After spending over 10 years in the non-profit world, ‘champagne events on beer budgets’ are at the core of what we do best.

Stacy Heit

Principal/Owner

Location: Washington, DC

Offering personalized design and management for your special event, sassēvents specializes in creating unique, memorable moments for you and your guests. Whether it be a wedding, conference, fundraising gala, fashion show, sports tournament, milestone celebration, or intimate party at home, sassēvents can define and design an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

sassēvents was founded by Stacy Heit, an award-winning event planner and producer with over 15 years of experience in the events industry. Stacy uses her keen eye for details and her background in — and passion for — the arts to create memorable moments for clients ranging from local and national celebrities to couples just starting out and looking to plan the wedding of their dreams.

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

We’re loving the hyper-local trend. Since not a lot of people are actually from DC, there’s an immense sense of local pride in living here and a lot of clients want to highlight local businesses and products, especially for their out-of-town guests. The area boasts amazing breweries, distilleries, wineries, chefs, artists, and crafts producers and it’s becoming really easy to show pride in all there is to offer within a 15-mile radius. This can be done by creating menus and even welcome baskets with locally sourced food and beverages, or by hosting an event at an iconic venue.

Augmented and Virtual Reality is another trend we love to incorporate into our corporate events to wow our clients and guests. It’s a great way to showcase high-level sponsors and to get some great traction on social media.

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

After spending over 10 years in the non-profit world, ‘champagne events on beer budgets’ are at the core of what we do best. Sourcing a venue that is beautiful on its own is always a good idea. When the space itself is a showstopper, there’s often no need to spend a ton of money on decor. Can’t afford a full band? Consider hiring a duet or even a solo artist. Additionally, candles are often more elegant than flowers and come at a significantly lower price point.

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

There’s nothing better in this industry than having an amazing team of vendor partners for each event you create. It takes a village! Knowing who does what best and would suit the client and event itself best, is practically an art form.

Working in the trenches (some events can take a year to plan and produce, so you get to know people really well) with vendors can often result in new “friendors” (vendors that become friends), as well as discounts for repeat business. These are both great perks, but it’s important to mention that just because you’re a friend, or are guaranteed a discount from a specific vendor, doesn’t mean they’re the right one for the job.

Get to know your event partners and all they can offer so that you know who to call on when a specific need arises (and vice versa). While networking events are great for this, nothing is more revealing than seeing a vendor in action. Invite them to sneak a peek at an event you’re working on, and ask to join one of theirs so you can see how they do what they do in order to make more informed decisions when forming your team.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Those vendor relationships we mentioned before? They really come in handy when hosting a fundraiser. In-kind donations or discounts for services from partners you trust mean less money that needs to be spent to make your event a success.

Coming up with a viable sponsorship menu is invaluable. Don’t aim too high and set prices that are cost-prohibitive, even to your highest donors. Don’t forget to make sure each sponsor is recognized as they specify for their contributions.

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

Not really a request, but more of a suggestion; this is still my all-time favorite event, and will probably always be. We love the challenge of unusual requests!

I was hired by a “bride” to plan her 50th wedding anniversary celebration at a country club. What was meant to be a formal seated dinner with a string quartet for 125 guests turned into something else entirely. During our initial meeting, she asked me to come up with a fun idea to wow her guests who were used to these types of events. I tested her limits for “wow” by starting with proposing a vow renewal. That was an easy yes. OK– how about a surprise pop-up vow renewal? She had no idea what a pop-up was but loved the idea. After ensuring their rabbi was available to perform the ceremony, their children would be able to keep a secret (we’d need to enlist their help) from other guests, and the string quartet could play some Jewish songs, we were on our way.

The florist we were working with created a beautiful bridal bouquet and a Chuppah that could be carried via 4 poles to be held by each of the couple’s children. These things were hidden away during cocktail hour and the appetizer course. After pulling the four children from the room while guests were still enjoying their salads, the band was instructed to begin playing the traditional Jewish songs they learned just for the occasion, and the Rabbi changed into his robes.
The music got louder as the Chuppah was moved into the room, and guests began to realize what was happening. As applause and cheers rang out, the flower girl (a young granddaughter) handed the “bride” her bouquet and the “groom” took his bride to the stage where the Chuppah was set, for what was an emotional and beautiful surprise vow renewal for them and their guests.

After the event, my client told me she felt like a bride all night, and couldn’t wait to relive it all via the photos.

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