Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Strategies for Planning Big Events

A couple of my friends and I are in the throes of planning our ten-year (gasp!) Teach For America reunion. Ten years ago, we trekked to South Louisiana to teach the most amazing children.

As we plan the three-day event, we've been using some event-planning strategies that I wanted to share with you.
  1. Make a detailed agenda: Even the most relaxed, casual affairs can benefit from having a detailed agenda. Once we have a clear picture of what is happening when, we can better prepare for each of the components. For our reunion, for example, we decided that Allison will pick up Amy at the airport and they will go shopping to procure everything we need for the weekend. Then they will return to Allison's house to start cooking for Friday night. At 6pm, they will travel to Terri's house to start setting up. At 7pm, guests will start to arrive. On Saturday, everyone will indulge in the free breakfast at La Quinta and then meet at the middle school at 9am for the community service project.
  2. Keep an ongoing "to-do" list: When we know what's happening when, we can talk through each component and brainstorm what we need to do in the days leading up to the event, during the event, and after the event.
  3. Keep an ongoing "to-bring" list: As we talk about each component on the agenda, a list begins to emerge of what we need to bring. It will be easier to create a comprehensive list if you keep track of it in one place and return to it over and over again. For example, as we were talking through our community service project, we realized we would need to provide drinks and snacks (which we added to the grocery list) and that we would need to bring coolers and that we would need to tell people to wear clothes that they are comfortable painting in.
  4. Talk through everything multiple times and visualize it happening: For me, this step is the most important. No matter how detailed or comprehensive everything feels, it can't hurt to go through it one more time. For example, as we talked through the agenda again and I visualized us at the crawfish boil, I realized that we needed to remind people to bring bathing suits (and I just remembered towels!) if they want to swim. For those of you who are visual people, creating a mental movie in your head can really help you anticipate things that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
I hope this post doesn't sound condescending or like it's a restatement of the obvious. I just thought of these things as we were planning our reunion, and I wondered if they might be useful to those of you who are planning your weddings!

Wishing you well...

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Sarah said...

Absolutely!! Playing the "movie" in my mind is a good idea to jog your brain in thinking everything that's needed!

A-L, said...

Step #3 (keeping a to-bring list) either thought was a stellar idea since I usually figure out all the stuff I need to bring at the end, and frequently, forget something. Maintaining on ongoing list would definitely prevent that problem.

K. Guenther said...

Thanks - the ongoing "to bring" list is helpful. I plan events for work all the time, but rarely do I need to bring anything out of the ordinary. For my wedding (and even for pre-wedding trips home for the shower, etc), there will be plenty of things for us to remember to bring! And since my fiance often misplaces things at the last minute, having a working list of things for both of us to remember should be very helpful.

Have fun at the reunion!

sweetkita said...

I work as a wedding planner as well and I agree planning is everything and you must also know what you want.

sweetkita said...

I work as a wedding planner as well and I agree planning is everything and you must also know what you want.

Ms. Loaf said...

This post was really helpful! We are planning my grandpa's 80th bday celebration this summer, and the mental movie idea is so helpful!

I'm going to use Google docs with my brother and sister-in-law to help keep a running to-do and to-bring list. Thanks for the suggestion!

Angie said...

This is SUPER helpful. I'm glad I'm seeing reminders all over the bloggerhood today about planning and execution. We're planning a very laid-back event and sometimes that trickles into our planning style, not good. So thanks for the eye opener! Have to share with fiance!

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