Event Coordination: Managing RSVP’s

Managing RSVP’s and table arrangements can prove to be the most stressful part of the planning process for the host of any event. The stress of making sure that all your invited guests have rsvp’d and then later to place them on tables so that they prove to be the best arrangement — can easily cause undue tension and stress (and many arguments).

Below are a few tips to make the process a more smooth one, but ideally your event planner guides you through this process to ensure you have help you when you get to this stage of your event. If your event planner isn’t asking you about your RSVP’s, chances are, you will run out of time and have problems on the day – unless you are prepared:

First, always have your rsvp date about 6 weeks (or closer depending on the type of event) from your event so that it gives you some time to still invite others if many have declined the invitation.

Second, as soon as RSVP’s begin to come in it’s best to be organized by placing names on a excel sheet so that you can easily access who has said yes, what their meal preference would be as well as begin your prelim seating arrangements.

Next, once your RSVP date has come then it’s essential to begin locking down table arrangements so that 3 weeks out of your event you have completed the seating arrangements and now only have to worry about any last minute changes (which will happen so just be prepared!).

A last note: print your seating cards or seating arrangements about 2 weeks out and add or subtract your changes. Make sure everything corresponds with your seating diagrams, and that everyone that is coming has a seat at the right table.

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Event Consultation: Contracts and Contract Review

Contracts are critical to event planning, and it goes without saying you should read every word of every contract before you sign and make sure you understand everything you are agreeing to. A contract is a meeting of the minds, and if you do not understand something – it should be clarified in writing. It also goes without saying that all your contracts should be reviewed by professional counsel. Not everyone can afford this, but it is always advised.

When beginning to finalize your details for your events always be sure to have a written contract of the agreements with all your Vendors so to protect you (and ensure the terms and details of your contracts are fulfilled on the event day). Your method of payment might depend upon the vendor, but regardless — it is imperative to clearly outline all your specific details on paper or via email. It is also highly advised to provide these written contract copies to your coordinator and event producer so that it she can ensure all the fine details are proper and can be fully executed.

When a contract is signed with most venues and vendors, they will usually require a non-refundable deposit to hold your date. If you are unsure, you can always issue a “Soft Hold” (see previous article about Soft Holds). If you have a preferred venue and/or vendor it’s essential you lock them down sooner than later. (View Blue Lotus Insights Top 5 Vendors to Book First)

Aside from needing a contract, it’s always great to review the details twice – especially the date, time and any particular specifics that can be costly, such as parking fees, or hidden charges for valet, etc. Lastly, it is always good to discuss the financial terms as well as the rigidity of the contract.

Financials are important so that you know how and when payments are due and rigidity so that you know what minimums you might be required to pay — and if you can change some of the details after the fact, without affecting price. Event producing is a fluid endeavor, so things may change. You don’t want to find that you are boxed into something that won’t work. Blue Lotus Insights Event Planners are happy to answer any question you may have about your contract, and recommend potential solutions.

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Event Planning and Design: Outdoor Events

Outdoor events are always pleasing for the guests and look beautiful. If the weather where you live permits outdoor events then most definitely take advantage of it. Even if you decide to just have cocktails and tray pass appetizers outside, and the rest indoors – your guests will enjoy the fresh air, especially with ambient lighting and music to set the mood.

Naturally, you should always think of your guests and their comfort when it comes to an outside event. If the weather is scheduled to be hot then be sure to provide a tent, parasols, or fans so that they are not discomforted. In the case of hot weather be sure to always have water, cold drinks and ice cream (which is always a nice touch) available.

If the weather is forecasted as a bit chilly then let your guests know ahead of time to bring warmer jackets and shawls to ensure they have cover. If your event is too cold it will clear out before the party can even get started. We also ALWAYS recommend heaters except in the dead of summer — as even southern california evenings can get chilly in the autumn and spring. Pit fires (which also adds to the ambiance) are a great alternate provided the venue allows for is/can accommodate – and of course warm tea, coffee or even tasty soup will warm up anyone on a chilly day and make you forget about the cold.

Events in an outdoor setting always adds more character to the event and provides a great way to move your guests from an indoor walled space to an open air space seamlessly. The experience will be sure to please, but just be sure to have your Event Planner check the weather well in advance in order to guide you to create the perfect outdoor set-up for your guests.

