Anyone who’s ever planned a big event will 99% of the time say the words afterwards ‘it was so stressful’ even if it was an exciting one off like a wedding or big birthday. And the role of event planner has repeatedly cropped up in the top 10 most stressful jobs for many years running. But why? is that? Personally, I often compare the final days running up to an event as a bit like letting go of a shopping trolley at the top of a steep hill and then having to sprint after it as it speeds away from you, desperately trying to keep up.
Yet friends say to me ‘your job is so cool and glamorous!’
Fact: things always look way more cool and glamorous than they actually are (a good example being Instagram vs Reality). People hear about the amazing venue, the stunning flowers, the famous guests, the surprise superstar performance and go WOW you have the best job ever. They don’t think about the hours and hours stuffing envelopes and gagging from the taste of licking the glue or see you frantically dragging chairs across a room. It’s hard work. The bits you see in the magazines and on social media are the tip of a huge iceberg and the bit below the surface is months and months of graft and often a lot of stress.
Deadlines. Pressure. Last minute changes. Inevitably a few nightmare people to deal with and manage. Horrible hosts. Conflicting ideas. Egos. Spiralling costs. Unrealistic expectations.
You’re acting as a Jack of all Trades, an accountant to keep the finances in check, a human excel spreadsheet keeping mental track of all the guests and dietary and seating requirements, a designer getting the look and feel of the event right, an agony aunt for a committee member who doesn’t feel their input is being heard, a labourer hefting furniture around, a fundraiser making sure the auction makes enough money, a salesperson to shift all the tickets, a mediator to liaise between warring hosts, an entertainer to put on a thrilling experience for guests and a team leader/project manager to make sure everything happens at the right time. Of course, there is both technology and (hopefully) other members of a team or contractors to support you in all this but ultimately it comes down to you as the event manager, you feel allllll the responsibility and pressure. You know what they say, if you can’t stand the heat then stay out of the kitchen. But there must be a head chef right or no one would get dinner. There must be someone in overall control to pull it all together even if there are people taking care of each bit like catering, production, flowers, entertainment, and so on and so on.
And there’s a countdown clock ticking loudly to the time guests walk through the door. It's a pretty horrible feeling. I've had so many nights where I've woken up at 2am panicking that I'll forget something and sent myself countless sleepy reminder emails.
I’m someone who really thrives on being busy and gets a real buzz out of having things to do, things to tick off a list and complete and to complete perfectly so that I can look at it and see order and beauty. But I have countless memories of being totally overwhelmed in the leadup to the event day, existing in a state of nervous agitation and then collapsing with a glass of wine once the guests have gone, completely wired. And then inevitably getting ill. And then the cycle begins again and around and around we go. But it's also kind of addictive? And creating something so impressive, watching it grow and all come together is also hugely fun and rewarding. Maybe we're all just a bunch of sadists. Or maybe there is another way.
Part of my motivation for starting this site was to provide an open and honest resource for event planners to lighten the load or equip them to carry it more effectively. I was thinking of some guest posts from Wellness professionals, perhaps a webinar where people can submit questions. If you’re an event planner, comment below and let me know what might help you I’d love your input.