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Event advice - Advice on how to plan your special event and what you need to tell your venues!

Event management and event planning is not always easy, but you're not alone. With this comprehensive event management guide we provide you with the advice you need to ensure your special event runs as smoothly as possible. From birthday parties to weddings and concerts to conferences, this event advice will help you to check that you have not forgotten anything as you give event management a try! If you have an event-planning experience you would like to share with us, advice you feel may be useful for our clients and could be added to this page, or any questions on event planning, please contact us on:
 
 

Contents:

1. How to plan your dream wedding

2. How to plan a birthday party

3. How to plan a professional conference

4. How to plan a student party

5. How to plan a kids party

6. How to plan a concert

7. How to plan a great photo shoot

8. Event checklist (Event planning checklist)

9. Selecting the right venue

 

How to plan your dream wedding:

Your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, and some careful planning can ensure that your dream wedding comes true. Having chosen a perfect romantic venue from the UltimateVenue search database, you are ready to begin thinking about the details which will ensure your special day really is special. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the stress and struggle often associated with wedding planning... Also in the coming weeks look out for interviews with people who have been there and done it, and also various experts such as wedding planners...

  • Firstly set a date. This will give you a time frame in which you can plan out the rest of your organising. Check and confirm the date with your church or wedding venue and reception venue. Think carefully about the date. Consider the weather, and if the people you most want to be there are available. Also try to to coincide with a major event which could interfere with your plans. It could affect the atmosphere or turnout if you set your wedding date as the day England finally reach another World Cup final!

  • Make a “to-do” list. There is a lot to think about in order to make your wedding a success, you need to be careful not to leave anything out. A model "to-do" list will be posted within the next few weeks.

  • It is important to book your venue well in advance in order to ensure you get the day you want. Around a year in advance is about right, although a popular venue at a popular time of year could require up to 15 months notice.

  • Who do you want at your wedding? You can be very selective as this is your wedding, but also consider how big a wedding you wished for, and how big a wedding your budget can allow. Don't forget to select, write and send out invitations in good time so as to ensure all the important people turn up. 2 moths in advance is about right for the sending, so they will need time to be prepared before that.

  • Talk to people you trust about helping out. If you spread the load in terms of what needs to be done, you can cut down the stress caused by trying to organise too much at once. Also talk to people who are married and have been there and done it. Happy couples love to talk about their wedding day, so take advantage and gather up all the advice you can get!

  • Use professionals where possible. A friend who photographs birds at the weekends is unlikely to capture the moment in quite the same light as a firm who specialise in taking wedding photos and have done for many years. So stick to those who really know what they're doing – you only (hopefully) have one go at this, so you want everything to be perfect!

  • Set a budget, and try to be strict. Temptation to go overboard will certainly be strong, but sometimes simple is better than lavish and a budget is an important part of the planning as it gives you a frame within which to work.

  • Get the large and important things sorted early. Have the venue booked, wedding dress fitted, book your wedding cars, book your photographer, choose and book your honeymoon.

  • Get on top of paperwork! Make lists of invitation acceptances and refusals so you have a clear overview of numbers. Prepare and send thank you letters for wedding gifts as they arrive so the honeymoon is free to focus on more important things.

  • Think carefully and early about the little, yet very important wedding details. These include your best man, bridesmaids, wedding cake, wedding, ring, presents, dress, flowers etc. A lot of these components, such as flowers and wedding cake, are best organised well in advance to avoid any last-minute rush.

  • Make sure you take the time to inform all the venues involved of your final number of guests, and ring to confirm all of your bookings. It is also worth ringing to check on the progress of the important components, cake, dress etc. This will give you peace of mind and ensure all is on track.

  • Finally think about a rehearsal of the wedding to ensure it all goes off without any hitches. Pack your suitcases and check your wedding clothes. Take some time for yourself to relax and try to remember what this day is all about!

  • Don't stress!

 
  How to plan the ultimate birthday party:

So you have used the UltimateVenue search engine to find the perfect venue for your big birthday or other type of party, but how do you make sure that the event is a success? It's all very well inviting 100 people to a designer loft in the centre of London, but you need to make sure they enjoy themselves! Well with the help of our party tips, hopefully your party will be the a talking point amongst your friends for months to come...

  • Planning is obviously a very important part of any event, and the earlier you start to think about the details of your party, the less stressed you will be the night before it takes place! Try to cover everything when planning, so nothing is left to chance. Think about a convenient date, and the best time of day for your party. If you start thinking early you can establish a time which suits your best friends, and get them on board with the organisation.

  • Be selective with your guest list, think of the people you want at your party, to ensure the event is a hit. Send out invitations early, though if you are allowing people to bring a friend not too early – you don't want more people than you can fit in the venue.

