Event Checklists & Information
- Sixteen to Nine Months BeforeStart a wedding folder or binder.
- Begin leafing through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration.
- Work out your budget.
- Determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own.
- Pick your wedding party.
- As soon as you’re engaged, people will start wondering who’s in.
- Start the guest list.
- Make a head count database to use throughout your planning process, with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information. (Want to keep costs low? It may be brutal, but the best way to do it is to reduce your guest list.)
- Hire a planner, if desired.
- A planner will have relationships with—and insights about—vendors.
- Reserve your date and venues.
- Decide whether to have separate locations for the ceremony and the reception, factoring in travel time between the two places.
- Book your officiant.
- Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers.
- Keep their contact information in your binder.
- Throw an engagement party, if you wish.
- But remember that your invitees should be on your wedding guest list as well.
- Eight Months Before
Hire the photographer and the videographer.
- No need to talk specifics yet, but be sure that the people you hire are open to doing the shots that you want.
- Book the entertainment.
- Attend gigs of potential acts to see how they perform in front of audiences, then reserve your favorite.
- Meet caterers.
- If your wedding venue doesn’t offer its own catering service, look for one now and hire the service this month or early next.
- Purchase a dress.
- You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be postponed for another two to three months.
- Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
- Pick three hotels at different price points close to the reception venue.
- Sign up at a minimum of three retailers.
- Launch a wedding website.
- Create your personal page through a free provider such as weddingchannel.com. Note the date of the wedding, travel information, and accommodations. Then send the link to invitees.
- Seven to Six Months Before
Select and purchase invitations.
- Hire a calligrapher, if desired. Addressing cards is time-consuming, so you need to budget accordingly.
- Start planning a honeymoon.
- Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.
- Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses.
- Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
- Meet with the officiant.
- Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
- Send save-the-date cards.
- Reserve structural and electrical necessities.
- Book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs if you need them, lighting components, and so on.
- Book a florist.
- Florists can serve multiple clients on one day, which is why you can wait a little longer to engage one. Plus, at this point, you’ll be firm on what your wedding palette will be.
- Arrange transportation.
- Consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars. (But know that low-to-the-ground limos can make entries and exits dicey if you’re wearing a fitted gown.)
- Start composing a day-of timeline.
- Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).
- Five to Four Months Before
Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues.
- Negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that place as well.
- Check on the wedding invitations.
- Ask the stationer for samples of the finished invitations and revise them to suit your needs.
- Select and order the cake.
- Some bakers require a long lead time. Attend several tastings before committing to any baker.
- Send your guest list to the host of your shower.
- Provided you, ahem, know about the shower.
- Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings.
- Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
- Schedule hair and makeup artists.
- Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out. Snap a photo at each so you can compare results.
- Choose your music.
- What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played.
- Three Months Before
Finalize the menu and flowers.
- You’ll want to wait until now to see what will be available, since food and flowers are affected by season.
- Order favors, if desired.
- Some safe bets: monogrammed cookies or a treat that represents your city or region. If you’re planning to have welcome baskets for out-of-town guests, plan those now too.
- Make a list of the people giving toasts.
- Which loved ones would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
- Finalize the readings.
- Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony—and whom you wish to do the readings.
- Purchase your undergarments.
- And schedule your second fitting.
- Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception.
- Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs.
- No need to go to a printer, if that’s not in your budget: You can easily create these on your computer.
- Purchase the rings.
- This will give you time for resizing and engraving.
- Send your event schedule to the vendors.
- Giving them a first draft now allows ample time for tweaks and feedback.
- Two Months Before
Touch base again with all the vendors.
- Make sure any questions you or they had on your first draft have been answered.
- Meet with the photographer.
- Discuss specific shots, and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you.
- Review the playlist with the band or deejay.
- Though you probably won’t be able to dictate every single song played, you should come prepared with a wish list.
- Send out the invitations.
- The rule of thumb: Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.
- Submit a newspaper wedding announcement.
- If you’re planning to include a photograph, check the publication’s website: Some have strict rules about how the photo should look.
- Enjoy a bachelorette party.
- Arranging a night out with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honor. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, feel free to ask—for scheduling purposes, of course!—if a celebration is in the works.
- One Month Before
Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database.
- Phone people who have not yet responded.
- Get your marriage license.
- The process can take up to six days, but it’s good to give yourself some leeway. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
- Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations.
- Visit the dressmaker for (with luck!) your last dress fitting.
- For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly.
- Stock the bar.
- Now that you have a firm head count you can order accordingly.
- Send out as many final payments as you can.
- Confirm times for hair and makeup and all vendors.
- E-mail and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles.
- This gives the chauffeurs ample time to navigate a route.
- Assign seating.
- Draw out table shapes on a layout of the room to help plan place settings. Write the names of female guests on pink sticky notes and the names of male guests on blue sticky notes so you can move people about without resketching the entire setting.
- Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts.
- You’ll present them at the rehearsal dinner.
- Write vows, if necessary.
- Get your hair cut and colored, if desired.
- Week of the Wedding
Reconfirm arrival times with vendors.
- Delegate small wedding-day tasks.
- Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts (especially the enveloped sort), someone to hand out tips, and someone to be the point person for each vendor.
- Send a timeline to the bridal party.
- Include every member’s contact information, along with the point people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise.
- Pick up your dress.
- Or make arrangements for a delivery.
- Check in one last time with the photographer.
- Supply him or her with a list of moments you want captured on film.
- Set aside checks for the vendors.
- And put tips in envelopes to be handed out at the event.
- Book a spa treatment.
- Make an appontment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)
- Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events.
- Typically, companies close their lists 72 hours in advance.
- Break in your shoes.
- Assemble and distribute the welcome baskets.
- Pack for your honeymoon.
- By: Gina Brown
Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for the costs of a wedding while the groom would incur the expense of the honeymoon. These days it is not uncommon to find many couples paying for their own wedding from their own funds. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune or go into debt to have a beautiful wedding. Determine the amount of your budget and stick to it. Keep track of all your expenses and receipts in a folder or binder so that you can stay organized and accurately keep track of where your money is going. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay within your wedding budget.
- Wedding Dress
• Avoid overly elaborate dresses because they will be more expensive.
• Choose a floor sample dress and just have it dry cleaned if necessary.
• Look for your dress during prom and homecoming or consider wearing a bridesmaid dress. You can find a beautiful white or cream colored dress during that would be perfect for a wedding at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding dress.
• Look at consignment shops and the classified ads. Wedding dresses are generally only worn once so you can get a gently used dress at a huge cost savings.
• Keep the number of guests down. You and the groom should look at the first draft of the guest list and carefully consider who can be taken off the list.
• Have a cash bar instead of an open bar. Or you can also just provide wine and beer to keep the costs down.
• Hold the ceremony and reception in the same location. You will be able to cut the cost of the location for the ceremony, decorations and transportation to the reception site.
• Purchase your flowers wholesale and just pay for the labor of a professional florist to arrange them.
• Arrange the flowers yourself. A bouquet made of all roses with a little eucalyptus filler and tied with ribbon makes a stunning bouquet and you do not need to be a professional to put this together.
• Find a photographer with reasonable hourly rates and pay only for the time to do your formal poses. You can then designate friends or family to take the candid shots throughout the rest of the reception.
