Event Planning

revised spring 2008

Description
The activity of event planning is very broad and effects people in many different ways. Although it is a social activity, there are laws and restraints that restrict the way in which events are planned.
Planning an event can entail an enormous amount of different activities and can require a variety of people and skills. This usually involves several people, including the event planner themselves, the host, or hosts of the event, and of course, the guests that attend the event. In some cases other people, such as a set up/take down crew participate as well. If it is a large event there might be caterers, servers, a band, and so forth. Depending on what the particular event is, it might be held at someone’s house or at a public place such as a restaurant or a professional building of some sort.

Regulations and Penalties
There are an infinite amount of possibilities and ideas that can be expressed when planning an event. Unfortunately there are laws and restraints that prohibit us from acting freely and creatively with such events. Laws pertaining to event planning vary depending on the location, the time, and the type of the event. Some examples of laws that govern event planning include topics such as alcohol licensing, capacity limitations, food sanitation and smoking. Alcohol licensing fees for the state of Montana vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. Special permits to sell alcohol at events are available to corporations and associations sponsoring such events. The fee is $10 a day for each day alcohol is sold; a one day permit has no fee. A completed application with fees and approvals must be received by the Department of Revenue three days prior to the event. The penalties for failure to purchase an alcohol license vary depending on the size and location of the establishment selling alcohol.
Capacity limitations are perhaps the most difficult laws to cooperate with when planning an event. Capacity regulations are based on the size and layout of the building that the event is being held in. Such things as fire hazard and parking regulations are also included in this category. Again the penalties for breaking these laws vary depending on the circumstances of the situation.
Food sanitation is a large part of event planning and catering. Preparing, serving, and storing food properly is important, as well as closely governed by the FDA. The penalty for serving poorly prepared food could result not only in paying a fine, but possibly losing your business license.
Smoking in public buildings is prohibited with the exception of bars and casinos until 2009. It is even illegal to smoke outside the entrance and in some cases on the grounds of public buildings. The penalty for smoking in a prohibited area can be a fine from 25 to 100 dollars.
Complying with the laws that pertain to event planning is more manageable when planning smaller events, however if the event is large, the negative aspect of being governed and restricted by laws becomes much more apparent and frustrating.

Problems
Because of these laws and regulations it makes setting up and having an event very difficult and expensive. No one wants to have to deal with all the regulations and this is why many people go to party planers. what should be a fun and enjoyable sometimes is not so because people can't do very resonable events because they are in the wrong county or to close to town.

Alternative
Obviously planning and attending special events is not a required activity and avoiding the constraints due to the laws that pertain to participating in events can easily be done by simply not participating. As in any situation, there are sacrifices that are associated with not participating in social events. In doing so we are giving up our right to engage in social activity with one another. In some situations, laws hinder instead of promote social well-being; however the benefits of such laws are undoubtedly apparent. Either way there will always be room for debate as to whether or not the benefits outweigh the downfalls of the judicial system.

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