No matter where you live or what type of affair you are planning, there is one thing that we all need to consider: the timeline we need to follow to get it all done! We caught up with Emily Haft Bloom, author of The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning Guide to get the full story on when you should be doing what. Her advice is so fabulous and in such detail, we have divided it into two installments. Look for next Monday’s Mitzvah Mail for Part II.
Two/Three years out:
Receive date from synagogue. While each synagogue employs a different method for distributing dates, if you find you share a date with another child, you may be able to request an alternate date. You should think about checking in with your child’s Hebrew school teacher to make sure they are on track.
As soon as you have your confirmed date in hand, you need to secure a venue for your celebration. At this point, it is helpful if you know what kind of service and celebration you want: a small, family-oriented service and a separate party for the B’nai Mitzvah’s friends, an evening or Havdalah service and a more formal party or a luncheon following the service for family and friends. It is helpful at this point to set a budget and have a rough idea of how many guests you will expect at the service and celebration.
18 months out:
Book vendors like entertainment, photography, videography, floral design and hire a party planner if you will be using one. A party planner is strongly recommended if you have chosen to have your celebration in a facility that does not have adequate kitchen facilities, chairs, tables and tableware. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals for all your vendors and be sure to read contracts carefully before signing; many packages are standard but some might require additional payments for services you would expect to be included.
One year out:
Finalize invitation list, gather addresses and begin to look at invitations, first alone to narrow down the choices and then with your child to avoid the inevitable conflicts over what’s appropriate. Meet with your child’s tutor to assure proper progress, and be sure your child is fulfilling the community service component if one is required.
Begin to think about the service. Consider who you would like to participate and in what way, what kind of music you would like if your synagogue offers options and what role you and your spouse will play. Will others read from the Torah? Will your other children be involved?
Book hotel rooms for out of town guests; speak with manager at the hotel and negotiate block of rooms at a reduced room rate. Of course, blocking hotel rooms is not as important as it once was. With sites like Hotels.com, your guests may actually find a better rate online. But it is nice to give them the option of a no-hassle, appropriate hotel that you already arranged.
Look for more of Emily’s helpful timeline in Mitzvah Planning Timeline Part II.