"How to Make an Event Your Own"

How to Make an Event Your Own

Leigh Woolston Karsch ’94 is a graphic and event designer who has built her expertise to the point where her business, La Petite Fleur, is listed in The Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame.

A politics major at Ursinus, she personifies the liberal arts graduate who goes beyond her major. She continued her education at the Art Institute of Philadelphia in media and communication and graphic design, and was a senior graphic designer and marketing manager for a major global law firm . With an interest in entrepreneurial creativity, she started her own business 10 years ago in Glenside, Pa., and moved to Abington, Pa., a few years ago. At the height of her busy season, surrounded by flowers, stationery and vases, she offered these tips:

1. It’s All About the Vibe

One of the first questions I ask a client is how they want to feel on the day of their event, and how they want their guests to feel. Too often, when dreaming up ideas for a party, clients fast-forward right to the visuals, but the vibe is just as important. Are you (your team) envisioning something relaxed and fun? Or are you going for formal, but ‘not too stuffy’? Perhaps you’re envisioning a celebration that’s exciting and unique? Articulating the feel for yourself and your partners, is the first step toward personalizing a personal or business affair.

2. Bring on the Branding

Or, as we say, Bling on the Branding

Visual cues, be they swatches, inspirational images or even the development of a Pinterest board, are helpful for both clients and designers alike as a reference while developing an event’s “brand.” Our clients love Pinterest as a starting point to gather details as they begin to establish their event’s distinctive look. It’s a wonderful tool to get all those online photos in one place. Not a Pinterest user? Not a problem. I also recommend collecting actual objects of inspiration­—a fabric swatch, a favorite photo, an article of clothing, a paint swatch. Put them in a box or bag or set them on your desk—just keep them handy as your planning process continues, and refer back to them as a guide when you’re making decisions.

3. Make Your Mark

Whether it’s a wedding or a corporate occasion, once you’ve established a style and “feel,” brand the event with a logo or signage. A custom-designed logo or monogram makes an event unique. It’s a decor element (an accessory, even) that’s as integral to an event’s design as a color palette. Logos and monograms help establish a cohesive look throughout the life cycle of an event—from the save-the-dates to day-of signage, menus and more.

4. Mail it In

In this digital age, the power of paper is often overlooked. Remember that your save-the-date and invitation suite set the tone. A unique and thoughtful piece introduces to your guests all that you have in store on the big day. La Petite Fleur’s paper atelier, Fleurish ink (www.fleurish.ink), recently introduced a line of Philadelphia-themed save-the-dates for couples hosting a wedding in the city of Brotherly Love. Not to be missed is our specially-designed Ursinus sweethearts collection. You want to excite your guests about what’s to come. Craft something fabulous and your guests will immediately drop that reply card in the mail, saving you lots of chasing when it comes time to tallying those RSVPs. Evites won’t evoke excitement in quite the same way.

5. Blooming With Details

An event design professional can collaborate with you to actually save you money without sacrificing style. Going it alone, or doing it in-house, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s more cost-effective. Florals and other décor, such as paper accessories (i.e., programs, seating charts, drink tags) are a fabulous touch that add depth and interest to your special event. Let a seasoned pro walk you through concepts that offer the most value and impact for your celebration. (More ideas at www.lapetiteevents.com)

6. Party with Personality

Whether it’s your personality as a couple or the guest of honor’s in the case of a work affair or conference, be sure to infuse your event with personal touches. Did you meet at Ursinus? Ask your caterer to create a signature cocktail with a nod to your alma mater and then highlight it with your custom event signage or event hashtag. Consider enlisting your chef to create a dish that’s symbolic of your guest of honor’s hometown or heritage. An interactive piece—like a sign-in station complete with a photo booth and an autograph book—is always a hit and subsequently gets people talking.

Do you have a skill or expertise that readers can learn from? Email ucmag@ursinus.edu with the subject line: What the Pros Know.