Often people ask me what I liked or didn’t like about an event because of my background, usually expecting me to criticize it. While I might have done things differently, I don’t judge people for their decisions as I wasn’t involved in the planning and didn’t know what their resources were. However, I do get frustrated when I see hosts and families get stressed before their event for reasons that could have been avoided.
(Read: they asked me my opinion, I told them, and they ignored it.) “Issues” will always arise last-minute, but as long as the preparation is put in up front with the 5 Key Steps below, there will be time to put out little fires that arise day-of, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for everyone and more time to spend with our friends and family, which is the point of these events anyway. AmIRight? You know I am.
- Establish Goals. Talk to the celebrant (the mom- or bride-to be) and ask the what they want out of the event. Some questions you could ask are: Do you want something intimate or do you have a lot of friends/coworkers/family that need to be invited? Do you want something formal or relaxed? What kind of food do you want? The answers to these types of questions should inform your decisions moving forward.
- Choose a Venue/Date. Pick a location that aligns with the celebrant’s wishes or one that is able to accommodate all your needs (# of guests, level of formality, etc.). Of course, the venue needs to be available on the chosen date. If it’s at a restaurant, they might only have certain times available. If it’s at someone’s home, they have to be available on that day and possibly on the days leading up to it.
- Make a Budget and USE IT. This step is usually the one people either forget to do or put off doing but it’s SO CRUCIAL. Not only does the budget keep your costs in line, but it also functions as a mini to-do list and a shopping list. If you’re sharing costs with other event hosts, this will maintain a visual on what you’re spending.
- Choose a Theme and STICK TO IT. Successful events are cohesive. Because of the prevalence of social media, it’s easy to want to incorporate all the beautiful things you see on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter. However, when hosts try to do everything or they keep adding things, they can quickly become overwhelmed. Guests will better remember a few thoughtful, high-impact details that work well with the theme and align with the celebrant’s wishes, rather than a lot of small things that will easily fade into the background. In addition, choosing a theme pulls everything together and helps narrow down whether to keep something or scrap it. If it doesn’t support your theme, move on.
- Make a Timeline. Once the budget is complete, you should start a to-do list, adding logistical items as you think of them (send invites, shop for the food, pick up the flowers, etc.). It often helps to work backwards from the event. You can even delegate tasks to others to help manage your time. It doesn’t have to be super fancy (though I am a huge fan of spreadsheets), whatever works for you. But I do recommend you put it in an easily editable format like Word or Excel so that you can keep adding items without having to keep re-writing it.
Yes, there are more than five steps to planning an event. But if you keep going back to these five points when preparing for it, I promise you will be less stressed. If it’s not in the budget, don’t do it. If it doesn’t go with the theme, don’t do it. If it doesn’t help you accomplish the celebrant’s goals. . . don’t do it.