Monday, February 22, 2010

Get the Party Started

I threw my first themed birthday party in seventh grade: a Spanish fiesta complete with a piñata, Gloria Estefan Spanish soundtrack, and a birthday cake with “Feliz Cumpleaños Panchita” (my Spanish class name). Since then, the parties have become more elaborate, more frequent and more fun!

Event planning is exciting way to let your creative side loose. From invitation design to decorations, you can use your creative energy to plan a successful event. Now to be honest, it’s not all fun and cake; event planning requires lots of organization.

I first experienced professional event planning during my graduate school internship. I was responsible for planning a 500 person event at the State House (the Massachusetts Capitol Building), which came with a huge planning notebook and long list of deadlines. As I began to plan the event, I enjoyed coordinating the event logistics and working with the selected venue staff and caterers. I always loved creating to-do lists in school and realized that event planning involved many of my interests and strengths.

As I returned to Austin after graduate school, I met my future roommate, Ruthie Broughton, of Blue Box Events, a full service event coordinating and planning business. I was quickly recruited to assist with her larger events and we also became our social circle’s party-planning duo. Event planning quickly expanded from being my profession to a personal hobby as well!

My favorite event to plan is the Women of Distinction luncheon. Not only do I get to work with a committee of fabulous women, but I have the distinct honor of interviewing the selected Women of Distinction honorees whose lives and experiences are beyond inspiring (be sure to check out this year's honorees!). The honorees’ accomplishments range from leading the civil rights and desegregation efforts in Austin to founding a successful woman-owned engineering firm in a historically male-dominated field. The women’s stories and advice are translated into personal vignettes of their lives, which are shown during the luncheon. Over 700 community and business leaders join us at the luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of these women and support Girl Scouts of Central Texas. The attendees leave the event inspired by the women’s stories and committed to the mission and impact of Girl Scouts.

It’s thrilling to see the event come together after months of hard work, including negotiations with facility and catering vendors, committee coordination, and fundraising. I am involved in every event detail from invitation design to centerpiece selection and audio visual coordination to raffle donation solicitation. With each event I plan, I feel like a proud parent at the end of the day when all activities are finished and everything ran smoothly.

For someone interested in event planning, I would highly recommend researching internships with local event planning companies and within the hospitality industry. It is a highly competitive field, but as I discovered with Girl Scouts of Central Texas, one can have a career planning events with unexpected organizations and businesses. Beyond my love of event planning, I truly enjoy planning inspiring events that support girls as they become the next generation of women leaders.

-Stephanie Flora

Stephanie is the Development Executive for Corporate and Special Events. She is the primary event planner for the Austin Women of Distinction luncheon and S'more Soirée.

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