Don’t you just love parties? No party is ever the same. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the décor, food, cake (birthday cake, wedding cake – any speciality cake) should look like. The guest list is made up of a whole array of people – you have the family, friends, sometimes neighbours and/or work colleagues are included on the guest list.
In spite of all the excitement surrounding any celebration there is an awful amount of preparation and behind the scenes work that takes place to make the celebration a reality and, sadly, so many things can go wrong in the days leading up to the event and even on the day itself which is why planning is so critical. Not only the final plan but a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even a Plan D may be required.
Delegation of tasks is critical – it is impossible for one person to do everything on their own. For example:
Connectivity (telephone accessibility) – is your mobile phone charged? Do you have sufficient data and/or airtime? Do you have all the relevant suppliers/helpers telephone numbers stored on your mobile phone. Do you have a (paper copy) list of these contacts and their telephone numbers in case something happens to your mobile phone and you need to use someone else’s phone or a public telephone?
Event Manager/Co-ordinator: Delegation of duties at the venue on the day: Who will be responsible for co-ordinating everything? Who is in charge of the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly and that the food is served on time? Who will be at the door to meet and greet your guests? Who will usher the guests to the relevant space at the venue (cocktails/drinks in one space and eventually moving into the main venue where the event will actually take place)? Who is responsible for sound and lighting?
Venue – will the event be indoors or outdoors? Is the venue accessible to the disabled/frail, those incapacitated by recent injury or surgery? What is your backup plan if the weather changes and you cannot use the venue of choice? What happens if a fire breaks out the night before your function and you are unable to use the venue? What is your backup plan? What happens if there are power cuts? Do you have access to a generator at short notice? How early on the day of the function will the venue be available to you for setting up? Décor, sound and lighting all need a few hours and cannot be done an hour before the function starts.
Bathroom facilities at your venue of choice – are these facilities easily accessible to everyone? Will the frail, disabled, or those who have had a recent injury or surgery be able to access the bathroom i.e. is it on the same floor as the function or will they have to walk up steps/stairs to access the bathroom?
Parking – do you have parking marshals to direct people to parking facilities available and to ensure the available parking is utilised as efficiently as possible? Have you arranged special parking for guests with disabilities or for the older generation who may not be so steady on their feet? You may have a guest who has recently had surgery preventing them from walking too far – have you made allowances for this?
Sound and lighting – do you have one person responsible for sound and lighting or two? Do they know exactly what you want and are they able to do exactly what you want in terms of equipment, skills and expertise? Do they know that they cannot arrive five minutes before the function is due to start to set up?
Catering – who will do the catering? Have you hired a professional caterer? Is your appointed caterer a friend or family member? If so, will they take direction and follow your instructions or will they force their opinion and strong will on you? Will they only do the catering or will they do the venue décor as well? Will there be an extra charge for venue décor or is this included in the price quoted? If you are doing the catering yourself, do you have sufficient people to delegate to? You cannot bake, fry, plate the final product all by yourself – who will help you? If you have outsourced the food – who will collect the food from the various suppliers? If you are doing the décor yourself – who will collect the tablecloths and overlays, the centre-pieces for the tables, the flowers etc? are you expecting one person to do all the driving around on the day or do you have more than one? Do you have a backup plan in case one of your drivers cannot help on the day?
The special occasion cake – it has become a trend that a special occasion cake is ordered either from a retail bakery or from a professional work-from-home baker. Here I’m referring to (for example) a cake for a milestone birthday (1st, 21st, 50th, 60th, 70th etc), a wedding cake, a milestone wedding anniversary (25th, 50th, 60th etc) or maybe even just a fun and funky cake to spice up the event. Who will collect this cake on the day? What is the backup plan if this nominated person cannot collect the cake on the day at the agreed time?
Photographer/Videographer – have you arranged for someone to take photographs and/or a video (DVD)? Is this one person for both or two or more people? Are they professionals or just doing this for a hobby? Do they know your specific requirements (if any) of specific photographs or video shots you would like of specific people or particular moments of the event? Do you have a backup plan in case this person (or one of them) is not able to attend the function on the day for some reason? Do you have a few friends or family members with cameras of their own to capture unexpected moments the photographer or videographer might miss?
Let me know how your recent function went. What crises did you face and how did you handle it?
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