• Put disposable cameras at each table with a note asking guests to take pictures to help you capture memories.
• Print your own invitations using your home computer. Visit your local arts and crafts store or search online and purchase a do-it-yourself invitation kit.
• Make your own wedding favors. Wrap up jordan almonds or other candies in lace and tie with ribbon pre-printed with your names and wedding date.
• Keep the number of chosen bridesmaids and groomsmen to a minimum or choose not to have them at all. This will keep the rehearsal dinner cost down as well as eliminate the need to buy groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts.
The most commonly asked question you will hear when your friends and family are informed of your engagement is “When is the wedding?” Choosing a wedding date is very important because almost all of your wedding planning details will revolve around the date that you choose. Here are some things to take into consideration to help you pick a perfect date for your wedding.
If you already know where you would like to have the ceremony and reception, you should call them and confirm what dates they have available. If you are set on a specific location, your wedding date will have to coincide with the availability of the location, especially if you have chosen a very popular location because these places tend to get booked very quickly.
Take into consideration what type of wedding you have in mind. For example, have you always dreamed of a beach wedding surrounded by the calming sounds of the ocean or a fall wedding with beautiful red and orange leaves in the background? You will have to choose a date that is appropriate in terms of temperature and seasons. In addition, if there is a particular style of dress that you have in mind, the time of year will influence your bridal attire choices.
Have you always wanted a wedding during a specific holiday such as Christmas? Christmas is a popular time because many wedding locations are already beautifully decorated at this time of year. However, getting ready for a wedding in addition to all the activities that occur during the Christmas holidays such as shopping, parties, wrapping gifts can be too much for some people.
Maybe you thought having a wedding during a holiday would be easier for your guests due to the three day weekend. Some people may appreciate that your wedding is during a long holiday weekend while it might be difficult for others because many people plan their own vacations during these times of the year.
Are there important people in your life that you feel must attend the wedding? While there will always be people who will not be able to make it, some people may be higher on your priority list than others. For example, if your maid of honor is giving birth the same month you choose to have your wedding, you may want to give her a little time after the birth to feel more comfortable in her bridesmaid dress. Or maybe your parents have a vacation already planned for the same time. Prevent scheduling conflicts as much as possible by discussing your wedding date with these important people to avoid any problems.
You are in a position of honor. Your close friend is assuming the position and he needs your help. He has asked you to be his “best man”, to stand by his side and support him through his last act as a free man. You relish your thoughts of all the fun aspects of your job; you get to help coordinate a stag party, ok, so maybe that’s the extent of the fun parts. Still you want to help your old buddy make as cool and smooth transition to the other side as possible; you want to be the best best man you can be. You’re going to have to make a speech, a verbal representation of good times past, current times observed in a promising light, and words of ominous wisdom pertaining to the future of the newly linked couple.
Let’s break this speech thing down into some workable components. You need to first embrace the fact that as the deliverer of a speech, you need to project not only your voice, but others projectiles like enthusiasm, positivism, confidence, and an entertaining sense of composure. I know it sounds like a lot. Don’t worry; we have a plan to bring you through to the successful side of this speech writing/delivery.
The most important component of your speech is not the words you choose to deliver, it is how you present them to your audience. Think about it, you know that the last thing that they want to endure is a long winded, non-personally relevant, over-mushy, big bag of wind. They want entertainment. They want lighthearted laughter. They want it to be over relatively soon so that the celebration can continue. So there is your first lesson. In a nutshell: Be confident; speak up; smile a lot; don’t belabor your points. These aspects of delivery will make even a poorly written speech flow easier thereby enhancing the undercurrent of the whole ceremony.
You are going to need to at least write a flowchart to have in front of your eyes to keep you on task. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be able to fake your way through it. Most people are not fluent public speakers. This has nothing to do with you; it’s just that public speaking, sometimes especially in front of friends and acquaintances who you would think you’d be at ease in front of, makes people nervous. Without some notes for reference, speechmakers commonly will draw a blank at the crucial moment of deliverance. Although the friendly crowd won’t judge you for a poor performance, in retrospect you will wish that you had shined when the focus was on you. You will want to flow like a pro, making all wonder how you pulled off such an orchestrated masterpiece.
As for the content, that is where you are the expert already. Remember that you got this job because of your knowledge. You know the groom. You probably know him better than his new wife (mostly), especially if you have been friends for an extended period of time. Use your knowledge to bring out the lighter side of life. Keep topics non-offensive and lighthearted for the most part. It is expected and would be a letdown to the crowd if you did not do at least a little grilling. Poke some borderline, yet still clean, fun at the groom and whoever else may be present as a target of your room-captivating speech. Spontaneity is a beautiful thing as well. If you draw a blank, just take a breath and tell a little story that nobody but you and the groom would know. The audience will appreciate being made to feel like insiders, and you will be remembered as the best man who knew how to lay it down like a breeze through the trees. Salute!
You will find that as soon as you announce your engagement the first question you will be asked repeatedly is, “have you set a date?” Do not be daunted by this, you have every right to take your time and there is no massive urgency to do this straight away. So many times I have seen newly engaged couples feel as though they MUST get married 12 months from the engagement. I want to point out there is no set amount of time for an engagement, this is a personal decision. Engagement Arrange An Engagement Party
Celebrate your engagement with a party!!! Depending on your style this can be something as simple as a backyard BBQ, a small gathering at a restaurant or perhaps the hiring of a venue with all the bibs and bobs. I won’t go into a great detail about engagement parties, because at the end of the day I want this series to be more about wedding planning.
One thing I will cover on this topic is a frequently asked etiquette question regarding wishing wells and gifts at an engagement party. I’m speaking 100% from an etiquette point of view (and not my own beliefs). It is considered bad etiquette to have a wishing well at an engagement party or to expect gifts at all. However, depending on friends and family, you will find most people will bring a gift to an engagement party, the bad etiquette is simply in the expectations and the encouragement of gift giving.
There are a few different ways to send out your save the dates. There is the standard card in the post, or perhaps you like the idea of sending out a fridge magnet as a save the date. If you are on a budget, you could opt for what I did for my wedding and that is send out a save the date email. Sending an email eliminates the cost of the printing of the card or magnet and saves you on postage. After all you have postage for the wedding invitation to worry about.
Wording for Your Save The Date
Whatever you decide, the designing of your save the date and the wording can be quite simple, fun & playful or formal. Generally there is not much space available on the save the date as they are quite small, so keep the information brief. Simply “Save the Date,” the bride and groom’s names, the wedding date and the city of the wedding (not the full address, save this for the invitation).
Be sure to put something along the lines of “formal invitation to follow” so that your guests are aware that further detail of your wedding will come in the form of an official wedding invitation. The addition of a love quote, saying or short poem is optional depending on the space available. Be creative, add photos or other images that mean something to you and your fiancée. This is even a great opportunity to use your wedding colours, not a necessity but it is nice when everything comes together in a colour scheme.
A save the date is simply to let guests know approximately 6 months out from a wedding to leave the date open, as they can expect an invitation to your wedding. Sending out save the dates is extremely popular if you have intended overseas and interstate guests attending your wedding. 6 months is more than sufficient to allow for these guests to work out their travel arrangements.
