So you’re planning your first event. Whether you’re organizing an event to mark a personal occasion or to promote your business, the principles are the same. That also means that you also have to deal with the same laundry list of issues: last-minute cancellations from vendors, guests who didn’t RSVP suddenly showing up, the weather turning for the worse. For professional planners, it’s just another day at work. But for you, it’s all your worst dreams coming true.
Event planning isn’t for the faint of heart. You may have organized a few small parties here and there, but the level of complexity of planning an event for dozens or even hundreds of people requires an entirely different set of skills. Whether this is a one-off event or you’re thinking of turning this into a career, you need to arm yourself with the knowledge to get the job done. That means you also have to deal with any problems, and there will be a lot.
Some people think that to be a good planner. You only need to know the right people. While the ability to hire a wedding photographer at a moment’s notice is certainly helpful, it’s not the only measurement of a good event planner. You also need to know the right strategies so you can quash any problem as soon as it rears its head.
Here are a few strategies that will ensure your first event goes off without a hitch.
Ensure free and open communication
Free and open lines of communication are the foundation of any successful event. You may have to coordinate with the venue manager, different vendors, and anyone involved with the event. You also have to be open to inquiries from the guests. The constant flow of information can get confusing fast, but the right people must know the right things to ensure the event’s success.
To prevent miscommunication, everyone must be informed of any changes to the plans as soon as possible. Don’t wait too long to contact someone, or else you might completely forget to relay the updates. Miscommunication can have tangible effects, from delays and penalties to even cancellations.
Trim the fat
It’s perfectly normal to dream big while conceptualizing the event. Ideas often flow easily during this stage of the process, so feel free to list down anything and everything you think of. Some people might even argue that going big allows you to organize a better and bigger event. If you tighten your focus, your vision of the event will become clearer as your progress.
However, your budget will limit what you can accomplish. The event plan is always evolving, and there will always be changes down to the last second. To ensure you don’t go over budget, examine your plan and start by downsizing and removing all the extra details. The essentials (i.e., venue, catering, decor) come last. You can always swap out individual pieces for a cheaper alternative if you’re unwilling to remove a certain element.
The customer is always right
Unless you’re paying for the entire event, you need to follow the wishes of your clients. If your clients want clowns, then they will get clowns even if you hate the entire idea. If they want to hold the event in a disused church, then you will move heaven and earth to find one. Your goal is to make the clients happy, and that starts by making sure that their tastes and wishes are reflected in the event.
Don’t forget to pay for cleanup
All too often, event planners fail to consider the cleanup that must be done after the event. Just because the guests have left doesn’t mean you can go home as well. You need to return the venue to the state you first found it in.
Many venues require the planner to organize the cleanup as well. If you’re not sure, make sure to check the contract or to ask the venue manager beforehand to ensure nothing gets lost in the noise. You may need to hire people to clean the place and trucks to haul the trash away.
The bottom line
Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering or a party for hundreds, these four tips will ensure that everything goes smoothly during the event. Don’t be too rigid in your ways, and allow yourself to have some fun.