Expert Advice For Planning Your Next Special Event

by Coastal Virginia Magazine | Oct 16, 2017

Fall is a fantastic time for get-togethers in Coastal Virginia. So if you’re looking for some help when it comes to planning your upcoming family reunion; personal events like weddings, birthdays or milestone anniversaries; or any other private gathering, area venue experts are at your service to help you put together everything from a small dinner reception to an all-out weekend of fun. Here is some advice from a select group of resident experts who are on-hand to make your event stress-free and memorable:


Bruce Newton, Group Sales Manager, Tour and Travel Visitor Services, Hampton.

Some people come ready knowing exactly what they want to do, and others need our complete assistance. So whichever way they want us to be involved, we’ll be happy to do that. People who are tasked with planning a reunion or some other type of banquet are generally not professional meeting planners; they are very green as far as what they need to know before they contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau. We actually guide them through what they need to know to plan a successful event. Many of them come to us with the idea that they want to have a family reunion, etc. Some of them have never hosted a family reunion before. Others come with a history of having it each year. So we see varying degrees of expertise. So because of that, we basically hold their hands through the whole process.

Sometimes they come to us with just a concept. We can even recommend a date that we think will be successful for them based on when the most class members or family members will be available to travel. Once we establish the number of people that they expect and their hotel needs, we go ahead and process their lead out to hotels to find them a place to stay, find them suitable attractions for them to visit and work with them on their itinerary planning.

Typically the pattern begins with a Meet and Greet on Friday afternoon. They check into the hotel, they have a social gathering. Sometimes the Meet and Greet is a catered event, sometimes it’s just a hospitality suite where people bring in beverages and food. Then on Saturday we try to do a fun activity in the morning, usually we have a picnic Saturday afternoon, they sometimes have a formal dance, particularly the class reunions, have a dance Saturday evening, then on Sunday morning, a lot of groups have a breakfast and make it a memorial service to recognize people of the class or family members who have passed. Then they depart Sunday afternoon.


Melissa Georges, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Founders Inn and Spa, Virginia Beach.

A very big difference between a social event and corporate event is that we are dealing with people’s personal money. This means the expectations are higher, and rightfully so. Our clients work very hard to save enough money to have their event with us, and we recognize that this is a major investment for many.

Prior to contacting us I would suggest they should do online research on their own. I would recommend looking for recommendations from people they trust and read online reviews for the venues they are considering. The majority of hotels and facilities will have diagrams of their function space, as well as menus, directly on their website so clients can quickly gauge if the venue is within their budget. You then want to reach out to the hotel and set up an appointment to tour the facility and meet with the sales manager. Come prepared with questions, ideas and your preferred date!

A good way to book your favorite venue and save some money at the same time is to consider booking your event during the week or on a Sunday. We offer clients a 20 percent discount for having their event on a Sunday through Friday. Consider a holiday weekend so you can have your event on a Sunday knowing that most of your guests will not have to go to work on Monday. This saves you money and also gives out-of-town guests a getaway for their long weekend. A lot of vendors will offer discounts for events not on a Saturday, so you can save money on the venue, DJ, photographer, etc.

Which brings up one more good point: Don’t be afraid to ask your venue for recommendations on vendors. Keep in mind, we deal with vendors every day, and we know who does a good job and who does not. We also prefer to recommend the vendors so we know the entire event will go off without a hitch.


Event Planning Hampton Roads

Bryan Pettit, General Manager, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Virginia Beach.

When looking at personal get-togethers like anniversaries, retirement dinners, family reunions, birthdays, small receptions or rehearsal dinners, you just need to contact our private dining manager, Anna Shumate, and she’ll walk you through the entire process. Before you call you should have your dates and times in mind, and an estimate of the number of guests you’ll be inviting so we know which private dining room we should reserve for you.

As for dining options, we can put together a hors d’oeuvres menu for you if you want to do a stand-up cocktail event on our seasonal patio, or, if you’d rather do a sit-down meal, we offer a lunch menu, called our Lighthouse Menu, as well as three dinner menus that include The Lynnhaven, The Princess Anne, and The Orleans, depending on what you would like available for your guests.

As for private dining options, we have a number of rooms that can meet almost any need. The Boardroom can accommodate 14, The Library can accommodate 24, The Cape Charles Room seats up to 35 guests, The Cape Henry Room seats up to 50, and The Chesapeake Room can accommodate up to 90 seated guests or 150 standing guests for an indoor reception.

No matter what your event, we are in the business of saying YES and creating the best experience possible for our guests.


Aldo’s Ristorante, Virginia Beach

Aldo’s is the perfect place to celebrate your engagement, birthday, anniversary, baby shower, or any other personal event outing. They offer three event menus for lunch, an hors d’oeuvres reception menu, and four dinner menus with appetizers to share, salad, entrées and desserts.

City and lifestyle magazine celebrating the Southeast Virginia region and its unique charm, customs and ways of living

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