You’re planning an event. You know how many attendees you want to invite, have the venue picked out, and can picture the look and feel. But, you’re not sure where to start. This is where an event planning guide comes in handy! It provides an easy way to ensure sure you stay on target with what you need to accomplish.
Every event is different: use this event planning guide to help get you started.
Before The Event
A big chunk of the planning happens before the event. Here are some event planning guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to your venue, entertainment, catering, and anything else you need to help put on a great event.
- Make sure what you and the sales person have discussed is in the event contract before signing.
- Put down a deposit and discuss when the final balance is due.
- Make a schedule for when all of your deposits have been put down, when the final balances are due, how much each amount is, and how you’ll be paying them.
- If the venue has rental equipment such as tables and chairs, draft a room diagram with an estimated number of tables and chairs you’d like to have.
- If the venue does NOT supply rental equipment, reach out to a rental company who will deliver to and pick-up from the venue.
- Begin an order with an estimated count of tables, chairs, and any other rental equipment you think you’ll need. (Silverware, plate ware, glassware, linen, etc.)
- Make sure the drop-off times and pick up times are within the guidelines of the venue.
Event Entertainment and Decor
- Need to entertain your guests? Decide on whether you’d like to hire a DJ or a live band to get your guests movin’ and groovin’! Looking for something extra? Try hiring trick bartenders to toss some bottles while they pour cocktails or aerialists to perform while your guests mingle. Once you’ve selected your entertainers, put them in touch with the venue for their load-in and load-out times.
- Want to add some flare to your event? Look for a designer to bring your theme to life. Some events need a lot, some need very little. Find a designer who can make your space look amazing while staying within your budget.
- If the venue does not offer catering, ask for their preferred vendors list to see who they will or will not allow to work in their building.
- Find a caterer that can work within your budget to provide the type of food and bar menu you’re looking for and provide staff to serve.
- Make sure they know their load-in and load-out times with the venue.
Putting these pieces together is often the hardest thing about event planning. Once they’ve been put in place, create a timeline for the day of the event and make sure that each vendor has a copy. This helps them know when they are allowed to begin loading in their equipment, when they need to be ready, and when they can begin breaking down.
Day of Your Event:
It’s the day of your event! It’s go time and it’s never been more important to have your event planning guide handy to steer you towards event success. The day of, I like to arrive in comfortable clothes and shoes, ready to do some work. And I never leave home without my day-of emergency kit:
- Gaffing Tape
- Multi Tool
- Zip Ties
- Band Aids
- Safety Pins
- Travel Sewing Kit
These are just a few things that I’ve found to be super helpful to have on hand. I also like to distribute a “Day-Of List of Emergency Contacts” just in case they need to get in touch with you, the venue, or another vendor. In addition, here are some other considerations to think about on event day:
- Use your timeline to make sure all of your vendors are showing up on time with the equipment they need.
- 30 minutes before your event is ready to begin, go over your checklist, and make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.
- Once your event kicks off, periodically check in with your vendors to make sure they’re on track with your timeline. Make sure you are available for any questions or concerns they might have. If something changes, which it often does, let every vendor know so they can adjust accordingly, if possible.
- When your event has ended and the guests have left, break down begins. Pay attention to the load-out times as some venues sometimes have strict guidelines. Give out final payments to your vendors and tips, if any, to service staff.
- Some vendors may require final payments the day of the event, so have them ready in separate, labeled envelopes. If you’d like to leave a tip for your service staff, ask the venue and/or caterer how they prefer to receive that.
- If there are any rentals that have to be picked up the next day, have the staff place them where the rental company can find them.
Even though the event is over, our work isn’t done quite yet. At this point, it’s time to tie up any loose ends that linger after the event has ended.
- Contact your client for a review of how they think the event went. It’s always great to get feedback, good or bad, to see what you can do to improve. Best case scenario: you can get a testimonial quote that you can post on your website for future clients!
- Contact all of your vendors to thank them for all of their hard work and to follow up with any comments they might have.
- If there are any outstanding bills, make a schedule for when they are due and how you’re going to pay them.
- If you are part of an event group, schedule a post-con with your team to discuss the event. Figure out what everyone did well and what you could improve on.
Using an event planning guide can help you set deadlines for tasks, hold you and the team accountable, and remind you of what has been done and what is outstanding.
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Victoria Lehew is an Event Specialist with Catering By Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. New to Philly by way of New Orleans, she has a passion for all things food and beverage. She has been a member of ILEA for 3 years and spends her free time playing soccer, cooking for her friends, and exploring her new city.