If you’ve gotten your teen’s bar or bat mitzvah date, you may think it’s so far off that you don’t need to do anything yet. Think again! It’s time to get your mitzvah planning on track. Here’s what to do now and later.
In the Beginning…
First things first: create your guest list. Yes, your teen’s friend groups may change in the next 12-24 months, so keep that fluid. But you know your family and friends, so buckle down and create your spreadsheet of names and addresses. Why? The size of your party dictates the size of your venue. Also, any special considerations amongst your guests should be accounted for when choosing the place, like handicap accessibility, vegan catering, etc.
Would you believe that some vendors get booked two or three years out? It’s true! The first Mitzvah vendors you should book are what I call “the big three”: event venue, musical entertainment and photographer. These are the ones with the longest lead time and the categories that most shape your celebration. If you find one you like, at the Bar & Bat Mitzvah EXPO or through a friend’s party or recommendation, get that contract set. Then you can relax. For a little while…
Next up: at about a year from your date, start securing your celebration and Kiddush caterers (if they are not included with your venues) and booking a hotel block for out-of-town guests. Consider the location of your celebration versus your synagogue, especially if you’re having a nighttime party. Guests will want a quick trip to their beds after all that dancing!
Following these steps, at about 10 months out, make your weekend plan to include what you’ll do for Shabbat dinner, and Sunday brunch, along with any weekend downtime your out-of-towners may have in the schedule. About this time you should also start speaking with decorators to get proposals, whether you have a theme or just some ideas of what your teen wants. You should also start gathering photos of your teen if you plan to produce a montage (if you’re not doing it yourself, start looking for a vendor for this) or memory board.
At around eight months out, you should start looking at invitations, send save-the-dates (if you plan to), book a videographer and finalize décor plans. Consider if you need transportation for guest in between events and make those arrangements. Will you want specialty entertainment, like a green screen, carnival games or a food truck? Book that soon.
Once you hit the six month mark, it’s time to really roll. Now you’ll finalize the guest list with addresses, order invitations and kippot, shop for tallit and party favors and finalize your meal plans outside of the celebration itself.
Inside the six month window, there are many details to check off, and final decisions to make. For an easy month by month to-do list, download ours below. You’ll find that when you see the entire roadmap, with each task outlined, it will feel much more doable. And remember that event planners can help you through this process so you can minimize the stress and maximize the joy of this exciting time.
Monthly To-Do List
Choosing a theme for a bar or bat mitzvah celebration seems easy. After all, right now your teen is SO into soccer, or YouTube, or dance. But if you’re planning the simcha one to two years ahead of the date, be prepared that his or her passions, hobbies and interests may change dramatically during this time.