Proper etiquette may come naturally to most professional event planners as they want their guests to have the best experience, but a novice planner may need to rely on a time-honored code of behavior. The idea of a party is to have fun, but the planning process can be daunting. Whether it’s your best friend’s wedding or an intimate gathering, hosting a group event can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some basic etiquette tips that you can use to make it a lot easier. Event etiquette is essential to making sure you do not overstep your boundaries or end up with a subpar reputation as a host. Etiquette is not a thing from the past but an essential part of making people feel at ease—at the table, in business meetings, and at social events.
Good table manners say a lot about you personally and professionally. Without a professional code, it is easy to cross the line of acceptable behavior.
2. Be punctual.
There are certain demands that are expected from the host and being on time is one of them. If you’re the host, make sure to be on time. Need we say more?
3. Dinner Timing
Plan dinner for at least an hour later than the time noted on the invitation, and give enough time to have a couple of cocktails in the meantime.
4. Delaying Dinner
It is acceptable to delay dinner fifteen minutes for a late guest. Upon the guest’s arrival, proceed with the course that is being served at the time.
5. Smartphone Etiquette
We live in a digital world, and as a host/event planner you certainly will need to stay connected throughout your event to ensure that you are available in the event of a crisis. Keep your smartphone in your purse and set the ringer to vibrate. If you must take a call, politely excuse yourself from the room or make the conversation short and sweet.
Make sure to let the staff know that you are the host (and their contact) so they can appropriately serve everyone else first (see #7 for Proper Seating)
7. Seating Arrangements
Make a seating plan in order to help your guests to not only make new connections but also to prevent awkward pairings. Don’t forget to tell guests that there will be a seating arrangement. Traditionally, guests were seated according to title and status rather than personality, but the modern seating protocol is a lot more relaxed. Here are some simple rules:
- Do sit host and co-host opposite each other
- Alternate men and women
- Pair people based on common interests, language ability, and expertise
- Don’t hesitate to separate husbands and wife
- If there is a guest of honor, he or she should be seated to the right of the host
8. Introduce Guests The Right Way
Greet your guests warmly as they arrive and make them feel welcome and comfortable going into the evening. As the host, you will be expected to introduce various guests to one another. Prior to the event, make sure to research your guests’ backgrounds so you can make introductions with context, including titles such as “Judge”, “Professor”, or “Doctor”. This is particularly important at corporate events. Additionally, be sure to introduce lower-ranking guests to higher-ranking guests.
9. Conversation Topics
If you are hosting a formal dinner, make sure to keep the conversation light and if it ever turns to politics, religion, or anything inappropriate, make sure to redirect.
10. Dietary Preferences And Restrictions
More and more people have dietary restrictions nowadays, so it is paramount to have a least one gluten-free, vegan, and kosher option on the menu.
When coordinators plan a party, they should be specific about the type of attire required. For instance, base your recommendations on the type of event and the rest of the guest list. Know what type of clothing is expected at this particular gathering. The type of attire might be dictated by the time of day, season, or by the quality of the meeting and event space.
12. Invitation Timing
As a quick reference, the larger and more important the event, the sooner you’ll want to mail the invitations. As a general guideline:
- Formal dinner: 3 to 6 weeks
- Informal dinner: a few days to 3 weeks
- Fundraising: 6 weeks to 3 months