Time Flies

It’s hard to believe but it was 10 years ago the first post on Eventspark appeared. So much has happened since we first began Pierce Events and this blog.

We have traveled all over the country and have been a part of some truly incredible event productions and we aren’t slowing down.

We ended the school year with a bang as we brought our DJ show to area schools. It’s become a tradition for a number of schools to have us back each year.

We were in Atlanta for the 3 day Wine & Food Festival. While there we met some great people and had a chance to visit the set of the TV show “The Walking Dead”.

In June we launched a event series in partnership with Square to equip small business owners with the tools they need to succeed and grow. We

featured some really knowledgeable and inspirational speakers and hosted a series of classes in both Atlanta and Pittsburgh. All of it was offered for free and the feedback has been great. Hopefully we will be able to bring this program to additional cities across the country next year.

Our next event takes us to Bloomington, Indiana and we have events in production in Texas, California, Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire for the second half of the year.

It’s been a great summer so far and we look forward to many more great events ahead.


10 and Counting


With the start of 2018, we entered our 10th year of operations at Pierce Events. It’s a bit hard to believe it’s been that long, but I spent 15 years doing events for others before we launched and that seems like a lifetime ago.

Instead of recapping the journey, I thought I’d write this post to those of you who have in the back of your mind the idea of maybe starting your own business.

First know it’s terrifying. You will spend countless unpaid hours working your tail off. You will face uncertainty that never goes away. 20 percent of new businesses don’t make it a year. Half only make it five years. Only one third will be around 10 years.

You will meet great people who will encourage you and you will meet some awful people who want to see you fail. Everyone has advice, many will treat you unfairly, and you will discover who you really are, not who your boss wants you to be.

Economic factors won’t make or break you if you learn how to adjust to them. If you don’t, they will destroy you. Listen to everything and everyone and only believe about 10 percent of it.

The people who are against you will be your biggest motivators. If someone gets under your skin, understand that is fuel to prove them wrong. If someone can crush your spirit with words, you have no chance of making it.

It’s not a path for everyone. If you can’t deal with sales, customer service, marketing, management, accounting, and development as all part of your daily job, it’s not for you. If you want a 9-5 paycheck every 2 weeks, this is not for you.

Honestly for years I was too sacred to do this. It was too much of a risk. Everyday is a risk, but it has allowed me to go places, do things and meet wonderful people around the world.

We owe our success to thousands of people. From everyone who trusted us enough to hire us to plan important events to the people who attend those events. We are forever grateful to our clients and partners.

Deciding to set off on your own takes soul-searching, planning, research and I suggest a lot of prayer. Failure is a great teacher and honesty is highly valued these days.

Whatever role you played in our success, even if it’s just reading this blog, thank you for 10 years of wonderful events.


Connecting Beyond Your Event

Social media provides a powerful opportunity to connect your event and messaging beyond your guests in attendance. Social media can expand your event marketing efforts and your onsite attendee engagement. Here are some ways to make social media a part of your next event.

  1. dsc_1093Visual Focal Point – Give your attendees the perfect backdrop for their photos as well as a reminder of your event hashtag. Providing something that attendees will what to take a photo of that is branded with your logo and hashtag will increase engagement. Include your hashtag on signage branding and throughout the event.
  2. Selfie Stations – Fun and eye catching stations throughout the event with your event hashtag, quote bubbles, or emojis encourage people to snap and post there experience to social networks.
  3. Make Your Guests A Star – Moderated social media feeds displayed on screens or projected in your venue allow guests to see posts from the event and spur additional posts.
  4. Social Swag – Ensure all promotional items are branded with your hashtag and logo. Great promotional items can encourages additional social media.
  5. Good Food – Food and beverage are integral parts of your event and people love to take photos of food. Incorporate your event hashtag on napkins, glassware, or even on the food itself.
  6. Reward Your Most Active Influencers – Give away prizes for those who post from your event. You can set up a Twitter activated vending machine that dispenses items when someone posts using your hashtag.

We have a number of other ideas and tools available to connect events, marketing, messaging and engagement with attendees and social media audiences. Make your next event more impactful with our team of event and social media experts.



