Reunion Planning Tips

Post Date March 24, 2010

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Note to Reunion Advisor:
Plan early. The preliminary plans for any reunion are generally made at least one year before the reunion event date. At this time‚ the selection of a committee and their assigned tasks begin to take shape. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look back to see what the previous committee and advisor have done. Ask for notes‚ lists‚ and dates from last year’s Reunion Advisor. Keeping a detailed list of dates‚ meetings‚ plans and decisions will keep you organized throughout the process.

1 Year before the Reunion

  • Choose members for your committee and subcommittees.
  • Set the date and choose a theme for the event.
  • Set up your budget and any necessary accounts at the bank.
  • Book the venue.

9 Months before the Reunion

  • Book band or DJ and photographer.
  • Begin discussing ideas for decorationsinvitations and programs.
  • Decide which favors will be given to reunion attendees and order them.
  • Consider imprinted shirts, glassware or favors. Start on artwork.
  • Set the party theme and consider setting the tone with scene setters.

2-3 Months before the Reunion

  • Order invitations‚ programs and tickets; send invitations out 4-6 weeks in advance.
  • Begin advertising. Hang posters‚ hand out flyers and publish an ad in the newspaper. Use email effectively.
  • Order all decorations. Don’t forget balloons.
  • Consider imprinted shirts, glassware or favors. Start on artwork.
  • Movement of lights and music make a party. Check these out too.

4-6 Weeks before the Reunion

  • Send out invitations.
  • Call to confirm any arrangements with band or DJ‚ venue‚ caterer and photographer.
  • Set up a schedule for decorating. Scene setters set the mood.
  • Track RSVP replies for an attendee count for your caterer.
  • Make sure you have all decorating materials needed.

1-3 Weeks before the Reunion

  • Finalize the attendee count for the caterer.
  • Outline the remaining tasks to be completed and discuss them with each committee.

Day of the Reunion

  • Decorate the venue‚ allowing ample time to put together large or intricate decorations.

Reunion Night

  • Have fun. All your hard work has come together to create a wonderful evening.

Reunion Committee Selection of the Reunion Committee is your first and most important step in planning a great Reunion. In setting up your Reunion Committee it is best to bring together as many people as possible. The overall Chairman or Co-Chairmen should have the ability to work well with others and cultivate good communication among committee members.

Subcommittees The assignment of subcommittees is extremely helpful and reduces the amount of responsibility required for each task. Having several classmates help share responsibilities makes the process much easier. Divide tasks up evenly and set meeting times to go over progress. The subcommittees can research their areas of responsibility and report back to the main committee. Here are some suggestions for subcommittees: Classmate Roster; typically the class secretary is responsible for obtaining and maintaining a class roster as well as keeping record of all meetings. Don’t forget‚ teachers truly enjoying seeing old students and are happy to attend class reunions. Be sure to invite all teachers‚ principals‚ guidance counselors‚ etc. so there is no one left out. Offer a reduced rate for the banquet or free if possible.

Funds the treasurer is responsible for handling all of the financial transactions and accounts with the bank. It is always a wise idea to have a second person sign checks and oversee all of the transactions.

Media this chair is responsible for establishing a timeline of promotional activities to invite and remind your guests. Use your local newspaper‚ radio and TV stations. If your guests are no longer in your hometown‚ chances are that they will still have family there that will inform them of your advertisement. Tickets this person is responsible for designing the tickets and all promotional materials‚ having them printed‚ coordinating ticket sales‚ tracking ticket sales and reporting the results to the main committee. Theme Selection Responsible for researching the selection of a Reunion theme and reports the finding to the full committee for final approval.

