Being an event planner is all about throwing the most awesome shindig ever, right? For sure. But the job involves more than venue selection and decor decisions. We’ve got all the deets on this super-demanding but super-cool job.
What exactly does an event planner do?
It’s an event planner’s job to ensure everything related to an event is taken care of, from idea conception to programming and day-of logistics. An event planner is charged with creating experiences and bringing visions to life, which means stirring multiple pots.
Meeting with clients, scouting locations, soliciting bids, managing vendor relationships and client communications, establishing and negotiating contracts, and managing budgets are all part of the drill, as are setting and managing clients’ and vendors’ expectations. It’s not always for the faint of heart.
“I take on all aspects of [our] events from start to finish,” says Laura Stomber, director of events at StartupBros, a company that supports entrepreneurship. Stomber checks out venues, finalizes food and beverage lineups, designs stage and event layouts, and negotiates prices, among a laundry list of other duties.
What skills are required?
Creativity and thinking outside the box are musts, says Kaitlyn Hostetler, an event planner and marketing manager at EVOKE, an event-design, planning and management firm in the Washington, DC, area. You have come up with fresh, innovative ideas to wow your clients.
Being able to think quickly on your feet is important too. When you have a roomful of people and things don’t go as planned—a supplier falls through, a speaker is late—an event planner has to find a solution before the crowd notices there’s a problem. Being calm under pressure helps, Hostetler adds. You can’t freak out when something goes wrong.
Good time-management skills and meticulousness are essential. Sticking to the schedule and attention to detail—everything matters, from the tablecloths to the order of the speakers—can mean the difference between an average event and an amazing one.
Are there other titles with similar responsibilities?
Directors of events, event producers and event managers may have similar responsibilities, though “planner” and “producer” imply creative direction while “manager” implies implementation. But it depends on the company. At smaller companies, one person, regardless of her title, typically handles the vision and its implementation, explains Stomber.
Who is an event planner’s boss?
It depends on the company. Some report to a director of events, while others report to the CEO or owner of the company. An event coordinator may work as an event planner’s assistant.
What do I need to get ahead in this position?
Be passionate about what you do, says Stomber. Event planning is stressful—tons of people are relying on you to deliver the goods, figuratively and literally, on an important day. Loving your job will help you give it everything you’ve got.
It also helps to master the art of multitasking and be proactive, says Hostetler.
How can I get my foot in the door?
Securing an event-planning internship or assisting an event planner on-site at an event are great ways to learn the tricks of the trade. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can plan on getting your first job in the event biz.