Event Planning 101

There’s a running list in my mind of gatherings I’d love to host. Pizza tastings, thematic holiday parties, Shark Week celebrations (my annual guilty pleasure brought to you by Discovery Channel)… the list goes on. Regardless of what kind of celebration it is, these common denominators play a pivotal role in the early stages of planning, as they shape an event from start to finish. Keep reading for a peek into Event Planning 101.

Timing is Everything

Seasonality plays a huge role in Event Planning 101. It dictates everything from venue and vendor availability, to travel conditions, design, pricing, and menu items.

For example, your favorite flower may only be available during certain months, or could it be quite costly to import if desired during it’s off season. The availability and pricing fluctuates depending on time of year.

Venues, bands and photographers book years in advance, but they tend to be busiest in the spring and fall months. So, depending on the venue or vendor’s availability, it’s possible to negotiate discounts for lower rates. This especially applies to weekday celebrations, which are often priced significantly lower than events on the weekend.

Let’s pretend that you’re planning a celebration on a Saturday in June, but find yourself on a tight lead time. Given the popularity in the date,
(which is among the busiest times in the event community) it’s unlikely that you’ll have your first pick of vendors. Last minute events are also more likely to face a premium for rush fees.

Or, if your eyes are set on hiring an amazing photographer that comes at a hefty price tag, there may be more room to negotiate for coverage in the off season. This is typically during the winter months, unless the photographer takes on a lot of destination work.

What does this mean for you? Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different event dates before signing any contracts. Gauge how viable it is to meet the Goals that you’ve set for the event, while bearing in mind budget parameters.

Location, Location, Location

The location of an event sets the entire tone a celebration, and how it will flow.

Seated and standing capacity will determine the maximum number of guests that one can invite. Some venues have restrictions on which vendors can work in a space. Other venues will limit clients to working with their list of exclusive vendors. Catering could be in-house, or require an off-premise caterer. Factors like access times, ancillary fees for maintenance or security, and items that need to be rented can hike up the cost of a space. The venue dictates a lot!

If you’re planning an event at a private residence, whether it’s a rental house, a friend’s property, or in your home, there are entirely different considerations at play.

Pro-Tip: It’s a common misconception that weddings and events at home are less expensive compared to venue fees. Though the cost of tenting, flooring, HVAC, restrooms, staff, cleaning and grounds maintenance, not to mention rental items like basic tables, chairs, linens, china, glassware and flatware, can be substantial if not more than the cost associated with an event venue.

Circle back to the Event Goals and the budget to determine what location is best. An event planner can vet potential options and share a cost comparison to help flush out the nuances of each space.

Know Your Audience

People make the party. They’re the biggest part of Event Planning 101, because they influence every decision you make while planning a celebration.

In opting to host an event on a Monday, for example, it’s possible to receive discounted pricing from venues and vendors. Although, this may inadvertently cut the guest list in half due to the competing priorities with work and family schedules. But, if the goal is to trim down the guest list via less RSVPs, this could be a good way to do it!

You know your audience. Bear in mind travel distances and guest comfort as you consider how to celebrate. Your audience also knows you. Keep it authentic; the way you host should feel like an extension of who you are!

Create a Narrative

In the events industry, the flow of a celebration is sometimes referred to as ‘Storytelling,’ or an event’s ‘Narrative.’

When we start the planning process, we ask, why gather? And what story do we want to tell? If it’s a wedding, we’ll want each aspect of the wedding to represent the couple, and feel authentic to who they are.

As planners, the options we put forth to our clients aim to tell their story, and serve a narrative that’s revealed as their event unfolds.

Decide How to Celebrate

This is the fun part!

What really inspires you? Inspiration is everywhere, and chances are you’ve already seen something that’s caught your eye and sent your imagination soaring.

Reference the above points to guide you towards the best ways to bring your guests together in celebration of your next event. Then take a look at Seven Ways to Prepare for An Amazing Event.

If you’re in the market for inspiration, visit my Pinterest for everything from theme ideas, to concepts for installations and activations.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.

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