You may be familiar with the old adage, “if it can go wrong, it will go wrong”, and if you hadn’t been aware of it before, you certainly are now. When it comes to event planning, many people choose to err on the side of optimism, assuming that everything will fall into place exactly as we hope it will, with no flubbing whatsoever… well, that’s a lovely hope, but it’s not bloody likely to happen.

If the forecast calls for nothing but sunshine and rainbows for the weekend a wedding is planned, people will generally assume that they don’t have to create a backup plan in case of inclement weather. Why would they need to, right? The experts say it’ll be fine! Rest assured that the one way to ensure torrential downpours and tornadoes on any particular date is to plan an outdoor celebration and not arrange for a plan B just in case.

Regardless of whether you’re planning a small cocktail soiree for a few guests or a charity event for a few thousand, be sure to scour through your entire plan to see what may require a contingency plan. This isn’t a question of seeking out the weakest links, either: sometimes the bits that go to hell are the ones that seemed locked in stone. It could be that the truck you rented glassware from hit a rock in the road and shattered a dozen champagne flutes (which is why you always order at least a dozen extra…) or the celebrity act you’ve booked has suddenly decided to check into rehab. If you don’t have a secondary plan available, you’re likely to have an aneurysm, as will your staff, volunteers, and all the guests.

If you are serious about the event industry, make these words your mantra: always have a contingency plan.

Whether it’s for a backup limo for the bride/guest of honour in case someone’s car breaks down, an extra block of rooms reserved for a convention “just in case”, or a spare set of rings in case the best man is too hung over to remember them, it’s absolutely vital to have a plan B.
Notes for your contingency plan:

• If any part of your event happens outside, ensure that there’s shelter nearby in case of a hailstorm or whatnot. If the event is booked near a building, have a room inside pre-prepared with seating, beverages, etc. If it’s an outdoor shindig, have tents at the ready.

• Have a backup caterer “just in case”: the head chef might drop dead of a heart attack, or the place might get shut down because of a licensing issue. Always have a second choice listed, along with how much notice they’d need to get everything together.

• If there’s a performer, guest of honour/surprise guest/etc, be sure to have at least one (preferably two) available that you can call in on a moment’s notice to take their place.

• Reinforce any known weak links: if you know the chosen ring bearer can’t be counted on, give a responsible guest/bridal party member a spare set of rings for the ceremony. If the event host is known to get too soused to speak, have an understudy in the wings ready to take over if needed—reserving a bit of your budget to retain a stand-in is a small price to pay as opposed to having an entire event fall apart.

There is a definite upside to making these seemingly tiresome backup plans: they’re almost like a pre-emptive strike against whatever negative karma might be lurking around, waiting to cause trouble. 99 times out of 100, you won’t have to use any part of your contingency arrangement, but you’ll be far more confident and secure during the event knowing that you have one just in case.

Lana

After spending over a decade coordinating and managing events ranging from weddings to celebrity charity functions, Lana Winter-Hébert has stepped away from active event work to pursue a new direction in her career. With the event companies and home décor specialists she writes for, she has the opportunity to flex her creative muscles to conceptualise memorable celebrations, and to share inside tips with those new to the industry.

Currently, Lana divides her time between writing for various clients and doing collaborative projects with Winter-Hébert: the design studio she runs with her husband. Best described as "endearingly eccentric", she spends
most of her spare time wrestling with knitting projects, and cohabitates with two hand-raised sparrows who live in her writing-desk.

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