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Event Planning Timelines: Insights into timing out your day

The Timeline is the bible for the event day. Contained on the timeline is virtually all the information gathered during the planning phases laid out in great detail. It’s your blue-print for the event, and a good Event Planner creates one for every vendor and every member of their staff so everyone is always on the same page. Literally.

When planning an event it is always important to remember two important elements: your timeline and staying organized. It is essential that all creative and logistical elements of an event have been set into your timeline as early as possible so that the last two weeks are left for potential trouble-shooting. When creating your timeline it’s essential to manage it on a monthly level in the beginning, but then move to planning elements six weeks out of a event. A great rule of thumb is to always aim to have all vendors, their contracts and final details all arranged at least 4-6 weeks month prior to the event. This will allow you and your coordinator to fine tune the details with the venue and vendors.

Through the process of creating your timeline it is essential that you and the coordinator stay organized through the various forms of tools available, be it google docs online or passing a word document or spreadsheet back and forth. The planning process for you as well as the execution process for the coordinator is always easier when items are neatly organized and executed in a timely manner. Because there are many moving parts to any event, it is always easy to lose track of time on any one task – so a strong event designer and planner are always there to help you stay on track and remain organized by keeping to the timeline.

The timelines at Blue Lotus Insights are legendary. Ask anyone who has ever worked with us. It is such a valuable tool, that many of our clients say they really only truly visualize their event, once we issue our BLI timeline. Included below is a sample of a page 1 of a wedding/reception day timeline. You can see the level of detail — and all before 8am.

Event Planing BLI Timeline Sample

Be sure your event planner has sketched out your day in a similar fashion, as even if it is not followed exactly – it is your guide and blue-print to a timely and successful event.

Creative Invitations: The Guest Gateway to your Event

Invitations is the first thing your guests will see with regards to your colors, themes, and style. When beautiful invites arrive at your guest’s home, they evoke a natural excitement for the your event.

Invitations serve to provide essential event information to your guests but such a formal and magnificient manner. It is always great to remember that for most of your guests their first introduction to your event and its details – venue, couple, honoreees – are simply done through your invitation. Therefore it’s essential to create an invitation to personalize the event, couple, company or milestone as much as possible. Your invitation also sets the pace for the type of event you will hosting for your guests.
A few keysthings to help you make the invitation process an easier one. Select an invite that best fits the your personality as well as the events overall tone. Be sure to organize the information in your invitations in an orderly manner so that your guests are aware the process of selecting meals and rsvping. Most importantly account for the additional costs of a material invite (of course other than the cost of the invite itself) such as postage to mail the invite as well the rsvp cards for your guests to respond back with.
Just a few thoughts on the type of invites available to you. With our digital age being ever so strong, it’s great to know that for smaller events you can always create yourself a custom invite through online services or have a digital company create a custom photo invite for your event. It is also a great idea to place your event details and potentially have your event site have the functionality for guests to rsvp there too. Then of course their is the traditional material invites, which are always a classic touch for you and your guests to have as a memory.

For Classic, Modern and Unique Invites – Blue Lotus Insights – www.BlueLotusInsights.com

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Event Coordination: “Soft Holds” and “Bookings”

When planning an event there are many details, vendors and options that you have to sort through and keep in your mind – while not always knowing if that particular venue or vendor is your perfect fit just yet. The problem is that if you don’t book them, by the time you’ve done your research, explored other bids and proposals, and have decided to book them — they are unavailable.

To bridge the gap, you should always be honest with your vendors and tell them you can place them (or a potential venue) on a ‘soft hold.’ This allows you a little more time (which might range from 72 hours to 2 weeks) to make the decision – but it will give the Vendor an indication that you are interested, and want to know if any other party contacts them for the same time.

By placing your name on a soft hold it places you first in line for that particular venue or vendor and date, which ultimately gives you the time that you might have needed to completely your research to your satisfaction.

Any good Event Planner will do this for you with clear indication you are interested – and likewise it is just as important to contact the vendor and venue to make them aware of your decision as soon as you have one (so that they can book you or release the date for other potential clients).

The Event Planners at Blue Lotus Insights can most definitely assist you in booking your most ideal vendors and venues in a timely manner, and can give you insight into who to place right away on a ‘soft-hold’.

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