How to Become a Party Planner: Organizing Milestone Parties
I’m going to get real with you for a moment, and be perfectly honest… When I used to think of party planning, I would typically just think of birthday parties – and that’s it. Before I started properly learning about the industry, I would have never guessed just how many opportunities a certified party planner actually has available to them!
Perhaps you’re an aspiring party planner, and want to better understand ALL the different types of parties this profession will allow you to be a part of. If so, then this article is right up your alley!
Here, we’re going to look specifically at ‘milestone’ parties. As you’ll quickly see, these types of special occasions are remarkably varied, and cover many different types of celebrations. So, if you’re wondering how to become a party planner, keep reading!
We’ll not only break down what milestone parties are; we’ll reveal the BEST possible way to get your professional party planning career started on the right foot!
What is a ‘Milestone’ Party?
Quite literally, a milestone refers to a roadside marker that visually represents the distance to a particular location. In a person’s life, when something major and monumental occurs, this is considered to be a milestone.
It’s typically a special, memorable moment that stands out for one reason or another. It can signify the start of a new chapter, reflect hard work and successes, and celebrate important accomplishments. Due to its sentimental nature, a milestone moment will always be near-and-dear to the guest of honor’s heart.
Here are just a few examples of what can be considered a milestone in a person’s life:
- Pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, and baby showers
- Family reunions
- Graduations and proms
These are all exciting times that deserve to be celebrated! As a professional party planner, YOU can help the guest of honor properly commemorate such special occasions with their friends and family. Your passion and expertise can take their milestone to a whole other level!
They need only sit back and soak it all in!
What Characterizes a Milestone Party?
Because a milestone party is such a personal affair, it’s only natural that it be customized to the guest of honor’s personality and interests. If she is more reserved, the best milestone party for her may be a smaller, more intimate get-together. Alternately, if the guest of honor is extremely social, with a huge group of friends, the party may be on a much bigger, more lavish scale.
Either way, your goal as the party planner is to help create a unique, unforgettable festivity!
Putting Together a Milestone Party
Organizing a milestone party is very similar to any other event you’d put together. There are certain, necessary steps that absolutely must be taken. Let’s take a look at 4 key elements you’ll need to factor into any milestone party…
1 – The Initial Consultation
No matter what type of event you’re planning, a client consultation will ALWAYS be critical! Here, you’ll develop the concept of the guest of honor’s ideal event, and figure out how to realistically make it come to life.
In other areas of the event planning industry, you’d typically be meeting directly with the guest of honor for this initial consultation. Sometimes, this may still be the case for milestone parties. However, more often than not, this special celebration will actually be a complete surprise for the guest of honor.
As such, your client for milestone parties may not always be the actual person being celebrated – even though the event is to be catered around and for them. Instead, you’ll regularly be putting together this party with the help of a close friend or family member.
Since you may not always be able to confer with the guest of honor themselves, it’s especially important that you ask the right questions during the initial consultation. You need the friend or family member to provide as much pertinent information as possible!
Some crucial questions you should make sure to ask include:
- How many guests are expected?
- What is the budget?
- Does the client (a.k.a. the friend or family member to the guest of honor) have any recommendations for decor, music, food, drinks, and other activities?
- What is the guest of honor celebrating?
- What is the guest of honor’s personality and interests?
- How does the guest of honor feel about this particular milestone? (For instance, are they excited, nervous, etc.?)
- Has the guest of honor ever expressed any preferences for what they’d like to see from such an event?
There are, of course, tons of other relevant questions you can ask. Think of the above list of inquiries as a jumping-off point where you can start. Ultimately, the idea is that you want to get to know the guest of honor as much as possible, so that you can feel confident in organizing a milestone party that THEY will most enjoy!
2 – Venues and Dates
Next, you’ll need to figure out where this milestone party will be held. The size of the guest list and the budget will factor heavily into the venues being considered.
Ensure to do thorough research! Look over the venue’s website and social media pages. Read any and all reviews you can find. Don’t hesitate to get your client’s feedback, too. They know the guest of honor best, and can provide insight into which venues would be more aligned with their personality and interests.
When securing a venue, remember: timing is very important! Try to book the venue for a date that falls on (or near) the milestone in question. Typically, this will fall on the weekend nearest the milestone taking place.
3 – Invitations
As with any event, there will need to be some method put into place in order to actually invite the guests. Depending on the size of the party, there may be flexibility in terms of how fancy the invitations need to be.
If the milestone party is fancier, and of a larger scale, formal invitations may be the best option. Depending on what your client requests, physical invitations can be sent out by mail, or electronically by e-mail.
On the other hand, if the celebration is considerably smaller, formal invitations may not be necessary. Your client may be perfectly content with the guests being contacted by email or phone, and invited in a much more casual manner.
Regardless of how the guests are invited, make sure you provide them with the following information:
- The date, time, and location of the event
- Whether they can bring a +1 or not
- The dress code (if applicable)
- Dinner options (if applicable)
- Whether they should bring a gift, prepare a toast, etc.
4 – Vendors and Suppliers
Event decor, refreshments, and some form of entertainment are likely to be expected. It is a party, after all! Depending on what your client wants for the guest of honor, additional services may also be requested for the occasion, such as a professional photographer.
If you know and/or have worked with industry vendors or suppliers who would be a great fit for this milestone party, feel free to rely on your network connections! If not, ensure to do just as much research when making this decision as you would when securing the venue.
The right vendors and suppliers can help you elevate a milestone party to the next level! However, the wrong vendors and suppliers can undo all the hard work you’ve put into the guest of honor’s special occasion. Don’t put your reputation in jeopardy by choosing an ill-fitting vendor or supplier.
A good rule of thumb to abide by is: if you wouldn’t feel confident hiring them for your own event, don’t hire them for your client!
How to Become a Party Planner
Just as you would for any other area of professional planning, the single most effective way to become a party planner is to get expert training from a reputable event planning school! Not only will you be tutored by a working industry specialist; you’ll also receive a professional certification upon completion of your program!
Proper certification is a sure way to strengthen your resume, make you more impressive to potential clients, and help you stand out from the competition!