Posted in events, out of character, so you think you can't

So You Think You Can’t Plan Events, Part 1

I’ve been asked for a while to do this, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to approach it. We’ll see I guess. Hello and welcome to the first of who-knows-how-many posts on the tao of planning/organizing events. This is meant to apply in SL; however, probably many of the things I mention will probably work when applied to RL events as well.

To begin with, I’ll mention some of the Noble Truths of Event Planning. These are the things to keep in mind at all stages of planning your big event.

The First Noble Truth: You can’t please all the people all the time. It’s just a simple fact: someone is going to have something to bitch about. You, the person in charge, have to decide if that complaint is worth addressing or not. You must walk the middle path between being a hard-ass tyrant and a floppy, indecisive people pleaser. Be flexible enough to make changes if they need to be made; but be firm enough to stick to a decision you make.

The Second Noble Truth: People are completely unpredictable. Because of this, it is wise to have at least one back-up plan in place, possibly more. You might have a person in charge of a certain area who suddenly gets sick the day before the Big Event. Be prepared for that.

The Third Noble Truth: Conflict is inevitable; drama is optional. The more you delegate, the more cooks will be at the proverbial soup pot. There will be differences of opinion, there will be conflicts in plans, there will be times when you have to put your foot down and make the executive decision. Keep everyone in open contact with one another at all phases of planning, and tantrums are far less likely to follow.

The Fourth Noble Truth: If you want something done your way, best to do it yourself. If you do it yourself, you WILL get exhausted. Again, a middle path must be found. If you see to it that every little detail goes precisely the way you planned it, you will do all the work, you will lose lots of sleep, you will probably burn yourself out and never want to do it again. If you can find people you can trust enough to make decisions for themselves, good on you. Delegating is good.

The Fifth Noble Truth: Your event might suck. It does not make you a bad event planner. Any number of things could happen to cause your event to be a wash. It could be at a time conflicting with numerous other events (like any Saturday night on the grid), there could be a rolling restart, the guest of honor may not be anywhere to be found 😉 (see #2)… it doesn’t mean you suck as an event planner or even that it was a sucky event. Learn what you can from it, and apply it next time.

I learned most of what I know about event planning when I planned my own RL wedding 5 years ago. Damned if I was going to pay some stranger to tell me how to spend my wedding day! We had a very tight budget and had to be creative. I had several moments that gave me perspective.

For one thing, it wasn’t “my” day; it was “our” day. It was Day One of a marriage, and infinitely more important than Day One was every day that would come after it. That kept us from getting stupid about expenses. And while himself was glad I wanted to include him in the planning process, he put it succinctly when he said, “Honey, I’m just not going to get excited about goblets.” It was his way of saying yes, include me in the big decisions like how much to spend on the rings; but the rest, I trust your judgment.

Another thing we kept in mind was that we were not doing this for Mom, or some aunt, or some relative we see all of once every decade. We were doing this for us, and it was going to be done in a way we wanted. At the same time, however, we understood that the guests were not just there for decoration. We weren’t doing this for them, but we surely kept their enjoyment in mind. We wrote our own vows… and kept them brief. We asked that people garb up if they were in the wedding party itself, and made garb optional for anyone else. My dad, much to my dismay, didn’t want to wear a kilt. And if I’d insisted, he’d have been uncomfortable and NOT had a good time. My mom, who walked me down the aisle, was all to happy to wear a bodice and chemise for me (in fact she was surprised at how comfortable and fun it was). We got cake that was inexpensive and yet delicious, and we didn’t keep people waiting through 200 different self-serving symbolic dances to have it. I told the bridesmaids, these are the colors I want. Wear whatever you want, using them.

So I learned through that experience the importance of keeping the Big Picture in mind throughout the planning process. So ask yourself first thing, in planning a big event, what is the Big Picture? What do you want to accomplish? Worry about how later on, worry about what right now. You want, at least I would assume, your guests to have a good time. You may want them to part with their money. You may want them to just hear about your place and come again in the future. You may want your sim to be introduced to a broader audience. You may just want to do something fun that brings the community together. It could be any or a mix of all of these things.

We’ll start in with the “how”, next time.




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