  • In the week before your party make sure the venue is aware of the details. Don't be afraid to ask them for advice, they have probably organised parties hundreds of times before. Think about party games that might help to get things swinging, and check to confirm the catering is still on track.

  • Try to think up something a bit unique so as to distinguish your party from others. If you choose the old classic of fancy dress for example try to go for something a bit different which provides plenty of scope for creativity and will lead to much hilarity on the night. Discuss with the venue organiser to refine your ideas, and assess the feasibility of your plan.

  • Decide on the food and drinks you are going to offer. Are you going to use in house catering, or would you prefer looking elsewhere for a particular type of cuisine. Don' t be afraid to shop around. You will find some great caterers on our links page who can help with your event!

  • Finally take some time to relax and get ready, if you have covered all the areas above you should be all set for a party to remember!

  • Think about decorating the night before to avoid stress on the day, and think about smaller details such as drinks cooling etc.

 

How to plan a professional conference:

Hopefully you found an ideal venue for your conference with the UltimateVenue professional venue search. Make sure you took in to account the ease of access for your event, particularly if you are inviting lots of delegates. Search out nearby airports and train stations to ensure people can get there.

  • Go and have a look at the venue well before your conference. This allows you to check out vehicle access and eating arrangements, to help you with the rest of your planning.

  • Decide on the length of the conference, and therefore what arrangements for catering will be needed. Discuss your ideas with the staff of your venue, and listen to their ideas. They have probably done this before!

  • Try to establish your budget early. Again discuss with your venue and make sure you allow for wages for speakers, venue hire, catering if separate etc. Allow a margin in case of unforeseen costs, but try to stick fairly rigidly to your budget throughout the planning process.

  • As for the technical equipment you require, establish whether it is provided by the venue or whether you need to sort that out separately. Talk to your speakers and make sure can get hold of everything they require.

  • What about general items you may need? Will you be using name badges? Are there going to be printed handouts? Is there Wi-Fi access in your venue? Would the venue suit some form of decoration?

  • Think of the little needs of delegates. Fresh water throughout a presentation will go down well. You could think about providing writing paper or pens.

  • Look to provide an interesting and different programme. If the conference is simply another lecture on a subject which has been covered over and over, perhaps it is not worth holding the event at all. Try to provide presentations in interesting formats which will capture and maintain the interest of your audience. This will ensure your event is not just “another conference”.

  • Do you need to promote your conference? And how much should be budgeted for doing so? If it is a training day for your company then little promotion is needed, however if you are looking to attract delegates from further afield you may be advised to advertise in appropriate literature, or directly contact desired guests.

  • Discuss the layout with your venue and ensure it fits in with your conference. A U shape may be well suited to a conference which encourages audience participation, whereas for a traditional lectures format a theatre or classroom layout will suffice.

  • Make sure you have a dry run, and think carefully about each part of your programme and timings to ensure a smooth ride.

 

 How to plan a student party:

Whether it be a party for your university society or club, or a private student party for an event such as a birthday or Halloween, UltimateVenue has the best venues across the UK for you to choose from. However having used our venue search to seek out a great venue for your event, what else do you need to ensure your student party makes the grade?

  • Students are notorious for their drinking habits, and love of loud music. Give these basics the necessary attention and you will ensure success. Less attention to detail is needed as for say an adult cocktail party, so talk to your venue manager, and ensure the bar is well stocked in advance. Also get in a decent DJ who has done student parties before.

  • Think about the timing of the party. Some venues are strict about their closing time, and about people hanging around at the end so try to pre-warn your guests, and help to gently clear people off the premises at the end.
  • Selective invitation is not as necessary. A general rule is the more the merrier, though that is of course down to you as the organiser, and the limits of the venue.

  • You may get away with leaving venue-booking slightly later if you are not too selective, however if you have something very special planned you should be thinking about it a good 6 months in advance.
  • Students have a habit of bringing "a friend", so try to get a very clear idea of numbers beforehand. Some sort of ticketing system may be a solution so as not to overcrowd your venue.
  • Students are just big kids, and they love to dress up. Here is a list of possible dressing up themes for your party, to give those party photos a little something extra:

    1. Letter of the alphabet; Select a letter and everyone must dress as something beginning with that letter. Fun and it is guaranteed to bring in some creative ideas!

    2. What you dreamed of being when you grew up (Astronaut etc...)

    3. Cheap and tacky. Pick out the most horrible, nasty clothes you can find.

    4. Animals. Plenty of room for innovation here.

    5. Clashing colours.

    6. Hollywood. Dress as your favourite film character.

    7. Doctors and Nurses.

    8. Pick on a mate. Pick one of your friends with a distinctive dress style and all dress like that person for the night. (Probably a good plan to check he or she is ok with it first).

