Planning an event?  With any event, the key word is Planning.  Here are some common mistakes that are made when planning an event and what to do to avoid them.
Planning implies that your have defined your event, you know what your budget is, you have some idea of where the event will be held and that you and others involved have a clear view of expectations and what their role is in carrying off a success event.
1. Budget:  Besides the obvious of having a date for your event, your first goal should be to set a realistic budget.  When calling venues, you need to know what portion of your budget will be for the venue, what portion is for food, decorations and miscellaneous expenses that always arise.  If your event is a wedding, others involved (such as whoever is paying the bill) may have a limit.  Decide what things are really important to you.  Is your event going to be casual or very formal and what are the things that are non-negotiable for you?
2. Expectations:  Very often, most problems are caused by those involved in an event have expectations which are conflicting.  Have a clear idea of all the things that you are willing to compromise on and on the things that are negotiable.  This will save you lots of stress, time and money.  Also be sure that you communicate your expectations to others involved, including your vendors, caterer (Callier’s St. Louis Catering, of course) and family and friends involved in your event.
3. Communication:  Thinking it in your head, doesn’t communicate it to everyone unless you have ESP.  Plan an informal meeting with everyone whether it is your boss or your fiancé or other family members.  Discuss your goals and what your expectation is of the event.  If someone has a role, make sure that they have a know what is expected.  Don’t assume that participants know what their role involves.  If it is a wedding and you want your maid of honor to wear a dress that isn’t in her budget, you may be stretching your friendship to the limit.  While being asked to participate in a wedding or other event, is a privilege and honor, make sure that they can afford to participate.  While much of a wedding event revolves around the bride’s wishes, attendants won’t be very happy if you are asking them to stretch their budget beyond their limit.
4. Secure the Location:  Nothing could be more frustrating than planning an event in your head, having dreamy visions of what your venue will look like and then discovering  that it is not available for the date you are planning or is out of your budget.  You may also discover that the venue cannot accommodate the numbers of guests you have in mind.  If planning an outdoor event, what is your backup plan with regard to inclement weather?  Can your caterer or event planner secure a tent or do you have the option of moving indoors and changing your menu from a plated dinner or buffet to an appetizer buffet at the last minute.
5. Hire Professionals:  Nothing can spell disaster worse than not hiring a professional vendor.  You only get one chance to do it right.  There is no substitute for hiring someone who has a proven track record of professional experience and who has the expertise and resources available to carry off a memorable event.  Whether it is a small dinner party at home, a wedding reception, birthday party or tented BBQ in the back yard, your event reflects on you.  Think twice before depending on friends or others to accept a major responsibility for your event.  They won’t give it the same thought and detail that a professional can provide.  With a professional, you have the opportunity to have a written contract with a caterer or other vendor offering you some recourse if things don’t go as planned.  They want to make you happy so you will refer other business to them.
6. Verify Details with Vendors:  Make certain that your day, time, place, length of time at the venue is defined.  What happens if the wedding party arrives late, do you have the option to extend the party for an hour for an additional fee.  Plan for the what “if” in advance and know what your options are…be sure to let the venue and all vendors know if you have to change the time for your event. Be sure to have vendor names readily available for any last minute glitches.
7. Know Who is in Charge:  Keep a list of who your contacts are for each part of the event and who to contact in case of an emergency.  At one wedding that I attended, the time for the wedding was moved up an hour….everyone knew but the florist who was bringing the flowers and decorating the church.  Because they had the name and phone number with them at the event, they were able to quickly call and find out why they weren’t there and only delay the wedding by 1/2 hour.
8. Be Flexible:  Maintain your sanity.  In order to do this, you will have to be flexible.  Some things just can’t be changed so go to Plan B and let it go.  Easy to say when you have something specific in mind but you need to always have an alternative in mind and there are just some things that are out of your control.
9.  Don’t Lose Your Sense of Humor.  Things Happen!  Working with people that you like and hiring professionals will help you to see the humor in small things.  Things that you might notice probably are not going to be noticed by others if you have done your planning well and hired professionals to do the job for you.
10.  Relax and Enjoy the Day.  Your event will take on a mind of its own, your vendors will be doing their job, so you might as well relax and enjoy it—it’s probably too late to change anything so keep a positive attitude and it will reflect on those around you and you’ll have a much more enjoyable event.