What's the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges we overcame on wedding day was a full building power outage on the hottest summer day of the year.
One of the biggest challenges we overcame on wedding day was a full building power outage on the hottest summer day of the year. It happened in the middle of the event set up while I was riding the elevator with 2 catering staff personnel. We became stuck in the elevator between floors and had to be rescued by firemen however the show still went on! I was on the radio with my team the entire time so set up was still happening accordingly to plan on the upper-level floors. Due to the power outage, we lost all light in the 1st floor welcome area so we filled the space with candlelight around the perimeter of the room for guests to see. Because the elevator was also out, we continued the candlelight up the stairwells so guests could safely go to the 2nd-floor ceremony space. Luckily we were able to borrow power from a neighboring building and were able to turn on commercial fans and hook up the sound for the ceremony!
The reception was set to happen on the 3rd-floor roof deck in direct sunlight and when the cake arrived, we knew we had to keep it from melting so we retrieved a generator that we plugged the freezer into so that the cake could sit in the cooler until we were ready to bring it out. We had servers pass waters to guests upon arrival at the cocktail hour on the roof to help them stay hydrated and everything still ran 100% on-time! Right before the reception officially started, the city block regained power and the bistro lights began to twinkle, ceiling fans started to move the air, and the band regained full power to party the rest of the night!!!
Tionna Van Gundy
Wedding Planner & CEO
Wedicity, Chicago, IL
The biggest challenge I have ever faced while planning an event was when the City permit office called me 3 days before our outdoor event and stated they didn't have our permits.
The biggest challenge I have ever faced while planning an event was when the City permit office called me 3 days before our outdoor event and stated they didn’t have our permits. I was in shock. I made countless trips to the office prior to this making sure everything they needed, they had from us.
We were told everything was good to go at our final visit and it was not. Thankfully we were able to book a nearby hotel that had enough space for our multi-day event. What was left was us contacting the participants and attendees to let them know about the change in venue. The show still went on and it was a success.
No one ever wants to be placed in a situation like that. We worked quickly to find a venue that would not further inconvenience our audience or those participating. It was a huge lesson learned when working with a city’s park and recreation department.
The restaurant owner decided to close her place...two weeks before the wedding!
We were hired to Day-of Coordinate a wedding that was to be held at a restaurant. The restaurant owner decided to close her place…two weeks before the wedding! We hustled and scrambled with the help of Lauren, one of our excellent Lead Consultants, to find them a new venue. And we did, on such short notice! This job can be so fun and stressful, and in the end, when the couple smiles down the aisle, it’s all so worth it.
I, unfortunately, had a wedding cancel at the very last minute.
I, unfortunately, had a wedding cancel at the very last minute. It was a destination wedding so it (the event) was happening regardless of a ceremony or not. People were in from out of town for this event. It was a sad situation all the way around. I had to help the vendors coordinate with the major change in the day. The entire atmosphere of the day changed. No one smiled, no one laughed. We had to flip the room from a ceremony to dinner. People got way too drunk. It was just not a good night.
Owner and Lead Planner
Ashley Nicole Events Inc., Chicago, IL
Dealing with families can be a challenge.
Dealing with families can be a challenge. With wedding planning there comes a level of stress for the bride and groom. Not only are they trying to make their own dreams come true but also trying to keep families and friends happy. But families come in all shapes and sizes and include lots of emotional entanglements. So imagine that we are in the middle of planning when one side of the family gets involved with a lawsuit and the monies that were originally available are now completely gone. This creates trauma in a multitude of ways – emotionally for the bride and groom that feel abandoned, the logistics of having a budget slashed in half, and how does this look to the other side of the family.
The first thing I did was to have a family meeting. I had the parents of both sides of the family come together with the bride and groom. I took control of the conversation by stating that life is messy and we are not always privy to the things that come at us. That this situation should not have any emotional value to it. Here is the new circumstance and what can we do to fix it without placing blame. You should never worry about Shoulda Coulda Woulda. I negotiated with the current hotel to release us from the contract that we were in, withholding only one of the deposits. I found a new off-site venue that was a city-owned plantation-style location. Imagine huge gardens, a stunning white two-story house with a courtyard fit for a king. Because it was city-owned I was able to get a $750 rental and we were allowed to bring outside caterers. I found a caterer that would work within our budget and changed the florals to be more appropriate with the location. We even changed the invitations by finding a local print shop that could give us the exact same product for a fraction of the cost.
Of course, none of this would have been possible if I didn’t have knowledge of multiple opportunities or if I had thrown my hands in the air. The wedding was stunning!! And because we were able to work within the budget no one felt stressed about trying to borrow money. The best part is that the lawsuit was settled and the family was able to give the couple a down payment on their new house.
Getting the client to trust my vision and the process to get there.
Getting the client to trust my vision and the process to get there. Sometimes when working with a new client it can take some time for that trust to form, but once they trust you, they hand over the reins and that’s when you can truly be free to create a beautiful event for them and their guests.
The biggest challenges are always planning events on our clients' private ranches.
The biggest challenges are always planning events on our clients’ private ranches. Ranch weddings are big. They are actually massive. There’s so much work that goes into it because it’s creating an event on a completely raw piece of land. You learn to work with the best vendors that care about every detail…and wear boots. Always wear closed-toe shoes when working a ranch wedding.
As a planner, I work with many different types of people.
