I consider myself a novice event planner. Having been part of some event planning and planned one wedding completely, I started to notice trends and the things that cause people to freak out the most. I absolutely love researching different ideas and offering something new and exciting to the people I am working with. I applied for a position as an assistant event planner the other day and it led me to think about how I approach events and the whole planning process which can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming. Here are my tips:
1. Have an inspiration
This doesn't need to be an overall scheme. It can be as simple as craft paper, a quilt, a favorite fabric, favorite food, or a favorite destination. It has to be something that makes you feel excited! By having something to refer to, you can make sure that things don't get too off course or the spending doesn't go off track.
The show "My Fair Wedding" by David Tutera is the perfect example of this. This amazing wedding planner comes in to help a bride who has taken, for example, a winter wedding theme, and wasted her money on cheesy plastic winter ornaments and flowers. She has taken a theme and ran with it but somewhere in the blissful planning process, started to veer towards the everything approach rather than the specific. Tutera scales everything down and really addresses what the bride was aiming for rather than what she bought.
One example that I gave a friend of mine was the peacock feather. Now, she doesn't need to use peacock feathers but the array of deep, rich colors is something that she can refer to while picking out linens or flowers or even creating her invitations. The other idea to pare down color choices is to have you and your partner go to a paint store and pick out colors that appeal to you, perhaps two or three main colors. If you want to pick a bunch of colors then you can see if you want pastels versus matte versus bold color palettes because a bright pink will just not go well with a light pastel yellow. No. No.
2. Represent who you are
It is going to be silly to have a dinner party in the middle of the woods if you are so definitely city people who have never been camping before. It would be restricting to have a very formal wedding if you are more relaxed, laid back people. Of course you can mix things up but what makes the event special and memorable is if your personality shows. This can be in the form of food, music, decor, footwear, whatever! The most successful events are the ones where the people are comfortable and know that the event is straight from the heart.
3. Invite the people that you will enjoy....
...and that will support you and love you even when you burn the turkey or cake. I hear these weddings that are over 200 people and I wonder if they even know all of them! Why invite the cousin that you haven't seen since you were 5 years old? Why invite the evil Aunt that will just make everyone uncomfortable? Of course, there are the old rules of inviting family and old friends but you are paying for them so you might as well enjoy them! There are blogs that are specifically meant for small weddings and they always seem the best because it is a gathering of people that are genuinely happy for you. Same goes for parties. If you are going to all the trouble to plan these things then have people there that you can ENJOY!
4. Pick what is the most important to you
We are obviously not all strong enough to always go against tradition, family opinions (and sometimes financial ties), and the thousands of ideas that will get thrown at you while planning a wedding/party/gathering. Somewhere in there you have to figure out what you NEED and WANT to have so that you are happy. Do you and your partner care about a cake? Do you care about music? Do you need to dance? These are things that are HUGE to discuss because it can be the difference between a $2,000 wedding and a $50,000 wedding...when you only have $1,000 budget.
Say you look back at your wedding or event and wished that you had done something different, what would that be? If you could care less about a proper cake then just grab something from a local bakery or you can offer an array of smaller individual desserts and be done with it. If you just want music but don't need the band then use the trusty iPod, rent a great sound system and create your own list for super cheap (or free!). It pays to research and ask friends for tips. Buying stuff online helps. Borrowing things from friends helps. Don't get overwhelmed with all the work!
Obviously, this isn't everything. I feel like people spend so much money on their weddings and big parties that they should slow down and focus on the finer details. No one will really remember the color of the linens. They will remember the smile on your face. They won't remember if the plates were fancy or paper. They will remember everyone coming together and having a GOOD TIME!