Archive for September 30th, 2009

Watching The Clock At Your Party

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Having a tentative schedule of the events at your party is a good thing. Being slavishly locked in to that schedule is – unfortunately – not so good.

In the first place, your guests have their own timetables. And they may be very different from yours.

If you have a cocktail hour outside the ballroom, just getting the guests in the door may take twice as long as you budgeted. (Some hosts even resort to “crowd herders,” to shepherd guests into the ballroom in a timely fashion.)

However, other invitees – older ones especially – may already be in the room and at their seats when the dinner chimes sound.

Invocations, words of welcome, and toasts are also notoriously variable in length. A 30-second prayer that was scheduled to last for 2 minutes doesn’t do much damage to your schedule. But Uncle Harry’s “toast” that turns into a stand-up comedy routine can leave your banquet staff wondering whether to serve now – on schedule – or to let the soup get cold, waiting for Harry to shut up and sit down.

Also, parties rarely end exactly as predicted. Brides and grooms, stressed from too many intense days in a row, may run out of energy an hour before their planned departure. Other galas may practically scream for overtime. In either case, sticking to what you thought was appropriate timing ignores the real-world needs of your event.

Your catering staff, music supplier, and other vendors do need to have an approximate idea of the flow of the evening. But – as party professionals – they already know that your well-thought-out agenda is just a guideline, and is not chiseled in stone.

Time management is an important part of any successful event. But savvy event planners take into account that a few minutes more here or a few minutes less there, as needed, are the difference between a good party – and a great one.