Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Smart Phones, Social Media & Why You Should Know About It

You don't have to love social media, the internet or anything technologically related to be an event planner, but you do need to be willing to incorporate it.  Especially if you're involved in B2B events, public events, non-profit/fundraising, etc.  This study, The Smartphone Consumer 2012 (click on the slide show) is proof of why. Here are some interesting stats found in the study:

  • Only 12% of the US population does not own a cell phone.  Of the remaining 88%, half own smart phones.  
  • Within the past year, the number of people who own smart phones has increased 40% with the Android being the most popular and the iPhone coming in at 2nd.  
  • Smartphone ownership is even between men (49%) and women (51%).  
  • 20% of smartphone users listen to music with their phones while at work.  
  • Smartphone users are more likely to have their phones next to them at nearly all times.    
  • 30% of smartphone users also own some form of a tablet 
  • Smartphone owners spend as much time on their phones as they do watching television. 
  • 76% of smartphone users go through facebook to connect with a brand or product.  71% of individuals with smartphones are likely to post status updates as compared to 51% who do not have smartphones.  
  • People with smartphones check their facebook an average of 5x a day and have about 2x the number of friends as those without it.

In addition to the facts, I can't even count the number of people I see wandering around the streets, trying to find a location on their phone.  The last time I took MegaBus, nearly every single person at the Chicago stop used their phone to provide their confirmation number/boarding pass (compared with Toledo where most people had paper print outs -- a fact I found interesting when comparing urban and suburban areas).  As for that 40% increase, I believe it.  I finally talked my aunt into an iPhone (she previously had a razr) and she loves it!  Most everyone I know uses their phones to find things, get to places or even do a little research.

So if you're still not convinced that the internet, social media and mobile devices are relevant to you, think of it this way: if someone is looking for something to do, don't you want them to consider your event as a possible choice?

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Local Tourist

One of the greatest cohesive tools for navigating and exploring Chicago is The Local Tourist.  There's a lot going on this city and it can be hard to keep up.  So while MetroMix & Thrillist are also great, today I am featuring a fellow local blogger.  Initially a waitress, The Local Tourist turned her love for Chicago into a success story.  And it's impressive.  What's so great about this website is that there is truly an element of what's local and what's going on, not necessarily what's the most news-worthy or flashy.  She really does her homework.  There are categories on everything from shopping to restaurants, events and more.  You can search for something specific or just look for something fun.  So if you are wondering what to do that's a little different than the usual, become a local tourist and enjoy Chicago!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekend in Chicago: Wicker Park Fest

Wondering what to do this weekend?  Well if you aren't going to be going to an Olympic viewing party today, or if the Fiesta del Sol isn't quite in your neighborhood, there's always the Wicker Park Fest.  It starts this weekend so get out of the house and check out one of the most interesting areas in Chicago.  To learn more, visit their website: http://wickerparkfest.com/

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 London Olympics Viewing Parties in Chicago & Fiesta del Sol

You don't have to be a sports fan to love the Olympics and even if you're still feeling the sting of Chicago's 2016 loss for the bid, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be supporting the USA!  If you haven't made your Friday night plans yet, check out these places that have viewing parties for the opening day of the 2012 Olympics.  Not feeling sporty?  Fiesta del Sol starts today and goes through Sunday.  Located at 1400 W Cermak (Cermak & Loomis). 

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Pump Room at Public Hotel

Yep, that's real gold leafing on that ceiling.

"The Library"

I had the joy of experiencing lunch at The Pump Room, one of Chicago's most famous restaurants.  Newly renovated by Boutique Hotel Entrepreneur & Legend Ian Schrager (Studio 54 may be one of his most famous works), this restaurant  requires about a month in advance for weekend reservations.  But with all of the hype at night, it's also the perfect place during the day.  They are open for lunch and the atmosphere is lighter and more relaxed.  I enjoyed their delicious fried chicken while polite staff proved to be accomodating, ensuring we had water and refills of whatever we needed in addition to fresh plates & silverware.  The decor is one of a kind and it was classy but not stuffy.  Located in the Public Hotel, the feel of accessible luxury made it unique.  It is beautiful, yet reasonably priced  (under $200/night for many of the standard rooms) and "The Library" is open to the public -- you can sit in a lavish table with coffee and book or laptop. Everything in the hotel/restaurant is made from scratch and served fresh daily. They even have live viewings of Mad Men in the amazing screening room that are also open to the public.

Screening Room

There's really something for everyone at this sophisticated establishment (formerly the Ambassador East Hotel).  With private space for meetings, weddings and a variety of events it's a great location for an elegant yet vibrant experience.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Crisis Management: What Can Be Learned From The Dark Knight Rises Shooting

Everyone was taken aback when they heard about The Dark Knight Rises shooting tragedy.  Initially I thought the cancellations of the Paris & Tokyo premiers were a bit extreme -- one mentally unstable person does not reflect the actual film or those who made it.  But as more details came about, I've come to see what excellent PR people already know: better to play it safe and err on the side of compassion and sympathy than appear cold, disrespectful and inevitably money-grubbing.  While we know behind the scenes, the issue of lost revenue was undoubtedly a big concern for what was supposed to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time, but if played right the film wouldn't lose as much as it could.  Many critics argued that the shooting wouldn't hurt sales.  I went to a Sunday evening showing and could hardly find a seat for my friend & myself it was so jam-packed.  However, I couldn't help but feel it was slightly eerie when the movie began and found myself imaging how awful it must have been for everyone involved. 
According to the Greenfield Reporter, out of respect, Hollywood film companies like Lions Gate, Fox, Sony, Disney, Universal & Paramount banded together and agreed not to post sales numbers from the weekend.  And as if all of that weren't enough, Warner Brothers not only had to manage coverage in wake of such a horrible incident but of course, had thousands of previews scheduled to promote its upcoming film, Gangster Squad, a film set in LA in the 1940s about police who violently fought against the mob.  Not only was the preview potentially upsetting because of all the shooting but the original trailer included a scene where the mob goes in and shoots up a movie theater (below).  Set to be released September 7th, the film is now being pushed back, all trailers have been modified (you won't find the original trailer including that scene on youtube, however I scoured to find it and you can see it below).  There are talks of strongly editing the scene if not removing it altogether.

While this is an extreme case, I always think about what we can learn from situations that occur -- good or bad.  This is definitely example of crisis management.  While most events aren't of the magnitude of an international movie release by a major film company, it is evident that a process took place.  I think thus far, it has been handled a well as could be.  Hopefully no event planner has to work around parameters involving such a horrific occurrence, but it is important to consider how to handle situations where bad news alters the plan.  This article discusses tips on crisis management, but I am also running through how I believe Warner Brothers went through the process to carefully manage such a sensitive subject.

Once news breaks there's no un-realeasing it.  Hiding from or ignoring the issue is a sure fire way of becoming the guilty party.  While obviously in this instance, in no way did Warner Brothers have a relationship with the tragedy (compared to a situation where a CEO embezzled large sums of money), Warner Brothers approached it as if they had.  They pulled as much violent content and previews as possible, cancelled international premiers and made the victims the focus.

There are varying degrees of expectations for a situation like this.  When the news first broke, little information was given on the killer who put up no fight with police and simply waited to be arrested.  He warned police that his apartment was booby-trapped with explosives which not only turned out to be true, but were discovered to be of very intelligent design.  Because Warner Brothers had taken the approach of a guilty party, they were already a step ahead of the game.  Offering condolences, cancelling events and making sure the public knew that their efforts revolved around the individuals involved in the tragedy eliminated questions about the company's intentions, integrity and even if they were ultimately to blame for the killer's behavior.  The fact that the Hollywood community agreed not to release box office sales supported that ideal and, agreeably was the ethical choice to reinforce what WB was communicating.

The plan was simple at heart: let the public know that Warner Brothers is saddened by these events and ticket sales do not take priority over human lives. 

It may seem that the cancellations were purely out of respect for victims and families, however there is another smart factor when dealing with this situation -- they avoided having anyone say the wrong thing.  Statements released by Christopher Nolan and ChristianBale without a doubt in my mind went through a string of PR desks.  It's better to lay low -- less is more.  Offer your sympathies and keep it at that.  Those who participated in the film may have had varied reactions and we know how media likes to take things out of context.  This avoided any unwanted comments and allowed for WB to proceed in a manner that was appropriate and reflected the message they were trying to send.

By pulling as much footage as possible (previews of Gangster Squad and commercials for The Dark Knight) they may have potentially lost a few million, but no amount of money can fix public scrutiny.  When a cape and mask of Batman was found in the killer's apartment and it was reported that he even said "I am the joker," then appearing in court with poorly-dyed red hair, the "guilty by association" approach proved useful.  It very quickly became obvious that there was inspiration from the films in the massacre so rather than trying to 180, WB was able to remain sympathetic and most importantly, consistent in the way they began the process.

Lots of questions were being thrown around about sales.  Luckily they were able to avoid appearing shallow by simply not posting sales.  Many people have opinions on what they feel WB should do and continue to do.  There was disappointment (though hopefully understanding) from fans about premier cancellations.  From a business prospective, there is a lot that must be handled with companies assisting in promotions.  You don't have to interact directly with all of these individuals (in this case fans), however you need to know about who they are and what they are saying.  The audience includes anyone who is listening.  Keeping good standing with the general public is necessary, but so is doing the same with your biggest supporters and  critics.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Promoting Your Event Through Radio: Interview with Dave Karwowski of 101.9FM The Mix, 100.3 Rewind & 97.1 The Drive

You may have created and organized the perfect event but now you need to promote it.  I sat down with Dave Karwowski, Director of Marketing for 101.9 The Mix, 100.3 Rewind and 97.1 The Drive, to discuss what any event planner should know when considering or choosing to promote an event through radio.

The Chicago Event Planner (TCEP): Why should someone consider including radio in an event campaign as a means of promotion?

Dave Karwowski (DK): Firstly we always start with their goals.  What are you looking to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach?  Maybe it's as simple as buying a schedule.  Perhaps they are looking for naming rights or integrated [marketing].  We had the Flower & Garden Show approach us.  They noticed their audience was similar to our audience and we ended up working together on that event.

TCEP: If someone has an event, how can they include you in it?

DK: It depends. Sometimes it's as simple as giving away tickets or supporting ticket sales. But sometimes it's more than that. For example, we work with the Lincoln Park Zoo on their Jammin' at the Zoo concert series. We are on-site for that event with our street team and on air personalities.  However, we also look to monetize the event in the form of event sponsorship. We always look to bring clients on board to help enhance the consumer experience.  For example, last year we brought the Florida Board of Tourism to the table.  They were looking for a summer event that attracts a few thousand people.  They set up a great display on site and gave away trips to Florida throughout the evening

TCEP: What about PSAs (Public Service Announcement)?  Do you work very much with those?

DK: We are actually very active in the community and air PSAs throughout the day, unlike other stations in the market that may choose to air their public service announcements during less desirable day-parts…if they air them at all.

TCEP: About how many do you run in a month?

DK: Hundreds!

TCEP: How early should someone send you a PSA if they have one?

DK: About 3 months.  We try not to plan things too far out because things can change very quickly and we try to stay relevant with what's happening.

TCEP:  So if someone sent you a PSA 6 months before an event, is that too early?  

DK: Yes, around 3 months is best.

TCEP: How long will you run a PSA for?

DK: We change them on the 1st and 15th of each month, so 2 weeks.

TCEP: So how active are you in the community?

DK: Our commitment to the community is substantial.  There are people on my team that work strictly on community out-reach. There are events that appear above the line that we support like our annual Radioathon that has generated over 20 Million Dollars over 14 years to benefit Lurie Children’s Hospital.  We host an annual holiday concert that benefits LaRabida Children’s Hospital and a Golf outing in the summer for the Super Jake Foundation.  However, there’s a good deal of our activity and support that takes place below the line that won’t be promoted on air or found in a post on our web site or social media

TCEP: So the key thing that an event planner can take away when considering if their event is relevant to you and your station is?

DK: Will it give the listeners an advantage?  How would listeners benefit from it?

If you are interested in working with Dave & his team at The Mix, Rewind or The Drive (and you should because he's one of the nicest people you may ever work with), you can email him at dkarwowski@hubbardradio.com

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Weekend In Chicago: Taste of River North

I always think of MetroMix as a great go-to guide for the weekend.  You can click on their events page here to see major events in your area.  This weekend I'm looking forward to checking out the Taste of River North located on Kingsbury & Erie.  It's Friday, Saturday & Sunday with great food and live music.  Hours Vary.  

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A New Concept in Social Media Marketing and Online Marketing: Social Advertising

I usually try not to post too many article-based posts in a row but I read this and felt that it is a really innovative way of thinking about marketing and how to look at the ways you are trying to reach your current and prospective clients.  Julius Solaris, a social media marketing and event planning expert has delved into the concept breakdowns involved in the relatively new format of social media and online marketing in his blog post "Social Media Advertising." Check it out!


Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tools for Event Planning: How to Select a Venue & Inspiring Event Ideas

While I always try to spotlight what's going on in Chicago, it's always interesting to see what other people are doing and how.  So today, check out some articles on what other people are doing and see if it inspires you!

"Finding the Right Venue For Your Event"

This article talks about venue options, including a movie theater for a conference.  Very interesting!  I personally love AMC River East (Near Navy Pier) which has a lot of independent film showings as well.  You can contact them (or any AMC) if such an idea interests you. http://www.amctheatres.com/business/theatre-rentals

BizBash: 10 New Meeting Venues in Chicago

Be sure to check out their Styles & Ideas section too!

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Monday, July 16, 2012

Group Travel in Chicago with the Chicago Water Taxi

Chicago has excellent public transit.  Many people like myself who live in the Chicago area don't even own cars.  One of my personal favorite means of transportation is the Chicago Water Taxi.  You can take this from Chinatown to downtown.  It's only $3 per way per person or $7 per person for unlimited daily use. They even  have group travel options that allow you to charter your own water taxi.   During the summer this is the best way to get around if you're staying it the downtown area and are traveling anywhere between Chinatown and Michigan Avenue, especially when you consider you're charged about $3 just to get in a cab, not to mention the cool breeze of the water and the lack of traffic congestion.  I used to just hop on it during my lunch breaks and just enjoy a sandwich and amazing views of the city.  It's not a tour boat, but who doesn't love an afternoon boat ride?

So next time you wonder how to get people around, think about get them a water taxi!

To learn more including information on group bookings, check out the website:

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com 

Friday, July 13, 2012

What To Do This Weekend In Chicago: The Taste of Chicago

In case you live under a rock (or just aren't from here), the Taste of Chicago is one of the biggest & most popular events of the summer.  Midwesterners love food, and this event is living proof.  It also includes live performances and in case you didn't notice it is NOT over the 4th of July this year.  Running from Wednesday, July 11th through Sunday, July 15th in Grant Park, there will be lots of food to be had.  According to this article from Chicagonow.com  there's even going to be some upgrades including full, 3 course meals created each day by Chicago Celebrity Chefs (Celebrity Chef du Jour) including Stephanie Izard from the Girl and The GoatGraham Elliot of GrahamwhichCarlos Gaytan of Mexique; and Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano.

You can also find out more information from Explore Chicago. Explore Chicago - The Taste of Chicago

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Comedians You Should Know

Last night I decided to not just go home after work so I went on to Metro Mix and found this really fun comedy show called "Comedians You Should Know."  Located in the back of Timothy O'Toole's Pub they have a variety of legit funny comedians who entertain you over the course of 2 hours.  Tickets are $5 if you buy them online and $10 at the door.  Food & drinks are available during the show.   It starts at 9PM on Wednesdays and doors open at 8.  I suggest getting there earlier rather than later because space fills up quickly and it was a sold-out night!

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Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlan

If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Staffing for an Event with NextCrew

One of the most important things you can do for an event is staff it properly.  Most companies have their own staff, but what if you need additional help?  I have an answer for you!  I've recently been in touch with Chirag Mehta, CEO & founder of "Next Crew".  Geared towards temporary help/crew for events and projects, his up & coming website is designed to help local Chicagoans find who they need.

How it works:  You create an account and you can be either an employer or employee.  Employees can list their skills and what they are working for while employers can post the kind of staff they are looking for.  What's great about the website is it encourages repeat usage of staff members.  You can also see employee experience to help decide if he or she is the best candidate.

If this sounds like something you can use than go to https://www.nextcrew.com/Chicago-IL and create an account to staff your awesome event!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Marketing Your Event

Marketing is such a huge subject they've created entire fields of study about it.  It can be easy or a real challenge so the best way to start is by breaking it all down.  Marketing, Advertising & Promotions seem to be a by-product of my life, so here is a simple run down to get you started on marketing your event.

What sort of event do you have?  What would transpire during your event for you to consider it a success?  Attendees, revenue, just a smooth few hours or days?  You need to know more than what it takes to have an event (lighting, linens, food, etc.) but also what the objective is.  Then you can build your marketing plan.

If you're a non-profit, donations tend to be a goal.  If it's a social event like an after-party, then the sort of people who show is important.  For trade shows, a prime spot and good turn out is key.  Networking can always be a goal too.  Once you've got the objective constant in the background amidst your planning, then you can start to focus on who should be there and why.  Just because people show up, well that's great but were they interactive?  What did they get out of your event?  Will they come back next year?  Will they tell their friends and share it on social media sites?

It's also important to consider who your audience is even within a company.  Is it for your high-level executives?  A standard company picnic?  You may not have the high rollers of your company at an event but if we're being honest, everyone is important in a company.  Otherwise their job wouldn't exist.  I once worked at a place where everyone tried to get out of going to the annual Holiday Party because of the feared staunchiness of the afternoon's "festivities."  Some people would rather have had a ham sandwich at their desk than an expensive lunch.  This attitude was also contagious.  You want employees to feel excited about their job and in essence be excited about all the work you're putting into it. 

If you're lucky, you have the kind of event that everyone wants to be a part of and you don't really need to market it-- in fact you may have to turn people away.   But some of us have to work for it.  If you have a marketing/pr/advertising firm your company works with you should try to connect with them to brainstorm, even for smaller events that you may not think needs it.  The same is true for an in-house department.  If you don't have access to that, then network.  Who do you know in promotions?  Come back to your objective and think about what would make this event a success.  What would blow your fellow employees away?  One of my favorite things to do is read about successful people.  How did they do that?  They were creative.  They thought about stuff.  They did it.  But rarely do they do it alone.  Networking is a powerful tool and you can never know if someone is not interested until they tell you no.

The best way to get people to show up is to actually put the information out there.  Use what's relevant for you whether it's online or newspaers.  Take advantage of the fact that lots of media outlets have community calendars like these (you can google "chicago community calendars" to find them like I did with these):

Please remember not to make the stupid mistake of not providing all the information.  I can't tell you how many places do a great job of telling me about certain aspects of an event, I say "cool" and then "uh, where is it?"  Time (specify AM or PM even if it seems obvious because we all know common sense isn't common), the Date (include the year in case someone is researching and thinks they found something old or just isn't sure based on your flyer), and the Location (include the zipcode so it's easy for people to find on a GPS system or Google Maps).  Put a cross section of the street if you're in a busy area so people can easily take a cab.  MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO GET TO YOU.  The more they have to work, the less likely they are to show up.

Including marketing with any event will surprise you.  It will add to the success when you break everything down and focus on what you need.  Inviting the right people may improve the atmosphere, add to your donations or just be a good time. 

Want to know more?  Post your question to my facebook page.  http://www.facebook.com/TheChicagoEventPlanner

Monday, July 9, 2012

Business Etiquette

Organization and good [business] manners sometimes go hand in hand.  It is important to always remember to treat anyone you work with respect and appreciation -- this should not be reserved for clients only.  From co-workers, to vendors to your a/v team, always remember that people are much more likely to continue doing a great job for you or at least come back if they like you.  So in case you're a little rusty here are some reminders/tips on minding your professional P's & Q's.

Thank-You Cards
If someone does something nice for you, tell them.  With a card.  While email is convenient, a card shows that you really put thought into it and even took the time to stamp it and mail it.  And don't just use one of those generalized cards with the thank you written in it and sign it.  Write a brief few sentences about why you are thanking them (thank you so much for your help detailing our logistics for the event!).  The reason that cards are important is it gives the person a chance to know you are genuinely acknowledging them for the work they do/did and not just saying thanks because you have to. 

