The Ultimate Event Planning Checklist & Guide

the ultimate event planning checklist you can follow

Planning for anything, whether it’s a picnic in the park with friends, a wedding with members of the family you haven’t seen in years, or a corporate marquee function with 200 strangers you’ve never heard of will always throw up unique challenges, like confetti that goes absolutely everywhere. 

But hey, you’ve put yourself up to the task – or someone thinks you’re capable of pulling an event off. The basics of following our event planning checklist are fundamental, and in this guide, we’re going to walk you through the ultimate checklist, from the initial mind mapping of an event, up to the night before.

The Best Event Planning Checklist & Guide You Can Follow

As they say, planning is half the battle, and if you know how to do it well, the event will go a whole lot smoother. So read our ultimate event planning checklist & guide, and you’ll feel much more prepared.

Here’s what we’ll be covering in our ultimate event planning checklist blog today.


preparing event planning checklist and guide

Establish The Basics

Ever heard of the phrase ‘5 bums on a park bench’? 

It refers to the visual concept of the 6 ‘who, what, where, when, why, how’ question starters. Sit yourself down on this imaginary park bench, and don’t stand up until you’ve come up with answers for the following. Hold off on calling in the magicians until you’ve established the kind of event you’re actually planning.


You don’t need to figure out exact guest lists at this point, but you should have an idea of the sort of people you’re going to invite, and rough numbers. If you’re hosting a work party, will you allow partners? If you’re planning a birthday, will you be inviting extended family?


What is the event going to be? What’s the purpose of it? For some this may look more straightforward than others – a birthday party or wedding is to celebrate a marriage or milestone. However, corporate events and general get-togethers may be a little more vague.


Again, don’t get too bogged down in finding the perfect venue, but figure out your basics. A simple starting point is whether the event will be hired ‘in-house’, or whether you need to find a venue or hire a marquee or services for your event. If you’re hosting a masterclass for example, you’ll need ample seating. If you’re anticipating entertainment, you’ll need a stage.


Perhaps you already know the exact date you want (or need) your event to be on. If not, establish a timeframe. Does it require an outside setting, and does it matter if the event is hosted in daylight or at night time? Is it a seasonal event, and will the temperature or weather affect it?


Why are you hosting this event – or perhaps a better question is why now? For life events such as graduations, christmas parties and anniversaries the answer may be obvious, but for charity, corporate or community events you may have to pitch to someone, whether for permission or funding, so it’s worth having this answer solidified in your mind.

How (Much)?

Let’s be honest, the ‘how’ you’re going to pull off an event often comes down to how much it’s going to cost, and how (or if) you’re going to afford it. At the very least, your budget will dictate the scope of the event, whether it influences the size, the space, the entertainment or the venue. Think carefully about how much you absolutely need to make this event happen, and how much you would like (and can) devote to spending on it.

Essential Event Planning Checklist

Once you’ve got these basics covered, you can narrow it down to your event essentials checklist.

  • Date
  • Location
  • Type of event
  • Aims
  • Budget

Some of these factors will inevitably influence others. When making concrete decisions, prioritise which is most important, and which you have space to negotiate and be flexible with.

For example, if you’re planning a birthday party, you’re likely going to be limited by the date. This may affect the venues that are available. If you’re planning a wedding, you might have a dream location in mind, whether it be a part of the country or a specific venue, and you may have to wait a long time before it becomes available. Perhaps it costs more than you’d expected, so you’ll have to work out whether you can be flexible with your venue, flexible with your budget, or look into other middle-ground solutions like outdoor party tent hire.

You might be tempted to think that the aim of every event is to ‘have fun’ or ‘socialise.’ But look at the more nuanced goals for each kind. If you’re putting on a fundraiser, your goal is to make money. If it’s a corporate event, it’s to sell your brand, and potentially generate new business leads. If it’s a surprise party, it’s to successfully pull off a night that is a genuine (positive!) surprise. And if it’s an anniversary, you may be aiming to host a great family reunion.

If you’re planning an event on behalf of a company, or you need to secure funding – this is the most important information that others will want to know.

