Big changes for 2015!

Instead of writing my typical holiday posts, I choose to simply enjoy the holidays with my friends & family and put work on the back burner for once. I spent time going out to dinner with friends, shopping, and just taking in all that the holidays have to offer. I’m basically a 5 year old when it comes to Christmas and guess what? 5 year olds do not post blogs about what they are up to.

In 2015, I plan on being selfish personally & professionally. Ok how is this even acceptable as a goal? I look back on the past few years & realize that I allowed my calendar to rule my life as I made it my mission to sacrifice personal time for my company. Well, 2015 is the year that will all change! Well… sort of. Instead of focusing on ‘building’ up my company, I’m going to be focusing on my brand, it’s values and overall vision.

Personally, I plan on making more time for me. It’s my ‘Golden Year’ which means I’m turning 27 on the 27th! Woo! This may have sparked the ‘Year for Me’ mentality. I don’t plan to strive for a ‘balanced’ life but a more healthy one where I focus on taking better care of myself physically & mentally. I hit that wall where my mind & body hate me and I’ve lost that drive and motivation because I hadn’t given myself time to regroup throughout the year.

Less of this                                                                               More of this

                               

So how do I plan on making this big change? I have created a list! Imagine that, a planner making lists.

It’s my hope that a year from now, I can pull out those lists & see all that I’ve accomplished and set out to do, actually happened.

 

Val’s 5 Must-Have Items for Every Event!

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Since I plan a variety of events, there are still many similarities when it comes down to day-of affairs. No matter if I’m preparing for a wedding or a 5K fundraiser, I always have the same 5 items with me. I really could have created a list of 25 but that is because I’m ridiculous and always prepare for those over the top circumstances.

Change of Clothes

Set Up & Clean up is always easier in gym clothes than it is in a cocktail dress, plus you never know if someone (or yourself if you are clumsy like myself) will spill or make a mess of your outfit.

Trail Mix or Protein Bars

I am known for not eating on event days (besides breakfast) and yes, I’m 100% aware this is not a good habit. When I’m in full event mode, it’s difficult for me to remember to eat, so I try to always have a couple bars in my bag to keep me going.

Wrist Watch

I am guilty for relying on my cell phone for the time even though I could be wearing a watch. I never know if my phone will last so it’s better to have a watch just in case so I can stay on top of the event timeline.

Iced Coffee & Water

In case you aren’t aware, coffee is basically my lifeline. It’s how I function & survive ….especially those 14 hour days. It wouldn’t be pretty if I went without and obviously, I always have water to stay hydrated while running around.

Mobile Power Bank

The last thing I want to happen is for my cell phone to die during an event because more times than not I have to be accessible to clients, vendors & even my own team. I don’t always need to use the power bank but I know that it doesn’t hurt to have it so I don’t get into that situation where something goes wrong because I couldn’t be reached.

Classy Glitter- Not your traditional bridal shower

As an event planner, often I am asked what is tradition or proper when it comes to everything ‘wedding’. I offer the same advice to all- it all depends on the couple, situation, and family. I encourage all my brides to make their big day all about them as a couple and not what ‘tradition’ dictates.

As maid of honor for my sister, I made sure she had the bridal shower she wanted. She only had a few requests which were quite easy to fulfill.

-No opening of the gifts in front of everyone

- No cheesy games

- ‘Don’t you dare wrap me in toilet paper’

So you may be thinking, so what in the world were all the guests to do? Easy! Talk to each other! We described it as a cocktail party style bridal shower. This allowed Jamie & my mother to talk and enjoy the company of all the guests without being interrupted by scheduled games & activities. As our family and friends arrived, they were able to grab a Bridal Mad Lib which was custom to Jamie & Treven and everyone could do at their leisure.  The only planned activities was a quick round of trivia, ‘How well do you know Jamie & Treven?’

