Working as an event designer involves creativity, planning, organization, and design, but it also requires attention to detail. To be successful in designing and planning a wedding, marketing event, a party, or a professional meeting, you have to ask a lot of questions. These questions will give you the details you need to make an event a complete success.
The importance of asking questions can’t be overstated. For instance, imagine you’re planning a wedding and you neglect to ask how long your client expects the party to last. You rent a facility that requires all guests leave by 10 pm, but your client wanted a party that would go until midnight. Details are crucial in design, both for practical matter and for the creative elements that really make an event a success. Here are some of the most important questions event designers ask their clients before making a single plan.
What Type of Event is This?
It may seem obvious, but the first question any event designer needs to ask a client is about the event itself. Is it a wedding, a professional meeting, a social gathering, a marketing event, a charity fundraiser? Knowing the type of event will set the tone for all the other questions the designer needs to ask, and it also determines the plans that need to be made. A wedding is very different from a convention, for instance. In some cases, the type of event may even lead to switching designers. Some event designers specialize in one or two different types of events, so getting this question out of the way first is crucial.
As an addendum to this important question, a designer can go deeper and as what the goal of the event is. A client may be baffled at first, wondering if the goal of a wedding isn’t obvious. But, it forces clients to really think about what they want in an event. Is the goal to show off or is it to make sure everyone has a good time? Is the goal to raise money or to help professionals network? The goal of an event is crucial for good design.
How Many People Are Expected?
A client may not have an exact number of attendees in the early stages of planning, which is fine. But, event planners and designers need to have a general idea in order to make the event meet the needs of the client. An event designed for 100 people is very different from one that is planned for 1,000 attendees. The number of people coming to an event impacts the location and space, food, budget, and so many other elements of a plan.
What is the Per-Person Budget?
Asking about the number of attendees first is important because it then leads to the next logical question about budget. Event designers should ask about the number of attendees before the budget because asking about the per-person budget is more helpful than getting an overall budget. Being asked for an overall amount is overwhelming and unrealistic. A client may throw out a big number, like $10,000, that doesn’t necessarily make sense.
A smarter way to approach budget is to break it down on a per-person basis. This is a number the client can better understand. From the per-person budget, the designer can then figure out the overall budget and let the client adjust numbers if needed.
How Long Will the Event Last?
Another practical and important topic is timing. Some events last for days, like professional organizations meeting for conferences. Other events are just a few hours, like parties and charity events. An event designer needs to know the timing and the duration of an event to make decisions about location, being indoors or outdoors and having enough activities to keep attendees busy and happy for the entire event.
What is the Date and Location?
Rounding out the practical questions is where and when. An event designer cannot start planning without knowing when the event will take place and where it will be. These may not be exact, and a client may want the designer to help choose dates and places. Or, the client may have a definite date or a dream location that has to be used. These are important details the designer needs to make the event a success and to plan all other elements accordingly.
What Kind of Mood Do You Want to Capture?
This is where an event designer really gets to work. A planner can handle the other, practical details, but the work of a designer is to capture and express the mood, style, and feel. Instead of asking a client what colors they like or whether or not they like flowers, asking about mood is what a good designer will do to really understand how to capture what the client has in mind.
A client may need prompting because chances are they haven’t really thought about mood. Designers can use leading words like cozy, modern, rustic, outdoorsy, fresh, or high-tech, to determine what the client really wants in an event. Understanding the mood will help with planning décor, location, food, music, and other important elements.
What Do You Have to Have from Your Event Designer?
Open-ended questions about mood are important, but for an event designer to really nail what the client wants, it is also important to get specific. There are a lot of trends in design and events, and some clients may have some of them in mind as must-haves. Hopefully, clients will speak up about these, but in case they don’t, it is up to the event designer to ask.
A client, for instance, may have their heart set on live music. For the budget, the designer may be planning on a DJ. The client is bound to be disappointed, even though the designer was trying to make a decision in their best interest. Asking about must-haves helps ensure the client won’t be disappointed and helps the designer explain the practicalities of budget and possible alternatives.
What Do You Not Want at Your Event?
On the other side of must-haves are elements of events that clients just don’t want. A good event designer will find out the no-gos as well as the must-haves. Maybe a client went to a wedding and found the fake flowers too tacky. With a small budget, fresh flowers are hard to use, but a good designer will make it work or find a better alternative if he or she knows that the client hates silk flowers. By asking what a client does not want, designers can avert disasters and a major disappointment.
What Have You Liked at Other Events?
Some clients have trouble answering questions about what they do and do not want. They likely have not given it much thought and need some prodding. A good question to get a client thinking about what they may and may not like for their own event is to ask them about events they have attended. Can they remember things they liked, food that was great, a particular type of music or band? And, just as important, can they recall what they really didn’t like, cheap linens, poor timing, or bad food?
Ready to Become an Event Designer?
This is a question for you, not the host of an event, of course, but it is an important one. If this kind of questioning, planning, and designing appeals to you, and you are looking for a new career, why not become an event designer? The growth in event planning and design is faster than average job growth, at eleven percent over the next few years and the addition of nearly 13,000 new positions by 2026.
Salaries are great for event design too. The average annual salary is $47,350 across the country, but designers in South Florida often earn more because events here are often so elaborate and high-end. According to statistics, top earners in this field across the country make more than $83,000 per year. There are some great opportunities in the Miami area and in all states to do creative and fun work planning and designing events, from small weddings to major week-long professional conferences.
If you’re ready to start a career in event design, you’ll need training and experience. You can get both from an non-degree event design program. You don’t need a degree to be successful in this field, but a program that will teach you the basics, give you hands-on experience, and provide you with a professional network can help you get your foot in the door. When you’re ready to become an event designer, start checking out the programs available in your area.