Author: Jen McMillan

The Fath Group Holiday Party

We love working with The Fath Group and their holiday party is always one for the books. In our initial planning meeting with them, we give them options for a few different themes. Once one is selected, we hit the ground running.

Photos do not do it justice!

Knowing our venue was the Pioneers Cabin (formerly The Old Timers Cabin), we wanted to create a special atmosphere the moment the guests stepped into the beautiful, rustic space.  We were inspired by seeing a lighting design by Roy Jackson Design. They can create the Northern Lights on the walls and ceiling, so our theme became “A Night Under The Stars”.

We learned that if you are using a log cabin that was built in the 1950’s, be prepared for some power issues. Luckily, our amazing tech from Roy Jackson Design was able to make it work (after finding the breaker panel) and created a wonderful ambience, complete with shining stars.

We found some beautiful geometric candle holders from Knotwood Event Rentals that we completed with mirrors to help reflect the lights. Fresh cedar was placed on the tables to bring the smell of the fresh outdoors inside. We also rented a large, wooden farmhouse table that became the centrepiece of the room. Our amazing caterer, Creative Quality Catering, designed a beautiful grazing table with meats, cheese, fruits, and crackers that guests could enjoy as they began to arrive.

The incredible farm house grazing table

After dinner, a few speeches and prize-giveaways, we got into the entertainment. We are so lucky that we have such a thriving musical scene in Edmonton and were so pleased when Martin Kerr was available to do an engaging 45-minute set for our event. 

To close out the evening, one end of the cabin became a dance floor and the other end was set up for a paint nite! Smash Art created two paintings for us to fit our starry night theme. The two large groups that painted had a wonderful time and a lovely canvas to hang on their wall once they got home!

Who doesn’t love a photobooth?! Thanks for the fun memories Flashworks!

#morethanapartyplanner – Entertainment

Before I get into my #morethanapartyplanner bit, I feel like I need to tell you how I got started with ED. Some people may think that I’m an unlikely fit for an event planning company. I’m actually a professional musician and have been for about 20 years. I play piano and sing in various theatres around Edmonton, I perform on tracks for film, television, and video games, I work with choirs, and write and arrange music that has been performed all over the world.

4 summers ago, Erin was over having lunch with my husband, John and me. She mentioned that Kelsey was going on maternity leave in a few months and she needed help with ED. John was suggesting a bunch of his students when I finally piped up and said, “what about me?” Now, at the time, I had absolutely NO experience with event planning, but I was willing to learn. I felt the skills I use as an entertainer would contribute to ED’s work; skills like being able to juggle weird schedules, having a creative mind, and my ability to stay calm in busy and stressful situations. Plus I knew my connections in the entertainment industry would prove to be a useful resource.

Fast forward to today, and I know my background as an artist has allowed me to add a different viewpoint to events. And I love being the one that gets to source entertainment! 

Kelsey, Erin, and I have developed a great working relationship, each of us appreciating one another’s individual strengths for delivering a great event. After the initial discovery meeting with a client, Kelsey and I put our brains together to come up with some themes for their event. Once that’s selected, I try to find an entertainment option that fits with the theme. Sometimes our clients specifically ask for something (like a musical act) but often times the ball is left in my court. I usually pitch musical acts to clients (since that’s my background and I have many connections around Edmonton and across the country) but I love it when we can find something really original.

One of my favourite events was a Cirque du Soleil themed Canadian Western Bank gala. I reached out to one of my connections in the performing arts community and was able to book the local circus group, Firefly Theatre, for the event. Aside from doing a jaw-dropping performance for the CWB event, Firefly Theatre also poured champagne for the guests during the reception hour….while hanging upside down from beautiful red silks! This was spectacular to see and definitely gave guests an immediate “wow” factor the second they walked into the room. 

Some things to remember when choosing entertainment options:

  • Book early. If you want the best and you’re booking during a busy season (like Christmas) popular musicians and performers can book up months, or even years, in advance.
  • Confirm if your entertainment needs extra time to set up or tear down. Is this something that can be done before guests arrive? Or will it take extra time during your main event agenda?
  • Know your audience. Don’t book a performer just because YOU really like them. For example, if you have an audience full of young people that just want to get up and dance, maybe a quiet string quartet isn’t the right call.  
  • If you want professionals, build it into your budget. Exposure is never an acceptable form of payment.
  • Depending on your entertainment option, you may want to do a site visit at the venue with them. For the Cirque event I mentioned above, we needed special rigging to make sure the silks could be hung from the ceiling. We needed to coordinate with the venue so the performers could have early access to install the rigging.
  • With virtual events becoming so popular over the pandemic, you can easily include international performers and not have to worry about paying for travel! I just finished up a virtual event where I booked an artist all the way from South Africa.

At the end of the day, I am #morethanapartyplanner! I feel for Erin and Kelsey when they have to work around my crazy performance schedules but am so happy that I spoke up during our lunch and grateful that Erin took a chance on me! 

© ED Marketing and Communications. All rights reserved.