The Pros and Cons…Invitation Edition

One of the most exciting things to receive as a guest is an invitation to an event! Whether it’s in your mailbox or inbox, we all love to be invited to celebrate, pretty much anything. As a planner though, it takes careful consideration to decide if your guests will be ripping open a great invitation or clicking on a great invitation.

Today’s post is about the Pros and Cons of Paper Invitations vs. Electronic Invitations:

30th Birthday Invitations provided by AHappySlappyGreeting.

Paper Invitations

The Pros
Classic and Traditional. Many people find handcrafted, postal mail invitations to be a lost art and most guests would truly appreciate the effort put into paper invitations.
Formal, regardless of how Fun. Your guests will seriously take into consideration their RSVP to your event with a paper invitation. Most people will double-check their schedules and be sure they are sending a confirming response before they email, call or send in their reply card.
Totally Customizable. There are so many designers out there that can create an invitation uniquely for you. If you want a stand out invitation for your stand out invite, paper invitations are the way to go. The above photo of invitations provided by AHappySlappyGreeting, a greeting card company that can work with you to create customized invitations to start your guests experience.
Souvenir. Especially for weddings, baby showers and bridal showers, you and your guests can keep the invitations as a memory of the wonderful occasion to be celebrated.

The Cons

– Expensive. Great invites come at a cost. There’s design and printing costs to consider along with postage and possible reply card postage as well. The good thing is, they have some great preprinted invitations that you can find at your local and chain craft stores.
– One time Communication. When sending out paper invites it’s very time-consuming and expensive to send out any later updates. So, when sending paper invites, make sure all of the information is correct and nothing has a high probability of changing.
– Dealing with Snail Mail. When sending paper invites, remember what you’re dealing with. Invitations can get lost in the mail or arrive later than expected. Make sure you plan your mailing date with the appropriate leeway and make sure you stick with it.
– Time-Consuming. Before sending out your invitations, you’ll have to collect all of the correct mailing addresses, and if any invitations get returned for undeliverable addresses, you’ll have to do some research to obtain the correct information. There’s also the addressing, posting and sealing to do, so gather an assembly crew to get some help.

Electronic Invitations

The Pros

– Easy Access. If at any time your guest wants to pull up the information and details about your event, its right at their fingertips.
– Budget Friendly. There are so many electronic invitation services available online that I am sure you can find one to fit your budget whether it’s $0 or $500.
– Did you forget someone? Are you now going to start inviting people off the B-List? Electronic invitations make it much easier to add on to your guest list with a few simple clicks.
– Total Event Management. Many of the electronic invitation services available take it at least one step further, allowing you to quickly send out updates, print out guest lists and keep track of your RSVPs.

The Cons

– Casual Tone. Electronic Invitations come with a casual tone, which often causes people to not take it too seriously. Your guests will tend to ignore RSVP dates or just RSVP with a quick and easy click, and then not show.
– Over Themed? In most cases, I am a total fan of over themed events. The more detailed the better. But sometimes, electronic invitations can take a theme too far, and you don’t have any way of customizing it through your electronic invitation service of choice.
– Not everyone is tech-savvy. Yes, there are people in the world who don’t check their email every day. You risk having someone miss an invitation because they haven’t check their email or because it simply went into their Spam box :(.

What’s my choice, you ask?

I’m a traditional gal at heart and a professional event planner 9-5, so I believe in the charm of a classic paper invitation.

With paper invites you’ll have to be organized, creative and timely. If you want to set a formal and classic tone to your event, paper invitations are the best choice. On the other hand, Electronic invitations give you much more wiggle room to send out invites at a late date, change time, venue and even the date. But that comes with the risk of your event not being taken seriously from your guests, which leaves you with more hassle in the end.

Whether it’s in an envelope or through the click of the mouse, remember your invitation is the first introduction to your event, make it a good one!

It’s All About Service…Bar Service

Whether it’s a fundraiser, wedding or get together at home, bar service is expected. Even if it’s only beer or only wine. As a planner, you know there’s a demand, now it’s up to you to decide how you supply it. Deciding on a bar service is influenced by many things including your audience type, budget, type of event, timing of the event and more.

All of these planning pieces will leave you with the following choices:

Open Bar: A bar at which drinks are served free and paid for by the host, through an admission fee or sponsor.

Pros:
– Unlimited cocktail variety and options for the guests.
– A generous event element that your guests are sure to appreciate especially when its a fundraiser or gift giving event.

Cons:
– Liability. You must make sure the bartenders are paying attention to the state of your guests. We have to be sure everyone is comfortable and safe.
– Expensive. Open bar is the most expensive bar service option there is. Make sure to consider your budget when deciding which service to go with.

