Organising a successful wedding or birthday can take a lot of work and planning and there is a lot that can go wrong very quickly, so below are some tips which can help minimise any problems you may face.
Lets face it, this is the most important key feature, your budget will certainly guide your decisions on the type of venue, how many people you want to invite, the quality and quantity of the food and alcohol and if there will be any 'bells and whistles' involved such as a chocolate fountain hire or some spectacular ice sculpture.
Work out your budget very carefully, and it is worth thinking about having an extra reserve for some unforeseeable expense or problem. And then make sure you stick to that budget and don't let it get blown out to where you may struggle to pay for everything.
Keep in mind the bigger picture, yes it might be one of the most important days of your life, but it is just one day of your life, it will be over in a flash and you don't want to be paying it off for years to come.
2. Guest List
You need to work out how many people you can afford (and want) to invite. Be realistic on the numbers, don't feel you have to invite distant family members or people that you haven't seen for years that had invited you to their wedding or birthday party, the less people you invite, the more you can spend on them per head.
Even if you can afford it, bigger isn't always better - sometimes having a huge number of people at your party can be exhausting, every person there will expect you to spend some time with them throughout the evening when you probably just have a few close friends you would prefer to be partying with.
Work out your numbers first before looking for a venue, there would be nothing worse than choosing and booking a venue with a grand large ballroom but then you realise you only have a budget to invite 50 people, only 43 people turn up and you are all sitting in this huge vast room when you could have booked a much cheaper smaller venue that would have more suited the capacity of people in your function.
Or worse still you have one or more guests that are in a wheelchair and you have booked an upstairs room with no disabled toilets.
Probably one of the most important decisions you will make for your function - the venue can make or break the event. Location, price, food quality, service, facilities, dance floor, parking, city views, there is a lot to consider and if you make the wrong choice, you could end up with a disaster of a function which was no fault of your own apart from choosing the venue in the first place.
So ensure the venue has all the facilities you need, try their food beforehand, look at their reviews online, see how professional their staff are, and of course inspect the room - don't just go off photos from their website which can be misleading.
And just in case have a Venue plan B. Some venues can without warning cancel your booking or something unexpected happens like a fire or flooding. What if you have booked an outdoor area and it is going to rain that day? Don't just expect the Venue has a plan B for you, make sure you discuss with them what the alternate plan is for bad weather.
4. Function Suppliers
Find and book those suppliers - before someone else does. Do your research, look at their reviews, maybe get recommendations from friends or family that have used them before so you know they can do their job professionally. A lot of suppliers can get booked up a year beforehand so the sooner you can book them in, the better.
Alternatively most Venues will have a list of preferred suppliers they can give you so you can be confident they are reliable and skilled at their profession without you having to vet them yourself. They will also know the venue well so may not need much instruction given they have been there, done that probably many times before.
5. Planning - The Attention To Detail
I know it is obvious but make a list of everything you have to do and plan, double check the list, tick everything off this list to make sure you have remembered to organise every little detail. And a few days before your function, double check that list again to make sure you haven't forgotten anything.
6. Plan your schedule
Whether it is for a wedding or a birthday, have a schedule, it is a key part of function planning, not only to help the suppliers know exactly what they are doing and when, but you need to work out when is the function starting and finishing, when is the food to be served, the speeches, dancing, cake cutting. You don't want to be having such a great time that it turns midnight without you realising and half the people have left before you remember to cut the cake or hand out dessert.
The timing of serving the food especially is very important (lets face it - the food is half the reason people turn up at functions), you don't want to serve them food minutes after they have just sat down and they are more interested in socialising than eating, but you don't want them to be waiting 2 hours for food while continually drinking and feeling like they are starving.
You could organised the most perfect wedding or birthday, with delicious food and a beautiful venue but if you don't plan a proper schedule, things can start to go wrong, and you could have people left waiting for food or the main speeches start right when they are serving the main meal and everyone is trying to eat - it is a really important part of the planning process to make sure the night goes according to your schedule.
7. Double Check and Confirm
A few days before your event double check with every supplier and the venue all the details, time, prices and date to make sure you don't have any nasty surprises on the day. And if there has been a miscommunication, you will have the time to try and fix it.
Also check with your suppliers when the final payment is due, you don't want the DJ turning up on the day demanding that the final payment needs to be paid before he will start and neither bride or groom had thought to bring their credit card.
Chase up those on your guests that haven't RSVP (there is usually a few), don't just presume they are coming. Venues may ask for final numbers a few days before the function and then will charge per head on that number whether your guests turned up or not so it could be a costly mistake to just presume they will be coming and they don't.
If things do go wrong with your wedding or party, don't let these problems ruin your special day, do what you have to do to try and fix it, laugh it off and get on with enjoying your party. Chances are you have spend a lot of time and money on the function, so don't dwell on the bad things, your guests will be understanding and hopefully the show will still go on.
And if your function is such an absolute disaster that even positive thinking can't fix it, cut your losses and see it as a learning experience for the next time you have to organise a function.