Organizing an event involves a multitude of details to track, from the pre-planning stage to the day-of-event logistics. If you attempt to keep all of those details in your head, it will lead to a chaotic and stressful event day. To avoid such a scenario, an event planning checklist can make a significant difference! However, there’s no one-size-fits-all event planning checklist since no two events are the same. Thus, we suggest creating a customized event planning checklist, which will keep you on target and provide essential information to the event team. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating an event planning checklist:
Creating an Event Planning Checklist
1. Create an event planning checklist template
As you create your checklist, put all the items into a template. You can use Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, or find a template online. You can also use a project management app, such as Asana or Podio, that let you work collaboratively with your event staff. Once you have a template, fill it in with specific to-dos as you think of them. Work backward from the event and create a timeline of tasks and a schedule of deadlines, which assures that every minute detail gets covered.
2. Establish the event essentials
Determine some of the key elements of your event, such as date and time, location, type of event, event goal, event objectives, and audience. For instance, you need to clearly understand what expectations attendees have of the event. If you don’t meet their needs, then the desired guest action is less likely to happen. Make each of these things a to-do item on your checklist to make sure you don’t skip these steps.
3. Build an event budget
When you think about every event expense, creating an event budget seems daunting. With a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, it’s not that complicated. Start with the major categories, such as catering, décor, and rentals. Then, break down all the expenses under each category and let Excel do the work for you. Under this section of your to-do list, you can add smaller tasks like researching costs of rentals, contacting vendors for quotes, negotiating discounts with vendors, and paying deposits. Your budget is a living, breathing document, and this format encourages you to keep revisiting all aspects of the event until it is as cost-effective as possible.
4. Create the event design
This is the heart of event planning because it includes the event components that impact guests the most. Here are some of the broad elements of event design that you should consider:
The program tells the story of the event goal and objectives. Each story element leads to the next story element, which builds anticipation during the event. The peak of that anticipation should be dramatic. It is what you want your guests to remember the most. An event checklist helps layout the story by breaking down the timeline of the event.
The logistics of the event are just as important as the program. In the logistics section of your event checklist, you should include transportation, equipment rentals, room setup, and tear-down. Additionally, you should add contingencies for worst-case scenarios like inclement weather or equipment malfunctions.
Event décor makes the first impression on your guests, so it’s important to get it right. Your décor checklist should include flowers, lighting, table settings, and any other decorative elements that fit the event’s theme.
Catering is a significant component of most events. Your catering checklist should include menu selection, table service or buffet, and beverage service. Additionally, you should add a contingency for food allergies or dietary restrictions.
Technology is an integral part of modern events. Your technology checklist should include:
Build the vendor team
You can’t do it all by yourself! Build your team by selecting the right vendors to help you execute your vision. This includes selecting vendors for catering, decorations, transportation, entertainment, and more. Add a to-do item on your checklist for each vendor you need to book and the tasks required to secure their services.
Here are some tasks to consider:
Researching vendors and getting quotes
- Comparing vendor offerings and prices
- Checking vendor availability
- Signing vendor contracts
- Coordinating vendor delivery and setup
Plan your event promotion.
Your event can be flawless, but it won’t matter if no one shows up. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid event promotion plan.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Create a website or landing page for the event
- Send email invites to your audience
- Post on social media platforms
- Run ads on Facebook or Instagram
- Partner with relevant influencers or brands
Make sure you add each of these tasks to your event planning checklist to ensure that your promotion plan is comprehensive and effective.
Create a contingency plan.
Even with the most detailed event planning checklist, things can still go wrong. That’s why it’s important to create a contingency plan for any potential issues that may arise.
Here are some things to consider:
- What if there’s bad weather?
- What if a key speaker doesn’t show up?
- What if there’s a power outage?
- What if there’s an unexpected surge in attendance?
Create a backup plan for each potential issue and add them to your checklist. This way, if something does go wrong, you’ll be prepared to handle it.
4. Review and revise your checklist
Your event planning checklist is a living document that should be reviewed and revised regularly. As you progress through the planning process, you may think of new tasks or need to adjust timelines.
Schedule regular meetings with your event team to discuss progress and make any necessary updates to the checklist. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the event stays on track.
Planning an event can be a daunting task, but with a customized event planning checklist, you can make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive and effective event planning checklist that will keep you organized and on track from start to finish.
Do I really need an event planning checklist?
Yes! An event planning checklist ensures that you don’t miss any crucial details and keeps you organized throughout the planning process.
Can I use a template for my event planning checklist?
Absolutely! Using a template can save you time and ensure that you don’t forget any important tasks.
How often should I review and revise my checklist?
You should review and revise your checklist regularly, especially as you progress through the planning process and think of new tasks.
What should I include in my contingency plan?
Your contingency plan should include backup plans for potential issues such as bad weather, speaker cancellations, power outages, and unexpected surges in attendance.
How many vendors should I include on my checklist?
This depends on the size and complexity of your event.
Download our Event Planning Checklist for Large Festivals
Our checklist is an invaluable tool created to guide you through the most important details you’ll need to successfully host a festival.