I know that many people are used to the traditional bridal shower, but I couldn’t be more pleased with our laid back approach. It was perfect for my sister, and fit her personality. Why not break tradition in order to tailor to the guest of honor?

My Other Life: The Nonprofit Job

Sometimes I feel as though I live two different lives: Life in the Fast Lane- The Event World and then the Extremely Emotional Nonprofit World.

Some may not know this but I actually hold down a full time job in addition to having my event company. When I’m not in the ‘VME’ mode, I can be found working on marketing materials, conference logistics, and other PR tasks for The Parents’ Place of Maryland, a nonprofit organization. The Parents’ Place of Maryland is a nonprofit organization that provides free support, information, and training related to health needs and special education to parents of children with special needs.

PPMD’s 20th Anniversary Gala at the Patterson Theatre

In 2010, I was introduced to The Parents’ Place of Maryland when I was hired to execute their 20th Anniversary Gala. A few years after the gala, I was hired to plan and execute the organization’s events and conferences as well as overall communication (marketing, website, social media, PR, etc). I’m lucky with this job because I have a flexible schedule that allows me to also pursue my own business. I have no personal connection directly to the mission of the nonprofit, yet I am deeply invested in this organization. Through this job, I have been able to see what life is like for families of children with special needs. Many of the stories are heart breaking to hear the daily struggles and challenges that someone calls life, many of which is taken for granted by most.

At this moment, I cannot imagine my life without The Parents’ of Maryland —however, I know that day will come when I will need to move on.

Always make an effort to connect!

Time has gotten away from me since the fall and I didn’t even realize I hadn’t made it to any networking events since October! I have no idea how I got to the point where I had people actually asking where I’ve been. Luckily, last week I was able to make it a priority to attend two events where I was able to catch up with some of the best event professionals in the DC-Baltimore Metro area!

Yes, you can actually rent a giant lite bright!

Tuesday was Metro Event Specialist‘s first mixer of 2014 and it was wonderful to reconnect with some of my favorite DC vendors. This organization puts on events for 300 of DC’s best event professionals throughout the city to showcase different vendors in unique venues. Last year, I was asked to be the lead planner for their February Mixer and it is one of my favorite events I’ve ever done to date. [Click here for photos]

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Then on Thursday, My Flower Box Events hosted a launch party to celebrate their new studio. Everything was gorgeous (not like I expected anything less from them) and the rooms were filled with vendors chatting each other up. The last time I was at their studio was in December and the transformation is unbelievable! They created an amazing consulting area that is very charming and inviting. I’m looking forward to the next time I take a client to see them!

 

Running with the Devils

For as long as I can remember, I have made it a point to be involved with charities or nonprofit organizations. To me, if you can give back to the community (local or globally) whether it be through giving donations, attending events or volunteering– you should. Volunteering and taking part in various charitable organizations has always been a huge part of my life and I cannot see that changing anytime soon.

Most recently, I have started working with an amazing charitable organization that supports Maryland breast cancer families, The Red Devils. There is a lot of  publicity for breast cancer awareness and that is fantastic, a lot of that can be contributed to organizations like Komen. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone thinks of the family of those diagnosed and how it can have a ripple effect. This organization realizes that families might lose an income if someone cannot work or that daycare is now required if mom is too weak from treatments. The Red Devils have recognized these challenges families face and so they do their best to provide a variety of services to these families. The services can range from transportation, catering, home care agencies, and even complementary therapies practitioners.

I’m currently working on their 5K event, Running with the Devils that will be held on Sunday, June 8th, 2014 at Goucher College.

Interested in registering for this event or becoming a sponsor? Click Here!

Not a runner? Training with The Devils might be for you!

A new venue in Annapolis? Yes!

Finally! A venue in Annapolis that can accommodate over 150 guests! Byzantium can entertain 400-600 people depending on the event, which makes it the largest venue in the historic town. The Byzantium is connected to Saint Helen and Constantine Greek Orthodox Church, it’s size is very deceiving and is easily overlooked.