All of the details and planning of the wedding style will be covered in the next section of the wedding check-list. The following points will be discussed in further detail, please remember though that they are in no particular order.
There are so many different options for the wedding style and Lissylane will do its best to show a various sampling of these styles and ideas, hopefully inspiring something special in your wedding day.
Keep a scrapbook, diary, wedding planning book, folder on your computer to keep track of your ideas and planning Search for wedding and bridesmaids dress styles (or dress maker) – (have fittings for bride & bridal party)
Search for all matching accessories for the girls (bride & bridal party)
Search for suits and accessories for groom and grooms-men (have fittings for groom & bridal party)
Search for a photographer and videographer that suits your style
Search for flowers or alternatives for the bridal party
Plan the reception and define your wedding style
Organise wedding stationery design (as part of this, decide on a gift registry or gift list. Finalise guest list and send out invitations at least 8 weeks prior) Organise bonbonnieres and other thank you gifts
Search for a wedding cake style and design, decide on a cake maker
Search for a hair and make-up artist (and find inspiration images)
Decide transport for the wedding day
Decide on decorations and any extras to make your wedding your way (guest book, pew decorations, centrepieces, etc)
Finalise all other items and book everything you haven’t already confirmed
PRO: You’re in a controlled environment – neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow is going to derail your day. As a matter of fact, you can pretty much assume your guests will enjoy the comfort and security of knowing your vows will go off without a hitch and they’ll be protected from the elements.
CON: There could be rules on space and décor – your wedding vision could be slightly marred by the fact that your décor might need to be minimized to meet the rules of the establishment (as is the case with most religious institutions, museums, and historical landmarks). Check with your event planner or wedding vendor to find out what stays and what goes BEFORE you sign a contract. Also, not all your guests might fit the available seating. So weigh what’s more important: A killer space or the fact that some of your extended family and friends might not make the cut on the guest list.
PRO: 2-in-1 Packages – many indoor event spaces have the ability to double as both your ceremony and reception venue. This could potentially save you big money – especially if you’re thinking about having your venue cater your event too. This can give youleverage to negotiate for a lower price OR additional add-ons, like your wedding cake, free valet parking, etc.
CON: Higher Demand During the Colder Months – Good luck trying to find an indoor space last minute in the late fall or winter. Given the freezing temps outside, indoor wedding spaces are usually at a premium and harder to come by if you put off booking it in advance. We suggest 6-9 months out just to play it safe.
PRO: Little Décor Necessary – Pretty flowers, rolling hills, elegant gardens, and greenery aplenty – a scenic outdoor ceremony doesn’t require a lot of flourish to make it spectacular. As a matter of fact, decorating for your ceremony is a definite no-brainer when you book your wedding at someplace like a vineyard, beach, park, etc.
CON: Lighting Limitations – A pretty ceremony spot doesn’t automatically equate into a picture-perfect affair. Depending on the time of day, shadows and overhanging trees and brush could make it a challenge for your photographer and videographer to get good pictures. Keep in mind it’s always a good idea to take your vendors for a walk-thru beforehand (or at the very least ASK them for suggestions before you drop money on a deposit.)
PRO: More Family Friendly – Keeping a toddler or a 10-year-old engaged and occupied is much easier to do outside than it is in a restricted indoor space. From blowing bubbles to hula hoop and kite lessons for the kiddies, ALL your guests will have a great time when Mother Nature plays host on your wedding day.
CON: The Weather – While we’d all love a crystal ball, the simple fact of the matter is that having a wedding outside is a gamble. You just can’t anticipate rain, high winds, or a sweltering heat wave when planning something up to a year in advance. If you’re worried about any of these things ruining your perfect day, maybe it’s time to think about scoring a tent, heater, fans, or a venue that offers an indoor space to accommodate guests if inclement weather does strike.
All-in all, it’s entirely your day and you can make the most of it with these helpful considerations for whichever venue you choose!
Luau Party Ideas
Luau Theme Party
Fiesta Party Ideas
Mexican fiesta Party Ideas
Ole! Easy Fiesta Party Ideas
Hollywood Party Ideas
Film Awards Party
Oughta be in Pictures
Casino Party Ideas
Texas Hold ’em
Western Party Ideas
Western Theme Party
Decades and Music
50’s Rock and Roll
60’s Woodstock Theme
70’s Disco Theme
80’s Theme Party
Mardi Gras Celebration
Mardi Gras Holiday Party Big Easy Bead Bash
Cool Jazz Party
Dining and Drinks
Cocktail Party Ideas
Lobsterfest Theme Party
World Cup Watch Party
TV and Movies
Glee Theme Party
CSI Theme Party
Twilight Theme Party
Harry Potter Theme Party
Survivor Theme Party
Creepy Crawly Kids Party
Party on the Porch
Dog Day Afternoon
Summer Pool Party
Christmas in July
Shades of Autumn
Fall Harvest Party Ideas
Birthday Party Themes:
Milestone Birthday Parties
Celebrate Theme Birthday Party Ideas
“Not Dead Yet” Over the Hill Birthday
21st Birthday Party Ideas – Pub Crawl
30th Birthday Ideas – Party Continues
40th Birthday Party Ideas – Oh No! Big Four-Oh
40 and Over the Hill Birthday Ideas
50th Birthday Party Ideas – 50 is Fabulous!
60th Birthday Party Ideas – 60 is Super
70th Birthday Party Ideas
80th Birthday Party Ideas
90th Birthday Party Ideas
Adult Birthday Party Themes
Guys Golf Outing
50’s Rock and Roll
80’s Theme Birthday Party
Mardi Gras Madness!
Under the Sea
Fiesta Sweet 16
Sweet Sounds of 16
Hollywood Sweet 16
My Super Sweet 16
In the City
1st Birthday Parties
1st Birthday Safari
Kid’s Birthday Themes
new! Wrestling Party Ideas
Bug Party Ideas
Super Mario Brothers
Pink Poodle in Paris
High School Musical
Puppy Dog Party
Perfect Kid’s Party
Sweet Lady Bugs
Yo Gabba Gabba!
Trucks and Tool
2017 Graduation Party Ideas
High School Graduation Party
Nursing Graduation Party Ideas
new! Law School Graduation Party Ideas
new! Owl Graduation Party Ideas
new! Travel Theme Graduation Party Ideas
Land of Oz Graduation
Take Us to Vegas
Easy Graduation Party
A Sporting Life
Roast the Graduate
Preschool and Kindergarten Graduation
Bridal Shower Ideas
Bridal Shower Ideas
Hollywood Jack & Jill
Honeymoon & Travel
Kitchen & Recipe Theme
Wine Not Start A Cellar?
Bachelorette Party Themes
Bachelorette Party Ideas
Girls’ Night in Pajamas
Baby Shower Ideas
Sugar ‘n Spice
Snails & Puppy Dog Tails
ABCs & 123s
Mommy To Be
Noah’s Ark 2 by 2
A Star is Born
BaByQ Western Party Ideas
Bar & Bat Mitzvah
Big City Lights
Retro 60s & 70s
Harry Potter Theme
A Hollywood Star
Let’s go to Camp!
All Star Baseball
Garden of Eden
The British are Coming
Wild, Wild West
Anniversary Party Ideas
50’s Theme Anniversary
Super Bowl Party Ideas
Super Bowl Party
Simple Super Bowl
Texas Style Super Bowl
Luau Super Bowl
Mardi Gras Super Bowl
Taste of the NFL
Super Bowl Fiesta
Cold Weather Super Bowl Party Ideas
Affair of the Heart
Chocolate Tasting Party
Love is in the Air
Truth or Dare Affair
Quick Decorating Ideas
Valentine’s Day for Kids
Ideas for the Classroom
Ideas for the Office
Celebrate the Single Life
Chinese New Year
Mardi Gras Holiday
Mardi Gras Madness
St. Patrick’s Day
St. Pat’s Open House
Ol’ Irish Pub Party
Sham-ROCK the House
“Happy Easter” Party
Some Bunny Loves You
April Fool’s Day
Cinco de Mayo
4th of July
Fireworks on the Fourth
Uncle Sam Wants You! 4th of July
Oktoberfest Party Ideas
Halloween Party Ideas
new! Zombie Halloween Party Ideas
new! Mad Scientist Laboratory Halloween Ideas
Halloween House Party
Sexy Halloween Party
80’s Horror Halloween
Black & Orange Ball
Dead Rock Star Party
Holy Halloween Batman
From the Neck Up
Scary Skeleton Soiree
Not So Scary Halloween
Jack O’Lantern Jamboree
Office Halloween Themes
New Halloween Themes
Thanksgiving Craft Party
Very First Thanksgiving
Family and Friends
The Turkey Bowl
Day After Potluck
Let’s Dreidel Around
Chanukah Latke Party
Chanukah Party Ideas
Christmas Party Ideas
Candy Cane Party
A Winter Wonderland
Santa Theme Christmas
Invite Frosty Over
Kids Cookie Christmas
Have a Gift Exchange
July in Christmas
Holiday Shopping Party
Christmas in Candyland
Tree Trimming Party
Christmas Open House
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Quick Xmas Themes
New Year’s Eve Party Ideas
White New Year’s Eve
Time for a Change
Rock Around the Clock
New Year’s For Kids
Bond Casino Royale
Mardi Gras Celebration
New Year’s Luau
New Year’s Day
Clock Strikes Midnight
Alien New Year’s
Easy New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Fiesta
Easy New Year’s Casino
Corporate Casino Theme Party
Mardi Gras Corporate Theme Party
Fabulous fifties Theme Party
Corporate Luau Theme Party
Let it Snow Winter Theme
Company Christmas Party
Feliz navidad Holiday Fiesta
Magical Holiday Reception
Holiday Cocktail Reception
Holiday Dance Party
These think-ahead steps from professional party planners will help you enjoy your party as much as your guests.
- Three Weeks Before
- Make an invitation list.
For a large cocktail party, invite 20 percent more people than you can fit, since typically only 70 percent to 80 percent of invitees attend.
- Decide on a theme, if you want one.
Make, buy, or borrow any decorations or music you may need to fit the theme.
- Send invitations.
Mail, e-mail, even phone invites are all acceptable.
- Plan the menu.
Assemble the recipes (choose only those that can be prepared in advance, perhaps even frozen, with just warming and assembling required on party day). Make a list of how far in advance each can be made, and compile a shopping list. Place an order with your local delicatessen or bakery, as needed.
- Line up any help you may need.
Consider hiring a high school student or a professional to help with pre- or postparty cleaning or to pass drinks or appetizers, replenish buffet food, tidy up, and generally take some weight off your shoulders.
- Two Weeks Before
- Clean any crystal, china, and silverware you’ll be using.
And launder and iron linens.
- Come up with a playlist.
The music should be upbeat and sufficient to last throughout the party. For a summer party, click on the link below to download a playlist.
- Do a first round of grocery shopping and cooking.
Prepare any dishes that can be frozen.
- One Week Before
- Clean the house thoroughly.
This way, you’ll need only a quick once-over before the party. (To maintain it for the rest of the week, try the 19-minute daily routine at www.realsimple.com/quickcleanup.)
- Set the stage.
Arrange the furniture as you’ll want it for the party, making sure that guests can move easily from one part of your house to another. Designate a coffee table or side table for coffee and dessert, if you’ll be serving them. Tuck away things that will be in the way, precious items that might get broken (or even be taken), and any clutter. Figure out the lighting: Using low-wattage bulbs or candlelight will create the right mood.
- Take inventory of cookware and serving dishes.
If you don’t have enough for every dish you’re serving, consider purchasing inexpensive pieces from a discount or thrift store. Label each dish with a Post-it so you’ll remember what you plan to use it for at party time.
- Stock the bar.
Plan three bottles of wine for every four people, three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour cocktail party.
- Three Days Before
- Notify the neighbors.
Let them know you’re having a party if you expect it to be large, loud, or parking-intensive.
Arrange candles, put up theme decorations, etc.
- Check the medicine cabinet.
Remove any personal items you wouldn’t want guests to see.
- Set up clean-up stations.
Place a box of salt, Wine Away (red wine stain remover), club soda, and a couple of rags in a wicker basket, and store a few in strategic places in case a nasty spill occurs.
- Specify a place for coats.
Make space in a closet and fill it with hangers. You could also choose a bed for coats (make sure the room is especially tidy and free of valuables, so you won’t need to worry about them), or purchase an inexpensive portable garment rack.
- Finish grocery shopping.
Make a detailed cooking schedule for your remaining dishes.
- One Day Before
- Set the tables.
Or set up the buffet.
- Buy and arrange flowers.
- Finish as much of the cooking as you can.
Also, for any foods that require cooking on party day, do as much prep (dicing, marinating, rinsing lettuce, etc.) as possible.
- Give your house a once-over.
Do whatever touch-ups are needed.
- Day of the Party
- Finish any last-minute cooking.
This should be absolutely minimal!
- Place chairs.
Don’t worry about having enough seating for everyone; fewer seats will encourage mingling.
- Display food.
One to two hours before guests arrive, set out appetizers and snacks that won’t spoil. Wrap them tightly to ensure freshness; tear off the wrap when the first guest rings the doorbell.
- Greet guests as they arrive.
Things should be organized so you’re free to mingle, not tied to the kitchen.
Determine and book location (get confirmation or contract)
Determine event concept, theme, etc.
Establish a budget Send a save the date announcement
Outline logistics: rentals, furniture, parking, security, housekeeping
Put on VIP calendars: University officials, other organizations, office calendar, etc. 2 or More Months Out:
Set menu, decorations, musicians and A/V needs – book all vendors and services
Performer needs: microphone, podium, stage, props
Design invitations or announcement
Ticket sales process or RSVP database
Draft a production schedule
Write scripts; include introductions of VIPs
Establish a publicity game plan
Track expenses and update budget Four Weeks Out:
Track ticket sales/RSVPs
Walk through every step of the event including the venue Three Weeks Out:
Schedule briefings with VIPs
Call all vendors to confirm
Walk through every step of the event One Week Out:
Finalize production schedule. Include all telephone numbers
Create and distribute staff/volunteer assignments
Walk through every step of the event Three Days Out:
Give caterer final guarantee. Confirm delivery and set-up times
Nametags and registration/check-in materials
Head table/seat assignments
Walk through every step of the event Day Before:
Prepare an event bin: nametags in alpha order, office supplies, blank nametags, production schedule, scripts, guest list, giveaways, and signage
Reconfirm: Venue, catering, valet, musicians, florist, A/V
Walk through every step of the event Day of Event:
Check venue: temperature, cleanliness, furniture arrangement, signage, restrooms, mic check
Confirm arrival of flowers, musicians and photographer
As unconfirmed guests arrive, make them a nametag and write their names on something to keep track.