Cash Bar: Guests are charged for each of their individual drinks.

Pros:
– One of the least expensive bar service options (alongside Drink Tickets). Definitely friendly to the budget conscious planner.
– Limits liability. People tend to drink less when they have to pay for each and every drink.

Cons:
– Two words, Faux Pas. In cases of fundraisers or gift giving events, guests may feel slighted that they had to come out of their pocket to support the cause.

Limited Bar Sample Menu
(Photo: www.rusticweddingchic.com)

Limited Bar: Only offers certain types of drinks, such as wine, beer, champagne, signature cocktail and a nonalcoholic soft drink.

Pros:
– Every guest will be happy. Chances are, a limited bar including wine and beer, will satisfy every guest and the addition of a signature cocktail increase the chances.
– Fun! Who doesn’t love the idea of creating a fun signature drink for everyone to enjoy.
– Budget Control. It’s very easy to control your beverage budget when you don’t have to guess at how much of each liquor choice your guests will consume. Limited options, limited guessing.

Cons:
– There’s always one. There is a 1% chance you have a guest who doesn’t like beer or wine, or soda. But a 1% chance is one I’m willing to take.

Regardless of which bar service you choose keep in mind these few things…

– Interview and select your bartenders carefully. Make sure your bartender is well-educated on their craft and can provide your guests with whatever their cocktail of choice may be.

– You can’t go cheap. If you’ve decided to provide your guests with an open bar, make sure they are served middle to high level alcohol.

If you want to have an open bar, but have a tight budget, don’t cancel the idea totally. Set a budget limit and coordinate with the bartender or venue management, to let you know when you’re approaching the limit. You can then take into account how much time is left to the event, or how the event is flowing and either decide to keep the open bar open or transition into a cash bar.

Keep a close eye on your inventory. If you paid for it, it’s yours. This goes for catering food and definitely goes for liquor as well. If you have the option of purchasing your own liquor and only have it served by bartenders (which is ideal), you can always return the liquor or keep for your own personal inventory at a later date. If you paid for it, it’s yours. Remember!

Do you have a question or idea about Bar Service you would like me to explore? Leave a comment!

It’s all about the service…The Pros & Cons

Often times we’re so focused on what’s on the menu and forget about how the menu is going to be served. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of popular event service types.

Buffet/Stations

Pros
Oh the choices!: Guests love to have the option of what they want to eat, and buffets allow them to get what they want and how much of it they want as well.

Variety: Deciding on a set menu can be difficult, especially when you have a great caterer with so many great dishes. With a buffet deciding on what to serve is much easier, as you are able to give your guests more than just one chicken, beef and fish option.

“Sorry to be a bother”: When guests have to send back a meal, its uncomfortable for everyone. The guest feels bad, the waiter feels bad and frustrated and while you, the host might not know about it, you’ll see it in your pockets. Buffets avoid ” send backs “, if a guest doesn’t like an item, they can simply leave it and get something else instead.

Relaxed and conversational: Buffets are great for guests to mingle and network. If your event has a programming piece, make sure to allot time for your guests to eat and network with each other.

Cons
Not Budget Friendly: When doing a buffet, caterers have to a lot for various (usually larger than expected ) portions, which means you will end up paying a higher per person cost. BUT: Depending on if you go self-serve or staffed you might make up the difference on your staffing costs.

“Why the wait?”: Buffet lines can be very slow and have the potential of disturbing the flow of your venue. When doing buffets make sure everything is as easy as possible for your guests; clear labeling on items, correct serving utensils and easy pick up of plates and tableware.

Not ” green ” friendly: Buffets tend to generate a lot of waste. Guests tend to have eyes bigger than their stomach, leaving plenty of leftovers on their plates and since the caterer is generally overestimating, the potential of leftovers is high.

Helpful Tip: You paid for it, its yours. Often times you will find caterers packing up leftover or uncooked food and taking it back with them. (I’ve worked as catering staff, I know) Be on hand to make sure you get everything that you paid for. And to avoid ” feeding of the staff “, ask if your caterer provides a staff meal, they should.

Formal Sit Down Service

Pros
One word. Classic. With the right staffing, traditional and formal sit down service sets the tone for your event.

P for Perfect Presentation: Caterers love to show of their food presentations skills, and plated service gives them the perfect opportunity to do so. Take advantage of it! It definitely adds to the wow factor of your event.

Control: There is total control of your servers. You can direct them to go faster or slower based on how you want your event to flow. As opposed to buffets, where you are really counting on the pace of your guests.

