"Very merry" wedding for Zara Phillips

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall hosted their “very merry” wedding at the weekend; hosting a reception afterwards for the Royal family and their friends.

According to Mail Online, the pair had a traditional “knees up”, surrounded by many famous faces – some of whom didn’t leave the reception until the wee hours of the morning.

One Royal source revealed on Wn.com: “It was just a family knees-up. Your archetypal wedding, really. Except with lots of royals and rugby players. And a lot of drinking. In fact, make that a hell of a lot of drinking.”

At the wedding, Phillips (who is the first Royal to keep her own name post-marriage) wore a Stewart Pavin dress worth £3,000 – a far cry from Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen design seen at the last Royal wedding. Tindall wore a traditional made-to-measure wedding suit with £350 designer shoes.

The couple arrived quietly to the venue, which was simply decorated with “cream-coloured flowers” – perhaps inspiring other soon-to-be-married couples to decorate their wedding reception venue in the same way.

Guests included the Queen, Prince Phillip and many other Royal figures. Other famous faces to attend included ‘Coronation Street’ actress Katherine Kelly, sports personality Kirsty Gallacher and equestrian William Fox-Pitt.

Although the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla stayed through the ceremony, they all dashed off afterwards to let the younger guests enjoy the reception. The newly-married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge remained for the reception however, partying amongst all the other guests – including Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

London areas to dress up for 2012 Games

A massive £50,000 has been handed to each of London’s 32 boroughs in order to kit out its public spaces for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Event Magazine reports that communal areas like parks, high-streets and squares will be branded in London 2012 attire in order to celebrate the monumental event.

This could prompt local event venues to decorate their property with London 2012 kit in order to embrace the community spirit.

Council head honchos have been given an official ‘Look Book’ full of materials like appropriate flags, banners and bunting for the dress-up.

In addition, some of London’s “most iconic landmarks and popular tourist venues” will be dressed up for the occasion.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson hopes the occasion will be brightened by the materials: “When the world arrives next summer I want every corner of London to demonstrate its pride at hosting the world’s greatest sporting event.

“That means decorating not just our iconic landmarks and public spaces with the 2012 look, but ensuring every inch of the capital dazzles its visitors and the million watching around the world,” he added.

The 2012 games will also bring a wealth of new services – like sports programs, music classes, volunteering opportunities – to London, cites Fresh Business Thinking, in a bit to make the city “a better place”.

Parties don't have to be at night, writer says

Parties celebrating anything from birthdays to an impending birth don’t have to be held at night-time, one writer has claimed.

Writing for Phillyburbs.com, Deidre Wengen suggested holding a brunch or breakfast-time party instead, in order to make the event a little different.

Her advice could see Britons hiring their function venues for a different time in future; particularly after hearing Wengen’s top ideas for hosting a morning-time party.

She suggested creating a cereal party or instead of opening up the bar, opening up a waffle station: “Set out different toppings such as strawberries, bananas, powdered sugar, whipped cream, blueberries and more so that guests can top their own waffles the way they like them.”

However the bar doesn’t have to be sacrificed completely, the writer added, stating that Bucks Fizz or Bloody Marys could be good drinks to accompany the waffles.

Key to hosting a great morning-time party is keeping it simple, Wengen continued. “A brunch is much more informal and relaxed…so your decor should reflect that. Line tables with fresh flowers and use the food to your decorating advantage.”

She wasn’t the only person to hail the brunch as an alternative to night-time events, as Hollywood caterer, Paul McCullough, also sang its praises on Hometownlife.com.

“They’re great for baby showers, birthdays, family reunions and even weddings,” he said. “Brunches are the any-occasion entertaining solution.”

Conferences need to focus on the future

Conference organisers need to focus their efforts on providing delegates with a glimpse into the future, particularly if it’s a conference based on gaming or other technology.

That’s the advice of developer Andrew J Smith, who expressed his thoughts on what those hiring conference centres need to do to make their event as useful as possible.

