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How to Plan an Event (Part 2)

Venn Crawford

On Tuesday, we covered the basics of event planning, including choosing the venue, arranging for catering, and hiring a decorator. Today, I’d like to look at what needs to be done as the event approaches.

Two Months Before Event

At this point, you should send out your invitations and request guests RSVP (you’ll need these RSVPs later to give your caterer a headcount). You should also order any items you’ll need for the event, such as programs, prizes, or décor. Vendor plans should be finalized, and all documents received from vendors should be kept on file.

For more structured events, it may be helpful to create a small information packet for guests. Include your itinerary, bathroom locations, Wi-Fi access instructions, and any other information guests may need. If you have a social media presence for your event, you may want to provide guests with your event hashtags or ask them to tag your account in any photos they post of the event. If these packets will be professionally printed, order them at this time, otherwise you can print them yourself a few weeks before the event.

One Month Before Event

Things are heating up now – if you are advertising or promoting your event, this is a critical time to build awareness. Consider making a Facebook event and inviting those on the guest list. Speaking of guests, you should be about finished collecting your RSVPs by now. It’s ok if a few more trickle in, but you don’t want to be contending with 25 RSVP emails the week of the event. For this reason, it may be helpful to set a hard deadline for RSVPs (which you should communicate clearly to your invitees). All materials for the event should be prepared.

Two Weeks Before Event

Send an email to guests with information on the event. If you already created a guest information packet, you can just reformat this into an email. However, you should exclude information guests won’t need before arriving, such as Wi-Fi passwords and bathroom locations. At the very least, your email should include the date, time, and location, as well as dress code and parking/valet information. You may want to link to the google maps page for the event location – this will make it easy for guests to quickly pull up directions. Include the menu, prize offerings, and schedule in the email as well to get your guests excited!

Collect all event materials together in one area. They should be packed up and ready to go. If you have anyone volunteering for the event, send them their itinerary along with the event information.

If you have a volunteer who is photographing the event (or you yourself are), provide them with a list of photos they need to capture. This may include photos of important guests, such as local figures or politicians, as well as photos of specific moments, such as award ceremonies.

Week of Event

Send your final headcount to your caterer and/or decorator. Reiterate to them any dietary or allergy requirements for guests. If you are using AV devices, visit the site and ensure that everything will function properly.

Day Before Event

If you can, go ahead and take your event materials to the space. If that’s not possible, pack them up into the car that will transport them. Send a second email to your guests, reiterating all information.

Day of Event

If you are responsible for setup, arrive at least an hour early to get everything ready. Introduce yourself to the staff and familiarize yourself with bathroom and first aid locations.

If you’re using AV, do a dry run to double-check that everything works (and that you know how to use it).

Take plenty of photos during your event! If you are promoting it, consider streaming live video of important moments, such as awards presentations and performances. You can use Facebook Live to share video of your event with your followers in real time – just make sure you have a good connection.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the result of all your hard work!


by Venn Crawford