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This is Our Place

From the desks of Jana & Christine…

“Rosie’s Place will always be my family, no matter what.  If it wasn’t for them, I would not be the person I am today.” – Norma O., Rosie’s Place Guest

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Our partnership at AE Events began nearly 10 years ago, and one of our first shared clients was Rosie’s Place. Ever since then, we have both been continually inspired, motivated, moved and humbled by their work. Rosie’s Place is in the trenches changing the lives of poor and homeless women.  As two women businesses owners, who are mothers and sisters and daughters, who believe that every person matters…this work resonates with us.

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Our early experience with Rosie’s Place is a great example of how we took our mission statement and worked it into our daily practice in producing events. We are committed to doing meaningful work in a meaningful way…all focused on our clients.  Rosie’s Place is laser focused on their guests.  They meet them where they are in their journeys.  They see them as a sum of their assets, not their deficits.  They help them find their voices.

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This year’s theme for the annual FWSB luncheon was “This is Our Place…This is Rosie’s Place.” Guest stories like Norma’s were shared by media women and by the guests themselves in video clips. The audience of 1700 heard why Rosie’s Place is their place, giving women the community and acceptance they need.

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At the end of the luncheon every year, we shop at the Women’s Craft Cooperative jewelry booth to support the wonderful opportunity that this creative microenterprise offers Rosie’s Place guests as employment. As we approached the table, who should greet us but…Norma herself! Of course we recognized her from her video, and she went on to tell us about her job and her gratitude for her friends at Rosie’s Place.

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We would not be the company we are today without Rosie’s Place. It is our hope that we help our clients tell their own important stories in every event we produce.

This is our place. This is Rosie’s Place.


As Crisp and Golden as an Apple

From the desk of Event Manager, Elizabeth Boates… 

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

With another Labor Day weekend under our belts, it’s official – we say goodbye to the blissful long days of summer and hello to fall fashion, football and back to school! I personally have always loved fall and am consistently inspired to find new ways of incorporating autumn inspiration into our events. Some of my favorite events we’ve designed have been for schools. So we figured, what better way to kick off September than to highlight some of the fantastic events we’ve done that put a special spin on education…

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Artists for Humanity Epicenter

It seems so simple, but there is so much you can do with books as decor. For 826 Boston’s annual fundraiser, stories were literally cascading from the ceiling! With strands of book pages hanging from the rafters and a little mood lighting, we transformed the room.

We’ve also used books as table decor. For Excel Academy’s annual Celebration of Excellence, we brought the “tools of school” onto the dinner tables in a clever way, covering old books with a new cover to create the table number and wrapping beautiful sunflower centerpieces with a row of pencils for a unique, academic look. The books were then used in the classrooms and library, and the pencils were given to the students.

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Exchange Conference Center

The following year for Excel Academy, we added a fresh spin by creating table runners made to look like oversized rulers. Not only is this a great way to change up your typical table décor, but the runners also served as an excellent branding piece.

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Exchange Conference Center

A clever centerpiece I loved were the collegiate pennants we used for the Boston Collegiate Charter School. The pennants each represented a college and were added to the floral designs at each table.

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Whether you use them for a table number or to a create a sculpture like the example below, books represent a timeless piece that can immediately add beauty to the table.

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Moakley Courthouse

So welcome back to all of the students in the Boston area – we can’t wait to see what new and academic event design you inspire this year!


Our Olympians

From the desk of Event Manager Elaina Pires…

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Summer is the PERFECT time to tackle a personal goal you’ve been wanting to achieve. With the Pan Mass Challenge this past weekend, I wanted to reflect on my own personal goal from this summer – completing the Bike MS Cape Cod Getaway. At the end of June, my brother and I participated in a 150+ mile bike ride from Boston to Provincetown to benefit the National MS Society. We TOTALLY underestimated how much fun, challenging, and incredibly rewarding the ride would be.

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Each day of the two days we biked 75+ miles with over 2,000 other riders. Boston’s own pedicab drivers even made the trek, alternating who rode with the pedicab in tow and working as a team to push the cart up each hill. The teamwork and energy that they had was so undeniable, we stuck close to them throughout the course for inspiration. Plus, they all had bike radios blasting awesome tunes the whole way there. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of their bike crew?!

