Stones Events provides exclusive event design, planning and catering for luxury private and corporate events, from weddings and charity balls to garden parties and launch events. The team provides first class events at some of the most exquisite venues in the country from Belvoir Castle and, Exton Park to Keythorpe Manor, Ladywood Estate and Nevill Holt. With a client list that is growing by the day and includes the likes of Ferrari, L’Oreal, Christies and Caterpillar, Stones managing director Tom Goodwin offers his tips on what’s on trend for 2014.
1. Most people probably receive an abundance of invites every year to parties and corporate events. So to ensure you get the best possible turn out, your invitation needs to be not only a reflection of the event, but the start of a journey. It needs to be provocative enough to grab people’s attention, gain their interest and then create a desire to attend the event. Something that makes people curious and want to talk and speculate about is a must (think The Great Gatsby parties).
Social media can help you create and build the hype surrounding your event. By setting up exclusive accounts on channels like Facebook and Twitter, you can encourage guests to interact before the event and give them easy access to any information they may require. A great way to do this is to create behind the scenes sneak peaks as the preparations unfold (“our gold plated trays have just been shipped in from China” or “our silk scarves have just arrived from Milan”). An introduction to the chef preparing your food for the evening would be great too. This is also a reliable way to gain feedback after the event.
2. Themes and styles for events in 2014 are simple, elegant and sophisticated. It’s about creating an overall vibe that should be reflected in everything you organise, from how the guests are greeted on arrival to the decorations, food and entertainment.
The cocktail party vibe will still be big in 2014 but traditional classics will be spiced up with a molecular twist. Think quirky elements like smoke and fire alongside flavours like lavender and basil. The idea is to give your guests the feel of being more than a VIP (a label that has been overused). They want to feel exclusive and that they are experiencing the ultimate in luxury. Waiters can become butlers and cocktails can be served from an exquisitely designed bar.
Themes are a way of expressing your brand’s ideals, and every element of an event can be reflected within them, from the invitation design to creative photography and videography. Try filming the event on Super 8 mm film or a HD effect.
If the event is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, people tend to want a beautiful snapshot of the event, and short films shared on Youtube or vintage prints on social media are great ways to continue the hype long after the event. If people are still talking about it in years to come then you know it was a great success.
Even the furniture can match the theme and we are often asked to bring in our interior designers to help create amazing backdrops.
3. We believe 2014 will see the return of plated classic menu choices, using best of British ingredients. Canapés are one way used to create the wow factor and we are presenting them in increasingly unusual ways. Our chef recently themed an entire menu around the colours of a company logo, meanwhile at the eleven launches of the Ferrari 458 Speciale, all the unique cocktails created were based on the colours and names of Ferraris and racing drivers. These finishing touches give the event a unique feel and will give your guests something to talk about.
4. Integrating technology into your event shows that you are at the cutting edge of your industry. Greet guests by using an iPad check in system and set up iPad valet parking. If you are doing anything with a charity angle then make sure you utilise the latest iBid software, which gives attendees an interactive way to pledge or take part in a silent auction.
5. The entertainment really is an important part of any event and should not just be an afterthought. For corporate parties the whole event can be used as a chance to entertain your guests and we are seeing a real trend towards turning your party into a stage. Think about the way you welcome guests to the event. For example we recently organised a party where a bongo player greeted guests as they arrived. Later he played with the DJ and to finish the night he performed with the singer. We have also recently seen a hypnotist and a world class balancing act at an event, so think about how your entertainment reflects your chosen theme and gives the guests something to remember.
6. Finally, as previously mentioned, ensure you give attendees an experience that goes beyond the few hours they are actually there. Maybe arrange an after party, which has a less corporate feel to it. Or if your event already has a late finish, how about a morning breakfast, or a beautiful champagne brunch with the breakfast being served in the form of canapés. Ensure all your guests are looked after from start to finish, even booking hotel rooms for them. This will make them feel important and encourage them to attend more events with you in future.