Events & Party Planning

My first event (2012)

For the Event professionals or those who have planned an event or party at some point…

What was the first event you organised?

I would say the first proper event I organised by myself was a Ladies Day, fundraising for Grampian Women’s Aid, back in 2012. This was while I was studying Event Management and I wanted to just get stuck in and get experience so decided to plan a charity event all by myself.

Ladies day fundraising event poster

Overall, I think the event concept was good and I am proud of the work I put in to it especially as it was my first one solely organised by myself. Of course looking back there are things I would do differently.

The event consisted of a fashion show, musician, belly dancer, stalls, cupcakes and a raffle. It was a female only event as the charity is a support network for females who have experienced domestic violence. I wanted the event to be a celebration of local women and bring females together to create a positive impact so attendees were female, stall holders, entertainers and volunteers were female.

As it was just me and for a charity I had very limited funds to produce the event, so it was very much a case of beg, borrow and… Rope in everyone I know!! We’ve all been there and to be honest even as a professional, Event management is still often a case of who you know and how can they assist. For the Ladies Day event I encouraged people I knew to get involved from the singer to the cupcake stall holder (some of you may know this person as she is doing VERY well for herself in Aberdeen now…. Cupcakes by Jo… Side note, if you haven’t had one of her cupcakes what are you waiting for?) and the  volunteers (fellow events students). As an event student you can never have too much experience, it really helps when looking for jobs or clients in the future. So if events is something you are interested in… Get yourself out there volunteering!

The venue Snafu is actually no longer around, it is where one of the Brewdog pubs are now at Castlegate (Snafu was the underground level). Therefore my event was not wheelchair accessible as the only way down to the venue was by stairs – this at the time was not a priority to me. I do think I thought about this at the time however the venue were giving me hire for free (as far as I remember) and it suited the activities and entertainment I wanted for the event and it was in the city centre. Therefore these factors made me dismiss the accessibility issues, at a time when this was not at the forefront of my mind. I can understand why many events are not accessible due to reasons like this as it has been something I experienced myself. However, now that inclusion and accessibility are important to me, this type of venue would not easily sell their space to me. Aberdeen does have venues that unfortunately many people can not attend which is a real shame as everyone should be able to enjoy events.

Talking of people enjoying events….

My Ladies Day event had a good concept (in my opinion) however it was not that well attended at all…. I would say partly because it turned out to be the hottest day of the year in Aberdeen so far and the event was in an underground indoor venue… Typical Scottish weather never does what we want! Beaches were busy that day so I heard… My event not so much! Secondly I could have promoted the event further and thirdly I left the event as tickets on the door so no one had prepaid so I didn’t know who to expect and people had no reason to turn up I guess. Therefore pre-selling tickets, where possible, is a good idea.

I had advertised a small snippet in the local newspaper, social media, some posters, word of mouth, through entertainers\stalls a little but I definitely feel I could have done more.

Sometimes you can have a fantastic event idea, great entertainment and everything but is that enough? If not many people turn up to you event, what’s the point really? So promoting your event is key!

The event raised £300 which is a very small amount in comparison to some fundraising events but never the less it was something for a very worthy cause. It gave me a lot of experience and a reasonable starting point for a career creating meaningful events.

Speech at fundraising event

One more thing to mention from this event which has led to one irritation for me as an event planner (there are many!).

On the day of the event I arrived early as you do, the venue had only just finished prepping the room and had mopped the floor leaving it really wet. I of course then slipped on the floor falling and hurting my knee quite badly. It was really sore, swollen and bruised throughout the event but even in those days the show must go on and I carried on even though I was hobbling around the rest of the event!

This is why it is now one big irritation to me as an event planner when venues leave the floors wet or with other hazards around when myself and staff/volunteers are arriving. I always provide a time of arrival for set up therefore venues should mop and prepare the room further in advance and ensure the floor is dry and safe before our arrival! I don’t imagine venues would allow wet floors before guests arrive for an event they are hosting therefore why is it okay to leave it in this state for the event staff to arrive? I too am a paying customer and will be swiftly moving around setting up so slipping is possible and rather annoying! I still at times get pain in my knee after this fall so a little keepsake from my first event! This may not be a big issue for some people, maybe I’m just clumsy and others can manage on wet floors without falling. However, I complete risk assessments when planning my events and ensure everything is safe for my attendees so I would appreciate the same from the venues for me! This has only happened in a handful of venues though thankfully.

So that was my first real Event Planner moment and I’ve been hooked ever since… even after a small profit, a little stress and a bruised knee, it didn’t phase me!

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