Event Planning Checklist
A professional event planner will allow for all the factors below. If you are coordinating your own event, or if you are the liaison between your organization and a professional planner or an event venue, you should review and be familiar will all the items below. Many venues (hotels, banquet centers) are self-contained, and many (but not all) of these items are addressed in the rental contract. Do not assume that the venue will handle everything – use this checklist as a guideline, and ask questions.
Professional event design is essential for your special event to be memorable and successful. More than simply decorations or theme design, event design includes items such as layout and logistics.
A successful event requires the services of many different subcontractors (caterers, entertainment, lighting, power, etc.). A coordinator, hires, manages, and schedules all of the subcontractors.. A professional coordinator has working relationships with reliable subcontractors, ensuring that everything goes smoothly at your event. The coordinator stays in contact with all the subcontractors to make sure that everyone is on schedule.
These are essential to ensure that the intended guests are informed and aware of your event. Online tools such as Cvent, can be used, as well as social media.
Most venues (such as hotels and banquet centers) provide catering services, or have preferred caterers. Outside catering firms can often provide better value and more food and menu selections than in-house caterers, but many venues do not allow outside (or non-preferred) catering firms to be used Ask for menus, review them to see if they are appropriate for your event, and request a tasting. A good caterer is more than merely a good chef - he or she must be able to prepare large amounts of food, keep it warm and fresh, create an attractive presentation, and serve it professionally and quickly to your guests.
Many venues and caterers also provide Bartending services, or independent bartending services can also be used.
Contact a reputable professional entertainment contractor, who will take responsibility for the entertainers. They can provide videos of various acts, or locations where they can be viewed. Make sure that you have signed contracts, and that the entertainers have directions and start/end times. Find out whether or not the entertainers will be providing their own sound and lighting, what their electrical power requirements are, and what size of stage or performing area will be required. Find out about playing times, breaks, and if the acts need dressing rooms or other accommodations. Contact the entertainment contractor one or two weeks before the event and make sure that everything is on-schedule.
Tables & Chairs
Most venues have tables and chairs, but these may not be appropriate for upscale events. Rental companies provide wooden folding chairs in black, white, or natural finishes, as well as Chivari chairs in gold or silver finish. Specialized chairs are available at a higher cost.
Chair covers will transform the look of ordinary rental or venue chairs, which may be unattractive, and /or the wrong color for your event. Chair covers can be color coordinated with your linens and event theme colors.
Linens, China & Silver
The right linens, china and silver will make your event elegant. Venues and caterers can often provide these, but upscale options are available from outside rental companies.
These must reinforce the event theme and colors - your guests will be looking at the centerpieces all night long. Centerpieces can be floral, and/or 3D designs. Pin-spotting (lighting) of centerpieces provides a striking effect. Centerpieces should not be too tall – guests must be able to see each other.
Signs and Graphics
Don't assume that everyone knows where to go...post some signs to tell guests where to sign in, where to check their coats, where to park, where to get their picture taken, where to get fed. Foamcore or digitally printed vinyl signs can be designed to match with your event theme and color scheme.
The entrance can help to make a good first impression with your guests. A well lit and well decorated entrance eliminates confusion about where guests should go. It also helps direct guests to your registration table, and to pre-event gathering areas.
Dont' just put your entertainment on a simple riser -- decorate the stage, skirt it, carpet it, light it up, and put up a backdrop or curtains that tie into the theme of your event.
If you have selected a theme for your event, be sure to tie in your centerpieces, stage, photo opportunities, corner vignettes, and invitations.
Food Station / bar decor
Good caterers will decorate their food and drink stations. A professional decorator takes it to the next level, by framing food and drink stations with backdrops, trees, lighting, and other three-dimensional props.
Live plants add so much to a special event. Well-maintained plants are arranged in well-lit, attractive vignettes or groupings.. Add mini lights to plants for evening events.
Digital photography allows guests to get event souvenir photos on the spot. Custom frames or jackets are available.
Photos always look better with an attractive scenic backdrop. Alternatively, digital green screens are also available.
If you are decorating your event, light up the decorations. Uplighting around the event space helps to tie in the event theme colors. If the venue is unattractive, turn off the overhead lighting in the venue, and then you can combine uplighting, around the room with overhead lighting, using Par 38’s with colored gels on 10-foot lighting poles placed around the venue.
Not only are generators important for outdoor events, but they are also used frequently for indoor events. Many large hotels and banquet rooms do not have enough power to run professional lighting and sound systems. Your event planner can assess power needs for your event and provide a large quiet generator, distribution panel and heavy gauge power cords.
Sound & Multimedia
Many venues can handle your basic sound and multimedia needs with their own AV staff, but for full concert sound and multimedia, including the technical staff, an outside concert sound and lighting company is recommended.
Rent professional staging for outdoor events, or for indoor venues, when the event calls for more than the usual 18"- 24” risers found in Hotels and banquet centers.
Flags & Banners
These act as visual cues to divide areas, to channel event traffic to the desired location, or just to provide ambiance.
Parking, Valets, Shuttles
When there is no adequate parking near your event, arrange for valet parking, or you can make arrangements to use a nearby parking lot and shuttle guests to and from the event
Access to event site before/after event for setup and breakdown
Early access to the site is required for setup, particularly if the event is complex. Make arrangements with your venue to have access to the room early enough to decorate, and afterward to remove the decorations. Many venues book events back-to-back to get the maximum use of the room. Some venues will not allow you to stay after the event, requiring a return trip to break down the next day. You may have to pay extra for additional setup and tear-down time during the busy season.