Your Ultimate Event Planning Checklist

Planning an event, whether it’s a small-scale dinner party at your home or a huge gala for charity, can be daunting and stressful.

In fact, if you’re like most people, you’ll probably wish you had some kind of event planning checklist to make it all easier.

Well, luckily for you, you’re in the right place!

We are more than happy to provide you with tons of great tips and a full checklist of everything you will need to ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.

Give Yourself Tons of Time

First things first, no matter what type of event you are planning, you will want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.

If you’re planning a large event- think 100 people or more- you should probably start planning several months in advance, perhaps even as far as half a year.

For smaller events, at least one or two months should be enough time to get everything settled.

Planning early helps you to smooth out any issues and to ensure you can choose the very best food, entertainment, and whatever else you might want at your event. If you wait until the last minute, you might have to miss out on things you want or settle for subpar options.

Don’t Be Basic

One great tip for planning your event – one that, unfortunately, is easier said than done – is to think outside the box.

The number one thing that will make your event a success, or at least memorable, is having it not be like a thousand other events out there.

So, if you’re planning an engagement party, try to do something unique and different. Sure, you could hold it at a hotel and have a fancy toast, but don’t you want something more? Don’t your guests and the honorees?

When you think outside the box, it will help your event to be a memorable one. And, if you’re not particularly creative yourself, remember there is no shame in hiring people who are, like professional event planners.

Consider Your Attendees in Every Possible Way

When you plan an event, one “secret” to remember is that it’s not really for you. Sure, you want it to go well, but the event is really for the person or organization that you’re hosting it for.

It’s also for all the guests and attendees. Thus, in everything you do, buy, or book, you’ll want to keep your target audience in mind. Consider what they might actually want and like at the event.

This is especially important if you’re in a different demographic than the people you are planning the event for.

If you’re forty, for example, you likely have vastly different ideas than a bunch of 19-year-old attendees about what sounds like a “good time.” Thus, don’t think about just what you might like. Think about what your target audience, I.e. your attendees, is likely to like.

If you have the time and the means, you might even send out a survey or do some informal polling about the type of event your guests would most enjoy.

Create a Budget Before You Do Anything Else

Next up on your event planning checklist, plan a realistic budget for the event. This is absolutely key to hosting a successful event without breaking the bank or landing yourself in debt.

Start by looking at how much you can realistically afford to spend. From there, make a list of all the things the party will need, such as food, entertainment, drinks, and a venue.

Try your best to fit everything you want into your budget. While you may have to ultimately cut some things, having a budget and sticking to it closely will help you (and your wallet) immensely as you plan your event.

Check Up with Other Local Events

When you’re deep into planning an event, it is easy to forget that the outside world, along with plenty of other events, exists.

However, as much as your calendar may revolve around your event, everyone else’s does not. Thus, try to make yourself aware of other big events that are coming into town and their dates and time.

That way, you won’t step on any toes or keep a lot of people from being able to attend your event.

Again, this does go back to knowing your audience. By knowing your target audience and attendees, you can make an educated guess about other events that are likely to attract them. Thus, you can avoid scheduling on the day of these events.

Careful scheduling will ensure that your event is not just great but also well-attended.

Plan On a Few More Attendees

One thing to keep in mind is that, when you plan a truly awesome event, more people are going to ask to attend than you might have expected.

So, it’s a good idea to “overplan” in terms of the number of guests you will have. You can already assume that each guest is going to bring a “plus one.” However, some guests might bring a few extras along outside of that, so it’s a good idea to overplan in terms of food, drinks, and seating.

If you absolutely can’t handle more than what you’ve invited, then go ahead and opt for a guest list that gets checked at the door. While a few people might not like getting turned away, this can actually make your event seem more exclusive, which can work in your favor in terms of popularity and press, especially if you hope to host similar events in the future.

Whether you overplan or go the guest list route, the key is to be more than prepared for the guests you will have on the big day or night.

Bone Up on Your Negotiating Skills

Another great item for your event planning checklist is to not be afraid to negotiate.

All too often, people who are planning major events just accept the price that vendors offer to them. And, while it may be true that some vendors are not really willing to budge in terms of price, many vendors will negotiate if you push the issue.

This is especially true if your event is going to be a major one, one that draws press and publicity for the venue. When that’s the case, be sure to use this fact as a negotiating point to get a better deal on your venue, entertainment, and more.

The bottom line is that any quoted price is almost always negotiable, so don’t be shy. Negotiate away since it will help you in the end.

Use Social Media to Your Benefit

These days, snail mail is a thing of the past. People often don’t check their mail as regularly as they once did, which means that there’s a good chance you won’t get as much response as you want if you only publicize your invite and/or invite people to it via regular mail.

Take a more modern approach by creating event pages for your event on social media. This is an easy way to invite people, manage RSVPs, and control the guest list.

Furthermore, if you use social media effectively, you can also hype up your event and get people excited about it.

