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The 5 Scariest Event Planning Mistakes Everyone Makes

October 29, 2015

Is your event starting to look like Frankenstein’s monster? Event planning mistakes can quickly turn a well-intentioned event into the night of the living dead and, just like the movie, no one in attendance will get a happy ending.

There are some common pitfalls event planners run into, especially those with little experience. But don’t fret, it isn’t anyone’s fault. Horrific event planning mistakes can often be avoided with proper preparation.

Whether you’re managing company events or throwing a family party, it’s worth understanding what mistakes to avoid and what the better alternatives are. Here’s a breakdown of five mishaps you should steer clear of to make sure your event goes off without a hitch!

1. Forgetting About Murphy’s Law

accidentWe all know Murphy’s Law, right? “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” This is perhaps no more true than when it comes to event planning.

As an event manager, you need to be prepared with not only a backup plan, but a backup plan for your backup plan. This way, when something goes wrong, as it inevitably will, you aren’t caught off guard and don’t have to waste valuable time coming up with an alternative solution.

You don’t have to face Murphy’s Law alone, however. In the early stages of your planning, sit down with your team and brainstorm all of the things that may go wrong, and then come up with solutions together. This team mentality helps to keep event mishaps from falling solely on your shoulders when they do happen.

2. Failure to Track Changes

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll forget you had to change caterers the week before the event, but there are tons of little changes that happen throughout event planning that easily go unrecorded. This, however, can become an issue down the road.

Before you know it, small changes easily become big budget and timeline adjustments. Keep control of your event by establishing a process for event changes to happen that include documentation and confirmation through the event planner.

Anytime a change is made, go through your master documents and determine how that will affect the overall event. How will it influence the budget, space, and timeline of the event? If you diligently keep track of any changes that come up, almost nothing will catch you off guard.

3. Unexperienced Event Management Staff

event planning mistakesIf you have control over hiring your event staff, don’t take this responsibility lightly. Find event managers that have a combination of skills and certifications that ensure success in their position. For large events that require multiple managers over different areas, this is especially important.

If you are the unexperienced event manager, take a deep breath. Instead of hiding behind your pride, ask for help from the other staff members you’re working with. Don’t be afraid to delegate specific responsibilities to more qualified personnel and ask questions when you don’t understand something.

To ensure a smooth-running event, you may want to reach out to an event management company. Having a trained, qualified, and well-resourced staff at the helm on large scale or important events is a worthy investment and will save you time and heartache.

4. Misallocation of Resources

The worse mistake you can make is your event being understaffed or understocked. This makes the planning process that much more important. When you work out the logistics of how much support staff you’ll need, where you’ll need it, and how much product to order, think about all of the possibilities. You want to be prepared at every angle.

It’s better to overstaff than not have enough people to work the event. Hire individuals that can fill in at more than one position, in case you need to move them to another area. And have extra staff on call in case you get a bigger turnout than expected.

You may also be able to do this with product. Find out the return policy for alcohol and goods that go unused, and have extra chairs nearby in case you get low on seating. Communicate with your staff throughout the event to make sure everyone is getting the support they need all night long.

5. Overspending

scared manSticking to a budget is one of the most difficult jobs an event planner will have. Hopefully, if the event manager sticks to all of the advice we listed above, they won’t have too many unexpected expenses that force them to overspend, but plan your budget with an emergency cushion in place just in case.

In the early stages of planning, figure out what your biggest expense will be and try to find ways to cut that cost down. And whenever a purchase or change is made, make sure it’s thoroughly recorded, no matter how small it may seem.

When booking venues, caterers, and entertainment, make sure to ask what the deposit and return policies are. Make sure you have backup plans budgeted as well and put extra effort into understanding how much money the event is realistically expected to bring in.


Don’t let these bone-chilling mistakes haunt you. With proper preparation and support, your event will be more of a treat than a trick. And remember, you never have to go it alone. In The Event™ is here to hold your hand, even in the scariest of situations.

Institute of Event Management
Event Lion

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