Favors this person is responsible for researching the selection of favors to be given at the Reunion (frames‚ photo albums‚ glassware‚ stuffed animals, etc.) and presenting their findings to the main committee for final approval. Facilities and Catering this person must take time to research all of the options available to you in the location that you will have your reunion. Remember to consider special accessibility and diet restrictions. Ask if there are other events at the location you choose to find out if there might be any interference. Keep in mind that not all establishments will serve alcohol. Most places will allow you to book an event a year in advance so take advantage of that and then you won’t be disappointed. Make every effort to reserve your facility one year in advance. Get a signed contract with the details: food‚ alcohol‚ security‚ decorations‚ etc.

Decorations this chair must be sure to ask if the establishment you have booked has any restrictions for decorating and follow those guidelines. Balloonsposterscrepe paper‚ chair coverings‚ banners‚ light strands and table centerpieces are all fun decorating materials that can be cleaned up easily.

Special Events this person is responsible for organizing any extra events that might take place throughout the weekend of your reunion. A hospitality reception on Friday evening‚ golf or other outdoor activities on Saturday morning or a potluck picnic with families on Sunday are some other ideas for additional events. This gives classmates extra time to talk with everyone and meet their spouse and/or children. Be sure to have name tags available for all extra events as well as the reunion event itself.

Program this chair is responsible for arranging the program for the evening. An appropriate welcome and thank you to the committee chairs as well as a printed class roster should be addressed. This person should also take care of the music. Remember that your classmates came to visit; the music should be complementary to dinner and conversation. Photographs this chair is responsible for working with a photographer to determine what photo packages will be available and selects the background to be used for all Reunion photos. Security this person will be responsible for arranging for security to be provided at the Reunion. Clean up committee will be responsible for organizing volunteers to clean up after the Reunion. All committees should be given a specific timeline to research their subject and report back to the main committee.

Choosing a Theme Selecting a Reunion theme is one of the first and biggest decisions that the Reunion committee needs to make and careful thought and consideration needs to go into this important decision. After all‚ a Reunion theme affects everything from the invitations and decorations to the party favors and photos. One of the best ways to select a theme is to have a general brainstorming session for all planning committee members. To prepare for this meeting‚ it is best to circulate a list of criteria that each theme must meet and a list of websites that specialize in Reunion themes for committee members to review prior to the meeting. Ask your planning committee members to come into this initial meeting with an open mind‚ ready to give every suggestion careful consideration. By the end of this meeting you should have quite a list of suggestions to consider. We recommend that this list of suggestions should go before the Theme Selection Committee to narrow down the choices to the top five. Congratulations‚ you’ve just completed the most important step in the entire Reunion planning process. Everything from here on out will now hinge on the theme decision you have just made.

Establish a Budget and Ticket Price Begin establishing a budget by gathering information on how much each detail of the Reunion is going to cost. Each committee should make a list of estimated expenses. Collect the most detailed information you can get to start your budget. Determine how much money will be contributed from sponsors‚ if any‚ and then calculate what you’ll need from ticket sales. Procedures should be in place for handling cash. A Budget Committee should determine how money should be handled‚ requisitions for cash‚ supervision‚ deposits‚ etc.

Facility Selection The choice of the facility to host the Reunion is one of the primary decisions that your committee will have to make. The type of facility will impact the style‚ preparations‚ and budget of your Reunion. The best suggestion is to start early‚ shop around and be open to input from your entire committee.

Menu There are four major options for your Reunion menu; a sit down dinner‚ buffet style‚ family style‚ or hors d’oeuvres (finger foods).

Sit Down Dinner A sit down dinner usually involves one main course dinner‚ soup‚ salad‚ rolls‚ and dessert. Everyone gets the same dinner and it is served to your tables.

Buffet Style At a buffet style dinner the food is set out on a banquet table and your guests come up to the banquet table with their dish and choose the selection of food that they want. Usually there are multiple choices of meat‚ vegetables‚ and salads. This goes fairly fast‚ depending on how many lines the caterer has set up. As guests finish eating they can go for photographs or relax until the music starts.

Family Style At a family style dinner‚ the food is brought to each table in serving dishes and each person at the table can take the food that they want as the dishes are passed. If this is done right‚ it does go fairly fast and you get more dancing time.

