Inventory lists aren’t the sexiest topic in event planning, but these documents are essential, and a massive safety net to ensure all of your ducks are in a row.
So You’ve Placed an Order, Now What?
Once Event Goals are defined, the Event Deck is underway and your first order is placed, it’s time to start an inventory list.
Open an Excel spreadsheet (my first choice) or a Word document, and create headers for each section of the event. Think in terms of flow, such as the Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Dinner, and Dancing.
Then, create subcategories for vignettes. If the photo booth is living in the dancing component of the event, and you’ve ordered props, include that as a subsection under Dancing. Or, if you’re planning a dessert display, and ordered specialty tiered cake stands or donut holders, include that as a subsection of Dinner.
Don’t simply keep like items together. If you’ve ordered three different types of cocktail napkins and plan to use them in tandem with certain parts of the event, list them separately under the subsection of the event they are intended for use.
Let’s use a brief example of an inventory list for a Jewish wedding ceremony with an outdoor venue. The below list includes items the couple may be responsible for providing.
|Guest Arrival||– Yarmulkes|
– Basket for Yarmulkes (Ushers to Distribute)
– Basket for Parasols (Self-Standing)
– Serving Tray for Fans (Staff to Distribute)
– Benchers (Ushers to Distribute)
|Under the Chuppah||– Tallit|
– A-Frame for Ketubah
– Wine Glass
– Kosher Wine
– Breaking Glass
– Small Table
– Matches for Candles
From the above example, it’s easy to see how quickly items can accumulate on an inventory list. It’s not just about listing the item itself, it’s also about listing what vessel the item will live in, if it needs to sit atop something like a table or be distributed by someone like an usher or staff member. The process of creating an inventory list is a vital part of sorting out these details, to ensure everything you need is being accounted for.
Tailor the Inventory List
Adjust the format of the inventory list to fit the complexity of your event, so that it accounts for all moving parts.
Depending on the scope and scale of the event, the inventory list could be much more extensive.
Let’s say rental orders were involved; the tables ordered from one source, the linens derived from another, and all serviceware was ordered from a different provider. We would then insert an additional column to add the source of each item.
Or, let’s say the above list was not being provided by the couple alone. Perhaps the Rabbi was supplying the Ketubah, the couple was responsible for the guest arrival items, and their parents were providing some items for under the chuppah, but the venue agreed to supply the table and frame for the Ketubah. This would also garner the need for an additional column to list the source.
Turn it into a Checklist
Put the final inventory list to use when you start to receive or group together supplies. Don’t rely on order confirmations and shipment notifications alone to account for inventory. Make sure it arrives in-hands before officially checking it off the list.
On the event day, the inventory list can be a great place of reference when gathering all the items for a vignette, or when walking through to ensure all items are accounted for.
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