The next step in your event planning checklist will be to combine these factors together to determine your general theme and branding for the event. Everything from the entertainment, catering, decorations and sound systems, to smaller details such as what type of dance floor you want, which colour balloon and how many chairs to rent should be organised now.

Invite Only

No one’s going to show up to your event, however expertly planned, if you forget to tell them about it! This is a pretty simple but crucial step in the event planning guide, so ensure you do it right to avoid the inevitable ‘where did you say it was’ and ‘remind me what time it starts again’ texts that will come through last minute whilst you’re darting to and from the shops with no time to reply.

In your invites, be they over text, email, delivered by post or pigeon carrier, you’ll basically want to state the features in your event essentials checklist (minus the budget!). Whatever you do, don’t rely on word of mouth. Even if a guest is invited last minute, do your very best to ensure they have a written copy of the key event details.

Your invite should be exciting, concise and clear. Don’t obscure important information with anecdotes.

Your invite checklist should include:

The type of event

What you’re celebrating, or the reason for the event.

The date and start time of the event

Include the day of the week, and the year. Write a finish time if bound by strict operating or licensing hours (pro tip: state it half an hour earlier than it really is).

The exact location of the event

Mention the room, apartment number, entry codes and easy parking or access instructions, to avoid endless calls on the day from people struggling to find the venue or get in.

The dress code 

If the event is themed, like a 70s fancy dress party, give concise detail. If it’s not, guests will still appreciate an indicator, for example, ‘smart casual’ or ‘work attire’.

What to bring

This is entirely dependent on the event but may include items such as company ID, alcohol, dessert, and party poppers. 

Contact information

Make yourself easy to get in touch with for questions or RSVPs, ideally including an email and phone number.

Important information 

Round off the invite with anything passed on from event collaborators, venue rules or essential knowledge. For example, ‘no plus ones’, ‘please contact for dietary requirements’,’ ‘+21 event’, ‘RVSP before Feb 2025’, ‘don’t tell Julie!!!!’

The Final Build Up On Your Event Planning Checklist

Depending on the scale of the event, in the week or two leading up to it you’ll probably find yourself tying up loose ends, and answering left-field questions that (if you wrote it correctly) can be politely answered with ‘it’s in the invite.’ 

During this time and even on the day, it can be great to delegate a team for each aspect of the event and assign someone solely to guest communication, so that you can focus on managing the operations and discussing with your caterers, venue staff, or entertainment. People like us at Marquee Monkeys are trained professionals in event planning. We’re here to help, so don’t be afraid to reach out for questions or assistance.

For larger events, you can create a ‘run sheet’, which is like a formal program of events, detailing what will happen throughout the event and when. You may wish to share this with your guests ahead of time, when they arrive, or keep it between the organisers.

Last Minute Tips

  • Have a glass bin dustpan and brush on hand for breakages.
  • Make sure you have a first aid kit, and that multiple people know where it is.
  • Inform anyone working the event of essential information, where a guest with a severe allergy, that the party is a surprise.
  • Create a small, quiet area where guests can go to step away from the noise and take a moment to relax.
  • Have taxi numbers or public transport options on hand for when people are ready to leave.


Event Planning Checklist Summary

Planning an event isn’t really all that scary when you know how to do it. 

Above all, remember that not everything will go according to plan. That’s a fact. So take the pressure off yourself, and avoid feeling like you ‘failed’ if something doesn’t quite turn out how you’d expected. What’s more, with every event you host, the better you’ll become. Before too long you’ll be an expert event planner, just like us!

If you’re after a professional hand, providing everything from speaker systems, to bar and prop installation, to kitting out your indoor or outdoor space with our beautiful marquees, get in touch today with our expert party planning team. We don’t just help you find tents, we help you create experiences, and we hope this blog has demonstrated that we know just a little about putting on an event, small, large – or anywhere in between.

So, get in touch with us by calling us on 1300 934 414 or send us an email and start ticking off that checklist today with a hand from Marquee Monkeys. We’ll get the ball rolling with our professional event solutions, so you can get excited. 

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