Special Event Planning

Special Event Planning

With the right preparation and a dynamic creative team in place, we can produce a memorable event that will increase your company or association’s profile; which in turn, will grow new business.

Whether your event is a product launch, an anniversary gala, an annual employee recognition program or a corporate networking reception, its success depends on expert planning. When producing a successful event, it is paramount to consider tried and true resources for the planning process.

The sooner you get started the better! The first and most important task for any event planner should be the clear and detailed timeline for the event.  The model below serves as a month-by-month countdown to ensure all bases have been covered!

Event Planner Timeline

Six Months Prior

  • After assessing the type of event to be produced and determining the budget, the specific location, date and time of the event should be established; including details such as deposits necessary to secure the venue or the signing of contracts.                                                                                    Note: Some venues and entertainment (celebrity) may need to be secured sooner.
  • The event should be broken down into key components; such as logistics and public relations. Specific duties should be delegated to each team member, so all responsibilities are clear.
  • Catering, entertainment and decor options should be thoroughly researched.
  • Guest list should be reviewed and a decision made as to how guests will be invited (i.e. hand written invitations, e-invitations, etc.).

Five Months Prior

  • As the event begins to take shape, specifics within the event program should be examined. For example, if a master of ceremonies is required, now is the time to obtain one.
  • This is a good time to research and book a reputable and experienced audio visual/sound company as well as a qualified corporate event photographer. It is important to document and record the event. If a staging company is required for the event, this is the time to secure the appropriate vendor.
  • Very Important: Liability insurance is a hot topic in special event planning. Appropriate insurance certificates must be obtained from all vendors providing goods and services.

Four Months Prior

  • Plan your media relations campaign. This is also the time to prepare advertising. Design collateral, such as printed invitations, programs, posters, or fliers.
  • Announce the event with a save-the-date postcard so invitees can reserve the date in their calendars.

Three Months Prior

  • If a meal or hors d’oeuvres are involved, finalize menu selections at this time.
  • If an emcee is being used, script content should be finalized.

Two Months Prior

  • Website information should be updated regarding the event; including the time, location and cost of admission – if any.

One Month Before

  • If the event requires decorations and props, re-confirm with all vendors.
  • This is prime time for sending out invitations – so have a plan for keeping track of responses and for following up with those who have not responded.

One Week Before

  • Consider an e-mail blast to guests to encourage attendance.
  • Pinpoint all outstanding applicable logistics (floor plan); including decorations, props, catering, and entertainment.
  • Verify and coordinate the program with the emcee or main speaker (including the script), volunteers, employees, and dignitaries.
  • Check in with all service providers.
  • CRITICAL: Prepare a list of all service providers with contact cell phone numbers for on-site use.

Day Before

  • Organization is the key to any successful event, so design a clear checklist of tasks.
  • If possible, have all decorations, signs, food or props delivered on-site.
  • If possible, load-in, set-up and conduct an afternoon technical rehearsal with all principal technical operators, (sound, lighting, audio-visual, staging, etc.)
  • Conduct a timeline and agenda meeting to review precisely how the special event will unfold.

Day of Event

  • If a day before event rehearsal was not possible, it is important to have an early set-up on the event day for a complete technical rehearsal with all production personnel and on stage participants. This will help to remove all problem areas in the agenda, and ultimately “cool” everyone’s nerves when it’s show time!
  • Production should be ready to begin a full 45 minutes before the event’s actual “start time” and all participants should be on-site no less than 30 minutes prior to performance time.
  • It is helpful to designate a creative and experienced “point person” to handle any unforeseen problems.
  • Follow the agenda closely to stay on track.
  • Flexibility is important! Remember always that the best laid plans can go awry, so be ready to improvise and KEEP COOL.
  • Ultimately, with careful planning, the reward will be a successful event!

Post Event

  • Post event evaluation and review with staff is crucial. Discuss what was effective and worked well and what may have been unproductive or challenging. Keep copious notes of the post event meeting, as these will assist greatly in planning future events.
  • Take time to file items such as press clippings, video, sound, and photos as well as all information on contractors (good and not so good), for future reference.
  • Most importantly, be sure to thank those who assisted with the event; whether a paid consultant, colleague or volunteer.