Event Planning Skills: Sweating The Small Stuff

Event Planning Skills: Sweating The Small Stuff

We know the devil is in the details. The most critical of all event planning skills is staying organized, down to the littlest detail.

We’re in this business because we’re detail-oriented. We’re driven by the desire to fulfill our clients’ needs, big and small. And we make it look effortless, to boot. From tracking vendor and client schedules to creating comprehensive timelines and to-do lists, it’s our job to keep the multitude of information organized and communicated effectively, down to the very last folded napkin. 

It’s fair to say that people hire event planners for a multitude of reasons. The event planner’s biggest responsibility is to collect and synthesize all of the information and details about an event. And to make sure that the right people receive the right information, not too much or too little. 

To a potential client, this process might sound very daunting. But for a good planner, no detail is too small to consider. At the end of the day, we’re responsible for the success of the event, which is essentially made up of hundreds of details and to-do’s, from a high level to a very granular one. 

Using Your Event Planning Skills Before the Event

Going the extra mile to retain and recall information given by a client builds trust, even if it doesn’t necessarily pertain directly to the event itself. This allows clients to move forward with the planning process, confident that you’re on top of everything when it comes to their needs. 

Pro Tip

When you initially meet with your clients and begin to visualize their future event with them, note specific things they mention that you can bring up again at a later time or potentially even infuse them into their event. 

For example, a client shares with you that they don’t care for a particular food. Take the extra step to let them know that you hear them and request that the caterer make a note of it on their proposal. If a wedding client tells you where they’re honeymooning, suggest ways to incorporate their destination into their wedding celebration, or go out of your way to send them your favorite travel blog with area recommendations. It’s all about making your clients feel heard and confident in their choice to hire you. And that comes down to really listening to them throughout the entire event planning process. 

Working Your Event Planning Skills During the Event

By the time the event date rolls around, an Event Planner will have his or her arsenal of event-specific documents to see them through the day-of execution. The event timelineto-do lists, packing lists, floor plan, vendor contracts, catering banquet event order, seating charts, and client contract, to name a few. By now, every detail that is important to the event is recorded in their event planning software and assigned to specific action items or vendors. The Event Planner tracks each and every one of these processes while on-site throughout the day. 

However, some event planning skills are more important than others at this point, when the event is underway. The Planner’s primary responsibility is to see that every detail is attended to. This is where a very detailed timeline or event plan comes into play. A good Event Planner needs to have a consistent and effective process for generating this vital document.

Pro Tip:

Create your own list of high-priority details, and low-priority information, and keep it on hand through the event. Let this guide you so that you can focus on the big-ticket items like food allergies and floor plan specifications. Simultaneously impress your clients with the also essential but minor details like the bride’s favorite cocktail is a Mojito!

Using Your Event Planning Skills After The Event

An Event Planner should keep his or her own internal notes for each event. List specific details about what went well, what didn’t, and what could be changed for next time. Recording details about vendor partners, the venue, your own team, etc. is always encouraged, especially while it’s happening on site. Reading through your experiences with past events will ultimately help make the next one even better. 

Pro Tip:

During the event, keep the Notes app open on your phone. Jot down instances as they occur (Examples would be, the linen company sent us 1 extra tablecloth; the caterers arrived 20 minutes late; client requested an invoice first thing tomorrow, etc.) Since we’re responsible for so many moving parts during an event, it’s nearly impossible to remember each little thing that happened without writing it down immediately. 

Additionally, organizing each event into its own folder helps an Event Planner to recall past event details. Often, a new client will come to us with a need or vision similar to what we’ve done for a previous client, and the ability to quickly find these details is paramount when building your brand. 

Partnering with multiple vendors for each new event can feel like a whirlwind, but keeping a detailed list of each vendor per event will help when clients ask for your expertise and opinions on whom they should ultimately hire. The ability to pull up a past event’s details and make recommendations based on the event’s success is a great way to enhance your relationship with your client. And a great way to keep yourself organized for future inquiries.

Additional reading: Post-Event Tips For Event Planners: From Reports To Referrals

Pro Tip

Keep a detailed list or spreadsheet specifically for photographers per event. Have a link handy, as well as the photographer’s business and contact information. This gives potential clients a very good visual of a past event that you coordinated, and the details that might excite them.