Are you a ‘get-this-party-started’ kind of person? If so, you could make a good living and even carve a career from your party personality – so long as you have a professional party planner’s skills and stamina to go with it!
Not convinced that being a professional party planner is hard work? We’ve worked with many and can say hand-on-heart that although every day is different, the truest thing about each and every day is the amazing amount of tasks you need to fit in … oh, and whilst wearing your best party smile, of course! So what’s it really like?
The bottom line is that non-event days, the days when an event isn’t being held, can be extremely busy in their own right as those are the days for catching up with everything and everyone involved …
1) Clients, contractors – and even committees!
- Whether you work freelance or for a company, catch-up could involve formal meetings for proposing big ideas and pitching for the job, or low-key but important meetings with clients to update on progress.
- For some party events, particularly charity fundraising parties, business awards or launch parties, you could be working with a whole committee of individuals who have a vested interest in the success of the party.
- Meeting up with contractors to agree contracts, check on their progress and ensure that everything is running to schedule is also a vital element of keeping party plans moving forwards.
2) Planning and setting up
Of course, the clue is in the job title, but it can be quite a revelation to realise the amount of planning a party planner role can entail:
- Creating themes, event schedules and detailed countdown to-do lists and schedules so that, from invitations to arrivals, catering, decoration and entertainment planning, no detail goes forgotten or is mismatched to theme and purpose.
- Creating layouts and floor plans – including the party zone itself and break-out venues, such as quiet zones for older or special guests and to facilitate networking. In fact, many businesses launch with parties which have an underlying business purpose, so planning for these means ensuring that networking party-goers have a wi-fi enabled places to connect.
- Planning staffing is also a vital part of each event, so you’re also likely to be creating staff flowcharts (particularly as many party staff may double up on roles, such as coat-checking to start with, before hosting and circulating with refreshments after everyone’s arrived).
- Depending on the type of party, the party planner’s role might also involve setting up different aspects such as social media pages, styling and theme options.
3) Correspondence and communications
An essential part of most days involves regular slots for catching up with correspondence such as emails, returning phone calls or initiating contacts with would-be clients or contractors. Setting aside some time for these communications is essential because, as a professional party planner, you’re likely to be dealing with more than one event at a time, and each client will want regular contact and updates …
- About those updates … communication could also include creating reports, such as budget and timeline, especially for major or committee-based clients.
- Vital communications may also include agreeing and writing contracts for contractors (such as caterers and entertainers) who will be part of the event.
- You could also be writing briefs which must effectively outline and communicate your design ideas – both for clients and for contractors such as decorators, designers and IT providers.
- Communicating risk assessments and ‘real-time’ schedules for events is also important. Once you’ve created these (as part of your regular to-do list) it’s essential to communicate these plans with all staff involved in the event and even, depending on the scale of the party, with relevant bodies such as the local authority and emergency services.
- Oh, and if you’re a freelancer, some of your own social media might be included here as you’ll also be keeping your own content fresh and replying to social media messages and enquiries, to keep your own business busy!
4) To do list and scheduled tasks
Any day where an event isn’t taking place means you’ll be getting on with your to-do list, that ‘anything goes’ list which will relate to every aspect of every party! At the very least, your main to-do list will include variations of:
- Sourcing venues, trying out caterers, identifying, interviewing and negotiating with providers for party elements;
- Organising entertainment;
- Logistical management – yes, that’s the cover-all for more than we can possibly list because every party’s personal! But you get the idea – from decoration to party favours, to staff uniform, themed accessories, prop design, supporting transport and travel arrangements, if the party needs it, then it’s down to the party planner to deliver it!
Those new to the world of event management will note the word ‘scheduled’ there! When you’re managing events, including party planning, everything has a deadline, so schedules are sacred. Being a party planner means not only setting schedules and adhering to them, but also making sure everyone else involved does too!
On event day
On event day, you’ll be working flat out, from setting up well before the event to overseeing (or even being hands-on) with clearing up afterwards, and could include:
- Arriving early.
- Setting up and ensuring vendors and contractors are set up.
- Making sure staff are informed and in place, and whatever it takes for the event to run smoothly.
- Helping attendees in arrival.
- Overseeing the schedule and troubleshooting any problems with the help of your backup plan (because of course you’re responsible for organising that too)!
- Evaluating the event – from perspective of attendees and those who’ve commissioned the party: both you and everyone involved will be looking for positive outcomes.
Overall, what being a party planner’s like can be dramatically different from day to day, but what you can generally expect from being a party planner is that …
In the long term:
you’ll have a flexible schedule which will certainly involve some long days, evening and weekend hours.
In the short term:
you can expect some 9-5 days when you’re working through tasks, meetings and to-do lists, but there will also be some very long days in run up and during an event.
Getting your party planning profession started
As ever in event management, the more experience you have in running events, the better your professional prospects. Professional party planners usually get started by:
- Organising parties for family and friends is a great way to begin – then scale up;
- Volunteering at party events, such as charity fundraiser parties and gala balls;
- Training in event management with a vocational course which includes work experience and volunteering opportunities.
Finally, for more insight into what it’s like to be a professional party planner, from those who do it every day, there’s a great article over at Vogue which includes lots of expert advice. Remember that all of these professionals had to start somewhere, so if you’re really planning to party for a living, Event Academy can offer plenty of advice, training and support to help you get your own party career started!