30 Requests For Your DJ

When it comes to hiring a professional DJ for a wedding or an event there is often a conflict between perception and reality. The perception is a DJ plays music and makes the lights blink. How hard can that be? He (or she) probably sleeps all day and only works on Friday and Saturday nights. While that may be true from some out there, those are not the people you want to hire for your event. They are not professionals.

The other perception is a DJ should not cost more than a few hundred dollars. I mean really, the DJ is pressing play on songs, so why should it cost more?

When you hire a professional DJ, that person has likely invested over $10,000 in equipment. They are often the first one to arrive and the last to leave, so a 5 hour event is 9 hours or more for them. They pay thousands of dollars to update their music collection every year. They spend time reviewing new music, answering client questions, visiting venues, maintaining equipment, directing caterers, photographers and venue managers as to what happens and when. They attend meetings, send out contracts, work on timelines, deal with drunken guests and go out of there way to make sure everything goes perfectly. They need to be able to make a living just like everyone else.

Value is often forgotten and instead people look strictly at cost. You can always find someone cheaper, but you must understand what you get in return decide how important you event is to you. Here are some key questions to ask yourself of any DJ you consider:

  1. Do you get quality, professional equipment?
  2. Do you get a 2 person team that understands your event?
  3. Will your actual DJ meet you in person before you book them?
  4. Does your DJ know how to use their technology and how to troubleshoot issues?
  5. Will they set up long before guests arrive and work with other vendors?
  6. Can they adjust to schedule changes and unplanned issues?
  7. Do they know how to do introductions, tell a story and properly use the microphone?
  8. Will they be respectful to all your guests and not play offensive music?
  9. Do they prepare well in advance for your event?
  10. Do they play music from legal and reliable sources? Not from streaming or internet sources.
  11. Do they make sure their set up looks clean and professional?
  12. Do they refrain from drinking and smoking during your event?
  13. Do they dress in proper attire and appear well groomed?
  14. Do they speak clearly and naturally without putting on a show?
  15. Do they understand proper volume, tone and clarity for the entire room?
  16. Can they multi-task with music selections, announcements, and guests?
  17. Do they know how to mix different types and eras of music?
  18. Can they adjust to the crowd and bring people to the dance floor?
  19. Do they understand they are not the focus of attention?
  20. Do they value what they do and charge appropriately for it?
  21. Do they honestly answer your questions?
  22. Do they care about you and don’t consider your day another “gig”?
  23. Are they insured?
  24. Do they clearly explain what they will and will not do?
  25. Will they give you the time and attention you deserve?
  26. Do they have a back up plan should something go wrong?
  27. Do they have experience and a good reputation?
  28. Are they someone you trust and can work with?
  29. Will they promptly answer your calls and emails?
  30. How will they make your event unique and memorable?

Any professional DJ is going to have quick and honest answers to every question. Most people only hire a DJ once in their life and so many part time amatuers count on ignorance. A bad DJ can will ruin a great event. Don’t let it happen to you.

Fashion And Function

We get to plan and attend some pretty cool events. It fascinating to see how styles change depending on where you are. So many things from the culture to climate effect the look and feel of an event.

It’s always a bit frustrating when event people assume style only comes from either New York or Los Angeles. Nothing against those cities, but each city and town has there own style and taste waiting to be discovered.

I’ve witnessed some event folks trying too hard to make an event something it’s not. food_600x450_8dfcd58851Quirky and over the top does not work if it’s not functional. Often events go for the visual appeal and forget everything else. If you have triangle plates and tiny forks it may look cool, but your guests may starve trying to get food to their mouth.

Speaking of food, I’m adventurous when it comes to cuisine, but not everyone is. If you have to pause to decide if something is modern art or edible there is a problem.

Not all of your guests want to, or are able to wind their way through a maze of sensory overload. Sometimes easy access to a drink is more important than if that drink shoots from the fingertip of a woman dressed like a vineyard.

I love creative elements in events. I love things that entertain and catch the eye, but it has to be a functional part of the overall presentation. It’s tempting to plan an event to try to impress others and create your next portfolio piece, however unless all the elements work well, that event fails even if it looks great.


Price and Value In Events

Event Planning BudgetPricing and budgets are always important when planning events. You don’t have an unlimited budget and usually one of the first questions asked of an event planner is “How much is this going to cost?”

At Pierce Events we serve three very different and distinct clients.

