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Weddings and Corporate Events: Not So Different After All

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Corporate event planners tend to think of weddings in one of two ways – either that they are silly and not serious or that they are scary events to be avoided (usually this fear stems from fear of the bridezilla). Personally I fall in between, probably because I’m a former wedding planner. Now, admittedly, my wedding planning career was pretty short. I realized that it wasn’t for me, not because I don’t like weddings, but because I think it takes a special kind of person to be truly successful at wedding planning (usually these people have a lot more patience than I am gifted with). But I still follow weddings and cover them on my event planning blog because honestly, there is a ton of overlap. We have so much that we can learn from weddings.

Events as we know them trace their roots back to what we now call “social” events. People were gathering together to “celebrate” life events such as births and deaths long before the first business meeting. Many traditions in modern day weddings date back to society dinner parties (such as escort cards) and in turn, some traditions in weddings have trickled down to corporate events where appropriate (such as favors and welcome amenities).

In my experience, the one major difference between a wedding and almost every other event is expectations. Most weddings (not all) are once in a lifetime affairs. Sure, corporations might have special events but it’s rare that a corporate event will be the only event they ever host. But for many brides, the wedding (which she probably started planning when she was a little girl) is the penultimate event.

The bride (or the bridezilla) might distinguish weddings from corporate events, but to be fair, there are also client-zillas and demanding CEOs and difficult to please colleagues.

There are of course many other ways in which corporate events differ from weddings, but here are some ways in which they are the same:

Logistics: Any event planner (wedding, corporate, meeting or otherwise) knows how crucial logistics are to any event. While a wedding planner may have to figure out how to reroute the bus taking guests from the ceremony to the reception, a corporate planner may have to figure out how to reroute the bus taking the VIPs to the private dinner.  A wedding planner may have to figure out how to politely move guests out of the church so the next wedding can begin to set up, while a corporate planner may have to figure out how to politely move guests from the open bar back to their seats before a keynote.

Flexibility & Contingency Planning: Any kind of event is really a series of problems to solve (and hopefully anticipate). Rain on your wedding day? What about rain on the morning of the golf outing? Any number of things from minor (the florist said she’d have coral tulips, not orange!) to major (what do you mean there was a kitchen fire at the venue last night!) can happen with any event, no matter what kind.

Guest Comfort: You want wedding guests to be happy; you want corporate guests to be happy. The basic needs of guests – to be comfortable, fed, and in the proper temperature – are the same with any event and the opportunity to wow guests or go above and beyond exist with any event as well.

Details: Most brides stress over tiny details at their wedding, but details are important at any event. While a bride may worry that her centerpiece is a slightly different shade of blue than she expected, a corporation will want to make sure that the blue in its logo prints on the programs at the exact Pantone shade.

See, weddings and corporate events aren’t so different after all! There is much that we can learn from weddings, from how to manage difficult clients or personalities, to planning for the unexpected, plus all of the wonderful trends that show up in weddings that eventually cross over into corporate events.

11 Responses to “Weddings and Corporate Events: Not So Different After All”

  1. Sarah Hill

    Excellent article and much appreciated. Now i knew that wedding and corporate events aren’t different after all !!

    Reply
  2. Douglas Brown

    I suppose it’s easy to distinguish one from the other, when in fact the two events both (can) require an extensive amount of planning to succeed. As someone who is currently planning a wedding these are great tips. In addition I was recently tasked with planning a company summer party and it didn’t cross my mind that I can be using similar techniques for both!

    Reply
  3. Jane Fox

    I’m just about done planning my wedding, and I’m right in the middle of planning a corporate party. Like Douglas, I didn’t think even think about how the two could be similar! I really like your point about guest comfort, since (especially at corporate parties), it’s really important that everyone be comfortable and have a good time. That’s the whole point–to make a fun event where people can relax and have fun. Thanks for the advice!

    Reply
  4. Samar

    All events are ultimately very similar and that corporate event planners can learn from wedding planners and vice versa. There are so many elements that are the same for any event, and so many great ideas that you can adjust from a wedding to a corporate gala. After all every one should be comfortable and have a good time.

    Reply
  5. Stephen Adams

    I agree with your point about guest comfort. When we planned our wedding, we made special accommodations for my sister’s food allergies. Coincidentally, similar efforts were made for our company’s holiday party menu. I didn’t realize the two events were so similar until I read your article. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Drew

    You are totally right about guest comfortably. Your guest are the ones judging the event at the end of the night so they should be the number one priority. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
  7. David Jones

    We all know that there is a misconception about wedding and corporate events, but I hope your post will help people to better know about both. Thanks

    Reply
  8. Zequek Estrada

    I totally agree that the basic needs of guests are to be comfortable, fed, and in proper temperature. I’m pretty sure that most people. Both weddings and corporate functions need these for everything to run smoothly. The idea situation is probably finding a location that suits the guest and host equally.

    Reply
  9. jresquival

    That’s interesting that weddings and events can have the same type of contingency planning. I guess the two end up having the same kinds of needs for logistics, often. Good planning requires a backup to your backup plan.

    Reply

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