10 Tips from a Professional Events Coordinator
Some milestones are perfectly suited to an evening gathering your closest 5 friends and enjoying delicious food and a bottle of red (or four). And then some require much more ado. For us lovers of entertaining, having something worthy of a large celebration is basically the perfect excuse to go big or go home (and we always always choose to go Big!).
Before deciding to settle into a focus on the beauty of the smaller gathering, I (Elise, one half of Maggy’s co-founding team) built up many years of events coordinating and logistics expertise. There were many looooooong hours running in heels (and occasionally gumboots when mother nature wasn’t playing along), tirelessly steam ironing every stubborn crease from table linen, juggling stakeholder logistics, and coordinating guest and RSVP lists from anywhere between 30 and 2,000 guests. There are so many lessons learnt that I’d very happily pass along if it means saving the sanity of even one reader.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for your next big event
Map out the countdown
Before you get consumed in the black hole that is Pinterest ideas, or caught up in which flowers will best suit your canapés… sit down and map out the entire lead up to your event. I like to do this with an oversized sheet of paper and lots of scribbling. Working backwards from your event date, pencil in what needs to be done and by when. This helps you visualise what needs doing ASAP, and what can wait til later. i.e. Venue bookings are usually very urgent, as well as booking caterers/hire equipment/flowers etc.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
I’m talking to you, fellow control freaks! Especially if you are wanting to actually enjoy the event yourself, make a nice long list of every big and little task you can bear to part with and find someone else to own it! Best things to delegate? Picking up anything not being delivered, polishing the glassware, ironing linen, setting up lights, picking up the ice etc.
Choose 1 or 2 focal points
Unless you’re purposefully going for an over-the-top theme, choose one or two focal points or ‘wow’ elements and do them really well. Maybe an epic cheese platter banquet, or an amazing floral installation, or incredible lighting, or even a stand out bar set up with signature cocktails. Having too many elements can end up just cancelling out all of the effort you’ve put into each.
Never EVER forget the music
Don’t leave music until the last minute! Building a playlist can be very time consuming, and it’s crucial to setting the right mood. I suggest to start building a list from day one, even if you add a few songs here and there over months…. before you know it you’ll have hours worth built up. Also, play the playlist in the days before while you’re doing any setting up or meal prepping so you can delete any songs that jar against the flow.
What’s ‘last minute’ and what’s not?
Write another list (can you tell I’m a list fan?) of what tasks can only be done in the last few days, and what can be done before. Then aim to tick everything off the ‘before’ list by a week before. Because there will always be extra tasks that crop up in that last week, especially in the final days, and you don’t want to be folding menus at midnight the night before when in reality, it could have been done days ago.
Pinterest has a lot to answer for! Good and bad. While it has inspired us all into much more stylish versions of ourselves, it is guilty of what I like to call ‘Inspiration Saturation’. This is when you scroll, scroll, scroll and scroll and end up with 10 very different AMAZING directions that you really really want to take your event. You find yourself changing your mind every few days when something else catches your eye. May advice is that once you’ve started paying for things, no more changing the event theme! Just avoid searching for any new ideas.
Not just wet weather back ups, it’s important to try and identify anything that might go wrong, and at least have a think about what the course of action will be. From power black outs to spilling red wine down your dress, having a few systems in place (and a spare outfit chosen) can avoid any headaches.
Keep all contacts handy
A simple one, but make sure you have all the contact numbers for anyone assisting in the day, and make sure you have mobile numbers, not just landlines. The office number of the mobile catering company won’t help you when they’re running late and presumedly lost.
Make Spreadsheets your friend
For every event I’ve ever done I end up with pages and pages of spreadsheets… with timelines, lists, menus and contacts spread across different tabs. Yes I probably sit on the side of ‘over prepared’ waltzing in with my clipboard, but having everything written down just saves me inevitably forgetting something important…. like turning the oven on or getting myself ready.
What part of the event are you looking forward to most?
Finally and probably most importantly… I strongly suggest having a think about what is the most important part of the event to you! Are you most excited about the late night dancing? Then don’t get caught up washing any dishes… they can stay dirty til tomorrow, or better yet, delegate someone else to washing up duty. Are you looking forward to those amazing catered canapés you’ve paid so much for? Then mention to one of the staff to ensure you’re tracked down when each new option comes out. Make sure you look after your own enjoyment just as much as you’re looking after your guests’.
After all, an event is meant to be memorable for the right reasons, and you deserve to enjoy it, especially after all the hard work you’ve thrown in! Although, we usually love the craziness don’t we!
So there you have it, I hope you’ve found something helpful and can now find even more enjoyment in entertaining.
Do you have any tidbits of hosting that you swear by? Or some hilarious lessons learnt? Share below, we can all learn (and laugh) a bit.
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