Hi. It’s me. The old event planner. I thought we could have a chat. I know you’re excited, you’re finally out of school and ready to be the next Colin Cowie or Mindy Weiss. I totally relate. Event planning is the job of my dreams – I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Corporate, private, personal, big, small – love’em all. So here’s my two cents on some starter advice (ignore at will):
- Instead of taking a seminar or getting a “planning” certificate – get a job. Anything that has anything to do with events. That’s right, become a cater waiter. It’ll show you what it takes to organize a group of servers. It’ll teach you about the kitchen and all the back of house staff needed to make an event tick. You know that gig being an admin in a catering company? Take it. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see an event contract, called a BEO (Banquet Event Order), or handle an angry customer. Hotel reception desk? Sounds like a plan. Event planning is a service industry. Even an entry-level sales job is better than a damn certificate – trust me.
- What’s “Back of House” (BOH). It’s everything. Know it. Love it. It’s the circulation, the heartbeat, the lifeline, to an event. Good BOH, good event.
- Buy a suit (you know I prefer black but whatever floats your boat will do). Whether you are working a wedding, a cocktail party on the beach, or a black tie gala – do not dress for the event. You, my friend, are not invited, you are working it. It’s important to look like it. What if you end up being overdressed at a casual party, you ask? Don’t worry about it. There is no such thing as overdressed – in fact – aim for it.
- You do not have to be a control freak to be a good planner – but it really really helps.
- You know that old saying – PrePlanning Prevents Piss Poor Performance? I hate that saying. Mainly because I don’t believe you need bodily functions to drive a point home, but I digress. But you know what makes me really pissy? It’s true! The job is called “planner”, not “piece-it-together-onsiter” Know the venue, know the players. Don’t just hire a photographer/musician based on a cool website. Meet them. In 5 minutes you’ll know if that person can be someone you can work with or, more importantly, recommend.
- Don’t say no to a potential job – even for free. Your cousin wants help planning a sweet 16? Done. Your neighbor needs someone to help her find a reception hall? That would be you. The only way to get good at planning is to plan, a lot. Google can only do so much people.
- Learn to be assertive and have uncomfortable conversations when needed. You are the advocate for the event. If you don’t do it (tell the kitchen to speed it up, tell the photographer to calm down, tell valet to wear a blazer, etc) no one will. You know what helps with this? A job.
I know it doesn’t seem like it – but this is a love letter. I really do heart you.