Tuesday, May 31, 2011

honors convocation 2011

Every year, the USC Thornton School of Music holds their annual Honors Convocation, an awards ceremony that recognizes students, faculty, and staff for their outstanding achievements.  This was my final event for the school year, and as with every event I've coordinated, it came with its own set of challenges and learning experiences.

It's always a challenge stepping into the role of planning an event with a lot of history.  For me, Honors Convocation was on its 56th annual, and with that, comes a certain expectation from all the faculty and upper administration of how it's supposed to be done.  I'll admit -- my approach to this event wasn't the most organized, nor the least stressful.  At the same time I was "researching" how the event was done in the past, I was also trying to plan the event simultaneously.  Everything for this event happens comes together in the time span of about a month and a half -- invitations, programs, flowers, musicians, etc. -- and at the same time I was also trying to put the finishing details on Singers on the Verge, which added an extra challenge.

Instead of being proactive in nature, I was reactive -- immediately responding to every request or change that was thrown my way without thinking if it could wait, or notating the changes. The result was feeling like I had a million disconnected thoughts and tasks floating around in my head. There was no method to the madness, it was just madness.  Let's just say I learned the importance of creating a detailed timeline with specific deadlines (even if they're estimates).  The process not only helps you organize your thoughts, but it allows you to think through all the details you'll be coordinating upfront so they're on your mind as you move forward.  That way, questions that come up as you plan can be addressed ahead of time, not as deadlines are quickly approaching (or past).  I ended up creating one halfway through April, and instantly I felt more at peace and collected about the event, but I know it would have been a lot less stressful had a taken the time to think everything through carefully from the start.

Thankfully, the entire event came together very smoothly, the students and faculty received their awards, and 1pm on May 12, 2011 I finally breathed a sigh of relief.  It's crazy how quickly this year has gone by -- I never would have imagined a year ago I would be planning the events I used to drive carts for as a workstudy student, and on top of that plan two weddings on my own.  Definitely excited for all that the rest of 2011 has to hold!

All photos credit of Dan Avila Photography.

Friday, May 27, 2011

friends are like balloons

If you loved the fingerprint leaf guestbook from my lovebirds post, you will love these wonderful fingerprint balloon guestbooks from the same lovely artist, Bleu de Toi, on Etsy.  Fully customizable with many colors and different fonts to match your wedding perfectly, and a beautiful keepsake to frame for your new home.

The one on the right is perfect for an "Up" inspired wedding.

I love how bright all the colors are! Definitely makes me want to go on a summer bike ride. Happy Memorial Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

be[love]d: retro-inspired rings

Loving these adjustable rings by Madame Mystique Fashion Jewelry.  Teal is my favorite color, so naturally these fun statement rings caught my eye. A great bold accessory for your bridesmaids!  They'll go great with a neutral color palette.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

every sandal has a story.

Sseko Designs -- inspired from the Ugandan word "En-seko" which means laughter, their beautiful sandals give back in more ways than one. 

Priced at around $50/pair, these sandals are hand crafted by graduates of Cornerstone Leadership Academy, women in Uganda who are employed by Sseko Designs to earn money so they can continue their education.  The Ugandan school system gives students a nine month gap between secondary school and university to allow time for them to earn money for tuition, but because of the impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.

The profit made on each pair of sandals goes towards university tuition that will allow these women to pursue their dreams of becoming a successful doctor, lawyer, business woman...you name it.

In a world where social entrepreneurship is on the rise, there are so many opportunities for couples to give back to those who need it most.  Many couples prefer guests to donate to one of the charities they support in lieu of gifts.  This is just one more great way to incorporate a great cause into your wedding -- and better yet, they just launched a wedding line that offers these sandals in custom colors to match your wedding!  Each sandal comes with a base with five loops, and a strap, so they can be worn multiple ways (reminds me of the convertible bridesmaid dresses I blogged about last year)! Perfect for a spring or summer wedding, and the ideal dancing shoes!
It's always refreshing to take a step outside of myself and learn about the creative ways people in this world are giving back. It reminds me what a blessing it is to have money to buy sandals, to attend a university with the financial support of my parents, to have a college degree. Definitely makes me stop and think about where I'm investing my money.  "Freely you have received, so freely give!"

Every sandal has a story.  Let's share in that story.
Make sure to go to their website to see more strap colors and read more about this amazing organization!

All photos credit of Sseko Designs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

singers on the verge

Taking another break from beloved weddings (as much as I love them) and talking a little about one of my favorite work events so far -- Singers on the Verge.  I would definitely say that all my hard work leading up to the event, the late night in the office the night before printing off signs and running through all the details, definitely paid off.

When you're doing an event at a location as beautiful as Camino de Robles (the private home of Madeleine and Edward Landry), it's hard to go wrong.  I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to go to their home nestled in the Simi Valley mountains, let alone coordinate an event for some of our major donors and friends there.

On top of the amazing view, the weather was a perfect start to what would be a very successful evening.  Because the house itself was gorgeous, as was the surrounding landscape, there was really no need for me to bring any additional floral decor (a good tip to keep in mind if you're looking to save money on an event -- pick a location with decor already built into, such as a garden).  That being said, set-up was a breeze (no pun intended).  We put up a few signs directing people where to park, thanking the Landry's for donating the wine, champagne, and sparkling water, set-up the check-in table and I was ready to go.

The delicious food was catered by Absolutely Gourmet Catering, owned by Brion Clarkson.  Thankfully they have catered many events at the Landry home, so it's no surprise that everything went so smoothly.  All of the staff acted so professionally and delivered gourmet tasting food at a great price.  She designed a menu that was casual, yet elegant in presentation, the perfect combination for our event because it allowed our guests to truly feel at home and comfortable.  Guests got to enjoy sliders with chipotle aioli sauce, sweet potato fries, a cheese platter with bake brie, crudites, chinese chicken salad in to-go containers, mini cupcakes, and assorted dessert bars.  This event reminded me how refreshing it is to work with vendors that I can trust 100% to deliver without feeling like I have to do everything myself (not that I don't check every detail) but all I have to do is literally check.  I would definitely recommend Brion to any of my clients in a heartbeat. 

After about an hour of eating, drinking, talking, laughing, the guests moved into the foyer entrance where 10 of the best students from the USC Thornton Opera Program performed a program of opera and musical theatre pieces including "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, "Flower Duet" from Lakme by Leo Delibes, "Quintet" from West Side Story, and an emotional close from the entire company with "Make Our Garden Grow" from Candide.  The acoustics in the house allowed for a low production performance -- no mics or speakers necessary.  The sounds of their amazing voices echoed throughout the house and were a great reflection of the talent that resides in the students that attend the USC Thornton School of Music.  Definitely made me proud to be working to support these young musicians.

The performance ended just in time to grab some dessert and enjoy the sunset overlooking Simi Valley -- a perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Maybe it was the beautiful day, maybe it was the amazing view, maybe it was all the hours of preparation.  Maybe it was my attitude towards the event.  Seeing the smiles on people's faces, their pride in being a part of something bigger than just themselves, and to know that I was successful in creating an atmosphere of peace where people could fully enjoy themselves -- that brought me the greatest joy.

It was a great reminder for me -- that I'm not just doing an event for the sake of getting it done, or because it's my job.  But I'm planning events that are purposeful, that create change, for both myself and the people I'm serving -- donors, brides, or friends.