8 Easy Steps to Planning your event
Establish your event style and desired outcomes
Have a think about the atmosphere you’d like to create at your event. What do you want your guests to hear, see, smell and touch? What do you want your guests to feel during and after the event – motivated, appreciated, happy? Think about any memorable events you have attended in the past and identify what exactly made them special. Set some objectives for the event and you’ll find it will help shape the direction that your event will take.
Choose and book a venue
Where are your guests traveling from? Will they have to come far? How will they get there? Consider the area and location of your venue and remember this will form part of the event experience for your guests. Is public transport available? Is there parking available? Is it well signed and easy to find? All of these factors play an important part in your guests experience.
Find a venue that includes basic elements including tables and chairs and kitchen access in their venue hire fee (if these elements are required) as these will reduce your expenses to externally hire these items.
Ask your venue for clarity around time allowance for set up and pack down which will be needed by your event suppliers. Will you need extended time or next day clean up? Many venues provide great flexibility with these elements so be sure to discuss with them
If you are holding an outdoor event, be sure you have a reliable backup venue for inclement weather including rain, high wind, extreme temperatures – any elements that will affect your guests (and suppliers) comfort and safety. Your back up venue could be a private residence, community hall, office space, sporting club or other venue.
Send out invitations
Ensure your guests receive their invitation with plenty of times notice. Particularly if they live far from the event location they may need to plan travel arrangements, overnight accommodation or transport to get there. Ideally, you should also send a reminder for your event a few weeks out, especially if you’ve not received their RSVP.
Digital invitations are a very popular choice now, rather than mailed invites but regardless of your style of invite, be sure it conveys all important information including, start and finish times, dress code and a request for any dietary requirements the guest might have so you can ensure they are catered for.
Choose and book a caterer
Ensure the caterers you are considering are reputable and are able to provide you with testimonials and guarantees. Asking for quotes from the same company for a range of services assists you to consolidate all your requirements and deal with the one service provider. Some caterers not only provide food and service staff, but also beverage packages, decor and equipment hire; including everything from glassware and cutlery to centre pieces and marquees.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request a change to the menu; for example if the guest of honour really enjoys a particular pasta dish, just ask your caterer if they can do it especially for you! A lot of caterers also offer an event management service, so feel free to discuss your event with them and obtain as much free advice as possible; this also helps the caterer recommend the most appropriate menu for your occasion.
Theme your event
It isn’t as expensive as you may think!
Holding an event at home? Without breaking the budget, there are many simple styling elements you can include in your event set up that will have a great impact to your guests comfort and experience – consider things like like high cocktail tables, table runners or coloured linen napkins, lanterns, balloons, marquee draping or custom signage.
Holding an event at a venue? Ask your venue or caterer to provide a quote for a styling package; afterall, they are the experts and you’ll be amazed at what they can come up with.
Create a point of difference
This season’s latest event trend is “revealing”.
Let’s set the scene… your cocktail party has been going for about three hours now; the guest of honour has arrived; everyone has mingled and had a few drinks; the view has been enjoyed, so too has the food – but some guests are starting to glance at their watch every so often and are likely to be considering leaving .
It’s time to REVEAL something new!
Perhaps open up a secret room featuring a cocktail bar to keep the party rolling. Or maybe reveal a dessert station – pull back that mysterious black sheet that everyone’s been wondering about and wow your guests with a tempting selection of sweet treats and dessert bites. Why not have an entertainer join the party, perhaps a magician, a singer or even a fire-twirling performer!
Arrange transport to and from the venue for your guests, consider hiring a bus. This ensures the event will run on time and everyone has a safe way home.
Don’t forget the candles for the birthday cake!
If you plan to be at the venue early to set up or prepare your decorations, bring a change of clothes so you are nice and fresh and not ruining your party clothes during the rush of the set up!
Make sure you know where the bathrooms are located, and if you’ve hired service staff for the event, be sure to let them know also. You might like to consider creating some signage so that it’s easy for your guests to find the bathrooms without asking; if it is an outdoor event, you could even create an atmospheric path to the amenities with a trail of lanterns or candles.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – Enjoy the event!
No one enjoys a stressed or frazzled host! Enjoy the night as much as you can and the positive energy will flow through the entire event.
Make sure you greet everyone on arrival. A great way to do this is to have a basket of small gifts with a personalized tag for each of your guests; not only is it a lovely token but it also ensures you keep track of which guests you have seen and those you haven’t!