After a couple of weeks of collecting responses, it seems that the overwhelming response to our question, “What is the hardest part of planning an event?”, was regarding the unpredictability that comes with events. Some said that it’s hard to figure out numbers for food and drink, when you don’t know how much people will want. Will everyone drink wine or will they want champagne? Some worried about weather or if too many or too few people would show up, while others just pointed out the unpredictability of guests! Will they be bored?
Events are unpredictable in a lot of ways! There is an innate “surprise” element when you host an event, just because there are so many factors in producing a great time for all of your guests. Although it was not the intention of this poll and blog series to advocate hiring a planner, with this feedback, honestly that’s my best advice! Developing contingency plans, figuring out what contingencies you need to plan for, and handling the surprises that will occur on the day of the wedding or event are exactly reasons why I recommend people hire a good event coordinator. It’s not as glamorous of a job description as designing décor, making something elegant or ensuring everything flows nicely during the event, but managing the unpredictability is exactly what we do. We have experience that others don’t have, and through that experience we’ve seen a lot of situations happen that require back-up plans! We’ve dealt with surprise weather (this past weekend, for example, most Bay Area brides didn’t prepare for rain, but rain it did!). We’ve seen events that didn’t go so well, whose guests were bored, food or drink ran out, or not enough guests showed up and that means we know why those events weren’t successful. Most importantly, we eliminate stress. It’s our job to deal with the surprises, to make sure that everyone (including you!) is having a great time, and to keep any and all problems behind the scenes. No matter how well you plan, every event will have a glitch, so set someone else up to deal with it – a professional!
Ok, so enough about why to hire a planner! My best advice for calculating numbers, planning for everyone to enjoy themselves and providing the event that will best cover all the necessary bases is to know your guests. I know this is hard to do in every event situation, but part of being a great host is knowing what your guests like, who they are, and what they’re most likely going to enjoy. Are they beer drinkers or wine drinkers? Are they habitually late or right on time? Do they eat up finger food or are they not going to eat a lot? If you truly know who you’re hosting, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how best to prepare. In fact, if you know your guests well, you might know better how much of what to provide and what types of activities to plan than your coordinator! 🙂
Overall best advice for factors you can’t control – if you’re having a good time, your guests will have a good time. It’s unlikely that your guests will remember the exact food you served, or what was in the specialty cocktail. Their vision of the event will be colored by their image of their hosts. If you are nervous, stressed, or upset over bad weather, or who has or hasn’t shown up yet, you’re not interacting with your guests and you’re setting the mood and tone for an event that’s “not going well.” Most of the time, they didn’t come for the food or event itself, they came for you or the occasion. Show them that that is what’s important and that is what is going well!