Event Planning’s An Event In Itself

I hear the best defense against dementia is to keep on learning . If that’s true, thank God for event-planning. After planning two this past month, I’m sure my children will never need to plant a microchip in my arm.

I have learned much, been burned much, and achieved total respect for a planning process I never knew existed. That is because until now, events were something I merely attended, sometimes without the requested RSVP. Having to plan a couple myself must be God’s way of punishing me for that social faux pas.

The first was my own book launch party, where I learned that, as in law, the author who plans such an event pro se has a fool for a client. Immediately, the two of me broke the rule that it’s OK to talk to oneself, but not to answer. It started with the choice of venue.

“Lovely patio,” said the author. “Amazing mint tea.”

“Too little room,” said the planner. “Not much cover if it rains.”

Reason prevailed, and the venue changed, which involved reconstructing – almost – the invite list, stickering over the old venue and sending out e-mails, just to be sure.

The day of, only two missed the memo and therefore the event. One I took to lunch. The other, my hairdresser… well, I just gave her a book and prayed before the next cut . Friendly professional that she is, no problem.

Or possibly she heard that had she gone to the new venue, she would have been wrestling with enough traffic to fill a highway during normal times from here to Wyoming.

“Street fair,” the new venue owner explained. “120 vendors.” Miraculously, all but one guest found parking.

But the learning wasn’t over because within days I was planning another event, this time for an out-of-town speaker, who it turned out would driving four hours round trip to address us in pelting rain.

Until the weather report, I thought the only complication might be that I had scheduled the affair for the same day as an OSU home game, for which times were not being announced until days before.

The rain, however, provided the more spectacular complication with the speaker arriving both drenched and late, but not that far behind other guests who were either stuck behind breakfast-time tailgaters or could not find the meeting place at all.

The biggest surprise was an online event registration system, which somehow missed telling us about every fifth guest – something we noticed when they came to pick up their non-existent nametags and box lunches.

Not to worry, though. With the rain and those who just gave up, there were extra lunches, we’ll call “fungibles” since I failed to request that the contents be marked, in keeping with my failure to ask guests about dining preferences. In other words, the lunches turned out to be about as personalized as the soup line at a homeless shelter. But, as I persisted in pointing out, much tastier.

In short, I am in awe of those planners who manage to simplify rather than complicate their events and probably their lives. I admire them, defer to them, and urge them to replace me in this role. Rumor has it, they’re now willing.

And that result I could not have planned better.

Copyright 2009 Pat Snyder

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