Shana Bryant

Event planning is a high-specialized art that is often misunderstood. Hiring an event planner for your next event can help to make strategic decisions, stay on budget, and create memorable experiences for your attendees. 

Event planners do more than stage your venue on the day of your event. The job of an event planner is to help you strategize, plan, and execute your event to perfection. Beyond day-of execution, professional event planners also handle strategic event elements like the following:

  • Securing Sponsorship
  • Booking High-profile Speakers
  • Finding Venues
  • Crafting Save-the-dates
  • Registration Links and Pricing
  • Budgeting
  • Finding and Managing Volunteers
  • Developing Marketing Strategy
  • Engaging with Lead Sponsors/Partners
  • Advice on Honorary Committee Selection
  • Securing Keynote Speaker
  • Booking Entertainment
  • Working Closely with Planning Committee

Considering the number of things that the event planner needs to work on, giving your planner enough lead time to the event for success is crucial. I know you may be thinking, “How early in advance should you begin planning an event?” My answer is always to give yourself and your planner as much time as possible!

Recommended Event Lead Times

Under 3 months 

Seasonal events, community meetings, ribbon-cutting, information sessions, networking events, and social events all take under 3 months to plan and execute. The planning for these events will include many of the components mentioned above but usually at a smaller scale. These short-lead events are typically offered by companies or organizations that have a built-in audience and are not as complex as an annual event. For these reasons, the planning can be shorter. 

3-6 months 

Panel discussions, workshops, baby showers, and retirement parties take about 3 to 6 months to plan and execute. These kinds of events may happen so frequently that people may not plan that far in advance. Keep in mind if your attendees must book a flight and/or hotel, you want to give them as much time as possible to plan. 

6-9 months 

Product launches, seminars, and retreats should take about 6 to 9 months to plan and execute. Ideally, you want to send “save the date” notices for your event before you open the ticket link. During this time, you can also begin to secure your vendors. This will help get the people you want to work with, and pricing may be at a discount. 

1 year or more

As a planner with over 15 years of experience mainly planning corporate or non-profit events, many that are galas, fundraisers, conferences, all of these event types should be planned a year out, especially if they are an annual event. Having a year to plan the event gives you ample time to create a “save the date” and secure your venue. 

Destination events also take at least a year to plan. Give your attendees time enough to make childcare arrangements, book flights, and accommodations, and take time off from work if needed.

In Conclusion

The best time frame to plan and promote any event is as early as possible. As a general rule of thumb, event lead times can be as little as 90 – 180 days for certain types of events. Annual and high-value events need a lot more time because of the volume and complexities of planning, promotion, and coordination. 

The bottom line is when planning an event, you want to give yourself and your team enough time to execute the event successfully, especially if you need to fundraise. There are times where events are successful when planned last minute, but having ample time takes the stress out of event planning for yourself and your planner. 

There are many things you should consider when planning an event. Thinking about your event in its entirety early on allows decisions to be made with strategy in mind instead of spontaneously helping the planning of your event go smoothly.

Regardless of the event type, you want to have enough time to secure the below items, in addition to considering how they will help make your event successful.

  • Sponsorship
  • High-profile Speakers
  • Venue
  • Save-the-dates
  • Registration (High ticket price with a payment plan)
  • Budget
  • Volunteers
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Lead Sponsors/partners
  • Honorary Committee
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Entertainment
  • Planning Committee

Bonus: The best time frame to plan and promote any event is as early as possible. If you are hosting a paid event, delaying registration allows you to announce your event without providing a registration link and building momentum. Build anticipation by letting people know that your registration link will be open on a specific date for a certain amount of time or until tickets are sold out.

Have your crucial event details like date, time, price, and keynotes ready when announcing your event, regardless of if registration is open or not. 

Need help planning your next event? Book a free consultation with me here.