Saturday, January 24, 2015

Event Planning Essentials

I've always been a planner.  I'm Type A, organized, and my day is scheduled down to the minute in my color coded agenda.  I'm infamous among my friends for responding to invites with "let me check my schedule and get back to you", and my Staff class has become accustomed to receiving to-do lists on index cards with deadlines highlighted.  When I start something, I don't stop until it's not only done, but done right.  It's as much a part of who I am as a pearl necklace, and I love it.

Right now I'm in the middle of a huge event planning project.  It's not my first and definitely won't be my last, but I'm really confident in the work I've done and the progress I've made.  Here's how I'm doing it!

Agenda: Does this even need an explanation?  My agenda is an essential for everything, but event planning especially!  It's vital to record dates and deadlines when planning, especially when you're dealing with an event that's far out.

Notebook: When I'm planning something, I like to keep everything in one place.  Phone numbers, addresses, layouts, meeting notes, to-do lists, etc.  I love the Lilly Pulitzer mini-notebooks and for the past two years have devoted one to planning each Military Ball.  Having everything in one place is also great for continuity purposes, because being able to look back at everything is very helpful.

Highlighters and Pens: Two words: color coding.

Networking and communication skills: These two are huge.  Even though I'm not a big people person, being able to effectively communicate is one of the most important skills to have when planning an event.  From booking a venue to working with a caterer, confident communication will make everything so much easier.  Also, don't underestimate the power of networking, especially when you're working with a budget.

Professional attitude: When you're planning a major event, you're representing something larger than yourself.  Whether it be an organization, a group, or even your family; it's always important to keep it professional at all times.  Keep this in mind even after the big day (or night) is over... thank you notes are a must!

Dedication: Planning takes time!  It's not going to be a one-day thing, and it's definitely not going to be an easy task.  Don't quit until it's done right, because the final product will always reflect the quality of work you put in.

Pinterest: I'm always the first to promote Pinterest, but I can't stress enough how great of a resource it is for planning.  From ideas for seating charts to placard designs, a world of craft and creativity is literally at your fingertips.  Take advantage of it!

Timelines: Timelines are my biggest tool for event planning.  In order to work under maximum efficiency, setting deadlines and meeting them is a must.  I usually break my planning timelines down into months, then weeks when I get within a month of the event.  Again, these are amazingly helpful for continuity.

Budgeting and negotiating skills: Planning on a budget isn't easy, especially when you want everything to look perfect.  Put your money where it matters and don't be afraid to negotiate.  You may be surprised how much you can save.

Leadership skills: Part of being a good leader is being able to trust your subordinates, which means not doing all the work yourself.  When you're working on a large-scale project, it's so important to remember that you don't have to do it all alone.  If you're given a committee to work with, do so.  Always ask for input from others and develop a good relationship with your team.  It will make everything much smoother and everyone will feel so much more accomplished and involved when it all comes together.

Although I've listed ten super important things, I've only barely touched on the event planning process.  It's a rewarding challenge that definitely gets easier with experience and although it's a lot of work, few feelings are as amazing as watching it all come together!


  1. This is an awesome post! I'm in Student Council and always planning something and these tips are great!

  2. I am planning a lot stuff recently so this is gonna do really helpful!!

    Love Always,

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! Loving the new blog layout and URL by the way :)

  3. Love the new blog design! And I'm the same way - I would go crazy without my agenda!

    Pick Your Beau

  4. I am definitely going to be saving this post for the future. I am all about organization and happen to be the party planner for both my family and friends. This will help me stay on top of anything and everything that they throw my way. I can also see this helping me at work anytime I will have to organize a group meeting. Thanks again for posting!

    Neal Johnston @ Zynger Event Designs