  1. Social event clients who are planning a private event on a limited budget.
  2. Corporate clients with larger budgets and internal and marketing goals
  3. Non-Profit clients who are looking for fund raising opportunities and a solid return on event investments

Creating a pricing structure for a variety of clients, budgets and events can be a challenge. Pricing need to work of all parties involved. Social events require a different pricing structure than corporate and non-profit events. Many social event planners charge a time based fee. Depending on the type of event a planner creates, average hourly rates vary greatly.

Corporate event planners may change a flat fee or planning and project fee based on cost and time estimates. Often we plan an event with a specific budget defined. Choices and vendors are chosen based upon the budget restrictions.

At Pierce Events, we plan and produce events from coast to coast. Our internal costs of vendors, labor and staffing varies based upon geographic location. Everything from time of the year to local tax rates can impact the cost of events.

While pricing is certainly important to most clients, choosing the lowest bidder in events is often a mistake. It’s just as important to consider value along with pricing. Spending more with an event planner or company that has experience, vendor connections and production knowledge is money well spent.

It’s important to remember that a large portion of the money paid to planners does not remain with them. From the fees we charge clients, we pay venues, vendors, equipment rental, permits and license fees among other costs.

Educated clients are often the best clients and provide for a powerful working relationship. Be sure communication is clear and your planner understands your budget and goals.

Fall Means A Change Of Color

It’s important to be well-versed in current trends for colors and décor. This fall, you won’t have any trouble doing that—we’re here to help, showing off the latest in fall event trends.

Cues from Nature

Shades from things like the forest, nighttime skies, and end-of-summer sunsets. Brown table linen, such as our Copper Birch pattern, invokes feelings like you’re surrounded by trees, and when you accent it with some lush, green centerpieces and metallic candle holders, you can create a romantic setting for a beautiful wedding or party. Use unique dishes such as shimmering black charger plates to bring drama to the tablescape, and your event will be what everyone’s talking about.

Incorporate Warm, Metallic Shades

You might think that metallic shades are a little overdone, but the reason they’re so popular is because they always look great. Instead of going toward changing-leaf color schemes, though, go for something unexpected, like pairing gold linen with soft pink and white accents. While you might think that those colors together is too spring-like, the truth is these shades are becoming more and more common during fall and winter events.

Don’t Be Afraid of Bright Patterns

Instead of shying away from bold shades like papaya or grass green, use them in abundance and pair them with autumnal accessories, such as textured, jewel-toned charger plates or fall foliage as the centerpieces. If you don’t want to overwhelm the event space, you can use runners on bare tables so that the pattern isn’t too distracting. For instance, pair the Clover Mesa Runner with the Papaya Mesa Napkins, then use clear charger plates with gold borders for added elegance. Fill planter boxes with flowers, succulents, and different grasses to tie the look together.

Reversible Linen That Complements Itself

Another décor trend that’s gaining speed is the use of reversible linen. It allows you to use the same color in slightly different shades, or even reversed patterns for visual interest. Reversible fabrics let you use the same type of linen, for instance, for the tablecloths as well as the napkins, and yet they’ll look different enough to make people wonder what the trick is.

Summertime Sips – Drink Ideas for Your Backyard Party

The grill is hot, the pool is cool and all you need is a drink. We’ve got you covered with some great drink ideas.


WU0302_Raspberry-Lemonade_s4x3.jpg.rend.snigalleryslide.jpegRaspberry Lemonade

4 cups fresh lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1 bag frozen raspberries
Ice cubes, for serving
Squeeze the lemons and pour the juice into a pitcher. Mix together the sugar with 3 cups water and stir to dissolve to make a syrup. Add the syrup to the lemon juice and top it up with 8 cups water. Taste to make sure it’s sweet enough for you, and then add the raspberries. Mix the lemonade together and let chill in the fridge. (Keep in mind that the raspberries are tart, so be sure to sweeten enough!)

Fill mason jars with ice cubes and top them off with the lemonade.

