By Jake Clements


There’s an old song about when the lights went out in Georgia – but that’s the last thing you want at your event. It is, however, one of the potential calamities event planners should prepare for. Yet, everyone remembers the Super Bowl when the lights went out after Beyoncé’s half-time performance.

On June 2, Austin Monthly hosted its June Issue Release Party, where I helped a dear friend set up sound and provide moral support. When I got there, things were not all fine and dandy – but then, they rarely are. Something always goes wrong at an event, and calm, level-headed thinking is the only fix. For this event, what needed fixing was the lights. Of course that was beyond our purview; it needed more than new light bulbs. The venue lost power and it was anybody’s guess if, or when, it would come back on that evening.

I thought through what the primary needs would be: comfort, light, minimal disruption and follow-up communication.

First, we opened the doors to get air flowing to provide comfort to the attendees. Second, we checked when the sun would go down to calculate how much natural light we’d have left in the absence of electrical power for the remaining time. We proceeded with the event as though an evening get together without artificial lighting was the plan all along!

The event ended up being a success! Over 150 people attended, eating, drinking, mingling, purchasing wares from the on-site vendors and enjoying the live music. No one even noticed the lights were out. One vendor remarked: “Somebody, please make every vendor event exactly like this one. Austin Monthly knows exactly how to put on a great party.”

We then suggested that the organizers communicate the next day with all registered guests to thank them for attending and apologize for the mishap.

Working with clients to put on a successful event starts with thinking about the experience – from beginning to end, including what could go wrong. Then when it does, make it part of the overall positive experience. Make it unforgettable.