20 March 2013

How to pull off a huge event in your spare time

I've been talking a lot lately about All Dressed Up, my most favorite event that also has taken up a big bundle of my time, and the majority of my spare brain space.  

If it's on the brain, it's on the blog, people.  

In case you missed it, here's the skinny on All Dressed Up:

Collecting over 1000 formal gowns from the community
Local dry-cleaner cleans all dresses.  For free.
Area high school gals come.
Get a prom dress. For free.
And an accessory (or three!). For free.
Seamstresses provide alterations on-site. For free.
Happy prom-going girls. Totally awesome.

Pulling off an event with so many moving parts takes a TON of commitment from a TON of people. If you want to start something like this in your community, here's where I'd begin:

Community Vendor Partners:
Our league is very fortunate to have had a long-standing very good relationship with a number of community vendors.  They love the event, and what it means to the young women of our community. And we love them because they play a huge part in helping this event happen.

  1. Dry Cleaners: Our dry-cleaner partner has been with us since the beginning, nine years ago.  They host our dress drive at their stores around town, then clean all the dresses that are collected.  This year - we collected 1015 dresses.  And they laundered 1015 dresses.  Holy cats that's a lot of satin.
  2. Venue: Our local community college has hosted our event for the past handful of years - for free.  They rent all kinds of pipe & drape and stage components and other things I don't even know exist.  Their campus is right on the bus line, making it easy for our girls to get there. 
  3. Movers: Each year, we have more dresses donated than what we can get rid of on event day.  Those dresses have to be moved from storage to venue to storage again.
  4. Storage: Clean and dry storage is a necessary component to keeping the dresses clean and ready to be shopped.

Coupled this year with local hair stylists, makeup artists, nail techs, the best DJ in town, professional ballroom dancers, a huge jewelry donation from a local retailer, and a group of awesome seamstresses, our attendees were in for a major treat.  As I perused the responses from our attendees' exit surveys, I was struck with the impact the extra touches made.  Our girls said that they felt special, cared for, thought of.  

Committed Volunteers
Any event of any size requires a major commitment from the people who can make it happen. All Dressed Up 2013 required nearly 200 volunteers. This is not a joke. That is *a lot* of human hours represented.  It's incredible what can be accomplished by some regular folks who really want it.  They care, they see the impact, and they're committed to making it happen.  

Aside from the necessary people taking care of the logistics, the magic, I think, of All Dressed Up, are our Personal Shoppers.  Each attendee is paired with a personal shopper to help them find their dream dress.  They take time to listen - really listen, form a relationship, and do their darndest to find. that. dress.

Such fun, right?  Don't you just want to run right out and start gathering up prom dresses??  Cool.  Good.  You should.

Of course I learned a zillion things as I worked with my committee on this event.  I'll be back on Friday to share the tools we used - and what I'd use again given the chance. Make sure to check back!

What are your best tips for pulling off an event? Have you ever found yourself in over your head?


  1. This is amazing!! I am so proud of you friend!!

  2. Congrats on an amazing event! I am so glad I got to see it in person. Thank you for offering this service to our community!

  3. Just discovered your blog. Had fun stopping by! I'll be back. :)



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