One of the best ways to gather key personalities in your field and your team is to arrange an event. It can be a conference, expo, meeting, or gala dinner. Especially if we are all in this together to gain insight, build relationships, and share knowledge!

From a simple business brunch speaker engagement to a complex multi-day trade exhibition, every well-planned event starts with a practical event planning timeline. Even for seasoned event planners, there are moments when the process can feel like too much to handle.

There are just too many things to consider and many factors to remember regarding a successful event! A well-thought-out event schedule will act as a solid foundation for your entire event.

If you are in the same boat, join us as we create a comprehensive event planning timeline. 

From setting event goals, putting together an event team, booking vendors, suppliers, speakers, and exhibitors to attendee registration, attractive marketing, time-saving management and realistic engagement, this guide will help you in every step!

Event Planning – What is it?

The term “event planning” refers to organizing and executing a wide range of events, from intimate gatherings like a meeting to massive conventions and many more. Whether hosting a networking event, an official conference, or an exhibition,  you’ll want to think of every detail.

Dates, locations, finances, advertising, participants, and more are all part of an event’s comprehensive strategy. Regardless of the event’s magnitude, the primary barriers are constant; however, the event plan’s complexity and scope change accordingly. 

In other words, you’ll have to figure out how much money you’ll need, make a timetable for when the event will take place, book the venue and any speakers or panels, acquire the appropriate permits, arrange food and transportation, and much more. 

In addition, you will create the event’s theme if one exists. On top of that, you have to gather all the necessary resources to pull off the best event.

Essential Components of Setting Up an Event

Below, we have listed all the critical components of the event planning timeline that together will help you organize an amazing event:

1. Event Timeline

First things first, make a schedule for your event. This schedule should account for all the activities that will take place before your big event, as well as during and right after the event.

2. Budget

Create a budget based on your best guesses for the expenses of your event. Venue selection, promotional strategies, financial limitations, and other event management considerations are all affected.

3. Venue/Platform

The event’s location (venue or the platform you choose)  is crucial to the smooth running of the event’s logistics, which includes the planning of food and drink, logistic management, and the design of the space. You can opt for Whova for a seamless and interactive virtual event.

4. Marketing & Advertising

Following the venue selection, the next step is to launch a marketing effort to attract attendees. This campaign can use many channels, such as social media, email, print ads, and a website. Ads go hand in hand with marketing. Ads on radio, television, newspapers, and magazines fall under this category.

5. Event Organizer

A simple definition of an event organizer would be the individual or a company like Whova, responsible for overseeing all aspects of an event. The person or group responsible for making painstakingly detailed plans, ensuring that every detail is in place and functioning properly, and executing the plans to meet all requirements on the specified date and within the set budget.

6. Volunteers

A large event requires a large workforce to launch it and keep it flowing properly. Recruiting volunteers includes creating agreements, outlining responsibilities, arranging meetings, and settling timetables.

7. Sponsors

Money is needed for the event planning timeline, and the budget for a large event is provided by its sponsors. Here we go again with contracts, marketing, and logistics, where Whova can help!

8. Exhibitors

Exhibitors are the most important part of any successful event. Attendees, including industry experts, prospective clients, and financiers, are drawn to exhibits like a magnet. Exhibitors create a lively atmosphere and build buzz. You can choose Whova to provide an exceptional experience to your exhibitors.

9. Speakers

Either a keynote speaker or multiple presenters will attract attendees. A program, biographies, rehearsals, contracts, and curators to choose the performers are also necessary. Here’s how you can choose outstanding speakers for your event. 

10. Vendors

Without vendors, an event cannot happen. A vendor is a person or company that sets up a storefront at a community event to offer services and products to attendees. A vendor’s products and services usually come straight from the company they own, run, or represent.

11. Production

Creating contracts is an integral part of production, including making an audiovisual recording of the event and broadcasting it live.

12. Attendees

Remember that the event is only complete with the attendees! Directions, badges, access points, email to stay in touch, payment methods to collect fees, and communications to educate people about the event are all necessary.

Long-Term Event Planning Timeline

What we call a “long-term event planning timeline” is a list of everything that happens in a particular order for a  few months to a year. This timeline usually covers a span of 6 to 12 months.