    9. Old School tennis players: Short shorts and sweat bands!

    10. Emergency services fancy dress: Self explanatory.

 

How to plan a kids party:

Getting through the planning and execution of a children's party can be an absolute nightmare. You just never really know how well you're ideas are going to go down. UltimateVenue has a few tips here that can help ensure there are smiles all round at party bag time, as your kids party goes off problem-free...

  • One essential component to a kids party is a theme. Hopefully you have found just the place to hold the party from our venue search site, but how are you going to decorate your venue? And what should the children come as? It seems obvious but asking the child whose party you are planning is the place to start, you can then rule out unrealistic or overly expensive themes until you find one that you are both happy with.

  • Begin your planning early. There is bound to be a whole host of additions to the original idea if your child gets his or her way so this will give you time for shopping.

  • Think carefully about numbers. The younger the child the less children you will want to invite, as small kids can be a big handful. Think about how many adults you are going to have present to help out. If it is just you alone then seriously limit invitations to avoid hair loss!

  • Unlike at an adult party, small details are less important. The focus here is on entertainment, and not just in short spells, but throughout the event. Try to think up a whole host of games for the big day. Have more games in mind then you have time for, as inevitably certain things wont take off quite as planned. Flexibility is the key word here. You are advised to be careful with prizes. Good sportsmanship is not necessarily common practice amongst your child's playmates so ensure there is a small prize for all participants.

  • Don't forget party bags. At a young age they are often a highlight of any party, so the disappointment of not receiving a party bag could prove too much for some hopeful infants. A nice touch is to make party bags in-keeping with the party theme. If you have just carried out a pirate party, why not throw in an eye patch from a dressing up shop? That will make sure all of your child's guests remember the great party you have just thrown.

 

How to organise a concert:

Maybe you are looking to raise money for charity, promote your own band or just do something a bit special for a mate's birthday party, a concert or gig can be a great way to guarantee a memorable event. But how do you make sure your concert really rocks?

  • Firstly set a date. You probably want to look at booking your venue at least 6 months in advance as many gig or concert venues are very much in-demand. You need to contact your concert venue via the UltimateVenue quotation tool and discuss with them when it is possible to hold your event.

  • Think about layout. What type of concert is it? Do you want your crowd to be seated for a more sedate affair or to stand up and rock out? Discuss this with your concert venue to ensure your ideas match their capabilities.

  • Promotion is absolutely key. There is nothing worse than a gig without a crowd, and if you can fill your venue this will really help the atmosphere. Discuss with your venue whether they can help promote the event on their website or with flyers, and look at other channels of promotion, depending on the type of concert.

  • Try to establish your budget early. Again discuss with your venue and make sure you allow for payment for the bands, venue hire, electricity if separate etc. Allow a margin in case of unforeseen costs, but try to stick fairly rigidly to your budget throughout the planning process.
  • Once you have an idea of all of the above, set a ticket price. Be realistic and ensure it covers your costs so as to make your event worthwhile. Don't overcharge, and try to ensure the price reflects the quality of your acts. If your guests pay big bucks to attend your concert they will expect to be entertained!

  • Think about getting a team together to organise the concert. This will spread the workload and will help with promotion etc. Assign clear roles to your team, but make sure you are not overlapping and ensure you communicate to ensure results.

  • Contact and book your acts well in advance. Depending on the size and popularity of the act you could be looking at up to a year or more ahead of the concert, but also if you are planning your concert around a specific act, make sure they are available before your book your venue!

  • Find out when the venue closes, or when they must stop playing music. That way you can carefully plan the format of your concert, ideally building up to a big finale. You don't want to be cut of during your painstakingly rehearsed guitar solo now do you?
  • Discuss parking and logistics with your venue, to ensure they are happy with the number of people you are planning to entertain.
  • Try to establish your budget early. Again discuss with your venue and make sure you allow for wages for artists, venue hire, catering if required etc. Allow a margin in case of unforeseen costs, but try to stick fairly rigidly to your budget throughout the planning process.
 

How to organise a great photo shoot:

So you have tracked down a great photo shoot venue using UltimateVenue and now you want to make sure that your photo shoot is a success! Here's a few hints and tips on how to make sure everything is picture perfect...

  • Talk to your venue about what is available, and what you will need to hire or provide yourself. You don't want to turn up at your photo shoot venue only to find that you don't have sufficient lighting to carry out a successful photo shoot.

