You sound like a good candidate for ToDoMatrix possibly or maybe IdeaMatrix. I use ToDoMatrix quite heavily and you can set a couple of alarms per event. From the calender you can inject an event into ToDoMatrix and set up to 3 alarms. Its not free, but worth every penny.
Jsanders sums up #2 quite well.
Another thought in using my method; you can actually get 4 alarms this way, 1 in the calender app itself and 3 from ToDoMatrix.