Have you ever attended an event and knew from the moment you arrived that it was going to be a hot mess? I once attended a birthday brunch with a good friend of mine and had this very reaction.

When I arrived the host had another guest and I wait outside because they stated people are still being seated and it’s a bit full. The lobby area was empty and we had reservations so waiting in a line didn’t make sense. It struck me they simply wanted to create the illusion that the venue was full like many promoters do to attract people looking for things to do.

We were finally let into the venue and want I saw next caused me to never ever go back to this place.

I arrived to no line of people waiting to be seated, of course. The venue was filled with white folding picnic tables, round tables with linen that couldn’t touch the floor if life depended on it. Disposable plates, cups and utensils. Barely enough serves to accommodate guests. I am certainly not opposed to disposable items, but when I come to a restaurant or event I expect china.

At one point during brunch, one of the tables collapsed around a group of guests. That alone told me this was not the blueprint for a great event.

Here are some easy event planner secrets to a great event

Always greet your guests and never keep them waiting

When guests arrive at your event they want to see a familiar face or at least someone working the event. For intimate events, I recommend that you, the host, greet all guests. For larger events, spend time greeting as many people as you can and ask the event committee or close friends to greet others.

If all else fails, ask your butlers to serve champagne with a smile. Whatever you do, don’t have guests waiting outside to get in. If they arrive early, that’s something different.

Focus on the essential ingredients to a party

band-Event-Planner-Secrets-andrew-roby-events Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Some event hosts and couples who want to impress their guests and social media, believe going over-the-top with everything is the thing to do. They also make it into a competition and forget that every event has a different audience and every couple or host has a unique personality.

While over-the-top may work for some it doesn’t for others. What you should understand are the event fundamentals.

  1. Good music. Either a good band or DJ like Kurtis Kross is all you need. We encourage hosts to do something that includes pop culture and even includes some Go-Go Dancers or a dance company like Dissonance Dance Theatre.

  2. Good lighting. For some reason people love to have dark lighting as if you are in a club. What benefit is there to spend thousands of dollars on decor and then have dark lighting to hide the decor? Dim lighting is great to set certain moods, but avoid going too dark.

  3. Always provide delicious food and tasty cocktails. Don’t feel confined to the standard menus.

  4. Invite people who are actually the life of the party. This way folks are always entertained and will hold great conversations with spirited people.

People aren’t as worried about buffet over butler passed food

Dinner table

I’ve had a few clients who worry about if their guests will have enough food and whether or not they want a buffet. They also worry about which would cost more. Big event planner secrets solved…5….4…..3….2…..1

Buffets and plated meals tend to cost about the same. A buffet requires more food, but since it’s self serve, that means less staff you’re paying for. A Plated meal has less food, but more staff. These offset each other so don’t worry too much.

Two easy ways to make your decor standout

Photo: Daniel Spilka

More of our clients want to see vibrant colors. We use linen to help bring out those colors and to also tie in a color palette. Linen doesn’t have to be full of color, but they make for a great burst of color when the room needs it.

For flowers, verses using various colors, consider using one color with various types of flowers. This helps to bring in that needed texture and depth.

How to properly end an event?

Event host normally have a hard time kicking people out of the party or their wedding. Most think that all you have to do is turn on the lights and turn off the music. Nope that wont work. You want to know why? Because the event host or the couple is still at the party.

When you leave then everyone else will leave.

Give yourself enough time to prepare and don’t do it alone.

I previously talked about the disaster that was Fyre Festival. I do however, believe that the event would have been successful if they gave themselves more than 2 months to pull it off. Great events take time and they take more than one person to execute.

If you are hosting a DC charity event, get a committee together to help you make this happen. No event or wedding should ever consume all of your time.

In Conclusion

Events don’t require a lot of smoke and mirrors to be great. If you focus on the event planner secrets I offered, you can always expect to have a great event. Sometimes social media can be a hindrance. My best secret is for you to go to other events and take from those events what you like. If you felt something was missing, add it to yours.