Whether it’s a 50th wedding anniversary or a corporate picnic, from the moment the question is popped “Could you plan this event?” you may feel the English language consists of only two real words: Work and Stress.
As you’ve already accepted the gracious invitation to be master planner, being the philanthropist you are, you may be interested to know that ‘event planning’ need not be synonymous with ‘nervous breakdown’. Being calm, cool and collected is actually a realistic possibility as long as you organize and, yes, plan! And rest assured, the well-planned and successful event brings with it generous helpings of accolades and appreciation, with a side of personal accomplishment and satisfaction!
Planning Your Event With Confidence
Though each event differs in many ways, the same planning process can be used to help you reach your goal: a successfully planned event.
- First, it’s important to determine the goals of your event. Decide what its purpose is or for what reason it is being held. Is someone’s accomplishment being honoured? Is a special date being celebrated? Has a milestone been reached? Or are you expected to represent a social organization or a corporate entity in front of supporters, clients or shareholders?
- Set a realistic working budget. Determine how much you can or want to spend. Will an entrance fee provide revenue for the event? Will contributions be accepted to help offset costs? Or will you be paying for the event yourself? Set aside about ten percent of the estimated budget for a contingency.
- Choose a date and a location. Will you be keeping close to home, perhaps for a backyard garden party, or do you have to travel to another city to choose a convention location? Things to keep in mind when choosing location include room capacity, depending on your number of guests, appropriate lighting, depending on the type of function, parking – sufficient for all guests and within the vicinity of the building site, and any extras such as computer/internet or phone access and electricity supply.
- Make a timeline with specific dates detailing when specific tasks must be done, such as when to send out announcements/invitations, when and where to print any promotional material, selecting a menu and caterer, choosing entertainment if needed, deciding on decorations/floral arrangements, securing accommodations for out of town guests and transportation, signing final contracts and finalizing an agenda for the special day, preparing name tags or place settings, and site setup dates.
- Choose and contact vendors that you will need to work with, such as a caterer, photographer, entertainers, florists, etc. Make sure that all bookings are confirmed in writing and do not pay in full until they arrive at your venue on the specified day. Also, do you need any special licenses or permits for your event, such as a liquor license?
- Choose a team of a few trusted individuals and delegate certain tasks. Check back with them at specified intervals to ensure progress is being made. Use checklists!
Once you’ve done everything reasonably within your power to ensure a successful event, realize that you cannot control everything. Be flexible and remember that if something doesn’t go the way you’ve planned, you’re probably the only one to know. After proper preparation and planning, the time will come when the event will happen. Que sera, sera. What will be, will be. Very likely, your hard work will pay off. At this point, you’ve earned the right to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.