All posts in “professional event planner”

Setting your Goals for 2016

Your journey through life is like an envelope - it's all about the labels your experiencesput on the front! Where's your letter of life going_ngHappy 2016!

Wishing you all a year ahead filled with good health, prosperity and a steady path to your 2016 goals.

We wanted to share a look at our last year:
• The Academic Specialty Course was launched and enjoyed its first graduates.
• Our Weddings Specialty Course became Educationally Approved by the International Special Events Society (ISES Approved).
• We partnered with Bryant University to offer a Certificate in Event Management through their Executive Development Center.
• We presented 5 more groups of graduates with their Certificate in Special Events Planning – and sent them on their way to job promotions, new businesses and exciting opportunities!

And here’s what we are looking forward to:
• The Corporate Event Course is open – it’s filled with fantastic guest lecturers, charts, tools and resources. We are using Professional Meeting Management as a textbook – it’s a great way to prep for the CMP if that is on your “GOAL LIST”.
• We’ll be speaking at the The Special Event Show on Tuesday (#TSE2016) in Orlando, FL. Instructor Karen F. Salhaney, M. NP and I (Jill S. Moran, CSEP, Executive Director) will be giving a talk on Internship Programs, Tuesday, January 12th at 11:30AM. Stop by if you are at the conference!
• Partnerships – We are working with colleges, universities and associations to bring some exciting new educational offerings to event professionals in the year ahead! Stay tuned!

My personal goals this year center on the theme “moderation”
• Keep goals to a minimum – no more than 3 a day.
• Celebrate even a small success every day.
• Listen to my body – keep it healthy and feeling good through good eating, exercise and rest!
• Take time to enjoy things that recharge and regenerate me – walking, a chat with family or friends, being in my garden or outside.
• Remember to say “thank you “– and smile! Live a life of appreciation and gratitude!

As a gift, I’d like to offer COVER_EventPlanningBusinessa chapter in the latest edition of my book, How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business. It’s the chapter on Being your Best. I hope it offers some ideas to help you create the life you dream of and enjoy the journey along the way!

We look forward to continuing to be a resource for you and staying in touch in the year ahead!

jsmoran signature




Jill S. Moran, CSEP
Executive Director
Special Events Institute

Best Practices: color and design

October is a busy time for nonprofits to celebrate and raise awareness for their cause.  With so many worthy causes to support, it’s critical for nonprofits to create events that leave a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd.  Here’s one that carries their brand and message into all aspects of their event:


Color and design – From the moment guests enter, the logo colors are introduced through an entrance arrangement in purple, red, green and goldenrod.

Large focal centerpiece

A stunning arrangement on the crudite table sets the tone incorporating the colors of the logo.


Brand imagery – their logo, color scheme and the event concept is woven into the slides for the program, in the linens, centerpieces, and with lighting. All through the evening, guests are reminded of the mission and the cause.

low and lush

Use theme colors on linens, florals and with lighting and production elements.

color blocked

Let floral designers use their creativity within the guidelines you set – four colors and dimension specs- and enjoy the unique creations!


Mission and Cause: Telling the story of the WHY for an event is essential in helping supporters to connect and better understand how their support impacts actual lives and makes a difference.


Connecting guests with the agencies mission is essential in creating a lasting donor relationship.


Live and Silent Auctions provide additional ways for guests to enjoy the event and support the cause.


Dress to impress: It’s always challenge to continually create new, fresh experiences for annual events. Consider your space, limitations, guest profile, budget and goals to pull the right combination of design elements together. You’ll want to WOW without breaking the budget which could include in-kind and cash sponsorships, partnerships with event designers and re-purposing and reusing elements in new ways for a new look!


Try mixing up design elements to fill an open space – consider height, sizing, layout, seating and dining needs.


A special thanks to Dina K Photograph for her amazing work –

Alumni Corner: Lisa Perkins of Luck Companies

Lisa Perkins - 2014 Graduate Luck Companies - Richmond, VA

Lisa Perkins – 2014 Graduate
Luck Companies – Richmond, VA

What made you decide to enroll at SEI and become an event planner?
I decided to enroll in SEI, because of the courses the program offered. The course being online fit into my current work schedule. I decided to take this course working toward an Event Planner role with my current organization.

What was your favorite SEI course and why?
My favorite course was Event Design and Décor, this course allowed us to put the learning elements together. Having the visual of what you are learning while using the application of the elements.

What was the biggest takeaway from your studies with Special Events Institute?

My biggest takeaways was truly learning all of elements and practices it takes to put on an awesome event. I learned how to generate and complete checklists for events no matter the size to ensure every element is accounted for.

What next steps did you take after receiving your Certificate from SEI?
I generated a Business Plan and presented to the organization to move forward with the Event Planner role. Since that, I have been working on events within the organization, displaying the true need for a permanent Event Planner. It has be a wonderful experience. I am anxiously awaiting the Specialty Courses coming this Summer, so I can complete the entire program and move forward with my CSEP.

What advice do you have for the current SEI students?
The possibilities of events are endless. Take every opportunity to reach out to others, sharing ideas and asking their advice. Reach out to Instructors, encourage them to challenge you. The responses you will get are incredible and will help you become the best Event Planner you can be.

Career Tips: So you want to get serious about planning special events?!

Gene DeCosta, Root Catered Events

Gene DeCosta, Root Catered Events

Should I quit my job to start my own business?

Depending on the financial support or savings you currently have, it may make sense to begin your event business on a part-time basis. Many events can be done in the evenings or on weekends. You may be able to begin working with other seasoned planners to get your experience and once you have a solid working knowledge of the process, go out on your own. To move from a part-time to full-time commitment will take a solid client base that will guarantee repeat business and repeat income. You also need to consider the cost of health care and your fixed living expenses. Make sure your event business can offset these costs and put you in a positive cash-flow position.


I am not very organized and hate the minute details of things, but I love parties . . . can I be an event planner?

There are some basic skills that will be necessary to build a successful event planning business. Creativity is one of them, but organization and attention to detail come right behind. Building a successful business will require a good reputation and delivering excellent service. If the little details drive you crazy and you can’t be bothered to figure out how to “right” the “wrongs,” you may be better off filling your schedule with parties to attend, not plan. If you think you have what it takes but need some honing of skills or support in a few areas of business know-how, consider teaming up with someone who complements the skills you have.

How do I take my background in catering and launch my own event business?

It is helpful to have a background in hospitality or business if you want to focus on special events. You can take the training and experience you have and round it out with specific training in events or management from local colleges, universities, or at industry conferences.

I love all kinds of celebrations . . . what type of events should I focus on doing?

Plan to focus on the type of events that you are most comfortable with or have the most experience in. If you come from a corporate background, it may be easier for you to relate to the corporate market—and vice versa with a bride or groom if you have experience in social events. You already may know the lingo and the culture. Start with something you are familiar with and see where your successes take you. If you are chomping at the bit to make a big change, just get the training you need before taking the leap!