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

July 21, 2021

Even an event decor supplier can learn some lessons from organising a personal milestone event.

If you read the first blog post, here's the second part of our two-part blog post.

6. Organising the caterer
Delicious food, after venue and decorations, is of enormous importance to an event's success so I needed a great caterer.

Based on great local reviews and the sample menus, which would cater (literally) for a wide variety of tastes, I hired Adorable Katering.

As I was ordering three platters of sushi (including one vegetarian) from Brighton sushi restaurant Kokoro, I asked for a catering quote for 60 guests (instead of the actual 80 invited) plus three on-site staff to prepare, cook and serve. This cut my costs but also prevented food wastage.

Count on a 10% guest drop-out rate thanks to sickness, disinclination, babysitter issues, car trouble and double-booking. I estimated we'd end up with about 72 guests (as it happened, we had 74).

7. Organising the DJ
It's important to choose an experienced DJ who can read the crowd and know what will get them on the dance floor. Rob Manning, who does regular DJing at Beaumaris' Gin Dispensary came recommended.

I contacted him on 20 March and his initial quote included nightclub lighting and a mirrored disco ball however this wouldn't have worked with the Gilligan's Island decor.

We placed him at the far end of the room, on a pallet crate bar in front of a 3D tropical sunset backdrop. I supplied him with at least 25 songs we wanted which helped him put together a great playlist and ensured a full dancefloor.

If a supplier includes elements you don't need or that won't fit your theme, ask them to remove it from your quote. Their bill should be less and time bumping in will be shorter, too. Plus, it removes the chance of their unasked-for, added items going missing.

8. Organising the photographer
I had hired Sandy Rogulic for two photo shoots with Moorabbin's The Studio Melbourne already and liked her work very much. 

So I reached out on 13 April to ask her to be our party photographer from 6-11pm to shoot the decor before guests arrived at 6.30pm and then to take shots of guests at the party.

While she asked for the run sheet detailing what was happening at what time by whom, on 14 April, it took until 5 May to finalise and share it with all suppliers.

We agreed that instead of a static background where people would be lined up for an obligatory happy snap, she'd roam the room for action shots, which led to more natural looking photos. However, there were certain guests who were never photographed.

Ensure your photographer knows which guests to prioritise for photography. You may need guests to wear name badges or an event organiser to point them out and/or round them up to get them photographed if you don't have an official photographic area for guests. Mention key moments for photography and timings in your run sheet.

9. Organising the drinks
After food - particularly for male guests - it is the drinks component that makes it a success so my husband was especially keen to ensure this was finely tuned. 

We made two trips to Dan Murphy's to make our selection and arranged with them to hold our bulk order in their coolroom as we didn't have enough room to put every bottle on ice.

We decided to expand beyond the usual beer, wine and soft drinks offering with a range of spirits, beers (including Asahi, Corona, Guinness and Peroni in a nod to the holiday theme), and soft drinks. We also supported Australian manufacturers by serving Jansz sparkling, 99 Crimes Chardonnay and St Hallett Shiraz as well as our friends' own Port Philip Gin.

Since your guests will congregate around the bar, have some fun ensuring it creates a continuation of your event theme, This could be the style of bar, type of drinks and/or the accessories displayed.

10. Organising the installation and packdown
We negotiated with Hampton Life Saving Club to let us bump in (deliver and set up) from 2.30pm that afternoon, and to ensure everything was cleared out by 10.30am the next day.

The access path from Beach Road is typically locked so we had to arrange for our venue coordinator to meet us there at 2.30pm. My run sheet included strict timeslots for other suppliers to drive in off Beach Road, drive down the narrow pathway and unload via the double-width doors, and then reverse out.

This should have been straightforward. I was hiring a Toyota Hi-ace van from Thrifty Brighton and had selected a 12.00pm pickup so I would have until Monday lunchtime to deliver items back to my suppliers.

Unfortunately, Thrifty Brighton closes at 12.00pm on Saturdays. It did not alert me upon my online booking (nor call to check if we were far away at 11.45am) so when we arrived at 12.05pm, the office was closed! The stress this caused was considerable but luckily for me, my Wilson Storage facility in Cheltenham had a van spare and I collected this at 12.45pm. This however meant we lost a valuable hour in packing the van.

In retrospect, I should have spent more to hire the van from 10.30am Saturday through to 12.00pm Monday than my 48-hour hire. I kicked myself for not collecting my van several hours or more before bump-in.

While we had 3.5 hours to deliver and install in the afternoon, our suppliers had only 12.00am-1.00am to pack up and load the trucks.

Guest gifts
We were gifting guests bananas, pineapples, grapes and oranges at the party's end as there were far too many for us to eat, and I didn't want to throw them out. We left the smaller items plus the drinks area for the final cleanup before we had to return the keys at 10.30am on Sunday morning.

Consider if you can avoid waste and make the cleaning up process faster at the end of the event by gifting guests with food, and/or certain decorations.

To avoid confusion or accidental "misappropriation", let your event organisers know what items can and should be given out at the end of the night.  You may need to allocate someone to oversee this process and possibly containers for guests to take them home, as well.

While it does cost much more, you will very much appreciate having a central event organiser to be responsible for supplier coordination, delivery, installation, packdown, removal and venue cleanup so you can enjoy your party.

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