Meaningful Events: How to Make Corporate, Wedding, or Life Events Memorable | Hanna Ashcraft | Skillshare

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Meaningful Events: How to Make Corporate, Wedding, or Life Events Memorable

teacher avatar Hanna Ashcraft, Travel Blogger | Content Creator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Meaningful Events Introduction


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Know Your Goal


    • 4.

      Elements Intro


    • 5.

      Food - Appetizers


    • 6.

      Food - Served Meal


    • 7.

      Food - Dessert


    • 8.

      Written Message


    • 9.



    • 10.



    • 11.

      Categories Introduction


    • 12.

      Corporate Events


    • 13.

      Non-Profit Events


    • 14.

      Life Events


    • 15.



    • 16.

      Class Project


    • 17.

      What's Next?


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About This Class

We’ve all been to events. You’ve probably attended an event in the last couple of weeks. But what can you do to make your events feel special or specific to you or your company?

We will cover how to make your upcoming event more meaningful and connected, with the ultimate goal of creating an event that is memorable and put-together.  My theory is: meaningful = memorable + effective = successful event.

This class is for anyone involved with the planning of an upcoming event. Especially those who are feeling stuck or need inspiration for how to make their event special or specific to you or your company.

For my super-simple class project, I would love to see one (or both!) of the following:

  • Pre-Event: Brainstorm of Ideas (Check out brainstorming worksheet in the "Your Project" section, if you prefer to follow with this instead of a notebook!)
  • Post-Event: Image of Event-Specific Item

Because I mentioned or featured them, here are links to Photographer Natalie Thomson and DJ Michael Ober.

I believe in you and cannot wait to see your ideas come to life!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Hanna Ashcraft

Travel Blogger | Content Creator


HI! I'm Hanna and I believe in thoughtful, organized, and beautiful events that delight guests and give them a warm feeling for months after. Small touches and purposeful execution will almost always lead you to success. Given enough lead time, I think anyone can plan a spectacular small or large scale event.

More recently, I began working on a passion project - my travel blog. My experience planning events effortlessly transition into planning incredible trips. I will also be teaching travel tips and tricks that I have learned.


