In the North-eastern and Midwestern United States, Summer is the most popular time of year for reunions, and the main reason is the weather. If you want to leave the possibility for picnics and other outdoor events at the reunion, then choose June, July or August. If you are in the southern states you may actually prefer non - summer months to avoid the extreme heat. Thanksgiving Weekend is also popular, as it coincides with trips back home for many alumni.
When selecting a date for the reunion, you will need to weigh the convenience of a holiday weekend (people may already be planning a trip home) against the inflated costs of a hotel's high season. Holiday weekends also tend to be booked earlier in advance (venue, entertainment, accommodations, flights), so if you do decide Thanksgiving is the right time for you, be prepared to book early! A reunion is typically scheduled on a Saturday night.
If you are choosing a popular location on a holiday week-end you will need to book your venue at least 12 months in advance. So, where you have the reunion may be a function of what is available. But what place do you want? In our estimation, hotels are the way to go. They provide you with support and supplies that would otherwise be your responsibility. Need a microphone? No problem! Need an easel for your registration sign? They’ve got it! They have done this before and have the experience that you lack. Our next choice would be a restaurant, but make sure you have sufficient room for a registration area before you commit. If you decide to choose a road-less-travelled (a gallery, or museum for instance), budget accordingly, and make sure that you have thought through the following list before signing on the dotted line: caterer, waiters and bartenders, tables, chairs, linens and dinnerware rentals, liquor licence, audiovisual equipment, a screen for the slide show, registration tables, dance floor, washroom supplies, and liability insurance. You can learn a lot about a venue by visiting while an event is in progress, so take the time to see a live event if you can. When you check out a possible venue, walk through it slowly. Imagine how you will divide the space for reception, registration, dining and dancing. Discuss decorating the walls, hanging a banner, and the equipment you might need: projector, screen, microphone, podium, easels, bulletin boards, and registration tables.
Choose a middle-of-the-road menu when looking at prices. Ask the hotel to give you a per person rate including cash bar, and a per person rate without it. Find out the details of the cash bar option. How do they handle special meal requirements for those with allergies or special dietary requirements? Once you have made your venue selection, try and negotiate the best price you can. If you are flexible with your dates, see if there is a quiet time for them that will reduce the costs significantly. Keep in mind though that the priority is to get a well attended reunion, so give them dates that you have already determined will work for the majority of the class. Position your reunion as a non-profit event and you may get a favourable rate. Verify what perks come included (if it is a hotel you may receive a complimentary suite for the evening, which comes in handy.) Find out the cancellation policy, liability insurance, hidden costs, overtime implications, etc. If the reunion is at a hotel, approach the hotel to arrange a special accommodations rate for out-of-town participants. If the venue is not a hotel, choose one nearby. Inform alumni about the special offer and any reservation deadlines that may be in place.
As you discuss the kind of ambience you want for your reunion, don't just think in terms of decorations. Many elements contribute to the overall mood of the night.
Decorations provide an opportunity for creating a nostalgic mood, and you need not spend a fortune. Keep it simple.
Every class creates a few unique displays for the reunion. Here are a few ideas: