The job title of "party planner" brings to mind extended vacations and free attendance to upscale parties and events. Sure, party planners are privileged in that they get to travel to exciting new places and get to attend otherwise exclusive events. Many aspects of the job, however, are far from glamorous.
If you have ever been the one to plan an event, such as a birthday party or family reunion, then you surely are familiar with the stress of handling countless details and the difficulty of appeasing lots of people. Still, even the most experienced in the field get a great sense of accomplishment when they have designed an event that is memorable and enjoyable for others, hurdled unexpected barriers that arose during the planning and successfully managed the occasion through to the last minute.
Although it may seem like a breeze, party planning takes hard work. All planners can attest to the many unexpected responsibilities they must take on when planning a special event. The payoff, however, is more than a paycheck. It's new friends and fun.
What Is a Party Planner?
A party planner is responsible for organizing and running social affairs, ranging from weddings to office holiday parties to everything in between. Party planners often work irregular hours, as they need to be available to potential clients and during the special occasions, which are often planned in the evenings or on weekends.
The typical event planner is a person who is both organized and sociable. And, generally, most party planners specialize in specific events, such as birthdays or baby showers. They plan those events based on their client's preferences, troubleshoot problems that occur and supervise the event to ensure that it runs smoothly.
Job Requirements & Salary
The salary of a party planner varies, but it's usually between $20 and $40 per hour. Requirements of the job can change depending on their clients, but a party planner is always responsible for arranging the details of events and then ensuring that they run as planned.
An event planner begins each job by meeting with the clients to determine what type of event they want to have organized and how much they are willing to spend on the event budget. The planner then brainstorms ideas with the clients, making suggestions and clarifying details.
Once a general plan is made, the event planner then meets with all those involved in executing the party, including (but not limited to) the venue manager, caterer and cleaning crew. As the main planner of the event, he or she is responsible for planning every last detail, generating back-up options and then being present to make sure everything is pulled off according to plan.
Usually, a party planner is expected to remain at the event after it has finished to supervise clean-up and check that the clients are satisfied with how the event unfolded.
10 Surprising Responsibilities of Being a Party Planner
1. Traveling Isn't Everything
While many people associate event planning with continuous trips to breathtaking venues, being a party planner is more than a walk on the beach. Event planners often end up confined to an office or event venue, arranging their parties via technology or simply traveling around their own cities.
Those who are "lucky" enough to plan events in exotic locations often lack the time or energy to enjoy them. Being a party planner is a job, and no matter how many palm trees are surrounding your high-class hotel, your primary purpose is to work hard so that your clients are satisfied.
2. Details, Details and More Details!
In addition to being sociable and organized, possibly the most important personality trait for an event planner is being detail-oriented. It is up to the party planner to notice how close each table is to the wall, how well the napkins match the placemats, and so forth down to every last detail.
Being an event planner is more than making calls and sending invitations. The job requires you to make sure each minute detail of an event is premeditated so that it connects seamlessly and successfully for a perfect atmosphere for your clients and guests. Details may seem small, but they matter!
3. No Autographs Here
You might think it's glamorous to be an event planner, because of the contact you may get to have with celebrities and wealthy or powerful individuals. Such interactions can be exciting, sure, but the event planner is expected to remain calm and professional under all circumstances. Part of the job is to exude an air of trustworthiness and confidence.
No matter if they get the inside track to a famous star, event planners cannot share any of that star's private information. After all, the star is the client and deserves to be treated professionally. Although event planners may have the opportunity to meet famous celebrities, they must do so in the most discreet manner. That means there's rarely the opportunity to take a selfie with a celebrity or to ask for an autograph.
4. High Expectations
A great deal of stress for a party planner comes with knowing their future success rides on his or her current performance. Once a party planner hosts an amazing event, it sets a precedence for each subsequent party to meet.
This is especially true because event planners often accrue clients who have attended and been blown away by a party planner's previous event. That means that new customers can already have a certain level of quality in mind. It can be difficult for event planners to continue to impress with innovative ideas, especially after hosting events for years.
5. Time to Improvise
Another essential quality for an event planner is having the ability to quickly and efficiently solve any problem. This job requires quick thinking and smooth crisis management.
If something goes awry during an event, all eyes look to the event planner to save the day. In such a circumstance, the party planner needs to be able to roll with the flow. Improvisation is a key word in the vocabulary of any party planner, since without it he or she wouldn't last a day.
6. The Fun Never Ends
Party planners are known for keeping unusual hours, since their job often requires them to be available and to make timely responses on social media and in-the-moment troubleshooting. To be great, it means to be available always. This can really affect a person's personal life.
To be effective, an event planner must be tied to the deadline of the event. So, no matter what is happening in his or her personal life, every detail must be arranged and confirmed by the time their professionally planned event happens. Event planners often have early flights or calls, as well, since their jobs can involve travel and communication with other time zones.
If you're looking for a 9 to 5 job, then party planning is definitely not the right career choice for you.
7. Behind the Scenes
Most of a proficient planner's work is accomplished behind the scenes and out of view of their clients and attendees. This work could mean adjusting the aesthetics of the venue or checking in with the technical crews in charge of lights and sound systems. No matter the tasks, event planners are constantly organizing, adjusting and supervising so the event runs successfully on the surface.
Although it may appear that event planners are just hanging out and enjoying the party with all the other guests, they are continuously working behind the scenes to pull off the perfect party.
8. Respect Where Respect Is Due
Event planners can walk into any party and immediately know the level of professionalism and organization that went into it. They notice the many details that form a party in a way that an average person never could. For this reason, a party planner is responsible for expression appreciation for a well-run event.
Unlike regular guests, planners are aware of the hard work and planning necessary to arrange an event. When this happens, they owe it to other planners to show their respect and point out their appreciation for a successful event. Professional accolades can go a long way in earning the respect of others in the business — others who may return the favor in front of your future clients or who may even send clients your way if they're already booked.
9. Just Keep Smiling
Another skill particular to party planning is the ability to appear calm and confident at all times, no matter how stressed or tired they are. Often, event planners are responsible for the happiness of hundreds of people, so there is rarely a stress-free moment during an event.
The worst thing an event planner can do is outwardly panic, since to do so can be contagious and spread to guests. Because of this, event planners have a huge responsibility to uphold. They must remain calm and charming with attendees and clients at all times. That means putting on a worry-free smile, no matter what's happening behind the scene.
10. Blending In
The event planner's main goal is for attendants to be happy and relaxed, enjoying the company of each other and the beauty of the venue. To achieve this, the event planner must create the illusion that the party is continuing perfectly as planned with little to no effort involved.
To do this, the party planner is responsible for blending into the crowd. This way they can avoid distracting guests while also being available if their customers need them. An event planner is the ultimate chameleon, appearing to be just another relaxed guest while in reality running the show.
If you were thinking about becoming an event planner to skate by for a paycheck, then think again. It's not a party animal's life.
Instead, an event planner works hard. He or she is tasked with designing an incredibly complex event, while considering a multitude of desires and restrictions and creating the best event possible within these boundaries. This profession is not for the anxious or weak of heart. An event planner's professional life is often a whirlwind of difficult decisions, phone calls and damage control, all dealt with while wearing a facade of professionalism and calm. To boot, planners work constantly long hours and irregular schedules that tend to creep into their personal time.
To keep up with this demanding profession, party planners possess a set of highly specific skills, essential for organizing an event and keeping everyone happy. They are sociable, organized and detail- and deadline-oriented. And, being an event planner involves fielding a daily barrage of unexpected problems while creating a positive environment in which others can make lasting memories.