A comprehensive long-term event planning schedule should include important dates, milestones, and tasks, including choosing a location, creating a budget, advertising and promoting, developing a program, organizing logistics, selling tickets and registration, and more.

Comparing Long-Term Timeline to Day-Of Timeline

When planning and managing an event, it’s helpful to have both a long-term and a day-of event planning timeline.

Outlining essential dates, milestones, and tasks, a long-term schedule gives a bird’s-eye view of the whole event. It lasts for a long time, maybe months or even years, depending on how big and complicated the project is. 

Strategic planning benefits from having a long-term schedule since it guarantees that all essential tasks are considered and finished within the specified time limits. As new facts or events come to light, it permits adaptability and changes.

In contrast, a day-of timeline is hyper-specific to a single day, usually the day of the event or a pivotal stage in a project and its agenda and activities. It schedules each task for the day and specifies the best time to complete that task. 

A day-of schedule is more operational and detailed, with instructions and due dates for each activity or assignment. As a result, the day goes off without a hitch, and everyone stays on schedule.

Event Planning Timeline – Why You Need It?

For many reasons, it is crucial to have an event planning timeline. Below, we have mentioned some of the most important ones:

  • Prior planning allows you and your vendors or caterers to be on the same page. Thus, they know what to do on the occasion.
  • Project or event planning timelines provide a systematic overview. Visualizing the sequence of jobs and activities simplifies flow and dependencies. Organization decreases the chance of missing deadlines or important details.
  • With plenty of time to spare, important stakeholders can provide their approval or suggest changes to the event plan. All the while, this will ensure that partners, investors, and sponsors are satisfied.
  • Timelines help allocate resources. Outlining jobs and their duration lets you assess project resources and find bottlenecks and gaps.
  • Event planning timelines help manage time. Breaking the project into smaller pieces with deadlines helps prioritize and allocate time. It lets you track progress, discover delays, and adapt for timely completion.‍
  • An action plan helps stakeholders fully understand the project’s timeline and goals. Setting expectations and timelines helps team members and external partners coordinate. It promotes teamwork and reduces misunderstandings and confrontations.‍
  • Event pllanning timelines help identify and reduce risks. Anticipating problems and delays can also help organize your timeframe. 

The Right Time to Start Event Planning

The timeline for a small event may only require a couple of months. When it comes to bigger conferences with thousands of attendees, the event schedule might be as lengthy as a year, with numerous deadlines and stages of planning.

To ensure that vendors, exhibitors, speakers, and suppliers are on board and venues are secured ahead of time, event teams need an accurate timeline that details every stage of planning. This event planning timeline also serves as a visible checklist, which allows management to see what needs to be done and when.

Event Planning Timeline – 30 Steps to Master Planning

Having a clear event planning timeline raises the likelihood of success and reduces the possibility of confusion or delays. Here are 30 steps to assist you in managing and ensuring you have everything and everyone set for a successful event:

12 Months Before

Step 1: Start by Answering Important Questions

A comprehensive list of all the goals and items that must be included in your event planning timeline is essential, as there is a great deal to handle while organizing an event. To get you started, here is a general list of important questions for event planning. The more you ask, the better your timeline will be:

  • What are the goals and objectives you want to accomplish by this event?
  • What are the income goals?
  • Your intended audience? Target audience?
  • For what purpose is your event being held?
  • Who will be your event caterer? How much will he charge?
  • How many attendees are you expecting?
  • Where is this event taking place?
  • Is there a venue that suits the event?
  • Which registration and ticketing system will be implemented?
  • Is the location suitable for your expected guests?
  • Do you have a marketing and event promotion plan? If so, how will you execute it?
  • Are there any licenses, permits, or insurance requirements?

While you answer the above questions, you will see that many important tasks will be completed during the Q&A process. This is because you will finalize important stuff and people serving your event. 

6 Months Before

Step 2: Bring Together Your Event Team 

Put together a team of people with different strengths and put them in charge of certain tasks, including coordinating with vendors, supervising decorations, or administering social media. A well-organized workflow results from clearly defining roles and duties on the team; this, in turn, promotes efficiency and collaboration. Whova can be the most important part of your event team, and here is why!

