By: Shelly Sobol It’s not that I’m asking for some cheese to go with my ‘whine’, it’s just that lately I’ve learned more about event planning than I ever thought possible in a short amount of time. I’ve been working at Partners for 7 years this July and while I’ve never directly planned a board meeting, annual conference or training. I’ve sat by and listened; listened intently to everything that can and will happen when planning an event. I’ve quietly collected this knowledge for the time that I’ll need to use it. And that time is now! Last November, an absolutely incredible man asked me to marry him, and of course I said yes! Last December, Partners offered for me to be a part of their Social Committee for 2015, and I said yes to that as well. It’s time to roll up my sleeves. This is what I’ve learned from my planning so far:
- Delegate: Your sanity and missed sleep isn’t worth having things just absolutely perfect in only the way you would do something. For my wedding I have three wonderful bridesmaids and family who are willing to help. For our office holiday party, we have a team of 4 individuals that will assist with contract negotiations, menu selections, entertainment and finances. We’ll divvy up the work and report back to one another. Tip: If you feel that you need to keep an eye on one’s individual tasks, a good recommendation is to pair them up with a seasoned veteran to make sure the job gets done.
- Back to the Future: Things will ALWAYS take longer than you think. Bottom line, end of story. Create a countdown for the event. Evenly space out items throughout each month and always allow extra “padded” time. That way, if you miss a deadline, you’re not completely behind the figurative eight ball. Sometimes, just an extra week is enough time to put out a fire.
- Be bespoke: Cookie cutter is out of style (especially once Pinterest became a household name). Take every opportunity to make this event about you and your guests in a unique way. Last year for our holiday party, Partners created a signature cocktail in a blue shade similar to our logo and even had a slideshow playing on repeat during cocktail hour. We’re working on creative elements for the wedding like a personalized hashtag, our getaway car, and food selections. It only takes one great idea to set your event apart and it may not cost anything!
- F&B-creative: ASKING NEVER HURTS. Say that to yourself again. All they can do is say no and most businesses are willing to negotiate within reason. Going to a hotel for a holiday party may seem out of budget but ask for wiggle room. If they have a food and beverage (F&B) minimum, ask if the open bar can go towards it. Another way to negotiate is to ask if they’ll be willing to waive the rental fee in lieu of a guaranteed minimum. It’s all about numbers so see what works best for your event.
It’s fun and crazy to be spending my summer simultaneously planning our wedding and our company holiday party. My days are mostly thinking about menus, entertainment, budgets, locations and how to make everything work. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world, but I’m realizing now how grateful I am for all of those years of listening to meeting planners. With the several Certified Meeting Professionals (CMPs) and Certified Association Executives (CAEs) in our office, I’ve learned a lot. If you’ve planned a wedding or event before, what else would you add to the list?