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Your Guide to an Exceptional Event

By Michael Evans

Putting together a great wedding doesn’t happen by accident. It takes careful planning and the enlistment of talented event professionals. Use the following tips to help plan your perfect day.

Take some time and visualize your event: close your eyes and walk through it in as much detail as you can, from start to finish. This takes a little time, but you’ll find that it enhances creativity and helps you anticipate and avoid problems.

Your site sets the tone for the experience: make sure your site fits the guest list — don’t try to squeeze too many people into the venue. And don’t pick a huge site that will make a small gathering feel uncomfortable. And remember, you’re not just choosing a site for an event — you’re also choosing a backdrop for your wedding photos.

Be clear about your reception’s purpose: This helps you create the right setting, mood and format. For example, if you want your guests to mix and mingle, don’t choose a sitdown dinner. A buffet or stations create far better movement and interaction. Define your event’s personality: If your
rehearsal dinner is going to be the first time that families meet, your goal is to put everyone at ease. Even the most elegant and expensive party will flop if the food, location or format makes your guests feel uncomfortable.

Include the right people in the planning process: Think about the stakeholders in your event. You don’t need to bring them all together in one room, but enlisting their help in thinking through each phase of the planning assures a smoother and more rewarding event.

Create a master plan: Put everything on paper and in your trusty binder. Writing down each step helps you spot things before they cause a problem. Include week-by-week and day-by-day action steps, identifying who’s responsible for what. Include all vendor contact information in this plan.

Work closely with the experts: The more your wedding professionals understand your event, the more value they are to you. Make sure your wedding partners understand your budget. Take a few minutes to talk about what you’ve liked (or haven’t liked) at other weddings. Experts can use this information to make suggestions and create just the right event for you. Look for vendors who can help you handle more than one aspect of your event. A caterer can help you with rental items and decor, and give valuable recommendations for sites, floral designers, bakers and entertainment.

Keep everyone in the loop: Setting up a website is particularly valuable for out of town guests who can then see where you have booked a block of guest rooms. Use the website to give a schedule of events, RSVPs, directions to the ceremony, reception sites and other important details.

Be prepared for emergencies: By thinking about them ahead of time, we can keep little crises from becoming disasters. Have a list of taxicab services handy for those who have had too much to drink. A first-aid kit is always a good thing to have, and find out if any of your guests know CPR.

Michael Evans is the owner of Helga’s Caterers in McLean. To schedule a consultation regarding your reception, rehearsal dinner or guest brunch, call 703.556.0780.

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