Fall is here again, and special events are already filling your calendar. What’s happening over the next few months? Maybe it’s your wedding day, or a wedding anniversary. Maybe your family is about to welcome a new child into the world, or celebrate another milestone birthday for the ones that are growing up too fast. Maybe it’s parties with friends around Halloween, or celebrations with family around Thanksgiving and Christmas. No matter who you are, you’re probably planning an event right now, or will be soon.
We want those events to be as fun and memorable as possible — superior, if you will. That’s why we strive to provide the best products, service, and inspiration for any occasion.
But how can you ensure that your event is, in fact, superior? Yes, it could rain on your wedding day. No, your one-year old might not cooperate with his smash cake for his first birthday. And no, there is never a 100% guarantee that all will go according to plan. However, there are five basic elements in planning that can make all the difference for the things you CAN control.
1. The Guest List
It can be a tricky business to throw together all of the people you know and love under the large umbrella that is your celebration. While you (most likely) have a connection with each and every one of them, chances are your guests are not all going to know each other. People can clash, and that is something you want to avoid at your party.
So how do you avoid awkward silences and strained conversations among guests? Plan ahead. If you’re worried that this phenomenon could pervade your wedding reception then strategize with a seating chart. Some wedding planners say that the seating chart is more complicated than choosing who to invite to your wedding.
In an informative article on Brides.com, event planner Jannae Saltzmann suggests dividing your guests into groups based off of relationships, interests, and personalities. She advises, “When you run into couples who don’t know anyone or controversial groupings, look to seat those guests with more outgoing guests or people they have things in common with so they feel comfortable–or buffer by moving those guests to opposite sides of the room.”
Thanks to technology, seating charts don’t have to be as miserable as the post-it-note days of old. In fact, there are multiple apps that help you with this. We like Wedding Mapper, an app that lets you map out your entire wedding venue and even has an interactive seating chart.
If your event is a baby shower, birthday party, or even an intimate dinner party–these same rules apply. You want to think ahead about what personalities you are throwing together and make an effort to give everyone the best experience possible.
2. The Playlist
Plato said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” You don’t need to hear it from a famous philosopher to understand the weight music brings to every occasion. Music creates, enhances, and even alters the mood. You definitely want to spend some time planning your playlist for your event. Here are a few things to consider when planning your playlist:
Whether it’s a simple birthday party or your wedding reception, plan for at least three hours of music. The last thing you want is for your favorite tunes to be on an obnoxious loop. Your guests will notice if Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” happens more than once. Three hours (or more) will ensure that you don’t have to hear the same thing on repeat.
When it comes to music, too much of a good thing is not always right. While you certainly want to stay within an overarching theme/mood, you don’t want to exhaust your guests with the same artist or band throughout the entire evening. For example, if the sound of Frank Sinatra encompasses your theme, consider sprinkling your playlist with the rest of the Rat Pack, big band music, and maybe even some jazz.
Classics and Covers
You can ensure that your guests will jive with the music if they know the songs. Your best bet? Classic hits that everybody knows. If you’re having a live band make sure they do a few covers of some favorites. Your guests will sing along, dance, and participate on a whole new level when they actually know the song.
3. The Menu
Perhaps food should rank number one in terms of importance. It’s certainly the thing your guests will talk about long after the event is over. They might forgive you the abundance of Taylor Swift songs, but serve them lame food? Forget it. Just as music enhances the mood of the room, it is food that will enhance the mood of your guests. There are several important things to think about when planning your menu:
As your guests plan to attend your event, they also need to plan their eating. Don’t be ambiguous about whether or not you will serve actual food. Perhaps your wedding is at 2:00 and you plan to serve only cake and snacks. Let your guests know this ahead of time. If they show up at your wedding expecting lunch and only receive cake they will get HANGRY.
It doesn’t matter if your reception is based on the premise of “high tea,” you feed those people more than a measly cucumber sandwich! Be abundant, be filling, and be delicious. Give your guests an abundance of choices and make sure they leave satisfied. Remember that they are giving up time and energy to be there, and should leave with a full belly.
Always serve dessert. Yes, that’s a rule you need to follow. Remember that whole thing about guests leaving your party happy? This is much more likely to happen if they can have a bit of cake.
4. The Venue
When planning your event one of the first, most crucial decisions is what type of venue is best. The tricky “chicken or egg” conundrum is do you decide on a theme first, guest list first, or venue first? Maggie Lord, editor and founder of RusticWeddingChic.com explains that choosing a venue includes “Everything from how many guests you will need the venue to fit, the season and time of day you want to have your wedding and any special accommodations your guests might need.” Therefore, it is important that you at least have a rough estimate on headcount and what sort of wedding (or event) you want to have.
Some important questions to consider when choosing your venue are:
- What does the venue look/feel like at the time of day of your event. You will need to visit it at the particular hour you plan on hosting your event.
- What is the layout and where are the bathrooms? Let’s say you’re having a rustic, outdoors wedding. Chances are, you are going to have to rent bathroom facilities to accommodate your guests’ needs.
- Are children or pets allowed?
- Is there a kitchen?
- How much decorating is needed?
- Does the venue offer cleanup services?
5. The Finale
How you choose to finish an event is every bit as important as how you begin it. With all the thought, planning, and attention to detail that went into planning the last thing you want to do is end on a weak note. Here are a few ways to finish well.
Finish with gratitude
Whether you hosted a baby shower, birthday party, or a wedding, you had guests carve time out of their lives to show up and be present in yours. Offer them your gratitude in the form of a small token or favor. Not sure what to give them? Check out our post on 15 Awesome Wedding Favors that will get your wheels turning! Many of these favors would be acceptable to give at various events or parties.
Finish with a bang
Here at Superior Celebrations, we are all about finishing an event with pizzazz. We have three favorite ways to conclude events and each option offers a different vibe to conclude your party.
Sparklers are our traditional, favorite way to conclude a wedding. We love how sparklers get everyone involved and the contagious excitement they promote. If you have any doubts as to how to finish off your wedding reception–take a look at our gallery of wedding sparkler exits. They do not disappoint.
Confetti cannons are another one of our favorite ways to conclude an event. Whether you use them during the last song on the dance floor, or as a farewell to bride and groom, confetti cannons deliver a burst of magic and fun.
Lastly, our sky lanterns are an exceptional way to finish off your event. Translucent, floating lanterns will awe and inspire everyone. They are a perfectly romantic way to end your special night.
The best way to make your next event superior is to give it plenty of forethought and intention. Your event is a reflection of YOU and ultimately should be personal and unique. We hope this basic outline provides you with inspiration and excitement as you head into planning your special occasion!