When should we start planning?
Begin preliminary planning 1-2 years in advance, and start working on event logistics 9 months to a year in advance.
Who will plan it?
Some classes may have selected officers that were deemed “in charge” of the future reunions, but the fact is that as life has passed those people may be uninterested or unable to fulfill those duties. If people are interested in helping and dedicating the time to planning the event, let them! It will take a few dedicated people to get the event planned; don’t turn someone away just because they weren’t voted in for the position 10+ years ago. Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved to plan the reunion; share the work amongst those interested and willing to help. By including a variety of former students it will encourage diversity and creativity. Be sure to appoint a reunion chair, and other key individuals such as a treasurer and other subcommittee chairs.
How often should the committee meet?
Once a month is a good guideline to follow in the beginning, as the event draws closer it may be beneficial to meet bi weekly or weekly. These meetings may be done in person, through video chats or online message boards due to potential distance and scheduling conflicts that the committee members may have. Communication among those planning the event will be important in order to plan a successful and organized event.
Who’s in charge of what?
At the first or second meeting the committee should determine who will take charge of each subcommittee or task. It would be a good idea to also determine a person or two who are willing to be the committee chairs and take the lead to oversee the overall planning and subcommittees.
What subcommittiees should be considered?
Guest List/classmate contact
Website or Blog Development
Entertainment & Activities
Registration & Mailings
Venue & Food
Deceased classmate tribute/Mementos
Marketing & Communications
Vendor Liaison (Caterer, photographer, entertainment)
What’s the budget? Where does it come from?
Some classes may have funds left from fundraisers completed while in school, but most will have to cover costs with tickets sold to the event. Upfront costs will have to be covered either by advance ticket sales determined by the budget (can be very difficult to get people to purchase tickets that early), by sponsorships or donations from local businesses, or by committee members. If committee members pay for the expenses up front be sure to budget and set ticket prices so that those costs can be covered and reimbursed.
Who will attend?
Do your best to make sure that all alumni are invited. Ask the school if they have records of contact information for all students in the class, and make sure to ask everyone to help to spread the word. Facebook and other social media sites will help tremendously with this, but don’t rely solely on those methods. Also, consider inviting teachers, coaches, and other staff that may have had an integral role during your high school years.
When and how many days will it be?
Friday or Saturday are generally the most desirable days for reunions. The most popular time of the year to hold a reunion is early summer to late fall, especially in the Northland. When deciding on a date consider: weather, classmates who will be traveling to attend, other activities that may be taking place during that day(s). Planning a multi day event allows for various different activities and more time to catch up with classmates, but does make for more planning.
What will we do?
This will be largely dependent on when the event is and how long it lasts, but entertainment and activities are going to play a major role in appealing to guests. Make sure to allow time for classmates to socialize though as this is the main reason for the event. If planning a
multi day event you could do a low key mixer at a local bar or restaurant on Friday night. A family friendly BBQ and golf scramble on Saturday afternoon followed by a formal dinner and music with a slideshow and tribute to classmates lost in the evening. Sunday could be left for individual plans, brunch, or just for traveling for those who live out of the area.
Where will it be?
The high school itself, a convention center, park or beach, party venue, a local restaurant, are just a few examples of places that the event can take place. Take into consideration the cost of renting the venue and the theme or overall atmosphere desired for the event.
How do I get people to come?
Pick a dynamic venue, have exciting entertainment, build buzz, communicate through a variety of methods, offer a variety of activities and notify guests early so that they can plan to attend.
How will I communicate with the guest list?
Social media, a reunion website, direct mailings, and phone calls are all ways to communicate with guests. Mass emails or social media groups may be the easiest way to communicate to all guests collectively, but mailings or phone calls may be necessary for invitations or RSVPs.
Who will staff the event?
Not only does the committee have to plan the reunion, they’ll also have to make sure that the event is staffed either by volunteers or themselves. Registration, vendor setup, decorating, and clean up are just a few things that will have to be covered for the event.
What to do when it’s done?
Make sure to thank anyone that had a part in the event. Decide if you will be having more reunions in the future, and if anyone on the committee will be willing to continue to help plan those, and then relax!