Event Planning Checklist

Use this handy checklist to ensure your event is on track and on budget. Please note that some items on this list may not apply to your event.


Set Event Purpose, Date, and Venue

Determine goals and purpose of event
  • Who is your target audience for the event?
  • What are your key measurements?
  • How will you gauge effectiveness? 
  • How does this event complement the Strategic Plan?
Select date and time 
Set budget
  • Research potential funding sources, such as partnering with other departments
  • Use our Budget Planning and Template worksheet to plan and track expenses
Select and reserve venue

Remember to review:

  • A/V capabilities
  • Parking availability and costs
  • Maximum capacities
  • Accessibility accommodations
  • Access times to space
  • Load-in/delivery capabilities
  • Equipment included equipment with room rental

Use our Selecting Your Event Space document for question inspiration.

Schedule rain plan, if applicable
  • Speak with vendors about refund and cancelation policy costs and deadlines
  • Determine who will make the rain plan call and when you will make your final decision
  • Determine how you will communicate the rain location to your guests
  • Consider additional needs such as different staff, rental equipment, etc.
Determine guest list
  • Consider your target audience and key messages
  • When possible, research similar past events to determine RSVP melt
Ensure inclusivity, accessibility,  and sustainability  
Investigate needs for special permits, licenses, insurance, etc.
  • Consult with Risk Management for any special needs
Determine meeting schedule for your committee
  • Create a reoccurring calendar appointment
  • Schedule any key meetings with your stakeholders

Determine Your Vendors and Campus Partners

Research potential vendors
  • Use only Georgia Tech approved caterers
  • Review Georgia Tech policies regarding contracts, procurement, and RFPs
Contact (or schedule) Georgia Tech Police Department 
Determine if you will live stream your event
  • Who is coordinating?
  • Where will the webcast run on the website?
  • Who will write copy for the site?
  • When will the site go live?
  • Where will the video be archived afterward?
  • Who will caption the live stream?
  • Can you run analytics afterward to see number of viewers?
Secure A/V needs for event
  • Lighting
  • Supplemental video needs
  • Sound for music and speakers
  • If you have a presentation, ensure you have wireless advancer, projector, and screen
  • Coordinate additional mics in the audience for any Q&A needs
  • Ensure you have on-site A/V tech for event
  • Confidence monitors for speakers
Select & book caterer
  • Do any of your guests have dietary restrictions?
  • Determine VIP's preferences
  • Will you need linens from the caterer or other rental company?
  • Remember waters for the podium and additional speakers/guests
  • Discuss service expectations - how many servers per table, when do you expect tables to be cleared, etc.
Request Tech spirit aspects
  • Buzz
  • Ramblin’ Wreck
  • Cheerleaders
  • Band
Order plants/flowers
  • Remember rental plants for staging and all floral needs
Determine parking for visitors
  • Review options and resources on the Parking and Transportation site
  • Direct guests to the campus map for directions
  • Arrange for any additional transportation (buses, shuttles), if necessary
Determine alcohol needs, if any
  • Review the information about alcohol on the Food & Catering web page
  • Prior approval is required for alcohol at any on-campus event
Order additional decorations
  • Balloons
  • Pipe and Drape
Reserve additional set-up materials
  • Rental chairs
  • Stage
  • Podiums
  • Tables
  • Easels
  • Coat racks
  • Heat lamps
Coordinate meeting with fire marshal 
Schedule supplemental staffing
  • Ushers, crowd management, etc.
Secure entertainment/musicians
  • Look into student music groups
  • Determine if any sound checks are necessary
Order extra trash receptacles 
Order extra recycling bins 
Schedule photographer or videographer, if needed 
Begin researching travel arrangements and hotel options 
Schedule meeting with Event Logistics Committee if hosting outdoor event 

Determine Your Design and Marketing Needs

Develop communications plan 
  • What is your event's main message? 
  • Determine what and when communications will be sent
Develop a production schedule for any design elements
  • Include items like your program, flyers, website graphics, and signage
  • Determine deadlines to send items to printers to receive materials on time
Add event to campus calendar and discuss other internal promotion opportunities 
Select designer/printer
  • Creates invites, programs, signage, print pieces, etc.
Update any website material
  • Include common guest questions such as parking, dress code, and program schedule
  • Ensure the website has accessible features like alt text in images and proper color contrast 
Design invitations and RSVP form
  • Determine if this is a print or digital invite
  • Determine what information you will need from guests (contact information, pronouns, guest information)
  • Have a way for guests to share accommodation requests such as ADA access or dietary needs

Manage Guest Needs, Communications, and Speakers

Reserve hotel, plane, and travel accommodations for speakers/VIPs and staff, if applicable
  • Consider requesting a hotel block if a large portion of your attendees are traveling
Create RSVP tracking system
  • Confirm a way to track ADA accommodations or dietary needs
Determine if you will need save-the-dates cards or emails
  • Determine how you will build awareness
  • The more VIP your crowd, the earlier you will want to send these
Determine any press announcements needed 
Request and receive speaker/VIP bios
  • Ask for photo (high res jpeg) if included in program
Request participation of additional speakers
  • Emcees, presenters, etc.
  • Best practice is to have someone introduce the president or guest of honor
Create script for yourself or for VIPs/presenters
  • Work with the Organization, Academic and Research Communications within Institute Communications for any talking points for the president or executive leadership team
  • Clearly mark each speaker change with dividers in the script book
  • Request scripts from all participants with a talking role to create a complete script book and ensure that speakers are not redundant
  • Include phonetic spellings for any individuals’ names that might be difficult to pronounce
Send invitations
  • Check with your caterer when your final headcount is due when determining RSVP deadline
  • If taking RSVPs online, consider setting a form limit to avoid overbooking
  • Update website with RSVP information 
Create welcome packets/materials for attendees
  • These can be provided to guests at check-in or made available online in advance

Review Event and Program Elements

Review printed materials with your designer
  • Check for consistent design and color usage across print and digital materials
  • Review list of items needed and deadlines
Set menu with caterer 
  • Confirm when your final headcount is due
  • Discuss dietary options for common requests like vegetarian, nut allergies, and gluten-free
  • Ask if there's a surcharge for late additions
Secure permits and insurance
  • Submit any required certificate of insurance (COI) forms to Risk Management
Review security and safety needs
  • Make a safety and emergency preparedness plan
  • Plan a walkthrough of site if your VIP has a security details
Confirm accessibility resources
  • CART Transcription (closed captions)
  • ASL Interpreter
  • Ensure you have an operational plan in place for assisting those with disabilities and that volunteers are fully briefed on plan
  • Contact the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation for assistance
Hold walk-through with major stakeholders/committee members to ensure all needs are met
  • Depending on schedules, you may choose to send the run of show to promote email conversation
Schedule A/V run-through the day before the event
  • Schedule speakers/musicians and others to participate (if live streaming or captioning, include those individuals, as well as any social media testing, i.e. Facebook Live)
Determine volunteer need
  • Create volunteer plan to determine roles and need
  • Request Student Ambassadors, if needed
  • Schedule volunteer training
Check RSVP numbers
  • Determine if you need to expand your guest list
  • Adjust your marketing plan as needed
Review print and signage needs
  • Confirm you have signs or volunteers at major turns to direct guests
  • For larger venues, consider a map for guests

Order Event Supplies and Giveaways

Order any giveaways
  • Visit Licensing and Trademarks for official policies
  • Consider partnering with others to share costs 
  • Do not include a date, if possible, so items can be reused
Determine if awards/trophies will be given and research companies 
Order speakers' gifts
  • Depending on presentation, you may need gift bags or wrapping paper
Order liquor
  • Confirm you have alcohol approval prior to purchasing
Purchase all needed decorations
  • Allow time for shipping delays and any assembly
Make parking and directional signs that can be created in-house  

