Steps to Planning a Social Event

How to plan a successful event can vary depending on the type of event hosted, but within the category of social versus corporate event or fundraiser, the process can be outlined into 5 major steps. Next week, we’ll outline basic steps to planning a corporate event or fundraiser.

1. Determine your theme, style and design

Before you can really book anything, you need to determine what type of party you’re having and what you want the theme and ambiance to portray. Elegant and sophisticated? Lively fun? Focus on the guest of honor or on the guests as a whole? It’s important to do this step first, as your choice of venue, caterer, invitations, music and décor will then be easier to determine and will not clash with your design choices. If you book a beachside hotel and then decide you want a country theme, you’re going to have to work hard to pull the venue and the design together.

A red damask invitation invites guests to a quinceanera. The elegance of the invitation determines the theme of the event and already sets the stage and expectation for guests.

Invitation courtesy of Tiny Prints

If you struggle with this step, you might want to skip ahead to step 2 to hire an event professional. As event coordinators, we help create design and a consistent theme to take into all of your other booking decisions.

Feel free to read our take on How to Create a Theme.

Invitation courtesy of Tiny Prints

Brown and yellow themed invitation to a 50th anniversary party shows elegance, yet loose and whimsical.
2. Hire your venue and vendors

Booking your vendors needs to be one of the first things you do, as you want to ensure they have availability, as well as get started on the most time-consuming part of planning an event. Once you have this out of the way, the vendors will help you plan and most of your work as host(ess) is done!

The Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco provides a more formal ballroom setting to an event with glass chandeliers and paneled walls. However, depending on the theme, florals and design of tables, the event does not have to be a formal affair.

Create a line-item budget, find your venue, meet with at least 2 but no more than 5 of each type of vendor (more than 1 to compare but not too many to blur distinctions), and then ensure each vendor is able to work your chosen venue, work with each other and has the expertise and portfolio necessary to create the desired feel of your event. See our advice on Choosing Vendors.

A line item budget for an event helps you determine vendors, venue and total cost without going over budget. A professional event coordinator can best help determine line item budgets.

I recommend the event coordinator be the first vendor you hire (if you didn’t already in step 1!), as we have the experience necessary to help create an accurate budget, suggest venues, and recommend vendors we know are reliable and what you’re looking for. Often, event coordinators also hold discounted rates with vendors – we do! If you’re having a smaller affair, we can also help you determine what vendors you might actually need.

To be Continued…Steps 3-5 on Thursday!

If you would like to discuss your event with us, please feel free to contact us. We offer consultation-only services and a la carte help through full coordination. We can also provide you with a proposal for your event to show you how we can help plan, design and coordinate your event. If you’re interested, set up a complimentary initial consultation!

Check back on Thursday to see part 2!