5 Tips An Event Hire Business Learned From Its Own Event - #1 of 2

June 30, 2021

You might think that an event hire business would have nothing new to learn from organising a personal milestone event but you'd be wrong!

The director of My Event Decor, I organised a birthday event for my husband in May.

In my two-part blog post, I'll detail what happened.

1. Organising the date
In early March, I began to organise the party. After the snap five-day February lockdown, Melbourne's Covid-19 figures improved and I felt more confident about us being able to proceed.

Despite my husband's birthday falling in April, I selected Saturday 8 May to avoid scheduling issues over school holidays and ANZAC Day and because it was a great date, astrologically, for guests to have a good time. This gave me eight weeks to plan.

2. Organising the venue
As everyone knows, Covid-19 has made it particularly challenging to organise venues with frequently changing rules regarding lockdown and social distancing.

We wanted to book a venue in Bayside where we and most of our friends live.

It had to include kitchen facilities for the caterers to heat and serve food. We wanted a venue which would let us use external catering. It needed a capacity of up to 100 guests. Preferably it needed to have level entry for easy access for our older guests and it needed to be on ground level and/or provide easy vehicle access for our suppliers.

This eliminated a local bar which had sufficient guest capacity but lacked kitchen facilities, and a local restaurant which had capacity to 80 people if booked as a cocktail party, but a steep staircase which could be a challenge for older guests and added to the difficulty, not to mention the cost, for event hire products brought in.

On 14 March, after shortlisting three local venues, I undertook a site visit with my husband to the oceanfront Hampton Life Saving Club which met these requirements.

I took photos of the interior and the vehicular access. However, I didn't take my tape measure so I didn't immediately know the room length and width, nor its ceiling height which would inform the dimensions and quantity of event hire products.

I signed and scanned the hall hire agreement on 16 March and asked for the invoice to be sent which I did not receive until 7 April.

Unlike venues which employ full-time staff to manage enquiries and bookings, the club is run by volunteers who attend to event enquiries in their spare time. If you or your suppliers require prompt answers from a dedicated venue official, this can prove frustrating.

3. Organising our theme
The day we decided to book the Hampton Life Saving Club (14 March), we sent out a bulk Save the Date text message to our friends and family.

We needed to finalise our theme to create the electronic invitation and needed to confirm the date with the venue to start booking other suppliers.

Thanks to Covid-19 creating severe restrictions, and since holidays felt like a thing of the past, I decided to have a Gilligan's Island theme, with the party inviting guests to "Escape From It All".

Taking a risk on the venue booking proceeding, I paid for an Etsy electronic party template on 18 March and sent through the details to the designer who sent the final approved design to me on 24 March. I would never recommend this as you will be paying for a re-do if you have to change the venue and/or date.

We visited the club again on Sunday 21 March and met the club president who assured us that the booking was proceeding and on that basis, emailed the invitation to our guests on 24 March.

4. Organising the stylist
I had worked with stylist Charlene Hirschmann of Design Africa on a previous event and liked her work and texted her on 16 March to arrange a meeting on 23 March to discuss the party and theme inclusions.

I took a number of photos and measurements of the room length and width, the ceiling height, and the vehicular access.

From this we worked out the quantity of pallet crate bars and timber crates we needed to hide the surf club photos on the wall, the number of cocktail tables for guests, and the number of planter boxes with palms to hide the trophy cabinets and other dead areas.

We also brought in peacock chairs and rattan egg chairs to provide fun, photo opportunity seating, and four sets of bamboo tables and chairs for guests to sit down near the dance area.

We added our Balinese table top umbrellas, monstera leaves and tealight candles to the cocktail tables to help dress them.

Charlene asked me to supply a moodboard of my (and other suppliers') products I wanted to use, which I sent on 8 April.

5. Organising the decor suppliers
We contacted Emma of Feel Good Events and Sarah of Bangin' Hangins to meet us at the venue for a site visit on 6 April.

However, Emma wasn't due to return from her honeymoon until the following week, and Sarah was at an installation and couldn't make it.

Charlene and I realised that while the ceiling was high enough for the Bangin' Hangins streamers, the metal trusses that spanned the venue width were not. 

We planned to attach the 20cm long streamers to the metal trusses via magnets which would help keep installation costs down from a speedier installation.

However as the trusses were only 267cm from ground level, the streamers would have been within arms' reach of most guests and likely would have been ripped down.

We replaced the streamer idea with festoon lighting which worked in well with the Gilligan's Island theme and happened to reflect the string of lighting in the invitation design.

Next post: See what needed to be organised for the party with the caterer, photographer, DJ, drinks, and the delivery, installation, packdown and cleanup process.