Party Planning Tips & Office Tour
February 27, 2014
Behind the ScenesEntertainingOffice Tour
If there's anyone who's well equipped to dole out event planning advice, it'd be the sweet Alicia Keats. And luckily for all of us, she's agreed to let us pick her brain on all things entertaining. From starting her own business, to one thing she always makes sure she has on hand, you'd best read on to absorb her knowledge. And if you're looking for more, check out the galleryJenn Best rocked this shoot.
SMP: Your office is STUNNING. Can you share a bit of your inspiration behind the design?

AK: Our goal in designing the office was ensuring that our clients would feel relaxed and at home in the space, so I guess you could say it was our clients that were behind the inspiration! We truly believe that each of our couples are unique with their own set of desires, priorities, obstacles and needs, and I did not want the space making them feel that they had to be a certain type of couple, or like a particular wedding trend in order to feel at home. Our clients know that whatever their personal needs are, we will cater to those needs in the most luxurious way possible. In ensuring our space is welcoming, we also feel that it reflects the type of planning experience we provide for our clients.
SMP: So tell us, how’d you get your start in the wedding and event planning industry?

AK: After completing a wedding and event management program at a local college almost nine years ago, I was hired by a well respected Vancouver based wedding planning firm. I worked my way up from a Wedding Day Assistant role to a full time Wedding Planner position. Many weddings later I made the decision to create my own planning boutique so I could focus on the individual needs of my couples in a more personal way. I still remember the first wedding I assisted on like it was yesterday: it was instant love-I just knew I was meant to do this job. I love listening to my couples, understanding their particular desires and then creating a magical, once in a life time celebration for them. It is a very special, intimate celebration to be a part of and I never stop feeling lucky to be able to do what I do and for the trust our clients give us.
SMP: What’s one tip you always share with your clients when planning an event?

AK: I always encourage my clients to think about what their priorities are for their wedding or event. Whether we are planning a luxe wedding celebration, an intimate back yard affaire or a swanky dinner party, every couple we work with needs to know what their priorities are. For some, it is ensuring a once in a life time guest experience, for others it is providing an unforgettable meal for their guests, sometimes it is sticking to a particular budget. Once we establish what those priorities are, we can make decisions based on them and ensure a successful outcome.
SMP: Do you have any tips for someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

AK: Wedding Planning is not just a job, it is a labour of love. Volunteer with a planning firm to make sure it is the right fit for you and if it is, work hard, and never stop learning.
SMP: Could you share one thing that really made your business thrive?

AK: Having the support and encouragement of my fellow industry colleagues. This is something I cherish and never take for granted.
SMP: What’s the greatest lesson in business you ever learnt?

AK: The importance of a solid team. Whether it is my own team, and I am so grateful to say that I have an incredible group of people that I have the privilege of working with, or the creative team I assemble for the weddings we create: I am nothing without a solid team behind me. Understanding that each person has a special talent that they are bringing to the table and letting them shine, always brings the most magnificent results.
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SMP: What’s the best piece of advice that anyone has ever given to you?
AK: It was from my Grandpa, he once said to me "always ask yourself: What wouldn't I attempt to do, if I knew I could not fail." I also live by the rule of 'never letting success go to my head and never letting failure go to my heart'.

SMP: In your experience, what’s the biggest mistake people make when planning their event?
AK: Letting unwanted opinions influence important decisions.

SMP: What's one thing you always keep on hand for entertaining on the fly?
AK: Pink bubbly. I always have a least 4-5 bottles at the ready. Isn't every party better with pink champagne?

1. A game plan: Never underestimate the importance of the flow of an event. Whether it is subconsciously or consciously, guest can feel when there is a plan in place and they can relax a bit and have a good time.

2. Great food, yummy beverages, need I say more.

3. Atmosphere, whether this means a fun retro playlist on Songza for a girly night or a live band at a wedding, music sets the tone. Literally!

4. A well thought out guest-list. Know who your guests are and what a successful event means to them. How can you ensure they are comfortable and having a great time?

5. Personal touches. Gotta love those personal touches. They can be a simple as personalized place card at an intimate dinner party or as unique as a mini 'hangover cure kit' given out at the end of a wedding. It's the little things that go a long way.