Check names of VIPs for script/introductions
Get feedback Day after Event:
Use nametags to establish attendance
Send appropriate thank-yous; include photos
Final budget review
Update the checklist
Determine how to “extend” event to those who could not attend; update web
Planning a party is one of the most strenuous, difficult, and mentally (even physically) challenging activities you can do. Who to invite, what kind of food to have, where guests will sit, what entertainment to book, what activities to have, it’s all part of the planning process. The event itself is the payoff. However, how many of us shy away from hosting a party just due to the time, energy and effort that goes into planning a party.
This could be your wedding, a graduation party, a birthday party, a corporate event, or just a fun get together with friends. The motive behind the event is the easy part. You as the hopeful event planner have recognized an event, a life’s landmark, a person, or even just a heartfelt welcome home or goodbye as worthy enough to take the time to surround your home, or rental hall, or backyard with guests to celebrate, remember, wish well, or even mourn. That part is easy.
And then here comes the stress. That’s when the mother in law gets involved. That’s when you have to pick a space. That’s when you have to figure out who you will invite. And that’s just the brink of things you are incorporating into your to do list.
But what if there was a person or group of people tasked with cutting off the stress at that very point? What if there was a person or a group of people willing to take on every step of stress and energy from that point forward? You’d call that person a saint! Or even a savior! No way on Earth there would be a person insane enough to take that on for you. Right?
Wrong. There are. In fact there are thousands of people and businesses in your own area right now willing to do this for you. There are people with a business model, start up funds invested, and expertise in doing this very such thing. For you. AND FOR YOUR GUESTS. Cool huh? These saints are actually referred to as event planners, promoters, booking agents, or if they’re lucky…party experts.
This day in age people like lists, so I’m going to give you the top 10 things in a list to cover both why you should hire a party event planning service and what they will do to alleviate this stress.
1) It should be about your guests, and your guest of honor. This is why you are having the event in the first place. This is why you are even reading this. You have recognized a person or group of people or an event as needing a moment of celebration. You’re goal is to highlight this by inviting people to celebrate something. It could be a wedding, it could be a birthday, a graduation, a promotion, a soldier returning home, a going away party, an anniversary and the list goes on and on. You should be spending the majority of your effort and time with this point. Why bog your time down prior to the event, during the event, and even after the event with the details. The main point is what you are celebrating, not what kind of frosting is on the cake, what song you mix the chicken song with, or what the table skirts look like. A host, often times, is the person having the least amount of fun but trying to look like they are having the most. Why not put yourself in a position to just sit back and enjoy? A party planner will take care of all the details. And of course, you still get the power of veto. You still get the power of approval. You don’t lose authority of the event;
you’re just not bogging yourself down with the details. Every organization, business, and team has a hierarchy to their business model. You are the CEO, President, and Ruler of the party. Your event planner is your research team, your soldiers, your line workers, and your work horses. Let them take care of the details. You take care of the guest of honor.
2) Entertainment. This could go to providing a live band, a DJ, and all the sounds and lights to make your event memorable! People feel more comfortable with background noise, so even if your entertainment experts only provide a small sound system hooked up to your favorite music streaming data service you’re party will have that added punch that deep down we wish every party we’ve attended had. Some companies specialize in this service. They have the equipment necessary to fulfill all your entertainment needs. If you have never attended a party with intelligent lighting, you are truly missing out. Even if you’re party is to be hosted in your basement, lighting schemes add character and ambiance to a party.
3) Promotions. Need to pass out flyers, or advertise, or cover your event online? Many event entertainment companies have a team of experts in this field. Many have contacts at local newspapers and key bloggers online to aid you with getting the word out on your event. Even if you’re a street promotions type of person, they do that too. Covering countertops, car windshields, and door to door. If your event is a come one, come all type of party this is a big relief of a huge amount of work for you. If your event is more of the RSVP/invite only type of invent, your entertainment event experts will have great ideas how you can reach your friends and family too. Using free social media crutches, web design, and printing they can make your invites
and party promotion material stand out and most importantly get the word out to the people you are targeting.
4) Food and Drinks. Many party planners have contacts with cake makers, caterers, and bartender services. Some even go as far as having staff equipped to serve your food and drinks. Even if you have a party where you would like to cook your own food, having a few extra hands in the kitchen or serving the meal is a big help.
5) Event Staff. We touched on this above with kitchen/service staff. But your team doesn’t have to stop there…event security, sound and light technicians, wait staff, bartenders, DJs, set up and tear down crew are all on the payroll with most services. You can normally work the hourly rate of these staff members with the purchase of an overall package.
6) Set up and Tear Down. Probably one of the most grueling tasks of planning a party is getting your location set up and tore down. Setting up tables, and chairs, tents, sound, food, ect can be a process you never find the right amount of time to do. And who wants to enjoy their party with a sore back or a glistening brow of sweat? Even more tolling is the tear down. At least with the setup you have the excitement and anticipation of the event coming to help you with setting up. As you tear down, all your guests are out and you combat fatigue, time constraints, mosquitoes, darkness, and a whole host of challenges with cleaning up after your event. Personally this is enough to sideline any party itch I get.
7) Knowing the specifics. You have specialists with plenty of experience in where to go, what type of location to use, how to reach your target audience, what type of entertainment and activities to host, and even what kind of food to serve. As covered above, you still have the
ability to go your own way with any portion of your party, however, it is always easier to make decisions when you have a group of individuals surrounding you giving you their expertise.
8) A Brand. This is what these people do for a living! They pay their bills, put food on their tables, and provide for their families by ensuring you have a worry free party and by ensuring your guests enjoy themselves. This is their brand. This is what they do. This is the single most important factor to any business. A heating and cooling company tasked with fixing your air conditioning on a 100 degree day is not going to waste their time doing anything other than what you have tasked them to do. A lawn maintenance company is not going to mow your lawn with squiggly lines or leave the weeds behind. A mechanic is going to use the best products available within your budget and ensure your problem is fixed. There is a self of pride in American business. These people want to earn their paychecks like any other American worker. But more importantly TO YOU, they want to earn your trust and your promotion. They want you to tell your friends and family for referral business and they want your repeat business in the future. This is comforting to you, hiring an entertainment company for the first time, because you know that this company’s business is making sure people enjoy themselves at your party and their livelihoods depend on their execution.
9) Miscellaneous. Most lists in the blog world have an “encompass all,” item. To pick up all the rest of the details in one bullet point. This is your writing lesson for the day. Ask your entertainment company representative if your need includes tables, chairs, tents, popcorn machines, effect lights, fog machines, bounce houses, media (video and photos), ect. You might be surprised the amount of reach an
entertainment company has with offering you a little extra at your party.
