Event Planning Checklist Guideline

Young person using an event planning checklist while they speak on the phone in an office.

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Every event planner worth their salt knows that an event planning checklist is perhaps the most valuable tool in planning a successful event. It is the one event planning tool that puts you at ease when you wake up in the middle of the night in a panicky sweat convinced you had forgotten an important detail in the planning of your next event. With a comprehensive event planning checklist by your side, you can approach your event with confidence, knowing you haven't overlooked anything.

What if you consider yourself super organized and you already utilize a checklist when planning an event, but have encountered situations where you realized (too late) that you failed to tend to some important detail. Where did you go wrong?

Each event requires an event planning checklist designed with that particular event in mind and tailored to the individual event specifications. So each event planning checklist is different. However, there are five items that you must have on your event planning checklist, regardless if you are planning a small birthday party or a large corporate function. 

Sign Event Contracts

It may sound obvious, but be sure you sign – and receive signed copies in return – all of the contracts you need for your event. This includes event contracts with the client, venue, vendors, hotel, entertainment, etc. A firm handshake is a nice way to conduct business but not the way to secure the hiring of any vendors and not the way to commit to working for a client. Get everything in writing and do not do any work or spend a dime on planning your event until all paperwork has been signed and delivered. If you’re an event planner who needs an event contract for your event services, click here.

Confirm the Date and Time

You are knee-deep in the planning stages for this event. How could anyone possibly get the date wrong? Vendors often have other business coming in. Clients may agree to a date and time for the event and then simply forget to notify you of the change in plans. Before you begin planning your event, double-check the date and the start and finish time and get these in writing, so everyone is on the same page.

Hire Additional Help

Don’t underestimate the value of having additional help on the day of your event. There is always something that needs tending to, and most event planners are already too busy running the event to devote their attention to situations that arise. Hiring additional help is an important step that is frequently overlooked until it is possibly too late to hire the best event staff for the job at hand. Don’t settle for leftovers when it comes to hiring event staff. Put this item on your event checklist and secure the best-trained staff with the experience you need that fits your event budget.

Conduct a Site Walk-Through

Nothing compares to envisioning something in your mind quite like experiencing it first-hand. Conducting a walk-through of the event site with your client and vendors is a critical step in the event planning process. It presents an opportunity to raise questions, address concerns, and come to an agreement on room set-up, décor, placement of registration, and overall flow of the event. Often, even when we think we are communicating clearly, our vision of something is in stark contrast to what someone else is envisioning based on our description. Take a walk-through of the physical space during the planning stages, so there are no surprises on the event day.

Include Reminders to Follow-Up

In the ideal world, telling someone once would be enough to ensure the job gets done. Unfortunately, the real working world doesn’t work that way or at least not the business of event planning. With so many details to manage and multiple players involved at various stages of the event, it is easy for something to get lost. So, when you develop your event planning checklist to keep you organized and on schedule, make sure to include reminders for certain follow-ups. For example, if you spoke with the caterer about menu ideas, also include an item on your event planning checklist that reads, “Follow up with the caterer on a proposed menu” and “Schedule tasting with the caterer." In event planning, there is no such thing as confirming something too many times.