Want to get your own personalized cards? Go to www.vistaprint.com

Follow Up
While most people think of this as an organizational thing, which it is, it's also a way to show that you are paying attention.  This goes both ways.  If you are looking for something, be sure to contact the person even if you don't need them.  If they are as put together as they should be, they most likely tracking calls and potential clients.  This is particularly important in the bridal industry where you may be in correspondence with someone for weeks or even months. In some instances someone has invested a fair amount of time in helping you so the least you can do is be courteous enough to say "thank you for all of your help, but I am going in a different direction."  Likewise you should also make an effort to follow up with people who have reached out to you.  People want to work with someone who they feel is invested in what they are doing.  I have known of people who think "this place never even called me back..."  Sometimes mistakes happen, messages get lost but for the most part you need to be thorough & efficient and make sure each of your clients feel like you could want nothing more than to be working with them.

Reach Out
Keep track of who is saying what about you and if someone says something good, find them and let them know that you appreciate it.  If you host an event check twitter, facebook, four square and see if you've gotten any feedback.  Send that person an email to acknowledge that you appreciate their feedback.  You never know the relationships you can build from even the simplest things.  Not to mention you're building better knowledge about what works and what may not work for you events.  When it comes to what didn't work, don't be afraid to reach out to less than satisfied attendees as well.  You always have room for improvement and those people may be  impressed that you listened to their complaints and just decide to come back next year anyway. 

A good way to keep track of what's being said about you is to sign up for Google Alerts.

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  
Email me: thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekend Barbecue with Lillie's Q

Nothing says summer like a barbecue, and that's exactly what Lillie's Q in Wicker Park does so well.  My food expert friend Rachel took me there for my birthday and it was a fun atmosphere (the tables are very close together as many restaurants are in the city) and the food was amazing.  I tried every sauce they had and for the first time in my life I said "These are all good!"  The service was good, the people were friendly and the food was phenomenal.  They have an excellent selection of beverages as well.  So not only is this place an excellent choice for dinner but they also cater.  They have a menu that can accomodate a variety of health choices (seafood & meat are available) and you can have a fun event with great food.  To learn more, visit their website at http://lilliesq.com/

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  
Email me: thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Now Trending: Cupcakes!

So I'm just gonna be upfront -- today's my birthday so I decided I should do something cake related.  One of my friends really loves cupcakes and my other friend has decided to use cupcakes for her wedding.  They're kind of a big deal.  And so is Sprinkes, a luxurious cupcake bakery located in the Gold Coast on 50 E Walton Street (between Michigan Ave & Rush St.).  They have loads of amazing flavors and you can get them delivered or just order a whole bunch of them for $3.50 a piece.  I realize that's not cheap, but they're also no ordinary cupcakes.  In addition to their wide variety of flavors they have gluten-free and even vegan options which means you really can go with any of your friends!

Cupcake Tower from Sprinkles

My friend who's getting married explained to me that they have a cake cutting fee of $3 per person unless they want someone from the party to cut the cake themselves.  Or you could just do cupcakes and Bam! Done!  You can get a variety of flavors and people can just grab them.  I always approve of giving your guests options and I think it's an excellent idea.  No one wants to have guests work during a celebration to save money, and while $3 doesn't seem like a ton, when you're considering adding that to your per person cost for even as few as 100 people.  Well I'd rather put that $300 towards better wine than an evenly-sliced piece of cake myself.

So go ahead, indulge today and go eat a cupcake -- for me!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Plymouth Rooftop

Rooftop Review: Plymouth Restaurant

Summer is the best time in Chicago for a reason -- beautiful weather, great views and awesome food.  Rooftops are a Chicago favorite.  While there are many greats to choose from in the downtown area, it's nice to get the tucked away feeling of a neighborhood bar with a kick of downtown Chicago added in.  Plymouth Rooftop was just that.  My friend and I enjoyed upbeat, Top 40 music over our mojitos-- you can choose different flavors -- I got the green melon and my friend got the Diablo.  We got a delicious veggie quesadilla that came with guacamole (no extra charge!) and sour cream and wasn't expensive (under $10). 

The clientele was a variety.  We saw some tourists from the hotel across the street but it was largely a varied group of locals.  Located in the South Loop it makes for a nice neighborhood hybrid.  While service wasn't top notch it wasn't bad.  We had drinks and great food & napkins. 

If you're looking for a great place to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night that's relatively low-key, it's great.  It is also a fun place to hold a small group gathering (you event planners) that's not the standard, flashy scene.

To learn more, check out their website http://plymouthgrill.com/

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