Advertise Your Event

Distribute flyers/emails advertising event  
Release press announcements 
  • Consult with Institute Communications or your unit communication director
  • Watch for media hits related to your event
Contact campus departments with your target audience 

Confirm Event Details (1-2 weeks out)

Follow-up with RSVP list – make personalized phone calls and emails, if necessary  
Send final numbers to the caterer
  • Include your final dietary needs
Confirm participation with all VIPs/presenters.
  • Send them updated event details, run of shows, and talking points.
Confirm all travel arrangements
  • Finalize transportation logistics for VIPs and out-of-town guests
Confirm staff/volunteer for each aspect of the event  
Create seating plans and room diagrams for assistance with set-up and day-of-event questions
  • Ensure you follow correct protocol for head table seating
  • Create place cards for seated, if needed
  • Ensure you have back-up seating options available for changes within head table seating arrangements 
Develop photo shot list
  • Provide list of VIPs and program elements you need photos of.
  • Update the photographer with any location or time changes.
Hold pre-event meeting with all significant stakeholders (vendors, managers of venue, key committee members, and volunteers, etc.)
  • Confirm setup and breakdown times
  • Provide directions to load-in location
  • Confirm equipment, any cost changes, and important details
  • Request day-of contact information
  • Provide your day-of contact information and any co-leads or back ups
Do one last walk-through of venue  
Hold training session with volunteers
  • This can be in-person or virtual walkthrough of the venue
Ensure all printed materials/collateral are assembled and correct  
Make nametags/lanyards for attendees and have extra plain ones on hand for surprise guests
  • Suggest magnetic/reusable with clip tags for those who are unable to use magnetic
  • If disposable, suggest Avery 8395
  • Preferred template – Arial Bold, first name centered 54 pt; last name underneath in 48 pt
  • Create two nametags for name variations (i.e. Joseph and Joe)
  • Consider purchasing machine for onsite nametags
  • Include any dietary cards with nametags
Create “Event Day Survival Kit” full of needed items
  • Pens
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Mints
  • Safety pins
  • Extra nametag inserts and holders
  • Label maker, if using for nametags
Create detailed hour-by-hour event agenda (event plan) for key volunteers/vendors and distribute to them
  • Distribute to vendors and important campus partners
Send final information to participants, including directions, maps, last minute details, etc.  
Create volunteer duty form 
Wrap gifts  
Distribute parking passes  
Send completed Run of Show and RSVP list to VIPs  

1-2 Days Prior

Create final to-do list to determine all tasks are complete
  • Creating a supply list and their locations can save trips back to the office!
Ensure all appropriate contacts’ information is listed where you can easily retrieve it
  • Recommend they are added to your phone for easy texting capabilities on event day
Recheck all equipment/materials to ensure nothing is damaged, quantity is correct, etc.
  • Gather materials together for easier transport
Reconfirm schedule with caterer
  • Alert them to any headcount changes or new dietary requests
Set-up registration area, if possible, so you are prepared for the next day  
Decorate room if you can
  • If not, gather supplies together and label items for faster setup
Deliver materials/equipment to venue site  
Test webstreaming
  • Include captioner in test
Be prepared to troubleshoot changes day-of
  • e.g., bring along a three-hole punch so the President can input his revised script day-of, have extra chairs backstage in the event another VIP is asked to join the stage party, etc.
Discuss back up plans
  • Rain plan
  • Safety plan
  • Emergency plans

Day of Event

Arrive early and do one last walk-through  
Oversee vendor set-up  
Ensure all VIP materials are correctly labeled and in place
  • Provide a program to President and VIPs so they know speaking order
  • Have additional scripts printed for speakers to review
Check all set-ups  
Ensure waters are in podium  
Display parking/directional signs  

After the Event

Send thank you notes  
Handle invoices  
Hold post-event meeting with key players 
Send pictures/mementos to VIP guests  
Pack up and inventory all materials  
Update website  
Book next year’s venue, for annual event