“From Bonfire to Bona Fide Events”

November 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm (PRCA 3339)

“From Bonfire to Bona Fide Events” was an event planning professional development session I attended on the second day of the PRSSA National Conference in San Diego.

Mark R. Lorimer, CMP, Owner, Eventive Group

David Anderson, Principle Owner, Eventive Group

Mark and David were the speakers at this particular professional development session.

“Be all you can be but don’t be everything.”

Some of the most important KEY PLAYERS in event planning are as follows:

  • Special Event Company
  • DMC-Destination Management Company
  • Independent Power
  • Supplier with Benefits (i.e. caterer might recommend a DJ)
  • Wedding Planners (if appropriate)
  • Incentive Companies

Order in which to consider when planning an event

1. Profile the Event

  • Guests (age, number, demographic, etc.)
  • History of the Event
  • Cost of the Event
  • Quick List of Event Elements

2. Budget

  • You won’t be able to begin ANY of the actual planning and layout of the event unless you first know the budget, how much money your client has to spend on this particular event.

3. Theme & Design

  • Profile the guest
  • Main decision maker’s “likes”
  • Theme your event to the venue in order to save money and ensure the theme of th event flows with the basic theme of your venue (i.e. Titanic theme in an aquarium)
  • Use a common theme with a twist. Choose an everyday theme and add something new and unique to it.
  • “Picture This”-define your theme clearly. Make sure all “Key Players” that are involved understand exactly what the theme for your event is.

RED ALERT!!!!! (Things to be aware of and keep in mind at all times)

  • Space Conditions-you need to keep in mind the air/heating abilities of your chosen venue; how many guests can your venue hold
  • Quality of Vendorcheck out the quality of the vendors you choose for your event (i.e. caterer, DJ, etc.); make sure they are reliable (check out review from past events)
  • Other Vendors-Make sure you do your research and keep your options open. You don’t always have to use the vendor you have used in past events. Change it up a little bit.


  • Function Firstbe sure to put the function of your event design before all other aspects. Although, you may want your event to look modern and unique function must always come first and foremost.
  • Then…explore hot designs & looks– after figuring out what the necessary function for your event is, then you can play around with unique/fun/exciting looks and designs to incorporate into your event


  1. Venue Standards– the venue at which you decide to hold your event may require that you use their food and beverage services (catering) at your event
  2. Venue Specialties-make sure you find out what your chosen venue specializes in. Every place/company will have certain food and beverage options that they specialize in/do better than their competitors. They will most likely have a chef on hand who has some specialty.
  3. Theme Adjustments- You may have to consider making changes to your original theme after talking with the venue about their food & beverage options in order to maintain a common theme throughout.
  4. Costs- this is one of the most important things to consider when talking about food & beverage. This will most likely be the main use of the budget and taking into consideration quality vs cost is an important decision to make.


  • Primary Spots-keep in my mind what spots are most likely to be seen by a majority of your guests and make this one of your main design spots
  • Lightinglighting can be everything. Using tools like, GOBO’s (lighting stencils/projectors) can be cheaper than using props.

  • Props & scenery
  • Centerpieces– these will go on each of the tables, or some of the tables, etc. You will need to coordinate the centerpieces with the theme of the event. Decide on flowers, fruit, or something more unique.

*Some other things to consider:

  • Costumize the CEO– if this is an event where guests should be dressed to the theme, then make sure your CEO is in costume. If the CEO won’t dress accordingly, then you should not expect all the other guests to do dress up.
  • Engage all scents-have candles, votives, incense, etc. to incorporate the sense of smell into your event.


  1. Public Relations Matters » Blog Archive » Best Blog Posts from #PRCA3339 Fall 2009 said,

    […] “From Bonfire to Bona Fide Events” by Jessica Cameron […]

  2. Blogging Samples | Jessica Cameron's Resume said,

    […] “From Bonfire to Bona Fide Events” […]

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