“We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves…”
A statement made famous now after the rise and fall of the now infamous Fyre Festival by festival co-founder Billy McFarland. As a wedding planner though, I can’t tell you how many times I get a call from a bride on the verge of tears with almost those exact words as she describes the fear of their wedding not coming together for one reason or another.
Hindsight is golden. The internet is shaking their head at a computer programmer planning an event just because he loves good music and the ocean but that’s not so far off from a bride planning her own wedding because she loves looking through bridal magazines and organizing parties. Weddings these days are not like your parents’ wedding. They are multi-location, multi-vendors, multi-day experiences that many times require a production team to execute. Just as festival goers were shelling out thousands to attend the event, couples and their families are spending multiple times that amount on one day or one weekend for the most important day of their lives.
So whether you are a 25 yr old tech entrepreneur trying to organize a music festival, or a 25 yr old (insert your career here) bride trying to plan your wedding, there are valuable lessons to be learned here.
1. Using models to advertise a beach festival on a remote island is like using a Pinterest board to plan your wedding
Sure it looks pretty. But the reality vs the expectation almost never lines up. Social media was flooded with posts comparing expectations of flashy beach parties to the reality of what poor planning actually led to. Similarly, brides are often caught off guard by the pinterest board wedding they have pulled together and think nothing of the logistics, planning and money that went behind that one perfectly photographed image. Let your professionals guide you and take your inspiration to create a wedding that allows for elements of your vision to stand out while still staying within your budget.
2. Don’t skip the dreaded budget
Even with an event with a seemingly unlimited budget, there was still evidence of poor financial planning when booked artists started backing out due to non-payment. Knowing what expenses lie in front of you from the beginning and prioritizing costs for your essentials can keep you from hitting a financial wall as you draw near to your event date and realize you don’t have the money you need to make your vision a reality.
3. It’s never too late to hire a professional planner
By now you’ve probably read the first hand account of a talent producer for the Fyre Festival only brought in a mere 2 months before the event was scheduled to take place. From the moment she arrived to the festival, she had concerns that clearly were not being addressed and saw the writing on the wall. The sooner you bring in a professional, the sooner they can help assess your vision, ask the important questions and help you find answers. Then it’s up to you to take their advice.
4. Location. Location. Location
While you may not have to worry about sharks or completely building a venue from the ground up, your choice of location for your event should lead to a series of planning decisions – most importantly determining how the rest of your budget will HAVE to be spent. Can this location handle an event of your size? What do you need to outsource? How much time do you have to set up and how many vendors are you going to have to bring on? Is transportation to your venue going to be an issue?
5. Always have a rain plan
Festival organizers blamed an unplanned storm for the event’s failure but even the most inexperienced planners could have told you that every outdoor event needs a rain plan. Even if you aren’t holding an event on a remote beach, planning for a “storm” of any sort will help ease stress on the day of your wedding. Outdoor events have to contend with wind and rain and bugs. Weddings held in busy downtown areas have to contend with traffic, accidents, street closures. Things we can’t plan for happen. The difference between an event with a planner and one without is that professional planners spend time building relationships with many vendors so that in the event of an unforeseen emergency, they can come up with a plan of action quickly and make effective decisions on your behalf.
6. Know when to fold ‘em
There’s no doubt that Ja Rule had the musical connections, and McFarland had the means to promote the event, but that’s where the extent of their experience seemed to stop. Had they leaned on the advice and planning of professionals at any point, even in the days leading up to the event they may have found themselves in less of a mess. I’ve had brides contact me as close as 2 weeks out from their wedding and together we were able to give her the confidence she wanted going into her wedding day that her expectations were going to be met. No matter how much time you have invested in your wedding, finding someone to help you fill in your weaknesses or identifying potential problems will help you wake up on your wedding morning excited and stress free.
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