Having worked in the Aiea event planning industry for almost 7 years there are not many surprises left – but occasionally I still get the, “They did what?” pass my lips! Why am I not surprised anymore – because over the years the number one rule for event planning is putting time into the pre planning of the event, and then planning contingencies for the exceptions that may happen?
So where do you start? As far out from the event date as possible as getting space is the first step. In Aiea, where we do a lot of work, it is not unusual to be booking one year out at some of the venues, as they are booked solidly every week.
The first few decisions are the easiest. What is the budget? What is the event about? A party, corporate seminar, convention, festival, wedding, or an anniversary – the list is endless, but one thing remains constant once the event has a name and the type of event is decided, the next step will be to decide where to hold the event. This is where the real event planners stand out from the crowd. So you have an event – okay lets book a hotel is normally the next answer but why would you miss out on an opportunity to create a unique experience?
Tips to Have a Great Gathering of the Corporate Team
Having worked in the event planning industry for almost 15 years there are not many surprises left - but occasionally I still get the "they did what" pass my lips! Why am I not surprised anymore - because over the years the number one rule for event planning is putting time into the pre planning of the event, and then planning contingencies for the exceptions that may happen?
So where do you start? As far out from the event date as possible as getting space is the first step. In Orlando where we do a lot of work it is not unusual to be booking one year out at some of the venues, as they are booked solidly every week.
The first few decisions are the easiest. What is the budget? What is the event about? A party, corporate seminar, convention, festival, wedding, anniversary the list is endless, but one thing remains a constant once the event has a name and the type of event is decided, the next step will be to decide where to hold the event. This is where the real event planners stand out from the crowd. So you have an event - okay lets book a hotel is normally the next answer but why would you miss out on an opportunity to create a unique experience for your client. Stop thinking like a newbie!
Look around the city where you are and start looking for that space that is different! We once held a red carpet fashion show right outside the Lingerie store that was promoting their opening! What's unusual about that? Nothing except the two lane highway outside we had to close, get planning permission and then build a 150ft marquee over the roadway, flooring, carpeting, stage, runway, extravagant lighting. All in one day. That's planning. Or the client that wanted a nautical theme, so we brought in a pirate ship complete with water cannons, pirate uniforms for everybody including the CEO! Ahh Captain. Get the idea, think outside the box - everybody does hotels, make your event unusual. What about an event/launch or party on the top floor of a multistory car park, we have even taken over parking lots for major festivals downtown and invited 5000 people to attend. Used castles for car launches and produced tours for musical competitions.
So know we have an event and the location/venue. Do you need planning permission for the event? If you have tents, or are somewhere public the answer is going to be Yes. Get that permit application in quickly, the city will have lots of questions for you to answer. Don't worry they will let the event happen they just want every answer and t crossed, so allow time for them.
Are you helping with the marketing too? Now is the time to get all this started and the timeline built when the copy, printing, mailing emailing needs to be done. Do you see a pattern starting, timelines, pre planning, etc.
Next on the list is going to be catering commonly called F&B. Is this a sit down event, stand up cocktails, dinner reception, hors-devours, alcohol, etc. Again another decision and one that needs a budget figure. Hot meals catered with full service can cost upwards of $50 a plate or as low as $19. Its all about the budget. Once you have decided on what is required your event planner will have a list of suitable caterers who can produce the meals.
If the event is themed, then the next step is to design the layout of the tables, surroundings, and make the venue become an experience. I remember erecting a Marquee inside a tall ballroom for one client, as they did not want the tradition ballroom space. A local hotel has two weeks of Ice sculpture in their ballrooms and kids can play on the ice slides, play in the snow and experience below freezing conditions - in Central Florida
Another area that will need addressing is entertainment, is their music, DJ what style and what purpose. Is it for dancing to or just background ambience? Again if the event requires a headliner you will have to contact the booking agencies in plenty of time to ensure schedules are available - you did have a second choice ready as well didn't you?
So now we have an event, the date(s), a theme, a venue, food and drink, entertainment and the permit has been granted by the city!
