The Ultimate Event Planning Guide + Checklist

By: Marquee Event Rentals

Event planning is complicated. No matter the size, purpose, or type of event, every successful event requires detailed planning—from creating a budget and reserving venue space to promoting the event and renting event essentials.

One way to set yourself up for success is to follow established event planning guidelines and use an event planning checklist to stay organized.

How to Plan an Event: Event Planning Guidelines

Every event is different, and no two events are the same. However, these general event planning guidelines can help you kickstart the planning process and host a successful event.

1. Define Goals & Objectives

Begin the event planning process by defining the goals and objectives of the event. What is the purpose of the event? What do you hope to accomplish? What are the objectives? The answers to these questions will guide every detail of your event plan.

2. Plan Preliminary Details

It’s important to plan preliminary details early. Identify the attendees, size, duration, type, and location of the event as well as the date. Keep in mind that the particulars of the event details may change—for example, if your ideal venue is booked on your preferred date. 

3. Establish an Event Budget

Establish an event budget early on in the planning process. Although most line items will be estimates during the early stages of the budget, approximating costs will help you determine if you need to seek additional funding elsewhere from sponsors or other avenues.

4. Organize an Event Planning Team

You may be able to handle a small event on your own, but larger events require an organized team to execute successfully. Appoint a team leader to coordinate the group and designate roles for each team member to ensure the planning process runs smoothly.

5. Develop an Event Project Plan

There are a lot of little details that go into hosting a successful event. Develop an event project plan to guide your team before, during, and after the event. Include action items, due dates, completion status, and task owner, and consider using project management software to stay organized.

6. Choose a Venue & Set a Date

Research venues in your area, meet with venue coordinators, look at what is available for your preferred date, and ask lots of questions to find a good fit. Don’t forget to consider outdoor venues, which are the perfect space to set up a unique tent structure and create an unforgettable event for your guests.

7. Rent Event Planning Essentials

Your venue may come with some furniture and décor, but you will likely also need additional event essentials, such as tables, chairs, lighting, linens, decorations, glassware, flatware, chargers, and china. Renting event essentials also gives you flexibility over design so you get items that match your event theme and branding.

8. Design Event Branding

A strong event brand sets the tone and creates a vision for your event. Event branding often includes the name, website design, theme, logo, colors, typography, signage, décor, and more. Depending on the purpose of the event, the branding may also need to reflect the brand of the hosting organization or company.

9. Set the Event Agenda

What’s on the event agenda? Consider whether you will have workshops, conference presentations, speakers, entertainment, exhibitors, or formal dinners. Set an event schedule and add it to your event program and website so attendees know what to expect.

10. Create a Marketing & Promotional Plan

How will you promote your event and encourage people to attend? Every successful event has a thorough marketing and promotional plan. Whether you advertise on billboards, social media, community bulletin boards, or blogs, spread the word about your event and get people excited to attend.

11. Identify Success Metrics

To analyze the success of the event, establish key performance indicators and success metrics you can use to evaluate the event. Did you achieve your goals and accomplish your objectives from step 1? What qualitative and quantitative metrics can you identify to help measure the success of the event? Define performance metrics early so you can evaluate them after the event.

Event Planning Checklists for Before, During, & After the Event

This event planning checklist is designed to help you stay on track and organized as you jump into planning your event. We’ve categorized tasks into three groups: before the event, during the event, and after the event.

Our checklist is not exhaustive. Remember to tailor it to fit the unique needs of your event.

Pre-Event Checklist

  • Identify event goals and objectives
  • Determine the event date, type, location, size, duration, and attendees
  • Establish a preliminary event budget
  • Hire or organize a team to execute the production of your event
  • Designate team roles and nominate a project manager to keep things on track
  • Create a detailed event project plan with action items, responsibilities, and due dates
  • Pick a venue and select a date
  • Reserve event rental essentials from established local vendors
  • Develop event branding materials
  • Set an event agenda
  • Confirm speakers, exhibitors, and/or sponsors
  • Coordinate event entertainment, food/beverage caterers, etc. as needed
  • Market and promote the event
  • Define key performance indicators and success metrics

On-Site Event Management Checklist

  • Set up rented décor and furniture
  • Hang up directional and informative signage and
  • Test check-in software, Wi-Fi login, and equipment for sound, lighting, presentations, cues, and videos
  • Make sure restroom facilities are clean, operable, and well-stocked
  • Conduct a final walkthrough
  • Rehearse the event program
  • Check in with vendors, suppliers, caterers, and venue staff
  • Ensure event staff is on hand to greet and direct guests
  • Monitor event social media, registration portal, email account, and website for attendee questions or issues
  • Post live updates on the event to social media channels
  • Share compelling social posts or quotes from event attendees

Post-Event Checklist

  • Share promised follow-up resources, presentations, etc. with attendees
  • Update the event website and registration page
  • Schedule a debrief meeting with the venue coordinator
  • Send out a survey to attendees to gather feedback
  • Coordinate the return of rented event equipment
  • Check in with speakers, sponsors, and performers and share any follow-up information
  • Finalize the event budget, including any last-minute expenditures
  • Inspect final invoices from vendors, caterers, entertainers, etc.
  • Host a concluding meeting for the event planning staff
  • Organize thank you cards or gifts for relevant parties as appropriate
  • Analyze event success with established metrics and performance indicators

Rent Event Essentials at Marquee Event Rentals

At Marquee Event Rentals, we have the finest selection of event rental equipment in the Midwest, including furniture, tents, and lighting. Our resources, experience, and inventory allow us to help our clients throw the event of their dreams, no matter the size, venue, or theme.

Every day and every event, we’re here to make your vision a reality.

Are you ready to bring your event plans to life? Contact us today to get started with a complimentary consultation.

Photo Credits:

Alexes Lauren Photography Event Design/Production: Socialize Event Co.  |  Bar: Southern Pour  |  Florals: Avante Garden  |  Caterer: Parigi Dallas  |  Entertainment: Q the Band  |  Branded signage: Satin Pavement  |  Rentals 1: Perch Event Decor  |  Rentals 2: Marquee Event Rentals  |  Venue: Novel Turtle Creek