changes.  With one click of the Email Quick Access button, SmartDraw automatically opened up a new MS Outlook email, dropped our floor plan design into the body and was prompted for an email address.  It’s that easy to share any diagram in SmartDraw.

Sending the updated diagram including our understanding of the change in price, made the turn-around of an updated invoice easy for our florist.  Emailing a re-cap of our appointments on the same day, was the same approach we took with all of our vendors.  As you can see, it took no time at all.

Design Brainstorm Diagram

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Audience: Florist

Items to include:

  • Reasonable number (approx. 3 to 4) of designs to review with your vendors and decision makers
  • Symbols representing locations of activities to ensure space is available at the time of the activity
  • Symbols designed to scale to demonstrate the access and movement of guests
  • Theme and color scheme function as a starting point of discussion

SmartDraw Tip: Ideally, you would recreate the floor plan in SmartDraw to leverage the to scale features as you design your event.  Review how to create a floor plan.  The other option is to import a pdf of the venue’s floor plan.   Simply navigate to the Insert Ribbon and select Picture.  Locate the file on your computer, click Open.  Assuming the pdf is drawn to scale, simply use the Measure Distance control in the SmartPanel.  Discover how to use measure distance and area.  Use the actual measurement of one of the walls, then simply re-size the object by clicking and dragging one of the object’s handles. You’ll notice that not 1 but 4 designs compose the diagram above.  This can easily be done by using the align, rotate, and group functionality.  Receive an overview of how to align, rotate, and group symbols or objects in a diagram.


We’re done with designing, now it’s time to delegate using diagrams.  It’s all about working smarter, not harder.  I simply took the floor plan of our reception (above), copied and pasted it, then tailored it for our vendors to create the Wedding Reception Floor Plan and the Venue Services: Linens and Place Card Arrangement diagrams (below).  In many cases, there was cross-over in the type of information that we needed to share with several vendors.  That meant less work for me. I simply shared the same diagram.

Although we chose not to hire a professional event planner, we were very fortunate to have a relative volunteer to be our day-of coordinator.  A day-of coordinator is responsible for coordinating the logistics of the day to make sure that everything that the bride and groom has spent months planning runs exactly how they had envisioned.  Prior to the day of our wedding our day-of coordinator along with all of our vendors received final diagrams, email introductions to one another, as well as each other’s contact information.  Even though our wedding day would be the first time our day-of coordinator would meet our vendors and see the venue, she was well aware of what the day entailed and orchestrated the day beautifully.

Here are two of the diagrams that were used to coordinate our wedding reception:

Wedding Reception Floor Plan Diagram

2_Design Floor Plan Design

Audience: Day-of Coordinator, Florist, Linens Rental, Staging & Draping, Cocktail Reception Entertainment, Photo Booth Rental, DJ and Emcee

Items to Include: Color, location, numbers, exits, dimensions, color key for reference

SmartDraw Tip: Use Ctrl+C to copy the design you’ve chosen for the event and Ctrl+V to paste the design into a new diagram.  Navigate to the Symbol Library or the Home Ribbon for the shapes you need.  Learn more about adding symbols to a floor plan.  

Venue Services: Linens & Place Card Arrangement Diagram

2_table 12 seating floor plan

Audience: Hotel Coordinator, Hotel Banquet Captain, Hotel Event Manager,  Hotel A/V Department, Day-of Coordinator, Photographers (Note: We provided a list and location of special guests we wanted our photographers to photograph).

Items to Include: Color, location, exits, dimensions, color key for reference, place card chart

SmartDraw Tip: The main difference between the two floor plans (above)  is we now have letters in place of chair symbols.  The reason is the same diagram is now being used as the seating chart.  Since a number of hotel staff members and our day-of coordinator were involved in the placement of the place cards multiple diagrams were created.  Each of the tables in the ballroom had it’s own diagram along with a Ziploc bag containing the place cards for the respective reception table.  Discover how the Tables feature was used to document the seating arrangements in the diagram. In addition to the tables feature, color as well as thickness of lines were used to bring attention to important information.  Explore how you can add shapes and lines with ease.


Even without a professional event planner to orchestrate the day, we were able to design as well as execute the wedding of our dreams, thanks to the use of our SmartDraw diagrams.  The diagrams allowed us to effectively and efficiency communicate to our talented team of vendors, the dedicated hotel staff, and our amazing day-of coordinator everything we had envisioned.   Our wedding was exactly what we had hoped it would be, simple yet elegant.

Our guests as well as the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego Hotel were so dazzled by our unique floor plan of varying table sizes, linens, and overall design that the Hyatt approached us for permission to use our photos for PR purposes.   To view additional photos go to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego’s Google+ social media page or a vendor spotlight on the Manchester Grand Hyatt in the San Diego Style Wedding Magazine.  wedreception