What about Sound and lights and video for the event - usually called Audio Visual or AV again the event planner will know what and where to get the appropriate systems from and the size of equipment required depending on the number of attendees. While we are looking at AV, we may as well mention the videographer to film and record the event for the DVD and also the photographer to take a zillion shots during the evening making sure to get everybody in at least one picture!
The event date is obviously getting closer. If this is a corporate event you will want to make sure that there is all the appropriate insurance and Public/General Liability insurance certification in place. The policy should be for at least $1 million dollars of protection.
The fire Marshall always wants to know about events in their city and no matter how big or small, a phone call to answer their questions and get approval is always part of the planning stages. It is your responsibility to contact the fire Marshall not theirs to contact you.
One area that a number of people forget about is how are people getting to the event, are people flying in, are you booking the tickets? And if so what transportation are you providing from the airport for them? We use certain limo services that have given us great service and deals over the years and we know that guests are in good hands.
So far we have overcome every problem but as this is a summery of event planning, every event will be different. Seminars for instance will need registration tables, classroom style layouts, etc each event has its own nuance.
On the day of the event, everything comes together as planned, if you didn't plan for the contingency then panicking doesn't help. Look at every part of the timetable and second guess what if scenarios? Plan around those too so that your day runs smooth.
Lastly the day isn't over until the last guest leaves..errr no! until the venue has been restored to how you found it, until all the decorations are removed, the catering has packed up and left, the AV guys have got all their gear in the vans and the venue operations personnel have finally said goodnight and thank you.
Steve A Brown
Event Planner - Resource Management Alliance
What Makes a Great Bar Mitzvah?
You are recently engaged, and now it is time to start researching wedding reception ideas. But where should you start?
All good weddings start with a plan, and listed below are 6 tips that you can use to make sure you plan the wedding of your dreams.
Start looking for a reception location early
The first step is to figure out when you want to get married. Summer and fall weddings open the opportunity for an outdoor wedding reception; however these are also the most popular times to get married.
You need to move fast and start early to make sure you get your first choice of reception location during the busy seasons.
One way to narrow down your choices is to choose either an indoor or outdoor wedding reception. Then, make a list of potential locations and start visiting them as soon as possible.
Think about your budget and only look at options that fit your budget
Your budget will play a big part in deciding where to have your wedding reception. Depending on where you live, the average wedding can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000.
If you are having a large wedding with a limited budget, you may want to stick with indoor wedding facilities that offer reasonable wedding reception packages.
Outdoor tented weddings tend to cost a little more. Things like silverware, chairs and glassware will have to be rented, and you will have to work with a caterer that specializes in tented weddings.
Book wedding vendors early
In addition to booking your wedding reception location early, you should book your other wedding vendors like photographers, bands and florists as early as possible.
Good wedding vendors are booked up more than a year in advance. To ensure you get your first choice, start researching and meeting with your vendors shortly after booking your wedding reception space.
Choose a wedding theme for a unique reception
If you want to stand out a little from the crowd, consider incorporating a wedding theme into your reception. A wedding theme can be as simple as a certain type of flower, like daisy, or a season, like fall harvest.
More elaborate wedding themes include Cinderella or country western.
A popular option with any type of wedding theme is to include a signature drink. Different types of martinis, like apple or blue, are great options.
Ask a family member or good friend to take your gifts home
The last thing you want to be worried about when leaving your reception is the location of your wedding gifts.
Ask a good friend or family member (preferably someone reliable and sober who won't forget) prior to the wedding to be in charge of collecting your wedding gifts and moving them to a secure location after the reception.
Take a few moments to look around and enjoy the reception
Weddings take a lot of time and effort to plan. During your reception, take a few moments to look around and enjoy the results of all of your hard work.
Eat the food from your caterer, have a few signature drinks, admire the floral arrangements and enjoy your family and friends. Wedding receptions only last a few hours, so make sure you step back and soak in the atmosphere.
The above 6 ideas aren't everything you will need for planning your wedding, but it is a good start towards the perfect end result which is a wedding memory that will make you smile for the rest of your life.