As a planner, I work with many different types of people. It is my job to get to know them and learn how they want to work together. I feel that I am hired to make their event successful and thus feel it is my job to educate and advise about all our decisions. I am open and honest, but I still feel the client has the final say and I am respectful of that. I care very much about each event. 99% of the time it is a perfect match and we miss talking to each other after the event. I am proud of all the events I have helped put together.
Jamie Joffe Events, Chicago, IL
Compassion and calmness are the best wedding gifts you can grant a couple.
Naturally, planning a wedding is an emotional experience. I am blessed to work with the loveliest families. Because there is a high expectation for wedding day, there can be many opinions, dollar amounts and feelings in the room during pre-planning. My job is to not only manage logistics and details but sometimes also manage emotion and sensitivity. Compassion and calmness are the best wedding gifts you can grant a couple. Don’t rush the process. Sometimes you’re the planner, therapist, and officiant for the day.
President and Lead Planner
Suzanne Reinhard Events, Atlanta, GA
In general, I feel that a lack of communication is the challenge I face most frequently.
I do not think there is one big challenge for me – every event has its own hiccups. In general, I feel that a lack of communication is the challenge I face most frequently. Any change in the events schedule or flow can prove to be a challenge but what exacerbates this challenge is when everyone involved is not aware. It is incredibly crucial that when a change is made that all entities in the event process are notified and are aware. Failure to communicate results sometimes in a complete and total catastrophe.
A big challenge that we often face is helping clients achieve a look that they’ve found on Pinterest, but on a smaller budget.
A big challenge that we often face is helping clients achieve a look that they’ve found on Pinterest, but on a smaller budget. We actually love this challenge, and it’s so rewarding to find ways to help clients create their dream event on any budget. We approach this challenge by first identifying everything that was used in the photo to create the look. Next, we estimate the cost for all items. From there, we prioritize the décor in order of priority and start eliminating items until we fall within the necessary budget. For example, if we see a venue washed in tiffany blue lighting with huge floral centerpieces and custom linens and chairs, we will recommend using tiffany blue uplights to create the overall look, and then scale back on the centerpieces, linens, and chairs. The lighting will create a “wow” factor and achieve the overall desired look, and guests will not notice things like the size of centerpieces or linen material.
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was having a planned event on February 16, 2019, after having surgery on January 31, 2019.
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was having a planned event on February 16, 2019, after having surgery on January 31, 2019. My surgery date came as a surprise as I had expected it to be earlier in January however a call from the physician office changed that. I was hosting my first Valentine’s Day Sip & Decorate. This was a couples-only cake decorating workshop. Couples were invited to participate in learning the art of cake decorating while sipping on Champagne and enjoying chocolate-dipped strawberries. The attendees learned how to stack and decorate a Unicorn theme Valentine’s Day Cake. I did not want to cancel this event which would then disappoint my attendees. Additionally, I did not want this to affect my brand.
I reached out to another baker and expressed to her that I wanted to collaborate with her. I offered that she can retain the profit of the tickets sold however she would just have to purchase supplies and prep her space for me. I would completely instruct the class. She agreed and the class was a success. I received support from her, her daughters, and a friend with re-organizing her space after the class.
Knowing how to let things roll off your back and keep producing the event at exceptional standards has been a lifesaver.
The biggest challenge would have to be to not take things others say during an event personal. We focus mostly on weddings and luxury weddings at that – which means there is a high level of stress and pressure put on everyone involved to make this day perfect. And sometimes people may get overwhelmed and upset and lash out at us. I am an emotional person and used to take all of this personally and go home and cry. But knowing how to let things roll off your back and keep producing the event at exceptional standards has been a lifesaver. Most times, clients and vendors will apologize quickly and move on so you must too.
We face challenges with our Chicago weather, it doesn't matter what time of the year.
We face challenges with our Chicago weather, it doesn’t matter what time of the year. Mother Nature can change it up daily. We always have a Plan B in place. Challenges overseas are typical with the different languages. We download a translate app to our phones to communicate with those who do not speak English.
The unexpected factors are the biggest challenge in the world of events!
The unexpected factors are the biggest challenge in the world of events! Due to the nature of the challenge, there is no catch-all solution for problem-solving. It does get easier with time and experience. The best advice is to keep calm, focused and do the right thing, even if it isn’t the easy thing. Make sure to include the essential stakeholders in the decision making and/or resulting decision. Then communicate it to all those who need to know.
I think the biggest challenge I have faced is working with a very indecisive client.
I think the biggest challenge I have faced is working with a very indecisive client. They had hired me for Full Planning but ultimately they were the final decision-makers throughout the process. We would be working finalizing rentals and the bride would change her mind a few times going back and forth and coming for several meetings. Then once we got a decision, the groom wasn’t happy. In the beginning, it was a lot of wasted time on everyone’s part. However, I sat both of them down and told them we needed to start from scratch. Determine their true vision, what was most important to them and least important to them and start making secure decisions that they wouldn’t question. In the end, everything ended up working out great and when they saw everything come together, they were in tears!
It’s getting the client to trust you and the process and guide them to the right decisions.
The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced while planning an event had nothing to do with actual event planning; it was grief.
Excellent Question. It hits close to home. The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced while planning an event had nothing to do with actual event planning; it was grief. I lost both of my grandparents in the course of a year. Trying to focus and plan event details while grieving was nearly impossible. Thankfully, I had a team that picked up my slack and allowed me the necessary time with my family.