10) Why the hell not? You’ve tried everything else haven’t you? You’ve tried yourself. You’ve had successes and you’ve had failures. But you’re still interested (I know this, because you’re still reading this.) Industry blogs such as this are not designed to pull in casual readers, or casual clickers…this is a target piece. I’m no party aficionado, I know that I like them, and I know I’ve both hosted and attended parties before. There are hundreds of reasons why this is a good idea. Most companies will provide discounts for referrals, or repeat customers, or package deals, or if you book the event far enough in advance they might be able to give you some sort of financial break on your services too. It doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone and shop around.
Are you an expert at throwing a party? Probably not…even though we’d all like to consider ourselves the life of the party, or an expert on knowing what people want at an event…the truth of the matter is, we’re not. They are. They have the experience, the knowledge, and the product to make your party a success. You wouldn’t try to do the brakes on your car by yourself without guidance would you? You wouldn’t try to excavate a 10 foot trench under your crawl space without an expert would you? Why would you trust your loved one’s celebration with anything less than an expert? Even if that means yourself. Again, you’ve done the most important part already…you’ve found a person, event, or thing worth celebrating…now do the second most important thing and pass the ball to the expert.
establish your own “ideal” and “can’t-miss” due dates.
FROM 3 MONTHS OUT, OR AT TIME OF BOOKING
Determine the objective of the meeting and develop
the program and budget.
Book meeting site and support services. (Check calendar of local events to avoid conflicting or
Send letters of agreement to hotel and suppliers.
Set up master account for your meeting charges with
the hotel (authorize who can sign charges).
Invite speakers and inform them about your
attendees and the facilities of the hotel, including
Make travel arrangements.
AT LEAST 5 WEEKS BEFORE YOUR
Confirm menus, room setups and supplies in writing
with your event manager.
Monitor speakers’ presentation development and offer
assistance in reproducing any handouts.
Order signs and printed materials.
Mail attendees the agendas, suggested dress and
Order gifts and amenities. Arrange deliveries of gifts
(and meeting registration materials) with your hotel
AT LEAST 3 WEEKS BEFORE YOUR
Check with your speakers regarding the progress of
their presentations, audiovisual and logistical arrangements.
Submit rooming list to hotel and confirm arrangements
AT LEAST 1 WEEK BEFORE YOUR
Ship materials to arrive 24 hours before your arrival, and confirm arrival before leaving
Confirm all audiovisual requirements and produce slides.
Make arrangements for shipping materials
back to your office after the meeting.
Confirm (72 hours in advance) your meal and beverage counts for the first day food functions.
Take a complete master set of all handouts with you. (If your shipment of materials is lost or
delayed, you can arrange to have your master set photocopied.)
Review details and walk through your meeting space with your property event manager.
Personally inspect shipped materials to be sure that all of your items have arrived and that they are in good condition.
Check the hotel function board and front desk for posted times and locations of your functions.
Check function space one hour in advance.
Notify your event manager immediately of any changes in your plans or requirements.
Sign banquet checks each day and keep an ongoing record of your on-site expenses.
CONCLUDING A SUCCESSFUL MEETING
Meet with your event manager to review your sessions, charges and receipts.
Share with your event manager the names of personnel who have provided extraordinary service.
1. SITE SELECTION
- Researching sites, including costs of directories, software,
- Preparing and distributing requests for proposals
- Travel, housing, ground transportation, and other site visit costs
- Salaries and benefits for permanent staff
- Wages for temporaries
- On-site expenses for travel, housing, and other costs
- Custodial, security, electrical, audiovisual, and other contracted
- Production and distribution of promotional pieces and other delivery vehicles
- Telephone fees
- Advertising costs
- Registration/housing confirmations
- Forms for registration (and housing if done in house)
- Tour and special event order forms
- Tickets for meals and special events
- Program agenda booklet
- Badge blanks and holders
- Special handouts and announcements
- Banquet menus and programs if separate from program booklet
- Enclosures, order forms, and other items in registration packets
- Exhibit programs (if separate from program booklet)
- Special invitations
- Materials for divisions, committees, board members, special interest groups, published proceedings, abstracts
- Planning: committee meetings, telephone, mailing, duplicating
- Expenses of speakers: honoraria, amenities, travel
- Audiovisual services
- Meeting room rental costs
- Special events, entertainment
- Golf or other sporting events
- Decoration costs
- Food and beverage costs
- Office furniture and equipment
- Registration equipment
- Press room
- Simultaneous translation and audience response equipment
6. EXHIBITS PROMOTION
- Communication contracts
- Room rental costs
- Decorator services
- Duplication services: manuals, lists, regulations, charts, etc.
- Electrical costs
- Storage fees
- Staff office accommodations
7. SPOUSE, CHILDREN, GUEST PROGRAMS
- Coordinator expenses
- Gifts and amenities
- Printed program
- Transportation costs
- Committee expenses
- Child care
8. MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES
TO KEEP IN MIND
- Office supplies
- Shuttles, limousines and other transportation
- Legal services
Determine objectives and scope of program.
Determine audience(s): membership, potential exhibitors, an industry or trade, general public.
Develop theme and corresponding graphics.
Considerations should include purposes of individual pieces: who will receive them, tone to be conveyed, how they will be
produced, how many colors will be needed, what layout is required at each stage (from rough to comprehensive), and how much is budgeted for them.
Develop a schedule for the campaign.
Set promotional budget based on characteristics of membership, features of the venue, time of year, strength of program, and costs of attendance.
Develop promotional materials according to tested criteria: short and forceful sentences, convincing explanation of benefits to attendees, clear emphasis
on important elements of meeting, and easy means of registering.
Plan for all campaign items to carry theme forward, taking into account costs of special effects
like embossing or die-cutting; quality, grade, weight and finish of paper; number of ink colors used; time for production; and quantity required:
• Pre-meeting letters and announcements
• Preliminary programs
• Registration and housing forms
• Promotional pieces for both exhibitors and
• Follow-up mailings
• Final agendas/program books
• Badge inserts
• On-site registration materials
• Lists of registered attendees
Solicit a minimum of three competitive bids for all printing, checking samples of paper stock,
samples of work for other meetings, references, and explanation of other services each firm can provide.
Select printer(s), taking into account whether need is for “quick” or commercial quality, demonstrated ability of a single printer to handle all needs,
availability of necessary equipment for jobs, and ability to meet deadlines.
Agree with printer on schedule into which extra time is built, and monitor deadlines for rough layout, submission of copy, preliminary approval, completed layout, final approval of blueline, and delivery of job.
Promote at previous year’s meeting.
Release promotional pieces, press releases, and related materials in accordance with schedule,
with news releases preceding membership promotional mailings.
Target local, national, international media as appropriate by type: trade papers, newspapers and periodicals of general interest, radio and television tailored to market.
Control promotional costs through the following measures:
• Obtain firm written bids for services.
• Provide clean, competently proofread copy to
• Use standard paper sizes when possible.
• Use same paper stock for many pieces.
• Piggyback print items using same color.
• Use standard PMS ink colors.
• Reuse graphics.
• Avoid unnecessary special effects.
