Lexi Schafer is an event planner and coordinator from Westminster. When she and her husband lived in Northern Virginia, the business she worked for in Washington, D.C. was looking for someone to be a seminar coordinator so Shafer took the job. As part of her duties, Shafer took care of the registrations for new business teams, sent out invitations and made sure the AV needs were met. She worked with the venue on logistics for food and beverages. Shafer also made packets of the handouts once the coordinators decided what they wanted.
In 1995, the Schafers moved to Westminster because David Shafer, Lexi Schafer's husband, took a position with St. Benjamin's Lutheran Church and the commute was too far to drive to Washington, D.C. At that time, Lexi Schafer worked as the volunteer coordinator for Carroll Lutheran Village. While there, her responsibilities included planning the volunteer recognition events and smaller events for the students who worked during the summer. Schafer also coordinated any outside groups that came into the Village, such as church councils or groups that wanted to meet there.
She left her job at CLV to stay home with her children and continued with some part time work. A few years later she went to work for "The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County." She began as a special events manager and planned some big teen events such as Party in the Park. The next year it was called "Teen Scene."
In 2004, Schafer went to work for Carroll Lutheran School as the Capital Campaign Manager. She organized breakfasts for local business people so they would come and see the school and learn about it, as well as maintained the donor database.
Then she became the "special assistant to the board of trustees." Schafer sets up the annual meeting and other smaller meetings for delegates from different churches. She has also planned "Grandparents Day" and "Pastor Appreciation Day" at the school.
In addition to working at Carroll Lutheran School, Schafer decided she wanted to do event planning on her own and started "Events by Lexi" in 2009. She has helped with fund raisers such as the "Culinary Experience" held by Rape Crisis Services of Carroll County, the gala for the Marriage and Resource Education Resource Center, the Reisterstown-Owings Mills- Glyndon "Taste of the Town" event.
According to Schafer, trends in corporate planning include registration online and the company hosting the emails about the event sent to the participants, adding excitement to the event. Once you are at the venue, the registration staff have all the information they need on their telephones so they just have to sign guests in.
Thus, there can be less paperwork when people arrive such as long guest lists that have to be fumbled with at the entrance. They can also print out a nametag when the guests register, making sure their name is spelled correctly and changing a name if another employee has been send instead of the one who initially registered. The handouts can be emailed to the participants that can bring them on their chosen electronic device. In all, much less printing is required.
"Participants are often encouraged to "tweet" during a conference, giving it a more live, interactive feel," Schafer explained.
Much of Schafer's work is coordinating weddings. It requires patience, good communication skills, calmness and the ability to "put out fires" in a professional way. Schafer offers everything from full- service to "day-of-the- event" planning. She does the same for corporations. She has a "cafeteria style" method of allowing the customer to choose as few or many services as they need.
Schafer can make referrals for different providers such as caterers, photographers, DJs and florists. She reviews the contracts for the client. She will go to meetings with the providers if the customer requests it or she can send a list of questions for them to ask. She is in contact with the client and providers up to the day of the wedding.
"One time the florist delivered the flowers to the bride's house instead of the wedding venue in Frederick. Luckily, there was enough time to get the flowers to the right place," she said.
According to Schafer, one of the most unique weddings had a "time warp" theme. Everything was at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum on Falls Road. The bride wore a civil war era wedding dress and the guests were encouraged to come in costume, either from the past or future. The cake was cut with huge forks 3' long.
One wedding coming up in Turf Valley is a beach theme. Starfish will be the escort cards. The bridesmaids will wear turquoise and the invitations will be a beach theme.
For the first time Pantone has the blending of two colors of the year including rose quartz, a pinkish color and serenity, a cool tranquil blue (www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2016). They represent peace and their combination has a soothing influence.
"People should not shy away from color combinations," Schafer advised. "If you want neon green and grey, you can make it work. One couple used bright pink and orange which was fun."
Bridesmaid dresses are often not as traditional. Sometimes they are all the same color but different styles. The dresses can be short and not long. Sometimes the bridesmaids are given a color such as pink but the dresses can all be a different color of pink.
The trend in weddings is to be "Green." They want "farm to table food." Some environmentally conscious couples even use utensils that are biodegradable.
Some couples do a smaller wedding cake with more of a dessert bar along with the cake. Some even have pies for the wedding, rather than cake.
The influence of social media on a wedding can be tricky. One couple encouraged the guests to take photographs with their telephones but not to post them until Monday after the wedding. They wanted people to be engaged in the ceremony instead of being online. Some people may not want to hurt people's feelings that were not invited to the wedding so they did not want the photographs posted.
At the other end of the spectrum, one couple created a hash tag and encouraged their friends or post photographs of the wedding on Facebook and Instagram.
"I like getting to know the couples and how they show their personality in the wedding." Schafer said. "There are so many resources couples can access that they can make the whole day showcase who they are as individuals and as a couple."
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Thursday of each month.