Planning an event, any event, can be a time consuming and overwhelming process, especially when you have no idea where to start. The best advice I have ever received as an event planner is to stick to the basics. Answer the big questions and get those answers on paper. Once you have the big picture, the details will follow.
Depending on the type of event you are planning, the basics can vary slightly; however, in my experience, I have found in the preplanning stage items that need consideration for getting started.
- Determine the event purpose (meeting, wedding, birthday, etc.).
- The size of the group, ages of the guests, and any individual needs.
- Your event date. Avoid industry events or holidays.
- Is your date firm or flexible?
- Are you planning your event in advance to secure your venue?
- Create a timeline for setup, starting and ending times, and audiovisual production.
- Food and beverage requirements.
- Timeline for producing invitations.
- Who will be designated for aspects of your event (decorations, menu, speakers, etc.)?
Now that you have been introduced to some of the preplanning items, getting to the budget, meals and expectations, the answering becomes a bit more difficult. This eBook was written to guide you through some basics. Before we begin, let’s look a little deeper at the items above, and the purpose behind them.
Determine the Event Purpose
Whether you have a one-time, special occasion (like a Wedding, Quinceanera, Birthday or Anniversary) or an annual recurring event (like a school banquet or a company meeting), all events need to have this question answered: “What is the purpose of your event?” Determining the type of event that you are planning will help you visualize and narrow your focus during the planning process. Another way to say purpose is, “What is your goal?”
The Size of the Group
When considering the size of the group you can’t forget about the gender mix, ages, and any individual needs. With the population more educated and trying to stay healthier, you have to consider all factors before you plan out all aspects of your event.
Your Event Date
Choosing an event date can be one of the most challenging pieces of the planning process. Worrying about who will and will not be available, what the weather will be like and whether or not there will be a place available to host your event are all factors; so, when planning for your date be flexible! Birthdays, anniversaries and holiday events are already associated with specific dates. Choose two or three potential options that would work best and then move on to the next question, which will aid you in determining your date.
Is Your Date Firm or Flexible?
We know when it comes to weddings, that the date has some significance for a lot of brides. Birthdays can’t change once someone is born. But if you don’t check well in advance, you might be surprised; your date for that venue has already been reserved. So how flexible are you?
Planning Your Event in Advance to Secure Your Venue
Everyone has their favorite place they like to host their events. But everyone isn’t you. You will be surprised that everyone has found your favorite place and is planning just like you.
But if you don’t check well in advance, you might be surprised your date isn’t available. I have already talked about booking too far in advance. But you want what you want. So go for it.
Creating a Time Line
If you want your event to look and feel like it has some organization about it, you need to create a time line. This outlines how you want your event to go off. If you are the new chairperson, then event planners will assist you in creating your timeline.
Food and Beverage Requirements
Most events offer some food and beverage service. Be considerate and allow enough time for your guests to eat leisurely, to network, and socialize. If time is tight for your event, a buffet service offers a wide variety and faster service.
Timeline for Producing Invitations
Having a timeline keeps you on track for all sorts of things. The way to create a schedule for your invitations is to research the amount of time it will take from design to printing. Then add another week to the timeline. Trust me, if you have already booked your venue you don’t want to be late sending out invitations, event promotions or meeting materials.
Designated Responsibility for Your Event
Having too many ideas and opinions can be a common problem with the event planning. It is important to designate who is going to be the primary event planner/coordinator early in the planning process. Choosing an event planner will reduce the chances of something getting overlooked, and keep your event on track. More information on choosing the right event coordinator/planner is found in Vendors 101.
Making Your Event a Success
The most successful event is one that achieves your goals and exceeds all of your expectations. The first step towards event success is answering the questions we have laid out with your event goals and expectations in mind. If you are planning a wedding, your goal is to get married, and typically, your expectations will include having friends and family in attendance and having a successful party to celebrate this new phase of your life. If you are planning a corporate retreat, perhaps your goal is to improve office communication and morale, so you expect employees to show up, participate in team-building or morale boosting activities, and return to work feeling re-energized and motivated.
The most important thing to remember is that no two events are ever the same. However, the planning behind them follows a similar process. One example of this is that every event costs money. Thus, every event requires effective budgeting strategies. As we enter into Finance 101, remember your answers to these questions and keep your event goals and expectations visible as we dig deeper into the details.