DO allow about a minimum of six months to plan your event.
DO check your date to avoid conflicts with other large events in the area.
DO pick a theme.
DO send out Save-the-Date cards once you have the date and particulars of the event to allow invited guests to arrange to attend.
DO prepare your guest list for an accurate account of the number of invitations to be printed.
DO carefully check all names, addresses and phone numbers on your list for accuracy.
DO order your invitations early and carefully check for all details that are to be printed on the invitations before they are printed.
DO check postage requirements before mailing out your invitations.
DO prepare response cards or note RSVP with phone number and contact for reservations.
DO print meal choices on the Response Card (if you are giving guests a choice).
DO have a deadline for the responses. This should be at least 1 week to 10 days in advance of the event to help the caterer in ordering of the food.
DO keep the menu fairly simple. It is more difficult to serve complicated dishes to very large groups.
DON'T be cheap with the house wine. Figure on two or three bottles per table for 3-4 hour events.
DO plan to have 2 wait staff for every 3 tables.
DO have wait staff serve coffee and beverages if you are having a buffet.
DO plan to have centerpieces on the guest tables. Plan on either tall centerpieces on pedestals or short centerpieces, so that guests can talk to each other across the table. Short centerpieces should be no higher than 12-14:.
DON'T always think of just flowers for centerpieces. Flowers can be used in combination with floating candles or balloons. Objects relating to your theme can also be fun and effective.
DO consider using mirrors (either round or square) under your centerpiece. The reflection off the mirror will add to your centerpiece.
DO consider adding rose petals to the water when floating candles in a bowl. The rose petals help keep the candle in the center of the bowl.
DO pay attention to lighting. Lighting is an inexpensive way to add atmosphere to any event. Gobos can add spectacular highlights to a room. Gobos are templates laid on special spot lamps that reflect the image of the template onto the wall or ceiling. They come in many standard designs such as stars, etc. Most audio/visual lighting companies could provide you with standard lamps and stock gobos. Small white lights also add atmosphere. You may wish to use ficus trees with lights, or add them to your head table if you are having one.
DO use round tables for formal and semi-formal events. Round tables allow guests to talk across the table and this helps keep all guests in the conversation.
DON'T put more than 2 banquet tables together to allow easy access for guests. Banquet tables are used for more casual events or if you are very limited for space.
DO allow the following spacing between tables for chair and service space and maximum comfort of your guests 54" between round tables 60" between banquet (or oblong) tables where seating is back-to-back 24" between ends of banquet tables with no seating
DO plan on the following for number of guests at a table: 3 ft round - 2-4 guests 4 ft round - 4-6 guests 5 ft round - 6-8 guests 6 ft round - 10-12 guests 6 ft banquet - 6-8 guests (3 guests per side and 1 on each end) 8 ft banquet - 8-10 guests (4 guests per side and 1 and each end)
DO use floor length linens at a formal dinner. They are elegant and can dress up a room. You may also wish to add chair covers with or without sashes to complete the look, depending upon the event.
DO use either round linens or large square linens on round tables for semi-formal events. For round linens on a 5 ft (or 60") round table, for instance, a 120" round linen will go to the floor 108" round linen will have a 24" drop and be 6" off the floor 96" round linen will have an 18" drop and be 12" off the floor 85x85 square linen or 90x90 square linen will be long enough to give a nice look
DO use overlays and colored napkins to put extra color on your table.
DO put a colored napkin under your centerpiece to give it more color.
DO have music, even if it is only for background.
DO hire a professional or do without.
DO check the sound system before your event begins.
DO make a reverse time table and write everything on it.
DO make a checklist by categories.
DON'T rest until everything is crossed off your checklist.
DO think through your worst fears and figure out what you would do if such things happened.
DO make up your mind that something may go wrong, but that if it does, you won't panic, because after all, you are probably the one only who will notice.
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