Cucumber Pineapple Tequila Cooler

1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
2 limes, skin removed
1 seedless European cucumber, peeled, plus cucumber slices for garnish
4 ounces silver (blanco) tequila
1 1/2 cups ice cubes, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Pinch kosher salt
Prepare a vegetable juicer (or blender if unavailable). Run the pineapple, limes and cucumber through the juicer, letting all the juices combine. Pour the tequila into a cocktail shaker or pitcher, and then add the juices, ice, agave and salt. Shake or stir vigorously until chilled. Line up 4 tall Tom Collins glasses filled with ice, and pour the tequila cooler over. Serve with straws and cucumber slices for garnish.

Mojito Limeade

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
2 limes, cut into wedges, plus more for garnish
2 cups crushed ice, plus more for serving
1 cup Lime-Mint Syrup, recipe follows
1 liter white rum
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Club soda
Lime-Mint Syrup:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 limes, zested
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Watch how to make this recipe
Muddle the mint leaves and lime wedges with 2 cups crushed ice in the bottom of a large pitcher. Add Lime-Mint Syrup, rum, lime juice, and more ice. Top off with club soda, to taste. Pour into glasses over ice and serve. Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and mint sprigs, if desired.

Lime-Mint Syrup:
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime zest and mint, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to infuse the syrup with the flavor of lime and mint. Strain out the mint and zest and refrigerate the syrup, covered, until cold.

Pierce Events

Should You Be An Event Planner?

People are often interested in what we do as event planners and producers. We love sharing what we know, what we learn and the challenges we face along the way. We want people to be interested, because what we do is for them. We need a audience for what we do. Yet it’s rare that someone actually sees the true planning process from beginning to end.

Most people considering a career in the event industry have an interest sparked by events they were personally involved in. They planned college events, family parties, maybe a wedding. That’s a great introduction to the event world, but it’s also a very small deceiving part of it.

An event can be everything from a meeting or conference to a fundraiser, product launch or marketing effort. A good planner must be able to adapt to different personalities, budget constraints, deadlines, changes and keep track of every detail along the way. So to answer the often asked question of “what do event planners do”?…. the answer is everything.

For someone truly interested in being a part of the event industry a journey of self discovery is required. The journey never ends and you must adapt and change with each new trend, each new client and each new challenge. You have to create your own success formula, your own style and your own clients who believe in you and what you do. It’s part sales, part production and part smoke and mirrors. You can’t show anyone an event until it’s happening. The idea in your head is only seen by you, so you must find people who trust in your idea. People who trust in you.

It’s never easy and I can’t tell you how to do it. What I can tell you is this, embrace failure. It’s the best teacher there is. Abandon all hope of a normal, stress free life. You will do things and go places most people never will, but there is a price to pay for it.

Get a sense of humor and learn to laugh at the person in the mirror. Be real. Never offend on purpose, but don’t be afraid to speak your mind even at the risk of offending. Understand that you don’t want everyone as a client. Nurture your drive, confidence, patience, listening skills, always deliver more than promised and never take anyone for granted.

Those are principles for life, not just event people.

Should you be an event planner? Probably not, but you already knew that. All planners do.

Saving Money On Your Wedding

Almost half of all couples get engaged between December and Valentine’s Day. If you are one of them congratulations. It’s an exciting time, but assuming you don’t plan a wedding everyday, it can also be shocking as the cost of your wedding celebration adds up. wedding cost

Here are a few ideas that may help you save:

Flowers – If you have the time and desire to design your own florals, you can have your wedding flowers shipped directly to you. Bridesign offer fresh cut flowers sent to you and can include a number of pre-made bouquets. You pick the colors and options and save over the cost of a traditional florist.

Rent Instead of Buy – While most brides understandably want to purchase their wedding dress, bridesmaids may not. With companies like Rent the Runway, Vow to be chic and Weddington Way offering affordable rental access to famous name designers, renting dresses may be a great money saving option.

Ebay Shopping – Check out Ebay for some great deals on everything from chair covers to favors. Look for gently used or even discounted new items on everything you need.

Groupon Planning – Deals change often, but with regular checks of the popular site Groupon you may find a deal on a photographer, transportation, rehearsal dinner and more.

Design Your Own Invitations –  You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create fantastic looking invitations. With user friendly sites such as Zazzle, a few clicks and you can create your own wedding invitations.

These are a few of the many ways you can save money on your wedding. Decide what is most important to you and invest your funds in that area. For more ideas and links to these and other wedding resources visit our website.