I would’ve never thought of myself as capable of planning a large scale event. It had never even been on my radar. But about a year and a half ago I accepted a position as a ministry assistant. Little did I know that a big part of that was planning events! It’s not as scary as it may sound. Let’s talk event planning for beginners!
I’m so thankful for the opportunities my position has provided. I’ve learned SO much, been stretched in ways I never could’ve imagined, and gained valuable skills along the way. There’s a lot that goes into planning an event, whether small or large or somewhere in the middle. My job has allowed me to experience all three. I hope this experience can be helpful to you whether you’re planning a graduation party, a wedding, or a conference. So let’s get started!
Steps to Planning an Event
What is your event and what’s the purpose? Knowing this is crucial to the rest of the planning details. Who is your audience or who are you trying to reach? Why do you want them to come?
This is huge. What’s your budget? Determining what you can afford up front will help you to not overspend. It will determine whether you hire someone to do the work or decide to do it yourself. Will you rent a venue or look for something free? Will you hire a florist or order the flowers yourself and do DIY arrangements? Will you make the food or hire a caterer? Your budget determines everything so don’t neglect to decide before you start planning the rest.
Given the purpose of your event, decide when the best time to have it would be. If it’s a birthday party you’re most likely looking at a weekend. If it’s a graduation, those usually take place in May but you probably want to avoid Memorial weekend. If it’s a conference you may want to think spring or fall since people use summer to vacation. Maybe you’re planning an outdoor wedding so you need to plan when the weather is not too hot or too cold.
There’s a lot that goes into planning the perfect date and thinking about these details will help your event be successful!
Attendance and Venue
How many people do you think will attend your event? This will determine your venue. It may be a small party that you can have at your house. Maybe it’s a work meeting and you can reserve a nice space at a restaurant or hotel. If planning a wedding do you need the large sanctuary or will the chapel do? Or maybe you want to rent a barn for a more rustic feel where people can overflow outside if needed. Maybe you’re doing a large scale event and need to look at conference or event centers in your area.
Venues can range in price depending on the time of year so that can play into your decision, as well, as you look.
What will your schedule look like? Will it fall over any meal times?
What activities will you plan? Do you need party games or will it just be mix and mingle? Do you need a speaker? Will there be a band that plays?
If it’s a conference will there be breakout sessions?
Will the guests stay overnight? You’ll need to think about lodging.
Is it a more formal event that will need a program guide?
As you sit down to determine the schedule of events these are some details you’ll need to think about.
Will your event require a speaker? Maybe it’s something small like asking a friend to say the toast at a retirement party. For a wedding, you’ll need someone to officiate. For a conference, you’ll need to look at booking personalities that can relate to your audience and the purpose of your event. This will most likely involve contracts and upfront deposits, etc.
Will you be providing entertainment for your event? Perhaps you want to hire a band? Or just someone to play the piano for background music. Maybe you ask someone to come and give a demonstration relating to your event. If it’s a family event or birthday party you can look into renting inflatables. Or if it’s a smaller event you can plan to provide your own entertainment with some fun games or an outdoor movie.
Will you need food for your event? A meal or just appetizers? A cake or cookie platter? Can you afford to hire a caterer? Or maybe some deli and fruit trays from your local grocer will better suit. What drinks do you want to serve?
Are you wanting to do something a little different like hire a food truck or offer a coffee bar?
Be sure to call around and get several quotes to compare. Ask friends and family to recommend people or places they’ve used before and loved.
Flowers, Centerpieces, and Other Decor
Are you planning an event like a wedding that will require flowers? Decide if it’s in your budget to hire a florist. If not, there are wholesale places like Sam’s where you can order boxed flowers and greenery and have them delivered fresh to your store or front door so you can arrange them yourself and save money.
For flowers, you’ll also need to think about the time of year you’re planning your event. Will the flowers you are wanting be in season? This will affect your budget.
Will your event require tables? Then you may need to think about table decor and centerpieces. It can be as simple as adding a table cloth and a small arrangement of flowers. Or maybe you want to go all out with place settings and cutlery, glasses and an elaborate floral arrangement.
Maybe you need other decor items like balloons or streamers or tulle.
Pinterest is great if you need some decorating inspiration for any occasion!
Invitations and Publicity
How will people find out about your event? Will they get an invitation whether by mail or by social media? Will you send a save-the-date or an e-vite?
Will your event require registration or RSVPs?
Will you need posters or flyers to promote or would a Facebook or Instagram ad reach more of your targeted audience?
Volunteers or Hired Help
The size and purpose of your event will determine how many people you need to help with pulling the event off. Obviously, if it’s a smaller party or gathering, friends and family are usually glad to give of their time. Maybe it’s a work event and your co-workers can help.
A lot of companies are giving their employees “volunteer days” where they can give of their time a few days a year and still get paid so you could look into that. Or maybe you need to hire someone to help in the planning stages for a larger event. Either way, this is a huge detail you don’t want to overlook.
There are so many other things to think about when planning an event and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Depending on your event you may need to have signs made or make travel arrangements or a number of other things. But I hope it will help you get the creative juices flowing as you start to think about your needs.
Thanks for hanging out with me today! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email! Have a blessed day!
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