• Avoid perforations in favor of dotted-line
• Coordinate printing times.
• Set and enforce firm policy on overtime.
• Minimize number of copy changes.
The destination Accessibility
Ease and cost
Proximity to airport
Permits access by people with disabilities
Adequate taxi/limousine service
Sufficient parking space
Availability and cost of shuttle service
Adequate airport assistance
Adequate number of flights into destination
Seasonality of destination (peak season vs. off-season) Environment
Availability of local attractions
Safety of area
Economic health of community
Reputation of area/facility for hosting meetings
Support and services available from local convention bureau
Availability of experienced suppliers, such as audiovisual firms, exhibit service contractors,
temporary help, and security
Efficient, friendly doormen and bellmen
Attractive, clean lobby
Registration desk easy to find: sufficient space and personnel in relation to guest rooms; ability
to handle peak check-in/check-out times for major groups; efficient front desk personnel
Modern elevators in sufficient number to serve guests when the facility is full
Accessible, fully-staffed message and information desk: rapid response to telephone calls; quick
delivery of messages
Availability of guest services: drugstores, banks, emergency services, giftshop, concierge, safety deposit boxes
Comfortable clean rooms: furniture in good condition, modern bathroom fixtures, adequate lighting, adequate closet space and hangers, smoke detectors, fire exit information clearly posted, refrigerator and/or wet bar
Adequate lighting and cleanliness of hallways
Availability of beverage and ice machines on each floor
Service elevator accessibility
Size of standard room vs. deluxe room
Availability of “towers” or executive floor offering special guest services
Rooms equipped for people with disabilities
Number and types of suites and availability of suite floor plans
Reservations procedures and policies
Room category classifications (floor number, non-smoking, ocean view, etc.) and number
available in each category
Number of rooms available for early arrivals and late departures
Current convention rate and rack rate for individual guests (not part of the group)
Date hotel will provide firm rates
Guarantee and deposit requirements
Check-in and check-out hours
Cutoff date for the room block
Check-cashing policies and types of credit cards accepted
Refund policy for cancellations
Number of non-smoking floors (standard and concierge)
Dates of any planned renovations
Any change in hotel ownership being discussed
Availability of a health club, hours, and cost
Telephone access charges (long distance, local, and calling card)
Key system for guest rooms
Adequate parking space (free or for a fee)
Hotel emergency plan (meeting manager should review it)
Hotel emergency exits clearly marked
Comparison of king-bedded versus double-bedded room categories Meeting space
Meeting rooms come in all shapes and sizes, and with a number of obstructions and inadequacies.
The meeting manager must evaluate the potential of each room under consideration. They should measure the room, prepare scale diagrams, incorporate all equipment, staging and decorations, and calculate the desired square footage per person for the required setup. Below are some questions the
meeting manager should be prepared to answer before the site inspection:
How many meeting rooms will be required?
In addition to the formal program, will meeting rooms be needed for committee and business
What is the estimated attendance for each session?
Are attendees to be seated theater style, classroom style, or conference style?
Are rooms with high ceilings and no columns or obstructions needed to accommodate
Is space needed in or near the meeting room(s) for refreshment breaks?
What pre- and post-meeting space is required for affiliated ancillary groups?
Are meeting rooms accessible to people with disabilities?
Food and beverage service
Appearance and cleanliness
Cleanliness of food preparation areas
Adequate staffing at peak times
Attitude of personnel
Prompt and efficient service
Variety of menus
Feasibility of setting up additional food outlets for continental breakfast and quick luncheon
service if necessary
Feasibility of using public food outlets for group functions during non-peak hours Group functions
Quality and service
Diversity of menus
Creativity or access to companies specializing in this
Costs: tax and gratuities; projected price increase by the time of the meeting; extra labor
charges for small group functions
Liquor laws (restricted times)
Cash bar policies: bartender cost and minimum hours, cashier charges, drink prices
Refreshment break pricing: guarantee policies, when a guarantee is required, number prepared beyond guarantee
Special services: tailored menus, theme parties, unique refreshment breaks, food substitutions available, table decorations, dance floor
Size of banquet rounds (eight people or 10 people)
Room service: diversity of menu, prompt and efficient telephone manner, prompt delivery,
quality Exhibit space
Number of loading docks and proximity to exhibit area
Availability and location of freight receiving area
Location of utilities
Maximum floor load
Security of area
Location of fire exits
Proximity to food service areas, restrooms, and telephones
Availability of sufficient time for move-in and move-out
Reputation of facility regarding union relations
Decorations to enhance facility appearance
Availability of supplemental lighting
Proximity of exhibit hall to other portions of the meeting
First aid station
Availability of office space for exposition manager, service contractors, and suppliers
Crate storage areas and policies
Offices and other services
o Sufficient space for furniture and equipment necessary to perform the business at hand
o Good lighting
o Easy for attendees to locate
o Adequate electrical outlets
o Availability of house telephones or telephone jacks
o Ability to secure space after hours
o Is the hotel flexible regarding the tentative agenda, or is meeting space locked in by a signed
o Are doors to meeting rooms wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs?
o Tables: six feet long, eight feet long, schoolroom width (15”-18”), rounds, 60 inches, 72 inches
Source: Professional Meeting Management, third edition, published by the Professional Convention
supplier. By following these simple guidelines, a meeting manager can utilize the methods and lessons of meeting management in a more efficient manner.
• Present and maintain a professional attitude.
• Control stress and tension.
• Avoid politics and egos.
• Take time to gather all facts and requirements beforehand.
• Meet with the proper hotel or site people who have the authority to make decisions.
• Know all the following Do’s and Don’ts.
• Define the purpose and objectives of the meeting.
• Know the event.
• Have printed copies of meeting plans available.
• Make key contacts in all services and sites.
• Follow up frequently.
• Obtain peer referrals.
• Contact union stewards before an event at a union venue.
• Communicate with clarity and outline everything in writing.
• Make all agreements part of the written contract.
• Possess the authority to make a decision (or sign a contract).
• Possess the authority to make a decision (or sign a contract).
• Be ethical.
• Ask questions.
• Listen and pay attention.
• Minimize all distractions.
• Verify all legal clauses of the contract with an attorney.
• Know the budget.
• Sacrifice quality for cost.
• Make unreasonable demands.
• Insist on being the final authority.
• Be inconsiderate of a supplier’s profit margin and business needs.
• Escalate and overestimate needs.
• Hesitate to ask questions.
• Be apprehensive about negotiating for everything required.
• Promise what cannot be delivered.
• Lie or misrepresent.
• Jump at the first offer.
• Pass up a good deal based on a personality conflict.
• Be intimidated.
• Hesitate to advise the facility of changes.
- What is the estimated attendance?
- What are the table linen color choices?
- Are centerpieces and decorations needed for head and buffet tables?
- How many places are required at the head table? Will the head table be on a platform?
- Is a floor or table lectern needed? Where should it be placed?
- Is a microphone needed? If so, what type and where?
- How much time is needed for set up? When will the room be accessible?
- Are meals to be served at the head table, or will dignitaries take their places from reserved tables
after the meal?
- If service is buffet style, are head table guests to serve themselves, or are servers to prepare their plates?
- If meal tickets are to be collected, who will collect them and where, at the door or at the table?
