If you’re like me, event planning is comfortable, exciting and you just know that all your guests will enjoy themselves.
But that’s because I have years of experience! If you’re not like me and event planning stresses you out to the max, I have some tips to help ease your worries and get you excited–or at least not anxious!–in no time.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Planning events always takes longer than you think, especially if this is your first time planning this specific event. For special events like galas, fundraisers, and conferences, start at least 8 months before the event. Ideally, you should give yourself a year or more.
- Branding and Social Media: You need a recognizable brand for your event. Even if you think the event will happen only once, you never know what could happen. People may very well love your event and want to go again next year. Use specific colors and develop an easily recognizable look. Canva has some great tips on color combinations, and you can even design a logo for free on their website–without any graphic design knowledge. Canva has been a lifesaver multiple times for me.
- Be flexible. Event planning is like a giant game of Jenga. You will be adding and sometimes removing pieces constantly while designing your event. For every carefully placed piece you place, something will happen that you think can make it come tumbling down. That is just the nature of events–the more flexible you can be, the easier it is to get through the thousands of tiny things that can crop up. And for your own piece of mind, attendees generally can’t even tell that things went wrong. Being flexible and remaining spacious will help you keep all your hair on your head and keep your wine collection safe.
- Budget. An event planning budget is key to your success. A good rule of thumb is to set your expected budget before your event, and then record prices and estimates as they finalize. This will give you a firm idea of what costs are, and will make future events much easier to plan.
- Delegate. I know, I know. It’s easier if you just do it all. After all, you know what your vision is, and it’s easier than communicating your ideas to other people. But delegating is very important for your sanity, boo. Doing it all yourself can easily lead to fatigue and burnout. Self-care is sexy! Find which tasks can be accomplished by other people, and whenever someones says, “What can I do to help?”: give them something to do.
- Communicate. I have to tell you something. People don’t read your emails. They won’t RSVP before your deadline. They’ll ask you questions about things you’ve covered a million times. That’s just the way it is. It’s not personal, I promise. And that’s why it’s important to communicate communicate communicate. Make it as easy as possible for your guests to access information. Send event reminders, save the dates, and updates on sponsors or items. Send thank yous. Have an event FAQ you can direct people to.
- Get organized. Make to-do lists. Create a binder (electronic or paper). Use an event calendar timeline. The more methods you have in place that you keep organized, the fewer things will fall through the cracks.
- Take photos. If you can, hire a photographer and give them a shot list–you’ll want photos of people having a good time, photos of your special guests and speakers, and photos of any sponsored or donated items. Visual aids will be helpful when you’re sending sponsorship reports, writing event recaps, or working on gaining more attendees for the following year. If you can’t hire a photographer, ask your guests to take photos and upload them to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with a special event hashtag. This will create a gallery for you to go through later.
- Run through with a trusted collaborator or preferably someone who has organized this event before. Tell them how you envision the event going from start to finish. Their job is to ask questions and help you see what you’ve forgotten about.
- Follow up. Follow up with attendees, guests, sponsors, and volunteers. Send a thank you to everyone who helped. Data will help you with future events; in the thank you note, send a link to a short Survey Monkey form. Ask questions and get quotes that will help you figure out how to make the event even better next time.
There are a lot of moving parts, but that’s what makes event planning fun. And what makes you feel so good after a successful event–and ready for a self-care day Drink that wine/kombucha. Sleep in. Eat a taco. Get a massage. You’ve earned it! If you have any questions, have templates or timelines you’d like me to post about next, or would like help with your event, get in touch!