Tag: party planning

No Right Way or Wrong Way…Only YOUR Way

I am often asked “what’s the right way to…” followed by a question about how to handle a situation one might encounter when planning a party. My answer usually is “there is no RIGHT way or WRONG way…there’s only YOUR way.” I say this because every bride and groom, every bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah child, and every honoree is unique and their special event should reflect who they are. So while there are social conventions that can help guide you, there’s no reason why you can’t get creative and have fun planning your big event.

This is even true as it pertains to your invitations.

For example, in years past, wedding invitations were very formal. They had inner and outer envelopes, the bride’s parents were listed as the hosts, and the envelopes were addressed with formal honorifics (e.g., Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). These days, however, not all weddings are such formal affairs. And even if they are, many young brides and grooms are not comfortable with the formalities associated with weddings of the past.

It’s now perfectly acceptable to mail wedding invitations in a single envelope. In fact, in the more than 20 years since I started designing custom invitations, I have never designed a wedding invitation with a double envelope.

Brides and grooms often address their invitations using guests’ first and last names without honorifics (e.g., Mary and John Smith). This reduced formality sits better with many millennials.

Brides and grooms often host their own weddings and send their invitations from them, not from their parents. And even when they aren’t paying for their own wedding, sometimes certain family dynamics call for brides and grooms to send the invitations in order to avoid hurt feelings. I have a current wedding invitation client who is doing just that. The groom’s father recently passed away and in deference to his mother’s feelings, they chose to word the invitation as though they were inviting everyone. Their invitation reads:

Together with our families
Jenna Marie
Daughter of Cynthia and Robert Morgan
and
James Edward
Son of Jennifer and the late Richard Jackson
invite you to join us as we exchange wedding vows

Instead of using a formal RSVP card with an envelope, many of my clients opt to use a postcard RSVP. We design the front with all of the requisite RSVP information (names of guests, accepts or declines the invitation, meal choices, and whatever other information they need to collect) and the back is printed with the return address. This not only saves the cost of the envelope, but the postage is less expensive and it doesn’t weigh as much.

One thing is clear, however, regardless of the formality of the event: a wedding needs a real invitation and a real response card. Weddings are special and while you may be planning an informal affair at an eclectic or non-traditional venue, sending a printed invitation is one tradition that still endures. But have fun with that tradition and make the invitation reflect YOU.

For assistance creating your perfect wedding invitation, bar mitzvah invitation or bat mitzvah invitation, contact Invitation Maven at info@InvitationMaven.com or visit our website at www.InvitationMaven.com.

Where do I start? The 3 most important things to know before you start planning your child’s bar mitzvah

You’re planning your son’s bar mitzvah. It’s your first time planning a party that’s this significant. Even if you’ve done this before, a million questions are swirling through your head (I know…I’ve been there. I’ve planned three!). But the most pressing one probably is: WHERE DO I START?

It’s common to feel confused and perhaps overwhelmed. You need to decide the venue, the food, the theme, the decorations, the invitations, the entertainment, and on and on. I assure my clients that the first decisions they make regarding their big event are the hardest, and the farther we get in the process, the easier the decisions become. But to make it easier, I’ve narrowed the millions of choices down to the three most important things you need to know first. The rest will fall into place.

ONE: THE GUEST LIST
The first and MOST important decision you make, the one that will really guide every decision that comes next, is WHO. WHO do you want to invite to share this incredible simcha with you? Do you want a small, intimate family gathering with only your immediate relatives and closest family friends, or do you want ALL of “your people” there, which might mean a few hundred guests? Either way, you’re making the WHO…the PEOPLE…the most important thing.

Once you decide WHO you want to invite, it’s nice to know how many to expect will actually attend. In general, these are my rules of thumb regarding attendance:

Under 50 invited: 10% decline
75–100 invited: 10% – 25% decline
100+ invited: 20% – 30% decline
150+ invited: 25% – 35% decline

As you can see, the more people you invite, the larger the percentage of people who can’t or won’t make it. If you think about it, this makes sense. With a smaller, more intimate affair, you’re likely limiting the guest list to the people you’re closest with. Those people tend to make more of an effort to attend special occasions such as this. As you expand the guest list to include more casual friendships or business relationships, those people tend not to make your event their priority. It’s not personal; it’s just life. But understanding these general rules can help you with your next decision: HOW MUCH.

TWO: YOUR BUDGET
The next thing you need to know is how much you can afford to spend. Put another way: What’s your budget for your event? The most effective way to do this is to prioritize. Start with the three most important things you want at your event. These can be things such as a specific venue, live music, a particular DJ or photographer, a special menu, etc. Creating this short list of priorities will help you focus your budget on the things that are most important to you.

One thing you should keep in mind as you’re preparing your budget is: will this work? My suggestion to you is to be realistic as you’re trying to figure out how much to spend as costs can easily get out of hand.

The best way to be realistic is to do some research. The internet is full of resources to help you get an idea of what things cost in your area. Create a spreadsheet for each of your priorities then add in other things you would love to have. Pretty soon, you’ll start to have an idea of what you can and cannot afford and can prioritize what’s most important to you.

Now that you’ve decided WHO to invite and HOW MUCH you’re willing to spend, you can start to think about WHERE to have your party.

THREE: VENUE
One reason why the first two steps are so important is because you don’t want to book a venue with a maximum capacity of 75 if you’ve got over 150 people on your guest list. Conversely, venues with high minimums may not be worth the cost if you’re only inviting 75 people. But once you “pencil in” your guest list and you know how much you’re willing to spend, you can start looking for venues that will fit your budget.

The venue you choose will eventually dictate the rest of the details of your bar mitzvah. For example, a large hotel ballroom with lush carpeting and decorative drapes and wall treatments will require different décor than venue at a local summer camp. Similarly, a venue on the beach with large windows overlooking the ocean will provide a very different feel than a venue at a local bowling alley or other kid-friendly locale.

There are two ways to narrow down your search for an appropriate venue: by LOCATION and by TYPE OF VENUE.

If, for example, your bar mitzvah service is at the synagogue near your home, you may want to consider a venue that’s a short distance away so your guests don’t have to travel too far between locations. However, if you’re having the ceremony and party at the same venue, you could venture a little farther away.

Regarding the type of venue, are you having a banquet with a meal and dancing or a kids’ party where the location can be more informal?

The easiest way to find potential locations is through an internet search and by asking your friends for recommendations. Blogs of local event professionals are also a great place to search for ideas because many of them write about local venues and post pictures. That way you can get a feel for the venue as it is being used. Finally, schedule a site visit. But before you go, find out as much as you can before you go so you don’t waste your time looking at a place that won’t fit your needs.

Once you nail down these three elements, the rest of the details of your party will quickly fall into place. To help you get started, get my FREE “BIG PARTY GUEST LIST SURVIVAL GUIDE: How to stay sane when 100 or more people are celebrating with you!” by clicking here: FREE SURVIVAL GUIDE.

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