Corporate and Special Event Planning

A New Year’s Eve Sweet 16

I always say that every event we plan is the most important event we’ve ever planned and I stand by that. When we start working on an event it becomes the most important thing we are doing. We put everything we have into it to make sure that it is perfect. Well, this event was no different and for me was THE most important event of the year because this special day was for my oldest daughter Mekayla.

I was told that the job a person should be doing is what they would do for free and that’s how I figured out that event planning is what I wanted to be doing because this is exactly what I would have done for my daughter, whether I owned an event planning company or not.

Our first job was to transform the space. My daughter knew from the moment we started planning almost a year ago that she wanted tiffany blue and white and silver to be her colours. I knew that we had to order the gorgeous chivari chairs to take the look over the top. From there the rest fell into place. I slowly picked up pieces here and there. And in the end it all came together perfectly.

I think my favourite set up in the room had to be the “head” table where my daughter and her friends sat. I loved the square so that they could all talk and be close to each other and without making the space look like a wedding.

The next big decision that had to be made was the menu. Turned out it wasn’t a hard decision, when asked Mekayla answered instantly with tacos. So tacos it was. We enlisted the help of my uncle who is an incredible chef to create a one of a kind taco bar for this very special night. On the menu was beef and pulled pork tacos, homemade nacho chips and salsa, several mexican salads, refried bean and apple quesadillas. Needless to say the menu was a huge hit.

To go with the food we needed a beverage. Because it was a Sweet 16 and although adults would be attending, I wanted something “fancy” but non-alcoholic. We stole the idea from the Hollywood themed event we did at the end of November and went with an italian soda bar. It was a huge hit yet again. I loved that they are served in fancy champagne flutes and I love that our guests found them “refreshing”.

I realized at the last minute that we hadn’t thought of something to keep our guests busy between dinner and the party part of the night. We came up with three Minute to Win It activities that were perfect for adults, teens and kids. Even if we didn’t use them it was good to have them on hand just in case. You never want your guests to get bored. We ended up only using two. The first one was to stack three golf balls on top of each other. We had several people get two but a third never happened. The second game was putting petroleum jelly on your nose and moving 10 cotton balls from one bowl to another without using your hands.

As the party started we opened up the dessert bar which consisted of a cake made by Sugar House Cakes, a smore bar, a candy bar and my favourite…cotton candy served in martini glasses. I loved the cotton candy because we had never done it before. And it looked so classy in martini glasses and was just simply so cute!

The final element of the night was the photo booth. I know technically in the events world photo booths are out now but for a group of teenagers and for people don’t often get to get dressed up and go out often this was perfect! I knew in my heart I wanted a silver sequin back drop (so in love sequins and sparkle these days) but photographers were advising against it. I tried finding something else but it just wasn’t perfect. So I talked about it with Mekayla and we decided that we’d try it once we had it set up and if it was really bad we’d swap it out for one of the tablecloths we rented for her head table. I was beyond ecstatic when we tested the silver and it worked perfectly! I am so pleased I followed my gut and went for it.

For the photo props I wanted something special. I did a bit of research and found someone local who makes them for  you to your specifications. Her name is Amber and she owns Propmaster. She was so easy to work with and very reasonably priced. My favourite prop had to be the balloons, I am so glad Amber suggested them. I am wishing now though that I had spent more time photographing Mekayla with them. Even though my favourite shot of her from the entire night does include the balloons.

And I am going to have to say that my favourite moment of the night was having the kids countdown the new year.

And now for my mommy moment of the night. I caught myself several times throughout the night looking at my daughter and realizing that I just love her more and more everyday. Watching her that night and catching those little moments where she smiled her big smile, shared a special moment with her sister or her little cousins, went out of her way to spend time with the adults that were invited and who mean so much to her and the moments when she admired her closest friends through those gorgeous eyes. I am beyond proud of Mekayla and I am so excited to see the amazing things she does with her life. I am looking forward to so many more of these moments when I can watch her do what she does and feel my heart fill just a little more with the love I feel for her.

Julia O’Grady has big vision, fresh ideas and a proven track record in the events industry. She and her team work hard to exceed client expectations and push ITM Events to achieve greater heights. A driven entrepreneur, Julia also manages the business side of ITM Events including human resources, finances, marketing and writing grant and sales proposals. In taking a high level approach to event management, Julia is able to visualize a project from inception to successful execution. She attracts valuable sponsors by offering meaningful opportunities to engage with participants. Julia uses her keen analytical mind to create incredible events that maximize the available budget. When Julia isn’t planning unforgettable events, she loves travelling the world with her family, staying active, and enjoying fine food and martinis.

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