A week ago, I put together a quick bridal showcase to show off the new space.  In order to do so, we needed some amazing local vendors to join us. I worked closely with Val at Rentals to Remember on the four different tablescapes- nautical, vintage, earthy, and elegant. It helps to show various table set ups for brides that are visual people as well as showing what colors look good in the space.

This venue has not only two great rooms, but there is also a huge lawn that gives the place endless options for outdoor events! I’m looking forward to working closely with this venue on not only events but marketing too.

Enjoy some of these wonderful images by Kyle Bergner Photography!

Special thanks to the amazing local vendors that contributed!

Rentals: Rentals to Remember

Catering: Custom Catering 4 u

Photography: Kyle Bergner Photography

Cakes & Desserts: Cakes by Rachael & Cookie Gals

Floral: Studio H Floral and Event Design

Entertainment: Mixing Maryland & Boothlove

Stationary: Allison Barnhill Designs

Beauty: Behind the Veil

Transportation: Limousines, Inc

 

Holiday Hustle & Bustle

December is one of the craziest months of the year for me. I’ve found there is no such thing as “an off-season” when you have your own company.  So while I’m busy with bridal appointments, vendor visits, event prep… I sometimes forget there is this thing called Christmas right around the corner!

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 A close family friend, owner of Living Shabby Chic was having a holiday trunk show this past week. My sister and I made sure we stopped by for some last minute Christmas presents and decor. Everything is handmade and very trendy! I walked away with some great treasures perfect for my upcoming holiday party.

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 All weekend I was dreading making cookies for a cookie swap I forgot I agreed to. Between all my appointments and the holidays, the last thing I was prepared for was baking 15 dozen cookies. By the 12th dozen, I was getting fed up and almost threw them all away… 4 1/2 hours later… done! Sunday I arrived at my friend Susan’s, and enjoyed a nice glass of winter sangria while we all shared our dozens of cookies.

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 Not only am I still busy with meetings, I can’t forget that I’m hosting a holiday party very soon! My roommate found this adorable Charlie Brown style tree to start our Christmas decorations. I’ve decided on a red & gold theme, and cannot wait to share more pictures!

Tis the season to be appreciative!

While the snow was falling, I sat back and realized that even though I may no longer be a child, this is still a magical time of the year! Christmas shopping, cookie bake off, crazy lights, holiday parties, white elephant gift exchange, the list is endless! I love everything about the holiday season! I haven’t always been able to fully embrace the season because of working either retail, restaurants, or events but I enjoy this time of year!

Selby’s first snow!

Every year I like to ask everyone to be mindful of those working long hours during the holiday season. While you are consumed with the hustle & bustle, there is that salesperson that is working late when you forgot your mother’s gift, and the UPS driver that won’t get off until every package is delivered. How about those great company holiday parties? Cannot forget those caterers, servers, and all the other vendors that not only are working but you may not see them because they are showing up at 2 am to clean up or pick up their products. On Christmas Eve, you are slaving away in the kitchen and the knife slips, we should all be thankful for the nurses and doctors that are in the ER. Saying “Thank you” and being extra pleasant to those working goes a long way than you may realize.

 

 

 

 

Host the Best NYE’s Dinner Party!

Never would I have thought I’d have written an article for a magazine! Just a little over a month ago, I was approached by B Woman Magazine‘s editor to write an advice article. Since it was for the December issue, it was perfect to prepare something related to the biggest night to party– New Year’s Eve!

I couldn’t write an article without having the right inspiration, so I had to have a mini photo shoot to match! Thanks to my wonderful assistant, Natalie took my vision for the shoot and ran with it! Together we came up with a fun mix of items from VME’s stash, each others homes, and Target to create the perfect NYE dinner party!

Instead of telling you more about the article… CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE!

A special thanks to my friend Artemas of Artemas Photograpghy for stopping by last minute to take these great shots!