What you have to realize is that professional event planning is not a part time job. It is not like planning a birthday party or a wedding reception. It is not something you do in your spare time.
To do it right, there is much to learn; and to do it well, you need to work at it all day, everyday – and sometimes, day and night.
Professional event planners work on a large-scale plane, with complex information systems, labyrinths of rules and regulations, and multitudes of clients, suppliers, and attendees. This means running a treadmill of never ending study, attendance at meeting after meeting after teleconference, and 24/7 calling, texting, and emailing. You also need to be an accountant, advertising copywriter, web master, human resource director, and executive decision maker, and anything else necessary to produce a particular successful event . Marriage counselor? Choreographer? Painter of murals? Talk-show host? Videographer? Animal trainer? World traveler? An event planner will be all of these things and more in the course of a long career and hundreds of events. As an event planner, you have to see what is necessary for an event’s success, get someone to deliver the goods or service required, or in more cases than you might think – do it yourself.
At the same time, there are roles that professional event planning does not require, and that it offers precious little time to perform: spouse, parent, friend, citizen, dutiful son or daughter, party animal, athlete, hospital patient and any number of other self or relationship focused roles. This is because there is always a show date that cannot be changed and cannot be ignored, while all of these other things can wait, and – if you are a true professional – you will put all of them off in the days counting down to a big event.
One other thing you must never forget: event planning is not an occupation – it is a business. You must make money at it in order to keep doing it. You must market and sell your services, pay the rent, invoice the clients, enrich the lawyers, and put some money in the bank to carry you through the down cycles in the economy. This is all ignored in the drive towards a major show and must be crammed into the narrow space between shows – where it never quite fits.
However, aside from free lunches at leftover buffets, event planning does offer some rewards, and they are significant.
Number one, every event has an ending. At some point, successful or unsuccessful, each one is over. The exquisite feeling of triumph or at least relief that comes at the adjournment of an event is something that non-event planners will never experience nor understand. It is, perhaps, the most satisfying aspect of being a planner.
Number two, if you become very good at event planning, after thirty or forty years, you may have enough money left in the bank to stop and smell the roses. Of course, they will not be roses that you have grown, but roses nonetheless. Also, your peers in the association may recognize that you occasionally were effective and created some wonderful experiences for certain groups of people, and will reward you with a custom designed plaque created at the bowling trophy shop.
Number three, if you were lucky enough to have had someone put up with you as you pursued this selfless and exhausting vocation, you may finally have time to learn that person’s name, his or her favorite song, and the dreams that kept him or her alive while waiting for you. This can be a bitter-sweet experience, but for most it will be more sweet than bitter. So even though you will not deserve it, you may well receive a golden bough on which to rest your weary event planner’s head for the few minutes left in your existence after you hang up your Blackberry.
Event planning you will observe, when you take a good look, is not a part-time job. In fact, it is more than a full-time occupation and business; it is an exciting, frustrating, exhausting, woefully irregular, unbalanced, and — if you are especially good at it and lucky –- triumphant experience. It is more than a job, you will see; it is a life.