Event Planning Is Her ChallengeBy Aubrey Hine
May 12, 2010
Planning an event can be stressful enough from worrying about guests, decorations and organization while making everything run as smooth as possible. Whether it’s high class occasions or small business socials, Diamond Events says it seeks to provide clients a wide range of style to fit many occasions. Diamond Events is a full-service company that specializes in event planning for family social gatherings, business functions, and of course, weddings.
The Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia areas are markets where Stephanie Hughes, founder and president of Diamond Events, showcases most of her work.
With chic accents in her stylish workspace, Hughes keeps herself organized whether working in her home office or out meeting with clients. With a degree in mechanical engineering, Hughes says she is able to take on a variety of tasks and using her management skills to coordinate events and make sure every detail is covered.
Being an entrepreneur can be tough, especially with all the detail that goes into planning special events. Working alongside Hughes is Jaclyn Koblos, a Northern Virginia native who contributes her business skills and specializes in organizational techniques as she helps with the details of any size event. Also a part of the crew, Katie Payne, who contributes her creative ideas while consulting and adding flair to all events, as she is Diamond Events’ lead floral designer.
This team of three works together to give a wide range of events the structure needed while using all the resources available to the company. Updates on upcoming events and weddings are posted of various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, which provide marketing for the company. Pictures, videos and comments from previous clients are shown to get an idea of the successful events organized by Diamond Events. What follows is a selection of questions and answers from an interview that Stephanie Hughes granted Planet Blacksburg.
Q: Event coordinators tend to have a very creative eye. What type of details does your office have and how does it reflect your personal style?
Hughes: Vintage chandelier that I spray painted black and hung crystals from, Damask rug and a shabby chic corner table. Always looking for a creative way to organize.
Q: Where exactly is Diamond Events located?
Hughes: I joke that my extra large Vera Bradley tote is my mobile office. Since I work from home, most meetings are at local coffee shops or Panera. I also encourage brides who live out of town to use Skype and I just got a Bluetooth so we try to stay as “green” as possible.
Q: How does this location benefit your event planning sales and what type of people you tend to draw in?
Hughes: I constantly get stopped after (or sometimes during) meetings by people who either offers a service that my clients would be interested in or they need a planner themselves. We have low overhead since we don’t have to pay rent, so we can keep our prices affordable.
Q: What is your job title and description?
Hughes: Owner, Executive Event Consultant, Marketing Director and Accountant. When you own your own business you have to do many jobs, accounting being my least favorite, so it just depends at what time during the day you catch, as to what job I am doing. I love marketing and social media.
Q: Explain a typical workweek, the week on an event?
Hughes: Monday, call and confirm arrival time and details with each vendor involved in the event and after that I will need to make any adjustments or corrections. Tuesday, send out the final timeline to all of the vendors. Wednesday and Thursday, keep in touch with the bride to make sure everything is going smoothly. Friday, call and check in with vendors again and put finishing touches on the emergency kits. I also run errands picking up items, décor and flowers for the event and check whether to determine if the rain plan is going to be necessary. I attend and orchestrate the rehearsal practice and sometimes we go to the rehearsal dinner to make sure things go smoothly. Lastly, I get a good night’s rest. Saturday is the event day as we follow our minute by minute timeline that lists all details of the day. We wouldn’t do an event with out it.
Q: Do you believe the type of degree someone has or the experience a person brings has a better impact for this type of work?
Hughes: Experience, my degree is in mechanical engineering. I now call it event engineering since you can still apply all of the same project management skills and the math is just a little easier.
Q: The economy has obviously hurt and even closed many businesses. How has the effect of the economy helped and or hindered your business in particular?
Hughes: People want to make sure they are spending their money wisely, so before people were less hesitant to have multiple quotes for each vendor, now all of our clients want to see multiple proposals before making their decision. I just have to put in the extra time getting quotes, but the client definitely appreciates knowing they made a good decision.
Q: Did you have any experience with event planning/coordination before starting your business?
Hughes: Planning events through my sorority Alpha Chi Omega and volunteering for other event planning companies.
Q: What type of skills do you think an event coordinator should have?
Hughes: You have to be very diplomatic. At the rehearsal practice for example, there are two families combining, a lot of opinions and only one bride and groom so it is important that everyone feel that their opinion is considered without hurting feelings. Creative. Not only do you have to think of neat ideas and touches to impress the clients you have to be able to fix any problems that arise the day of the event, with the tools you have. Quick thinker that is calm under pressure. It is important that you understand all aspects of the event, timeline, flow, clients wishes, venue demands, vendor schedules, since everyone is coming to you throughout the day to answer questions that arise. Knowing what issues typically cause questions come as a big advantage so you are able to get answer from the client before the day of the event, so you are not asking during the event, they are able to enjoy themselves and have greater confidence in your abilities.
Q: Is there a process that is followed to plan an event?
Hughes: Yes, we have a very detailed monthly timeline that is followed, as well as, a weekend timeline that is started months before the wedding.
Q: How long does it usually take for you and your staff to plan an event?
Hughes: The more time the better, so clients are able to choose exactly who they want and not necessary the vendors who are available. Hughes: We have done a wedding in as little as two months.
Q: Which type of event do you enjoy planning the most?
Hughes: I love the variety of planning weddings, birthday parties and corporate events, so I don’t really have a favorite.
Q: I think it’s such a great idea to have social networks such as Twitter and Facebook on your site. In what ways have they help Diamond Events strive?
Hughes: Social Media lets people really get to know you, it’s such a good feeling when you meet with a bride and right away you can tell you have a connection and she keeps referring to pictures she has seen on your website or blog.
Q: What would you say your personal motto is for your making Diamond Events successful?
Hughes: Always learn from and correct your mistakes and let your clients know you appreciate them.