Step 3: Set Up Event Concept and Theme

When planning the vibe of your event, emotional inspiration is the key. Choosing a theme sets the tone and leaves a lasting impression on guests, whether you’re going for a more casual affair or a more formal conference. A well-planned theme may make the experience more engaging, unified, and unforgettable. 

Advice: Have people vote on the event’s topic via surveys or social media polls by Whova, so you know it will be appropriate and exciting for them before the big day.

Step 4: Establish Budget and Funding Sources

One way to control your event’s finances is to set a budget six to twelve months in advance. The budget can also guide the types of “extras” offered during the event. After determining the costs, you should look at other ways to raise money, such as selling tickets, crowdfunding, or asking for donations. 

Save as much money as possible by negotiating pricing with suppliers or looking for partnerships that provide in-kind contributions. 

Step 5: Set a Date 

Come up with a convenient date for your organization and the people attending. The event’s timing, day of the month, and week are all part of this.

Step 6: Select the Venue, Main Vendor, and Speakers.

Do not delay reserving the perfect location; doing so guarantees you the day and time you choose. Virtual platforms are no different. Choosing a smart event manager like Whova that works for you is your right. If your chosen location has an existing list of preferred vendors, that’s an excellent place to start. Otherwise, you have another task in line!

Find presenters (keynote speakers, panelists, etc.) that would be a good fit. You should discuss this with them if they speak from a studio, pre-recorded, dialed in, or in the room. To avoid future hassles, it is best to coordinate schedules and reserve a position on their calendar today.

5 Months Before

Step 7: Identify Partnerships

The moment to approach businesses, organizations, and corporations for sponsors and collaborators is NOW. Their decision to participate can be long enough, so it’s best to allow them lots of time to think it over.

Step 8: Develop an Event Marketing & Promotion Plan.

Decide on how you will advertise and market your event. Keeping the overall look consistent will be easier if you do this first. Choose when you will make the presale tickets and registrations available.

Getting people excited about the event early increases the probability that more people will attend. Consider making captivating content like teaser trailers or behind-the-scenes looks with Whova to spark curiosity further and inspire early registrations.

Step 9: Plan Everything About Mobile Event App

Create ideas for the best event app for mobile devices. To what end is this software designed? Does it help with networking, question and answer sessions, delegate monitoring, and everything imaginable?

Whova has all the answers for you!

3 to 4 Months Before

Step 10: Create Attendee Registration Systems

Attendees will initially interact with your event through registration. Their initial impression should be a good one. Just how? Using the most basic registration process. Give away tickets as an incentive for people to join early, and notify site visitors by email. 

Step 11: Confirm Speakers & Prepare Their Requirements

Contact the speakers’ and guest managers, agents, or representatives to finalize the speakers’ and guests’ bios, travel plans, accommodation, transport to and from the venue, etc. A well-planned and entertaining event results from excellent communication via a dedicated speaker’s center and careful planning. 

Advice: Always be prepared for the unexpected since any speaker or performer could have last-minute problems.

Step 12: Start Designing Event Material (Invitations, etc.)

Gather all necessary printed materials before the event, including invitations, programs, signage, and handouts. Make sure everything is correct and fits in with the subject of your event by carefully reviewing these resources. Attendees have a better time overall when they can easily understand the attractive materials.

Step 13: Select Other Vendors & Suppliers

Florists, photographers, and entertainment can be booked slightly later than other vendors. After prioritizing your other primary vendors, you can reevaluate your event budget for these suppliers since their prices will vary.

2 Months Before

Step 14: Create an Emergency Plan

Predicting the unexpected is crucial, as discussed before. This is also true while preparing to safeguard your audience and speakers from potential dangers like natural disasters. Examine the venue’s safety procedures and exit strategies. For a virtual event, here is the best emergency plan for you!

Step 15: Send Invitations

The time to send out invites varies with the kind of event you are organizing. The modern practice of distributing invitations via digital communication or regular mail allows guests more time to arrange their travel, employment, and lodging.

Step 16: Confirm Vendor Orders

Make final arrangements with vendors for food and AV equipment. Prior RSVPs allow you to update vendors about attendance. Ensure nothing is left for the last minute, as things can mess up when the vendors are clueless. 

