Event Planning Tips From Event Planners

Do you have an upcoming event to plan but are unsure about where to start? Here are a few tips to help you start planning your event like a pro!

Find Your Objective

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Consider first what you hope to achieve. Are you throwing your parents a surprise 50th Wedding Anniversary and want it to be the biggest party EVER? Are you launching a new product or company and want to gain exposure? Knowing your why helps determine your when and where.

Make a List

Next, you’ll want to start making your lists. Start by listing out each aspect of the party: You may be managing invitations, the venue, valet parking, photography, promotional materials, programs, catering, bar services, lighting, the venue, any necessary permits, rentals, music and entertainment, decorations, staff, valet parking, registration,  – so you can see how the details can start to really add up! From this list, make sub-lists of everything you think you’ll need for each category. These lists will be so helpful with getting a feel for your budget, and for determining what type of team you may need to rally for help!

Set Up a Timeline

Once you’ve set a date for your event, create a timeline and include everything from when you will send your invitations, to when you will need to make final decisions about things like catering and rentals, to the play by play schedule during the event. You can always make changes to this, but it’s good to have an overall game plan from the beginning to fine tune your vision. Think of this more as a working timeline, and adjust it as needed.

Design Your Menu

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The food and drink at a party is often the main attraction. To start figuring out what you will serve, refer to your initial objective. If your guests will be mingling, a menu heavy with bite-sized tray-passed hors d’oeuvres will be appreciated. If you will want them to flow throughout the space, adding on some fun action food stations in desired traffic areas may be a great idea. Less formal gatherings where you’ll want people to eat quickly may warrant a self-serve buffet, and more intimate social gatherings often work best with a more sophisticated plated menu. Keep in mind if much of your crowd may have dietary preferences (vegan, vegetarian, organic, gluten-free, kosher, etc.), then weave in your theme, season, and current trends to really wow your guests (and hey, we’re caterers after all, so we are certainly partial to this portion of your planning!)

Do a Walkthrough

Whether you will be planning an event at your private residence or offsite at another location, it’s important to do a walkthrough before your event and try to see the venue and program through the eyes of your guests -  envision how they might feel as they park, enter the event, try to find seating, look for something to drink and eat, look for a restroom - and compile any last-minute needs and insights about how everything should flow.

Marketing Your Event

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Depending on the nature of your event, you may need to consider creating some graphics for social media and/or other marketing means. And even a private event has its own marketing needs in the form of invitations. You may also want to consider marketing during the big day by creating a custom event hashtag and encouraging social media sharing, which is a great way to see how memorable the event was from the perspective of your guests.

Whatever methods you decide to use for planning your event, just remember the event planner golden rule: Plan, plan, plan…and then go with the flow. Basically, be organized and try to prepare for all scenarios, but then be flexible and have fun once the big day comes.

Need extra help? Call us - we’ve done all this and then some! To create your ideal event, we will work with you to handle as many of the details as you like. Feel free to contact us with any questions!

Jennifer Wilson