I have been event planning in the Santa Barbara area for the last five years. As a junior in college, I took an incredible event planning internship in Oahu, Hawaii. Upon graduating, I immediately jumped into an events ca... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Meaningful Events Introduction: Hello. My name is Hannah. In this course aims. Answer the question. How can I make my events more memorable? Meaningful. The short answer is thoughtfully make each element super specific to you or your company because I believe when an event is thoughtfully constructed, guests will walk away feeling like they're part of something special, unique or know more about you or your company. It might also save you some money. Teoh thoughtfully think through each decision to start off the class. I am going to hold up intervention and why I recommend staying away from Pinterest while you plan your event. Then I'm gonna prep you for a brainstorm to get into four major elements and how they can be slightly altered to your event. Finally, I'm gonna wrap up by sharing my recommendations in four categories corporate nonprofit weddings and life events for your super simple class project. I'd like you to follow along with the notebook and participate in the brainstorm or after the event. You're welcome to share a photo of an element that major events super specific and special . Don't trust out too much about the project because we'll touch base on it later. So let's go ahead and get started 2. Pinter-vention: intervention. This term was coined by my photographer friend Natalie Thompson. I'm gonna link to her website because credit where credit is due. And although I really like Pinterest and think it could be helpful, I'm gonna warn against using it during the event planning process for a number of reasons. First of all, it can to create unrealistic expectations. This is a photo of one part of assets MoMA's Bonnard ball. I was really drawn to images of this portion because it looks like the chairs are covered in bubble wrap and maybe even the table was at least some beer on the top. This creates for very tactile and shiny experience, but I was like, Whoa, so cool. About a year later, I was actually able to meet the woman who planned help plan the event and found out that she hired an event desire. So how your event designer is amazing because they have resource is an entire team to hand create things for an event. And after hearing that I realized that that would not be feasible in the smaller in size museum that I was working out. The second reason I recommend not using Pinterest is that it's not gonna be specific enough for your event. No other company or couple are. You Have your say mission are located in your state town with the same political climate, so some of those pins won't be. A lot of those pan probably will not be applicable or appropriate for your company. Number three. It creates anxiety to add more and more things to your event. So when I look at that picture from SFMOMA, I see that they have a clear podium and really cool white stands for their TV screens in the back. I think those air awesome elements that really contribute to the look of the event. But if I ever try to replicate that, I would have to pay a lot more to get it from Los Angeles. I don't know, maybe need a podium at my event, or I might not really need TV screens at my event. So knowing when to stop is tough, but it is possible, and simplicity is beautiful. Lastly, when you executed events and will always feel better. If the idea was generated from your your team, just keep that in mind 3. Know Your Goal: before we get into the brainstorming, Now is the time. If you haven't already to get your notebook out doing out And now that you have it out, I want you to answer the question. Why are you having this event? I don't want a complex mission statement. I don't even want a long sentence, just the essence of why you're having this event. Here are some examples for birthday party Could be to celebrate Dale's exceeds Birthday party for corporate holiday event Maybe it's to thank the staff for wedding. It's almost always to get married to the love of my life for non profits. Maybe it's to spread the word right down the primary reason and put a giant square around it or circle it. This will be super helpful to refer back Teoh and keep in mind when you're making all the decisions and bring stormy for each element 4. Elements Intro: next few sections. I want to cover the major elements that happen at most events to get you thinking about how each one of those can be slightly altered to fit your specific event and creating overall feeling that guests can walk away with. So with your notebook out, feel free to stop as often as you need to to brainstorm as we go. This is a super easy way to get your project done before the event even begins. So let's go ahead and get started with the most fun item you. 5. Food - Appetizers: food. Yea, food is almost always gonna be served at events. So let's start thinking about food in relation to the primary reason that you wrote down for having this event starting with appetizers. So if you're serving appetizers at an event, this is your opportunity to have fun, because guess won't have to commit to an entire meal of whatever appetizer you're serving. My two main thoughts on appetizers are always to have a vegetarian option and have fun with it. So let me give an example of how I thought about food in relation to event I had helped out with and exhibition opening of animal photography, and I had suggested that we do all be in appetizers, so that was a little too extreme for the company I was working for. So they did settle on vegetarian advertises, which may be happy that no one was looking at animal photographers are photos of animals while eating the meat for weddings and other personal events. I would say choose appetizer space on the guests are a couple of honor. If someone really likes pro cheese sandwiches have that as an appetizers, it's fun, and it makes it more personal or maybe think about If you're at a very specific destination , what are some local specialties? If you're on a coastal town, can they do like little shots of clam chowder with little saltine on top? Or maybe work in salt water taffy of the options are endless. If you're working with a kidder, definitely bring them in on the brain storming because they might have options that aren't necessarily on their menu. Maybe they can do slight changes just to kind of spice it up. Can they add blue Sprinkles to something because your local is blue? Or maybe going back to the coastal example? Can I do little triangle chips to put in like a little deviled egg to make it look like little sailboats? When I was working on exhibition openings, I would always share the A couple photos from the exhibition just for them to get an idea of what the environments gonna be like. So you have a very specific theme in mind or location. You might want to share that information with the cater so that they can help you think of new and different things with some of my favorite caters. I just share