An Event Hero knows and understands that while setting up for an event, not all things go smoothly. If you are starting out as an event planner and don’t know this, it’s time you come to realize this reality.
Events have a LOT of moving pieces and many different people are involved in the production of an event. Therefore, there are many opportunities for Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong) to come into play. Sometimes it feels like this:
However, there are ways to handle this professionally and ways to be prepared for when things do go wrong. This is something we cover extensively in our VIP Membership. Just to give you an idea of what can go wrong, I’ve gone ahead and documented some event day hiccups from a recent event I helped produce:
LOAD IN START TIME: Timing can be a bear! We were unable to get into the facility until 3:30 AM the day of the event (Show time = that evening at 6 PM ). [Picture me silently screaming inside]
The best way to explain this was facility error. The venue had an event happening the night before and rather than sticking to the agreed upon load-in time, they chose to extend the time of the previous event, overriding our original load in time.
While I can see the incentive for the facility to allow flexibility to their other event, it really threw a wrench in our schedule and was not a best-practices way of operating.
Luckily, we have a wonderful crew that worked diligently from the wee hours of the morning until the next evening. They put in all the bells and whistles and still managed to function during the show. In fact, they were cooperative and nice to work with. That’s what we love about our AV team, they are a part of the team and know how to work as team members.
3AM load in had me like:
RIGGING for specialty acts: Things don’t always work out the way you had planned, even when you’ve spent months planning. This was true of the Lyra that was being rigged in the ceiling for the show. (Lyra – an aerial hoop that performers swing on)
The performers were doing the rigging, had done all the pre-event work to ensure safety, load in time frames, etc. but when on site, knowing where and how to pull the ring up and let it back in became a conundrum.
This is where discussion/decision making come into play, as well as being flexible and early on the scene. These factors helped us make sure we had a plan before the event start time. After a few discussions and some trial and error, we found a solution that worked for everyone. No one was the wiser that we had this little challenge and it was just that, a little challenge.
PULLED in many directions: As the meeting producer/ planner/ large scale decor for this event, I held all the information for load in and was multi-tasking like crazy. Yes, my adrenaline was on fire and I was loving every minute of it. Phone to my ear, giving direction to the stage hands on décor issues and sending people to their prospective places all at the same time.
I did have help from committee members and from my wonderful crew, but all were waiting on my direction for final placement, final confirmation and sometimes the exact know-how to make it work.
YEP! We got it done in fine fashion and the show looked great!
Other moving pieces: This show happened to be filled with volunteers – 80 designers, 100 models, 35 other volunteers for the day-of and a pretty great team from the organization itself. Most of us had been working on this event for the better part of a year.
Our talent wrangler, fashion show script writer and show producer probably had the lion’s share of the pressure. How do you make sure your designers, models and backstage support team shows up to help pull off this event? Well, you make it a great show! AND she did.
BACK STAGE REPAIRS: Bubble wrap can be difficult to work with and sometimes the welds or the seams don’t hold as hoped. We have a whole area set up for repairs. We learned this early in the game and now there is someone there to help with last minute repairs up until show time.
HAIR: Boy, this event lines up the hard stylists! – We have models of all ages in unbelievable outfits and even sometimes bubble wigs. YEP! That’s a lot of different styles. There are about 15 hairstylist that handle all the different hair styles to go with the fashion designs.
MAKEUP: Once hair is done, the makeup begins. Again, from airbrush artist to makeup artist, we have them lined up and ready to go.
DRESSING ROOMS: Dressing rooms are created out of drape and 4 rooms stay busy for those who feel shy. Otherwise, there is a big open room for getting ready and lots of people to help get the models in their costumes.
MODELS that didn’t show up: Need a size 6 that is at least 5’4” and only weighs 115 pounds…..OH and is available to walk the catwalk in costume in just 3 hrs. YIKES! But yes, it happens every year….this year, the backstage manager was able to step in, but let me tell you, managing the backstage before heading out on stage in this outfit was no easy task! – She did a beautiful job and again, no one knew we were a model down.
These were just a few of the challenges that we encountered that day, but the show was amazing as well as the entire room. In addition, the food was great and the guests had a POPPIN’ good time! This is a total win for this event and we all went home feeling great about the show we had just completed!
The lesson I want you to take away from this is that when planning and setting up for an event, do your best to expect the unexpected. Even if it is something you could have never seen coming, take a deep breath, put your thinking cap on, and get to work.
Tracy Fuller-White has owned and operated an event production company for 30+ years and has done events nationally and internationally for fortune 100 and fortune 500 companies.