Lifestyle,  Work/ Industry Talk

Event Planning Basics with Smitten Event’s Rachel Benford

For many fashion writers, blogging serves not only as a creative outlet to showcase our style ideas and concepts, but as a platform for community building. Many of us have aspirations larger than our blog (consulting services, styling, even hosting duties), so for those that are able, hosting an event to connect with their industry peers is inevitable. It could be to celebrate another year in blogging, to announce a special project, or just to mix and mingle with other fashionistas. Either way, sometimes you need a little guidance on what to do and where to begin (especially if you have a small budget!)
Meet Rachel Benford, co-owner of the Memphis-based boutique event planning company Smitten Events.
Launched in 2009, Smitten Events specializes in décor, event design, and day of coordination of events. Always working as a team, Rachel participates in every step of the planning process and PR efforts, from inception to completion.
Read on as Rachel gives insight on how Smitten Events began, tips on where to spend, where to save, and the proper format of a press release (believe it or not, some people don’t know!)
Where did the idea of Smitten Events come from?
Lori Spicer, Erika Conley and I have been friends for many years and we all have a passion for planning. When Lori and Erika returned to Memphis after college, we would often get together and our conversations would always end up with us discussing what we would’ve done to make an event better.
After a lot of brainstorming and meeting, Smitten Events was born.
Ok, I’ve decided I want to throw a small event that will be open to the public. When planning, what is the first thing to do (this may be obvious to most but some people seriously don’t know)?
The first thing you want to do is get organized and envision what type of event you want to have. Set a theme and then set your budget.
If the budget is an issue (aka small), where can I save?
With any event, you want to consider using a venue that already has tables, chairs, linens, and great décor to save money. Renting those basic items from an outside vendor can be pricey.
Where should I spend?
It really depends on what kind of event you are having. Say it’s a wedding: you can spend more on the food. You never want to run out of food at a wedding.
So, venue & caterers secured, and a friend agreed to design my invitations and flyer for free! How far out in advance would you suggest I send out the invitations and/or press releases? 
You want to allow yourself at a minimum two weeks in advance for invitations. Press should start at least one month prior to the event, and this is for a smaller one-time event. If it is an annual event, the campaign should start 3-6 months prior.
Speaking of press releases, what is the proper/standard format (to better ensure it gets read and not sent to the recycling bin)?
A good press release should always have the contact information at the very top and again at the bottom, a bolded title, and a lead sentence that pulls the reader in by giving enough detail to keep them reading. A press release should also be exact and to the point. One page is enough.
Many rely solely on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) when throwing an event that’s open to the public. Do you advise this? What media outlets would you suggest I use to get the word out?
Those are still great outlets to get the word out about an event. Press releases should grant you some news coverage which is absolutely great.
The event is over and it was a success. Should I send out thank yous to anyone?
Yes, tokens of appreciation and or thank you cards are always a must after any event. It adds a very personal touch and builds rapport with clients.
Anything exciting in Smitten’s future that you can share?
Smitten is currently planning a 30th birthday party/fundraiser for the summer of 2012 as well as Co-Owner Lori Spicer’s wedding. These are two very important events to us, because they are so near to our hearts.
Where can people learn more about Smitten Events and services?
The Smitten Girls
Thanks Rach!
Rachel will also be giving more detailed advice for themed events in future posts. 
Stay tuned!
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