Event Planning ABCs

This is advice intended for event planners to pass along to their engaged couples…

A: Attire – The search for the perfect attire is a universal dilemma, but there are other forms of attire to think about as well. You’ll need to discuss the groom’s and groomsmen’s outfits, the bridesmaid’s dresses, (and remember that the maid of honor and best man’s outfits are usually slightly different from the rest of the bridal party) the Mother of the bride’s dress, and the dress for the flower girl.

B: Budgeting – Budgeting is both the most important and the most overlooked facet of event planning. Many events go over budget, but this can easily be avoided with careful organization. Most brides get themselves into trouble because they don’t realize all the costs associated with a event, and therefore don’t factor them into their budget.

C: Catering – Any successful event requires a good caterer, so it’s important to find someone you like. Try them out for a smaller event like an engagement party. Then, if you had a good experience, hire them for the event. Great food is important to a great party, so be sure to hire someone you like and feel comfortable with.

D: Décor – Dreaming about colors, aisle runners, balloons, centerpieces and the rest of your decorations can be a ton of fun, but only if you have an efficient way to organize them. The last thing you want is a notebook full of tons great ideas that don’t go together.

E: Etiquette – There’s nothing like a wedding to cause confrontation. And even with more and more couples moving away from tradition, most etiquette is still applicable. Therefore we definitely recommend brushing up on your etiquette. There are plenty of great etiquette books out there, but be careful about the advice your clients get off of the Internet; not everyone is an expert.

F: Flowers – Flowers are a huge part of most events – and an expensive one. You can cut down on expenses (and up the event’s eco-friendly factor) by setting the event date during a time when the flowers your clients want will be in season. There are plenty of florists who offer in-season local options for floral décor.

G: Guest List – The guest list will be one of the first things your client will tackle in the event planning process. It’s important to have a solid guest list for many reasons, but the first and most important is its effect on the budget. More guests equal more money. More guests will require a bigger venue, more table rentals, more centerpieces, more expensive catering, and so on and so fourth.

H: Honeymoon – Think relaxing. After months of event planning, your couples are going to need some serious relaxation. They should give themelves a little time to just enjoy each other’s company.

I: Internet – There are so many event resources on the web these days that even the most non-crafty bride can find ways to DIY. But the abundance of event sites can get a little overwhelming. Your job is to help your clients see their way past all this and enjoy their day by trusting you.

J: Jewelry – Once your clients have found their dress, the next step is to style it up with jewelry, shoes, and accessories. Remember that the jewelry they wear on the big day is more likely to be handed down and worn by their daughter than the dress is, so they should chose something that’s reflective of their personality and will be a true keepsake for their children.

K: Knight in Shining Armor – Remember him? Yes, it’s easy to loose sight of what’s really important when the event planning starts to consume your client’s every thought. Every once and a while, tell them to take a moment to pause and reflect on the wonderful man they’re about to marry. It will bring them back to center and help them maintain perspective throughout the planning process.

L: Location – Picking the right location for the event can be quite a process for the client. They may already have a location in mind, but there are numerous questions to consider when deciding. Does the venue have enough parking? Restrooms? Handicap accessibility? Is it too far away from the guest’s hotel to expect them to drive back and fourth? Listening and guiding is essential at this phase.

M: Music – From choosing a DJ to picking out the song for the father-daughter dance, music will be an integral part of the event. They will need music for both the ceremony and reception. Luckily, today we have tons of options: CD’s, a live band, iPod play lists and so on.

N: Name Change – Not every bride takes her spouse’s last name, but 88.9% of brides still plan to make the shift. Check this out for the skinny of your bride’s want to change their name.

O: Officiant – More and more couples are choosing an officiant that they know and who has some relation to them personally. Choosing an officiant that they feel comfortable with is very important, especially since many couples will be going through marriage classes with their officiant.

P: Photography – If your couples splurge on nothing else event-related, splurge on photography. The pictures they have will be invaluable not only to them, but to their children, grandchildren, parents and friends. Each photographer is different so take the time to visit with several photographers and find the one whose style and quality they like. They may regret overspending on their cake or centerpieces, but they’ll never regret overspending on their pictures.

Q: Quality – There is a theory that any time the word “wedding” is mentioned prices skyrocket without any effect on the quality of services. In truth, most of the time this theory is not true. When vendors hear “wedding” they do charge more, but it’s because they realize that they’re dealing with the most important day of someone’s life, and therefore the product requires much more attention to detail than a product for another occasion. It is your job to help your clients navigate through this and find the best value for them so they aren’t overpaying for anything.

R: RSVPs – Ah, the eternal struggle between the engaged couple and guest’s RSVPs. Inevitably, one or two guests always forgets to send theirs, or it gets lost in the mail. Enter the age of Online RSVPs. Now, they can include their event website URL right on their invitation and send guests right to their event website to RSVP.

S: Stationery – If your clients think all they need to worry about is invitations, think again. They’ll need engagement announcements, save the date cards, and invites; RSVPs, and thank you cards for all of their related events.

T: Thank-You Notes – If they follow no other etiquette, encourage them to send thank-you notes, and in a timely fashion. It’s common courtesy, and it makes people feel appreciated. Most guests spend a lot of money to prepare for and go to a event, and it’s very nice to be acknowledged.

U: Union – Ultimately, this event is about your clients coming together to form a family. But this union also signifies the union of both of their families. Everyone’s situation is different, and there’s no set protocol for how to handle every situation that may arise. But they can choose to handle whatever may come with class.

V: Vendors – Dealing with vendors is stressful, and 90% of the battle is usually just finding someone that your clients trust and feel comfortable with. Take the time to compare packages, services, references, and explain the options thoroughly to your clients.

W: Wedding Party – Ironically, their attendants (especially bridesmaids) can become a major source of stress for some brides. That’s why it’s so important for your clients to really put thought into who they select as their attendants. It’s normal to want their best friends standing up with them, but they also need to think about who’s actually going to fulfill the responsibilities (and there are a lot) of being in their party.

X: Xanax – Yes, Xanax -just kidding. But seriously, events can be stressful, so it’s important that your clients take care of themselves. Encourage your clients to let you do the heavy lifting and worrying and encourage them to enjoy their engagement. Oh, and exercise is a major stress reliever for engaged clients!

Y: Your Registry –Registries are changing. Couples have more options than ever, and because most couples live together before marriage, registry items are getting less and less traditional. However, it is still a major faux pas to put the registry information on the invitation. So have your clients list their registry information on their personal event website, and include the link to their website on their invitation.

Z: Zany – Events today are getting a more personal touch. Couples are putting their own unique stamp on their festivities, and we love it! Don’t be afraid to break out of tradition and get a little zany! They’ll know what’s right for them, whether that be holding a non-traditional bash, or keeping is simple with a personalized theme.