News-Record March 8, 2018
Rose Bennett Gilbert


Mothers-of-the-bride, avert your eyes!  This column is not for the faint of heart.  It's about "How to Become an Event Planner," a new class launching Mar. 15 at the South Orange-Maplewood Adult School.

Professional planner Tasheea Nicholson, owner of Socialbfly Events, will be sharing start-to-finish tips on how to master the business of successfully planning and producing any large event, from a wedding to a big birthday, from a baby shower to a funeral, and all life's important occasions in between.

Wait! On second thought, maybe this column should be required reading, not just for wannabe event planning professionals but also for anyone who finds her- or himself charged with throwing a big party.  After nearly a decade in the business, not counting extracurricular projects in high school and college (Villanova), and internships in sports marketing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Tasheea's best advice boils down to a four-part plan:

1.  Plan A.  Detail all the step-by-steps leading up to Event Day.  This is Plan A, the orderly procedure leading to the event you envision.  Caveat follows.

2.  Allow adequate lead time.  For a small local wedding, Tasheea advises nine-months-to-a-year, proportionately more for a larger wedding that requires travel arrangements. "The sooner you plan, the better your chance of getting the venue and the amenities you want," she points out.  Also be warned: last-minute arrangements often incur unexpected up-charges.

For other events, her ideal time-table allows three months to plan a 50th birthday; six months for a graduation party.  "With so many graduations happening all at once, get in early to avoid overlap."

3.  Set a realistic budget and guest list.  "Decide what is realistic for you.  If you know you will have, say, $1,200 for a birthday party, shop for vendors who will work within your budget.  And be prepared to winnow down your wish- and guest list.  I tell my clients to put a $ sign over each name on their guest list.  When they know how much they will be paying per head, it's easier to trim the list."

4.  The Caveat:  Always have a Plan B, C -- and D. "While you're working on Plan A, be thinking Plan B...and beyond," Tasheea advises.  Being an event planner sounds glamorous.  It isn't! she warns. Her chosen profession requires split-second timing -- "You even need a time line for the cake to be delivered."  

Also essential: nerves of steel!  Consider the wedding she planned between families so fractious the local sheriff had to be called into the reception.  "My job was to keep the bride from knowing what was happening!"

Or the time the temperature hit l01 outside and even worse inside the church, where "the groom and groomsmen were up to their necks in formal wear," Tasheea recalls.  From the back of the church, she "saw groomsman Number Six start to sway.  Then Number Four hits the floor.  Next, the groom goes down!"

Amid the panic in the church, she called 911, the EMTs sped in, and the wedding went on "with everyone sitting down," she reports.

"People have told me I'm crazy to take on other people's stress, but this business makes me be creative. I get to work with colors, with music, and lights..."  Tasheea says.  Not to mention happy endings.

Tasheea Nicholson

Tasheea Nicholson