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Event Tips

Venice-themed dinner under a tent on the Magnolia Patio, Reynolda Hall.

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  1. Have a clear purpose and vision for your event and make sure each element of the program reinforces that vision. Before the big day, take a mental walk through the event from a guest’s perspective. Is your message being delivered?
  2. Organize your event! Review our comprehensive Master Event Checklist and choose items that apply to your event to create a customized checklist.
  3. Be aware of other events taking place on campus during the same time period as yours. There might be an opportunity to reduce your costs by sharing flower arrangements, rented greenery, A/V setup, tent rental and more. It’s a great way to cut your budget and be good stewards of WFU funds!
  4. Set your RSVP date for a minimum of 4 to 5 days before the event. The industry standard for a catering guarantee of your event numbers is 72 hours, but some caterers require more notice. Allow yourself time to follow up with non-respondents so you can provide your caterer with an accurate number. Too high of a guesstimate can be a big hit to your budget.
  5. Check the calendar! Avoid planning events on religious holidays and multiple event weekends.
  6. Create a detailed budget and stick with it! A comprehensive Price Guide and budgeting spreadsheet are available on the Budgeting and Prices page of this website.
  7. Make sure the appropriate campus space is available for your event. Visit WFU Venues for capacity and contact information.
  8. Always ask your speaker and guests about any special dietary restrictions or preferences they might have. Finding out they need special meals on-site the day of the event might be too late! Most caterers cannot accommodate multiple last-minute requests for vegetarian, vegan or other specialized meals.
  9. Will campus parking be available to your guests? Visit Event Parking Reservation to review the reserved parking policy and download a request form.
  10. Don’t forget to say thank you! After all, your staff, vendors and speakers all contributed to the success of your event. A thank you note has the power not only to express your gratitude, but also to encourage everyone’s best efforts in future events.
  11. Involve alumni and donors in your event whenever appropriate.
  12. Vet your speaker! Be mindful that the speaker will not always be aware of what is an appropriate message for your event. If the speaker’s message is not in keeping with the purpose of your event, it isn’t the right message. Immediately after your speaker is confirmed and again a few days before the event, brief your speaker on room setup, time frame and key points.
  13. To gauge the success of an event, it’s important to debrief your fellow team members relatively soon after the event has taken place. The Event Summary should cover the highlights and pitfalls of the event, and provide helpful recommendations for future events.
  14. Showcase exceptional students during your event! Outstanding students can help deliver your message.
  15. Don’t overload your program. Never add a program element that doesn’t reinforce the central message or purpose of your event.
  16. Create a detailed Event Planning Timeline that covers the entire planning process and concludes with post-event tasks. You might begin the timeline with message development and conclude it with items like creating a debrief document and paying vendor invoices.
  17. Always have a plan B, C and D! You can’t control the weather, how many guests show up (or don’t show up) or if your speaker’s flight will be delayed. What you can control is how prepared you are for these types of surprises. Know your vendors and your venue and be ready to put a new plan into action at the drop of a hat…or a drop of rain!