A keen gamer, Mr Smith attends many gaming conferences. However often, he finds they aren’t progressing “as quickly” as the industry itself is.

“For me the real reason to go to these events (other than PR in the form of sitting on a panel or doing a talk…) is to look ahead,” he said.

“I want to know what I’ll have to be doing in a few year’s [sic] time, when both audio and FPS games have changed completely. Similarly with regards to business…I want information and educated conjecture on what we’ll all be chatting about in a year’s [sic] time.”

Despite any misgivings, the expert did say he recognised the huge value conferences have and can bring to a business. They provide a “brilliant forum for spurring talk and debate” he said, but could offer so “much more” if they tried.

However the responsibility doesn’t just lie with the organisers to make a conference great, according to the99percent.com.

Delegates must also make a point of networking with like-minded professionals, plan their time wisely and follow up on any connections made. This will ensure they get top value out of their money, the website added.

Naomi Campbell drops big hint that she's engaged

British supermodel Naomi Campbell has hinted that she could be getting married to long-term boyfriend Vladislav Doronin.

Campbell – known as much for her modelling as for her fiery temper – has been with Russian billionaire Doronin since 2008 and during a recent holiday in Greece the couple hinted that they were making preparations to be married.

Reports suggest that whilst on holiday, Campbell and Doronin set of £50,000 worth of fireworks in 20 minutes. Campbell then told amassed guests that it was time to celebrate “their little secret.”

With the news spreading fast, many are wondering where the event will take place, whether Campbell will demand a lavish wedding reception venue in London or whether Doronin will want the service a little closer to his home in Russia.

One such source who saw the events unfold told ndtv.com: “She was brimming with excitement and hinted they were engaged.

“She was telling guests it was time to celebrate ‘their little secret’. Naomi had the most incredible ring on. Everyone was commenting on how genuinely excited she seemed.”

Adding, a second source told the Daily Star of the celebrations: “She said they were celebrating something.

“People came out of the hotels all around the bay and up the mountain to watch. It was the most incredible display I’ve ever seen.”

Londoners urged to "travel differently" during 2012 Olympics

Transport minister Norman Baker has urged London commuters to think carefully about how they intend to travel when the Olympics begin in a years’ time.

His comments are intentionally timed to coincide with what is widely expected to be the busiest commuting day in 2012 – August 3rd.

Rail.co reports that there will be an extra three-million public transport trips in the capital on top of the 12-million that made every day during the games. Many of these trips will not only be to attend the sporting spectacle, but also to celebrate throughout London’s various event venues.

The minister highly recommends that locals who are within walking distance of work put on their “walking boots” and avoid public transport. Failing that, he suggested that alternatives such as video conferencing can be used so that London doesn’t come to a standstill during the Games.

To mark the anniversary of the first track and field event this time next year, Baker said: “The Games will be a once-in-a-generation test for both our transport system and our adaptability. As we edge ever closer to the Olympics, hand-in-hand with new investment must go new solutions.

“It’s time to oil the creaking bike, dig out the walking boots, work out how to use the video conferencing equipment, and fire up the laptop gathering dust at the back of the cupboard,” he added, according to Independent.co.uk.

More couples choosing Friday weddings

More and more British couples are getting married during the week, a study has found.

The Office of National Statistics has found that 40 per cent of couples were shunning the traditional Saturday wedding for a week day affair, with 19 per cent choosing Friday, followed by 6 per cent opting for Sunday and 5 per cent wanting Thursday.

It’s little wonder that week day weddings are being favoured by cash-strapped couples, the average wedding costs £24,699 according to Brides Magazine. Editor, Arabella Dupont told BBC News: “It’s easy to see why people are looking for savings. It’s a definite trend.” 

Opting for a Monday or Tuesday wedding can result in savings of up to 40 per cent on the wedding reception venue, plus there’s a greater chance of availability, particularly for those who want to marry “in short notice.”