the feeling. I was going for kind of the limitations and some images, and they would just send me a list and I kind of pick and choose so once. If you're planning a lot that it just gets easier over time. Another thing you want to think about is seasons, interment, temperature of appetizers and summer. You might want have some more cold appetizers versus in the winter and more hot and hearty . I would never say to do all cold appetizers. Could some people right, really need a snack? So overall, what colors, themes, seasonal locational or personal items can you begin to weave into the idea for an appetizer ? And if you haven't begun, brainstorming, do it now. 6. Food - Served Meal: you're having a served meal. There is a lot less flexibility, but you're still going to want to think this through to avoid any faux pas, an example of not quite thinking something. The truth is that I've heard of, ah, nonprofit organization whose mission is ocean preservation. I love it. I love their mission. I hope they succeed. But even as recently as last year, I've heard about an event that they have a reason event in which fish is on the menu. Now, on the surface, I think that sounds connected. But once I thought it, why would you want to serve something that you're trying to preserve? So even if the fish were absolutely sustainable, you cannot prevent your guests from speaking to other people who weren't there or newspapers writing about it. And they might not include that sustainability aspect. So someone like Joe Schmo who hears about it. But I think about that same. Why are they serving something they're trying to preserve? So why would you risk putting doubt in anyone's mind? Instead, some options could be that they incorporated, see vegetables in their salad or had all the desserts in the shape of fish. Why not have guests walk away, feeling like not only to their money do good at the event, but their actions at the event is also doing good? Why not have an announcement at the end of the night? Say we saved 200 fish by not eating them. Tonight you be It's a win win. Here are some things that think about in terms of your served meal. What meal best represents the company couple or guest upon her? How formal issue. Ben, What location or environment clues can you incorporate? What time of day is the event? So one other thing I want to say about the event is if you have a large guest count and you're have a cater, I would say that in the initial conversations, you want to mention that you might have someone who is gluten free, vegan or vegetarian. It'll be so much easier for your cater to plan and prep these ahead of time rather than on sight scrambling to put something together because caters really do not bring anything that I do not need. Even once your guest front comes in, it might be handing for them tohave a couple on hand, just in case someone has changed their mind from when they initially chose their menu option 7. Food - Dessert: desserts are so much fun because you can incorporate so many more colors, flavors and shapes that might not be able to and other foods. I'm not gonna go too far in death on the desert, So refer back to my appetizer section for ideas. I do have to tips for desserts. First of all, definitely have desserts. Second of all, don't go overboard with desserts. Don't go overboard in terms of variety. Your men is likely for adults and adults don't need 17 options. You will likely face a diminishing return of joy on each additional item that you have Sure have a couple if you're passionate about deserts But most people will probably happy with every single item. Me, sir. 8. Written Message: any and every piece of ready that I guess he's in. Relation to an event is an opportunity to express the main reason for having the event a brand, if you will. Having the same fonts, colors in style on all these pieces of writing will make the event feel put together and professional guidance I'm thinking about or the save the date invitation program, table name or number, place carved menu, Sinus presentation designed and thank you know, and any other things that are specific to your event. I see the biggest disconnect of written message not looking the same is that weddings, and this is usually because a couple feels rushed to get out to save the date before they really know what the wedding is even gonna look like. Yes, it's harder to commit to a full style when you're trying to plan the Save the date, but once you do, everything else will fall nicely in line. So an example of pulling something throughout the whole event is say that you and your bride love sailing. You can have a little wave or a little sailboat as a little icon on the indentation. Save the date menu program and thank you Note. Maybe use a navy blue pot and you can pull that through every single one of those pieces as something that it guests over time will be like. Oh, yeah, that was about sailing. That's what their wedding was about. Maybe you even named the tables after famous regattas. Just all these little clues help Guest kind of put together the piece of what you're looking to dio for corporate and nonprofit events. You'll likely be using your logo as the main part of whatever written message you have. A lot of times you can still brand for a particular event with font and color themes. So this is especially handy if you're having an annual event and you want the community or end to start associating that event with you. If you have consistency, people will begin to recognize it. 9. Programming/Entertainment: the programming and entertainment aspects of events are hard to generalize across the Born , but it's really good for planners to critically think about these aspects in relation to their main reason for having the event. I say this because events do not have any hard and fast rules. So even if you seen something happen every single time you've been to a certain event does not mean that you have to have it a European. Whether or not the board chair need to speak at every single nonprofit event or if the father of the bride needs speak at the wedding thes air, things that don't have to happen based on appropriateness, how comfortable the speakers are, the space and other restrictions. So, believe it or not, you can say no to traditional items. Events are usually a group of people, and groups of people like to talk to each other. With this in mind here, some guidelines or some thoughts, I would say when dealing with a group of people. First of all, groups of people will take any given opportunity to start chatting. So with larger events they were 40 people avoided in programming that requires a lot of instructions and interruptions because it'll be frustrating for you and your guests. If they cannot hear what's going on to talking. Games are fun. Remember that they should be fun, and they're gonna happen at bridal showers and baby showers. My suggestions are to choose fewer games, maybe like two that are easy to understand, and you can have a charismatic speaker lead the guests through the games. You're also gonna want to try to avoid moving large groups. If