Event Planning Checklist: Everything You Need to Know

September 8, 2023 Jessica Stewart

There's no denying it, event planning is stressful. With so many details to consider, it's easy to feel swamped. Are you in the process of organizing an event and don't know where to start?

You need an event planning checklist. Our guide covered everything about how to plan an event. It's a culmination of industry secrets and covers everything from initial preparations to mistakes to avoid in events.

Turn your dream event into a reality. Discover the secrets to a successful event planning organization. Create an unforgettable occasion that will be talked about for years to come.

Read on, and discover what you need to know about how to prepare for an event. We disclose all our successful event tips so you can make the most of your celebration.

Three Months Before the Event

As soon as you have a date set, you'll want to start planning. For the most stress-free experience, we suggest leaving at least three months before the event to get things organized.

This will give you plenty of time to start nailing down the details.

Here are a few tasks to get started:

  • Decide on a budget and stick to it
  • Choose a theme or purpose for the event
  • Find a venue and determine its capacity
  • Start sending out invitations or promotional material
  • Research potential vendors and suppliers

At this point, it's a good idea to keep a folder to help you stay organized. Keep notes and receipts all in one place so they are easy to find.

Choosing the Venue

This is one of the most important decisions to make when planning an event. Make sure you choose a venue with enough space for all attendees, appropriate amenities, and that fits within your budget.
When selecting a venue, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this fit my event's theme?
  • Is the location easy to get to?
  • Does the venue offer helpful staff or amenities?
  • Are there any special regulations regarding usage and capacity?

Get any hire agreements in a contract. You'll be able to check what parts of the venue you've hired and the facilities you have access to.

Planning for Entertainment

Entertainment can make or break an event. Whether it's a live band, DJ, interactive activities, or something else entirely - you'll want to ensure your guests will have a good time.

Research different entertainment options that would fit the theme and budget of your event. Make sure to factor in any additional costs, like sound or lighting equipment.

Catering Selection

Catering is an important part of most events. There are many things to consider when selecting the right catering service for your event. Questions to ask include:

  • What type of cuisine does the caterer specialize in?
  • Does the caterer provide food and drinks that fit my budget?
  • Are there vegan or gluten-free options available?
  • Does the caterer offer a variety of dishes that will please all guests?
  • Is alcohol allowed to be served at the venue, and what are the rules around it?

Check-in regularly with your caterer. The earlier they have notice of dietary requirements or access to catering facilities at the event venue, the more prepared they can be. They may need to arrange their own refrigeration or cooking facilities.

Hiring Vendors and Suppliers

Next, you'll want to get some external help for your event.
This can include:

  • Caterers
  • Photographers
  • Performers
  • DJs

Start looking early to secure the best deals and get your ideal vendor. When looking for vendors, take into consideration their:

  • Cost
  • Availability
  • Professionalism/reputation
  • Experience with similar events

Additionally, always read contracts thoroughly before signing them. That way, you can make sure that all of your needs are met, and you won't be gobsmacked with any last-minute surprises.

Deciding on the Theme and Decorations

Once you've got the basics down, it's time to start thinking about how you want to decorate your event and what kind of ambiance you'd like to create.
This may involve:

  • Choosing a color scheme
  • Shopping for table decorations
  • Selecting lighting options
  • Handcrafting centerpieces
  • Hiring a balloon artist

No matter what you decide, the theme and decorations should be appropriate for your event's purpose.

For instance, a corporate networking event should feel professional and modern, while an outdoor wedding could feature flower centerpieces and rustic furniture.

Two Weeks Before the Event

As the date of the event approaches, you'll need to finalize all of your plans. Use this to double-check all of the arrangements you've made and make sure that everything is in order.

Allow a couple of weeks for this in case there are any problems. This will give you some time to sort out any issues without last-minute stress.

Finalizing the Venue

Make sure that the venue is ready for the event. This could involve:

  • Organizing a seating plan and sharing it with the venue
  • Arranging audio equipment such as power outlets and staging
  • Ensuring there's enough space for attendees to move around freely
  • Deciding on a designated area for food and drinks

If you need to hire extra seating or tables, now is when to do it. Also, you'll be able to check the weather for any advance warnings. If you're hosting an outdoor event and rain is forecast, you'll need to find a way to keep guests dry.

Buying Decorations and Chasing Orders

The decorations are the key to setting the mood of your event. Now is the time to purchase any items you need and set them up before guests arrive.

You should keep a checklist of all items that have been ordered and ensure they've all arrived in good condition. If something isn't quite right or arrives late, make sure you reach out to the supplier to resolve the problem.

Confirming With Vendors

Confirm that all of your suppliers and vendors are ready for the event.

This could include:

  • Checking with the decorator to make sure everything is ready
  • Ensuring caterers have enough food and drinks for the guests
  • Making sure photographers are aware of their duties on the day
  • Asking the DJ to finalize a setlist
  • Discussing stage setup with sound technicians

By confirming everything, it will give you peace of mind that the event will run smoothly. Double-check any arrangements. Find out what time each vendor will arrive at the venue on the day of the event to help you plan your time.

Three Days Before the Event

The event is almost here! The next few days should involve plenty of finalizing details.

Use this checklist to make sure everything is ready:

  • Email all vendors and suppliers to confirm their duties on the day
  • Prepare any materials or equipment that needs to be set up in advance
  • Ensure there are enough parking spots for guests
  • Send out final reminders to attendees
  • Make sure decorations are all set up
  • Brief any speakers or performers and check they understand their roles
  • Set up a registration table for guests upon arrival

In the final three days, it's important to check these details. If there are any glaring issues, then you'll still have a bit of time to sort the problems out.

The Day Of the Event

Today is the day! Take some time to relax and enjoy yourself, but make sure you have a plan for how the event is going to go.

  • Check-in with all vendors and suppliers before guests arrive
  • Have someone at the registration table to greet guests
  • Assign different team members tasks throughout the event
  • Have contingency plans in place for any unexpected issues that may arise
  • Be available throughout the event to answer questions and help out with anything that is needed

Be sure to allow a little bit of downtime for yourself. Plan some time to eat something as well as change into your clothing.

Last-Minute Event Planning Checklist

In the hours leading up to the event, double-check that all decorations and setups are complete.

This includes:

  • Making sure lighting is in place
  • Finalizing seating arrangements
  • Ensuring any banners or signs are set up as needed
  • Adjusting sound levels
  • Checking that any audio/visual equipment works properly

Do these an hour or so before the guests arrive. By now, everything should be set up and ready to go.

After the Event

Once the event has ended, it's important to take a few moments to debrief and reflect.

Here are some key steps to follow:

  • Thank all vendors and suppliers for their hard work
  • Thank guests for attending
  • Get feedback
  • Collect any equipment for return
  • Clean up the event space

It's a good idea to give yourself a free day after an event to relax. It will also give you a chance to reflect on the event.

Ready to Plan Your Event?

Use this event planning checklist as your go-to when organizing your next event. Whether it's a small gathering or a large-scale occasion, with thorough preparation, your event is destined to be a success. 

If you're an event planner, inquire about becoming a part of The Event Planner Expo this year by reserving a booth and gain valuable insights and expertise within the industry!

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