Making the first day of the rest of your life… Perfect

From Perfect Events GM and recent groom, Shaun Comerford.

Shaun Wedding Banner

2 years ago, on bended knee in Altitude, a restaurant 36 floors above Sydney harbour in the Shangri-La hotel, I proposed to my amazing partner, and started a chain of events that would ultimately lead to one of the best days of our lives. 

What a journey it was following that night – planning a wedding is much more complicated than most people could ever imaging.  The idea may be simple enough, but as many events professionals will tell you – the amount of planning and preparation required to produce the perfect wedding, is hundreds of hours more than many of us have. 

What are the key tips to planning a wedding and how can Perfect Events make your day Perfect? 

Why does everything seem more expensive when I mention wedding?

Buying power – plain and simple.  The chance of repeat business or referrals from brides and grooms is fairly slim for some suppliers.  Venues, Bridal Wear Designers and Entertainers find that many clients are protective of their own special day, and accordingly do not promote businesses to friends and family.

Event Managers have much more room and leverage to negotiate with suppliers.  A higher volume of events combined with long term relationships, equals a better deal for you.  These benefits will also usually extend beyond price alone.  Inclusions such as no charge for alternating meals, minimal corkage for spirits, discounted rates on accommodation, and many more can often be arranged by an event manager.

This coupled with knowledge of the service provided means that there are no surprises from the chosen vendors, you can rest assured that their work has been tried and proven.

Time is everything

Visiting venues, florists, travel agents, wedding dress designers, caterers, photographers, videographers, musicians, MCs – and so many other necessary wedding suppliers, will account for a major amount of time (and stress) associated with planning a wedding.

The biggest realisation is that for each of these decisions to be made, many different options must be investigated, weighed up, discussed, and then compared to each other.  Combine this with a bride and groom with busy work and life schedules, and wedding decision making can become very complicated and exhausting.

In designing our wedding packages at Perfect Events, we focused on how to best simplify the planning process for prospective brides and grooms – saving you valuable time and money – and allowing you to focus on more important decisions.

Having someone else do the research and running around for you, and then presenting a shortlist of options that fits your wedding vision is practically priceless.

Creating your own style

Colours, textures, location, imagery, music and of course ‘the dress’, will direct much of the style and/or theme of your wedding. 

The ‘look and feel’ as we like to call it, needs to transcend all aspects of the day;

  • printed design – save the date, invitations, place cards, order of service booklet
  • visual design – florals, centrepieces, table settings, lighting,
  • entertainment – band, MC, celebrant, ceremony music, AV Production,
  • experience – bonbonniere, surprises

 Many brides (and occasionally grooms) have a vision of how some of these components will combine on their big day. 

Our Perfect Wedding package is the complete solution for taking all your best ideas and creating the day for you.  Ensuring everything ties together and nothing is left to chance – our role is to make sure the style of your wedding is a perfect reflection of you.

Who’s the boss?

Ok, so my amazing bride probably had to contend with more of an opinion than most grooms would normally have – BUT, it is important to remember what your wedding day is all about – a reflection of both of you, and the start of your new life together.

Compromise and balance are the keys here.  This includes taking into consideration the comments and thoughts of parents and future in-laws.  Yes the day is about the two of you, however there is an enormous amount of joy and anxiety for parents before a wedding. 

The pride of celebrating the person you (or your future spouse) has become is something all parents will experience – and in exchange for all those years of pocket money, advice, guidance and sleepless nights (while you were out and about) – they deserve some input into the big occasion.  

Sometimes having an external ‘voice of reason’ to weigh up the pros and cons, and even mediate the ‘discussions’ can be a huge help in the decision making.  Having to make these types of decisions every day (without the emotional attachment) – means that event managers are best experienced and equipped to hold your hand (or point you in the right direction) when opinions get heated.

 Letting go

I remember waking up on my wedding day, a little tense, perhaps even a bit nervous.  Then it happened.  My best friends took control of the house, cooking breakfast, directing florist deliveries, photographers, etc – and I realised there was nothing left to do but relax and enjoy the day. 

Having an amazing team in place to execute all of our best laid plans might have made the relaxing part a bit easier.