you do, give yourself time in the timeline, it will take about 10 minutes for 100 people to find a sign Seats, for example, try to make it as natural as possible with lots of sign ege your specific name and have someone there to tell people where they can move. Teoh. Groups of people still are very respectful, and they won't go somewhere. They're not told to go, so a little bit of guidance is sometimes require. If your event is not a workshop speaker team building related, try to keep the programming talking to a minimum. More than five speakers who each speak more than five minutes will start to lose people, and lastly, if you're having a dance party at the end, devote at least one hour to dancing. It always takes some time before the dancing momentum really get started and people feel comfortable to get out on the dance floor. If you're looking at your timeline, you have less than an hour. Definitely go back to your other programming items and see where you can trim it down. Because if you have a less than one hour for dancing, you're not going to get the value out of all the money you're spending on it. The dance floor, the deejay, lighting anything else that's specific for that and then on to our final section. 10. Decor: So by now, I'm sure you have gotten the hang of thinking about event elements in relation to your specific event. Let's finish up by going onto decorative items. The venue will be your single biggest impact to the events. Look and feel many times your venue is not negotiable or preachers and for you. But if you are doing the choosing, it is critical. And think about what the location says, have you or your company. As an example, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art had a 75th anniversary gala. We weren't able to hold the event. Yeah, the museum physically there. So instead we did it at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, which is right across the street, and the Energy Impact Waas that the courthouse gave the event historical and meaningful connotation for an event that we've never done before. The restrictions at the venue will probably make a lot of decisions for you, but on the flip side of it, you can also think about what the big has that could be helpful for your event. As an example, I've had to do birthday parties for friends up in an office setting and something that I always try to incorporate was using the projector, which we always had a projector on hand. So I throw on a live stream of an aquarium or zoo or something. What we do, a silent movie in the background, giving an ambience and something that a lot of places wouldn't have. A couple of tips I have for you in terms of the decorative items, is that you can use your written message or invitation, like all the work that you spent on that help you guide your color choices for the linens, the napkins of flatware, the glassware. What will help convey that I am a little bit more? Spend the most time and energy on the place that the guests will spend the long guest, and that's usually dining tables and area. But also at the same time, you might want to do something a little nice in the bathroom. Whether that's just a little like wiping off the counters and putting a small bouquet of flowers, it's always just a nice touch. Another tip is that candles will cover a multitude of sins seriously, there the superhero of events they will out of flattering light to tables and ambience and when in doubt, just had more candles. Let's get serious for a moment. Unless you're having a funny or ironic event. I would highly recommend this. Stay away from disposable items. What I'm not talking about our plates and napkins, Forks, cups, things like that, those air necessities for events. And a lot of times disposable is the most appropriate way to go. What I am talking about. His plastic beads. Cheap facemasks, inflatable drink holders. Basically, those one time use only things that you buy in bulk. So they are cheap and they look cheap, and I think they're gonna make your event cheap like Pinterest. Also, these items are typically not specific enough to your event. I think instead, try to show your theme with your choice and colors of napkins and linens and plates and cops use fresh flowers and make things ask around. See who has something really authentic. Having fewer authentic items will still make a bigger impact than a bunch of inexpensive bulk items. Sure have fun. Throw an item in, but try not to go overboard 11. Categories Introduction: Those were the major elements that happen at most events that I wanted to cover for your brainstorming exercises. But feel free to dip into other elements, as you think of them, that are more specific to your event. For a wrap up, I have some final tips and tricks and other things to get you thinking about certain event categories, such as corporate life events, nonprofits and weddings. So let me go ahead and jump right into running through those categories, starting with corporate events. 12. Corporate Events: when I think a corporate events, I would say to dream big, but know that you're likely gonna have your dream reined in quite a bit. Don't be disappointed, though, because a lot of times it's for the best. You don't want to do something out of the box and misrepresent the company, which is very high stakes. Perhaps that big dream seed can be planted and executed five years from now in a corporate study, and I find that things Germany slower due to the high stakes win planning your event constantly refer back to your company values and mission statement to see how your event can be a visual display of certain values. Talk to the marketing team about locals and colors, especially when working on the written message. Branding is Austin's for important because you want to ensure that Guess no, the event is related to your company and sends guests know that it's related to your company. Always keep events at least slightly professional. Even if it's a holiday party. You don't want anything to come back to you as the planner on something you didn't intend 13. Non-Profit Events: non profits. So instead of company values to rely on, nonprofits have a reason for existing. I cannot stress it enough that every single event that a non profit does has to reflect at least one part of their mission. Since you are a non profit, your supporters want to see that you are using your money wisely. Look for ways to save money without altering the overall quality of the event. That being said, I do not recommend over negotiating with your vendors. Yes, be sure to ask them if they have a nonprofit discount or if they would like the opportunity to sponsor an event. But leave it at that. If you grind on your vendors, they might decide to provide less staff or less quality staff at your event, creating more stress and unnecessary complications. A long term relationship with the vendor is often more important than a single event. Always remember that both you and this vendor need to continue working in the community after the completion event. Also, in thinking about using money wisely at a fund raising event, I would also consider staff time. What can you pay a vendor to do that? Would be worth while to take the burden Office staff member. Think critically about elements of fundraise mints that are not with your time and energy. I have seen it time and time again that there is so much fun and speaking and dancing and engaging aspects of an event that the silent auction gets overlooked. Silent auctions take a lot of staff time and organizing it on the front end. Then, at the event, you're probably gonna need someone going around and pulling people from whatever fun they're having to go to the silent auction tables. How much money do you expect to raise from each fund raising element and how much staff time with that require? Always think back to each element in regards that main purpose that we circled or square. If it's to make money, is it gonna be enough money to make it worthwhile? 