5 Things I wish I REALLY Understood before I got into Event Planning

Event planning is in my blood sort of. It reminds me of that ages old debate are event planners born or made? The truth is for me event planning wasn’t always the dream. Don’t ask me why but I figured I’d be a teacher. However life doesn’t always work out as you image it will. And I figure in the end things turned out just the way they were meant to be. It really is part of who I am. I can’t go to a wedding, special event or tradeshow without reworking things in my head and fixing the wrongs.

There have been oodles of articles written about event planning and all that’s involved with getting the job done successfully while surviving. Whether it’s in your blood or just the opposite we have all heard and read about how demanding, stressful and all-consuming this job can be. But is it really? As every event planner knows; we work our butts off behind the scenes creating and executing program details. To ensure that everything goes off without a hitch (mostly). And with time what we all learn is the nuts and bolts of planning an event is only part of the job.

The Job of Event Planning

There are lots of misunderstandings about what an event planner does indeed do. To those not wise to the industry the job seems to be all about attending parties and fun. When the truth is we aren’t party planners and we’re not participating in the “fun”. Some of those not in the know think these fun-filled events just occur. And for the record that is nowhere near the truth. While the actual job of event planning can be challenging and demanding. It does takes a lot of planning, planning, planning to get the job done and effectively. It goes something like the goal is established, we create a plan and then get started. But a bit more chaotic than that.

My Event Planning Truths

LONG Hours. The career of an event planner includes long (and I mean long) hours. There were times when I worked sixty days or so without a day off. This is no 9 to 5 profession. And depending on what’s going on you will work weekends. You travel, you’re up early and you work late. Sometimes (a lot of times) you miss personal milestones and family get-togethers. Event planners are the first to get there and the last to leave. And don’t get me started on the missed meals. Sounds inviting right.

But I’m here to tell you that every single second is worth it. Every event, every smile, every thank you and every success makes it all worthwhile.

Something WILL Go Wrong. It could be anything. We’ve all been there and now understand; if it can go wrong it most likely will. And it makes no difference how many times you’ve reviewed the event blueprint, confirmed suppliers, checked the weather and met with the team. We plan, plan, plan to hopefully avoid these exact situations. But sometimes no matter how hard we work or how much we do plan, inevitably something will go amiss. The good news is this is the best kind of learning experience. And there is a basic way to go about solving unexpected dilemmas. Stay calm, get the facts, communicate, consider the Plan B and deal with it.

On the bright side, when we’re in the trenches is when we learn some of our most important stuff. I picked up several of my greatest lessons because of unforeseen on-site issues. It’s one of the best kinds of learning experiences.

There’s ALWAYS a Budget. Always! Even when a client tells you there isn’t one there is. And in addition to said budget I have never met a client that doesn’t want a deal or something for free. Creating and working with a budget can be a job in itself. But in the end it’s so worthwhile. As a newbie in the event planning world I never utilized a budget. I would know what the client had to spend and would spend it; then scurry around to ensure it fit into the budget. Definitely a learning experience.

Then I started working with a client that was all about the budget. She wanted a budget for every single event (what?!) and everything had to be a line item. While it was a nightmare at first. But it really taught me what a budget is all about, how it works and how it helps a planner plan and ultimately save. And since then there’s been no looking back.

Event Planning IS 24/7. These days the event planning industry is open 24/7. Even when it’s not it’s a 365 day a year career. Being on call is a given and an accepted part of an event planners job responsibilities. Clients expect that you will be available on their timetable to answer calls, questions and solve problems. And really there is not a darn thing you can do about it. I have had conversations with clients at all hours of the night. A client call at midnight to totally change his entertainment for the following evening. Another called at 2:00am to revise all her airport departures for that morning.

Times have changed and on the positive side with the advancement of technology we no longer have to be handcuffed to our desk. After hours and on non-event days we can still be available even when we’re not, if you know what I mean.

You CAN Accomplish it. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have said to myself this is impossible. It will never work. No matter how hard I plan, how much effort I put into it or who I work with. But in the end it all works out and like magic (not really) comes together in the best possible way. It can seem unmanageable. But don’t under estimate what an event planner can do. In their own way they are miracle workers. They are able to take a client’s dreams and wants and make them a reality.

These are the situations where I learn the most. When I am required to do something I have never done before. Where I have to push myself and execute something new. Where research, trends and innovation play a part. In the end there’s nothing better than learning something new and getting the job done in a most successful way.

There are lots of amazing event planners out there. The ones that can rise above it all the BS, avoid the stress and get it done. I’m not one of them. Anxiety is my friend and seems to push me to be a better planner. But that’s me. My truth is an event planners’ career is demanding, challenging and can be exhausting. But it’s so worth it. And if you have the backbone and determination, this is one of the best careers around.

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