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  • Twelve to Eighteen Months Ahead
    • Meet with stakeholders Hold a formal meeting with stakeholders to ensure you understand their needs and are prepared to meet them.
    • Book the venue In larger cities, this may have to be booked even further ahead. Pay the deposit and sign any necessary contracts to ensure the space is reserved.
    • Secure funding Before setting a budget, ensure funding is in place.
  • Six Months Ahead
    • Price catering Make a shortlist of vendors who meet the menu and budget guidelines to present to committee members or the head organizer.
    • Book security If the event requires security, book now and pay a deposit.
    • Key speakers or guests Book speakers and send save ‘the date’ notices to key guests.
  • Eight to Twelve Weeks Ahead
    • Designate an event contact This is the person guests can call or email for information or to RSVP.
    • Marketing Advertise the event in media, online, or by sending invitations for a private function.
    • Reserve accommodations Book a block of hotel rooms near the event venue if out of town guests require.
    • Travel Price train fare and flights and send this information to guests traveling to attend.
    • Sponsors If prizes or gifts are required, solicit donations from community sponsors.
    • Audiovisual and seating Determine audiovisual requirements and a seating arrangement to ensure the seating and equipment is available.
  • Four Weeks Ahead
    • Train staff Hold a training session for staff to reiterate expectations, set standards, and delegate duties leading up to and the day of the event.
    • Licenses Secure any parking, liquor, or other required licensing.
    • Catering Confirm the menu and number of attendees with the caterer.
    • Agenda Finalize and distribute the agenda to all organizers, speakers, and support/technology staff.
  • The Week of the Event
    • Set-up Supervise set-up and walk through the days events to ensure all systems are in place, equipment is working, and supplies are adequate.
    • Meet with staff Take staff through the venue and give each a detailed description of their duties.
    • Prepare signage Set up signage, place cards, menu boards, and any other visuals.
    • Speakers Contact each speaker to confirm and review the agenda.
    • Entertainment Confirm live entertainment needs and ensure all equipment is ready.
    • Decorate the venue Buy additional supplies, if needed.
  • The Day of the Event
    • Arrive early Delegate tasks for all organizers, volunteers, and staff. Oversee the operation as all equipment, seating, signage, etc., are checked.
    • Designate greeters Have an adequate number of staff or volunteers welcome guests and orient them in the space.
    • Be available Carry a cell phone or handset and communicate regularly with staff and volunteer organizers.
  • After the Event
    • Clean up Return any rented equipment, glassware, or seating.
    • Prepare thank you notes Thank all volunteers, speakers, sponsors, and organizers for their contribution.
    • Balance the budget Prepare a final budget and submit to your organization.
    • Summarize the event Write a report for organization members who may plan similar events in the future.

Event planners are highly organized people.  If you are in charge of organizing an event, this checklist will help you ensure all of the important details are covered. You could be planning a dinner party for twelve people, or a concert for 12,000.  Smaller events usually have just one organizer, while a larger event such as a conference or concert could have a team of several people reporting to one head organizer. Or, the group could even form committees to handle each of the important phases of planning to ensure a successful event. Use this checklist to cover all of your bases as the big day approaches.


The first critical step in event planning is to determine the purpose of the event. This information will help you make each decision as you work through the event planning checklist.

  • What is the theme of the event? What should participants take away from the experience? How many people are you expecting? This will help you decide when and where to hold the event. An educational conference or recruitment event requires a different type of space and seating than a recreational fundraiser, for example.
  • Once you have a good idea of what the event is about and who it is for, you can move on to planning the details and securing a space and supplies for the event. Create a budget based on the total amount available for the event. The budget should be flexible and may require several modifications as you price out different elements for the event; however, always keep the total in budget in mind. Spending more in one area often means spending less in another, so balance the new budget after each update.
Event Planner Checklist
  Kimberly French

on December 29, 2011

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