If you are new to event planning, you are in for a lot of work—and a lot of fun. We’ve gathered some tips to help ease the process a little—or you could just call us to help you plan your event.
Here’s the thing: no matter how intricate a plan, there will be aspects of your event plan that will change or disappear completely. Don’t. Panic. Often, when we deviate from the road ahead, we discover something better, or more interesting. When you remain flexible, those necessary changes fit more seamlessly into your plan.
Have a back-up plan
You’re weeks from the date of the event and a representative from your venue calls to tell you they’re very sorry, but they’ve double-booked your event date. You will have to reschedule.
Cue the horror movie music.
Do you rant and scream at the venue rep? Of course not. You’re a mature, responsible adult—with a backup plan. Though this venue was your first choice, it wasn’t the only viable option on your list. You (or your planner) get on the phone and start making calls. Because though you didn’t expect to have to change your venue, you planned for it.
Do a run-through
Even if your event only has a few scheduled beats—cocktail hour, dinner, entertainment—it’s important to run through them with your vendors. Create a simple schedule with timings and make sure everyone is on the same page. If possible, go the extra step and ask your tasting session to be timed. Ask your catering coordinator (or your event planner) to run through the major beats of the event; like a dance, you want the right feet in the right places at the right time.
Know your audience
Nothing will spoil a party faster than uncomfortable guests. Though it’s impossible to please everyone, it’s important to keep your guests in mind when planning. Are they an outgoing crowd? Are there divisive personalities? Will they be expecting a full dinner or an appetizer buffet? Would alcohol service be appropriate? Is there the potential for children at the event? Asking yourself these and other questions will mitigate awkward questions (or confrontations) later.
Be money smart; focus on the priority
Keeping to a budget is the backbone of great event planning. Once imaginations start churning, it’s easy to go overboard, purchasing décor or booking unnecessary vendors before the final plans are laid. Inevitably, mismanaged or sparsely planned events climb over budget, souring the event planning experience for all. The easiest way to mitigate this is to find your priority. Is dinner the central focus? Or ambiance? Is it more important to go all out for entertainment than on intricate tablescapes and décor? Finding your priority shows you where the bulk of your budget should go, so when that big, red line starts creeping ever closer, those lower priority aspects can take the hit without compromising the feel, the experience, of the event. Also, having a budget worksheet is good to have too.
With your guests, with your planners, and with your vendors. Never assume that you sent that email, made that call, or that task was completed. Guests will most likely not ask questions related to transportation, coat-check, or other day-of details until it’s too late. Anticipate their questions and communicate the information. With vendors and planners, there is nothing wrong with double- and triple-checking that supplies are ordered and decisions are made. Everyone involved has the same end goal; a successful event.
Pics or didn’t happen
Take pictures of everything—and not just of your cousin, Cheryl, pushing past the DJ for another round of Karaoke. Later, if there are questions regarding the condition of rented equipment or of vendor performance, photos will dispel any he said, she said back and forth.
Anything that can be done ahead of time, do it. Don’t assume someone else is handling a particular aspect of the event plan. As you’re over-communicating, make a list of tasks only you can complete and make a plan to complete them. Just as you don’t want to be waiting on a vendor, vendors often can’t complete their work without guidance from you. Event planning is a team effort.