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Naturally, I was also curious how the ride would play out from an event planner’s perspective. With plenty of police detail and road assistance, the ride was seamless from start to finish. From having rest stops every 10 miles, to making sure we were well fed and well hydrated, to being greeted by an AWESOME welcome party at the halfway point, we were well supported throughout the entire ride. Despite some of the difficulties – a 3:30AM wakeup call, leg cramps galore, and dozens of never-ending hills – the experience was totally worth it. As an event, I give it an A+!

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Crossing both physical and mental hurdles this summer left me feeling inspired and motivated to continue that energy into the fall season. Just like events, it felt amazing to be a part of a cause and purpose so much bigger than myself, and have a great time while doing so. From this ride, I’m proud to say that my brother and I raised a combined $2,800+ for the National MS Society New England Chapter, and we look forward to our next challenge – whatever it may be!


We heart BCHL!

Valentine’s Day is upon us and we are enveloped in red and pink… to honor it we were trying to think of something fun to write or show you.  What better than to share one of our past events?  Who says red and pink are only for Valentine’s Day?  They can be used as a beautiful accent for your decor, without being over the top or seemingly girly and childish.

But, as usual, we are getting ahead of ourselves… let’s go back to November, 2014 – the Boston Children’s Hospital League Gala. This one was hosted at the Fairmont Copley and the theme was “Under the Big Top.”

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Yes, this event is to support kids and programs for them while they are at the hospital, but it’s also a night for adults!  So to walk that fine-circus-tightrope-line between childish and chic, we designed the cocktail hour to be a fun and festive filled room with oversized balloons, bright pink and orange accents – complete with an elephant over the bar!

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As guests finished cocktails, they moved across the hall to the Grand Ballroom, where they entered a space that was a bit more grownup – portraying a vintage circus vibe – with golds, blacks and pops of a whimsical red (see – I knew we’d circle back to red and Valentine’s Day). Winston Flowers helped us to create these fun centerpieces – the co-chairs couldn’t believe that red carnations could look so good.  (Sorry, carns, you guys have a bad rap, but things are looking up!)

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This client even had fun adjusting their logo to fit the theme.  Overall, it was a great event that you should consider looking in to for this year!  Planning is just in the works, but it’s sure to be a fun-filled event for everyone!

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Many thanks to all of the vendors who helped to make this event possible (plus Allegro Photography for these great shots).  Added thanks to the Big Apple Circus Clowns and stiltwalker Big League Brian, who are part of the BCHL programming and were added entertainment for our guests!

 


After the party… let’s party?

Recently, AE Partner, Christine Altieri, and one of our brides, Liz, (Hi Liz!) were quoted in the Boston Globe style section commenting on wedding after parties.  Which leads us to continue the conversation – Are After Parties worth it?

After Parties are the new excuse for brides and grooms to continue the celebration into the wee hours of the night (ahem… morning).  For some, I’d say it’s truly worth it.  When else will you have this kind of love and attention from close family and friends?  When else will you have a chance to party like this?  Graduation? (nah, that’s expected) Baby? (Duh, you have a baby! Stay home!)  Major birthday milestone? Okay, maybe that last one, but it’s unlikely all of your nearest and dearest will make it to the festivities.  Yes, a wedding is an important part of your life and those closest to you make an effort to be there – and an After Party, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

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Wedding dress still on, bowtie askew… It’s totally worth it if you have a smaller group of close friends and family and you head somewhere for some post wedding drinks, snacks and chatter.  I’d recommend the Hawthorne for this! Actually, I did go there after my wedding and there were two other brides wandering around in their dresses as well.  We all hugged.  Dressed down to comfy clothes… It’s totally worth it to go sit around a bonfire and make s’mores and mellow out with your peeps. Within Boston itself, I’m not sure you’ll find a bonfire, but I do know the Chatham Bars Inn offers one.  Hair a mess, weren’t you wearing a tie?…  It’s totally worth it to head back to a friend’s suite with your BFFs to drink the last of the champagne and muse upon the times ‘before you were married’.