Create an event page at least one month in advance and post regular updates, reminders, and “hype pieces” to ensure that people are keeping your event in mind and looking forward to it.

Give People an Incentive to Show Up

In the past, people came to a party or other event just because it was a party.

Nowadays, however, there are so many events that you really have to hype yours up to get people to attend it instead of countless others.

Thus, make sure there is some kind of “reward” for attending your event, especially if it is business or marketing related. This could be a small free gift, the promise of coveted entertainment, or even a great meal.

Whatever it is, make sure you have something you can “play up” as a super cool benefit of choosing your event over all of the rest.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Planning an event, especially a large-scale event, is hard work. This means that it is an incredibly hard thing to do by yourself, or at least to do well.

Thus, it is in your best interest to ask for help from others to plan the event. No matter how much you like being in control, realize that you’re likely to have a better outcome with others assisting you.

The best course of action is to assign specific people to specific areas involved in the event planning. For example, you might put one person in charge of food, one in charge of the venue, and one in charge of entertainment.

No matter how you ultimately break it down, having several people each doing a little is definitely better than you doing it all yourself.

You can meet regularly to make sure everyone’s plans are lining up. And, together, you and the people whom you have entrusted to help you can ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.

Make Sure You Hire a Photographer

These days, just about everyone takes pictures and even videos. People pull out their phones and tablets all the time just to capture the moment.

Because of this phenomenon, a lot of people are skipping out on hiring professional photographers for their events.

If you can afford it, though, hiring a professional is a smart idea. You will get much better quality images of the event this way.

This is especially important for business, marketing, or promotional events. Even with more personal events, however, a good photographer can help you to capture memories in a stylistic way that you can cherish forever.

If you’re feeling really brave, you can institute a “no photography” rule at your event. This is a good way to ensure that only the highest quality images of your event get sent out into the world. This can also help make it so that you don’t have all of your professional images marred by people standing around with their cell phones up in the air.

Make Good Use of Hashtags  

If you want to ensure that your event gets talked about and that you can see what everyone is saying about it, create some kind of hashtag for the event.

Ideally, you will want to start using this in advance, as you promote the event before it happens. If there is a common hashtag that everyone is using, you’ll be able to more easily promote your event, as well as keep tabs on the gossip after the fact.

Always Have Some Sort of Backup Plan

No matter how carefully you plan your event, there is always the slight and frightening chance that something could go wrong.

Fortunately, you can do away with some of the “frightening” parts if you have a plan B. No matter how sure you feel that nothing will go wrong, having a backup plan never hurt anyone.

If your event is outdoors, you definitely want to have a rain or inclement weather plan. In fact, even with indoor events, issues may be likely, especially if your area is prone to unexpected snow, storms, hurricanes, or anything else of the sort. Whether you have a “rain date” or a just-in-case indoor venue, having some kind of plan can really keep you out of a jam.

The same goes when it comes to vendors. Even if you hire the most trustworthy caterers, decorators, and everything in between, issues still pop up. Thus, try and have a backup plan in case anyone cancels. You can never be too prepared when it comes to hosting an event.

Search for Sponsors

It’s no secret that planning an event, especially a large-scale one, can be very expensive. In order to help you offset some of the costs, consider looking for sponsors.

A lot of organizations will provide you with things or services you need if you just do something as simple as hanging up a banner or doing some other kind of advertising.

Often times, even if you are paying a vendor, you may be able to get prices reduced if you offer to display a logo or to do some kind of marketing for the service provider.

Similarly, if there is any way that your event could possibly raise money for charity- such as having each guest bring a donation of cash or material goods- the charity will often help you out with some of the things that you need.

Even if you think that your event is small-scale, don’t be afraid to ask for potential sponsors. If you and a provider can both get something out of the deal, you can often get a lot more than you would if you simply paid for the service or product as the average customer does.

Make Sure You Practice and Plan

When you put on a play, one of the most important phases is the final dress rehearsal. Planning an event is really no different. Make sure that, close to the event, you do a kind of “run through.”

Ask caterers to provide food samples. Get entertainment to show you their acts. Look at the entire decor and setup.

Holding some kind of “rehearsal” can really help with spotting and fixing any issues so that your actual, final event is a guaranteed success.

Keep a Positive Attitude, No Matter What

On the day of your event, no matter how carefully you have planned, one thing or another is bound to go wrong. The important thing to remember, however, is that nobody knows your plan but you. This means that, if there’s a “mess up,” no one is going to know it but you.

So, with that in mind, just go for it!

Keep a positive attitude on the day of your event, no matter what happens. Your attitude and outlook will be contagious, so if you are feeling positive (even if you have to fake it), this should transfer to your guests.


Remember, You Can Do It!

As you can see, there are a great many things you can do to ensure a wonderful event no matter what.

Keep these tips in mind and do the legwork, and you can, without a doubt, pull off a wonderful event, whether it’s for ten people or ten thousand.


Featured Image: CC0 Public Domain by StockSnap via Pixabay


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