Event Planning Tips, From the Experts
5 Tips for Surviving Your Very First Event
QC tutor Regina Young is the owner and creative director of Meant2Be events, a top Arizona wedding planning firm that manages 30-40 weddings a year. In this post, Regina shares some of the hard-earned lessons she’s learned on the way to becoming a wedding planning pro.
Remember the day that you booked your first client ever? The sheer excitement that someone was willing, heck, excited to pay you for your expertise! I hope you celebrated big time! That is a huge hurdle to overcome. Many people don’t succeed at any type of business because they are afraid to “ask for the money.” You knew in that moment that you were on your way!
Months or weeks go by, emails and phone calls, maybe even meetings in person, as you worked to develop a relationship with your client. They trust you (hopefully!) and are ready to actually tie the knot. And then the day finally comes when it will become clear if you actually know what you are doing…it’s wedding day.
I laugh now at the crazy stories of my first couple of weddings. It’s a miracle I am still in business. Broken chairs, soggy guests, and a woman who caught her arm on fire. Yep, that sums up my first two weddings pretty accurately.
However, on my journey to becoming a successful event planner, I’ve learned there is a bottom line to learning how to not just survive your first wedding, but how to thrive during events instead. I’m going to share some of that wisdom with you:
If I asked you who the most important person at a wedding is, what would you say? Of course, the couple. They sign your contract, they pay your bills—so your clients, right? Nope.
All through-out the planning process, your couple is your client, but on the wedding day, the venue and vendors should become your focus.
Why? As the planner, you don’t do make up, take pictures or cater. You have service providers who become an extension of your services. They execute the details for you. If you don’t set them up for success, then the wedding is a disaster! However, if they exceed expectations, then the couple is overjoyed—all because of what you did for them! You created the best team for them to make their dreams come true!
Here are few things to help facilitate a great day (pending you created a comprehensive timeline for your team):
One of our prep tasks for a wedding is to label water bottles with our branding for our vendors. We usually bring a dozen or so to give out to stylists, photographers and videographers.
Let me tell you how much a hot sweaty photographer appreciates a bottle of water mid-session!
2. Time management
Stay on time. This is your timeline, enforce it. Your photographer has a whole game plan based on the timing you gave them. So assist in moving people to where and when they need to be.
3. Keep the wedding party on track
One of the things we do after photography sessions but before the ceremony is bring everyone walking down the aisle to one gathering place for their 10 min warning. It goes something like this:
“You have 10 min to freshen up, change shoes, and update your Facebook status. The next time you see me it’s time to party—ready or not I will roll you down the aisle!” My ceremonies start on time, my dinner goes down on time, every time.
4. Love your banquet captain
Seriously, whatever they need, however they need things to go, do it. Once you are in the reception, your banquet captain is in charge, not you. You can pretend to be, sure. But the servers listen to one person, and that person is the banquet captain.
If you need something to get rearranged on the fly, say another food allergy that popped up, or an extra toaster wants to speak, you need the banquet captain to make it happen. At the end of the night, that banquet captain also reports back to the catering manager who booked the client. You want her referral in the future. Your banquet captain can make sure you never work there again if they feel it’s necessary.
5. Thank you notes
We actually write all of our thank you notes to vendors during a break on the wedding day and they go in the mail that night! It’s such a great reminder of how much you appreciate all of their help, especially while their feet are still sore from the weekend.
You will have your own stories soon enough, or maybe you have already done a wedding or two! You still might want to consider some of these ideas to up your game day.
In the end, your couples will come and go. Your venues and vendors are a part of your team, and how often you get to work with your team depends on how you treat them. I should also note, last year 92% of our business came from referrals!