Most people at some point in their life, whether it’s for a personal celebration, corporate event, or just because they can, have to plan a function. It can be a challenge, but it can also be very rewarding experience for both the organiser/host and the guests.
The process of planning an event or conference can be long and there are often a few bumps along the way. We’ve gathered a few key things to keep in mind when you’re planning you next function.
Preparation and Planning
"If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else." Yogi Berra
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"Plans are nothing. Planning is everything." Albert Einstein
There are so many quotes, hints, tips and guidelines for planning and event out there it can be overwhelming. But it is clear that preparation and planning are definitely a key to having a successful function - whether it’s a small get-together with friends or a corporate conference.
Planning and preparation give you an opportunity to clarify what you ultimately want for your event - how you define a successful event. Success will look different depending on the type of event you’re having.
Three major factors will impact the rest of your planning:
- Number of guests
- Type of event
Knowing your limitations will help to keep your planning on track and give you a starting point. It can also be used to determine which elements of your event are the most important to its success.
"It's the vibe of the thing..." The Castle
Rather than focusing on a theme for your event, consider focusing on the ‘vibe’ - an intangible part of your event that is created by the venue, the menu, the styling, and purpose of the function - it is the ‘emotional quality’ or atmosphere you’re creating for your guests. The energy or ‘vibe’ of the event has a role to play in its success.
If you function is over multiple spaces, each space might need it’s own ‘vibe’ - for example, is there a ‘break’ room that needs to be relaxed so that conference attendees can take a break from the more intense vibe of the workshop spaces, and does the dining area create an atmosphere that facilitates connections between attendees.
How do you want your guests to feel?
The venue you choose for your function is one of the most important decisions you might make in planning your event. Each comes with their own limitations and strengths that will impact other aspects of the event.
A few key things to consider when choosing the right venue for your function:
- The cost - keeping this cost down can allow for more of the budget to be allocated to things like the menu and styling
- Capacity - will it be able to comfortably hold the number of expected guests/attendees? are there any minimums you need to be aware of - e.g. food and beverage packages?
- Facilities and services - does the venue have a kitchen? does it provide tables, chairs, linens? will you need to bring in your own staff? do you need to provide your own catering? is it accessible to all your guests (i.e. wheelchair access)?
- Atmosphere/ambience - does the venue contribute to the ‘vibe’ you’re trying to achieve at your function?
- Location - is it easy to locate? will you need to provide detailed instructions to your guests? is it central for your target audience?
“Food has a remarkable power to bring us all together.” Chef Elyse Lain Elshenawey
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” James Beard
The food at a function is more useful to the event organisers than just providing nourishment for their guests. It can be used to facilitate connections between guests who don't necessarily know each other all that well. Either because the food is a talking point, or that it provides a shared experience for all guests to use as a starting point for creating a new connection, and even strengthening existing connections.
Deciding what style of food you have at a function can play an important role in creating the 'vibe' you want for your function.
Do you want to have ‘home made’ food or gourmet food? Will you have a sit down formal meal or a more casual share platter style meal where guests serve themselves from a platter in the centre of the table? Are you indoors or outdoors? Will your guests need to be able to stand and eat? Do you want hot or cold food? There are so many different questions come up when it comes to catering. If you haven’t planned a function before, just as your caterer if they have recommended serving sizes, types of meals designed for seated/plated meals vs. finger food/cocktail meals.
But the important thing to remember when it comes to the food, it’s about more than having enough food…it’s about finding the designing the right menu to create connections, and to add to the ‘vibe’ of the event.