After more than two decades of planning faith-based events, Colette Taylor not only knows her way around the niche, but she has also continually helped reinvent gatherings of all shapes and sizes to draw new crowds year after year. Currently serving as executive director of event services and director of Camp KidJam at The reThink Group, her calendar revolves around planning, executing and assessing a variety of exceptional events.
However, Taylor will be the first to tell you she doesn’t mind the sometimes-long hours and late nights. She loves her work, and that fact is evident by the dynamic experiences she creates. In fact, it’s even become a legacy for her family, not only because her mother was a wedding planner, but also because Colette has a separate corporate and wedding event planning company with her daughters.
Her extensive knowledge and insight is something both new and seasoned faith-based event planners can learn from and be inspired by.
How did you get started in event planning?
My mother planned weddings when I was growing up, and I think I got the bug for event planning from her without even realizing it. Some of the first events I planned were for my daughters’ Girl Scout troops, and I haven’t really stopped. I was also one of the directors of family ministry at North Point Community Church for 10 years, where I oversaw all of the Grow Up Conferences and played an integral part in developing the family ministry environments.
What’s your favorite part of event planning?
I love the creative process of dreaming about what’s possible. My second favorite part is watching everything come to fruition. In the creative process, we get to imagine anything, but, of course, at some point, we have to narrow down to the things we can accomplish within the time, budget and theme.
Where do you get your inspiration and information?
I get a lot of inspiration for our kids’ camp from Disney. For Orange Conference, it comes from a variety of sources such as YouTube videos, Jimmy Fallon’s show, commercials and even graphic design websites. I also utilize the knowledge of our staff and other production friends, who are all great at passing along ideas.
What tools and resources help fulfill your vision?
Creative boards are the lifeline of our process. I also use Trello to capture ideas before we've narrowed them down. And once we start putting our event in order, I rely on Planning Center, which is an incredible tool for any event.
What is a popular trend in event planning?
Right now, everybody is trying to figure out how to make each event more interactive. That's a goal across the board in the event world—faith-based, corporate, weddings and sports events. Everyone wants to be part of the event, not just attend it.
What career advice do you have for other faith-based event planners?
Find other planners who can walk alongside you so you can continue to grow as an event planner. I've been doing events for several years now, and I learn something new every time. Additionally, always debrief after every event so you can discover what worked well and what can be improved.
What future trends do you see for faith-based events?
We've already started to see faith-based events simulcast to other locations for a broader reach, and that will grow. I also think we'll continue to see more interactive experiences in the next few years. Attendees have limited dollars to spend on events, and the more personalized and intentional we can make our events, the more successful we’ll be.