I love my mom. She was a southern bell who taught me a lot about life and how to host a great party. I’ve met more than one event planner who could learn a thing or two from watching her work her magic.
While mom had a great eye for detail, knew a hundred mouth-watering recipes by heart, and had the incredible skill of making each dish come out of the oven exactly when it needed to be served, she also had a secret weapon … my dad. Where I grew up, we’d say he could “spin a tale” meaning he can tell amazingly entertaining stories, and always has a good joke or two.
You see, mom’s big secret was that sometimes the meals didn’t come out on time, sometimes the décor was less than appealing (aka gaudy), and sometimes someone else would bring over a main course that was as dry as burnt toast in the Sahara. However, mom knew she could count on Dad to entertain the masses until she straightened everything out. If the meal was a bust altogether, we’d end the evening in the living room with dad spinning 2 or 3 of his best tales until everyone was in tears and their jaws hurt from laughing so hard. A week down the road those guests couldn’t tell you what they ate or what flowers were in the centerpiece, only that they knew they had a great time at the Whiting’s and hoped they were invited back.
A lot of event planners rent the centerpieces, hire decorators, and book a caterer long before they consider entertainment. This is a mistake. Entertainment isn’t the icing on the cake, it’s what can save you when the icing falls off!
If an entertainer is mediocre, or heaven forbid bad, it doesn’t matter how good the meal was. The only thing people are going to remember was how the weird guy in the bad suit made distasteful jokes and poked fun at Aunt Linda. On the other hand, if a meal is bad, the decorations are blasé, or the schedule falls apart, a great entertainer will make sure everyone leaves the event in a great mood and with a memory they’ll cherish forever. This phenomenon is why most people can’t remember what they eat at weddings, but they always remember a great speech.
If mom didn’t have entertainment she could rely on (aka dad) she didn't feel comfortable hosting, and neither should you. If you want a successful event that people will remember for the right reasons, hire entertainment first (even if it's not me) and make sure they're top notch.