One of my first freelance events was a 70th birthday party (okay it was for my mom). Should be a no brainer. My day job entailed planning multiple business events, both large and small, all through the year.
For this very special party, I picked a great location: elegant, yet cozy, with a nice fireplace, and a beautiful bay window for photos afterwards. The menu was wonderful and fit the budget and even managed to work in a champagne toast. Surprise out-of-town family members were flown in. The linens, table settings and table arrangements were stunning.
I was on top of it. Everyone thought it was fabulous. So imagine my surprise when, as the delicious beef wellington was being served, one of the banquet staff leans over to tell me I’m one person over on the meal count.
What?!! I poured over that guest list. I counted up everyone, then counted again. Sure there were last minute additions and cancellations, but I gave the right number to the facility 48 hours in advance just as our contact specified. I know I had!
I looked around the room trying to figure out where I went wrong. Then I realized my mistake. One that is easy to make when you’re first starting out. I had left out the guest of honor. My meal count included only the invited guests. Luckily most caterers and hotels figure in a 3-5% overage even on plated meals. Some will say they don’t, but they do. (More to come on this in a future post).
So everyone had a delicious meal. It was a fantastic evening and I was the only one who knew of the problem. If you’re a good event planner and there is a problem, you will be the only one who is aware of it.
Deborah Sellers is an event manager with over 7 years of experience and believes the key to any successful event is exceeding the participants’ expectations.
Photo Credit: TEDxLasPalmas