It’s the holidays, which means so many things: holiday dinners, New Year’s brunches and even the start to engagement season! Those who know me best know that I am a bit of a wedding and party planning nerd. I love creating an environment down to the smallest details with fun and excitement to make the best experience possible. Having just spent two years planning the perfect celebration, I’m excited to share my favorite tips and tricks that can be applied to any event, no matter how big or small.
Base Everything on the Guest Experience
This is the number one thing people forget when planning an event. It may be an event totally about you, like a wedding, but you’re really hosting it for your guests to enjoy, so make sure every aspect reflects that. From table settings to decor and fun, every detail truly matters in the guest experience. People truly care about a few things: is the food good, will they have fun and will they be comfortable. If they answer all three of these questions with a yes before they go, when they’re there and when they leave, then they’ll be loyal attendees to every one of your parties going forward.
Make Sure the Event Flows
There’s nothing worse than being a wedding with huge downtime where it’s neither eating time nor dancing time. That’s when events get awkward and people begin to think about leaving. Ensure that you keep the party moving with a set schedule of events. It’s OK to verge from the plan if the vibe of the event changes, so flexibility is key, but little things like making sure dinner is served on time will help your guests from starving and complaining. Keep the party going with planned music, fun games and special features, like fireworks at you New Year’s Eve bash.
Keep a Consistent Theme and Style
To many people find themselves trying to do too much to plan an event, but the less the better. Sure, a ton of decorations work for a Christmas party, but they shouldn’t take away from the comfort of the event and they should fit the style of the event – you wouldn’t have kid-theme decor at an adult’s only holiday shindig. Same goes for the big events like weddings. You want the style to reflect you, and keeping it consistent helps to set the expectation. For our wedding, we kept a simple color palette of three major colors – navy, ivory and gold – to ensure that the room didn’t look overly crowded with different decor.
Let the Venue Speak for Itself
Many people often choose a empty, blank-slate venue to build everything up, but finding a venue that speaks for itself helps to reduce the stress (and price tag) of decorating. The uniqueness of venues available are growing, from barns to breweries and hotel ballrooms, any type of event can fit in any space if the style fits. It would be difficult to host a royal wedding in a small barn when a ballroom is the best fit. Finding the perfect venue exists, and finding one to fit the flow and style of your event is crucial to its success.
Be Thoughtful in All Aspects of the Event Planning Process
Every time you make a decision there are a few questions you should ask yourself: Does this fit the style of the event? Will this fit in the flow of the event? Will my guests enjoy it/will it add to the guests experience? Is this a waste of time or money?
These are crucial to decision making. For our big day, we opted to not do the traditional wedding favor, and worked in smaller enhancements to make it memorable. When it came to price and time, ordering favors could be consuming: roughly $1 per person times 100 to 150 people adds up really fast, plus time to assemble and transport seemed quite exhausting. Instead, we opted to pick up a few cigars from the local shop, a handful of $1 cutters from Amazon and a small pack of custom matches to feature a mini cigar bar – something my husband and all of his friends loved!
We used the remaining balance from our favors budget to set up a mini lemonade stand at the ceremony for guests who arrived early with a light refreshment in the late summer warmth. It was such a hit and people loved the idea of pre-cocktail tasters to keep themselves from getting parched during our 35-minute outdoors ceremony.