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7 Event Planning Mistakes to Avoid

"It is very rare or impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view" - Dalai Lama

The first, most important thing to remember when planning an event is that you are not going to 110% please everybody in attendance. It's just not possible to make everybody ecstatic about every single aspect of your event (unless you're a magic event planning fairy godmother - give me your powers!?). Everyone has their own opinions about vendors, food, decorations, attire, venue, etc... and that's ok! They might not love your opinions about them, but news flash - that's also ok!

In the same way that you won't possibly make everyone say "OMG that was the best event ever!", you also won't make everyone say "OMG that was the most horrible event ever". Make your event something that you're passionate about, you believe in and that's yours. There's not a "perfect event formula"; every event is unique and has it's own special elements.

With that being said, it's important to keep in mind some these things when you're planning your event.... Let's talk about the top 7 event planning mistakes that I think you should avoid!

  1. Not making an event plan and defined budget - ideas are good, but they need a plan behind them to make them great! Do you want your architect to come in without a blueprint and say "I think I'm going to put this beam here, some plumbing lines there... maybe, we'll see how it goes"? NO! Spend the time to make a plan and schedule for your event - this will make not only your life, but also the lives of your vendors, staff and guests, that much easier. And the same goes with a budget - decide how much you want to spend in total, and break that down on how much you want to spend on each category of your event; do your research and stick to it. It's always easy to tell when an event had a plan, and when it didn't.

  2. Not making checklists and timelines - this works in with point one. Just saying "dinner will start around 5-ish" and hoping you remember to grab everything won't work. You're setting yourself up for failure! Work these into your brilliantly written event plan and set yourself up for success.

  3. Not researching your market - if your event is a fundraiser or for profit, you need to know what's all going on in your area that day, well before you even book anything. Maybe you're having a BBQ for your local hospital - have you checked that there's nothing going on that day that could take traffic away from your event? Maybe your BBQ is on a main highway - have you checked that construction that will close the road isn't planned for that day? You NEED to know what could keep people away from your event and how your efforts could be diminished. Which leads into my next point...

  4. Not having a contingency plan or plan B - if there's one thing I've learned lately, it's to prepare for the unexpected, which you need to do for your event! A contingency plan is when you look at every threat to your event and consider everything that could possibly go wrong, and you make a plan for it. What are you going to do if it rains? What are you going to do if the power goes out? What are you going to do if your caterer doesn't show up? These need to be questions that you're asking yourself before the event and be prepared to handle problems when they arise (because I promise you, something will - it always does!).

  5. Procrastinating the planning - you underestimated the amount of work that needs to be done, and now your event is in two weeks, you're panicking and have nothing planned. Whoops... don't put off the planning! Do it in stages and prioritize what needs to be done first, and when it needs to be done by. Even if you plan 6 months ahead, it's better to be prepared well in advance than scrambling at the last minute. It's better to secure the vendors and location you want for your event than risk losing them to someone that was well prepared.

  6. Not getting contracts from vendors - this hurts my soul a little bit and always scares me when this happens. Whether they are your friend, cousin, boyfriend's sister, it doesn't matter - always get it in writing! Not only does this keep both of you liable, but it also makes it clear what the expectations from them (and from you) are. It's easy for things to be lost or confused in communication; maybe you told them to be there for 5pm on the 6th and they showed up at 6pm on the 5th; maybe they told you that they expect a vendor meal but you thought that was an option, they don't get a meal and now you have a hungry, p*%&#d vendor. I can't say it enough - always get it in writing. If you think your contract has too many details in it, it probably doesn't have enough. Better to be safe than sorry in this aspect, so include everything in your contracts, even if you think it's irrelevant.

  7. Last but not least, not getting enough help - paid and unpaid. You can't do everything by yourself when you're planning an event, so why are you trying to? Let people help you, and hire people if you need to! There are so many people in the industries looking for practice and experience that you can probably find any help you need without having to pay too much for it (if anything). Don't try to be a superhero - you will burn yourself out and it will just hurt your event in the long run.

Well there you have it - the top 7 mistakes that I see people make when planning events. And I can promise you, that somewhere along my journey, I've also made every single one of these mistakes myself. So if I can help even one of you avoid these mistakes, I'll take that as win.

I hope this helps you to make the most amazing events ever! Please reach out to me by email if you have any questions about any of the points I made, or want some more clarification.

Thanks for reading!


P.S - I have a free event plan template that is available to you if you reach out to me via email (ali@brightsideevents.ca) - it's a great place to start if you're not sure what to include in your plan!


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