By Emma George, Nov 3 2015 01:12PM

This time of year is one for reflection, for looking back over the summer just gone and taking stock of all that's happened, for reliving memories and celebrating successes. One of our most memorable events this year is an unusual one. We often organise parties to celebrate weddings but back at the start of the year we received an unexpected request. A couple contacted us to organise their divorce party.


The remit was simple: a weekend-long summer party for all their friends and family to give thanks for all that was good about their relationship and celebrate new beginnings. Rather than dwell on grievances and regrets they wanted to acknowledge the passing of something which had enhanced both their lives for some years but which they both now realised was no longer working. Quite simply, they wanted to part as friends.


We realised quite quickly that our clients were fun-loving people with a sense of adventure who loved to party. They had been keen festival-goers in their youth (although they are still quite young, relatively speaking) and they still set aside a couple of weekends a year to go to their favourite festivals. It wasn't difficult, therefore, to come up with the idea of a mini-festival themed party and we soon got to work on the planning.


The venue was simple – our clients had some friends who would let them use their land on Dartmoor in Devon, comprising two gently sloping meadows complete with a small woodland area and natural spring. While our clients busied themselves compiling a guest list, we set about putting the framework of the event in place. Marquees were hired, along with two stages, one for music and one for other entertainment. Musicians, comedians, circus and cabaret performers were contacted and signed up for the event. Portaloos, health and safety and security came next. It was a surprisingly complex event to organise, with many things we don't normally have to consider, such as talking to the neighbouring farmer about how to minimise stress to his sheep!


With the lineup for the weekend finalised, bar and caterers booked and invites out, we still felt that something was missing. A bit of brainstorming soon flagged it up – no summer party could be complete without a beach, which is quite a challenge when you're in the middle of Dartmoor!

Not to be daunted we set about solving the problem. We would make our own beach.


We had several tons of sand delivered and spread it out along the bank of the stream running down from the spring. Pots of various grasses flanked the edge along with wheelbarrow-loads of large beach pebbles and we set out deck chairs and parasols along with some buckets and spades, a set of boules and some beachballs. We even put a concealed sound system in a large bit of driftwood, playing a loop soundtrack of waves and the occasional seagull.


When all was in place, just before sunset on the Friday we sat at the top of the camping field (where the level ground was!) looking down through the tents, past the beach, into the main field, which was slowly filling up as guests arrived. With mini-lanterns strung around the edge of the whole site, a couple of fires burning, the glow from the marquees and strains of music, chatter and laughter drifting up the hill it looked and sounded like fairyland and we felt a huge sense of a job well done.

The only thing left to do was enjoy the party!


The whole weekend was a huge success. The weather played a large part – it was a glorious weekend, one of the few this year when even the evenings were warm. Everything went according to plan with not even so much as one last-minute emergency. Over 250 people laughed, danced and played from Friday evening till Sunday afternoon


As we sit here warming our toes by our late-autumn fire, drinking the first mulled wine of the year, we raise a glass to this brave couple, who dared to do something different, who turned what is often seen as a difficult life event into a celebration of what is positive.


We also raise a glass to ourselves for running such a successful event.


By Emma George, Feb 26 2015 02:17PM


I recently planned a surprise 50th birthday party and weekend away for my partner. Everyone had a great time, there were no major mishaps and he didn't suspect a thing. However, I was all too aware of what could potentially go wrong if I didn't have my wits about me. To say the process was stressful is a bit of an overstatement but there were definitely some tense moments!


What follows is a brief guide through the planning process for anyone considering setting-up their partner:


DOs


DO make sure you compile a comprehensive guest list. Leaving out an important person can leave you with egg on your face.


DO make sure your partner doesn't make other plans. Learn the art of subtle interrogation – s/he mustn't suspect a thing.


DO have a cover story for every eventuality ... Become very good liar!


DO make sure you have collected the money for a joint present before you book/order it. People have been known to change their minds!


DO discreetly tell your partner who donated for a joint present. That way s/he can thank the correct people.


DO give yourself enough time. You don't want to be running around at the last minute trying to pull it all together.



DONTs


DONT stay logged on to your emails when your partner is around and might use your computer. Email confirmations from venues and suppliers can give the game away unless you are a very skilled storyteller!


DONT stay logged on to Facebook chat or any other messaging service where your partner could see conversations with invitees. For the same reasons …


DONT leave your mobile phone unlocked.


DONT forget to tell everyone that this is a SURPRISE party or someone will spill the beans … they will!


If you are collecting for a joint present DONT forget to make a list of who has given what. You don't want to end up asking someone for money they have already given you.


DONT forget to take plenty of photos to mark the occasion – people who can't attend on the day like to see them.




By Emma George, Jan 27 2015 05:20PM


Well here it is. After much thoughtful planning and creative thinking we have finally launched Avalon Event Planners.


With many years of successful wedding planning behind us we are looking forward to getting stuck in to some different kinds of events although we will always love a good wedding! We are really excited about the potential for this new venture and can't wait to get started on our first event.


To mark the New Year and the start of this new and exciting journey here are our 5 key wishes, not just for 2015 but for the future of Avalon Event Planners.



1. Get Creative


One of the great things about being an event planner is that the world is your oyster. Within any specific remit or event idea there is an almost limitless range of possibilities to be as creative as we can, and we can be very creative! Hopefuly Avalon Event Planners will give us many opportunities to explore different aspects of event planning and get creative in new and exciting ways.


2. Love our work


One phrase which we hear ourselves and each other say over and over again is “We love our job!”. We spend our lives meeting and spending time with amazing people and who could ask for more? We also love a challenge and often spend hours brainstorming ideas and coming up with creative solutions. We always feel immensely satisfied when an idea comes to fruition.


3. Be Inspired


We seek always to come up with inspirational ideas for our clients mainly because we want to give them the best possible experience but also purely for the thrill of inspiration. At the same time we are regularly deeply inspired by our clients themselves – a truly reciprocal experience.


4. Make People Happy


Another reason we love our work – it is our job to make people happy and we strive for this above all else. There is very little more fulfilling than organising an event for our clients and then sharing their delight in it.


5. Have Fun


Goes without saying. Whatever the event we endeavour to bring lightheartedness and humour wherever we can because all work and no play makes Jacqui and Emma a pair of dull event planners.




Fun, fabulous events and

heartfelt celebrant ceremonies.

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