My great grandmother and grandfather at a street party in the 1930s!

How to handle common challenges and setbacks that arise during the event planning process

One of the most exciting aspects of event planning is the great unknown; many puzzle peices coming together to hopefully create a masterpiece. I’ve not yet organized one event that didn’t have a few (or many) speed bumps along the way; it comes with the territory. But let me explain some of the common challenges and setbacks that come along with event planning and how to handle them.

  1. Going overbudget: This is so easy to do and one of the most common mistakes I see in the industry. If you haven’t already, read through my article on event budgets for a deeper dive to keep you on track. I will say, once you have a budget and you have deducted your fixed costs (such venue, staff, insurance), plus your advertising budget you will come up with a projected amount you hope to make, based on attendance and vendor participation. Think of the lowest amount you will be content with and the ideal highest amount. Once you have these numbers in mind, DO NOT splurge on extra costs that you cannot afford. For example, I had events on lower budgets and could not afford live music or a photographer. I did put it out there if anyone wanted to practice performing they would be paid an honorarium ($30-$50). This attracted us several beginner musicians and photographers who were happy to work with us. I’m not saying this is always the case or that we want to exploit hard working businesses, but think about what you can offer them as a partial trade (exposure on social media/advertising can be a huge incentive for an artist starting out). Same goes with decor budget. If you assume you will make $5000 for a weekend event, really ask yourself if spending $1200 on a fancy photo booth or decor rentals is worth it. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t again depending on the nature of your event. What can you borrow from your own home or friends? What can you source at the local thrift shops? Be as resourceful as possible and the more money that will line your pockets.
  2. Dissapointed vendors: Yikes. This is probably the most challenging set back to deal with. From dissapointment around floor plan placement, lighting, or poor attendance/sales. Sometimes even poor parking. As the organizer you are probably exhausted and feel that you have done everything you can to make your event successful. But do empathize with the vendor, try and truly listen to what they saying and are asking for if anything. Empathy has always found a way to calm these challenges. Showing the vendor that you are working to find a solution and you get how they feel. (floor plan location, attendance, poor attendance, location change, short staffed). Worst case scenario, money will always fix things if you feel you are at fault. A “how to can we make things right” will put the ball back in their court and mend fences.
Thats me, persevering!

3) Location change:

This has happened to me once. 2 weeks before a large event and wow was I stressed out. Your options are canceling the event or changing the date. We lucked out and rented a nearby community centre. We were able to change all marketing materials and place signage at the first venue incase customers went their first.


This is so dissapointing and disheartening for an event planner. What i have learned over the years is to always have a solid marketing plan that is shared with vendors and steakholders well in advance. In fact, vendors must be empowered to be part of the event plan. Send them social media images/posters and ask them to share the event, and email to work collegues and friends. If budget allows, send them each a free pair of tickets to give away on social media or to friends. If the event is poorly attended, you can share in the disappointment with the vendors yet also have visible proof that you did everything you could to bring an audience to your event.

5) Things out of your control (weather, vendors canceling):

The name of the game as an event planner is winging it! And winging it so gracefully that almost nobody bats an eyelash! Think well in advance, for example if your event is weather proofed. Can you get a stash of umbrellas or move it indoors? Vendors and guest speakers cancelling last minute is also frusterating and has happened to me. Try your best to find a replacement last minute, and if not can you simply google the topic and give a last minute talk?

Remember, this is no challenge that doesn’t have a solution. You got this!

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