14. Life Events: I put birthdays, retirement celebration alive anniversaries, graduation parties, bridal and baby showers all into the category of life events. They usually have a single person or couple at their core. Thes should be fun and not high pressure. I feel like I don't know how many times I've seen things just get really stressful when they really it's a party That should be fun. They definitely do not need to be themed. But it could be fun to take one element or aspect that the couple or guests of honor truly loves and build on event. From there, you're about a shark party. We did it in a corporate space a week did the Livestream projector. As I mentioned of the aquarium, we hung a stuffed shark from the ceiling stuffed animal shark, and we served really cute items that overall related to chart. So we had a cake that looked like the beach tropical punch tea sandwiches that I cut out with fish, cookie cutters, goldfish, shark, gummies and champagne. We had plastic blue tablecloths that made it look like waves and cut out triangles out of paper and 100 to the doors to make it look like shark teeth. It was simple, homemade, light and fun, and everyone really enjoyed it, especially the person of honor who love sharks. 15. Weddings: weddings are a monster topic to cover. I'm not gonna cover everything here, but I am going to say a few things that I think are very important. First of all, I want to mention that wedding should always be about the bride and groom. Not about Grandma, Grandpa, Not about whatever is trending. Not about guess, being wanting to entertain. It's about the bride and groom. So with that said, here are some tips about getting into weddings. First of all, start early. Most likely, this is your first wedding. Like any new skill you are learning. And there is a learning curve, depending weddings. The best thing you can do is give yourself more talk way more time than you think you need . This will allow you to make all the micro decisions that are gonna come out as well as the space for you to think about how to make your wedding more meaningful and more specific to you. I've noticed that weddings that have over 100 and 50 guests tend to become more about the guests than they are about the bride and groom. It becomes a party and a spectacle rather than the joining of two families. So if you want a party in a spectacle, the more the merrier, Right. But if you really want it to be meaningful, I would take a closer look at that gas list and really narrow it down because you want the people who mean the most to you in your life out your wedding. Emily and especially cultural traditions make your wedding unique and beautiful. It might not feel unique Tiu, but a lot of your guests, especially if you've gone to college in our invited guests from all over. They will be unique to them, and it might be the one thing your guests remember from your wedding. And it's so nice to see that and actually pass it on, because I do feel like traditions are getting lost, but also know that you have full control. If you don't want to do it, a certain tradition you don't have to you. It's your wedding, I would say at a certain point you want to shut down making any more major design changes or additions. You will inevitably get busier and busier. The closer you get to your wedding day, and it's just not the time to decide that you want to hand craft every guest a personal gift to place next to their place card. If you want to make those additions realize that everything is gonna have to be outsourced , pay someone else to do it to make sure it gets done on time. And you're not doing that till the last minute instead of spending more time with your family or making those other special touches like handwriting your vows for something like that. Okay, this next one is not on the slide because it really doesn't belong this video. But I want to say it anyways, and to your bachelor and bachelorette parties a couple months in advance. So many stupid things can happen during those weekends. It's way better get over that hurdle earlier. I'm not saying it will, but there is just a higher potential right, and you just don't want to be dealing with a giant new brews. A lover's quarrel when your family is coming in the town so soon and you have this giant life decision to make. I honestly cannot see any downside to doing it early. Finally, I know I had. Do you write it down. The main reason for having this event, but I want to say it again. Base your choices that you make for your wedding on love. Because when you do that, you will make decisions based on you and your love for another person verses a generic instagram pretty thing, right? It will make your wedding filled with love. And who doesn't want that? 16. Class Project: you made it to the class project. I chose these class project specifically to proliferate even more ideas and get more ideas out there versus the ones under being regenerated on Pinterest. If you think of something super special for your event and you upload it, you might be able to help someone else. Think of a new idea are slightly change it to their own idea. Who's in the same boat as you? I have two options for you for your class project. The 1st 1 we've already spoken about, which is your brain storm that you've created in your notebook as he watched the class or after the class. The description. Be sure to tell us about your event so we can see how your ideas connect bonus points if we can see the main reason for having your circle or boxed in. The second option for your class project is in the post event stage. So if the event has already happened, I would love to see the photo of an element of your event that made it really meaningful or thoughtful in description. Again, tell us about your events. We can see the connection. I honestly cannot wait to see your events come to life full of meaning and thoughtfulness. 17. What's Next?: thanks so much for watching this video. I hope to be making more video soon about how to get started with event event flow timeline and maybe even a conversation with Natalie, a wedding and event photographer. Feel free to let me know what you're most interested in learning in the comments. I hope to see you soon. Bye.