Real Event Planning: Family Weekend Silent Auction, Stage 2

If y'all have been keeping up with my blog, you know that I am Sigma Kappa's VP of Philanthropic Service at Elon University. And you know that I'm in the process of planning our fall events, mainly our Family Weekend Silent Auction. I've already completed the majority of the organizational aspect of the event (see stage 1 here), and now it's on to the fun stuff- the design. But before we get to that, I have a fun update! Not only will this be a silent auction, but I'm teaming up with our Sisterhood Chairs to make it a Family Weekend Silent Auction and Brunch! So, it will be a larger event that is essentially a "thank you" and a nice send-off to our families for visiting for the weekend, in addition to the auction. It will make planning the event even more exciting because planning food stations is one of my favorite aspects of an event.

I've really gained a love of designing and styling tables during my internship at Rebecca Rose Events this summer, and I plan to take the skills I've learned and translate them into designing creatively styled events for our sorority. I'm in the process of figuring out how I want the auction to look, so you get to have a sneak peek into how the design process works! Here we go..

Step One

The first step I took was to create a Pinterest board dedicated to Sigma Kappa Philanthropic Event Design. This allows me to have all of the ideas I've collected in an organized, online folder that I can easily reference.

Step Two

My next step was to sort through this Pinterest board and pick out the ideas that I really and truly like, and could see fitting in with my event. Here are a handful of the ones I like best:

I like the clean look of how the different baskets are displayed. I'd enhance this table, especially the paper goods part of it, but I like the general "crisp" feel of this layout.

I do believe this is the prettiest brunch bar I've ever seen. Everything has it's place, is labeled well, and is easy to reach.

Oh my gosh, a biscuit bar? This could not be a better way to represent our southern university.

You've got to think of the little siblings too! Having a variation of cereals displayed in large jars would be perfect for those who want a simple breakfast.

As you can tell, I've found a much larger quantity of inspiration for the brunch aspect of the event than the silent auction aspect. Bars of all sorts (brunch, dessert, drink, etc.) are extremely trendy right now, so I wasn't surprised that I could find more relating to them. I'll just have to use my own mind to think of ways to design the auction tables!

Step Three

After sorting through my favorite pins, it was time to analyze them and see what they have in common in order to come up with a "theme" for the event. I put theme in quotations because I'm not necessarily choosing a theme like Tiki or Western. Rather, I'm choosing a cohesive theme for how everything will look and will be tied together. I noticed that the design elements I liked best focused on a crisp, neat display; different levels for displaying items on tables; a light, almost airy color scheme; and fun labels and signage.

From all of that, I have decided that I want this event to have a theme that is slightly sophisticated and romantic. I know that I want to plan our Dessert Bar with a more fun and colorful palette, and I want to create my events to showcase different styles. In my opinion, a Silent Auction and Brunch should be a little fancier.

I'm going to center my styling efforts around finding pieces that are mostly lavender with a touch of maroon, since these are Sigma Kappa's colors. I want to include soft patterns for the paper, labeling, and signage elements; tie decorative ribbons around the auction baskets and food display jars; and brighten the space with white and silver stands for the baskets and food.

Step Four

The next step is to choose the actual pieces that will complement the theme I've selected. I already have a few in mind, but I will still need to visit craft stores and ask my friends and advisors if they have any items I could borrow. But, I know that I will definitely be using-

These Ikea Tolsby picture frames. They're only $0.99, which is an extremely reasonable price since I will not need too large of a quantity, and I can re-use them in my other events. We've used them at my internship numerous times, typically to display table numbers or food items. I'm considering using them to display the list of items that are in each of the individual auction baskets.

These lavender and white striped straws from Etsy. They're also fairly reasonably priced, and are extremely trendy. I've been itching to include them in one of my own events!

I purchased this chalkboard sign from Michael's earlier in the summer in hopes of using it during an event. I'm not sure exactly how I'll incorporate it yet, but it will be used as some sort of signage during the auction.

Those are just some of my ideas, but I know I'll find more as I continue to scour Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and A.C. Moore.

Step Five

The last step involves doing a bit of research on how the experts would use the pieces I've chosen to create a final look. Amy Atlas is the best of the best when it comes to designing food tables, specifically sweets tables. I've purchased her book already, and have watched videos like this one on The Knot Live that demonstrate how she takes inexpensive items and makes them look stunning. She's simply brilliant.

I've also taken note from experts at Style Me Pretty, Ruffled Blog, and Once Wed about how to use the Ikea Tolsby picture frames. All of the pictures below were showcased on the blog One Fab Day.

From Style Me Pretty.

From Ruffled Blog. I love the small flower detail in the top corner!

From Once Wed.

One Fab Day also provides a detailed tutorial about how to create your own Tolsby table sign. Check out the step-by-step instructions here.

So there ya go, that's what goes into how I approach designing an event! These are just the beginning, inspiration-seeking stages. I'll still need to find the pieces I'm going to use and the patterns and fonts I want to include. Then I'll have to craft all of the design elements while ensuring that everything fits within my budget. I'll be sure to write another blog post about that when I do!