The First Big Event: The Gay...la Masquerade Ball 2019



It all began on the beautiful white sand beach. Alisa and I were talking about the conference that I was planning. I was struggling to figure out exactly what the focus should be. I knew that I wanted to host a conference for entrepreneurs in the LGBTQ community, but I kept hitting brick walls. The Pensacola Grand Hotel was already booked, and I had to start marketing fast if I was going to pull it off.


Alisa said, "Why don't you do something fun to generate awareness?"


That's how the Gay...la came to be.


I'm good at throwing parties, and I love to give people a good experience.


We had been to a Mardi Gras ball in Mobile, and we were treated like aliens when we walked in, arm in arm. I love getting dressed up, so this was quite disappointing. Evolve 'n Thrive is all about making better events for the community, so a ball was a natural choice.


I went to work with a new enthusiasm. Here's how I planned it:


First Stage:

1. Create an event plan (budget, audience, marketing plan, buy insurance, etc.)

2. Create the marketing package (i.e. flyers, social media pages, etc.)

3. Write a grant proposal

4. Create a sponsorship package: write email script, letters, determine sponsorship levels and incentives, and develop spreadsheet with potential sponsors info)


Second Stage:

5. Start outreach (send initial email to potential sponsors)

6. Apply for grant

7. Start marketing on social media, local calendars, PR, etc.

8. Follow up on outreach (call/visit potential sponsors)


Third Stage:

9. Continue outreach

10. Continue marketing

11. Begin organizing decorations, vendors, etc.

12. Spread the word: invite, invite, invite!

13. Receive grant


Fourth Stage:

14. Hold volunteer meeting

15. Secure sponsorships (have contracts signed, add to marketing materials)

16. Secure vendors (have contracts signed, finalize details)

17. Manage budget (pay remaining balances, update records, etc.)


Final Stage:

18. Decorate

19. Emcee

20. Enjoy

21. Follow up: Make event notes, send thank you cards, post pictures, etc.)


I did all of the above pretty much by myself with the exception of the wonderful volunteers who helped me with setup, some planning, and some outreach.


The event was a great success! We had over 100 attendees, and I think that was amazing for the first event.



I learned a lot from this experience, and I plan to continue hosting this event every year.


If you'd like to learn more about planning an event, feel free to email me: juliestillrolin@gmail.com


I also write more about decorating and planning on my blog Party Addict.

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