Helpful Tip: If you’re looking to speed up your formal service, have the salad and/or dessert preset on the table to cut down on service time.

Cons
“Oh, you were there?”:
 With formal service, the amount of time guests can interact with each other is limited. The guests are forced to sit down at their table, with the other 7 – 9 guests, they miss the opportunity to interact with others. For formal service, try adding a reception before or after the program and service time.

No Shows: Since you are paying per plate with formal service, no shows can definitely cost you a pretty penny. It’s always important to gather RSVPs before hand and remind your guests of the event 48 hours before the event, to eliminate no shows. But you are bound to have a few ” no-shows ” no matter how much planning you do ahead of time.

BONUS:
Try mixing some non traditional service types into your event.

Butlered Service is perfect for cocktail receptions, as it allots for plenty of conversation between guests. It’s a budget friendly option because your guests tend to eat less when walking and networking. It also allows the planner to monitor how much goes out and when, if coordinated with the catering staff. By combining butlered service with buffet, try serving your more expensive dishes via butlering, such as your shrimp and prime cuts of beef. This will cut down on the popular items going too fast.

Helpful Tip: Plan out multiple routes for your servers. You tend to get the ” door hogging ” guests who stand post right by the exit of your serving staff and devour the food before the servers get to the rest of the party.

Family Style service is where each table is served full platters of the menu and are able to make their plate themselves. It’s a more controlled form of buffet service. I have gotten rave reviews on the family style service because it promotes and encourages dinner conversation. It’s very easy and fast service, as usually a whole table can be served at one time. And for the pockets it’s so much easier to control and limit food and staffing costs.

No matter what type you choose remember it is always all about great service!

The Pros & Cons…Band vs. DJ Edition

 Whether you’re planning a wedding, birthday party, corporate event or any other celebration there has to be music! You have your to-do item, now you’re faced with the decision of choosing between hiring a band or hiring a DJ to provide the musical entertainment for your event.

Let’s first go over the pieces of your event that must be considered:

  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Atmosphere

Here are the Pros and Cons to consider when choosing between a DJ and hiring Live Entertainment:

DJ (Disc Jockey)

Pros

Keep the party going!: DJ’s will keep the same consistency of the music going all night long, as they do not have to take breaks like bands and live entertainment do.

Budget Friendly: Typically, with DJ’s you are only hiring 1 or 2 people, instead of an entire band of 5 people. This leads to a very budget friendly option. In addition, it is customary to provide a plate for your musical entertainment, and it is much cheaper to pay for 2 plates rather than 5.

Easy Recognition and Selection: Have you ever heard a band’s rendition of a song and think ” I’ve never heard this rendition of this song “? DJ’s provide you with the authentic version of your favorite and requested songs. DJ’s are also a sure bet for selection! No need to worry about the band not being able to pull off your favorite song, DJ’s are a sure bet when providing all of your requested songs.

Cons

Stuck in the routine: The event is going on, and while you’re having a great time, but the DJ’s is bored at work. Some DJ’s can get stuck in a rut and not provide you with the exciting hosting you were looking for.

Music is great, but the hosting sucks: Most of the time when hiring a DJ you’re hiring the service of music but also hosting. It is very important that your DJ is adaptable and quick with changes, lively and has all of their information correct and current. We’d hate to announce the bar is closing, 30 minutes early.

Live Entertainment

Pros

Wow Factor!: If the right live entertainment is hired for your event and they provide the energy and atmosphere you are looking for, you can guarantee people will be talking about your event long after the band has stopped playing.

Guest Interaction: The right band is dedicated to providing your guests with a great experience, which usually means, guest interaction. Bands have unlimited options to jump off stage and dance with the guests or even provide them with a chance to join them on the microphone. This really adds to your guests positive experience at the event.

Cons

Budget Pusher: When hiring live entertainment, you aren’t just paying for the service of musical entertainment. Often times you will be paying for travel fees and equipment fees.

Break Time: It is not hard to see, live entertainment takes a lot more effort than DJing, which means they need to take breaks between sets. This means you do not have the same consistent energy and entertainment throughout the event.

“Sorry, that’s not on our set list”: Bands typically have a list of songs they perform during their sets. These lists may not include your favorite songs or any requested songs of your guests.

Once you’ve taken the total package of your event into consideration including your audience type, budget and event atmosphere, take the time to look over these pros and cons and decide whether your event is calling Live Entertainment or DJ.

If you put the time and the effort into choosing the right vendor for either option you and your guests are guaranteed to have a great time!