While people plan gatherings with friends and family on a day-to-day basis, one’s anxiety and stress level tends to go up when the label of a gathering goes from a simple get-together to a formal event. It’s amazing how a simple change in language takes one from the vivacious host throwing a casual dinner party for friends to a detail-obsessed, event conductor. All gatherings require the same general logistic and planning processes; the difference is a matter of scale.
I am frequently asked for a checklist of event to-do’s. While this list is by no means all-inclusive since every event is different, it does serve as a good basis for ensuring that the major considerations are addressed. Whether you are planning a bachelorette party for five or a community event for 5,000, these items play a role (just at varying levels of influence).
1. Venue: Where is your event going to take place? Is it one location or multiple? Indoor? Outdoor?
2. Food/Beverages: What are people going to eat and drink? Are you making the food or catering it? Who do you want to work with? Does the venue permit outside caterers?
3. Ambiance/Supplies: What decorations and supplies do you need for your event? Flowers? Silverware? Serving ware? Linens? Tents? Decorations? Lighting? Music/DJ/live band? Chairs and tables? Easels? Coat racks? This list is endless!
4. Permits/Licenses: What permits are required for your event? Who is providing/covered by the liquor license (if applicable)? Food license? Do you need parking permits? Noise permits? Street closures?
5. Media: Will your event have media coverage?
6. Security: What level of security does your event need? Bouncers? Guards? Officers?
7. Health/Safety: What emergency plan do you have in place? Do you need an ambulance onsite? First-aid kit? Fire truck? Fire extinguisher? Is your event handicap accessible? Where should sick people go if they need assistance?
8. The ick logistics: Who is cleaning up during and after the event? Do you have enough trash cans? Do you need to rent portable restrooms? Do you have enough toilet paper/soap/paper towel?
9. Entertainment: What are people going to do during your event?
10. Agenda: How is the event going to run? Do you have speakers? Do you need to write a script?
11. Attendees: Who is coming to your event? What special accommodations are needed? How are you tracking RSVPs?
12. Travel: Do you have to make travel arrangements for yourself or any of your guests?
13. Staff: Who is running your event?
14. Promotion: How are people hearing about your event? Personal invitations? Public announcement? Social media?
15. Cost: Is your event free? If not, who is handling payment? What forms of payment are you accepting? Be careful when money is involved since several laws can come into play. I advise contacting an attorney to ensure compliance if you are not familiar with the potential legal issues.
16. Wrap-up: What has to be done after the event? Thank you notes? Supplies returned? Clean up?