Your child’s mitzvah ceremony is something he or she will remember for a lifetime, so the pressure is on to create the ultimate experience surrounding this milestone event.
The best way to ensure everything runs smoothly—and that you’re most likely to get your first choice for venues and vendors—is to plan and book each aspect of the party at the proper time. The Main Event asked event planner Donna Wexler of Merrick, N.Y.-based Designs by Donna for her expert advice on how and when to make your arrangements so your child’s special day is guaranteed to be one of his or her best.
Is there anything you can do in advance of having a date?
The most important task you can undertake in advance of having a date is to think about your guest list. The more people you have, the more limited you’ll be in the venues you can choose, so it is important to know what capacity you need the room to have when shopping for venues. You also can start thinking about whether you want to have it at a synagogue or at a club or a catering hall. Most synagogues give out dates based on birthdays, so if your child’s birthday is in January and all of your family lives in Florida, you might want to change that, so it’s more likely your family can attend. Finally, it’s good to consider whether you want an afternoon or an evening celebration. When my oldest child was bar mitvahed, my youngest was 3, so I had an afternoon affair thinking he might not be able to get through the evening.
When is the ideal time to begin planning?
Don’t hesitate to ask a DJ for their card if you are wowed by them at an affair you are attending as a guest. You also can save invitations you have received and keep them in an ideas folder. Usually synagogues give out dates three years in advance. You’ll want to book your venue and emcee right away because those are limited. Always get a contract and leave a deposit when you book anything. Everything should be set in stone along with the details, for instance, if you’ve requested a particular emcee. You want to have proof you’ve signed for a specific person.
What are some common mistakes in planning?
People will book their venue without a guest list, then discover they can’t fit into the venue. A lot of people also forget to book the room at the temple for the Kiddush, then they’re left scrambling. If you have your guest list ready, you’ll know whether you need a smaller or larger room. Also, invitations should be mailed out eight weeks before the event, so you need them in your house three months before your event, which means you have to order them even earlier. I’ll have people show me their logo and everything planned for their favor, but they don’t have their invitations. I know the logo is fun to do, but you have to have your invitations in your possession. They need to be sealed and addressed and stamped. That takes time.
Can you share with us the timeline you use for your clients?
The Ultimate Mitzvah Timeline
Three years before: