What is event planning checklist?

Event planning involves a lot of moving parts and details to consider. Having an event planning checklist helps ensure every task and consideration is addressed, resulting in a smooth, successful event. This comprehensive guide covers what an event planning checklist entails along with tips for creating an effective checklist tailored to your specific event.

What is event planning checklist?

The key elements of an event planning checklist

An event planning checklist acts as your roadmap as you navigate through all the steps involved in pulling off a successful event. The checklist covers everything from the initial planning stages to day-of event details.

Though event checklists vary based on the type of event, most include the following key sections:

Event overview

This section captures high-level event details including:

  • Event name, date, location, and duration
  • Type of event (conference, fundraising gala, product launch, etc.)
  • Event goals, target audience, and expected number of guests
  • Contact information for event organizer and vendors
  • Budget

Having these details mapped out upfront ensures the event stays on track.

Task management timeline

The task management timeline outlines all the tasks required to execute the event along with owners and deadlines. Categorize tasks by stages:

  • Pre-planning: Early tasks like selecting a venue, booking vendors, etc.
  • 1-2 months out: Send invitations, plan menu, etc.
  • 2 weeks leading up: Final vendor meetings, guest confirmations, etc.
  • Week of: Pick up rentals, confirm deliveries, etc.
  • Day before/Day of: Setup, rehearsals, manage event flow.
  • Post event: Takedown, vendor payments, thank you notes.

Mapping out every task across the timeline prevents last minute scrambling.

Vendor contacts

Include a section with contact information for all vendors:

  • Venue
  • Caterer
  • Entertainment/music
  • Rentals for tables/chairs, linens, glassware
  • Florist
  • Photographer/videographer
  • Security
  • Parking/transportation
  • Decorations/lighting
  • Staffing/volunteers
  • Insurance
  • Permits & licenses

Having all vendor details handy avoids confusion and delays.

Event site map

A site map illustrates where everything will be set up at the venue:

  • Stage/podium
  • Seating
  • Food stations
  • Bars
  • Photo booth
  • Signage/decors
  • Restrooms
  • Emergency exits

The site map helps visualize the event layout and flow.

Run of show

The run of show outlines the entire event agenda with timing for each program element:

  • Registration/guest arrival
  • Cocktail hour
  • Seating
  • Welcome remarks
  • Speakers/presentations
  • Entertainment
  • Dinner service
  • Awards ceremony
  • Dancing
  • Closing comments
  • Guest departure

Having the detailed schedule prevents timing issues day-of.

Communication plan

This tracks communication tasks leading up to, during, and after the event:

  • Guest invitations
  • Vendor meetings
  • Event briefings and updates
  • Email/text reminders about event details
  • Managing RSVPs
  • Day-of announcements and cues
  • Post-event thank you notes and follow up

Mapping communications ensures nothing falls through the cracks.

Budget tracker

Itemize all event expenses in a spreadsheet with columns for:

  • Description
  • Vendor
  • Estimated cost
  • Actual cost
  • Balance due date

Closely tracking all costs against the budget keeps things on track financially.

Tips for creating an effective event planning checklist

Follow these tips for crafting a complete, useful event checklist:

Start early

Begin building your checklist as soon as event planning kicks off, then add to it as tasks get confirmed. Starting early gives you a realistic view of the scope so you can adjust if needed.

Be thorough

Brainstorm every single task, no matter how small. List things like: contact vendors one month out, pick up parking signs day before event, put up directional signage morning of event. The more granular your tasks, the less you’ll overlook.

Assign owners and deadlines

Identify who is responsible for each task and set firm deadlines, especially for critical long lead items like venue, catering, and entertainment booking. This keeps everyone accountable.

Set reminder alerts

Use reminder alerts tied to your deadlines, especially for items needing early booking or deposits. You don’t want to lose out on that dream venue because you didn’t calendar the inquiry deadline.

Use collaboration tools

Leverage online project management or spreadsheet tools that allow task assignment and updates so your team or vendors can access and update the checklist. This facilitates tracking and coordination.

Build in buffers

For time estimates, add buffers to account for possible delays and complications. It’s better to allot more time than risk not having enough.

Update regularly

As plans evolve, keep the document updated in real time so it remains current. Review it regularly with your team, especially in the final weeks as tasks intensify.

Print and use day-of

Print out checklists for each member of your team to have on hand to keep things on track day-of event. Assign someone to oversee and mark off checklist milestones throughout the event.

Event planning checklist templates

While you can create a checklist from scratch, it’s easier to start with an event planning checklist template that you can customize to your specific event.

Here are some great event checklist templates to consider:

Google Sheets event planning template

Google Sheets offers free event planning templates you can duplicate and edit. Benefits include:

  • Input key details on event overview tab
  • Customizable task timeline across phases
  • Built-in budget worksheet
  • Easy sharing and updating in real time

Smartsheet event planning template

Smartsheet has power-packed templates with features like:

  • Gantt chart for visual timeline
  • Dependency mapping to sequence tasks
  • Forms, workflows, and automation
  • File attachment and discussions
  • Report dashboard

Trello event management template

Trello’s event planning template enables:

  • Creating boards for each planning phase
  • Assigning tasks as cards with drag-and-drop
  • Labels, deadlines, attachments, and comments
  • Johnson and board views of all tasks

Word event planning checklist

For a basic printable checklist, this Word event template provides sections for:

  • Event overview
  • Budget
  • Vendor contacts
  • To-do’s by due date
  • Day-of schedule

Customize it to your event.