  • Visit your venue beforehand. Even venues listed as available for a photo shoot may not be what you had in mind. Also talk to any venues which take your fancy but are not listed as available to hire for a photo shoot. A lot of our venues are flexible and could accommodate the needs of your filming or photo shoot.
  •   Think carefully about your subject and plan your photo shoot. If you are using a live model you will have limited time, and in any case your venue is unlikely to let you hang around snapping away all day.
  • Try to take as many shots as possible. It's easier to find the perfect image from a very large selection than from a couple of photos which you thought looked good at the time.
  • Talk to professionals. If you have not carried out many shoots try to get in touch with professionals to discuss technology and lighting etc. It is very difficult to know whether a shot will turn out well, or how much light you should use so it is important to gain some understanding of what you are doing beforehand.

 

Event planning checklist:

So you have decided to throw an event of some sort? Well here is an event checklist to ensure that you don't forget anything for your event. Whilst the event checklist may very slightly for different events, the format and timescale is roughly the same so it should fit for any event. Follow this event checklist to stay on top of your event planning!

Event checklist:

6 Months – 1 Year before

  • Set the type of event and the tone or theme

  • Consider guests – who and how many

  • Define the precise date and find and book your venue

2 months before

  • Send out invitations or create and distribute publicity

  • Think about the needs of the party – food, drinks, talk to your venue about who will supply this

  • Think about the layout and decoration of the party

  • Enquire and arrange the hire or purchase of any necessary items

2 Weeks before

  • Check with guests to get an accurate idea of numbers

  • Visit the venue in person to finalise discussions and get a good picture of the set up

  • Talk to people you trust to help out on the night, perhaps serving drinks or setting up

  • Test any equipment you have bought or hired

  • Inform your venue of your music ideas, ensure that the music meets the mood of the event

  • Talk to your venue about your decorations, ask if they know any good suppliers and discuss who and when will set up the event.

  • Check with the caterers that they are still good to go.

2 Days before

  • Set up your decorations if possible, discuss with your venue

  • Think of safety. Talk to your venue about first aid and your guests about any medical requirements.

  • Gather all required information about the nearest hospital for extraordinary cases

  • Brief your team of helpers, let them know who is doing what and when.

  • Think of the time scale and discuss the with the caterers. What do you want and when?

  • Find out the weather and then think about how this may affect your event.

  • Check the place for parking

Day of the Party

  • Finalize the decorations and carefully set up your equipment

  • Go to the venue well beforehand and find out about waste disposal and drinks service etc, know in your head the logistics of the event.

  • Get dressed into something appropriate in which you feel comfortable to socialize

  • Take photos or videos and enjoy yourself!

 

How to select the right venue for your event:

Choosing the right venue for your event can be a difficult process. You will likely be limited by a number of factors, such as budget, geographical location and capacity. But you also need to find a venue which compliments your event without overwhelming your guests. The right venue can make a good event great, but the wrong venue could ruin it. Here are a few points to consider when you are choosing the venue for your event:

  • What are the limitations of the site? You need to think about what can and can't be provided by the venue and what it is and isn't suitable to hold. To give a very basic example, do not plan a concert in a venue with a stage or space to put the band.

  • Site access. If you are going to have many guests coming from far away by car then you need to look at parking and access. Some of the country house venues may have limited access for cars, and if you have large amounts of equipment or decorations you will need to think about that. The larger the event the more carefully you should consider logistical aspects like this. For example a large conference at a hotel; the hotel will be open for business during your event so you need to discuss parking.

  • Capabilities of the venue. Look at noise limits, electrical plugs and other such aspects. You don't want to plan the layout of your concert and end up with an extension cable trailing across the room just so your band can plug in the microphone.

  • Does weather have a bearing? An outdoor event with a marquee would be hit hard by a thunderstorm whereas an indoor event in a hotel or nightclub is unlikely to be affected. Particular look out for extreme weather warnings which could significantly dent attendance or even lead to the event being called off.

  • Lighting, heating and ventilation. What sort of atmosphere do you want at your event? What time of year are you holding it? Think about ventilation if it is a dance party which could get sweaty.

  • Interior design. You need to find a venue with an interior that compliments the atmosphere you are hoping to achieve. Look at the size of the place, you don't want to overcrowd it but at the same time you don't want an empty room with 20 people standing in one corner!

  • Think about smaller aspects such as places to leave coats, drinks prices, table layout. These things can be forgotten but you don't want to leave anything to chance.

  • Catering. Does the venue have it's own catering service? Do you need catering at your event? Are you allowed to bring in food from outside or hire an external catering firm? What are the prices like when it comes to catering?

 

 

Keep an eye on this page, as more tips for different types of events will be added each week... 

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Written by Nick Freeman

 
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