My husband and I got married two years ago. Like most couples, the year leading up to our wedding was filled with cake tastings, venue visits and emails to our church’s wedding coordinator. Juggling planning duties with a full-time job was hectic, but by the time we tied the knot I could address a save-the-date in my sleep.
Recently, I got married again – or at least it feels like I did.
Don’t worry, my husband and I didn’t split up. I’ve spent most of the last year sampling hors d’oeuvres and reviewing guest lists with a major client that celebrated a milestone anniversary this year.
As part of a rebranding initiative that included everything from a new logo and tagline to an anniversary blog series, our client threw a bash in downtown Chicago to celebrate its accomplishments and thank clients and colleagues for their support. Our company coordinated the event, and I was the party point person.
A party is a great way to connect with clients, meet new prospects and build goodwill for your company, making it an effective tool in your marketing arsenal. But unlike most of the marketing initiatives I work on, I found myself using skills for this assignment that I didn’t learn in school, but as a bride.
Anyone who’s ever spearheaded an event knows that the list of to-dos is almost endless. Planning our client’s party – just like planning my wedding — involved finding the right venue, planning the perfect menu, choosing flowers and other decor, handling RSVPs, and coordinating communication between the venue and vendors. We also created save-the-dates, invitations and banners for the party that showcased our client’s new look and set the festive mood.
While party planning may seem daunting, never fear. Whether you’re planning a bar mitzvah or a company blowout, following these steps can help make your event great. Take it from me – I’ve been there (twice).
Assemble your dream team. Planning a big event is a Herculean task for one person, so enlist the help of others to lighten the load and bring fresh perspectives to the process. My husband and I got married in our parents’ hometown about two hours away from Chicago, so stopping by the reception hall or florist after work wasn’t an option. Fortunately, my mom had it under control, handling the day-to-day stuff while we came in on weekends as needed. While planning our client’s event, I worked closely with the company’s marketing manager, who handled the guest gifts and other tasks and kept a close eye on the party’s bottom line, and the company president’s wife, who represented her husband’s interests on everything from the menu to the music.
Get organized. I’m a sucker for lists, and rarely are they handier than when you’re planning a big party. I was glued to theknot.com during my engagement, thanks to its master schedule that helped me remember when to send out invites and how far in advance I needed to book transportation for the big day. Those same organizational skills were key during the planning process for our client’s bash – while RSVPs were coming in, I sent daily Excel updates of the RSVPs to our client so they could follow up with invitees who hadn’t responded and gauge whether to invite additional guests.
Make sure the event reflects you. Little touches that show your unique interests make your event more personal and special to you and your guests. My mom’s an amazing seamstress, so I asked her to sew my wedding dress. It turned out beautifully, and everyone got a kick out of admiring her handiwork. Our client found its own way to work family history into the event. The company’s founder was from Sweden, so one of the buffet stations featured traditional Swedish dishes, including some mouthwatering meatballs I’m still dreaming about.
Remember, it’s supposed to be fun. Looking around our client’s party after so many months of planning, I felt the same sense of joy and accomplishment I did at my own wedding reception. A lot of hard work goes into planning a party, but it’s all worth it when the big day finally arrives. These events tend to go by in a flash, so don’t forget to enjoy the celebration – and grab a helping of Swedish meatballs while you’re at it.