After Parties aren’t just for weddings anymore.   Now fundraisers and galas are hosting APs as well.  Sometimes it’s to keep the fun, lively atmosphere going and sometimes it’s to introduce a new set of future donors. It’s an easy way to get them in, excited about the cause, introduced to some key people and they get to have fun.  We’ve found the most successful fundraising/non-profit/gala APs have an existing young professional group that they can invite.  Typically this group is invited to arrive as the program and seated dinner that the bigger patrons have paid for is winding down.  Their ticket price is lower and includes dessert, drinks (up to the organization if it’s 2, unlimited drinks, or perhaps you switch to a wine and beer bar) – and of course dancing with the band or DJ alongside the other guests.  It’s a great way to bring some new energy to the room, to the group, to the cause!

To read the Globe article about Wedding APs – follow this link!
Many thanks to Liz Linder Photography for the bonfire AP photo taken in Truro last September.


Running from Ramen (noodles)

Today’s blog celebrates our Event Manager, Chrissy Kratz, and her major achievement of running a half marathon with her Dad! (Yes, as event planners, we do have a life outside the office) Chrissy shares her thoughts…

Two and a half years ago I signed up for my first road race, the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure 5k. While I hadn’t spent much time exercising since my scarce visits to the gym or sporadic ultimate Frisbee games in college, I thought to myself “How hard could running three miles be?” Well, I am here to tell you that it was very hard. I couldn’t successfully run one full mile in that race. I was embarrassed, angry and suddenly extremely determined.

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I did a complete overhaul of my life that following year. I threw away all semblance of junk food in my apartment (my guilty pleasures of Ramen and Oreos were a thing of the past), I started running (semi) regularly, and even sprung the $10 a month to join a gym (which on my budget was a bold move). As I began to sign up for races, my then 50-year-old Father jumped on the running bandwagon with me. Before we knew it we were running a 10k on Thanksgiving morning before eating our weight in turkey and pie, and two months later decided it was time to sign up for a half marathon together. The Philadelphia ODDyssey Half Marathon was exactly 138 days away the day we signed on the dotted line.

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As I began to organize myself in preparation for the race, I realized something: Training for a race wasn’t all that different than planning an event! I began with a timeline that detailed all of the goals and benchmarks that I wanted to achieve, much like the one we create for our clients with print deadlines, committee meetings and site visits. Next, I pulled in all of the other players: running partners I could count on to get me out of bed on cold mornings, classes at the gym to keep me from getting bored, and even transportation for myself to get home to Philadelphia for the weekend of the race. We do this with our vendors for events: perhaps Be Our Guest for beautiful rentals, Gourmet Caterers for delicious food, or Event Illuminations to make an event truly glow. As the big day got closer, things became more stressful. Organizing the last minute details and reaching those final deadlines seemed nearly impossible. But if there was one thing I have mastered as both an event planner and runner, it’s endurance.

 

The definition of endurance is the ability or strength to continue to last, especially despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions. It’s pushing yourself physically and mentally past what you thought possible, whether it’s across a finish line or to the conclusion of an event. It takes the same passion and drive to get out of bed on a cold February morning to get in that run as it does to stay at the office as long as it takes to ensure every detail of your event has been thought out (sometimes these coincided in the same day!). And I have to be honest…I love every second of it. That being said, on Sunday, June 8th my Dad and I crossed the finish line of the half marathon together (hitting our goal of under two and a half hours!).

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The relief I felt that morning was extraordinarily similar to that of the feeling I have when I see a bride and groom leave their reception at the end of the night grinning ear to ear or when I witness a non-profit organization exceed their fundraising goals. A very wise person (*cough*Christine Altieri*cough*) once told me that the day you stop having those feelings of genuinely wanting the world for your clients is the day to retire, and don’t tell her this, but she is undoubtedly right. I want every client to feel the same euphoria I feel crossing a finish line as they do at the conclusion of their event. And the day I stop experiencing either of those feelings is the day both my running shoes and I will retire. But believe me…that’s not happening anytime soon! After all, you have to work hard to play hard! Cheers to the next season of road races and events!

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You make me feel like dancing…

…but I’ll never be able to dance as well as the professionals at the Boston Ballet.

It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a year filled with many amazing events.  In and among all of that, we were more than honored to be considered for Biz Bash Magazine‘s Top 100 Events in Boston and Balanchine Ball – The 2013 Boston Ballet Gala – was selected as the #1 Benefit!  We know, we know – this is a very late posting, but we’ve been so busy helping other clients with their special events.  Many thanks to the Boston Ballet for partnering with us this year and additional thanks to Michael Blanchard for these great images.

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