Excel event planning spreadsheet

This [Excel template](https://www. Vertex42.com/Excel Templates/event-planning-checklist.html) offers tabs for:

  • Event overview
  • Task timeline in calendar format
  • Budget tracker
  • Run of show schedule
  • Communication planner

Key takeaways

  • An event planning checklist is a critical tool for orchestrating a successful event, mapping everything from early planning to day-of execution.
  • Checklists typically cover event overview, vendor contacts, site map, run of show, task timeline, communications, and budget.
  • Start building your checklist early, be thorough, set due dates, use collaboration tools, and update regularly as plans evolve.
  • Leverage event checklist templates as a starting point then customize to your specific needs.
  • Careful event planning and task tracking using a comprehensive checklist helps ensure flawless event execution.

Now that you understand what an event planning checklist entails and how to create an effective one, you can confidently take on planning your next event. With a solid checklist guiding you, you’ll be equipped to handle all the moving parts with less stress and a smoother-running event.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the key elements to include in an event planning checklist?
    Some of the key elements to include are: event overview, task timeline across pre-planning, month out, week of, and day of stages, detailed vendor contacts, event site map, run of show schedule, communications plan, and budget tracker.

  2. When should I start creating the event planning checklist?
    Create your event planning checklist as soon as you begin initial event planning. Starting early allows you to get a handle on the big picture tasks and timelines.

  3. Why is assigning task owners important for an event checklist?
    Assigning owners and deadlines to each task on the checklist keeps everyone accountable and ensures items don’t fall through cracks, especially with large teams.

  4. What tips help make an event checklist effective?
    Tips for an effective checklist include: starting early, being thorough and granular with tasks, setting reminders and alerts for key deadlines, collaborating using online tools, building in time buffers, and updating regularly as plans evolve.

  5. What type of tool should I use to create the event checklist?
    You can use Word docs, Excel, Google Sheets, Trello boards, or tools like Smartsheet to create, share, and manage event checklists. Choose the option that aligns best with your planning style.

  6. Should I print out the checklist to use day-of event?
    Yes, having printed checklists on hand for each team member is vital for smooth day-of event execution. Assign someone to oversee and mark off checklist milestones in real time.

  7. Is it better to build my own checklist or start with a template?
    Using an existing event planning checklist template can save time versus building from scratch. Many templates have sections pre-built. Customize the template to suit your specific event needs.

  8. Where can I find free event planning checklist templates?
    Free templates are available through Google Sheets, Trello, Word, Excel, and vendors like Smartsheet. Search online for “event planning checklist template” and review options to find the right fit.

  9. Should I include a site map in my event checklist?
    Yes, having a site map in your event checklist that shows where everything will be located – seating, food, bars, entertainment stage, etc – helps visualize layout and flow.

  10. How detailed should my event day-of schedule be?
    The day-of schedule or run of show should be very detailed, outlining timing for each program element from arrival, cocktails, dinner, speakers, and departure. Leaving time estimates vague risks schedule issues.

  11. How often should I update the checklist as the event approaches?
    Update your event checklist regularly, at minimum weekly as the event approaches when tasks intensify. Updates ensure nothing slips through cracks. Review with all team members during meetings.

  12. What should I do with the final checklist leading up to event?
    Avoid last minute scrambling by printing out final checklists for each team member as the event approaches. Meet to review assignments and flow. Update tasks in real time day-of event.

  13. How can my event checklist help with vendor management?
    Having all vendor contacts and details in one section of the checklist helps ensure excellent vendor coordination and communication throughout the planning process.

  14. Should I include emergency/contingency plans in my checklist?
    Yes, build in sections for risk management like emergency contacts, exit routes, contingency plans for tech, deliveries, etc. This prepares you to quickly pivot if needed.

  15. How can I use my event checklist to assign volunteer roles?
    Include sections for each volunteer role with assigned names, contact info, schedules, and duties so they know expectations. Check in regularly leading up to event.

  16. Why should I track communications as part of the checklist?
    A communication tracker ensures all emails, meetings, phone calls, invitations, reminders, announcements, etc stay organized so nothing falls through the cracks.

  17. Should I share checklist access with my vendors and venue?
    Sharing relevant checklist sections with vendors helps them stay updated on their deliverables and deadlines throughout the planning process.

  18. How can checklists enhance my budget management?
    The budget section lets you closely track estimated versus actual costs and payment deadlines for every expense so there are no budget surprises.

  19. How detailed should I get with day-of timing and cues?
    Build in minute by minute timing and cues for emcees, vendors, volunteers, and speakers to keep day-of events flowing seamlessly per schedule.

  20. How can checklists help with event branding and signage?
    Include a section to track creation and placement of banners, programs, table signs, directional signs etc to strengthen event branding and navigation.

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