Hors d’oeuvres or Finger Foods Hors d’oeuvres‚ or as some people call it‚ finger foods‚ usually consists of bite size food that is available for a certain period of the evening and your guests can help themselves at any time. This service saves the most time at a Reunion. There is no need for everyone to all sit down and eat at the same time‚ and it gives you more time to party‚ the music starts when the Reunion starts. The prices of each of these major options do vary from one facility to the next. Usually the least expensive is the buffet style‚ followed by family style‚ then hors d’oeuvres‚ and the highest cost is the sit down dinner. This cost line up could change depending on the caterer or banquet facility. The caterer you select will usually have set menus from which you may choose. They will make minor changes for you if you like‚ but for the most part you choose from their banquet menus prepared specifically for these events. Most packages for Reunions include an unlimited soda bar either built into the price or as an extra. To get a good idea of how long dinner will take at your Reunion‚ you should observe the caterer in action at an event that has the same number of people that you expect at your Reunion. This is a usual practice and people do it on weddings all the time.

Photographs When choosing a studio to photograph your Reunion‚ you should consider everything the studio is able to offer you: good quality‚ honest prices‚ and quality service. What you need to determine is who can offer the best combination of these different elements.

Quality of the Photographs Content‚ substance‚ and presentation measure a photograph’s quality. The content of the photograph includes the background‚ the setting‚ the posing‚ and the facial expressions of the people being photographed. A studio that can offer you a large selection of backgrounds and props would have a better chance of giving you the best in content. Request a sample or test shot of the proposed background to be used by the photographer to help insure the best in content. The photographer’s samples should show an ability to pose people naturally. (The best way to assist a photographer in capturing your best expression is to make sure that the location of the photography is quiet and roomy enough to minimize distractions.)

Substance involves the quality of the materials and equipment used in the photographs: the highest quality film and paper should be matched to quality equipment to produce the best results. A studio that develops their own photographs on premise can control the quality and service better than a company that sub-contracts the developing or sends their developing out of town.

Presentation includes the folders the photographs are delivered in and other accessory items. The right folder sets off the photo package. The presentation folders should complement the photographs‚ not detract from them. Photographs delivered without folders cheapen the overall presentation. We recommend that your photographs are printed without a border‚ otherwise your photographs will have smaller images and smaller head sizes. Music Your choice of the music provider at the Reunion can make or break the evening. Your choices include a live band‚ a sound system‚ a sound system with a light show‚ and even a Karaoke system.

Live Band Live bands are making somewhat of a comeback. Before the advent of the sound system and the record hops of the sixties‚ live bands were the only way to go for a dance or a Reunion. For about the past twenty years‚ the sound systems have held most of the dance and Reunion market. Recently‚ some schools have used live bands for their events. The live band tends to be on the expensive side and‚ though many bands do very long sets‚ they do have to take some breaks through out the evening. If you are interested in a live band‚ contact a local booking agent who will have tapes of the band and visit the band at one of the places that they are to perform and listen to their show. Find out exactly what they charge and how long they will perform. Most bands have a standard contract that spells out these details.

Sound System The Standard Sound System is the least expensive route to go. When selecting a sound system provider you want to be able to meet with the DJ who will be hosting your event. Make sure that they have all of the music that you want to hear and make sure that the DJ can work with your crowd. As in all choices in music providers‚ visit an event‚ that is similar to yours and be sure that they perform as you are expecting. They also use a standard contract that will spell out all of the details of time and money.

Sound System with Light Show The Sound System with a Light Show is usually a bit more expensive than a regular sound system. These systems can vary quite a bit and have to be seen and heard to appreciate their total impact. Make sure that they have all of the music that you want to hear and make sure that the DJ can work with your crowd. As in all choices in music providers‚ visit an event that is similar to yours to be sure that they perform to your expectations. They also use a standard contract that will spell out all of the details of time and money and size of the show.