(Provide the caterer with a sample.)
- How are late arrivals without tickets to be handled?
- Are tickets required for head table guests?
- Is a registration or supply table needed outside the function room? Is an award table needed behind the head table?
- Are programs or menus to be placed on tables or chairs or distributed at the door?
- Is a room needed for VIPs prior to the function?
- Must special arrangements be made for guests with dietary restrictions?
- Are there banners that need to be placed?
- Is a coat check room needed?
- If awardees are seated in the audience, how will they approach the lectern? Will a spotlight be used to illuminate their approach to the platform? Is the master of ceremonies to be spotlighted?
- Is the national anthem to be played? In the United States, the American flag is required. (The American flag must always be displayed to stage right, and state flags to stage left.)
- Will there be an audiovisual presentation? What type?
- Is background or dance music planned?
- Will there be a show or entertainment (including a band) for which an additional stage or platform is needed? If so, what size and height?
- Are platforms and stages to be skirted and/or carpeted? Are there lighted stairs with handrails?
- Is a rehearsal planned? When?
- At what time will the doors be opened?
- What is the timing for all aspects of the event? (Pre-program music, entertainment, meal service timing, formal program and presentations, dancing, etc.)
- Where are the restrooms? What arrangements should be made to allow guests to re-enter the
function room if door controls will be in place?
Determine event goals and objectives. This is very important with client events and sales meetings. It will really help you keep on track.
Identify possible dates for the meeting. No matter what date you pick someone will complain it doesn’t work but thinking ahead can limit the inconvenience for all parties.
Prepare a preliminary agenda and guest list. This will help you set the criteria for the venue.
Send meeting requirements to selected sites with requests for written proposals. If you are signing a contract you should always get a written proposal. No surprises is a good thing!
Review site proposals from responding suppliers; select potential sites and begin site negotiations with potential venues. Whenever possible speak to companies that have hosted similar events at the venue.
Conduct site visits as required. This is very important the first time you use a facility.
Negotiate hotel rates and blocks. If you use a hotel for the event, you should get a significant discount on rooms.
Add any deadlines and other requirements to timetable. Establishing these milestones for your event will keep you on track.
As the Event Gets Closer:
Form committees as required. The larger the event the more work that is involved. Make your life easier by getting others involved. Organizations that have regular events should consider standing committees that meet as needed.
Develop a promotional strategy.
Do some PR for the event. Calendar notices, press releases, interviews may all be appropriate depending on the size of your event.
If it is a non-profit or charity event, line up sponsors. Prepare and mail letters to potential event sponsors requesting consideration in their budgets.
Prepare preliminary budget categories and set preliminary budget. Unless you manage your corporate event closely it is very easy to see budgets grow unexpectedly.
Identify needs for outside consultants, and specify requirements. Sometimes you need professional help. The better prepared you are when you interview a consultant the more likely you are to extra value.
Hire a printer for all your needs. What might you need?
Invitations/RSVP/Other Printed Items
___Invitation to Ceremony, Party, Benefit or Main Event
___Invitation to Reception (if applicable)
Establish meeting theme and preliminary graphics (logo, program, etc.). Corporate events are great ways to enhance your corporate brand. Take advantage of the opportunity!
If you are charging admission to the event establish registration-fee structures and policies, being certain to include clear cancellation policies.
Identify areas of need for outside suppliers; outline specific requirements, and select decorator, security, airline, car rental, audiovisual, entertainment, destination management, transportation, and registration services. Obtain references from other companies in the area. Remember to check if they have adequate staff to handle your event and if they have insurance coverage.
Know exactly how much you will be charged. Understand the price structure, e.g. minimum hours for which you will be charged, charges for extra mileage, method for calculating mileage, and so on. Get everything in writing.
Invite and confirm key speakers. This includes people within your organization. Don’t assume the VP of Marketing is automatically available.
Determine preliminary food and beverage requirements and negotiate menus and prices. Remember, it’s all negotiable, but the more you customize the deal, the more you have to manage.
Obtain audiovisual needs from speakers and presenters. Order all necessary equipment as soon as you can.
Review, update, and confirm final event budget. An important step in keeping your costs under control.
Prepare list of available hotel function areas and specifications. Hotels can be very accommodating if you only ask.
Incorporate topics and speakers into meeting format. You should have an agenda for any event, even retirement parties and birthday lunches. Doesn’t have to be formal but know who’s doing the toast and who’s serving the cake.
Establish and implement credential process. This includes preparing registration lists and preparing name badges.
Identify and communicate on-site responsibility areas for committees and volunteers. You have to keep these people happy if you want your guests to receive the best treatment possible. The key is training volunteers and educating them about your expectations.
Select and order speaker gifts and any awards you may be handing out.
Order special decorations for your corporate event. Sometimes for a small incremental charge you can personalize your décor with exceptional results.
Determine security needs.
Prepare sign list; order signs. Consider ordering special signage to build your brand.
Arrange for all staff and VIP travel and housing. We often get speakers together with key sponsors for a more relaxed networking session.
Finalize food and beverage guarantees. A common mistake is ordering too much of everything to “be safe.”
Day of the Event:
Have a staff/volunteer meeting to review responsibilities, procedures, and overlap areas like registration. It will feel like you don’t have time, but taking 10 minutes for an informational, and motivational, meeting will save you a lot of headaches later in the day.
Confirm and monitor pickup of all rental equipment and supplies. Sure, you ordered it, but did it really show up?
Walk through the venue and check the following:
(You should use this checklist twice. First, when you order supplies, decorations, etc. for your event, and again on the day of your event to make sure everything has arrived and is in place.)
___Party Planner, Consultant or Meeting Planner
___Linens ___Cloths (to floor?) ___Napkins, Colors
___Votives, Votive Candles
___Glitter or Confetti
___Glow ___Necklace ___Earrings ___Glasses
___Theme Oriented Items
___Premiums (items with company logo for corporate event)
___Candles (candlelighting, other)
___Casual ___Dressy Casual ___Dressy ___Optional BT ___BT
Out of Town Guests
___Weekend-at-a-Glance or Itinerary
___Maps (to/from airport; other locations)
___Welcome Gifts, Totes, Baskets
___2nd Mailing to Out-Of-Town Guests
___Hall of Fame Tix
___Great Lakes Science Ctr Tix
___Entrance Piece At Door
___Buffets – Decor
___Buffets – Signage
___Outside Lobby Area
___Sign Over Seating Cards
___Company Display (if applicable)
___Music During Cocktails
___Clowns ___Jugglers ___Mimes ___Other_________________
___Special Presentation: Who to emcee? Who to present?
Immediately After the Event:
Pack and inventory all material. Many of your collateral materials are reusable. It’s a big investment, so take good care of it.
Do financial reconciliation. With a big event, you’ll have many invoices and you need to make sure you have been billed correctly and you pay in a timely fashion. Watch expense reports, since a lot of cost can be hidden in those reports.
Perform post-budget performance review. Were you on budget? Could you have saved money?
Prepare list for thank-you letters. Prepare and mail letters.
Collect and organize data for final meeting reports. Obtain evaluations from staff, volunteers, consultants. It is very important to evaluate what went right and what went not so right so the next time is easier.