Jul 12, 2009

My Guilty Pleasure = Event Planning

Over the past 6 or so months, I've realized that I have a niche for event planning. It wasn't until last night that I was able to actually see the results of my wonderful efforts.

I spent the last 4 months planning our sorority's annual Amethyst Ball, which is always a lot of fun. But this event definitely tested my willpower as an emerging Event Planning Specialist. I decided to take on the title of Special Events Coordinator with the chapter during the beginning of the school year, and my duties include planning the Founder's Day Brunch, Talent Show, Semi-Formal, Alumnae Ceremony, Formal and the annual Retreat. Who would have thought that Formal would be so daunting???

I'm going to lay out the steps that I had to go through, and any problems or glitches that occurred. For anyone seeking to go into event planning, this is for you.

Step 1: Come up with a budget. Figure out your assets, what you can afford, etc. Remember to keep a cushion for incidental expenses.

Step 2: Research and visit venues. Guesstimate your guest list. Compose a list of everyone that you plan to invite, and plan for the highest guest #. Therefore, if you're list is about 50 guests, plan for 50 even though you're certain that 50 won't show. Better safe than sorry.

Step 3: Narrow your search down to 2 locations. Decide on dinner details; will there be plated dinners or buffet-style? Will there be a cash bar or open bar? What brands of liquor will be served?

Step 4: Finalize all of the nitty-gritty details of your event: date, time, location, colors, theme, etc. If you are paying for the event, now is a good time to look at your budget. Are there any adjustments that you need to make? Will your budget actually accomodate your expenses? Are you working outside of your means? Will this event put you in the red when it's all said and done? These are all things to consider. Be sure to tell the event coordinator at the venue of your choice. They are usually great with working with budgets, and the last thing that they want is to lose business because they weren't flexible.

During step 4, you should also send out invitations to the people on your guest list. This will give you a better estimate of attendees. Add an RSVP date to the invite, and send out response cards with the invites as well. If you plan on having different dishes available for guests to choose from, you'd like to know this information ahead of time. Request payment and response cards at the same time.

Step 5: Collect funds from attendees (if event is being paid for by guests). Pay any deposits needed, and continuously consult your budget. Make sure you're not overspending for certain items. Have important dates ironed out: final payment due date, meal selection due date, head count due date, last day to add guests, etc. These are all vital to planning any event. Here's why: You're planning an event 3 months away, which requires a $500 non-refundable deposit 60 days prior to the event and the final payment 7 days before the event. However, many of your guest have yet to RSVP, which means that you haven't received their payment. This could cause you to lose your date, and even your deposit of $500. That's $500 down the drain because of improper planning... We definitely don't want that to happen.

Step 6: Make payments on time, and in the correct amounts.

Step 7: After your event, thank your guests and the venue for hosting your event.

At this point, your event should be smooth sailing... Post your event planning glitches here and I'll provide some insight/advice as to how to avoid these problems or ways to fix them!


Garret East said...

This is a bit late, but congratulations! I think people are usually found their talent in the most unlikely situations, just like how you found your niche for event planning. Anyway, these are great tips; event planning can be stressful at times, but following these pointers will help you to make your event a success.

Garret East

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