Wedding day management ensures that the only thing you have to do is hold back the tears and say I do.  I succeeded on that, for the most part anyway.  As far as Perfect days go – my bride was early, the page boy and flower girl (and all the kids) were so well behaved, the weather was 27 degrees with sunshine, the dance was a hit, and between the great band, photobooth and lolly buffet – everyone was involved, which was our vision for our Perfect Wedding.

Perfect Events wedding planning packages start at $1750. 

For more information contact us on 03 9384 1190 or


How to create a winning theme for your next event

Jerry Lewis Theme

From start to finish, a successful event theme will help build excitement, include guests in the fun, and can even help raise more funds says Liliana Sanelli

The theme of an event can become the reason for an event’s success – or even its failure. There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best theme for your event.

Relevant themes engage guests

Keep in mind what kind of theme is going to be relevant to your organisation and the occasion.  For example, if a nonprofit is celebrating its 25th anniversary, it could look back 25 years and celebrate the decade the organisation commenced. This gives the theme some weight and relevance. Often a theme that truly matches the occasion will result in better buy-in from guests and a better outcome for your nonprofit.

Make a good first impression

It’s important to thread the theme of the event right through from first to last impressions. The invitation is usually the first chance you have to introduce a theme, so it needs to clearly set the scene and start to build anticipation for the event. There are plenty of opportunities to extend the theme of your event, including room dressing, entertainment, menu, music, and guest gifts.

Theme your guests’ tastebuds

Make sure you discuss your theme with your chosen venue, as they may have creative ways to tie the theme in with the catering. For example, as guests arrive at a Hawaiian themed dinner, they may receive a lei and a pina colada. Simple things like that add to the evening.

A great example of a theme which has worked well was a black tie event that supported a breast cancer charity. As they entered the venue, every man was given a pink bow tie to wear, which many did. It was simple, but it made people feel included and it looked fabulous.

Great themes are inclusive

A theme should be easy for guests to be a part of. There is always a better result if guests feel a sense of belonging to an event or organisation.

Fundraising events will benefit from creative ideas that fit the theme and raise additional money. A perfect example is a Bond 007 or Las Vegas theme with matching casino games; guests need to ‘buy’ money to play in the casino, which is a fun way of making a donation.

Remember that the event is for the guests and organisation – not for the organisers.  Even though you may have seen or done an event theme many times before, it can still be fresh and fun for the guests attending.

80's theme image

70’s and 80’s themed events making a comeback

There’s been a resurgence in 70’s and 80’s themes, which are always fun nights! For some people it may be a nostalgic look back on their youth; for the younger Gen Y crowd it might be their first taste of the retro years.

Bond 007 and Las Vegas nights bring a touch of glamour (and a chance to get dressed up!) while some nonprofits are dabbling in newer themes, such as burlesque, Hollywood and Bollywood nights. They are all inclusive, and encourage guests to dress the part.

Match guests to themes carefully

Setting a theme that doesn’t match the guests or the organisation is a mistake that can be avoided by simply thinking it through. Guests need to feel comfortable if they are going to have a good time. A burlesque theme, for example, is probably not the right match for a religious nonprofit. Masquerade events are another example – at first glance it may appear fun, but who will want to wear a mask all night?

Get creative!

Working with a budget can be restrictive, but this is where creativity comes in. A fantastic and very cost-effective decoration idea that has worked well for an 80’s themed event involved using vinyl records as placemats. Great ideas don’t always involve a great big price tag!

As guests often only recall two or three things from an event, you want them to be positive. So ask yourself – what will guests remember from your next event?

5 top tips to make your event work for you

  • You can stick to a budget without choosing a theme that looks tacky. It’s better not to have a theme at all than to look cheap!
  • Sometimes you need to go out on a limb and be creative, especially if your event is annual. Create a refreshing theme that will help raise dollars and have people enjoying every minute.
  • One bad theme can ruin the life span of an event … so exercise caution!
  • Take pride in your event, and think of little touches that will make your event feel extra special.
  • Don’t be scared to get things made to help the room fit in with your theme. Getting local fine arts students to produce theme-based murals as stage backdrops could be a cost-effective and smart way of dressing the room.

Liliana Sanelli has been an event organiser for 14 years and is the Managing Director of Perfect Events, a company that specialises in nonprofit events. In 2010 Perfect Events helped raise over $2,000,000 for various nonprofit organisations.

This article was originally published in the February/March 2011 edition of Fundraising & Philanthropy Australasia –