Planning an event is no small task. There are many different aspects to consider, such as the budget and venue. That’s why event planning on a schedule can keep you organized. Here are the steps to put together the perfect gathering on a set schedule.
6 Months Before to 1 Year Before
This stage is where you determine your big picture goals and the basic event information. Here are the things to consider in the first few months when event planning on a schedule
1. Come up With a Budget
Determine your event budget early to prevent overspending. This gives you an idea of items you can splurge on, such as fancy decorations or food. Use a spreadsheet to list all your expenses, including the following categories — item, projected cost, actual expense, and details.
2. Determine Your Goals and Objectives
It’s essential to understand what you want to get out of the gathering. For example, do you want to increase sales or support a product launch? Is it a chance to celebrate a milestone in your life? It’s easier to make decisions with these things in mind, such as meeting location and type.
Also, determine how you will measure the success of your goals. It’s not just about how many people showed up. Use predetermined metrics if you’re holding a corporate conference. This can include data analytics, event surveys, or social media buzz. Keep track of this information in a spreadsheet. Knowing you reached your goals can help you improve your performance at the next event.
3. Select the Venue and Caterer
The location is a critical aspect of the ceremony. The space you choose creates a certain ambiance for the night. For example, a wedding in a flower field can create a romantic atmosphere. Make sure to see multiple venues and ask friends and family for recommendations. These places book fast, so have a list of seven to eight ideal vendors. Then, tour each site before making your selection.
Food is another crucial element, so book a caterer early. You can also see if your venue offers in-house catering to lower your expenses. Plan a meal that appeals to your guests’ preferences and the event’s style. For example, if it’s a less formal gathering, finger foods may be acceptable.
You’ll also want to plan your entertainment. Will there be music? If so, do you prefer a DJ or a live band? Research the entertainers by checking out online reviews and portfolios.
4. Develop a Promotional Plan
Marketing and promoting your event is key to ensuring people come. Plus, sending out invites early gives guests time to clear their calendars. If it’s a corporate gathering, decide when you want to sell the tickets or hold registration.
Also, start making promotional materials, such as flyers, online ads, or save-the-date reminders. Post them to your social media accounts or create a website landing page. Include details about the conference and how to buy tickets. Be sure to research ticket prices of similar events.
5. Consider the Safety of Your Guests
Safety and sanitation should always be priorities. Think about whether you might need guests to provide identification to keep out any intruders. For a large-scale event, you might need to hire security.
Many states have COVID-19 regulations that might apply to event venues, so be sure to do your research before sending out invites or overestimating your capacity. Do you want all guests to be vaccinated or wear masks? In addition, you can provide hand sanitation stations and personal protective equipment (PPE).
You also want to plan for other emergencies, such as severe weather or medical problems. Ensure your team knows how to handle these stressful situations.
6. Plan the Theme
Give yourself plenty of time to develop a theme and brainstorm ideas with your clients. The theme impacts many aspects of planning, including the venue, decor, and menu. It also can help with your marketing strategy and set the tone for your event.
3 Months Before
The next few weeks of event planning on a schedule require researching and working with vendors on the specifics of the event.
1. Finalize the Rest of Your Vendors
The venue and food are the main vendors, but there are others. Remember to hire florists and photographers as well. Since you did the big sellers first, you can spend the leftover money from your budget here on more minor details.
2. Confirm Speakers
Conferences or banquets will have speakers to entertain guests and move the night along. Confirm these people are available early on. Also, add their names and background information to your programs.
3. Create a Supplies List
Once you have the big-ticket items out of the way, create a list of all the supplies you need, such as tables or DJ equipment. Then place these orders to ensure everything arrives on time.
4. Follow up With Your Guests
Track attendance, so you know how many people are coming. This can help you plan how much space and food you’ll need. Use ticket sales to track RSVPs for corporate conferences. Reach out to guests individually for a less-formal gathering.
5. Do a Run-Through
Do a practice run to ensure the day runs smoothly. Walkthrough the space and visualize what happens at each stage of the event. Take notes to make sure everyone’s on the same page. This step will save you down the line and prevent last-minute disasters.
6 Weeks Before
As the event gets closer, it’s time to confirm details with your guests and vendors.
1. Send Out the Invites
Sending out the invites can give people time to rearrange their schedules. Those farther away may need to make travel arrangements or take off work. These invitations may be in the form of an email or printed card, depending on the event type.
2. Confirm Your Orders
Check with your suppliers to ensure your orders are still on track. For example, are the caterers working on your menu? Give your vendors a headcount if you receive RSVPs early.
3. Discuss the Timeline With Vendors
Talk with sellers about the venue’s timeline. Ensure they understand when you plan to set up and take down the supplies. Check to see if staff members can get inside earlier to set things up.
One Week Before
The ceremony is almost here, and this is the stage where you do last-minute preparation.
1. Keep up Communication
Some people get busy as time goes on. Therefore, reconfirming details with your vendors, speakers and guests will help you account for any cancellations while you still have time. Send out important email updates, especially if things change. Meet with your staff again and walk through the venue. Be sure to get any of your last miniature questions answered to avoid confusion.
2. Develop Speeches or Scripts
A speech that goes wrong can leave a bad impression on your guests. It’s a good idea to have editors review your scripts. In addition, give the speakers an idea of what to say and when, and encourage them to practice their speeches aloud to hear how they sound.
How to Successfully Plan an Event
While your event date might seem a long way away, it’s never too early when event planning on a schedule. To have your event run as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to work out the details in advance and get ahead of any setbacks. This event planning checklist will help keep you organized and on track wherever you are in the planning process.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, and she enjoys keeping up with the exciting world of event planning and hospitality. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more life, style and home inspiration.