There’s a reason that “event planner” is a full-time job. It takes attention to detail, problem-solving, creativity, communication, and so much more to pull off any moderately-sized event. For some, planning their own special event is a way to ensure they get exactly what they desire and show love for their family and friends joining the celebration. If you’ve got a wedding, graduation party, anniversary, or another big hurrah on the horizon, here’s how to lay out an event planning timeline: 

Create Your Budget and Team

Before laying out any sort of timeline, you’ll want to determine how big the event will be. Smaller-scale events might not require as much lead time, whereas large ones can necessitate up to a year’s worth of planning. Once you have a rough estimate of how much money you’re ok with spending on the event, identify a few people – friends, family, or industry professionals – who you’ll enlist to bring this dream day to fruition. 

Determine Anchor To-Dos

For any size event, there will undoubtedly be a set of non-negotiable to-dos before the day of. Use these events to anchor the rest of your event planning timeline and build out from there. These anchors will vary depending on the type of event you’re planning. For example, when planning a wedding, you will likely need to book food and drink vendors well in advance. Setting this anchor six months out from your wedding date can help give shape to other line items like creating the guest list, getting a headcount, and taste-testing menus. 

Incorporate Vendors Into Your Event Planning Timeline

Consider what timeline your vendor requests regarding final decisions. Build these into your schedule and allow for some buffer time. Consider all vendors you may want to have at the event – photographers, wait staff, a bar service, DJ, etc. – and double-check what they need from you and when they’ll need it. 

Add In Smaller Items

It can be helpful to list out everything involved in a big event, such as sourcing your outfit, getting a haircut, tracking down people who haven’t RSVP’d, and making a playlist. If it’s something you want to be included on the day of the event, jot it down somewhere along the timeline. The devil is in the details and getting the details out of your head and onto a tangible timeline will likely decrease stress and anxiety leading up to the event. 

Reevaluate at the Halfway Point

As you get closer to the event, there may be a few hiccups in planning. Reevaluate the current timeline and move dates around to account for any changes in direction. Move incomplete to-do list items from dates that have already passed to the future so you don’t miss anything. Begin scheduling your week-of timeline and day-of timelines. 

Use Your Imagination (and a Template)

It’s likely that someone has already thrown an event similar to the one you’re envisioning. Walk yourself through the event as a guest to better understand everything you will need prior to the event taking place. There are plenty of tools online to help you create a long-form timeline, week-long timeline, and day-of timeline. Find a template or tool you like and build it out from there.

Planning a big event can be both stressful and exciting. There are only a few things to really keep in mind. Pick a spot you love and invite people who bring you joy. While there are many steps in between dreaming up the event and hosting it, with some forethought and help, you’ll get it done.  

Taharaa Mountain Lodge is a wonderful venue for wedding ceremonies, rehearsal dinners, and receptions. Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains and just outside of Estes Park, our lodge is spacious, welcoming, and elegant and can accommodate 60 – 120 people. Treat your guests to comfortable rooms, delicious dinners at the Twin Owls Steakhouse, and a retreat far away from the busyness of life.