What Not to Do

Planning an event? Don’t make these mistakes.

Marja Flick-Buijs

Wooden wedding couple

Do not let you or your event be a don’t. If you are planning an event then there are certain things you should do, and certain things you absolutely should NOT do. Read these cautionary tales and you’ll know which is which.

When planning an event remember your number one job is to take care of your guests. So make sure to communicate all pertinent event information to them. For example, if the event is Bring Your Own Bottle then make sure to tell your guests to do so AND make sure to have water or other soft drinks available for those who don’t. I recently attended a wedding where no beverages were served. Not good.  

When contracting with a DJ, a band, a caterer, rental company or lighting company, make sure to ask how much amperage each will use and communicate this information to the event venue. I have attended more than one event where all’s great until the band starts and the lights cut out, or a caterer starts to brew coffee in a commercial urn and out go the DJ’s speakers.

Now one of the most important items to consider when planning an event: never, I repeat NEVER run out of food. I attended a charity event a while back where a local restaurant agreed to donate food. Great for the event profit margin, but the event chair did not confirm how many were attending the event and the food was gone in less than half  an hour!

Having an outdoor wedding? Make sure you have back up plans to provide total coverage for your guests if it rains. Don’t forget a backup plan for parking; beautiful fields can turn into mud bogs quickly in a rain storm. A general rule of thumb when calculating tent space needed is 15” per person if you are having a seated event with a buffet and dancing, and if there is a chance of less than ideal temperatures remember to heat or cool your tent. Another note: clear top tents are beautiful but do not offer any relief from a hot summer sun.

I also attended an event that was lovely…until the sun went down and there was no light planning for after dark. What lesson should be learned? Do multiple site visits at the various times when your event will take place.

But please know that as a guest you have certain obligations too:

1. Please, please please if the event is not BYOB, then don’t! I have attended both weddings and charity events where guests choose to bring their own alcohol. Not only is it impolite but more than likely it is illegal. Your host most likely had to get a one day ABC license to serve liquor which means they must be responsible for all the alcohol at the event.

2. Know the dress code and follow it. If asked to come in costume, then do. If it is a black and white party dress accordingly. Business causal on the invite? Don’t show up in a cocktail dress. Outdoor wedding in a field? Leave the Blahniks at home.

3. Confirm who should attend. Just because you love your children or pets and do everything with them does not mean they are welcome at every event. I attended a wedding that was supposed to be for adults only, but one family decided to bring their 4-year-old and 7-year-old. What is the big deal you ask? The wedding couple was in the food business so the menu was on the adventurous side; not very child friendly. The mother who brought her uninvited children demanded that the caterer make her child grilled cheese sandwiches, but it was an offsite event with no kitchen or cooking utensils. Not fair or good guest behavior.

The moral of these sad tales: Be on your best behavior as a guest and think ahead if you are planning an event. Or hire an event planner and let them do your worrying for you!

About the author: Jill F. Reynolds is the owner of Richmond-based events company Boutique Affair.

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