Tips for planning a wedding or party

Coordinating any event — a wedding, a child’s party, a fundraiser, even a work gathering — can be stressful. It always amazes me how some moms who manage to throw a birthday party every year for their (usually only) child. I had first birthday parties for both my boys, and I don’t anticipate having another big birthday party for either of them until 5 years old — it’s that much work.

IMG_3225Each type of event carries its own individual challenges, but it occurred to me that most of the details of just about any event can be organized in a system I’m about to share with you. My system is not perfect, of course, but it can serve as a good jumping point for your own system. One benefit to this method is that you will be able to assign a monetary amount for each category, so if you’re able to keep your details under each category to a minimum, it should be reflected in your budget.

Adamson House fountain

Venue & Decor

This is pretty self-explanatory. For a wedding, you will definitely have your reception venue here, along with your church, if you opt to have your ceremony in a church. If you do this separately, you will incur expenses for both venues. For any other type of party, you’ll probably have just one venue here. I grouped venue with decor because, as I have previously mentioned several times before, if the venue is beautiful, less decor is needed. However, for a wedding, you’ll need some decor — if not for your venue, then at least for yourself (the bride and groom) and your attendants. Decor can be anything from flowers, to balloons to lighting and more. I would also put invitations, giveaways and favors, or if you’re coordinating a fundraiser, the program under this category.

Flickr photo by stephbond

Flickr photo by stephbond

Food & Drink

Food and drinks are generally the largest expense of any event, which is why experts always recommend keeping the guest list to a minimum if you’re on a budget. I don’t drink and neither does my husband, so we have never felt a need to provide alcohol at any of the parties we’ve thrown, but we’ve seen other parents provide beer for their guests at, say, a baby shower or first birthday party. Put your cake — wedding cake, birthday cake, etc — under this category, along with any type of dessert bar or buffet you may fancy. In this category, also include the tools and implements you may need for food service — like the fancy knife for the cake cutting, or the monogrammed champagne glasses for your toast.

Sound & Entertainment

IMG_0514In this category goes your DJ, band, slideshow or movie service/expenses, performers (my mom got hula dancers for my 18th birthday party, for example).

(This photo happens to be of my buddy Moonie and his wife Lovella, deejaying the wedding of my friend Sam.)

Photography & Videography

With mega pixel cameras and video on everyone’s phone these days, you might be tempted to skimp here, but I don’t recommend it. You don’t want to be trying so hard to capture the perfect moment when you should be actually enjoying it. Get a personal recommendation to a professional photographer, who will hopefully shoot your event with a second. Same thing with a videographer. Yes, there are friends, bridesmaids, family members who will from time to time catch a lucky shot — I know I have. But what if they don’t get lucky? Then at least you’ve got someone professional.

2515058341_b841a185a2_z(This photo is an example of getting lucky. It was a great photo but blown out because of the bright window. My husband, a graphic designer, managed to save it with some of the Photoshop tricks he knows.)

People & Details

This category will be your catch-all. This can include bridal wear, rings, makeup, hair. It can include extra people who don’t count as entertainment — for example, a wedding officiant. It can also include rituals, like releasing doves or butterflies, or the elements you need for a Catholic wedding, like the cord and candle.

Diane and Shawn elope

What do you think of this list? Let me know if you find it useful. I’d also love to know how you put your own spin on it!

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