Planning an event is stressful enough, but things can turn even more chaotic if you neglect to prepare properly. Unfortunately, with all that goes into planning and prepping for an event, there is a lot of room for mistakes. But not to worry! We’ve made a handy list of all the most common event planning mistakes, and of course how you can avoid making them.
Not scheduling enough time to set up and/or tear down
Having enough time scheduled is crucial. It’s better to overestimate how much time you need than be stressing out through the entire event because you know you’ll have to usher people out on time and hurry along with the cleaning. For this reason, make sure your booking includes plenty of time for the event, as well as the time needed before and after to set up and tear down. You want to schedule it so that you have at least 15 minutes from the time you finish setting up to when the guests will start arriving, preferably 30 minutes. As for the teardown, you don’t need to have any time in between, but make sure guests are escorted out in a timely manner without feeling like they’re being swiftly kicked through the exits. The last thing you need is to be stressing out about having enough time to decorate properly or feel like you have to rush your guests out the door when the party is over.
Neglecting to confirm with vendors in advance
Ideally, both you and your vendors will be keeping each other in the loop. But as we know, things don’t always work out that way. Miscommunications happen, communication in general drops off, or sometimes you just get stuck with a company that doesn’t quite have it together. Keep in relatively frequent communication with each of your vendors. Obviously you don’t need to harass them weekly, but don’t hesitate to contact them with questions when they arise to keep that open line of communication. Then, of course, confirm plans a month out, then a week, then a day before. It would be super unfortunate to be missing a key element of the event because there was a miscommunication with a vendor and they didn’t show up!
Failing to make a plan for bad weather
The preparation for bad weather should come long before the 7-day forecast is out. In fact, you should be planning for the worst from the very beginning. Incorporating a “bad weather plan” into every single step of the planning process will be a lifesaver in the unlikely event you do face rain, hail, snow, heatwave, etc. You need to know what you’re going to do if the power goes out or if guests will have trouble getting to the venue safely. You will also need to take steps to ensure that the venue will still be safe in spite of the weather outside. And, in a worst-case, you will need to know what to do if you must completely reschedule the event.
Another tip is to read the fine print of the contract with your venue before you sign to see if they have what is called a force majeure clause. A force majeure clause is included in most venue contracts to protect the facility from being held liable if they are not able to hold up their end of the agreement due to circumstances out of their control, i.e. natural disasters.
Not communicating adequately with guests
What’s an event without guests? You may soon find out if you neglect to properly communicate plans with them! Or, you might even make the mistake of over-communicating, bombarding guests with unnecessary information. You really need to put yourself in the shoes of a guest and consider how much information you’d want to receive leading up to an event. Also make sure that they have all of the necessary information such as time and location (duh), agenda, transportation options, etc.
Not employing enough help
This is an oversight you can’t afford to make. Hired and volunteered help is what makes an event work, and if you’re lacking in this department, the event might crash and burn. Having enough helping hands can be the difference between a quick, smooth set up with plenty of time to spare and a rush job that’s cutting it way too close. Also, you don’t want to be working into the wee hours of the night trying to tear everything down and clean with just a handful of people. Set up and tear down is one thing, but you also want to make sure you have enough help during the event too. Security, servers, people to answer questions and help guide guests, etc. It’s just better to have more help than you think you need. If you’re in a pinch with your budget, consider recruiting high school or college students looking for volunteer hours.
It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared
Live by this rule. Breathe this rule. When it comes to an event, your brand or your client’s brand is on the line. If your event doesn’t go as planned, it could really make you or them look bad in the eyes of consumers. So plan ahead, be wise, and don’t make these mistakes!