One of the things that anyone planning an event learns quickly is that things don’t always go smoothly, but there are some ways to plan for the unexpected curveballs that come along with any event, large or small. A good mantra for any planner is, “it’ll all work out, I don’t know how, it just will.”
The first thing any planner should have is a strategy. Sitting down with the client or other individuals involved in the event to prepare for the day is invaluable. Planners should focus on budget, location, and an action plan timeline as part of their strategy. This process is a good time to delegate tasks and decide what is possible between planning and execution. Keep focus on the most important aspects of the day. Little details can be added as time allows later in the process. Don’t forget to take attendees into account during the planning process. Guest comfort and entertainment should be high on the list of priorities.
When deciding upon a strategy it is important to plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Outdoor events are a perfect example of this. Never plan an outdoor event without a plan for inclement weather. Rain, snow, high winds and even extreme heat can make a beautifully organized outdoor event miserable for guests, so make sure there is a plan in place for moving things indoors if necessary.
One thing to keep in mind when planning events is that nobody knows what’s happening behind the scenes except the planner. Most aspects of any event are a surprise to guests, so if something should fail weigh its importance to the event as a whole. An officiant caught in rush hour traffic is needs immediate attention, whereas a flower girl in the same situation is worrisome, but not critical. Event planners need to be prepared to extinguish many fires, but the ability to weigh the importance of each situation can alleviate a great deal of stress and allow more time for focus on the important details.
One last thing every planner should know is that clear communication is key to a successful event. The client’s vision is much different from the planner’s vision. Having clear communication about realistic expectations, timetables, themes, and workload is vital. Keeping notes of all communications is also helpful on the day of the event. In addition to communication notes, a list of contact numbers for the event’s vital components such as caterers, technology crews, key speakers or performers and the guest(s) of honor, can be invaluable to keeping things on schedule and running smoothly.
Planning events can be fun, whether you do them as a favor for a friend or professionally. Remember that being organized, having contingency plans, and communicating clearly with everyone involved can make any event appear seamless to those in attendance, even if behind the scenes everything is a bit chaotic.