Whether you’re planning a lavish 250-person affair or an intimate 20-person conference, when it comes to planning an event, organisation is key. To guarantee everything runs as smoothly as possible, ensure you have all bases covered and put effort in to prepare so you can avoid any hiccups on the day.
Step 1: make a list
The first and most crucial step when planning an event is to start by making a list. A strong list is the foundation of your event and will help you break down the planning process into manageable tasks. You can also use it as a to-do list to help keep track of the tasks you have already achieved (and ticked off) and what more is left to do. Apply deadlines to make yourself accountable.
Step 2: set the budget
Your budget will determine how the next steps of planning will flow, so it is important to set this right at the beginning. It’s imperative to define your spending plan as early as possible, as it can have the biggest impact on an event.
Once you know your budget, you can start your research and commence conversations, getting quotes from suppliers and scoping out venues and catering options.
Step 3: set the date
Venues in Sydney can fill up quickly, especially the popular ones and during peak party season (i.e summer weddings). But before you start talking to venues, you must know your date and set it in stone. Approach venues with a clear set date so they can look into it and quote properly for you.
For corporate events, venues can fill out three to six months and for weddings, be warned many of the most popular venues can get booked nine to 12 months in advance.
Step 4: set the tone
Before you secure your venue, it’s essential you have an idea of the tone of the event. Is it a chic hipster party, a timeless classic wedding, or a lavish gala that will host an array of fabulous and important guests? Get to the heart and soul of how you envision your celebration to be and once you have a clear idea of this, it is time to look into venues and theming.
The theming and styling sets the tone of your event and should apply to the invitations, food, music and decorations. When it comes to styling, a great way to maximise your budget to focus on the main features of the venue such as the entrance, bar and table centres.
Step 5: secure a venue
This is a crucial and sometimes time-consuming step, and if you don’t have a venue in mind, the best place to start hunting is online, where a wealth of opportunities will be presented.
Look at third party venue listings such as Venuemob and Cvent, which can help narrow down options if you have a particular location, capacity and style in mind. Once you see a venue that piques your interest, jump onto their website and explore further (it is always a good idea to book directly through the company website, so you get the best service and attention).
Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices, book appointments with the sales team members for site inspections, which will really help cement your decision.
The main things to look for in a venue are: capacity, location, facilities, style and layout, flexibility and custom packages.
Step 6: define logistics
This step includes elements such as a run sheet, invitations, seating plan and RSVP plan.
The run sheet will help keep things running smoothly on the night and should include a full breakdown of the event, including contact names and information for everyone involved. Build in time for late arrivals and plan plenty of time for food to be served.
Send your invitations at least one month in advance and these should have the RSVP details on there. Remember, they should also allude to the style and theme of the event.
Make sure your RSVP date leaves you plenty of time to confirm the menu with the caterers/venue and be prepared to chase people for RSVPs.
Once you have a definite number of guests it’s a good time to organise the seating plan if you’re having a sit down meal. This can be a tricky task to get right, but it’s worth the effort. You can either choose to organise tables by teams or mix your colleagues up to encourage mingling. Make sure the table plan is easy to find at the venue and print place cards for the tables.
Step 7: food and beverage
This is certainly the aspect that guests remember most about an event, so this is an area you really want to nail. Most venues will have food and beverage packages for you to choose from, with some offering malleable, custom-designed ones.
When picking food for your event make sure you think about whether it will be a set menu or cocktail-style, catering for special dietary requirements, how you want the food to be laid out (i.e. sit-down a la carte or buffet). Each event will have its own individual requirements, and it is best to utilise the expert events teams you are working with to pull your complete vision together.
Step 8: entertainment
Another key element to any memorable event is the right ambiance. And what helps create ambiance? Music, of course! Choose your entertainment wisely – it must reflect your style and theme. If you’re planning a 1920s prohibition-style event, look into a crooning jazz singer; or a DJ for something more contemporary.
Entertainment doesn’t just encompass music – it can also include fun, quirky additions such as photo booths, games tables and cocktail making masterclasses. This is an area of your event where you can get really creative. Plus, some venues may help to source these additional items for you.
Step 9: AV and lighting
Check your list and notes to help determine whether you will need AV for the evening. Are you having speeches, or is it an awards night? For a smaller conference, will you simply just need a lectern and microphone?
If you are having speeches and awards, make sure they are planned in advance. Both are always best done early in the evening so things don’t get too rowdy.
Step 10: finishing touches
These items are optional and not necessary at every event; but they’re all handy things to be aware of so do keep them in mind.
Photography: yes we all have access to Instagram, but having a professional photographer at the event will guarantee there are quality pictures to document the night.
Security: if you need security at your event book friendly staff that will make your guests feel welcome.
Transport: decide whether you need to organise transport to and from your event. If you are organising cars make sure they are booked for suitable times so your colleagues aren’t forced to leave early or left hanging around.
Finally, get there early on the night, meet the event planner and check that everything is as you expect it to be. Introduce yourself to any suppliers/entertainers before the party starts so they know who to come to if they have any questions or problems.
Don’t forget, our team of expert events planners are on hand at all times to help you create your most ultimate guide yet, reach out and let's get started.