Tips for Hosting a Speed Dating Event
- Make a List -- You'll probably want to start by making a list of all the single people you know. Don't worry if you don't have enough singles in your contacts list to fill the entire event; after all, if you did, you probably wouldn't need to speed date. Ask your friends (married friends, too!) to suggest single acquaintances or coworkers who might be interested. The more you're able to reach beyond your usual social circles, the better, since the whole idea is to give speed daters the chance to connect with someone new. Shoot for about 20 guests, with an even split between males and females. Too large a group makes for a long, unmanageable evening; too small and you're in for an awkward gathering with fewer possibilities for compatible pairings. If your own connections come up short, try posting a flyer at your church, workplace or gym, or creating a Facebook event and asking friends to spread the word.
- Pick a Venue -- The site of your speed dating event will help to set the tone, so be sure to choose wisely. Consider the noise factor and the ambiance, and avoid any place that's too loud, too bright, too dark, or likely to be deserted or overly crowded. At the same time, try to match your venue to your intended crowd. A swanky martini bar may appeal to established 30- or 40-something professionals, but the atmosphere (and the price!) could be a turnoff for recent college grads. Hosting the event at your home can help to keep costs down, but if you're participating as a dater or if you don't know all the guests, it's safer to meet everyone in a public, more neutral setting.
- Don't Forget the Basics -- In many ways, planning for a speed dating event is similar to planning for a cocktail party. If you plan to serve food, ask the restaurant or caterer to prepare simple appetizers that are easy to eat in small bites. Nothing too messy or awkward, and please, nothing with garlic! Keep cocktails light and sophisticated, and consider limiting the bar choices to beer and wine; this isn't the time for shots. Plan to provide enough for about two to three drinks per person -- enough to calm nerves or cut through the social anxiety, but not enough to lead to next-day regrets!
- Send Out Invitations -- You should try to do it at least three weeks before the event, and ask participants to RSVP so that you can get a head count. It's fine to charge a reasonable admission fee to cover your costs, and many online invitation sites allow you to collect the fee when guests RSVP; just make sure the invitation is clear about the cost of attending and whether food and drinks are included in the price.