The answer: Based on what is most important to you.
Let’s say that you want to have a wonderful time. You love talking with people. You then organize your event with the focus of people being able to freely move around to talk with each other, making sure that the space either allows for people to find a quiet space to talk, or that your entertainment provides more of a backdrop than a primary accoustic focus.
Maybe you love to dance. If so, first decide what kind of music you want. Then, you’ll want to explore options. If your budget permits, if live music for you? Does your venue support the kind of music you want? Next, decide whether you want to have an MC, or is a DJ more to your taste?
If you are the kind of person who focuses on the visuals, be sure to choose a venue that supports your tastes. In order to properly install AV, drapes, large center pieces and the like, you will need a venue that has the appropriate height.
Do you have guests with special needs who will be attending? If so, make sure that your venue is able to accommodate them. You would be surprised at how frequently people have to be assisted to do things they are capable of doing themselves, just because of the venue’s floor plan.
Is your event multi-generational? Are there appropriate settings and activities for the different age groups? Will children be seated with the adults, or is there a separate area for them? Do you plan to serve “child friendly” food to the kids? Will they be part of the adult entertainment? You might want to see about having a coordinator, sitter, or chaperone to keep an eye on the kids to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
How about transportation and/or parking? If alcohol is being consumed, you might want to look at special transportation services that provide transportation for guests who are unable to drive. Bartenders can be a great touch at a lively event.
If food is your end-all and be-all, you might want to figure out if you need to have a venue that lets you bring in your own outside caterer or not. Or, you might want to choose a venue whose food you love.
Big or small? This is key. Do you want a small, intimate event, or do you want a large one? What will your budget cover? You can choose to have more guests, but a simpler event.
By looking over the different items on your budget:
you can then begin to set your priorities, deciding which areas you can best cover with what you have to work with in terms of time, budget, and resources. Your resources may consist of skills you have, friends or family who can help you make some of the items on the list, or you might decide they’re not really necessary for you.
It’s your event–why make it like everybody else’s?