I love planning events. I love working closely with my clients to construct the event of their dreams. However, it’s not uncommon for me to be brought on at near the end of the planning process. A lot of people want to plan their event themselves, and that’s totally fine! Planning a successful event is a lot of work, but it’s doable if you take it one step at a time.
Whether you are hiring an event planner or looking to plan your next event yourself, here are three things you can do to take your event to the next level.
A Great Invitation
Your invitation is your first impression. It should stop people in their tracks, but it also has a job to do: It must convey the theme and expectations of the event. If you are having a casual backyard barbecue, your invitation should mirror that atmosphere.
Invitations do one of two things: They convince people to attend, or they convince them that they don’t need to. You want people to feel like they’ll miss out if they aren’t there.
Consider using a unique shape for your invitation or even something three dimensional. Having a super bowl watch party? Send out invitations cut in the shape of footballs or remote controls. Having your event on the beach? Why not use actual beach balls as your invitations. I did this for my wedding and got so many compliments from my friends and family. The sky really is the limit.
And don’t forget to include an RSVP card. Digital RSVPs are great, even if you send out paper invitations. Just include the web address on the invitation and people can respond online. I’m a big fan of this approach if you are doing a multi-function event. Your guests can RSVP for each part of the event at once. Paper RSVP cards have their own advantages. They make cute momentos of the event and they let guests who can’t attend still send gifts.
The most common question I get about invitation is: How early do I need the RSVP cards back?
You want your RSVPs to be in three weeks before your event, at the latest.
The reality is, not everyone is going to respond and you will need to track people down. Three weeks gives you time to track everyone down before you have to provide final numbers to your vendors.
A Killer Venue
The venue really can make or break a party; the pressure to pick the right one is intense.
One of the questions I always ask my clients is: Are you having a lot of out-of-towners at your event?
If a large percentage of your guests are coming from out of town (seventy percent or more), or you planned more than one event function, it can make sense to have your event at the hotel where most of them are staying. If your event is mostly locals, it can make more sense to hunt for a unique local spot that fits your budget.
The location needs to fit the vibe of the event. Often, people fall in love with a venue without taking into consideration the other aspects of their event. Sure that barn may be gorgeous and just the right size, but do you really want to have an outdoor event, in Texas, in July?
Whatever you do, don’t forget to settle on your guest list before you commit to a location.
Decorations are the fun part of event planning, but they can also be the most daunting. Pinterest and Instagram make it easier than ever for people to collect great party ideas, but if you’re not careful you can find yourself overwhelmed.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by planning the decorations for your event, go slow and stick to what you are comfortable with. If you like flowers, purchase or create floral centerpieces. Does color tickle your fancy? Balloons might be a great option for you. Don’t be afraid to look at websites and blogs for inspiration, but keep your goals realistic for your budget and skills.
Decorations are where your personality intersects with your event to make an experience that is unique to you.
You want to create that wow moment as your guests arrive. You can be as understated or as bold as you like. There really is infinite flexibility.
One of my favorite things to do when it comes to decorations is multi-use centerpieces. Say you are having a lunch event and a dinner, you can take the centerpieces on the tables at lunch, make a few changes, and use them again at dinner. This is a great way to get the most bang for your buck without compromising quality.
The success of your next event is all in the planning. Don’t overlook the invitations. Take things up a notch by going with an unconventional invitation and allowing digital RSVPs. Pick a location that suits your personality, but also works with the time of year and size of your guest list. And remember to have fun with the decorations, that’s when you can let your personality really come through.