Creative Elements of Event Planning

Row of place settings on table for a wedding reception
Altrendo Images/ Stockbyte/ Getty Images

A common denominator in event planning is creativity. No one sets out to coordinate the “most uninspired meeting of all time.” Event planners want to be remembered for integrating originality and imagination into their events. Often times though there is a boundary to our creativity. It could be a limited budget or a conservative theme that leaves us wondering where we can sneak in a dash of personality.

To help conquer situations like this, we've outlined some of the nearly-infinite event components where planners can add their creative touch. Next to each one, you’ll see an example of how to invigorate these details beyond the standard fare.

Event Title

Your title is the first thing that sells prospective attendees on your event.

Standard Example: The 23rd Annual Black & White Ball

Creative Example: 23 Years in the Making… Tuxedos under Twilight

Invitations

This is another first impression element that should effectively market your event.

Standard Example: White card with plain text in a white envelope.

Creative Example: Bright envelope with image-rich postcards that describe the occasion.

Venue

A special location can spark excitement weeks before the event takes place.

Standard Example: Hotel meeting room.

Creative Example: Restaurant or private suite at an arena or ballpark.

Catering

Every meeting and theme can be partnered with a unique food experience.

Standard Example: Grilled chicken with rice.

Creative Example: Chipolte BBQ pork loin served with mashed sweet potatoes.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most basic elements of design, and it can be used in a variety of ways.

Standard Example: Spotlights on stage.

Creative Example: Colorful uplighting to illuminate walls and white linens.

Seating Arrangements

After registration, the next top concern for guests is where they will be seated.

Standard Example: Round tables of 8.

Creative Example: Crescent rounds of 6 to eliminate guests having their backs to the stage.

Design Props

Props come in many different forms, from simple stage ferns to detailed scenery motifs.

Standard Example: Backdrops and banners on the stage.

Creative Example: Themed inflatables set outside the room or venue entrance.

Staff

Greeters, servers, and registration staff can integrate the theme of your event into their uniforms.

Standard Example: Monogrammed polo shirts and khakis.

Creative Examples: Sports uniforms, construction hats, or costumes.

Stage Design

The stage is the focal point throughout the event so keep it visible and engaging.

Standard Example: 8x12 rectangular stage centered on the wall.

Creative Example: Runway stage that extends into the audience for more engagement.

Table Linens

Napkins by themselves have the capacity to become a visual design element.

Standard Example: White table linens with burgundy flat-folded napkins.

Creative Example: Floor-length table linens in a solid color with contrasting napkins in a pyramid fold.

Chair Covers

Even the nicest banquet chairs look complacent at a large event.

Standard Example: White linen chair cover with a bow tie.

Creative Example: Spandex stretch covers that match the table linens.

Guest Speakers

Speakers and their message represent the content of your event and thus are tied closely to its success.

Standard Example: Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Creative Example: Celebrity or outside presenter who can tie past success with your company’s objectives.

Entertainment

Entertainers can perform before or after the content to add another unique element to the occasion.

Standard Example: DJ or Jazz Trio.

Creative Examples: Recording artists or talented performers from an area school.

Centerpieces

Whatever sits in the center of each guest table will be viewed for hours. Don’t waste the opportunity!

Standard Example: Fresh cut flowers or potable plants that can be taken home by guests.

Creative Examples: Ceramic artwork, picture collages or fiber optic centerpieces.

Table Cards

These are the signs placed at each table to identify the table number or guest seating position.

Standard Example: Printed card stock.

Creative Example: Framed table numbers that match the décor of the table.

These are just some of the nooks and crannies where planners can add a creative touch to events. The truth is that just about any facet of event production can be customized in some manner. The easiest way to get inspired is to attend as many industry conferences as you can and network with other planners when possible.