planning an event // 101

as i am well into planning the second  of our annual creative retreats

with sharon

, i've noticed how much  of a difference there is the second time around. i'm positive if we continue hosting them, we'll learn more and more and the planning process will change every year. so i thought i would share some tips if you are diving in to planning an event of your own for the first time! sharon and i did a little brainstorming to come up with what we thought were the top pieces of advice that we learned from last year. this is definitely geared more towards a blogger meet up like we've hosted, but i'm sure you can apply some of these to any type of event you might be planning!

[ps. if you have no idea what i'm talking about, you can see a little of the 

first retreat we hosted here


- from lauren-

have a goal/theme // when this idea was just a baby, i imagined a couple of like


minded girls, spending a weekend together sharing tips, tricks, pet peeves, problems they needed help or advice with, or pretty much anything that related to the business side of this world we work in. so we went into it planning a semi


structured weekend of chats and things that would create an atmosphere to do so without being super formal. most of the conversations were very organic and needed no introduction or plan

which was exactly what we were hoping for. most of all, we wanted to build bonds with the girls we work closely with and are friends with. since all of the girls from our first retreat are coming back, i think it's safe to say that we achieved that goal! and while this was great for our last trip, we've decided that this time, we want to go in a (slightly) different direction. we've planned out a fun theme (cocktail camp!) to focus everything around. we wanted to open the weekend up to girls that aren't bloggers, but are creative and need a weekend to get inspired. so instead of focusing chats around say, what we charge for a sponsored blog post, we'll have activities planned that everyone can relate too or just have fun with.

plan, but don't over


plan // guess what. if you put a group of girls in a sunny location, at a sweet hotel, with an awesome pool

plans are going to change, be honest with yourself. sharon and i had an idea of what we wanted to do, restaurants we wanted to check out, stores we wanted to visit, etc. and while we may have headed back from our thrift shopping day a bit early to hit the pool, we still fit majority of it in. you have to know that things are going to change, people might not feel like doing something you have planned, so expect to be flexible without compromising your end goal. as long as you have enough planned to keep everyone busy, only you will know about those other things that slipped through the cracks.

set your budget early // ah! this has been the hardest part. do not estimate. period. do your research before hand, have prices on things you are going to need or quotes from people you'll work with or places you'll go

and then add some $ on top of that. things WILL come up. we thought we could throw out a number the first time, and stick within that by just forgoing things if they were over budget. but when you are planning an event with a vision and goal in mind, you might feel that there are things that you just can't go without

but you didn't plan for in the beginning. the best way to figure this out is to get every idea, no matter how crazy, expensive, overkill it is, out of your head and onto paper. then narrow it down from there and decide what you are going to have time for along with what is realistic to ask people to pitch in for. 

- from sharon -

know your audience and what they want out of the weekend // 

When we planned last year's trip, we thought the girls would be super into crafting things and running all over town looking for inspiration.  We found that in reality, we spent a lot of time in the pool with margaritas.  Which is SO not a bad thing.  It just might be wise to find out what people are looking to get out of the weekend while still in the planning stages.  As bloggers, our week is full of some pretty fun, creative, crafty stuff.  So it makes sense that people might want to get away from while on a retreat and relax a little bit more.  Especially if they have children.  

be flexible // 

It is important to plan ahead to make sure you have the reservations you need and activities to keep people busy.  But don't get upset if you have to cancel or change directions during the weekend.  Last year we had made reservations for breakfast on our last day in Palm Springs before heading home.  But it just didn't work out.  It was at a place that I really love and wanted the girls to enjoy too, but things change and you have to go with the flow.  Similarly, we brought tons of crafts and projects to do and didn't end up doing all of them.  Don't let it upset you.  You should enjoy the retreat too.  

sponsor terms // 

I do not have a PR background and I'm finding I often use some very important terms wrong when trying to get product for our retreats.  Big sponsored weekends take a lot of work.  Lauren and I have chosen to do a lot of it ourselves and try to get product where applicable to help offset the costs.  When talking to PR people try to be clear on what it is you want from them right up front.  If you are looking for product (whatever it is, shirts, hats, beverages), ask if they would like to send product for the event, and that is what you get


product.  If you are looking for the brand to actually sponsor something (like paying for a portion of the weekend like a catered dinner, or one of the crafts) they will need to pay to do that (plus maybe send product to be featured in photos).  I emailed someone and asked them to sponsor such and such when in reality I wanted product.  So we were not on the same page at all.  Just know, either way, they are probably going to want something in return in the way of coverage on social media and blog posts.  Most companies will want to know who the attendees are and their social reach.  They need to know what they are getting out of it.  So be ready with that.  

and my last piece of advice? pick an awesome friend to plan with. it's less intimidating, more fun because you can meet up at really good breakfast places for your "meetings" ;) and you'll have double the great ideas making your event that much better.

have any of you ever planned a get together like this? what tips would you share?