In the Thick of Things…(You know you’re an event planner when)

Being event planners one of the worst things that can happen at one of our client’s events is to spend months creating an event, putting out all kinds of hard-earned money to make it exceptional and then having no one show up or at least a small percentage of the guests that were invited.  Let’s take it to a more personal level…you invited eight of your closest friends over for a gourmet dinner, sweated all day in the kitchen, got gussied up in your finest clothes and no one knocks on your door. Not a great feeling!

You would think that might be one of the worst scenarios you can encounter as an event planner but truthfully, you only feel bad for your client. I mean after all, you can’t control who shows up. I say all this because, from an event planner point of view, one of the worst things you can experience is quite the reverse.

Nightclub Overload: We held an event at a nightclub that can host 800 people at max capacity. Halfway through the party we realized that we were not only at max capacity we had hundreds of people still waiting to get inside the club. Coat check was so overrun we had 4 extra staff helping out the people who were assigned to coast check. Food was devoured, a LOT of alcohol was consumed and we did our best to allow guests in as other guests left but…..

….when you are throwing THE party to attend that night a lot of guests don’t always want to leave in consideration of the poor sods that are standing outside in the cold winter air praying for warmth and that some of the food will be left when or if they ever get inside. When you are being overrun by unexpected guests everyone feels overwhelmed…the client, the guests, the event staff and most assuredly the event planner whose job it is to make sure everything runs smoothly. (Insert BIG sigh here)

Storming the Gate: Okay so it really wasn’t a gate but that is how it felt. A few years back we had a client that rented out a famous venue in Seattle to host their annual holiday party for 2500 people. Now, this event should have gone like clockwork. We had done this event every year for several years. We had it down. We knew all the key details and only minor things changed every year but this year, we changed venues.

That isn’t a big deal. However, a couple of factors came into play that created an event planning nightmare. First, we had an extra 800 guests arrive. Yes, you heard me right – an extra 800 guests! That isn’t a few extra guests…it’s an entire mob of people. So….what could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything. Coat check was backed up beyond belief and when the planners managed to get out of the coat check room where they had been assisting with the mad crush they discovered that the lines for the bars were winding through the entire event space. The food you ask? Well, that is where factor number two comes in.

The catering company that we had used every year before had recently gone under a management change just a couple of months before the event and they were “getting their event legs” underneath them but like us, they were confident they could handle the event as they had done in the past. The problem was, we had an extra 800 people! They staff were in crisis and their current management hadn’t ever been through one of our large events and were already overwhelmed and quickly losing control of their staff.

You can just imagine the chaos that was happening in the kitchen as catering staff were constantly expressing they were out of food, Chefs trying to accommodate and watching the food supply dwindle three hours before they were supposed to be done.

From an outward perspective the lead event planner on site managed to handle it all with complete calm and dignity while inside she was praying to God for a miracle. Needless to say, it is entirely possible to have too much of a good thing! That was the last time we planned that group’s holiday party even though we had several years of successes behind us and it wasn’t our fault that so many guests arrived…..after all, WE didn’t invite them.

Oh well, live and learn…plan for the worst…. and hope for the best!


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