Top Things to Consider Before Planning an Event
Did you know that in business and marketing, people that plan and document their strategy are 313% more successful? The same idea holds true for the perfect event. This is because something like an event master plan ensures you have every detail of your event covered from beginning to end. As the saying goes, an hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing, and the time you save by organizing your event well ahead of time could make all the difference in its success.
Whether it’s just you at the helm of the entire event or several people making this thing come to life, a plan keeps everyone on the same page and prepared for what must be done now and what will need to be done in or by the final days. This includes those on your team as well as the venue’s event space team!
Here’s everything you’ll need to consider before you begin your planning process.
About 6-12 Months Before Your Event
You no doubt feel the fact that there’s much to do before your event day arrives. That’s why it’s not uncommon for hosts to begin their planning a year or more before. Here are our top things to consider when planning your event 6-12 months before the big day.
The Sooner You Get Started, The Better
How soon you get started depends on the complexity of your event and how big (or small) it will be. The most common range is between 6 and 12 months, with smaller events only needing a 6-month lead on planning and events at a larger scale requiring the whole year to prepare.
The biggest step you can take right away is pinpointing the date and time of your event. Everything else — including theme and attire if you have one, indoor/outdoor options, type of food, activities, etc. — will depend on the date you select. After all, winter in some locations will likely be cold and drafty, while summer can get hot and sweaty.
Both seasons can be successful. You just need to prepare properly for the one you choose!
Related: How to Host the Perfect Party Whatever the Weather
Goals Give Your Event Focus
After selecting your date, it’s time to focus more on your project. What are you hoping to get out of your event? This will depend strongly on the type of event you’re hosting, which could include quite a wide range, such as:
- Corporate events
- Charities & fundraisers
- Product launch
- Team building
- Social, etc.
We recommend making goals based on the SMART framework. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. This way, your goals are well organized, and you can better gauge the success of your event (and areas where you can improve in the future).
The Venue: One of Your Most Important Decisions
Your venue and external vendors are the most important decision you will make when planning your event, and as such, it must be one of the first steps you take to plan your event. Before committing to any place, no matter how great it sounds at first, make sure you’re fully aware of its requirements and features so you can match them up with your expectations for the big day.
We recommend writing down your biggest contenders and answering these questions:
- How many people can their space support? For obvious reasons, your event must not only cover how many people you’re inviting but do so comfortably.
- Do they have multiple spaces to choose from? This option gives you more customization opportunities.
- What amenities are included, and what can be added? Offers will likely vary by the package, but a great venue will include an on-site manager to oversee and assist with your event, access to their prep kitchen, and even handmade furniture in the most extraordinary ones. Add-ons often include beverage & bar service, catering, rentals, AV setup, event planning services, and transportation options.
- Can you bring in your own food and beverages? Find a venue that gives you more variety and options so you can make the big day everything you want it to be.
- Does the venue offer half-day or full-day event options? A venue with both options will be the most ideal. Half days are typically about 4-5 hours, while full days go as long as 10 hours.
- Is parking readily available? Parking is crucial because you don’t want your guests walking miles from a parking space or garage to get to the event. Terrible parking can deter some guests from attending. A venue with parking AND a shuttle service (at an additional cost) will be the best option because you’ll be covered on all fronts.
Related: How to Choose What Size Venue Rental You Need
3-6 Months Before the Big Day
It’s getting down to the wire, and we bet you’re beyond glad you started your planning early! This can be when things start getting a little more tense, but you’ve got this with these helpful tips!
Have Your Vendors Booked And Ready to Go
You have your venue and have likely started shopping around for external vendors. This would be the right time to decide and book your florists, entertainers, food vendors, etc., for the big day. You don’t want to wait too long, only to find that the perfect vendors for your event are booked on your date. This will also give you time to assess your budget and consider alternatives if necessary.
Although your venue won’t always have every type of vendor you need to make your party a success, this is another excellent opportunity to take some stress off your shoulders by conferring with your venue about external vendor options. After all, event planning is ranked in the top 10 most stressful things you can do. Any relief your venue can provide will be beneficial. And you never know; they may have a better deal lined up to loosen the strings on your budget!
Evaluate Your Budget: What’s Left of it, and What’s Still Needed for the Event
Speaking of budget, the 3-6 month mark is a good time to evaluate your budget, so let’s put your budgeting tools for event planning to work. You should have your bigger purchases booked by now, so you can assess what’s left. If there’s more than you anticipated, consider what other supplies and orders may make your event an even bigger hit. Maybe there was an additional service or add-on from your venue that you considered in the beginning but didn’t think you could afford. Now would be the time to add it if you can!
This would also be a good time to start fundraising or moving money around if you find that the budget hasn’t loosened but rather tightened more than you expected. No worries. You still have plenty of time to figure it out!
Prepare for Safety
When you host an event, big or small, you put your guests’ safety in your hands—and the venue’s. This is why it is important to be familiarr with the venue’s safety protocols and evacuation procedures. Your final months will get much busier, so preparing for safety now is important. After all, when running an event, there are multiple safety concerns to consider, like crowd management, children’s attendance, medical assistance requirements, staff & volunteer safety, fire hazards, food safety, and more.
1-3 Months to go!
You’re officially down to the final months until your event! At this time, many event hosts and planners will be stressing out about last-minute bookings. Some may even be freaking out about vendors, venues, and budgets! Fortunately, you organized your event planning well in advance, so these final months will be full of confidence as you check off your final to-dos in your list and make follow-up confirmations. Here are some tasks you’ll need to take care of when 1-3 months out.
Take Care of Your Invites
‘When’ you send out invites will depend on the event. However, the most recommended timeframe is around the 3-month mark, with reminders leading up to the big day. Three months gives your guests enough time to clear the day for your event and avoid double-booking for something else, while additional reminders keep them from forgetting they committed to attending.
These invites can come in a variety of formats:
- Direct mail
- Social Media, etc.
Either way, make sure it’s relevant to your audience. You wouldn’t want to send invitations through social media if your ideal audience likely doesn’t have it and, therefore, won’t even see it.
Depending on your audience, you may even want to consider a combination of methods. Maybe send the original invitation via social media but follow up with emails? An incredible 99% of email users check their email daily, so this may be the best way to ensure you’re reaching them just before the event.
Contact Your Venue and Vendors for Confirmation
Sure, you can wait until the day of your event to see who shows up, but what was the point of all this planning? Take these final months and weeks to ensure you, your venue, and your vendors are on the same page. There’s just enough time to make changes if something comes up with your vendor. Everyone always thinks it won’t happen to them, but preparing for the worst ensures you’re ready with an alternative if that moment happens. What’s the saying? Better safe than sorry!
Discuss Setup and Breakdown Plans
Chances are you already discussed setting up and breaking down with your venue before committing to one of their event spaces. Now it’s time to ensure your team is prepared for the big day’s events. Who is getting there early to organize the event space? Who stays later to get it back in order at the night’s end? We’ve come full circle to the importance of the right venue – your event begins and ends here.
Choose a Venue that Sets Your Event Up For Success
Vuka offers two locations already designed to be inspirational, unique, and accommodating for whatever event needs you have. Here at Vuka, we bring your vision to life with the best event spaces in Austin and the most helpful amenities and additional services to make your planning as easy and smooth as possible. Book a tour today to get started planning your perfect event.