Event Management

Things Event Planners Have Done But Don’t Talk About

Skift Take

Event planners wear many hats and because of this, they have to juggle lots of responsibilities. Sometimes those responsibilities require swift and decisive action and complete discreteness. What happens with event pros, stays with event pros... until now.

What’s your dirty, little event professional secret?

Come on, we all have one. In some cases, the ends justify the means and we do things to accomplish the end goal. At other times, our dirty little secret allowed us to stretch resources past what we even thought possible.

How many of these things can you identify with?


  1. Put Out the Good Stuff First

Any party planner knows it’s important to make a good first impression. If you’ve ever worried you didn’t have enough to go around, you probably made sure your good food or drink was put out first. Or maybe you interspersed good with bad. Maybe you even…

  1. Watered it Down

Yes, sometimes you simply don’t have enough punch or soup to go around, so guess what? Maybe you watered it down to go further. It’s much easier to serve a watered down cocktail than to tell people you’ve run out of vodka.

  1. Bought Flowers at Costco or a Farmer’s Market

Sometimes there’s simply not the budget to hire a professional florist and you may have turned to a large retailer like Costco or a local supplier like a farmer’s market. Maybe you even made centerpieces from the dollar store with an idea you saw on Pinterest. Drastic budgets call for drastic measures.

  1. Had Someone Serve

All party planners know that an open buffet or bar is an invitation for excess. If you’re worried about stretching your food or beverages to cover your crowd, you might have switched at the last-minute from a buffet, help-yourself meal to one that is served to cut down on portions. Potentially you even had to jump in and help serve yourself.

  1. Limit Drinks

Another cost-cutting measure is limiting drinks. Have you ever told the waitstaff to limit the amount of times they came around the table in order to limit the requests for refills? Of course you haven’t. Neither have we. <wink, wink.>

  1. Used Someone Else’s Idea

Event planners draw inspiration from all sorts of places, including one another. But have you ever used an idea from someone else (like maybe a Pinterest pin) and then smiled sweetly when an attendee complimented you on your creativity with the design? It’s not like you said it was yours. You simply didn’t clarify that it wasn’t. It’s okay, we won’t tell.

  1. Offered to Find Out

Have you ever been asked a question by an attendee that you just can’t bring yourself to answering? And instead of giving them the answer they’re wondering about, you say you’ll find out, and then conveniently forget to return to them? Nope? Neither have we. But if you did, have you noticed it gets hard to hide after a while?

  1. Said You Called But Didn’t

This is one that probably happens more often to event planners than it is something we do, but have you ever been asked by someone about whether you followed up with a vendor, let’s say? When you realize you forgot, instead of confessing that, did you tell them you did call but they didn’t return your message?

  1. Gave Preferential Treatment to a Sponsor

Without sponsors, events would be astronomically priced and many of the extras event planners include to make it special would not be possible. That’s why it should come as no shock if an event planner or two gave a sponsor preferential treatment. As a matter of fact, it can be very good for repeat sponsorships.

  1. Skimped on WiFi Package

If you have ever done this as an event planner, chances are you only did it once. WiFi is one of those annoying extras that most venues require you to pay (a lot) for and yet going without it isn’t a possibility. For this reason, some newbie event planners have chosen a lower-priced package only to find out that service is spotty. Yes, you likely learned the lesson that you get what you pay for but it’s not probably something you want to talk about.

  1. Switched Out a Cake

Extravagant cakes can be incredibly expensive. Since the cost is based on the number of people they feed, some event planners use a small extravagant cake as part of a table design. But when the staff takes it back to be cut, they switch out a common sheet cake to feed the masses.

  1. Disliked a Major Celebrity

People outside of the business believe it’s all glamor and meeting a new celebrity every night. But meeting celebrities isn’t always a pleasure. Some of them are very pushy and demanding. Still, no event professional will diss and tell. You may have hated every minute you worked with them but the only person who will ever know your true pain is your best furry friend. Pros don’t dish the dirt on the people who pay them.

  1. Made Room for Someone Who Never RSVP’d

This may be one we grumble about all the time because clients force us to make room for people at the last minute. But what we don’t like to talk about is how that pressure caused number one or two on this list to happen. Still when the person signing the check says you need to find a spot for the VIP, you work your magic.

In Conclusion

Before this article makes event planners seem like sketchy wrong-doers, it’s important to point out that sometimes a little priming of the pump must occur to keep everything moving smoothly. Event planners have a lot to juggle and they rely on many people to help meet an event’s goals. Because of this, they may have to make last-minute decisions based on only the information they have. And that’s not easy. Plus, it’s unlikely anyone has done everything on this list, but then again, we’re not going to talk about it.

Additional Resources about Event Planner Secrets and Confessions

10 (Harsh) Truths No One Tells You About Being an Event Planner
15 Secret Tricks to Getting Event Vendors to Work with You
The Secret Formula to Event Swag
Confessions of an Event Supplier
Confessions of an OCD Events Professional
Confessions from a Venue Event Manager
6 Confessions of a Corporate Event Planner