Step 17: Discuss the Final Schedule

Your guests and speakers will have been confirmed, so you know their schedules. Write the Master Schedule, listing all entertainment, guests, speeches, and presentations. Inform partners and sponsors of their schedule arrangement.

Step 18: Check Insurance & Permits Requirements

At this point, ensure you have the required insurance plan and all the essential permissions to run this event successfully without any legal hurdles. 

Step 19: Plan Speaker Logistics

During this stage, it is essential to take the time to carefully examine each part of the event, including every aspect, from the deadlines and schedules to the seating arrangements and the logistics. Ensuring that every detail is set up is a preventative precaution against confusion or delays occurring at the very last minute.

Step 20: Organize Speakers’ and Guests’ Lodging and Transportation.

You should complete the preparations for transportation and lodging for the speakers and guests. Ensure they have clear directions and assistance to and from the event location. Everything must be finalized in this aspect.

1 Month Before

Step 21: Complete the Pre-Event Homework.

Get everything else for your event before you step back and watch the live experience unfold. Prepare and evaluate the event talk track with key stakeholders, bring all on-site cooperation to a close, get your virtual venue in tip-top shape, and have the speakers check it out for technical issues.

Step 22: Keep Speakers, Staff, and Vendors Up to Date.

Ensure everyone visiting or working with you knows what they must do on the event day. Inform them of any changes and keep them informed of any updates.

Step 23: Follow Up With Registered Attendees and Suppliers.

Give a final call to all the registered attendees and suppliers, a process streamlined by event registration tools, to finalize the total number. Doing so will help you ensure all the supplies will reach the venue on time.

Step 24: Send Invites & Final Reminders

Now is the time to send out invitations or last-minute reminders, depending on the nature of your event. This email will be the very last or final reminder to visitors about the event coming up in a matter of days.

Step 25: Review Catering Orders

Get in touch with the food supplier and confirm that they can carry out the agreed-upon tasks. Notify your provider of the final headcount once you’ve taken care of event registration so they can prepare accordingly.

1 Week Before

Step 26: Confirm All the Event Details

Contact everyone who impacts the event, including the venue, speakers, suppliers, service providers, sponsors, and partners. Verify that all plans for the event are proceeding as planned.

Step 27: Conduct a Final Budget Review.

Make sure you’ve covered all your bases within the budget you set by reviewing your budget one last time.

Step 28: Prepare Name Badges, Menus, Registration lists, etc.

Create participant packets, name badges, and registration lists before the event with the help of Whova.

Step 29: Compile Delegate Packs. 

Gather delegates’ packets if the number exceeds one hundred. Include printed evaluation forms in the delegate packets, or consider including a link to an online form that may be emailed to delegates following the event.

Step 30: Give a Final Walkthrough

Checking around the virtual and the physical location one more time before the big day is like getting a taste of what it will be like. 

Event Day Checklist

Here is your big day checklist to ensure everything is ready and works smoothly:

  • Prepare the venue and the space for the event.
  • Oversee the process of checking in and registering for the event. 
  • Examine the materials provided by sponsors and partners.
  • Keep multiple hard copies of your blueprints on hand.
  • Collaborate with the staff and volunteers and share what’s on your mind.
  • Examine the sequence of events and the timetable that you set.
  • Get to the bottom of any last-minute queries or worries.

Post Event 

  • Analyze the event
  • Publish a final report following the event.
  • Collect feedback for the speakers with Whova.
  • Conduct a final discussion with the event planning team
  • Look at the financials
  • Distribute images and a news release to key journalists
  • Show gratitude to everyone involved in the event
  • Evaluate the budget as it stands right now.


The best way to keep on top of everything required when arranging an event is to make an event planning timeline. Using timelines as guides, organizers can more easily define goals, carry out detailed plans, and reflect on the event afterwards. It will assist you in carrying out the event with ease and keep you focused on the end aim.

Prepare weeks in advance if you wish to wow your guests and visitors! Whova’s event management skills can help you draw in more people and get more out of your investment if you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event. Get an event management quote or request a free demo from the Whova team and learn how it may help you save time and effort to organize an amazing event!

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