Savings and availability aside, holding a wedding on a week day does throw up the “thorny” issue of expecting guests to take a day off work to attend.

Ms Dupont admits she would only take time off work if it was for a very close friend, hence choosing week days “work best for smaller, more intimate weddings.”

That being said, Ms Dupont continues, it is hoped that “your nearest and dearest will be just as excited about your wedding on a Tuesday as on a Saturday.”

Replica of Pippa Middleton's dress on sale

Debenhams has created a replica of Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress – which women across the UK fell in love with instantly.

Now, brides-to-be can snap up the classic design or buy a few of the dresses for their bridesmaid, at a fraction of the cost of Middleton’s original.

According to Dailymail.co.uk, the dress will go on sale at only £170 in April 2012 – £1,830 less than Middleton’s. It may inspire those with upcoming nuptials to go the whole hog and base their entire wedding on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s – dressing the wedding reception venue with trees, just as they did.

Anxious brides-to-be can put their name down on a special waiting list soon, allowing them to reserve one or more dresses ahead of the launch. Furthermore, they could also snap up a replica of Middleton’s evening dress she wore to the Royal reception.

Based on Middleton’s infamous emerald Alice Temperley dress, the design will retail for £99 and could provide an excellent choice for brides to change into, come their evening do.

A spokesperson for Debenhams, personal shopper Alain Mehada, explained why the retailer took the decision to design similar gowns.

He told Telegraph.co.uk: “The ivory dress worn by Pippa is the most requested by far. Both men and women everywhere were instantly talking about Pippa, so naturally brides-to-be will want to emulate her classic look – both for themselves or their bridesmaids.”

Furthermore, fellow Debenhams employee, designer Russell Fish, proclaimed: “We have taken the best of the dresses and added our designer twist. Now you can get the Middletons’ look at high-street prices.”

Hospitality industry key target for hackers

Companies working within the hospitality industry could be at increased threat from internet hackers, a global insurance broker has claimed.

Experts at Willis said that the specific details of customers corporate venues and other hospitality-based companies keep on record makes them a key target.

“Companies that hold substantial volumes of personal, identifiable data are irresistible to web-based pirates,” said Jeremy Smith, Willis London’s cyber team practice leader, on Eventmagazine.co.uk.

The news was confirmed by recent statistics, which reported a 56 per cent increase in the number of hacking-based insurance claims made in the last year – which included “an increasing proportion of victims in the hospitality industry.”

However event venues and other such businesses shouldn’t panic as there is much they can do to avoid being hacked. They can ensure their employees understand the importance of data security and that if they do pick an external company to manage their data security, they should ensure they are of a high quality.

Companies should also make it a priority to encrypt their customers’ details properly and ensure firewalls are in place to protect any wide databases of personal details.

This is particularly important given the rising intelligence of hackers, Laurie Fraser – another Willis spokesperson – confirmed on Marketwatch.com.

New events competencies for a new generation

New competency standards launched by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) will shape the professional development of the next generation of event planners, CIT Magazine reports.

The 87-page Meeting and Business Events Competency Standards (MBECS) covers a wide framework; from strategic planning and event design to stakeholder management and communication.

The MBECS will be of extraordinary value to those currently studying events management; people who could one day end up owning their own meeting venues, said the MPI president.

“By using the MBECS as a field guide to success, professionals in any role and at any stage of their career can now follow a reliable path to career advancement by developing key skills and mastering competencies that will get them to the next level,” said Bruce MacMillan.

There are 33 individual skills (including developing missions and goals, engaging speakers, designing site layout) within 12 major categories in the document, MPIweb.org states. Each skill set indicates how many years it takes to master, as well as how often the skill is used.

Event industry professionals and academic advisor’s from across the globe helped compile the Meeting and Business Events Competency Standards.

It was jointly developed with the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council and funded primarily by the MPI Foundation.